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Diplomats as Spymasters: A Case Study of the Peninsular War, 1809-1813

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)37 - 68
Number of pages32
Issue number1
PublishedJan 2012

King's Authors


During the Peninsular War, General Lord Wellington orchestrated and utilised one of the most sophisticated intelligence collection apparatuses of the nineteenth century. Not only was the intelligence collected by his own personnel made available to him, but so too was that collected by a group of civilian agents recruited and controlled by the British diplomats in Portugal and Spain, Charles Stuart and Henry Wellesley. This article analyses the organisation and evolution of these intelligence networks during the critical years of the Peninsular War. It then explains the impact of this intelligence on Wellington's military planning, specifically focusing on the opening campaigns of 1812. It then locates the historical importance of the intelligence networks developed in the Iberian Peninsula, by comparing them with later examples during the Crimean War (1853-56), and preceding the outbreak of the First World War (1914-18).

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