Who Owned Waterloo? Wellington’s Veterans and the Battle for Relevance

William Salter,  The Waterloo Banquet, 1836 , 1840, Apsley House, London

William Salter, The Waterloo Banquet, 1836, 1840, Apsley House, London


Who Owned Waterloo? is Luke’s dissertation, which he is scheduled to defend in May 2019, at the Graduate Center, City University of New York

My dissertation examines the the afterlife of the battle of Waterloo in the collective memory of both those who fought, and the wider citizenry of the countries engaged as well as the post-war lives of officers who fought in the campaign. Using a variety of techniques associated with social, cultural, and military history, it contextualizes the relationship between Britain and her army in the nineteenth century, both at home and abroad. It also explores the concept of cultural ownership of a military event. My dissertation is located within and builds on the new socially and culturally-influenced military history. It seeks to extend that influence the other way by addressing the military gap in social and cultural history, demonstrating that the military is too important an institution to be monopolized by military historians. My work is based on extensive primary source research, conducted in the past several years in the UK and Canada, and funded by a variety of grants. I have presented several chapters of my dissertation at conferences, and a portion of one chapter was published in the April 2018 issue of The Journal of Victorian Culture.

In order to narrow down the 1,770 British officers who survived Waterloo into the cohorts covered in certain chapters of my dissertation, I created a database of officers and their achievements. That database can be found here.