In Praise of General Stanhope: Reputation, Public Opinion and the Battle of Almenar, 1710-1733

Stewart Tolley

Abstract


 

The War of the Spanish Succession was a time of conflict both on the battlefields of Spain and Flanders and in the coffeehouses of London. With partisan propaganda flooding the metropolis in the early 1700s, all aspects of the war became politicised. This article looks specifically at the iconic battle of Almenar that took place in July 1710 when General James Stanhope (1673-1721) killed the enemy commander in a ‘personal encounter’. Stanhope’s triumph would be used by writers to enhance his reputation as a general and as a minister. The battle provides a valuable case study on how a war record can be used as a powerful rhetorical tool, with the positive legacy of a brave warrior cultivating an image of working for the public good. Even after his death Stanhope provided a virtuous comparison to the perceived corruption of the administration of Sir Robert Walpole, a theme that was exploited by the first Prime Minister’s opponents.



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