There’s a lot of buzz about statues lately, so I thought I would share my current personal favorite.
Although our vacation last year was not my first trip to London, it was the first time I remember seeing this particular statue. It’s located at the Horse Guards Parade, which is across St. James’s Park from Buckingham Palace.
First, a very little bit of background. The Peninsular War (1807-1814) was fought by allies Spain, Portugal and Britain against Napoleon’s French Empire for control of the Iberian Peninsula. When the Spanish city of Seville was occupied by the French, Spain moved their government and seat of power to Cadiz, a Spanish naval base.
In 1810 the French laid siege to Cadiz, with 70,000 French soldiers surrounding about 2,000 troops in Cadiz. The siege lasted two and a half years and was finally lifted after the Duke of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Salamanca in 1812.
A standard piece of equipment in any siege was a mortar, or what I would call a cannon. When the French forces were driven out, they were forced to leave some of these cannons, which is not surprising when you consider how heavy they must be.
After the war, the Spanish gave one of the French cannons to the British Prince Regent (1762-1830) to commemorate these events. Instead of just placing the cannon in a park with a plaque, the Prince Regent, who would become King George IV, had the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich create a real statue.
Known as the Cadiz Memorial, the statue was placed in 1816. There is an inscription on one side in Latin, with the English translation on the other side.
The raising of the siege of Cadiz in consequence of the glorious victory gained by the
Duke of Wellington
Over the French near Salamanca on the XXII of July MDCCCXM
This mortar cast for the destruction of that great port with powers surpassing all others
And abandoned by the besiegers on their retreat
Was presented as a token of respect and gratitude by the Spanish nation
To His Royal Highness The Prince Regent.
I can’t possibly write about the Cadiz Memorial without mentioning the “bum”. The slang for cannon was “bomb” and was pronounced “bum”. The memorial was known as the “Regent’s Bomb”. Proving that our humor hasn’t evolved much in two centuries, which is not necessarily a bad thing, the jokes were immediate. You can’t really blame them as it seems the Prince Regent had a rather large posterior.
How about you? Do you have a favorite statue? Is it your favorite because of what it represents, because you love the way it looks, or both?