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Richard Sharpe (fictional character)

Richard Sharpe (fictional character)

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Sharpe is a series of historical fiction
Historical fiction
Historical fiction tells a story that is set in the past. That setting is usually real and drawn from history, and often contains actual historical persons, but the principal characters tend to be fictional...

 stories by Bernard Cornwell
Bernard Cornwell
Bernard Cornwell OBE is an English author of historical novels. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe which were adapted into a series of Sharpe television films.-Biography:...

 centred on the character of Richard Sharpe. The stories formed the basis for an ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 television series
Sharpe (TV series)
Sharpe is a British series of television dramas starring Sean Bean about Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe is the hero of a number of novels by Bernard Cornwell; most, though not all, of the episodes are based on the books...

 wherein the eponymous character was played by Sean Bean
Sean Bean
Shaun Mark "Sean" Bean is an English film and stage actor. Bean is best known for playing Boromir in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and, previously, British Colonel Richard Sharpe in the ITV television series Sharpe...

.

Cornwell's series (composed of several novels and short stories) charts Sharpe's progress in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. He begins in Sharpe's Tiger as a Private
Private (rank)
A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

 in the 33rd Regiment of foot, who becomes a Sergeant by the end of the book, and an Ensign in the 74th Regiment
74th Regiment of Foot
Three regiments of the British Army have been numbered the 74th Regiment of Foot:*74th Regiment of Foot , renumbered from the 117th in 1762 and disbanded in 1768*74th Regiment of Foot, raised in 1777 and disbanded in 1784...

 who is transferred to the newly formed 95th Rifles as a Second-Lieutenant during Sharpe's Trafalgar. He is gradually promoted through the ranks, finally becoming a Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 in Sharpe's Waterloo.

The stories dramatise Sharpe's struggle for acceptance and respect from his fellow officers and from the men he commands. Sharpe was born a guttersnipe in the rookeries
Rookery (slum)
A rookery was the colloquial British English term given in the 18th and 19th centuries to a city slum occupied by poor people...

 of London. Commissioned an officer on the battlefield, he overcomes class in an army where an officer's rank is usually bought
Sale of commissions
The sale of commissions was a common practice in most European armies where wealthy and noble officers purchased their rank. Only the Imperial Russian Army and the Prussian Army never used such a system. While initially shunned in the French Revolutionary Army, it was eventually revived in the...

. Unlike many of the officers with whom he serves, Sharpe is an experienced soldier.

Sharpe is described as "brilliant but wayward" in Sharpe's Sword, and is portrayed by the author as a 'loose cannon'. A highly skilled leader of light troops, he takes part in a range of historical events during the Napoleonic Wars and other conflicts, including the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

. The earliest chronological books (they were published in non-chronological order) are set in India, and chronicle Sharpe's years in the ranks and as an ensign. He is known as a dangerous man to have as an enemy; he is a skilled marksman and grows to be a good swordsman. In most of the novels he is a Rifle Officer, armed with a 1796 pattern heavy cavalry sword and Baker rifle
Baker rifle
The Baker rifle was a flintlock rifle used by the Rifle regiments of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was the first standard-issue, British-made rifle accepted by the British armed forces....

, although by Sharpe's Waterloo he has also acquired a pistol. He is described as being six feet tall, having an angular, tanned face, long black hair and blue eyes. His most obvious physical characteristic is a deep scar on his right cheek, which pulls his right eye in such a way as to give his face a mocking expression when relaxed, but which disappears when he smiles, which is not too frequently.

Early years


Richard Sharpe is born in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 circa June 26, 1777 (he believes that he may be 22 during the early months of 1799) to a prostitute residing in "Cat Lane", and an unknown father. When Sharpe is three, his mother is killed in the Gordon Riots
Gordon Riots
The Gordon Riots of 1780 were an anti-Catholic protest against the Papists Act 1778.The Popery Act 1698 had imposed a number of penalties and disabilities on Roman Catholics in England; the 1778 act eliminated some of these. An initial peaceful protest led on to widespread rioting and looting and...

, leaving him an orphan.

With no other known relatives to claim him, Sharpe is deposited in Jem Hocking's foundling home at Brewhouse Lane, Wapping
Wapping
Wapping is a place in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets which forms part of the Docklands to the east of the City of London. It is situated between the north bank of the River Thames and the ancient thoroughfare simply called The Highway...

, where he spends his days picking his assigned quota of oakum
Oakum
Oakum is a preparation of tarred fiber used in shipbuilding, for caulking or packing the joints of timbers in wooden vessels and the deck planking of iron and steel ships, as well as cast iron plumbing applications...

. He is malnourished and regularly beaten, resulting in his being undersized for his age. Because of this, he is eventually sold to a master chimney sweep
Chimney sweep
A chimney sweep is a worker who clears ash and soot from chimneys. The chimney uses the pressure difference caused by a hot column of gas to create a draught and draw air over the hot coals or wood enabling continued combustion. Chimneys may be straight or contain many changes of direction. During...

 to train as an 'apprentice' at the relatively late age of 12. Fearing the high mortality rate among apprentice sweeps (who are forced to climb inside chimneys and remove the soot by hand), Sharpe flees to the Rookery
Rookery (slum)
A rookery was the colloquial British English term given in the 18th and 19th centuries to a city slum occupied by poor people...

 of St Giles
St Giles, London
St Giles is a district of London, England. It is the location of the church of St Giles in the Fields, the Phoenix Garden and St Giles Circus. It is located at the southern tip of the London Borough of Camden and is part of the Midtown business improvement district.The combined parishes of St...

, and is taken in by prostitute (and later bar-owner) Maggie Joyce. He stays under Maggie's protection for three years, learning various forms of thieving.

After killing a gang leader during a fight over Maggie, he escapes from London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 to Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

 at the age of fifteen (by creating this back story, Bernard Cornwell
Bernard Cornwell
Bernard Cornwell OBE is an English author of historical novels. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe which were adapted into a series of Sharpe television films.-Biography:...

 made the actor Sean Bean's Yorkshire accent part of the canon
Canon (fiction)
In the context of a work of fiction, the term canon denotes the material accepted as "official" in a fictional universe's fan base. It is often contrasted with, or used as the basis for, works of fan fiction, which are not considered canonical...

 of the series). It is possible that Sharpe learned to play cricket in Yorkshire, as in Sharpe's Waterloo the Duke of Wellington attests that "Sharpe bowls fiendish". He also played while training with the Rifles at Shorncliffe Redoubt
Shorncliffe Redoubt
Shorncliffe Redoubt is a British Napoleonic earthwork fort of great historic importance, as it is the birthplace of modern light infantry tactics...

, (Sharpe's Fury).

Within six months of his arrival in Yorkshire, Sharpe kills a second man, the landlord of the tavern where he is working, in a fight over a local girl.

To avoid arrest, Sharpe takes the "King's shilling
King's shilling
For many years a soldier's daily pay, before stoppages, was the shilling given as an earnest payment to recruits of the British Army and the Royal Navy of the 18th and 19th centuries...

", joining the 33rd Foot, as a result of the blandishments of Recruiting sergeant
Recruiting sergeant
A recruiting sergeant is a British or American soldier of the rank of sergeant who is tasked to enlist recruits. The term originated in the British army of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries....

 Obadiah Hakeswill. The regiment (popularly known as "The Havercakes", due to the oatcake
Oatcake
An oatcake is a type of cracker or pancake, made from oatmeal, and sometimes flour as well. Oatcakes are cooked on a griddle or baked in an oven.- Scottish oatcakes :...

 the recruiting sergeants display on their bayonets to attract starving potential recruits) is first sent to Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 in 1794, where Sharpe fights in his first battle, at Boxtel
Battle of Boxtel
The Battle of Boxtel was a battle fought during the First Coalition in the Dutch province North Brabant, on the 15 September 1794. It was part of the Flanders Campaign of 1793-94 in which British, Dutch and Austrian troops had attempted to launch an invasion of France through Flanders...

. The next year, he and his regiment are posted to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 under the command of the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

.

India


In 1799, Sharpe is sentenced to 2,000 lashes (i.e. a death sentence) for striking a sergeant, with the connivance of his company commander, Captain Charles Morris, but is released after only 200 by executive order. He is assigned to accompany Lieutenant William Lawford on a secret mission to rescue Lawford's uncle, head of British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 intelligence, Colonel Hector McCandless. They join the Tippoo Sultan's army posing as British deserters, but are later exposed and imprisoned. Lawford teaches Sharpe to read while they are imprisoned in the Tippoo's dungeon. Sharpe escapes during the Siege of Seringapatam
Siege of Seringapatam
Siege of Seringapatam can refer to:* Siege of Seringapatam during the Third Anglo-Mysore War* Siege of Seringapatam during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War...

, killing the Tippoo Sultan after destroying a mine meant to devastate the British army. Sharpe is promoted to sergeant
Sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

, as has been promised, for his successful efforts (Sharpe's Tiger). He also gets away with a fortune of jewels, plundered from the Tippoo's corpse.

Sharpe serves four years as sergeant in the Armoury in Seringapatam. In 1803, while on official business at the fort at Chasalgoan, he is the only survivor of a massacre of the garrison carried out by a turncoat
Turncoat
A turncoat is a person who shifts allegiance from one loyalty or ideal to another, betraying or deserting an original cause by switching to the opposing side or party...

 Company officer, William Dodd. As a result, he is taken by McCandless on a mission to identify and capture Dodd. Their search takes them first to the siege of Ahmednuggur and then the Battle of Assaye
Battle of Assaye
The Battle of Assaye was a major battle of the Second Anglo-Maratha War fought between the Maratha Confederacy and the British East India Company...

. When the dragoon
Dragoon
The word dragoon originally meant mounted infantry, who were trained in horse riding as well as infantry fighting skills. However, usage altered over time and during the 18th century, dragoons evolved into conventional light cavalry units and personnel...

 orderly attached to Arthur Wellesley
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

 (the future Duke of Wellington) is killed in the early stages of the battle, Sharpe takes the man's place, and so is at hand when Wellesley is unhorsed among the enemy. Sharpe defends Wellesley against several Maratha
Maratha
The Maratha are an Indian caste, predominantly in the state of Maharashtra. The term Marāthā has three related usages: within the Marathi speaking region it describes the dominant Maratha caste; outside Maharashtra it can refer to the entire regional population of Marathi-speaking people;...

 horsemen and so saves the general's life, receiving a battlefield promotion
Battlefield promotion
A battlefield promotion is an advancement in military rank that occurs while deployed in combat. A standard field promotion is advancement from current rank to the next higher rank; a 'jump-step' promotion is advancement from current rank to a rank above the next highest.-United States:A...

 for this act of bravery. He joins the 74th Regiment
74th (Highland) Regiment of Foot
The 74th Regiment of Foot was a British Army line infantry regiment. During the Childers Reforms it was united with the 71st Regiment of Foot to form the Highland Light Infantry.-Service history:...

 as an Ensign
Ensign (rank)
Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank itself acquired the name....

, the first step on the career ladder of a British army officer (Sharpe's Triumph).

Unfortunately both Sharpe and his new colleagues find it difficult to adjust to Sharpe's new status and role, and his superiors in the 74th arrange for him to be transferred to the newly formed 95th Rifles Regiment. Before leaving India, he takes part in the assault on Gawilghur, commanding troops in action for the first time. Once inside the fortress, Sharpe finally confronts and kills Dodd, receiving a scar on his right cheek as a legacy of the fight (Sharpe's Fortress).

Campaigns in Europe


While traveling from India to England to take up his post in the 95th Rifles, in 1805, Sharpe is caught up in the Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

, his first direct encounter with France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and its European allies as an Infantry officer. On the journey he also meets and falls in love with Lady Grace Hale, the wife of a politician (Sharpe's Trafalgar).

Grace sets up home with Sharpe at Shorncliffe
Shorncliffe
Shorncliffe can refer to:* Shorncliffe, Queensland, a suburb of Brisbane in Australia** Shorncliffe railway line, to the suburb** Shorncliffe railway station, Brisbane, in the suburb...

, but dies giving birth to their child, who survives her by only a few hours. Sharpe's fortune is assumed by the lawyers to be part of Grace's estate and seized. Sharpe falls into a deep depression, worsened by conflict with other officers in the Rifles, who relegate him to the role of Quartermaster
Quartermaster
Quartermaster refers to two different military occupations depending on if the assigned unit is land based or naval.In land armies, especially US units, it is a term referring to either an individual soldier or a unit who specializes in distributing supplies and provisions to troops. The senior...

, and leave him in barracks when the regiment is posted to the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 in 1807. Sharpe, unable to sell his commission, plans to desert. He returns to Wapping
Wapping
Wapping is a place in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets which forms part of the Docklands to the east of the City of London. It is situated between the north bank of the River Thames and the ancient thoroughfare simply called The Highway...

 to rob and kill Jem Hocking, the abusive master of the foundling home where Sharpe was raised. Before Sharpe can disappear with the stolen cash, he encounters General Baird
Sir David Baird, 1st Baronet
General Sir David Baird, 1st Baronet GCB was a British military leader.-Military career:He was born at Newbyth House in Haddingtonshire, Scotland, the son of an Edinburgh merchant family, and entered the British Army in 1772. He was sent to India in 1779 with the 73rd Highlanders, in which he...

, a former colleague from India, who recruits him to protect John Lavisser, a Foreign Office agent sent to negotiate with the Danish Crown Prince
Frederick VI of Denmark
Frederick VI reigned as King of Denmark , and as king of Norway .-Regent of Denmark:Frederick's parents were King Christian VII and Caroline Matilda of Wales...

. Lavisser betrays Sharpe, and forces him into hiding in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, where he witnesses the bombardment of the city
Battle of Copenhagen (1807)
The Second Battle of Copenhagen was a British preemptive attack on Copenhagen, targeting the civilian population in order to seize the Dano-Norwegian fleet and in turn originate the term to Copenhagenize.-Background:Despite the defeat and loss of many ships in the first Battle of Copenhagen in...

 and the British capture of the Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 fleet (Sharpe's Prey).

In "Sharpe's Rifles," Sharpe is said to have fought against the French in Portugal at Roliça
Battle of Roliça
In the Battle of Roliça an Anglo-Portuguese army under Sir Arthur Wellesley defeated an outnumbered French army under General Henri Delaborde, near the village of Roliça in Portugal. The French retired in good order...

 and Vimeiro
Battle of Vimeiro
In the Battle of Vimeiro the British under General Arthur Wellesley defeated the French under Major-General Jean-Andoche Junot near the village of Vimeiro , near Lisbon, Portugal during the Peninsular War...

, both in August 1808. Sharpe is now referred to as a Second Lieutenant because, as an elite outfit of the British army, there are no Ensigns in the Rifles.

By early 1809 Sharpe is in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 with the 95th Rifles, undertaking the terrible hardships of the rearguard of the retreat to Corunna
Battle of Corunna
The Battle of Corunna refers to a battle of the Peninsular War. On January 16, 1809, a French army under Marshal Soult attacked the British under Sir John Moore...

. Cut off from the main body of the army, he is forced to take command of a handful of surviving but mutinous riflemen (including Patrick Harper), while protecting a small party of English missionaries and assisting Spanish Partisans in the temporary liberation of the city of Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

 (Sharpe's Rifles).

After making their way to Portugal, and taking part in the Battle of the Douro, Sharpe and his surviving riflemen are attached to the Light Company of the South Essex
South Essex Regiment
The South Essex Regiment, later the Prince of Wales' Own Volunteers, is a fictional infantry line regiment in the British Army that was created by Bernard Cornwell in the Sharpe series of books.-Fictional history:...

 (a fictional regiment) as part of Wellesley's Peninsula Army
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

. Sharpe takes part in a number of notable actions, either with the South Essex, or on detached duty for Major Michael Hogan
Michael Hogan
Michael Hogan may refer to:*Michael Hogan , American scholar and president of the University of Illinois*Michael Hogan Michael Hogan may refer to:*Michael Hogan (academic) (fl. early 2000s), American scholar and president of the University of Illinois*Michael Hogan (Canadian actor) Michael Hogan...

, Wellesley's head of intelligence. These include the capture of a French Imperial Eagle
French Imperial Eagle
French Imperial Eagle refers to the figure of an eagle on a staff carried into battle as a standard by the Grande Armée of Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars....

 at the Battle of Talavera in 1809, and storming of one the breaches at Badajoz. He also takes an active role in the first siege of Almeida
Siege of Almeida (1810)
In the Siege of Almeida, the French corps of Marshal Michel Ney captured the border fortress from Brigadier General William Cox's Portuguese garrison. This action was fought in the summer of 1810 during the Peninsular War portion of the Napoleonic Wars...

, the Battle of Bussaco, and of Barossa, Ciudad Rodrigo, Fuentes de Onoro
Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
In the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro , the British-Portuguese Army under Viscount Wellington checked an attempt by the French Army of Portugal under Marshal André Masséna to relieve the besieged city of Almeida.-Background:...

, Salamanca
Battle of Salamanca
The Battle of Salamanca saw Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish armies under the Duke of Wellington defeat Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces among the hills around Arapiles south of Salamanca, Spain on July 22, 1812 during the Peninsular War....

, Vitoria
Battle of Vitoria
At the Battle of Vitoria an allied British, Portuguese, and Spanish army under General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan near Vitoria in Spain, leading to eventual victory in the Peninsular War.-Background:In July 1812, after...

 and Toulouse
Battle of Toulouse (1814)
The Battle of Toulouse was one of the final battles of the Napoleonic Wars, four days after Napoleon's surrender of the French Empire to the nations of the Sixth Coalition...

.

Over this period he rises in rank from Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 through Captain to Major
Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

, eventually taking unofficial command of the entire regiment. In parallel Sharpe's friend and colleague, Harper, rises from Rifleman
Rifleman
Although ultimately originating with the 16th century handgunners and the 17th century musketeers and streltsy, the term rifleman originated from the 18th century. It would later become the term for the archetypal common soldier.-History:...

 to Regimental Sergeant Major
Regimental Sergeant Major
Regimental Sergeant Major is an appointment held by warrant officers class 1 in the British Army, the British Royal Marines and in the armies of many Commonwealth nations, including Australia and New Zealand; and by chief warrant officers in the Canadian Forces...

.

His intelligence work for Hogan and Wellesley brings him the long lasting enmity of the fictional French spymaster
Spymaster
A spymaster is a ring leader of a spy ring, run by a secret service.-Historical spymasters:*Dai Li *Francis Walsingham *James Jesus Angleton *Joseph Peters...

 Pierre Ducos, who conspires several times to destroy Sharpe's career, reputation and life.

Sharpe possibly appears in Simon Scarrow
Simon Scarrow
Simon Scarrow is a UK-based author, born in Nigeria and now based in Norfolk. He completed a master's degree at the University of East Anglia after working at the Inland Revenue, and then went into teaching as a lecturer, firstly at East Norfolk Sixth Form College, then at City College Norwich.He...

's The Fields of Death
The Fields of Death
The Fields of Death is the fourth and final book in Simon Scarrow's The Revolution Quartet series, which tells the story of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars from the point of view of Sir Arthur Wellesley and Napoleon Bonaparte.-Plot:The book covers the time period between April 1809,...

, although his surname is not confirmed. A Major in the 95th Rifles called Richard and who, "unusually for an officer... carries a rifle like his men" delivers captured French orders to the Duke of Wellington indicating the enemy's intention to fall back to Vitoria.

Prior to the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

, Sharpe is appointed aide to the Prince of Orange
William II of the Netherlands
William II was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg from 7 October 1840 until his death in 1849.- Early life and education :...

, so finally achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel. Disgusted by the Prince's dangerous incompetence during the course of the battle, Sharpe deserts his post (after making an attempt on the Prince's life), but comes to the aid of his old regiment, Prince of Wales Own Volunteers (formerly the South Essex), steadying the line and preventing a French breakthrough. Wellesley then gives him command of the unit for the remainder of the battle (Sharpe's Waterloo).

Retirement


In 1820 Sharpe, now retired and living as a farmer in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

, is commissioned by the Countess of Mouromorto to find her husband, Don Blas Vivar, who has disappeared in the Spanish colony of Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

; both she and her husband had encountered Sharpe in 1809, during the events leading up to the assault on Santiago de Compostella.

Accompanied by his old companion, Patrick Harper, Sharpe travels to South America, and becomes involved in the Chilean War of Independence along with Lord Cochrane
Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald
Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, 1st Marquess of Maranhão, GCB, ODM , styled Lord Cochrane between 1778 and 1831, was a senior British naval flag officer and radical politician....

. En route Sharpe finally meets Napoleon, in exile on St Helena.

Relationships and family


Sharpe, the son of a prostitute, has almost no memory of his mother, and no knowledge of his father. The author, Bernard Cornwell, in answer to a query on his website, wrote a riddle which he claims contains the father's identity: "Take you out, put me in and a horse appears in this happy person!" No solution has yet been provided or published.

Sharpe is both a romantic and a womanizer; In Sharpe's Rifles, Harper notes that "He'll fall in love with anything in a petticoat. I've seen his type before. Got the sense of a half-witted sheep when it comes to women."

In India Sharpe asks for permission to marry Mary Bickerstaff, who later leaves him (Sharpe's Tiger), and has a brief affair with Simone Joubert, who bolts with gems he left with her for safe keeping (Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe's Fortress).

His relationship with Lady Grace Hale in 1805 has a more lasting impact; the birth of his first child, who dies only a few hours after his mother, leaves Sharpe deeply distressed. Sharpe also conceives a child with Astrid Skovgaard in Copenhagen, but she is murdered by British spymaster Lord Pumphrey (Sharpe's Trafalgar, Sharpe's Prey).

During the early years of the Peninsula Campaign Sharpe's affections are torn between a Portuguese courtesan, Josefina LaCosta, and the partisan leader Teresa Moreno (Sharpe's Eagle, Sharpe's Gold). Teresa bears Sharpe a daughter, Antonia (Sharpe's Company), in 1811, and marries Sharpe in 1812, but is murdered a year later by the renegade Obadiah Hawkeswill (Sharpe's Enemy). Sharpe leaves his daughter to be raised by Teresa's family, and, as far as is known, never sees her again.

Over the same period Sharpe also conducts affairs with an English governess
Governess
A governess is a girl or woman employed to teach and train children in a private household. In contrast to a nanny or a babysitter, she concentrates on teaching children, not on meeting their physical needs...

, Sarah Fry (Sharpe's Escape), Caterina Veronica Blazquez, a blackmailing prostitute (Sharpe's Fury), and the French spy Hélène Leroux (Sharpe's Sword, Sharpe's Honour).

For some years Sharpe carried a small portrait of Jane Gibbons, taken from her brother's murdered body (Sharpe's Eagle). In 1813, he returns to England to fetch reinforcements, and meets, elopes with, and marries Jane (Sharpe's Regiment). Sharpe remains faithful to his second wife, until she herself proves disloyal; when Sharpe is falsely accused of theft and murder, she embarks on an adulterous affair with Sharpe's former friend Lord John Rossendale and steals the fortune Sharpe had accumulated in London. It is while searching for evidence to clear his name that Sharpe meets and falls in love with Lucille Castineau (nee Lassan), the widow of a French officer killed at Vitoria (Sharpe's Revenge, Sharpe's Waterloo).

Although unable to marry while Jane lives, Sharpe settles with Lucille on her family estate in Normandy and raises two children, Patrick-Henri, who becomes a French Cavalry Officer (and a character in Bernand Cornwell's The Starbuck Chronicles
The Starbuck Chronicles
The Starbuck Chronicles are a series of historical fiction novels by British author Bernard Cornwell set during the American Civil War. They follow the exploits of a young Boston-born Confederate officer, Nathaniel Starbuck....

), and Dominique, who ultimately marries an English aristocrat
Aristocracy (class)
The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which has or once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India,...

.

By 1861, Patrick-Henri, then a colonel in the Imperial Guard Cavalry observing the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 and Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 armies during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, mentions that his mother is "very lonely" so it may be assumed that Sharpe has died sometime before that date.

(The Sharpe Companion gives Sharpe's year of death as 1860, though this is never stated in any of the books.)

This is contradicted in the Television adaptation Sharpe's Challenge
Sharpe's Challenge
Sharpe's Challenge is a British television drama, part of a series that follows the career of Richard Sharpe . Here, the former British soldier undertakes his last mission for his former commander, the Duke of Wellington.-Plot:In 1803 India, Sergeant Sharpe leads a patrol to an East India Company...

, set in 1817, in which Sharpe claims that Lucille has already died.

Promotions

  • Circa 1793. Enlisted as a Private.
  • Circa 1796-97. Promoted to Corporal. Demoted to private after passing wind on parade.
  • 4 May 1799. Promoted for gallantry to Sergeant after Siege of Seringapatam (Sharpe's Tiger).
  • 23 September 1803. Commissioned for gallantry as an Ensign after the Battle of Assaye by General Wellesley (Sharpe's Triumph).
  • Circa 1806. On transfer to the 95th Rifles, Sharpe becomes a Second Lieutenant, equivalent in rank to an Ensign, as the Rifles do not have Ensigns (Sharpe's Prey).
  • Circa 1807-08. Sharpe promoted to Lieutenant - the exact time frame is not referred to in the novels but occurred sometime after the events of Sharpe's Prey and before Sharpe's Rifles
    Sharpe's Rifles (novel)
    Sharpe's Rifles was the first prequel novel in the series written by Bernard Cornwell. It tells the story of Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January 1809...

    .
  • July 1809. Gazetted by General Wellesley as a Captain after saving the Regimental Colour of the South Essex Battalion at Valdelacasa (Sharpe's Eagle
    Sharpe's Eagle (novel)
    Sharpe's Eagle is an historical novel by Bernard Cornwell. Set in July 1809 during the Peninsular War and featuring the Battle of Talavera it is the 8th in the Richard Sharpe Series...

    ).
  • January 1812. Reverted to the rank of Lieutenant after his gazetting
    London Gazette
    The London Gazette is one of the official journals of record of the British government, and the most important among such official journals in the United Kingdom, in which certain statutory notices are required to be published...

     as Captaincy was refused by Horse Guards
    Horse Guards (building)
    Horse Guards is a large grade I listed building in the Palladian style between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade in London, England. It was built between 1751 and 1753 by John Vardy to a design by William Kent. The building was constructed on the site of the Guard House of the old Whitehall Palace,...

     and in the absence of a vacant Captain's position in the South Essex (Sharpe's Company
    Sharpe's Company (novel)
    Sharpe's Company is a historical novel by Bernard Cornwell. Set January to August 1812 during the Peninsular War and featuring the Siege of Badajoz, it is the 13th in the Richard Sharpe Series.-Plot introduction:...

    ).
  • 7 April 1812. Restored to rank of Captain in the South Essex Battalion after successfully leading an unofficial forlorn hope
    Forlorn hope
    A forlorn hope is a band of soldiers or other combatants chosen to take the leading part in a military operation, such as an assault on a defended position, where the risk of casualties is high....

     to take the third breach of Badajoz and the death of several Captains in the Battalion (Sharpe's Company
    Sharpe's Company (novel)
    Sharpe's Company is a historical novel by Bernard Cornwell. Set January to August 1812 during the Peninsular War and featuring the Siege of Badajoz, it is the 13th in the Richard Sharpe Series.-Plot introduction:...

    ).
  • 14 November 1812. Promoted to the army (as opposed to regimental) rank of Brevet
    Brevet (military)
    In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

     Major by the Prince Regent (Sharpe's Enemy
    Sharpe's Enemy (novel)
    Sharpe's Enemy: Richard Sharpe and the Defense of Portugal, Christmas 1812 is a historical novel by Bernard Cornwell set during the Napoleonic Wars...

    ).
  • 1815. Serves as Lieutenant Colonel in the 5th Belgian Light Dragoons (Dutch Army) led by the Prince of Orange during the 100 days. He later acts as Lieutenant Colonel of his old battalion during the Battle of Waterloo. At the climax of the battle, it is assumed he is given official control after Wellington says, "That is your Battalion now! So take it forward!"

Historical achievements


Despite being a fictional hero, Sharpe is often portrayed as the driving force in a number of pivotal historical events. Cornwell frankly admits to taking license with history, placing Sharpe in the place of another man whose identity is lost to history, or sometimes "stealing another man's thunder." Such accomplishments include:
  • Disabling a booby trap laid for the British soldiers assaulting Seringapatam
    Battle of Seringapatam
    The Siege of Seringapatam was the final confrontation of the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Mysore. The British achieved a decisive victory after breaching the walls of the fortress at Seringapatam and storming the citadel. Tippu Sultan, Mysore's...

     (Cornwell points out in the novel's historical note that there never actually was such a booby trap, and the event was based on a British shell that struck a magazine in the city days earlier);
  • Killing the Tippoo Sultan and looting his corpse;
  • Saving Arthur Wellesley
    Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
    Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

    's life at the Battle of Assaye
    Battle of Assaye
    The Battle of Assaye was a major battle of the Second Anglo-Maratha War fought between the Maratha Confederacy and the British East India Company...

    ;
  • Storming the walls of the inner fortress at Gawilghur
    Gawilghur
    Gawilghur was a well-fortified mountain stronghold of the Maratha Empire north of the Deccan Plateau, in the vicinity of Melghat Tiger Reserve, Amravati District, Maharashtra. It was successfully assaulted by an Anglo-Indian force commanded by Arthur Wellesley on the 15 December 1803 during the...

     and opening the gates to the besieging forces;
  • Sighting the boats that allowed Wellesley's forces to ambush Marshall Nicolas Soult's forces at the Battle of Oporto;
  • Being the first British soldier to capture an Imperial Eagle
    French Imperial Eagle
    French Imperial Eagle refers to the figure of an eagle on a staff carried into battle as a standard by the Grande Armée of Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars....

    , at the Battle of Talavera (This event never happened, the first French Eagle to be captured by the British was captured at the Battle of Barrossa in 1811);
  • Successfully assaulting the central breach at Badajoz
    Battle of Badajoz (1812)
    In the Battle of Badajoz , the Anglo-Portuguese Army, under the Earl of Wellington, besieged Badajoz, Spain and forced the surrender of the French garrison....

    ;
  • Deliberately triggering the massive explosion that destroyed the fortress of Almeida;
  • Taking command of a regiment driving off the advance of the French Imperial Guard at the Battle of Waterloo
    Battle of Waterloo
    The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

    .

Novels and short stories

Series
Num.
Title

Sub-title

1st Pub
Date
Revision Date

01 Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Seringapatam
Siege of Seringapatam
Siege of Seringapatam can refer to:* Siege of Seringapatam during the Third Anglo-Mysore War* Siege of Seringapatam during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War...

, 1799
(1997)
02 Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Assaye
Battle of Assaye
The Battle of Assaye was a major battle of the Second Anglo-Maratha War fought between the Maratha Confederacy and the British East India Company...

, September 1803
(1998)
03 Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Gawilghur
Gawilghur
Gawilghur was a well-fortified mountain stronghold of the Maratha Empire north of the Deccan Plateau, in the vicinity of Melghat Tiger Reserve, Amravati District, Maharashtra. It was successfully assaulted by an Anglo-Indian force commanded by Arthur Wellesley on the 15 December 1803 during the...

, December 1803
(1999)
04 Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

, October 1805
(2000)
05 Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Copenhagen
Battle of Copenhagen (1807)
The Second Battle of Copenhagen was a British preemptive attack on Copenhagen, targeting the civilian population in order to seize the Dano-Norwegian fleet and in turn originate the term to Copenhagenize.-Background:Despite the defeat and loss of many ships in the first Battle of Copenhagen in...

, 1807
(2001)
06 Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

, January 1809
(1988)
07 Richard Sharpe and the Campaign in Northern Portugal, Spring 1809 (2003)
08 Richard Sharpe and the Talavera Campaign, July 1809 (1981)
09 Richard Sharpe and the Destruction of Almeida
Siege of Almeida (1810)
In the Siege of Almeida, the French corps of Marshal Michel Ney captured the border fortress from Brigadier General William Cox's Portuguese garrison. This action was fought in the summer of 1810 during the Peninsular War portion of the Napoleonic Wars...

, August 1810
(1981)
10 Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Bussaco, September 1810 (2004)
11 Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Barrosa
Battle of Barrosa
The Battle of Barrosa was an unsuccessful French attack on a larger Anglo-Portuguese-Spanish force attempting to lift the siege of Cádiz, Spain during the Peninsular War...

 (March 1811), Winter 1811
(2007)
12 Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro
Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
In the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro , the British-Portuguese Army under Viscount Wellington checked an attempt by the French Army of Portugal under Marshal André Masséna to relieve the besieged city of Almeida.-Background:...

, May 1811
(1995)
13 Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Badajoz, January to April 1812 (1982)
14 Richard Sharpe and the Salamanca
Battle of Salamanca
The Battle of Salamanca saw Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish armies under the Duke of Wellington defeat Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces among the hills around Arapiles south of Salamanca, Spain on July 22, 1812 during the Peninsular War....

 Campaign, June and July 1812
(1983)
15 Richard Sharpe and the Defence of the Tormes
Alba de Tormes
Alba de Tormes is a municipality in the province of Salamanca, western Spain, part of the autonomous community of Castile-Leon. The town is on the River Tormes upstream from the city of Salamanca. Alba gave its name to one of Spain's most important dukedoms. St Teresa of Ávila died at a convent...

, August 1812 (short story)
(1999) (revised extended edition published 2002)
16 Richard Sharpe and the Defence of Portugal, Christmas 1812 (1984)
17 Richard Sharpe and the Vitoria
Battle of Vitoria
At the Battle of Vitoria an allied British, Portuguese, and Spanish army under General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan near Vitoria in Spain, leading to eventual victory in the Peninsular War.-Background:In July 1812, after...

 Campaign, February to June 1813
(1985)
18 Richard Sharpe and the Invasion of France, June to November, 1813 (1986)
19 December 1813, Franco-Spanish border (short story) (1994) (revised edition published 2003)
20 Richard Sharpe and the Winter Campaign, 1814 (1987)
21 Richard Sharpe and the Peace of 1814
First Restoration
The First Restoration, or Première Restauration in French, refers to Louis XVIII of France's accession to the throne after Napoleon's exile to Elba. It lasted from 6 April 1814 to 20 March 1815, on which day Napoleon arrived back in Paris....

 
(1989)
22 Richard Sharpe and the Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 Campaign, 15 June to 18 June 1815
(1990)
23 December 1815, Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 (short story)
(1994) (revised edition published 2003)
24 Richard Sharpe and the Emperor, 1820–21
Chilean Independence
Chilean War of Independence was an armed conflict between pro-Independence criollos who sought political and economic independence from Spain and royalist criollos, who supported the continued allegiance to and permanence within the Spanish Empire of the Kingdom of Chile...

 
(1992)

Sharpe related Wikipedia categories


:Category:Sharpe series
:Category:Richard Sharpe stories
:Category:Sharpe (TV series)
:Category:Sharpe characters

External links