1. Between 1807 and 1814 the Iberian Peninsula (comprising Spain and Portugal) was the scene of a titanic and merciless struggle. It took place on many different planes: between Napoleon’s French army and the angry inhabitants; between the British, ever keen to exacerbate the emperor’s difficulties, and the marshals sent from Paris to try to keep them in check; between new forces of science and meritocracy and old ones of conservatism and birth. (46) It was also, and this is unknown even to many people well read about the period, a battle between those who made codes and those who broke them. I first discovered the Napoleonic cryptographic battle a few years ago when I was reading Sir Charles Oman’s epic History of the Peninsular War. In volume V he had attached an appendix, The Scovell Ciphers. (47) It listed many documents in code that had been captured from the French army of Spain, and whose secrets had been revealed by the work of one George Scovell, an officer in British headquarters. Oman rated Scovell’s significance highly, but at the same time, the general nature of his History meant that (48) he could not analyze carefully what this obscure officer may or may not have contributed to that great struggle between nations or indeed tell us anything much about the man himself. I was keen to read more, but was surprised to find that Oman’s appendix, published in 1914, was the only considered thing that had been written about this secret war. I became convinced that this story was every bit as exciting and significant as that of Enigma and the breaking of German codes in the Second World War. The question was, could it be told? Studying Scovell’s papers at the Public Record Office, London, I found that he had left an extensive journal and copious notes about his work in the Peninsula. What was more, many original French dispatches had been preserved in this collection, which I realized was priceless. (49)There may have been many spies and intelligence officers during the Napoleonic Wars, but it is usually extremely difficult to find the material they actually provided or worked on. As I researched Scovell's story I found far moreof interest besides his intelligencework. His status in Lord W ellington's headquarters and the recognition given to him for hiswork were all bound up with the class politics of the army at the time. His tale of self-improvement and hard work wouldmake a fascinating biographyin its ownright, butrepresents something more than that, (50) Just as the code breaking has its wider relevancein the stuggle for Spain, so his attempts to make his way up the promotion ladder speakvolumes about British society.