Spanish history 101: The Battle of Trafalgar and the man that gave no shit about his blown up leg
Now guys. If I started talking about the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) now I wouldn’t finish till next year. It has been a particular obsession of mine for many years. (Liking to my obsession with Admiral Horatio Nelson and naval history in general.)
So I’m just gonna pinpoint a couple of details before going to the point:
1. It’s included in the context of the Napoleonic Wars and Spain had a puppet role in that conflict. Most of the country was against helping the French but PM Godoy made a pact with Napoleon. Our Admiral Gravina, had to obey the orders of Villeneuve, sent by Napoleon. Gravina was an incredibly skilled and experienced sailor. He knew the waters, knew the British and the weather patterns of the Channel. However,
Villeneuve refused to listen to advise and followed his own procedure. Which at the end made an already disadvantageous situation ten times worse.
2. Long Story short - it was a battle for the Gibraltar channel and therefore for the control of the Mediterranean, but was included in to a larger scheme by Napoleon to conquer Great Britain.
3. The Trafalgar campaign put an official end to Spain’s imperial era since it destroyed most of its fleet, but also was one of the sparks that fueled the Peninsular War.
And now I’d like to highlight a name:
Cosme Damián Churruca y Elorza
Churruca was a Basque scientist, philosopher, and navy general that during the Battle of Trafalgar commandeered the ship San Juan Nepomuceno. Like Gravina, he knew how dark the prediction was for them so the day before the Battle he sent his brother a letter in which he stated. “If you hear about my ship being captured, tell everyone that I’m dead.” For him, there were only two outcomes of that battle: Victory or Death.
and here comes the METAL part:
As Churruca was commandeering his ship against six British attackers at the same time from the captain’s bridge, a cannonball came in and BLEW UP HIS LEG from the knee down.
And yo know what he did?
He had a bucket full of sand brought for him, STUCK WHAT WAS LEFT OF HIS LEG IN IT TO KEEP HIMSELF UPRIGHT AND KEPT FIGHTING!!!
Finally he died from blood loss but never gave up and before his death ordered to nail the Spanish flag to the ship so in case of defeat it couldn’t be taken whole by the enemy.
Some say it was also a bucket of flour. In any case he was the most metal sailor in our history and was honored even by his adversaries after his death.
Main sources: Jose Luís Corral’s “Trafalgar”, Pérez Reverte’s “Cabo Trafalgar” and another book I read years ago which name I can’t recall + several studies. More information about Churruca can be consulted here (in Spanish, based on Corral’s investigation) or here in English.
Ok, gave in and made a mood board to post in time for Spain’s birthday! I started with 6 tiles then it became 9 after all. :3 The cosplay pics were taken by Tessa Rene.
Some groups were asking for APH Spain promotion today… Sorry this is not a manifesto, but at least I can leave some history notes about the pics I chose:
Fun fact about sherry: the English had always enjoyed it, but Drake stealing a lot of casks in 1587 to bring home was what really made their love for it grow, which Shakespeare even characterized.
The Santísima Trinidad was a first-rate ship launched in Cuba which eventually became the flagship of the Spanish fleet for a good while before finally wrecked in the Battle of Trafalgar. There is a life-sized replica in Alicante.
The Cross of Burgundy was used by Habsburg Spain from 16th to 18th centuries and also represented their overseas empire.
The Seville Cathedral is where Columbus is buried. Despite it all, his voyage was a significant point of Spain’s history that marked the start of their New World conquests.
“Plus Ultra” (“Further Beyond”), the national motto of Spain, dates back to Charles I / Charles V the Holy Roman Emperor.
“The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838”
Oil on canvas
Located in the National Gallery London, England
HMS Temeraire was one of the last second-rate (18th century ships mounted with 90 to 98 guns on three gun decks) ships of the line (type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through to the mid-19th century) to have played a distinguished role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The painting depicts the 98-gun ship HMS Temeraire, being towed by a paddle-wheel steam tug towards its final berth in Rotherhithe in south-east London in 1838 to be broken up for scrap.
In 2005 it was voted the nation’s favourite painting in a poll organised by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
At this moment 211 years ago, Horatio Nelson was spotted by a French sharpshooter up in the fighting tops of the “Redoubtable”.
This ship had become entangled with Nelson’s HMS Victory and a fierce melee had ensued. Nelson continued to pace the decks in full view of the enemy, and the sharpshooter fired at the diminutive Admiral. The musket ball penetrated his shoulder and lodged in his spine. He was carried below and spent an agonising three hours clinging to life until the news of the British triumph over the Franco-Spanish fleet was brought to him by Thomas Hardy, Captain of the Victory.