viscount horatio nelson

The Battle of Trafalgar

by J.M.W. Turner.

1822.

210 years ago today the Royal Navy under the command of Viscount Horatio Nelson defeated the combined fleets of Spain and France, thus destroying the hopes of Napoleon Bonaparte to gain control of the seas.

The painting by Turner displays several events of the battle occurring simultaneously. Nelson’s famous signal “England expects everyman to do his duty” can be see flying from HMS Victory (11:50); the top-mizzenmast of Victory falls (13:00); the HMS Achille is on fire in the background (late afternoon) and the French ship Redoutable sinks in the foreground (following day).

The above painting can be seen on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.

History Fact 7/100 - Admiral Nelson

Viscount Horatio Nelson, the First Duke of Bronté, was a flag officer in the British Navy. He was born in Norfolk, the son of a clergyman, and one of eleven children. He joined the Royal Navy at twelve, and ascended to the rank of Captain by the time he was twenty.

During the French Revolution, Nelson was in command of the Agamemnon, a 64 gun third rate ship of the line.
Nelson became known as a bold, rational man, with occasional disregard for his senior officers. During the Battle of Copenhagen, in order to avoid withdrawing his ship, he put his telescope to his blind eye and claimed he couldn’t see the signal.

Nelson’s strategic excellence was crucial at the Battle of the Nile, where the English fleet successfully destroyed the fleet of Napoleon. His most famous battle is Cape Trafalgar, where he led the English against a combined fleet of the Spanish and French, protecting England from invasion. Nelson was killed during this battle as he paced the quarterdeck, shot by a French sniper.

The body of Admiral Nelson was transported back to England, and he was given a state funeral.