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Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson KB

Horatio Nelson (17581805) was the most popular British hero of the late 18th and 19th centuries. His naval exploits were commemorated in paintings, prints, and all manner of souvenirs, and were celebrated in poetry and song. He became the model of duty and devotion to one's country, a courageous and chivalrous man sacrificing his life for the good of the nation. His message to the fleet at Trafalgar, urging every man there to do his duty, echoed down the years.

A fundamental element in Nelson's reputation was his appeal to all sections of society. Born in Norfolk in 1758, the son of a country parson, Nelson began his naval career at the age of twelve. He ended it as an admiral and a peer of the realm, dying in battle on board the Victory in 1805. His great naval victories were gained by a combination of his tactical genius and his ability to inspire all who served with him, whether his fellow officers or the seamen under his command. Yet this giant among naval commanders was, in person, a pale, slight figure, whose body with its shattered arm and blinded eye appeared to have absorbed the blows aimed at Britain by its enemies. His death was an occasion of national mourning, an outpouring of grief in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars. His dramatic funeral in St Paul's Cathedral was attended by royalty, politicians and survivors of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Emma Hart as Ariadne Repro ID BHC2736 NMM LondonNelson's role as an inspiration for Britain's youth suffered during the first half of the 20th century. During and after the First World War, for example, the cult of sacrifice became a liability and continued to be so as the numbers killed in modern wars escalated horrifically. Nelson's personal reputation also suffered in this period. His intimate life was examined in print and on film, not always to his advantage: in particular, his neglect of his wife, and his passionate relationship with Emma, Lady Hamilton, were analysed in minute detail.



Ironically, in that process, the image of Nelson came to chime again with modern sensibilities. The saint gave way to the man, with the fears and flaws of other mortals, yet still with the courage to carry out his responsibilities and to lead by example.

Today, almost two centuries after his death at Trafalgar, the 'immortal memory' of Nelson endures. Few other historical figures have so resoundingly survived such changes of fortune.





My Life

Midshipman, 1758-1777

Lieutenant, 1779-1780

Captain, 1779-1787

Half-pay, 1787-1793

The Mediterranean and Corsica, 1793-1796

The Battle of Cape St Vincent, 14 February 1797

Cadiz and Tenerife, June/July 1797

The Nile and Naples, 1798-1800

The Battle of Copenhagen, 2 April 1801

The Channel, August-October 1801

The Mediterranean, 1803-1805

Update, Friday night 13 of September 1805

My Ships

Raisonnable

Lowestoffe

Little Lucy

Hinchinbroke

Albemarle

Boreas

Agamemnon

Captain

La Minerve

Theseus

Vanguard

Foudroyant

St George

Amazon

Victory

 

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