The Battle of Trafalgar

trafalgar_by_radojavorYesterday was the 211th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Shouldn’t we take a moment to remember it? Famously the battle where Admiral Nelson was killed, it is considered by historians to be hugely significant for a different reason –they cite the battle as the defining point in the power of the British Navy that dominated the 19th century world from then on.

As with most topics, once you poke the surface, there are so many directions to go in! For one, there is the fact that Nelson’s ship, H.M.S. Victory, hms-victoryis still a commissioned British Navy vessel, 257 years after she was built. She is the official flagship of the First Sea Lord of the British Navy. Has anyone visited or seen it?

Then, there are all the artistic renderings of the death of Nelson, a dramatic event guaranteed to capture the public’s imagination, as well as that of countless aspiring and established artists.¬† Benjamin West’s painting is probably the most famous, with an epic feel in the lighting and composition. death_of_nelson


Accuracy was not important to West, who included portrayals of all sorts of people who weren’t actually there, not to mention that Nelson didn’t die quite so instantly. But the same flaws can be pointed to in most of the other paintings –the one by Devis, for instance, which shows Nelson dying below decks in a glow of unearthly light. They were never intended to be a historical record. deathofnelsondevis

Nelson himself was a fascinating character of our period. It just seems like we should give him a passing nod on this anniversary and consider the impact his life and leadership had on the rest of the century that followed after his death. Hats off!!


About Gail Eastwood

Gail Eastwood is the author of seven Regencies that were originally published by Signet/Penguin. After taking ten years off for family matters, she has wobbled between contemporary romantic suspense and more Regency stories, wondering what century she's really in and trying to work the rust off her writing skills. Her backlist is gradually coming out in ebook format, and some are now available in new print editions as well. She is working on the start of a Regency-set series and other new projects. Stay tuned!
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3 Responses to The Battle of Trafalgar

  1. Elena Greene says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Gail. I visited the Victory over 20 years ago but I’m afraid I don’t remember as much as I wish!

  2. I have yet to see the Victory, but it is on my Bucket List. I feel Nelson sometimes gets short shrift because he died before the fight with Napoleon was over and Wellington ended up stealing everyone’s thunder.

  3. Annette says:

    The Victory is a really, really cool ship to visit. I did in 2005 and quite enjoyed my time. There are a lot of history and plaques with important events (Nelson fell here, Nelson died here, Nelson ate here, Nelson was stuffed in a barrel here…) that were really fascinating to read and see in the context of the ship. Since the ship is ‘stocked’ with stuff (it’s not empty), you can see how life might have looked. It’s large, yet cramped, it’s got lots of passage ways and one can get turned around easily. 2005 was a huge anniversary – so they had the Victory original sail on display.. and that was amazing to see (in a semi-dark room, but still – the original sail!). See the ship if you can, because it was totally worth it.

    Also worth visiting St. Paul’s and Nelson’s tomb – another fascinating look into how things were preserved and how he was revered.

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