The Robinson Library

The Robinson Library >> England >> Political and Military History
Horatio Nelson

hero of the Battle of Trafalgar

Horatio Nelson, by John Francis Rigaud, 1781

Viscount Nelson, one of England's greatest admirals, was given command of the British Mediterranean fleet in 1803 at the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars between France and Britain and their respective allies. At the Battle of Trafalgar, fought near the Strait of Gibraltar on October 21, 1805, Nelson defeated a combined French and Spanish fleet. The victory cost Nelson his life, but ended French naval dominance in Europe. Napoleon then decided that the only way he could defeat the British was through economic warfare. Britain responded by taking measures that were among the primary causes of the War of 1812.

Chronology of Horatio Nelson's Life and Career
September 29, 1758 Born at Burnham-Thorpe, Norfolk.
ca. 1770 Accompanied Captain Maurice Suckling, his uncle, on a voyage to the Falkland Islands.
ca. 1773 Served aboard the Carcass as a coxswain on its voyage to the Arctic seas.
ca. 1776 Became a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.
1779 Given command of the frigate Hinchinbrook.
1784-1787 Commanded the frigate Boreas, stationed in the West Indies.
1787 Married the widow of Josiah Nisbet.
1787-1793 Retired from the Royal Navy.
1793 Given command of the Agamemnon and ordered to join the Mediterranean fleet.
  Wounded during the Battle of Calvi, on the Corsican coast, and lost the sight of his right eye.
1797 Promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral.
1797 Served under Admiral Sir John Jervis at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent.
1797 Made a Knight of the Bath.
1797 Led a small landing party in an attack on Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The British were defeated and Nelson's right arm was badly mangled and had to be amputated.
August 1, 1798 Attacked and almost destroyed the French fleet in the Battle of the Nile.
1798 Made Baron of the Nile.
1801 Promoted to Vice-Admiral.
1801 Defeated the Danish fleet at the Battle of Copenhagen.
May 1803 Made Commander-in-Chief of the fleet.
October 21, 1805 Fatally wounded during the British defeat of the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar.

A statue of Nelson sits atop a memorial column in London's Trafalgar Square, which was named in honor of the battle which established British domination over the seas.

Nelson Statue

War of 1812
Trafalgar Square

Questions or comments about this page?

The Robinson Library >> England >> Political and Military History

This page was last updated on September 29, 2018.