Welcome to nelsons-victory.com
Website dedicated to the life, career and death of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson,
1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB
(29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805)
and all about his famous flagship HMS Victory
Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, (29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805) was a British flag officer in the Royal Navy. He was noted for his inspirational leadership, grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics, which together resulted in a number of decisive British naval victories, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. Nelson was shot and killed on board his flagship HMS Victory during the famous Battle of Trafalgar near the port city of Cádiz on the 21st of October 1805.
Born on 29 September 1758 in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, Horatio Nelson was the sixth of 11 children of the Reverend Edmond Nelson. Nelson joined the navy in 1771, aged 12, on a ship commanded by his maternal uncle Maurice Suckling. Nelson became a captain three months before his 21st birthday on 11th June 1779 and saw service in the West Indies, Baltic and Canada. He married Frances Nisbet in 1787 in Nevis, and returned to England with his bride to spend the next five years on half-pay, frustrated at the lack of a command. When Britain entered the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793, Nelson was given command of the Agamemnon. He served in the Mediterranean, helped capture Corsica and saw battle at Calvi (where he lost the sight in his right eye). Three years later at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797 Nelson was hit by a musket ball in his right elbow, which shattered the bone so badly that his arm had to be amputated.
Nelson was a complex person. Yet he was considerate, kind and interested in those under him. A brilliant leader and battle strategist, he was independent and often defiant of authority. He was also brave to the point of bravado and desperate for approval – which he certainly received. His defiance brought him victories against the Spanish off Cape Vincent in 1797, and at the Battle of Copenhagen four years later, where he ignored orders to cease action by putting his telescope to his blind eye claiming "I really do not see the signal, Damn the signal, Keep mine for close action flying." The British fleet then proceeded to continue the battle in which the Danes were subsequently defeated.
At the Battle of the Nile in 1798, Nelson successfully destroyed Napoleon's fleet and thus his bid for a direct trade route to India. Following this spectacular victory, Nelson was awarded the title 'Baron Nelson of The Nile and Burnham Thorpe', thus becoming Lord Nelson.
In 1801 Nelsons victory at Copenhagen earned him a more senior peerage as a Viscount although he was still addressed as Lord Nelson. Lord Nelson did not officially receive his Order of the Bath until 1803, which was the first investiture of new Bath Knights in Westminster Abbey since 1788. Nelson however had re-joined the Mediterranean fleet by the time of his installation, so it was received by William (his cousin and husband of his niece Kitty) by proxy. Protocol however demanded that the proxy must at the least be a fellow Knight, so William was hastily knighted.
Nelson's highest rank was Vice Admiral of The White and his most senior appointment in that rank was Commander in Chief, Mediterranean Fleet from 1803 until his death at Cape Trafalgar in 1805. Nelsons most famous engagement saved Britain from threat of invasion by Napoleon, but it would be Nelson's last. Before the battle on 21 October 1805, Nelson sent out the famous signal to his fleet 'England expects that every man will do his duty'. Nelson was killed by a French sniper a few hours later while leading the attack on the combined French and Spanish fleet.
Nelson's crew aboard HMS Victory insisted on their right to take home to England the body of their beloved commander, which had been specially preserved in a cask of spirits of brandy. So, after some temporary repairs at Gibraltar, HMS Victory slowly limped home. After lying in state in the Painted Hall at Greenwich Hospital, Nelson's body was carried up the River Thames in a spectacular water-borne procession and then on to St Paul's Cathedral. Nelson's body lies in a coffin made from the planks of the French flagship "L'Orient" which had exploded at the Battle of The Nile in 1798. This lead lined coffin inside the sarcophagus was placed within the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral in London directly beneath the ornate dome that occupies the central position in the Cathedral.
Nelsons death at Trafalgar secured his position as one of Britain's most heroic figures. Today he is remembered as a British hero, who defeated Napoleon and established Britain as the supreme naval power. The significance of the victory and his death during the battle of Trafalgar led to his signal, "England expects that every man will do his duty", being regularly quoted, paraphrased and referenced up to the modern day.
A number of monuments and memorials were constructed across the country and abroad, to honour his memory and achievements. Dublin's monument to Nelson, Nelson's Pillar, completed in 1809, was destroyed by Irish republicans in 1966. In Montreal, a statue was started in 1808 and completed in 1809. Others followed around the world, with London's Trafalgar Square being created in 1835 and the centrepiece, Nelson's Column, finished in 1843. A Royal Society of Arts blue plaque was unveiled in 1876 to commemorate Nelson at 147 New Bond Street.
Nelson's influence saw periodic revivals of interest, especially during times of crisis in Britain. Nelson has also been frequently depicted in art and literature; he appeared in paintings by Benjamin West and Arthur William Devis, and in books and biographies by John McArthur, James Stanier Clarke and Robert Southey. Nelson is also celebrated and commemorated in numerous songs, written both during his life and following his death. Nelson's victory in the Battle of the Nile is commemorated in "The Battle of the Nile : a favourite patriotic song." [Thomas Attwood's "Nelson's Tomb: A Favourite Song"] commemorates Nelson's death in the Battle of Trafalgar.
HMS Victory, Admiral Lord Nelson's flagship, remains the oldest commissioned warship in the world and is still manned by Officers and Ratings of the Royal Navy. HMS Victory is the only surviving warship that fought in the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars. Now the flagship of the Second Sea Lord and Commander in Chief Naval Home Command, HMS Victory lies in No 2 Dry Dock at Portsmouth Naval Base in Hampshire UK, where she has a permanent berth and is open to the public.
This website brings together the life and career of both Horatio Nelson and HMS Victory. Content will be regularly updated. In case of any questions, suggestions, comments or credits to be added feel free to contact me. To end this welcome page here is my favourite Nelson quote: "go thou and do likewise"
Thanks for visiting this website, enjoy!
The owner of the website, Marcella Klein