This is an English language lesson about Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson.
He was a British Admiral during the reign of King George the Third.
His most famous victory was against a combined French and Spanish fleet of ships at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805.
His words ‘England expects that every man will do his duty’ rang in the ears of every serving seaman fighting under his command.
Nelson was renowned as a master tactician and for his great personal bravery.
He had previously lost an eye and his right arm in an earlier battle but remained strong, strategically astute and resolute for battle. He was also blighted by malaria and sea sickness for long periods of his life.
The war between England and France was centred on trade and territory but it was also a personal feud between Nelson and the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
Bonaparte dominated the European mainland and wanted to invade Great
Britain in order to gain complete control of the trading routes.
He planned to use a naval decoy to the Caribbean in order to sweep through the English Channel and invade Britain unmolested. Nelson was the ‘thorn in Bonaparte’s side’
Cape Trafalgar is a place in the south of Spain near to Cadiz where the Spanish fleet of thirty two ships were harboured and lay in wait.
Nelson ‘got wind’ of their location.
The fleet of twenty seven British ships headed by Nelson in his flagship ‘Victory’ won the decisive battle in a five hour engagement. It would be several weeks before Napoleon, far away in France, himself heard of the defeat.
None of the British fleet were destroyed but there were inevitable casualties. 458 British seamen died in the battle and more than 1,200 were wounded. The numbers for the French and Spanish were much greater.
The Napoleonic wars would continue for another ten years but Britain’s naval supremacy would never again be challenged. The invasion of Britain had been thwarted.
Unfortunately, Nelson was mortally wounded by a French musketeer towards the end of the battle and died aboard his flagship. He famously said ‘Thank God I have done my duty’ just before he died. He was only 47 years old.
Nelson became a British national hero and was destined for immortality. Such was the nature of the man that historians generally agree that he preferred to die at the moment of supreme victory than live on in a disabled state.
Nelson’s body was brought home in a barrel of brandy for the hero’s funeral.
It was decided by King George that he should have a State funeral. He was buried at St. Paul’s Cathedral on 9th January 1806.
In commemoration of his victory, Trafalgar Square was established in the centre of London with a stone memorial column in the centre of it and Nelson on top of it.
Today it is a major tourist attraction for visitors to London from all around the world.
Trafalgar Square is not the only tourist attraction associated with Nelson.
Although his flagship ‘Victory’ needed some ‘running repairs’ in Gibraltar after the battle, it survived in tact and has been faithfully restored in modern times.
HM Victory can be visited in the harbour of Portsmouth in the south of England.


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