Nelson, Horatio


Nelson, Horatio
(1758–1805)
   A British admiral victorious in the greatest naval actions of the Napoleonic Wars and among the most celebrated military leaders of the period. Small in stature and less than physically robust as a boy, Nelson was nonetheless from an early age selfconfident to the point of conceit. He demonstrated a recurrent capacity to make and take chances. At the age of 12, he asked to be taken to sea by his uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling, on a Royal Naval expedition to the Falkland Islands during a crisis with Spain. In 1777, Nelson was commissioned a lieutenant and two years later promoted to captain. He served in the American Revolution, but after 1787 had no command until 1793, when Britain went to war with Revolutionary France. Under the command and tutelage of Admiral John Jervis, commander of the Royal Navy Mediterranean fleet, Nelson established a reputation for exceptional daring and imaginative tactics. These won him a promotion to rear admiral and a knighthood after his performance in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent in 1797. By that year he had also lost an eye and an arm in action. The next year Nelson was ordered to blockade the French fleet in the Mediterranean but failed to interdict the crossing of Napoleon Bonaparte ’s army to Egypt. This he quickly redeemed by pouncing on the French fleet at anchor in Aboukir Bay at the mouth of the Nile River, sinking or capturing 11 battleships and two frigates and stranding Napoleon’s army in Egypt. Nelson’s spectacular victory heartened potential British allies on the continent and was a factor in the formation of the Second Coalition against France. Nelson’s warrior renown back in England now shielded his professional and personal life against charges of insubordination in action and ruinous scandal for his affair with Emma Hamilton, the wife of the British ambassador in Naples.
   In 1800, Nelson was transferred to the Baltic and placed under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker. In the Battle of Copenhagen, Nelson pressed the attack against the Danish fleet in direct violation of Parker’s orders to disengage in the thick of the action. Emerging again with a lopsided victory, for his dashing disobedience he was made a viscount and commander of the Baltic fleet. After the brief peace of the Treaty of Amiens, Nelson was recalled to the Mediterranean and ordered to prevent the combined French and Spanish fleets from escorting an invasion force against England. In the effort he shadowed the French fleet under Admiral Pierre Villeneuve across the Atlantic to the West Indies and back before it was finally able to rendezvous with the Spanish fleet at Cadiz. Under pressure from Napoleon the combined fleets finally sailed and were brought to battle by Nelson off Cape Trafalgar on October 21, 1805. In all, 17 French and Spanish ships were sunk or captured, and the threat of a French invasion of England lifted. Trafalgar thus had strategic consequences for the remainder of the Napoleonic Wars, as a secure England could now support and subsidize allies on the continent. The cost of the triumph, however, was the death of Nelson himself. Felled by a sniper, he did not live to see the end of the battle. His body was returned to London in a brandy cask and interred at St. Paul’s cathedral. Beyond his enormous contribution to Britain’s struggle against Napoleon, Nelson’s tactical brilliance and will-to-combat set a standard for generations of Royal Navy captains and bequeathed a mythic status both to that navy and the British Empire for almost a century.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Rodger, N.A.M. The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649–1815. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004;
    Southey, Robert. Life of Nelson. London: HarperCollins, 2004;
    Sugden, John. Nelson, A Dream of Glory. London: Pimlico, 2005;
    Vincent, Edgar. Nelson: Love and Fame. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.
   CARL CAVANAGH HODGE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nelson,Horatio — Nel·son (nĕlʹsən), Horatio. Viscount Nelson. 1758 1805. British admiral who defeated the French fleet in the Battle of the Nile (1798), thus ending Napoleon s attempt to conquer Egypt, and crushed French and Spanish naval forces at Trafalgar… …   Universalium

  • Nelson Horatio Darton — Darton in about 1895 Born 17 December 1865 …   Wikipedia

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  • Nelson, Horatio Nelson, Viscount — known as Lord Nelson born Sept. 29, 1758, Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, Eng. died Oct. 21, 1805, at sea, off Cape Trafalgar, Spain British naval commander. He entered the navy in 1770 and served in the West Indies from 1777 to 1783. In 1793 he was… …   Universalium

  • Nelson, Horatio Nelson, vizconde — llamado Lord Nelson (29 sep. 1758, Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, Inglaterra–21 oct. 1805, en alta mar, frente al cabo de Trafalgar, España). Comandante naval británico. Ingresó a la armada en 1770 y sirvió en las Indias Occidentales (Antillas) entre… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Nelson, Horatio, Viscount — (1758 1805)    Born at Burnham Thorpe, England. In 1770 entered the navy; in 1794 served under Lord Hood in the capture of Corsica; under Sir John Jervis at the battle of Cape St. Vincent, 1797; and in 1798 defeated the French fleet in Aboukir… …   The makers of Canada

  • NELSON, HORATIO, LORD —    great English admiral, born at Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk; entered the navy as a midshipman in 1770, and after voyages to the West Indies, the Arctic regions, and the East Indies, was promoted to a lieutenancy in 1777; three years later he headed …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Nelson, Horatio, vizconde de — ► (1758 1805) Almirante británico. Derrotó a la escuadra franco española en Trafalgar en 1805 …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Horatio Lord Nelson — Horatio Nelson Pour les articles homonymes, voir Nelson. Horatio Nelson Naissance 29 s …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson — Horatio Nelson and Lord Nelson redirect here. For other uses, see Horatio Nelson (disambiguation) and Lord Nelson (disambiguation). Vice Admiral The Right Honourable The Viscount Nelson KB …   Wikipedia


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