Things you may not know about Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson in brief
Horatio Nelson was the most famous admiral of the Napoleonic Wars who has been celebrated ever since as the greatest sea warrior in British history.
Although a small and sickly child, Nelson went to sea when he was just 12 years old. Despite persistent seasickness, his career flourished as he moved from ship to ship in the East Indies and the Caribbean, showing a flair for naval strategy. He became one of the youngest ever captains in the Royal Navy.
He saw active service in the American War of Independence, in the wars of the French Revolution and in battles in the East Indies, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, winning the hearts of the English people reading about his exploits.
Nelson was also one of the most loved leaders amongst the seamen of the Royal Navy and fought side by side with his crews during many of the battles. However, his personal life came to be as well known as his military career. His left his marriage to Lady Nelson, formerly Frances Nisbet, to live with his mistress, Lady Hamilton, and their child.
The most famous battles of Horatio Nelson's career, the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar, came later in his career, when he was a senior commander. Nothing created the figure we recognise as Nelson, on monuments around the world, more than the Battle of Trafalgar. This was the greatest naval victory in British history. Before the battle Nelson sent a signal in semaphore to his fleet: "England expects that every man will do his duty." Nelson died in the battle; his last words were "Thank God I have done my duty." When the news of his death reached England, the king wept, as did thousands of ordinary citizens, who lined the route of his funeral.
Throughout his naval career, Nelson was wounded many times in combat, losing an arm and the sight in his right eye. As a person he could be vain, thoughtless and even, at times, reckless in his ruthless desire for recognition and glory. He showed little pity to those who crossed him. But he was also enthusiastic, eager and patriotic, as well as brave. He was noted for his ability to inspire and bring out the best in his men. His qualities, good and bad, set him apart from his contemporaries and are the reason that he is still remembered today.
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