This Day in History, October 21st


The Battle of Trafalgar, an artistic depiction by J.M.W Turner was created in 1824, 19 years after the battle.

On this day, October 21st 1805, the Battle of Trafalgar took place off the Southwest coast of Spain and was fought by the Royal Navy against the combined forces of French and Spanish. In the battle, the British, led by Admiral Lord Nelson, soundly defeated the Franco-Spanish fleet. The battle was victorious for Britain; moreover, the outcome established naval supremacy for Britain and signified the transition from naval tactic orthodoxy, which involves opposing fleets lining up in straight lines parallel to the enemy force to maximize firing targets.

Sadly, the architect of the peerless British naval supremacy and the leader of this victorious battle which served as a turning point in the Napoleonic War on the sea,  Lord Horatio Nelson was shot by a French marksman during the battle, and died three hours after the hit. Lord Nelson became and remains one of Britain’s greatest heroes.