Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson Biography

Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar, becoming the greatest hero in British naval history. Read this biography to learn more about his life and military career.
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Sailor / Military Leader

Born: 29 September 1758
Died: 21 October 1805 (killed in battle)
Birthplace: Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England
Best known as: The hero of the Battle of Trafalgar

Horatio Nelson is the greatest hero in British naval history, an honor he earned by defeating Napoleon's fleet in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson entered the Royal Navy at age 12 and commanded his first vessel at age 20. At first his aggressive and unorthodox tactics earned him insults as well as praise, but as he won victory after victory he became a popular hero. Nelson lost the sight in his right eye during the Siege of Calvi in 1794, and his right arm was amputated after it was shattered by gunfire during the battle of Santa Cruz at the island of Tenerife in 1797. Nelson was knighted in 1797 and made viscount in 1801. In 1799 he began a notorious affair with Lady Emma Hamilton; she bore him a daughter, Horatia, in 1801. Nelson's most famous victory was also his undoing: at Trafalgar he was mortally wounded on the deck of his ship HMS Victory. His body was returned to England and he received a hero's burial in St. Paul's Cathedral. A statue of Nelson was erected on the top of a great column in London's Trafalgar Square.

Extra credit: Just before the battle of Trafalgar Nelson sent a famous signal to his fleet: "England expects every man will do his duty"... Nelson's own last words were "Thank God I have done my duty"... Because of the distance from Trafalgar to England, Nelson's body was placed in a cask of brandy to preserve it for the trip.

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