The Battle of Trafalgar is one of the most important sea battles in history.  It took place on 21st Oct, back in 1805. During the Napoleonic wars, the British imposed a naval blockade on France, which affected trade and kept the French from fully mobilising their naval resources and launching a full-scale invasion of England, but a battle was inevitable.

On Oct 21st, twenty-seven British ships of the line led by Lord Nelson aboard HMS Victory, who even then was a living legend in the Royal Navy, took on the combined French and Spanish fleet of thirty-three ships! The battle was fought west of Cape Trafalgar, Spain, between Cádiz and the Strait of Gibraltar.  Even though they were outgunned and outmanned the Royal Navy fought like dogs and were victorious.

Weeks earlier, towards the end of September, Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve had received orders to leave Cádiz and land troops at Naples to help support the French campaign in southern Italy.  On October 19th he sailed his fleet out of Cádiz, and was planning to get into the Mediterranean Sea and avoiding battle.  Admiral Nelson caught him off Cape Trafalgar on October 21st and engaged him battle, ordering his fleet to form two squadrons and attack Villeneuve’s line from the west, at right angles.

It was a huge victory for the Royal Navy, but tragically their leader Lord Nelson was shot during the battle by a French sniper and died, but not before he’d conclusively ended French plans to invade England.  It was the Royal Navy’s most famous triumph and it confirmed a long tradition of naval supremacy.

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