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In Our Time: History

The Battle of Trafalgar


Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the events of 21st October 1805, in which the British fleet led by Nelson destroyed a combined Franco-Spanish fleet in the Atlantic off the coast of Spain. Nelson's death that day was deeply mourned in Britain, and his example proved influential, and the battle was to help sever ties between Spain and its American empire. In France meanwhile, even before Nelson's body was interred at St Paul's, the setback at Trafalgar was overshadowed by Napoleon's decisive victory over Russia and Austria at Austerlitz, though Napoleon's search for his lost naval strength was to shape his plans for further conquests.

The image above is from 'The Battle of Trafalgar' by JMW Turner (1824).


James Davey
Lecturer in Naval and Maritime History at the University of Exeter

Marianne Czisnik
Independent researcher on Nelson and editor of his letters to Lady Hamilton


Kenneth Johnson
Research Professor of National Security at Air University, Alabama

Producer: Simon Tillotson