Friday, October 21, 2016

Trafalgar Day

There are two anniversaries today - I previously posted about Aberfan, but this is also the 211th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Britain - and Europe, and the world - owe a tremendous debt to the men of Nelson's fleet who on 21st October 1805 struck a vital blow against the ambitions of one of the most dangerous men ever to live.

Napoleon was a brilliant tactician and strategist, and not entirely without merit as a lawmaker and administrator, but he was also a ruthless megalomaniac. Any true democrat with a scintilla of imagination who has looked at the image Ingres created of Napoleon on his imperial throne, (below,) or visited his tomb at Les Invalides, should shudder at the idea of the kind of world such a man would have created. He built one of the most overwhelming personality cults which has existed in modern times - and came as close to conquering the world as any dictator in history.

Horatio Nelson and the sailors and marines of the Royal Navy whose efforts and sacrifice gained that overwhelming victory at Trafalgar played a crucial role in sparing the world that fate. Thanks to them there was no possibility that Napoleon could gain command of the sea: which meant Britain and much of the rest of the world was safe from him, and demonstrated that he was not invincible.

(The top picture in this post is by Montague Dawson: apart from Ingres, other artists featured include Stokes and Turner To the best of my knowledge these scans are all in the public domain but if anyone claims copyright on any of those images please contact me.)

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