The Spectacle Blog

Happy Trafalgar Day

By on 10.21.05 | 11:11AM

200 years ago today, Nelson "crossed Villeneuve's T" in what may have been the greatest naval battle in history. The battle is celebrated every year in Britain and not, presumably, in France. In those days, warships had to close, grapple and board or line up parallel and slug it out because their big guns could not be turned to fire in any direction other than perpendicular to the line of travel. Nelson managed to maneuver and sail through the French/Spanish line, his guns able to bear on the enemy while they, at least at first, couldn't turn to fire. Nelson died, shot by a sniper in the rigging of an enemy ship. Trafalgar made Britain the greatest seapower in the world, and institutionalized France's time-honored tradition of military defeat.

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