Monday, November 12, 2007

Nelson & Villeneuve

It was my father's 89th birthday on Saturday and we went to Portsmouth for lunch and to visit the Victory. It was very moving to see the spots where Nelson fell, shot by a French sniper, and where he died a few hours later, happy in the knowledge that they had won the battle of Trafalgar. His hair was shaved off and his body placed in a barrel of brandy until they reached Gibraltar when it was moved into a mixture of wine and surgical spirit to preserve it for the six week journey back to England.
The French Admiral Villeneuve was captured and taken on board Euryalus. He was then put in an open prison at Bishop's Waltham but was allowed to attend Nelson's funeral which was a great occasion at St.Paul's with 7000 invited guests and huge crowds lining the streets. Villeneuve dined out for a few weeks afterwards in London, recounting his story of the battle. A few months later he returned to France and news came back that he had committed suicide in Rennes. His body had six knife wounds in the back and it was generally believed that Napoleon, who was furious with him, had had him murdered.

8 Comments:

Blogger kinglear said...

Villeneuve has always had a bad Press in France - somewhat unfairly in my view. Nelson's strategy was not THAT unique, but the problem Villeneuve faced was less sea-time for his crews. Nelson's fleet had spent months on blockade and generally honing their seafaring and gunnery, whilst Villeneuves lot had con siderably less experience.

9:30 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

That's true, KL. The British Navy took 90 seconds to recharge each cannon after firing whereas the French and Spanish took 3-4 minutes.

9:37 am  
Blogger Eurodog said...

Where are today's heroes?

1:15 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Ou sont les neiges d'antan?

1:32 pm  
Blogger kinglear said...

ED - there are very few, and very few eccentrics either. Personally, I blame the culture of blame - everyone is OK as long as you move with the herd ( ask WW about that - as long as your fund is down as much as everyone else's, that's fine, provided you had the same strategy. BUT if you were pursuing a different strategy then you're in trouble)

3:59 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Lord Nelson is my hero, you will find he was one of my Toastmaster speeches which is published on my speech. I visit his birthplace every year and pay homage to him. I even went to a party in his local pub to celebrate the Battle of Trafalgar.
It doesn't surprise me about the French Admiral, Napoleon would have wanted revenge.

I shall post up on my visit to the women's conference tomorrow, it was really good.

7:18 pm  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

It must have been a very moving visit, WW. Poor Villeneuve.

9:55 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Hi Ellee and WL. Where was he born, Ellee, Norfolk?

11:45 am  

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