At one stage Britain’s only remaining European allies were Sweden, Portugal, Sicily, and Sardinia; in short, the country was without any significant allies…. They have also often cited Trafalgar as the ultimate (if not the only) piece of evidence for their overall view of Britain's strategic situation in relation to the powers of continental Europe over the centuries. British seapower, by contrast, preserved the country from invasion and guaranteed peace and prosperity at home, up to the time of Trafalgar and beyond. Furthermore, he had to lead the line of battle because only he could settle the point of impact to ensure that the enemy flagship and command centre was taken out in the initial collision, reducing the enemy to a leaderless collection of Napoleon. The British captured or sank almost the entire Allied fleet, without losing a single ship. In 1805, the First French Empire, under Napoleon Bonaparte, was the dominant military land power on the European continent, while the Royal Navy controlled the seas. As a general interpretation of Britain's strategic situation over many centuries, however, the argument is a good deal less persuasive, for such wars have in fact been uncommon in history. He spent the rest of his reign in a futile ... attempt to reconstruct his lost battle-fleet. It won Britain an unchallenged command of the sea, in quantity and quality, materially and psychologically, over all her actual and potential enemies, which lasted long after the age of Napoleon. 3-12. First off we need to make a few things clear before I answer this question. Corrections? ... Battle At Trafalgar Essay, Research Paper One of the greatest sea battles ever to occur took place off the Spanish coast of Trafalgar. Their interpretation has been that British sea power, though certainly necessary for survival in the face of aggression from France, was not sufficient for victory over Napoleon, and that ultimately it was Wellington and the British army, fighting alongside a great coalition of military powers in 1814 and 1815, that secured Britain's triumph. Britain's command of the sea, in the face of Napoleon's Grand Army massing at Boulogne, was very far from secure in 1805, despite its successes of the preceding century. Just as in World War Two, sea power had to win its war first, if the country was to survive and the soldiers were to have their chance. Napoleon was not present at the Battle of Trafalgar. There are still a surprising number of determinist historians who think that being an island has somehow always guaranteed Britain against invasion, and that this has been easy and automatic. The Aftermath of Trafalgar. NAM Rodger was formerly an Assistant Keeper in The Public Record Office, and later Anderson Research Fellow of the National Maritime Museum, before becoming Professor of Naval History at Exeter University in 2000. Despite the British victory over the Franco-Spanish navies, Trafalgar had negligible impact on the remainder of the War of the Third Coalition. In the short term the British were able to hang on, thanks to the superior training of the ships' officers and men, but in the medium term Napoleon had an excellent prospect of winning command of the sea. After the Battle of Trafalgar 4 French ships had escaped under the command of Rear-Admiral Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley. Had … His enemies in continental Europe, who had the same interest in a balance of commercial and maritime power as the British had in the balance of power in Europe, desired to maintain France as a counterweight to Britain, and repeatedly (even as late as 1814) offered him terms that would have saved his throne and many of his conquests. The Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) was a naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies, during the War of the Third Coalition (August–December 1805) of the Napoleonic Wars (1796–1815).. Twenty-seven British ships of the line led by Admiral Lord Nelson aboard HMS Victory defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the … Britain, for want of a great army to commit to the European battlefield, could not win a decisive victory on land, but neither did she risk a decisive defeat. The surviving ships remained bottled up in Cádiz until 1808 when Napoleon invaded Spain. Read more. On October 21,1805 Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson of the English Royal Navy, with twenty-seven ships of the line crushed the combined forces of the French and Spanish fleets. ... it took the English a very long time to learn how to turn the sea to their own defence. Horatio Nelson. The Royal Navy urgently needed a crushing victory to retrieve its position. Trafalgar ... won Britain an unchallenged command of the sea ... Trafalgar did more, however, than hold the ring at the worst crisis of the war. Traveller Robert Semple described the horrible scene at Cádiz, the closest Spanish port, a week after the Battle of Trafalgar. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). It was created after much research, and with the advice of naval historians and senior Admiralty officers, but ultimately abandoned because of the cost of staging the battle itself. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Trafalgar-European-history, The National Archives - Battle of Trafalgar, HistoryNet - Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Trafalgar, Military History Encyclopedia on the Web - The Battle of Trafalgar, Battle of Trafalgar - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Battle of Trafalgar - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up), Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood, Pierre-Charles-Jean-Baptiste-Silvestre de Villeneuve. The Battle of Trafalgar heralded the rise of Britain's Imperial power. When Rosily arrived in Cádiz, he found only five French ships, rather than the 18 he was expecting. "The Battle of Trafalgar saw the British decisively defeat a combined French and Spanish fleet on 21st October 1805 in the most significant naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars. The Battle of Trafalgar was to witness both the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte's plans to invade Britain, and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson. 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