“Trafalgar Refought:” The Professional and Cultural Memory of Horatio Nelson During Britain’s Navalist Era, 1880-1914
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Horatio Lord Nelson, Britain's most famous naval figure, revolutionized what victory meant to the British Royal Navy and the British populace at the turn of the nineteenth century. But his legacy continued after his death in 1805, and a century after his untimely passing Nelson meant as much or more to Britain than he did during his lifetime. This thesis utilizes primary sources from the British Royal Navy and the general British public to explore what the cultural memory of Horatio Nelson's life and achievements meant to Britain throughout the Edwardian era and to the dawn of the First World War. An introductory literature review provides a thorough explanation of how Nelson's legacy has been perceived by past historians and how this legacy will be examined throughout the thesis. The manner in which Nelson was viewed by both his naval contemporaries and the general British public during his lifetime is then surveyed, with a specific focus on the outpouring of national grief that followed Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. A major portion of the thesis explores how Nelson's legacy developed throughout the century following his death. Separate studies of Nelson's professional memory among his Royal Navy successors and his cultural memory in British society as it became ever more focused on naval concerns follow; these take the thesis chronologically up through the final decades of the nineteenth century and are then combined in a discussion of the degree to which Nelson's legacy permeated all Britons, regardless of profession, in the early years of the twentieth century. The thesis concludes with a brief discussion of the impact Nelson's legacy had on Britain during the early months of the First World War and a broader analysis of how the cultural and professional memory of Horatio Nelson's naval achievements in 1805 created an atmosphere in which a naval victory decisive enough to satisfy all aspects of British society was impossible in 1914.
First World War
Cesario, Bradley (2011). “Trafalgar Refought:” The Professional and Cultural Memory of Horatio Nelson During Britain’s Navalist Era, 1880-1914. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from