The Battle of Trafalgar

2 Dec, 2021 900 History

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the events of 21st October 1805, in which the British fleet led by Nelson destroyed a combined Franco-Spanish fleet in the Atlantic off the coast of Spain. Nelson’s death that day was deeply mourned in Britain, and his example proved influential, and the battle was to help sever ties between Spain and its American empire. In France meanwhile, even before Nelson’s body was interred at St Paul’s, the setback at Trafalgar was overshadowed by Napoleon’s decisive victory over Russia and Austria at Austerlitz, though Napoleon’s search for his lost naval strength was to shape his plans for further conquests.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • James Davey 2 episodes
    Lecturer in Naval and Maritime History at the University of Exeter
  • Marianne Czisnik No other episodes
    Independent researcher on Nelson and editor of his letters to Lady Hamilton
  • Kenneth Johnson No other episodes
    Research Professor of National Security at Air University, Alabama

Reading list

  • Trafalgar in History: A Battle and its Afterlife
    David Cannadine (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) Google Books →
  • Trafalgar: The Men, the Battle, the Storm
    Tim Clayton and Phil Craig (Hodder, 2005) Google Books →
  • Horatio Nelson: A Controversial Hero
    Marianne Czisnik (Hodder, 2005) Google Books →
  • Nelson's Tactics in the Battle of Trafalgar
    Marianne Czisnik (History, vol. 89, 2004)
  • In Nelson's Wake: The Navy and the Napoleonic War
    James Davey (Yale University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • Trafalgar y el mundo atlantico
    Agustin Guimera Ravina, Alberto Ramos Santana and Gonzalo Butron Prida (M. Pons, 2004, in Spanish) Google Books →
  • Trafalgar and the Spanish Navy: The Spanish Experience of Sea Power
    John D. Harbron (Conway Maritime Press, 2004) Google Books →
  • Naval Engagements: Patriotism, Cultural Politics, and the Royal Navy, 1793-1815
    Tim Jenks (Oxford University Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson
    Roger Knight (Allen Lane, 2005) Google Books →
  • Trafalgar: 21 Octobre 1805
    Remi Monaque (Passes Composes, 2021, in French) Google Books →
  • The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815
    N.A.M. Rodger (Allen Lane, 2004) Google Books →

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Programme ID: m0012141

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Auto-category: 900 (History & Geography)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. On the 21st of October, 1805, Horatio Nelson led the British fleet to a famous victory over the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar.