Battle of Trafalgar

Arguably the most famous naval battle in British history, we delve into the events and personal accounts of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

From Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson's strategic battle plan and famous flag signal, to the battle itself and Nelson's death, immerse yourself in the story of Trafalgar.

History of the Battle of Trafalgar

The background to the battle How did the confrontation between the British and Franco-Spanish fleets come about?

Trafalgar timeline What happened during the battle - and how did Nelson's plan play out?

Nelson's last words How did Nelson die - and what were his final words?

Delve deeper: Who shot Nelson's killer?

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Nelson was killed by a fatal gunshot wound at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. There were at least three eyewitness accounts that confirm Nelson said "Kiss me Hardy" prior to his death.

Buonaparte hearing of Nelson's Victory swears by his Sword to Extirpate the English from off the Earth PW3964_slider.JPG

The lives and careers of Horatio Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte are inextricably linked, as two dominant leaders and adversaries. 

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Lord Nelson is best known for his victory at the Battle of the Trafalgar but he was already a national hero before then thanks to his naval tactics.

'Funeral Procession of the late Lord Viscount Nelson, from the Admiralty to St Paul's, London, 9th January 1806' PY7328_slider.JPG

Nelson was shot at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). His body was brought back to England on board HMS Victory and he was buried at St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Lord Nelson was fatally shot at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Signal Midshipman John Pollard took credit for killing the Frenchman who did it.


The San José and the Santissima Trinidad were 18th century Spanish warships. Both ships were involved in sea battles involving Nelson.

Nelson's Coat National Maritime Museum L8624-070_slider.JPG

Visit the free Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery at the National Maritime Museum to explore the life and times of great British hero Horatio Nelson and the history of the Royal Navy and British people from 1688–1815.

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Get up close to the actual uniform Admiral Nelson was wearing when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.

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J.M.W. Turner’s largest painting, The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, is one of the jewels of our fine art collection. See it for free at the National Maritime Museum.

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Nelson's pigtail (or queue), was cut off after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar 21 October 1805.