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History Lessons by Jonathan Gifford

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HORATIO NELSON

(1758–1805)

Horatio Nelson—Lord Nelson as he became—was an odd-looking, likable, passionate, and intelligent man with many human frailties, including sea-sickness, vanity, and an ill-considered and very public adulterous affair with the wife of the British Envoy to Naples. Nelson inspired huge confidence and fanatical loyalty amongst his officers and crew. In July 1797, during the Napoleonic wars, Nelson was leading an attack in small boats on the town of Cadiz, when they were boarded by Spanish defenders. Nelson was at the forefront of the hand-to-hand fighting: his life was saved on two occasions by his coxswain, John Sykes, who parried one sword blow to Nelson’s head with his bare arm. “Thank God, sir, you are safe,” said the ...

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