87. Trafalgar

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018


“When I am without orders and unexpected occurrences arrive I shall always act as I think the honour and glory of my King and Country demand.”  (Horatio Nelson)


Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where you will discover the history of things you did not know even had a history, like the history of snow or the history of the lean.


For this episode let us join our two historical adventurers, Professor James Daybell and Dr Sam Willis, as they bring us the unexpected history of the battle of Trafalgar. From the battle statistics of lives lost and ships captured to ordinary seaman Henry Blackburn’s letter home to his mother thanking God for surviving the battle, from World War II and handkerchiefs to the last letter Nelson wrote to Horatia, his ‘dearest angel’, on the 19th October, just days before the battle, and from toasting Nelson’s immortal memory to Daniel Maclise’s idealised frieze ‘The Death of Nelson’ painted between 1859 and 1864, James and Sam give us an insight on how to get an unexpected view of the battle.


Our two powder monkeys will ferry the facts and discover that this unexpected history is actually all about; recovery and memory, relative and subjective experience, anxiety and expectation, escape and obligation, trauma and injury, shock and stress, memorialisation and commemoration, interpretation and analysis.

Listen out as Sam reveals how 18th century life is like a child’s party food.


“Thank God, I have done my duty”    (Horatio Nelson, 21 Oct. 1805)

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