The Man Who Lost Trafalgar

By David Howarth, published November 1971


This lecture on Pierre Villeneuve highlights the difficulties faced by the Admiral before Trafalgar.  Primarily, he lacked  experienced officers and seamen. He had received conflicting orders from Napoleon which revealed the Emperor’s lack of understanding of naval strategy.  While Villeneuve  reported to Admiral Decres,  General Lauriston, on board his flagship,  reported directly to Napoleon on Villeneuve and his movements. Napoleon’s final order to Villeneuve resulted from his having given up the plan to invade England.  Napoleon wanted Villeneuve to combine with the Spanish fleet instead to support his new land campaign.  These facts are revealed in documents in the archives.

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Filed under: Nelson | Napoleonic War
Subjects include: Biography | Strategy & Diplomacy

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