Thursday, 1 November 2007

Great figures in history- Nelson

As part our our continuing mission to educate and inform, News direct today begins its brilliant new feature.
Great figures in history will shine a spotlight onto some of history's most famous names and hopefully right some historical inaccuracies. Our debut historical figure is to be England's greatest hero, Vice admiral Horatio Nelson.
Who was this great man? Why is he now a target for pigeons?
And just why did he hate dwarfs so much?
These are just some of the questions we will be attempting to answer.

Horatio Elizabeth Nelson was born of modest parentage in September 1758, one of greatest mistakes made by his many biographers is the naming of Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk as his birth place.
A cursory look through the records show that he was actually born just outside the small French town of Calais, which at that time was a protectorate of the great Scottish empire which stretched from Iceland in the north down through mainland Europe to Cairo in the south.
His father, Jacques Nelson, was an itinerant onion seller roaming the French countryside in a stripey shirt and beret, supplying the local peasantry with what the French still call crying apples.
Little is known of his mother except that she was a massively powerful woman and would earn the family much needed extra income by performing feats of strength in the town squares of the Calais area.
One story, perhaps apocryphal, recounts how madame Nelson challenged an entire town to a tug of war. The villagers obviously aware of Madame Nelson's great strength agreed on the condition that she used just her weaker left arm and hopped on one leg during the entire contest.
Madame Nelson accepted their conditions and in a titanic contest lasting four days she eventually managed to defeat the six hundred strong village team.

Not much more is known of Horatio's early life and if he did receive any formal schooling it would surely have been after the family moved from Calais to Hull, which at that time was the capital of England and known through out the civilised world as a great centre of learning and culture.
Lost records from this time would surely reveal, that the young Nelson was a brilliant scholar who excelled in not only English,maths,art,Latin, geography,music and needlepoint, but also in juggling, firework making and monkey training.

What is known, is that it was in a Hull pub while out celebrating his eighth birthday that the young Horatio was first press ganged into the Royal Navy.
This being at a time before the discovery of wind, the Navy had a constant need for vast amounts of man power, to row their huge ships into battle. Recent research has shown that around this time the Navy press ganged over two million men a week, so young Nelson's press ganging was in no way unusual for the times.
Nelson's first ship was the HMS Bernard, a nine hundred gun tug based in the Japanese port of Okinawa and used mainly to police the North sea tulip routes.
It was on the Bernard that Nelson got his first taste of naval combat in a fierce engagement with welsh pirates off the coast of Peru. Nelson performed so heroically during the two year battle that he was immediately promoted from ship's cook to Vice admiral.

Upon his return to England Nelson was to meet the great love of his life, Emma Hamilton.
Miss Hamilton was at this time working as a Blacksmith in London's crowded east end, it was said that Nelson would go around London removing horse shoes so he would have a valid reason to visit Miss Hamilton's thriving Blacksmithing business.
After two years of taking horse shoes to her shop and asking if these were hers, Nelson had finally plucked up the courage and asked Hamilton to marry him, she immediately agreed and they were married that same day in St Paul's cathedral before an estimated TV audience of over forty million.

It was two months after his marriage to Emma Hamilton that fate was to deal Nelson its cruelest blow. While out on an all day drinking spree with his pet monkey Dave, the admiral got into a fight with an unnamed dwarf and tragically lost his favourite left eye and his powerful right arm.
This episode was to be crucial in Nelson's life, as it resulted in him having to give up his burgeoning career in professional darts and concentrate fully upon his lackluster naval career.
Nelson was never fully able to forgive people of restricted height for robbing him of his dream and for the rest of his life he took every opportunity available to hunt down and kill every dwarf he could find within the greater London area.

Nelson's idyllic London life with Emma was to be short lived, for just twenty short miles away another cunning dwarf was plotting the demise of England and the death of Nelson.
The dwarf in question, the evil French tyrant Napoleon Bonaparte, hated the English so much that he would prowl along the sea wall of the recaptured Calais with a telescope and obsessively watch the happy English across the channel, telling anyone who would listen what Nelson was doing and how much he hated the saintly admiral and those foul Ros bifs.

By 1815 Napoleon could no longer contain himself and set out with a fleet of twenty thousand warships to conquer the happiest land in the whole of the world.
But the French being the poor seamen that they are, got lost crossing the channel and ended up sailing in circles just off the Portuguese coast, pathetically asking passing fishing boats which way England was.

Upon hearing that the French fleet were at Trafalgar, Nelson was said to have declared 'They are already in the middle of London?'
Then after being told Trafalgar was not just a square in London but also a piece of Portuguese sea, he rushed down to his waiting ship and sailed her out towards his fateful date with history.
The French were said to have laughed when they saw Nelson's solitary ship sailing valiantly out to destroy their huge armada.
But Gallic laughter was soon to be replaced by panic as Nelson's ship the Victory, started to send cannon ball after cannon ball into the shocked French fleet.
In just under twenty minutes Nelson had sunk all but one of the twenty thousand French ships and as the Victory closed in for the final kill Napoleon was heard to cry 'Mon dieu, they'll kill us all!! Every homme for himself!!" before jumping over the side and swimming back towards France.

Nelson's heroic victory over the shambolic French fleet was to be a short lived joy for it was on the way back to a heroes welcome that Nelson decided to kill himself.
Many historians have speculated as to why Nelson would choose the moment of his greatest triumph to end his life, some say that now having saved England his work was done, some that he was so seasick he knew he would never reach England without vomiting. But sadly we can never know the true reason this great man decided to end it all at the peak of his greatest victory.
On hearing of the Admiral's suicide a heartbroken Queen Elizabeth the first, immediately ordered that the empty column in Trafalgar square be capped by a life size statue of England's greatest hero.
And to this very day The admiral looks out from his perch high above London and keeps a watchful eye on the French coast in case they ever try to resurrect their foul and dastardly plans.


deathsweep said...

There is no doubt in my mind that you yourself are a true historian. I am so glad that you came to the aid of the historically challenged and righted those terrible wrongs that we all thought we knew to be truth!
But one thing I'm unclear on, weren't there supposed to be seven additional dwarves assisting Napoleon look for the glass slipper he dropped on his way to Elba?


Aningeniousname said...

Thats right Mr Deathsweep there were supposed to be more dwarfs but Disney have copyrighted that particular number of small people. So any mention of more than six but less than eight dwarfs is now classed as copyright infringement and could result in a visit from "Mauschwitz's"
corporate goon squad.

Agnes Mildew said...

I feel suitably enlightened into our maritime history now. I think, had you been my history teacher at high school, I wouldn't have flunked spectacularly with a U grade O level. I may just have got an E instead. I was a bit disappointed that you didn't mention anything about Nelson's gay tendencies with Mr Hardy, though. I was up for a bit of dirt this morning, considering my task for the day is pondering how to sell vibrators online...

Aningeniousname said...

I was going to mention Nelson's proclivity towards hot man on man action, but I eventually decided to exclude any facts that I couldn't personally verify.
I wanted to tell the true Nelson story stripped of its historical fluff.
I would have thought selling vibrators online was as easy throwing a dart in parliament and hitting a liar.