Nelson's Trafalgar Coat

Nelson's blue cut away, knee length velvet Trafalgar coat with medals and gold embroidery.

Nelson's Trafalgar coat, CC BY National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection

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  • Intro
    Museum's Description
    Teacher notes
    • This is the coat worn by Admiral Lord Nelson, the head of the British Navy at the battle of Trafalgar.

      Britain and France had been in competition for control of the oceans for a long time when Napoleon Bonarparte, Emperor of France, planned to invade Britain in 1805 with the help of Spain. A great sea battle was fought off the coast of Trafalgar in southern Spain and even though they had fewer ships, Lord Nelson led the British Navy to victory against the French and Spanish fleets. The battle cost Nelson his life, on the coat you can see the bullet hole near the left shoulder. Nelson was famous for wearing a very distinctive uniform so that his men could always spot him and be inspired to fight, even though it made him more visible to the enemy.

      Things to think about: 
      • There are some large medals on the coat. What do you think they might be for?
      • Why do the Navy and Military give medals? 
      • Do you think you would be a good leader of a team? 
      • What do you think life on a war ship would have been like?

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