Trafalgar, Battle of
(Oct. 21, 1805) Naval engagement in the Napoleonic Wars that established British naval supremacy in Europe. It was fought west of Cape Trafalgar, Spain, between a Franco-Spanish fleet of 33 ships under Pierre de Villeneuve (1763–1806) and a British fleet of 27 ships under Horatio Nelson. As Villeneuve tried to slip out of the besieged port of Cádiz, he was caught by Nelson. The French ships formed a single line and were attacked by the English at two points. After sending the famous signal England expects that every man will do his duty, Nelson broke through the centre of the French line and in the pell-mell battle captured Villeneuve and 20 ships. Near the end of the battle, Nelson was mortally wounded by a sniper. No British ships were lost, and Napoleon abandoned his plan to invade England.
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