News from Nelson: The Greatest?

Printer-friendly version

NelsonOne of the best parts of having ‘retired into the Corpo’ is that I have plenty of time to sit and think of how wonderful I am – it passes the day for me.   Did you know that I am the greatest naval commander who ever lived?  Did I mention this before? Taking part in the Napoleonic Wars, I was victorious in the battles of Cape St. Vincent, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, The Nile, Copenhagen and of course Trafalgar.  Most of these battles were referenced on my Pillar and their names are now on display in the Craft Courtyard in Kilkenny City – the clean lettering is an inspiration to the practitioners there.

Zheng HeBut now I have been put on alert by my Rear-Admiral Bang-Bang’s Key.  He tells me that there is a pretender to my crown!  Zheng He (1571-1435) was an admiral of the fleet during China’s early Ming dynasty.   His long voyages took him to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia and East Africa and he commanded these extraordinary long ships which were 300 feet in length – just getting these juggernauts to sail was a remarkable feat of skill.  The soldiers carried by Zheng’s fleet numbered 28,000 strong but in practice he used diplomacy to establish trade routes, assisted by a team of linguists who he had brought with him from China.   However, he was ruthless when necessary, and cleared the seas of pirates when he found them.

Nelson's PillarAt first I was indignant at this upstart! But then I began to think, in the long watches of the night on my plinth at Dublin City Library & Archive: is it better to make progress by peaceful means or by warfare? Could it be that Zheng He really outranks me? But maybe we should ask my long-term foe Napoleon Bonaparte? The would-be conqueror of Europe, who failed in his self-appointed task, is busy thinking this through from his resting-place in Les Invalides.  Meanwhile I can return to mulling over my achievements from a different angle.


About Nelson's Head

Nelson's headThe Head from Nelson’s Pillar is on display in the Reading Room of Dublin City Library & Archive.  As Admiral Nelson is a valued member of staff, we have invited him to write his own monthly blog.

Read more News from Nelson


Add new comment