This volume explores the commemoration of the Battle of Trafalgar and Admiral Lord Nelson's death over the past two centuries. It includes the extraordinary celebrations of 2005, which saw hundreds of official, commercial, and popular events celebrating and commemorating the bicentenary of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson. Leading historians of Britain and France, reflect critically on the complex notions of remembrance, celebration, honouring, and commemoration. Taking historical snapshots of the commemoration of Nelson at his death, in 1905, and in contemporary Britain, the contributors ask: who drives the commemoration of historical anniversaries and to what ends? Which Nelson, or Nelsons, have had a role in national memory over the past two centuries? And who identifies with Nelson today? Focusing on Britain, but looking also at imperial and French contexts, the papers consider how memoirs, history writing, visual and modern media and museums, and official and unofficial interests, contribute to keeping and shaping memory.
As the changing manner of memorializing key moments in national history allows historians to study cultural meanings and interpretations of national identity, the contributors assembled in this volume exhort the wider profession to engage critically with 'public history'. This innovative work in the history of memory and commemoration will be of interest not only to the specialist scholar but also to those with general interests in naval, maritime, cultural and public history.