Re: History and culture
This kind of highlights the point I was making with a previous post when I wrote:
Why Nelson & Trafalgar?
The history of this fair isle is long, rich, detailed and complex. Taking a snapshot of one event (whatever its perceived magnitude may be) gives a distorted idea of what the nation is, what it stands for and what it's culture is like.
The fact is, everyone has an idea about what historical events were important but finding a consensus is very difficult.
It was quite definitive for British Culture,. If we'd lost we'd probably have been invaded by the French. So a bit like the Battle of Britain. (If we'd lost either we'd have been "in Europe" long ago).
Does that make it more "important" to British culture than The Battle of Britain, The Glorious Revolution, The Monmouth Rebellion, the English Civil Wars, the War of the Roses, Owain Glyndwr's uprising, the Baron's revolts, Hastings, Stamford Bridge, the Viking invasions, the Saxon invasions, the Roman invasions, Celtic migrations (etc).
It could be argued that if any of these had turned out differently, British Culture would be unrecognisable from what we have today.
It marks the last time the Royal Navy was challenged in an all-out fleet action. Literally from that point until the carrier age, Britain was the uncontested naval power of the world. Nations that fought Britain might try to go after her trade ships, or act where the navy was weak. But no one tried to assemble a battle fleet and fight head on.
I'd say that this had a pretty profound impact over the direction of British culture for the next century and a half or so.
This isnt quite correct - it is largely the result of the PR spin placed on the battle during the Napoleonic Wars and the resulting hero-status given to Nelson.
The Royal Navy had been an uncontested naval power of the world several times previously and it could be argued that under Elizabeth I the British were at their most effective at projecting sea power and controlling world supply lanes.
Trafalgar could probably be better seen as a redemption following 40 odd years of poor naval performance rather than a game changer which asserted British naval dominance for the next 100 years. This might explain why the nation was so keen to spin it into a great victory and the most important event in our history (it wasnt).
Anyway - all this goes to my point: Nelson / Trafalgar is an arbitrary snapshot of British history that masks the underlying cultural and political changes that actually go to make up our nation. Knowing Nelson's column is in London doesn't make you a better British person than knowing how long it took Harold to get from Stamford Bridge to Battle.