Nelson and his actions at Naples were hugely controversial even for the time. He broke his word/repudiated treaties and had many people executed even denying one a fair trial. Besides Wellington he is Britain's most famous person from the Napoleonic Wars and his victories at the Nile/Copenhagen and Trafalgar are famous yet is he a War Criminal. He was condemned in Parliament over it at the time. British Historians tend to gloss over this. Did death save his reputation ?
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Small man. Big hat.
Nelson, the man
All of our ‘heroes’ are actually real people. Sadly this is often a burden they cannot carry. Indeed, some of the very qualities we laud them for in one area makes them unsuitable in another. Nelson has always been a complex character, including in his private life as well as his record on disobedience. It was recognised at the time and was never ‘airbrushed’ and always included in biographies, just not relevant when writing on his qualities in battle. Would I want to live in a country defended by Nelson? Certainly. Would anyone want to live in a country governed by him? Probably not!
I disagree, the difference there is no howling of a pro Nelson cult to defend by hair splitting arguments what Nelson did, instead
Now if Boney would have done the same, I guess numerous excuses would be found to keep up his sun ray beam.
"Most biographies of Nelson downplay or cover up Nelson's role in this despicable affair."
I wonder why?🤦♂️
If Napoleon was every accused or guilty of something on this level it would be screamed about repeatedly on any and all Napoleonic forums.
As you've posted numerous times, 'It is only wrong when Napoleon does it.
Inglese italianato, diavolo incarnato. (Old Italian saying.)
The Englishman who acts like an Italian is the devil incarnate.
In 1798, England, Austria, Russia, Turkey, Portugal and Naples formed a coalition to oppose the French. Ferdinand IV of Naples jumped the gun, invading the French-held Roman Republic in November, before his partners were ready to launch their offensive. The French struck back and within a month of the opening of hostilities Their Sicilian Majesties had fled Naples for Palermo Sicily aboard Horatio Nelson's flagship. In January 1799, the Parthenopean Republic was proclaimed in the former Kingdom of Naples. By May 1799, Cardinal Ruffo, in command of a Calabrian peasant Army of the Holy Faith (also known as the Sanfedisti), with some Austrian and Russian troops, recaptured Naples from the French (who had sent the bulk of their forces to northern Italy) and the Neapolitan patriots. The remaining French troops and the patriots only held out in three forts within the city, awaiting the arrival of a combined French-Spanish fleet known to be in the Mediterranean.
Ruffo wanted to end the destruction in the city being done by his own troops and by the Neapolitan lazzaroni (the lower-class "canaille", who used the fighting as an excuse to rape, murder and loot), as well as possible destruction and loss of life that would occur in besieging the republican-held forts. Ruffo also hoped to end the fighting before any relieving force could arrive from the French and Spanish navies. To this end, Ruffo signed an armistice with the patriots. Ruffo had been appointed by King Ferdinand as his personal representative with "the unrestricted quality of alter-ego." The treaty gave the French and the patriots the full honors of war, with their persons and property guaranteed, and included the provision that the garrisons of the forts could embark freely for France. This agreement was signed by Ruffo in the King's name, by the Russian and Turkish representatives in Naples, and by the highest ranking English Royal Navy officer on hand, Capt. Troubridge.
While Nelson lounged in the Palazzo Palagonia in Palermo with Lady and Sir William Hamilton and Their Sicilian Majesties, Troubridge had been sent by Nelson with four ships of the line to capture Naples before "that swelled-up priest", as Nelson called Ruffo. Nelson, in a blood-thirsty mood, wrote to Troubridge: "Send me word some proper heads are taken off, this alone will comfort me." He also wrote that King Ferdinand's failed generals were to be tried for cowardice, and "if found guilty...they shall be shot or hanged; should this be effected, I shall have some hopes that I have done good. I ever preach that rewards and punishments are the foundation of all good government." Nelson was to get his wish. Dozens of polaccas--small coasting sailing ships--were to be employed in the evacuation of the "rebels". All day long Patriot families hurried to the bay with whatever belongings they could gather. They were joined by the republicans from the castles who, aware of their King's capricious temper, didn't bother with the "honors of war" granted to them by Ruffo's treaty. These small vessels lacked facilities for the passengers--no beds or bathroom facilities--and were not yet provisioned for their intended voyage.
As the ships were made ready for the departure of the "rebels" Nelson arrived with the rest of his squadron, Sir William Hamilton (the English ambassador) and his wife, Emma Hamilton (Nelson's mistress). "Annoyed by his fruitless search for the Franco-Spanish fleet, and his truculence boil[ing] over...", as Harold Acton wrote, Nelson was in no mood to honor the treaty already agreed to, signed and implemented. (A treaty that Charles Lock, the English Consul at Palermo, called "a very wise measure...as it effectively sweeps the Kingdom of the disaffected...") Ambassador Hamilton was also in no mood to be conciliatory, having just had a ship carrying his collection of classical art treasures wrecked (which he blamed on the 'Jacobins'.) The Cardinal informed the pugnacious little English seaman that "They are obliged to honor a treaty, after it has been made." And the Russians and the Turks, displaying more honor than the Royal Navy gentleman, were also determined to honor the treaty they had signed their names to. Cardinal Ruffo threatened to withdraw his troops if Nelson didn't honor the treaty. Without Ruffo's Sanfedisti, Nelson would be forced to take the castles with his own men. Suddenly, Nelson capitulated, sending a message to Ruffo through Hamilton that he was "resolved to do nothing which would break the armistice", and furthermore that he wouldn't oppose the continuation of the embarkation of the "rebel" garrisons according to the terms of the treaty. The remaining patriots left the protection of their forts and were boarded on the polaccas when Nelson received communications from Their Sicilian Majesties, still safely ensconced in Palermo, disavowing the agreement. The Neapolitan Queen wrote to Emma Hamilton to instruct "Lord Nelson to treat Naples as if it were a rebellious city in Ireland." The refugees, already crammed aboard the unprovisioned ships, were brought under the guns of the English fleet. Men, women and children were kept hungry, hot and disease-ravaged in the holds while their leaders were taken off and imprisoned on the English men-of-war. The Cardinal begged Nelson "not to stain his glory." Ruffo, who had reconquered his ungrateful sovereign's kingdom, was forced to resign in disgust. Nelson, writing to his wife, claimed all the credit for the "victory" over the French, stating without irony: "Nelson came, the invincible Nelson, and they were all preserved and again made happy."
More than 8,000 of the refugees aboard the transports were tried for treason. Exactly how many were condemned will never be known because the Neapolitan King had the official records destroyed in 1803. The English historian Lord Acton (a pro-Bourbon historian) says 100 were executed, 222 condemned for life, 322 to shorter terms, 288 to deportation and 67 to exile. Cavaliere Francesco Caracciolo, the most famous victim, was captured, tried and executed on Nelson's orders. After being hung like a common criminal, Caracciolo's body was thrown in the Bay. As one historian has put it: "when may an English warship be made the scene of a court-martial upon a foreign officer tried by foreign judges?...Can Ferdinand of Naples, or any other human being, have more than one alter ego at the same time [meaning Ruffo and Nelson]?...When is a treaty not a treaty?" Charles Lock, the English consul, wrote: "You will hear with grief of the infraction of the articles convened with the Neapolitan Jacobins and of the stab our English honour has received in being employed to decoy these people, who relied upon our faith, into the most deplorable situation." A gallows was erected in the marketplace of Naples and remained there for months while the trials of the republican prisoners continued. So men and women who had laid down their arms in an honorable peace were treated not even as prisoners of war but common criminals. A sort of "sicilian vespers" ensued in the Kingdom of Naples, with as many as 4,000 republicans being massacred in "mopping up"operations. To these deaths and those executed can be added the several thousands killed by Ruffo's Sanfedisti and by the Neapolitan lazzaroni when Naples was taken. On three separate occasions during this period, as Nelson busied himself with his affairs in Naples, he disobeyed the orders of his own Navy superiors to sail in search of the Spanish-French fleet. However, Nelson's reward for his actions in the Bay of Naples against the "rebels" from the Neapolitan King was being named the Duke of Bronte with a estate of 30,000 acres on the slopes of Mount Etna worth 3,000 pounds per annum. Most biographies of Nelson downplay or cover up Nelson's role in this despicable affair.
Nelson at Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799: North, Jonathan: 9781445679372: Amazon.com: Books
"During the wars which followed in the wake of the French Revolution, France’s armies turned on Britain’s last ally in Italy, the kingdom of Naples. The French chased out King Ferdinand and Queen Maria Carolina and established a revolutionary republic. It lasted six months before an Army of the Holy Faith besieged them. In June 1799, the revolutionaries capitulated, after a promise of safe escape to France. Shortly afterwards Horatio Nelson's fleet sailed into the bay. At first, the admiral permitted the republicans and their families to troop down to the harbor. But then he struck, violating the treaty of surrender by seizing the would-be exiles in their transports. Hundreds of Neapolitans found themselves delivered up to a merciless enemy. In Italy the event became synonymous with betrayal, and Nelson's honor was even questioned in his native land. This book concludes that Nelson did indeed commit a war crime. Not only that, but Sir William and Lady Hamilton encouraged him. Nelson’s subsequent affair with Emma Hamilton in Naples then became a pointed contrast to the ongoing slaughter in the bay."