This is to the hero: Emma Hamilton`s ways to celebrate Horatio Nelson

It’s 1798. Admiral Horatio Nelson is on a mission to support the Neapolitan monarchy in Naples. He has already made a remarkable carreer, even if his greatest success is still to come. He is also marked by war: He has lost an arm and suffers from coughing spells. In Naples, he stays with the British Ambassador Sir William Hamilton, and his wife lovely Emma Hamilton.

A man on a mission falls in love

Emma and Horatio had first met in 1793. When they meet again in 1798, Emma is constantly at Nelson’s side. She nurses him back to health. They enjoy sweet hours in the English Garden of the Palace of Caserta. Emma also arranges a party with 1,800 guests to celebrate his 40th birthday. In short: Nelson and Emma soon become lovers. The affair will scandalize the English society and make Emma famous.
In Naples, Nelson fights the rebellion against the king – a task considered as a dark episode of his career. He also helps the Royal family to escape to the island of Sicily when their situation becomes precarious.

A dress to show success

In 1799, Nelson is made of Duke of Bronte as a reward for his support of the Neapolitan monarchy. At a ball held at his honour on his 41st birthday, Emma wears a dress that has Nelson’s name and new title stitched onto the hem.

Enjoy a photo of the lovely dress. I also add a detail shot of the hem.

A song to commemorate a battle

In 1801, Horatio Nelson successfully fights the Danish fleet at the battle of Copenhagen on board the HMS Elephant.

“It was a furious action in which the British gunners are reported as firing broadsides every forty seconds and the whole scene was shrouded in gunsmoke. During this battle Lord Nelson famously “turned a blind eye” to an order from his commander in chief (…) to discontinue the action.”*

The song “The Battle of Copenhagen” commemorates the victory. Emma Hamilton owns the music sheet. As she has a fine singing voice, and often performs for her guests, it is today concluded that the song was part of her repertoire.

Music sheet “The Battle of Copenhagen”, written by an “officer of distinguished rank”. It includes the famous line “Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves”.


*“The Battle of Copenhagen – The Nelson Society”:

Pocock, Tom: “In Nelson’s Footprints”; in: White, Colin: The Nelson Companion; The History Press, 2005.