One of the tourist attractions in Central London is Trafalgar Square. The famous square surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces and historic buildings was built to honor the victory of British Navy commanded by Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. The Battle of Trafalgar happened on 21 October 1805. It took place near Cape Trafalgar on the cost of southwest Spain and northwest of the Strait of Gibraltar. The battle was the culmination of an intense campaign started in June 1803 by British Navy to hamper the invasion of the French to Great Britain.
Born naturally to be a leader, Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, was succeed to lead the Royal Navy to defeat the combination about thirty-three ships of French and Spanish Fleet with only his twenty-seven ships. Nelson's formation of two columns line proved to bring a victory to the British at the Battle of Trafalgar. Unfortunately, Lord Nelson died in the line of duty as he got shot by a French sharpshooter and killed at the battle due to severe wounds. The whole nation mourned the loss of one of her greatest heroes. To commemorate his patriotic death Nelson statue was erected at Trafalgar Square.
The victory against its adversary at Trafalgar cemented British Naval supremacy elsewhere in European waters. Hence, British warships and merchant vessels were sailing safely. Battle of Trafalgar had secured the British Naval supremacy to rule the waves and thus supported the Britain’s imperial power to expand later. ‘The sun never sets on the British Empire’ is the famous line to refer to the glorious time of British Empire in the past. Then, what made the British sea power and British Empire came into being?
In his book, The Command of the Ocean, the second book of three-volume Naval history of Britain, Nicholas Rodger describes the development of British Navy, notably the contribution of naval warfare. The book covers span time between the beginning of Commonwealth in 1649 up to the end of Napoleonic wars in 1815. An expert of British Naval History, Nicholas Rodger argues the reasons why British naval dominated ocean was because of good administration, great ship design, careful maintenance and better health with diet and for the last point as he writes in the concluding remarks “Only when ships could be kept at sea with healthy crews for long periods could the possibilities of naval power be fully exploited.”
By defending himself of devoting his book more into the background of British Navy rather than its foreground, Rodger moreover elaborates several topics to spread further his idea of political, social, economic, technological, cultural, agricultural, and religious history of Britain in addition to the activities of British Navy in any areas. He also emphasized that the most important matters during the period were financial and administrative. Thus the naval supremacy was a result of all factors above to support Royal Navy at war. During the eighteenth century, the navy remained an extremely popular British institution which was quite resembled national identity.
Speaking about maritime history is, in any cases, inevitably linked to world history. British main competitors in the ocean at that time were French, Dutch and Spanish. The superiority of British Navy was much more sophisticated in the course of Napoleonic wars. Since Napoleon with his army was busy conquering European continent, French Navy was seemed to be forsaken. As for Dutch and Spanish, their navies were less and less strong than previous period, mainly during the 16th and 17th century which was the heyday of their sea power.
Britain started and ended the eighteenth century to herald its Navy. At that period the Navy played a significant role in establishing colonies in two continents which were America and India in Asia. In spite of its powerfulness, it does not mean that the British Navy was invincible. For real, British Empire did lose thirteen of their colonies in North America during the American war of independence. Something that was regarded as humiliating for the empire whose Navy was the biggest and the most advanced. This, however, submerged the credibility of the Navy which regarded no higher than Denmark or Sweden in the European Scale.
'Gaining through losing' is a bit perfect term to draw the situation of Royal Navy after American independence. Provoking by its disability to hold the colonies back, British Navy later revived to be a major power in the very late of the eighteenth century. The British were able to keep their ships in good condition since they invested sum of money to build dockyards in which could manage to fix the ships. Therefore as Petley and McAleer wrote in their book “By the time of [Battle of] Trafalgar, the Royal Navy had protected and regulated an expanding British empire for more than a century. Its personnel had helped shape life in all parts of the empire, and their deeds shaped the imperial identities that helped bind the British subjects of this far-ﬂung world.”
Writer : Prima N.M
Editor : Amorisa
 Alan Schom, Trafalgar: Countdown to Battle 1803-1802. London: Michael Joseph, 1990.
 Christopher Hibbert, Nelson: A Personal History. London: Viking, 1994.
 N.A.M Rodger, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815. New York: W.W Norton, 2004.
 Christer Petley and John McAleer, “Introduction: The Royal Navy and the British Atlantic” in Christer Petley and John McAleer (eds), The Royal Navy and the British Atlantic World, c. 1750–1820, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
 Clive Wilkinson, The British Navy and the State at the Eighteenth Century, National Maritime Museum Great Britain, 2004.
 Christer Petley and John McAleer, “Introduction: The Royal Navy and the British Atlantic” in Christer Petley and John McAleer (eds), The Royal Navy and the British Atlantic World, c. 1750–1820, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, p.13.