The Impact of Trafalgar: What Was the Real Significance of the Battle?


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Republika Srpska
The Ottomans were heavily involved in the French invasion of Egypt and the Near East and in fact, the events there played a very important part in the Ottoman history of the time, basically dooming the Nizam-i Cedid reforms.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Republika Srpska
First I've heard this. How?
Well, the new Nizam regiments did not perform as good as expected in Egypt. The Ottoman grand army under Yusuf Ziya Pasha, meant to eliminate the French, was hampered by multiple factors: no effective command, low morale, anarchy and the ambivalence of the traditional Kapikulu troops which opposed the reforms and most of them were not a part of this grand army. In fact, provincial Jannisaries did their best to evade duty and effectively sabotage the army by doing so. There was a lot of mercenaries in the army and some provincial governors bribed the mercenaries away from the army, further weakening it. The only bright spot were artillery and engineer units under the command of trained officers, including Campbell Mustafa Aga. Of course, with all of these problems, it is not surprising that the Ottomans suffered defeats. The French defeated them at Heliopolis in March 1800 for example. Eventually, of course, the Ottomans and the British defeated the French in Egypt, but the initial Ottoman failures were used by the opponents of the reforms to justify their opposition. And we do see increased opposition. For example, Nizam commander Kadi Abdurrahman Pasha failed to recruit troops for Nizam units in Konya in 1803-04 and in Edirne in 1806.

So, the Nizam-i Cedid reforms were already not popular with some circles of the Ottoman society (keep in mind that the reformers were initially scared to even announce the formation of Nizam units) and the campaign in Egypt emboldened the opposition.
Apr 2014
Istanbul Turkey
Only Memluks (Murad Bey) blunder of giving an open field battle so early of the campaign after arderous march of French columns from Alexandria to Cairo at Battle of Pyramids (Memluk losses were about 8.000 , not 20.000 as Bonaparte inflated in his reports) , let fall of Cairo and most of Egypt so quickly. I say most because French never truly pacified the country. Memluk rulers Murad Bey and Ibrahim Bey escaped to Upper Nile and contantly initiated insurrection , guerilla hit and run raids even open revolts against French rule in Egypt till Kleber and Menou struck a deal with them. Napoleon did not bring enough troops to keep occupation on whole countryside. Eventually also thanks to heavy losses in Napoleons disasterous Syria and Palastine Campaign (of course according to French propaganda like Napoleon himself edited it was a glorious triumph of French arms when half of French Expeditionary Force did not cross back Sinai desert back to Egypt plus losing all artillery and baggage and poisoning wounded behind) and constant insurrections , raids , Ottoman landings etc French Army of Orient cut off from France , melted down like an icecream under sun (of course Napoleon's desertion of Egypt in 1799 without asking anyone did not help French troops morale either. Douglas MacArthur had a role model though even he left his post in Phillipinnes under direct orders from President) By the time British Army under command of General Abercromley landed on Alexandria in 1801 and defeated French Army in Battle of Alexandria (Canopus) and another Ottoman army under command of Grand Vizir Selim passed through Sinai and entered Egypt from east and another British expedition under General Baird landed on Red Sea , remains of French garrisons in Egypt were glad and considered themselves fortunete to surrender to British who transported them intact back to France rather then facing tender mercies of Ottomans. (and of course British took over all Egyptian artifacts French discovered including Rosetta Stone which is displayed in British Museum today)
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Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
It was psychological. Nelson's use of irregular tactics in breaking the line to gain a decisive victory was the full stop on the sentence of naval supremacy.

Other British naval commanders may have been able to win, but the manner of the victory was important.

Also, the aftermath of Trafalgar, put strained relations on the Franco-Spanish alliance.
Nov 2011
Ohio, USA
Than why did Napoleon organize a camp at Boulogne ? The camp was established by Napoleon in 1803 and continued until 1805. This was where he assembled the Army of the Ocean or Armée des côtes de l'Océan to invade Britain.

There was no other way to defeat Britain after 1805, because Napoleon completely failed in his attempt of invading Britain.

Not to mention, that Napoleon already had idiotic Egypt campaign on his record. So this is nothing new for a ,, Corsican Monster ''.
He called off the invasion of Britain in late August-early September of 1805 when he got word of the formation of the Third Coalition and Austria and Russia’s entry into it. This was almost 2 months before Trafalgar. Trafalgar did not cause the de-establishment of the Boulogne camp; The Third Coalition did. By the time Napoleon received news of Trafalgar he was already occupying Vienna.
Feb 2018
Look at it this way. Since Trafalgar, the French never attempted to challenge English naval supremacy again in a grand battle and the Spanish never even bothered to rebuild a decent navy.


Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
It was psychological. Nelson's use of irregular tactics in breaking the line to gain a decisive victory was the full stop on the sentence of naval supremacy.

Other British naval commanders may have been able to win, but the manner of the victory was important.
Sam Willis in his book "The Glorious First of June" describes Howe's tactics in that battle as cutting the line so as to cause a general 1 on 1 melee.
Sep 2016
This is the populalr mythology of the 1805 campaign but it is not really supported by the evidence. Russian sources say the decison to leave Olumtiz and seek battle was driven by supplies (the area could no longer support the Allied army it had to advance or reterat further) and Austrian Pressure (being unwilling to retreat further). Alexander was a pretty consultative ally, he did defer to Austrian plans at Austerlitz. And there is no eveidence that the allies thought in terms of 1 decisive battle (crushng battles were not really part of the alied armies dcotrine as it was the French in this period)
Kutuzov also proposed to retreat further. They would combine with another Russian force, that was on it's way.