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This edited article about Lord Nelson originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 950 published on 5 April 1980.
In 1800, when Britain was at war with France, an alliance was formed between Russia, Prussia, Denmark and Sweden, to resist a British claim to search ships at sea, in case they contained goods bound for France.
In retaliation, Britain sent a fleet to the Baltic in March 1801, under Admiral Hyde Parker, with Lord Nelson second in command. They ordered Denmark to withdraw from the league, and had instructions that, if Denmark refused, the British fleet should attack. This, in fact, happened, and the bloody Battle of Copenhagen began.
The fighting was so fierce that Nelson later said that it was the most terrible sea battle he had ever seen. Eventually, on 2nd April, Hyde Parker signalled Nelson to withdraw. Nelson, however, disobeyed the command. He raised his spy glass to his blind eye, declared that he could not see the signal and carried on fighting. So it was that the British, after a fierce struggle, won a glorious victory.