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"Nelson at Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799" Topic

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351 hits since 4 Sep 2018
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2018 3:32 p.m. PST

"During the wars which followed the French Revolution, France's armies turned on Britain's last ally in Italy, the kingdom of Naples. The French chased out the Bourbon royal family and established a republic, governed by scholars and philosophers. It lasted six months before an Army of the Holy Faith, under Cardinal Ruffo, counter-attacked and reduced the republic to a handful of castles in Naples itself. In June 1799 their republican garrisons agreed to surrender when Ruffo promised to save them from his fanatical mob by offering them safe passage to France.

That treaty of surrender was signed and sealed when Admiral Nelson arrived in the bay with his British fleet. The admiral, urged on by Lady Hamilton, objected to the treaty's generous terms, then seemed to relent, permitting the republicans and their families to evacuate their forts. Once they were disarmed and had climbed aboard the waiting transports, Nelson struck and seized the would-be exiles. Hundreds of Neapolitan rebels now found themselves delivered up to a merciless court…."
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Jpnorth28 Sep 2018 6:36 a.m. PST

Thanks Armand. Perhaps that promotional text is a bit colourful, but the fundamental question is deadly serious. Did Nelson break the laws of war as they were understood in 1799? The very short answer is, yes, he should have put the garrisons of Naples back in their forts. Instead he detained them on the transports, arrested the commanders and key government officials and handed hundreds back to the Bourbons to face selective justice.

I think many Italians are aware of this story, but it is not as well known as it should be in Britain.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP29 Sep 2018 12:21 p.m. PST

A votre service mon ami!. (smile)

Totally agree with you!.


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