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Nelson's loss was Tenerife's gain PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Michael Hopkins   
Saturday, 15 December 2007

Back in 1797, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was but a humble dependency of the old Tenerife Islands Capital La Laguna but all that was about to change in July that year as Rear Admiral of the Blue (the 9th highest rank in the British Royal Navy), Horatio Nelson was set to attack the Spanish port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in his search of Gold.

 Nelson loses both the battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and his right arm

After a successful campaign in 1797, Horatio Nelson turned his sights and his ship Theseus onto the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in an effort to search for Spanish Gold. It was during this attack that Nelson was struck in the right arm by a musketball causing his arm to fracture in several places.

The custom and best medical practise of the day was to amputate fractured limbs in a bid to stop the onset of Gangrene and certain death, consequently Nelson lost his right arm.

When the news of Nelson’s defeat reached the King of Spain, he regarded this as not only a triumph but also a sign that Santa Cruz de Tenerife was loyal to the throne and capable of defending itself. This apparent new found ‘independence’ meant the King awarded the town with its titles and institutions removing it from its dependency of La Laguna. The king also granted the town its own coat of arms complete with symbolism’s of Nelson’s ill fated attack on the port and its own title of ‘Most Noble, Loyal and Undefeated’.

It was this defeat of Nelson that later paved the way for Santa Cruz de Tenerife to become the Capitol of Tenerife. The rest as they say is history.

July 25th, the date of Nelson's ill fated attack on Tenerife is still a public holiday in Santa Cruz de Tenerife as is the anniversary of the Town's foundation on the 3rd May. 

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