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Letters to Admiral Nelson from the Iberian Peninsula (1803-1805): a research seminar by Dr Marianne Czisnik & Philipp Vanscheidt

By Sarah Davenport, on 23 September 2013

In cooperation with the National Maritime Museum, the University of Greenwich and University College London

Dates: 7 to 11 October 2013
Location: National Maritime Museum, London

Seminar topic: the “letters to Admiral Nelson from the Iberian Peninsula (1803-1805)” will be studied and TEI-XML and TextGrid will also be covered so that the letters may be published as a digital edition at the close of the seminar

The seminar examines British manuscripts sent from the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. In contrast with traditional editions and approaches, the material covered in this seminar is not selected from the writings of a famous decision maker but rather from writings sent to such a decision maker, namely “letters to Admiral Nelson from the Iberian Peninsula (1803-1805)”. Thus, they contain a wealth of information on key political, military and naval matters.
In particular, this seminar will analyse letters from British officials in Gibraltar and Spain (before and after the declaration of war with Great Britain in 1804) that Admiral Nelson received in the two years before the battle of Trafalgar (in Southern Spain) when he was commander-in-chief of the British Mediterranean fleet. The documents to be looked at form part of the more than 3.000 letters in the Croker Collection at the National Maritime Museum in London. This collection has been catalogued recently, is easily accessible though has not been scientifically explored. A publication in the digital Journal for Maritime Research, edited by the National Maritime Museum, is being planned.

The following letters are suggested for examination:
– James Duff, British consul in Cadiz (eleven letters written during the period from 1803 to 1805)
– John Holkham Frere, British ambassador in Madrid (thirteen letters written during the years 1803 and 1804)
– John White, British captain (two letters written from Cadiz in February 1804)
– Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Trigge, governor of Gibraltar (25 letters written during the years 1803 and 1804)

For the digital edition the basics of XML in accordance with the TEI standard and the virtual research environment TextGrid will be taught during the seminar.

The seminar will take place from 7 to 11 October 2013 at Greenwich. It is open to students from Technische Univerisität Darmstadt and students from other Universities (upon application; see below). The material that is to be analysed is held at the National Maritime Museum London. A visit to the Paper Conservation Department of the museum will be part of the seminar. An excursion to Portsmouth is planned. There the “Victory”, Lord Nelson’s flagship at the battle of Trafalgar, can be visited at the beginning of the seminar.

Guest Lectures
In her presentation, Jane Knight will speak about cataloging the stock of archival material that will be edited in the seminar. Dr Victoria Carolan is an expert for the different sources of British naval history and Dr Julianne Nyhan, University College London and formerly of the TEI Technical Council, will explain the history, the intentions and current developments of the initiative. Details about these lectures will be posted separately.

Contact and Information
If you are interested in participating, please explain your scientific background and interest in a short e-mail to Philipp Veranscheidt


by 30th September 2013.

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