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HMS Victory (Paperback)

From Fighting the Armada to Trafalgar and Beyond

Maritime Military > Pre-WWI > Napoleonic > Nelson & Trafalgar

By Iain Ballantyne, Jonathan Eastland
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 120 B&W photos
ISBN: 9781781593639
Published: 5th August 2013
Last Released: 29th June 2022



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There is no more illustrious warship name in British naval history than HMS Victory, which is inextricably linked with Admiral Lord Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar. In 1805 the most famous Victory was the scene of Nelson's greatest triumph and also his death. She is today preserved at Portsmouth as the oldest commissioned warship in the world. Less well known is that six previous warships also carried the name. The first Victory was Sir John Hawkins' flagship during the Battle of the Armada in 1588 while the loss of the sixth in 1744 was considered a national tragedy. All manner of maritime life is included in this book, from piracy in the Azores to gentlemanly encounters between fleets and the battle of annihilation that was Trafalgar. The full horror, majesty and thunder of naval strategy and warfare in the age of fighting sail are all revealed via first-hand accounts of the action and key events. The post-Trafalgar career of Victory is also studied, including her part in destroying Napoleon's hopes of conquering Russia. We also learn how HMS Victory was saved for the British nation and the world. Researched and written by leading maritime experts Iain Ballantyne and Jonathan Eastland, 'Victory' will be enjoyed by all those interested in naval heritage and the proud fighting record of the Royal Navy.

A curious and interesting book for lovers of naval history of all time and those who like stories based on real events.

Read the full Spanish review here.

José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) - Miniaturas JM

I did read it cover to cover and found some interesting snippets. It is well illustrated and easy reading; entertaining for the generalist reader.

Clash of Steel

This book places the story of HMS Victory, in all her seven incarnations, within the wider historical context and is more than just a mere service history and for that the authors are to be commended.
If you are interested in this iconic ship you will certainly find much of interest.

The Mariner's Mirror

An admirable volume on a great ship and symbol of naval prowess. In addition to utilizing rarely quoted primary sources and providing a comprehensive summary of Victory's service, they set the stage with narratives covering the history of the vessel's early namesakes that extends to 1560 and service that included the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Naval Historical Foundation

Victory is a very readable and interesting introduction to the navy’s evolution, those who served aboard the various vessels, and the immortal ship that is now the Flagship of the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord.

Pirates & Privateers

One element that makes this book stand out is that the authors don't just relate stories about the commanders who served aboard the seven warships; also told are tales from those who served under the officers.
Rather than rehash than material that has appeared in print before, Ballantyne and Eastland culled the archives to incorporate new or forgotten gems.
Victory is a very readable and interesting introduction to the navy's evolution, those who served aboard the various vessels, and the immortal ship that is now the Flagship of the Navy's First Sea Lord.

Thistles & Pirates

HMS Victory is the oldest commissioned warship, now displayed in drydock at Portsmouth.
Since she was placed on display, millions of people of all ages from around the world have come to see her. That a brilliant young fleet commander died in his moment of victory, on a ship named Victory, is an enduring legend. There is unlikely to be another Victory in Royal Navy service because Nelson’s Victory will be lovingly maintained and the Royal Navy is most unlikely to decommission her, denying the name to future British warships. So strong and international is the iconic HMS Victory as Nelson’s Flagship at Trafalgar, little thought is given to those earlier British warships that carried the name Victory. In this carefully researched book, the authors have redressed the situation.  They have provided a great deal of information and a good glossary, covering the vessels between Hawkin’s Victory and Nelson’s Victory. Naturally the Trafalgar Victory has been covered in its fighting days and in its later service as a key piece of British naval heritage. There is genuinely new information and balanced coverage from first to last Victory. The standard of illustration is very good and adds greatly to the work. This is one of those essential books that no one following naval history can afford to be without.


Eloquently written. Handsomely presented. The characters remain in the mind.

Warships International Fleet Review

Devoted to a superbly illustrated tour of the vessel as she is today.

Ships Monthly
 Iain Ballantyne

About Iain Ballantyne

Iain Ballantyne has written extensively about navies past and present. He has visited warships and commando units to report on their operational activities in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Adriatic, Asia-Pacific and the Arctic, including covering the fall of the Soviet Union - plus its impact in Russia, Latvia and the Czech Republic - along with the 1990/91 Gulf War.
A former newspaper defence reporter and current Editor of the global naval affairs magazine ‘WARSHIPS International Fleet Review’, Iain has also contributed to television news and documentary programmes, and radio shows. He is host of the Warships Pod podcast.
Among his other naval history books are ‘Warspite’, ‘HMS Rodney’ and the award-winning ‘Killing the Bismarck’ (all published by Pen & Sword). In 2017, Iain was presented with a prestigious Fellowship Award by the UK’s Maritime Foundation for making ‘a truly outstanding contribution to stimulating public engagement in maritime issues.’

About Jonathan Eastland

JONATHAN EASTLAND, the renowned maritime photographer and writer, has studied Victory for more than thirty years and taken photographs of every corner of her and of every aspect of her restoration during that period.

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