The exhibition, shown at the Museo Naval in Madrid from 18 September 2013 to 13 January 2014, recovers the memory of Blas de Lezo, one of the most important seamen in Spanish naval history, who was hailed as a living legend by his contemporaries and is almost forgotten today. It traces his naval feats, his involvement in key episodes of eighteenth-century Europe, his courage in battle, his unwavering convictions, his honesty in defending Spain’s interests and his enlightened education throughout an epic life and a biography that in itself reflects a century of Spanish history.
Blas de Lezo, lieutenant general of the Spanish Armada, is known for having led the defence of Cartagena de Indias in 1741 with only six warships against the English fleet commanded by Admiral Vernon, which was eight times as large. Control of the Colombian port, strategically considered the “key to the Indies”, was the key to maintaining Spanish domination in America.
One-legged, one-eyed and one-armed from the age of 25 as a result of being wounded in battle – a fact that earned him the nickname of Mediohombre (Half a man) – Blas de Lezo is one of the most important seamen in Spanish naval history. Invincible throughout his military career, he died shortly after the defence of Cartagena without receiving deserved recognition, reviled by King Philip V and buried in a tomb whose location is unknown.