Blas de Lezo, the Value of Half a Man

Blas de Lezo, the Value of Half a Man

The exhibition, first 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.

The original exhibition has been adapted to a graphic display format for its international venue and is structured into six sections formed by graphic display panels. It also features a sculpture of Blas de Lezo, a replica of his uniform and two audio-visuals on the fortifications of Cartagena de Indias and the battle waged by Blas de Lezo in that city


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