1462-1704 1789-1869

Gibraltar British, 1704-1789

During the War of Spanish Succession (1700-1713), an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704 captured the fortress of Gibraltar, in the name of Charles Duke of Austria, who claimed the crown of Spain. In peace negotiations the Bourbon Philip V. was accepted as king of Spain, and Britain, now realizing the strategic value of Gibraltar, insisted on keeping the peninsula. The Spanish population of Gibraltar left.
From Sept. 1704 to April 1705, a force of 9,000 Spaniards and 3,000 Frenchmen counterattacked; the Anglo-Dutch occupation force, commanded by Duke Georg von Hessen-Darmstadt, held out. After the siege, Major General Shrimpton was appointed governor. With Gibraltar, the British Navy commanded the straits and held the key to the Mediterranean, able to strike anywhere any time. In 1706, Gibraltar was proclaimed a Free Port by Queen Anne; the Treaty of Utrecht assigned Gibraltar to Britain (although this is still contested by Spain).
Following the Spanish conquest of Sardinia (1717) and Sicily (1718), Britain declared war on Spain Dec. 27th 1718 (War of the Quadruple Alliance). Gibraltar saw little action in this war, which ended in 1720, but suffered a siege in 1727. The Spanish force under de la Torres faced a garrison of 3,000. The British Navy kept Gibraltar supplied, and the siege ultimately was broken off.
Britain and Spain signed the Treaty of Sevilla in 1729; Gibraltar continued to be a problem in Anglo-Spanish relations due to the lack of specificity in the formulations of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. France and Spain signed a series of Bourbon Family Compacts in the years 1733-1777, which among others foresaw combined action with the aim of regaining Gibraltar for Spain.
The War of American Independence provided an opportunity for action, as both Spain and France sided with the American Colonies against Britain. Between 1779 and 1783, Gibraltar suffered the 14th or Great Siege. In 1782, Gibraltar had a population of 3,000 garrison, 1,426 garrison dependants, 1,733 civilians.
In 1765 it was decreed that the streets of Gibraltar were to be cleaned.

History of Gibraltar, from gibnet
Timeline of Gibraltar History, from Govt. of Gibraltar Website
The Smell of Gibraltar, by Tito Vallejo
DOCUMENTS Maps of Gibraltar, from the CIA factbook and from cwgames
Map Straits of Gibraltar, 1726, Gibraltar 1727, from Mappe di Citta' ed altre mappe antiche diverse, comment in Italian
REFERENCE William G.F. Jackson, The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar, Grendon : Gibraltar Books (1987) 1998
G.A. Henty, Held Fast for England. A Tale of the Siege of Gibraltar 1779-1783 (1892), posted by Gutenberg Library Online

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on October 22nd 2007

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