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Beitragvon JLV-DAK » 19/11/2007, 19:23

Gibraltar or The Rock

To put the Rock in its proper place it would be necessary to start by telling a bit of the historical context in which Gibraltar developed throughout the centuries until we reach the period of WWII. In this respect, the rock of Gibraltar occupies a strategic position at the eastern entrance to the narrow strait and guards the only exit from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
Gibraltar has been in the historical limelight for over 3,000 years. 4,000 years ago the ancient mariners daren't pass the rock for fear of the currents. The Phoenicians sailed past it and used it as an important landmark, marking the entrance to the Atlantic. The Greeks gave it the name Calpe which means urn, possibly because of its shape. The present name of Gibraltar comes from the Arabs who invaded Spain in the VIII century. Tarik was the leader of the invading army. Since then the rock has been known as Gibel Tarik - the mountain of Tarik. The Arabic name has altered over the centuries to its present form of Gibraltar.
Tarik did not build the Moorish castle, nor did he found the city. Both were built five centuries after his death. He did however build a fortification along where Southport Gates now stand and up the side of the rock. It was in 1160 that the city was founded by the Sultan of what we can call today Morocco, Abd-al-Mummin who built a castle and citadel. The several successions of sieges in or around Gibraltar are briefly displayed:
It was not until 1309, while the King Ferdinand IV of Castile laid siege on Algeciras, that Alonso Pérez de Guzmán (known to the Spanish records as Guzmán el Bueno) was sent to capture the town. This was the First Siege of Gibraltar. The Castilians took the Upper Rock from where the town was bombarded. The garrison surrendered after one month. Gibraltar then had about 1,500 inhabitants. It was during the capture of Gibraltar by the Castillians (1309-1333) that the streets of the lower town were constructed and Gibraltar became a substantial city.
In 1316 Gibraltar was unsuccessfully besieged by the Nasrid caid Yahya (Second Siege of Gibraltar).
During the year 1333 June - A Marinids army, lead by Abd al-Malik, the son of Abul Hassan, the Marinid sultan, recovered Gibraltar, after a five-month siege (Third Siege of Gibraltar).
Then, it was the Spanish king’s turn to try and retake the Rock. In this regard, King Alfonso XI of Castile attempted to retake Gibraltar aided by the fleet of the Castilian Admiral Alonso Jofre Tenorio. Even a ditch was dug across the isthmus. While laying the siege, the king was attacked by a Nasrid army from Granada. Therefore, the siege ended in a truce, allowing the Marinids to keep Gibraltar (Fourth Siege of Gibraltar)
In 1344, After a two-year siege, Algeciras was taken over by the Castilian forces. Therefore, Gibraltar became the main Marinid port in the Iberian Peninsula. During the siege, Gibraltar played a key role as the supply base of the besieged.
1349 - Gibraltar was unsuccessfully besieged by the Castilian forces led by the king Alfonso XI.
1350 - The siege was resumed by Alfonso XI. It was again unsuccessful, mainly due to the arrival of the Black Death, which decimated the besiegers, causing the death of the king himself. (Fifth Siege of Gibraltar).
In 1369 Algeciras was taken over by the Nasrids, destroyed and its harbour made unusable. This fact increased again the importance of Gibraltar in the strait trade.
During the Sixth Siege, in 1374 - Gibraltar was recovered by the Nasrids.
It was during the year 1436 that Enrique de Guzmán, Count of Niebla, attempted and assaulted Gibraltar. However, his attack was repelled and Castilian forces suffered heavy losses (Seventh Siege of Gibraltar).
In August, 20, 1462 Castilian forces captured Gibraltar (Eighth Siege of Gibraltar). King Enrique IV of Castile, subsequently, declared Gibraltar to be Crown property so as to end the estate disputes between the House of Medina Sidonia and the House of Arcos. Enrique IV restored the charter granted to Gibraltar in 1310 and took two additional measures: the lands previously belonging to Algeciras (destroyed in 1369) were granted to Gibraltar; and the status of collegiate church was solicited from the pope Pius II and granted to the Santa María Church (the old Moorish Mosque). St. Bernard of Clairvaux, whose feast falls on the 20 August, became the Patron Saint of Gibraltar.
In a tour through Andalusia during 1463, Enrique IV was the first Christian monarch to visit Gibraltar.
In the midst of a nobility revolt against the King, during July, 1467, the forces of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, after a 16-month siege, took Gibraltar. Alfonso of Castile, half-brother of Enrique IV and puppet pretender handled by the nobility, granted him the Lordship of Gibraltar (Ninth Siege of Gibraltar).
In June, 1469 after the death of Alfonso of Castile and the 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia, his son and heir Enrique de Guzman, 2nd Duke of Medina Sidonia changed side and in reward, saw the status of Gibraltar, as part of the domains of the Duke, confirmed by the Queen Isabella of Castile.
On December, 20, 1470 a new charter was granted to the town of Gibraltar, now a nobiliary town, based in the Antequera charter.
On September, 30, 1478 the Catholic Monarchs granted the title of Marquis of Gibraltar to the Duke of Medina Sidonia.
1492 - After conquering Granada, the Catholic Monarchs expelled the Jews from Spain. Many passed through Gibraltar on their way into exile in North Africa.
Also during the summer of 1492, after the death of the former Duke, his son and heir, Juan Alfonso Perez de Guzman, 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia saw his lordship over Gibraltar reluctantly renewed by the Catholic Monarchs.
Gibraltar, in the year 1497, became the main base in the conquest of Melilla by the troops of the Duke of Medina Sidonia.
It was in December of the year 1501 that, the Spanish Monarchs, acknowledging the importance of the town, asked the Duke of Medina Sidonia for the return of Gibraltar to the domains of the crown. The Duke accepted the Royal request and ceded the town to the monarchs.
Garcilaso de la Vega took possession of the town on behalf of the Queen Isabella of Castile. (January, 2, 1502)
By a Royal Warrant passed in Toledo by Isabella of Castile in July, 10, 1502, Gibraltar was granted its coat of arms: "An escutcheon on which the upper two thirds shall be a white field and on the said field set a red castle, and below the said castle, on the other third of the escutcheon, which must be a red field in which there must be a white line between the castle and the said red field, there shall be a golden key which hangs by a chain from the said castle, as are here figured". The Castle and Key remain the Arms of Gibraltar to this day.
In 1506, alleging a false donation by the king Philip I of Castile, the Duke of Medina Sidonia attempted to recover Gibraltar by besieging the town. The siege was unsuccessful and the Duke was admonished by the Regency and forced to pay a fee to the town. The town received the title of "Most Loyal City" (Tenth Siege of Gibraltar).
During 1540 there were several attacks by Corsairs from the Barbary Coast, who raided Gibraltar and took away many captives.
After the requests from the inhabitants of the town in 1552, Charles I of Spain (the Emperor Charles V) sent the Italian engineer Giovanni Battista Calvi to strengthen the defences of the town. A wall was built and also a ditch by the wall of the town and a drawbridge at the Landport.
The Moriscos (the descendants of the Muslim inhabitants in Spain) were expelled from Spain during the reing of King Philip III in 1606. Many passed through Gibraltar on their way into exile in North Africa.
1607 April 25 - During the Eighty Years' War between the United Provinces and the King of Spain, a Dutch fleet surprised and engaged a Spanish fleet anchored at the Bay of Gibraltar (Battle of Gibraltar).
It wasn't until the time of Cromwell when Britain first became interested in the Rock but it was not captured until the War of the Spanish Succession.
In 1656 in a letter to the Earl of Sandwich, Councillor General Montagu, General-at-sea and one of the Protector's personal friends, Cromwell mentioned the necessity of securing a permanent base at the entry of the Mediterranean, preferably Gibraltar (the first suggestion for the occupation of Gibraltar as a naval base had been made at an English Council of War held at sea on October 20, 1625).
On November, 1, 1700 King Carlos II of Spain died leaving no descendants. In the autumn he had made a will bequeathing the whole of the Spanish possessions to Prince Philip of Bourbon, a grandson of Louis XIV backed by France. The other pretender, an Austrian Hapsburg, Archduke Charles, supported by Austria, England, Holland and the Holy Roman Empire, did not accept Carlos II's testament. The result was the War of the Spanish Succession.
In September, 1701, England, the Netherlands and Austria signed the Treaty of the Hague. By this treaty, they accepted Philippe of Anjou as King of Spain, but allotted Austria the Spanish territories in Italy and the Spanish Netherlands. England and the Netherlands, meanwhile, were to retain their commercial rights in Spain. Later (in 1703), Portugal, Savoy and some German states joined the alliance.
1702 May - Full-scale war broke out. It was the formal beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession.
1703 February 12 - The Archduke Charles was proclaimed king of Castile and Aragon in Vienna. He took the name of Carlos III. So now, Hapsburg Gibraltar was under the rule of the Archduke Charles, pretender to the Spanish Throne
The Gibraltar capture
There is usually a discrepancy on the chronology between Spanish and British sources. The reason is that England still used the Julian calendar. By 1704, the Julian calendar was eleven days behind the Gregorian. Therefore, the siege began on 21 July according to the Julian calendar.
1704 August 1 - During the War of the Spanish Succession, and when returning from a failed expedition to Barcelona, an Anglo-Dutch fleet, under the command of sir George Rooke, chief commander of the Alliance Navy, began a new siege (the eleventh siege of the town). They demanded its unconditional surrender and an oath of loyalty to the Hapsburg pretender to the Spanish throne, the Archduke Charles. The Governor of Gibraltar, Diego de Salinas, refused the ultimatum. A brigade of Dutch and British Marines, 1,800 strong, under the command of Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, chief commander of the Alliance Army in Spain, began to besiege Gibraltar, in the name of the Archduke Charles. A small group of Spaniards, mainly Catalans, was integrated in the troops of the Prince of Hesse.
1704 night of 3-4 August - Heavy shelling targeted the castle and the town.
1704 August 4 - The Governor Diego de Salinas surrendered the town to Prince George of Hesse, who took it in the name of Archduke, as Carlos III, king of Castile and Aragon. This was the end of the Eleventh Siege of Gibraltar.
The exact beginning of the English/British control of Gibraltar is hard to determine. From the eighteenth century, Spanish sources reported that immediately after the takeover of the city, Sir George Rooke, the British admiral, on his own initiative caused the British flag to be hoisted, and took possession of the Rock in name of Queen Anne, whose government ratified the occupation. However, whatever the exact events of the time, Gibraltar ceased being under the rule of Felipe V of Spain in 1704.
1704 August 7. A dejected procession filed out of the Land Port with Queen Isabella's banner at their head, and led by the Spanish Governor, Diego de Salinas, the Spanish garrison, with their three brass cannon, the religious orders, the city council and all those inhabitants who did not wish to take the oath of allegiance to Charles III. They took with them the symbols and objects of Spanish Gibraltar's history: the council and ecclesiastical records, including the historical documents signed by the Spanish Catholic Monarchs in 1502, granting Gibraltar's coat of arms, and the statue of the Holy Crowned Virgin Mary. Most of them took refuge in the proximity of the nearby Chapel of San Roque, possibly hoping for a rapid reconquest of Gibraltar, which never materialised. There, a new settlement was formed, being granted a council two years later (1706), with the name of San Roque.
On Agust, 24th, 1704 the Alliance fleet, under the command of Rooke, set sail from Gibraltar and intercepted a joint Spanish-French fleet that attempted to recover Gibraltar by the coast of Málaga (Battle of Vélez-Málaga). The result was uncertain, with heavy losses on both sides, but the Spanish-French fleet was stopped and prevented from arriving at Gibraltar.

On September, 5th, 1704 troops of France and Spain, under the marquis of Villadarias, General Captain of Andalusia, started to besiege Gibraltar to try to recover it (this one would be the Twelfth Siege of Gibraltar). In the town, the Marine brigade, still under the command of the British admiral Sir John Leake, and the governor, Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt (who had commanded the land forces in August), and reinforced shortly before by a further 400 Royal Marines, held the fortress against repeated attacks.
1704 November 11 - A notable incident during the siege: 500 French and Spanish volunteer grenadiers tried to surprise the garrison, which they did but to no avail since they couldn’t topple down the defences, that were under Captain Fisher of the Marines.
In January, 1705, King Felipe V replaced Villadarias with by the Marshal of France de Tessé.
On the 7th of February, 1705, the assault on the defences of the Rock became fruitless due to the refusal of the French troops to go until the arrival of de Tessé (who arrived the day after). It was the last assault to be executed before the arrival of the Frenchman. The Gibraltar wall was damaged but the attack was unsuccessful.
1705 March 31 - The Count de Tessé gave up the siege and retired.
Although nominally in the hands of the Archduke Charles, Britain began to monopolize the rule of the town. Even if the formal transfer of sovereignty would not take place until the signature of the Treaty of Utrecht, the British Governor and garrison become the de facto rulers of the town.
1705 August 2 - The Archduke Charles stopped over in Gibraltar in his way to the territories of the Crown of Aragon. The Prince of Hesse joined him, thus leaving the town (he would die one month later in the siege of Barcelona). The English Major General John Shrimpton was left as governor (appointed by the Archduke Charles on the recommendation of Queen Anne).
1707, 24 December - The first British Governor directly appointed by the Queen Anne, Roger Elliott, took up residence in the Convent of the Franciscan Friars.
1711 - The British government, then in the hands of the Tories, covertly ordered the British Gibraltar governor, Thomas Stanwix, to expel any foreign (not British) troops (to foster the Great Britain's sole right to Gibraltar in the negotiations running up between Britain and France). Although he answered positively, he allowed a Dutch regiment to stay. It remained there until March 1713.
Treaty of Utrecht
1713 - The territory was subsequently ceded to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity by Spain under article X of the Treaties of Utrecht. Despite some military attempts by the Spanish to retake it in the eighteenth century, most notably in the Great Siege of 1779-1783, the Rock has remained under British control ever since.
In that treaty, Spain ceded Great Britain "the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging ... for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever."
The Treaty stipulated that no overland trade between Gibraltar and Spain was to take place, except for emergency provisions in the case that Gibraltar is unable to be supplied by sea. Another condition of the cession was that "no leave shall be given under any pretence whatsoever, either to Jews or Moors, to reside or have their dwellings in the said town of Gibraltar." This was not respected for long and Gibraltar has had for many years an established Jewish community, along with Muslims from North Africa.
Finally, under the Treaty, should the British crown wish to dispose of Gibraltar, that of Spain should be offered the territory first.
1721 March - Felipe V of Spain requested the restitution of Gibraltar to proceed to the renewal of the trade licenses of Great Britain with the Spanish possessions in America.
1721 June 1 - George I sent a letter to Felipe V promising "to make use of the first favourable Opportunity to regulate this Article (the Demand touching the Restitution of Gibraltar), with the Consent of my Parliament". However, the British Parliament never endorsed such promise.
1727 February-June - Second of the sieges by Spain tried to recapture Gibraltar (Thirteenth Siege of Gibraltar). Depending on the sources, Spanish troops were between 12,000 and 25,000. British defenders were 1,500 at the beginning of the siege, increasing up to about 5,000. After a five-month siege with several unsuccessful and costly attempts, Spanish troops give up and retire.
1729 - At the end of the Anglo-Spanish War of 1727-1729, the Treaty of Seville confirming all previous treaties (including the Treaty of Utrecht) allowed Great Britain to keep Menorca and Gibraltar.
In 1730 a Belgian Engineer, the Marquis of Verboom, Chief Engineer of the Spanish Royal Engineer Corps, who has taken part in the 1727 siege, arrived in San Roque commissioned by the Spanish government to design a line of fortifications across the isthmus. Fort San Felipe and Fort Santa Barbara are built. The fortifications, known to the British as the Spanish Lines, and to Spain as La Línea de Contravalación were the origin of modern-day town of La Línea de la Concepción.
There was a more serious attempt during the American Revolution when Spain joined forces with France in the war with a specific aim of taking Gibraltar. The Great Siege commenced on June 21st 1779 and lasted nearly 4 years. During this time the Rock was defended by a force of 7,000, commanded by the Governor, General Sir George Eliott. The battle eventually ended on February 2nd 1783. By now the siege was over, and George Augustus Eliott was awarded the Knight of the Bath and was created 1st Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar. The Treaties of Versailles reaffirmed previous treaties. The city took many years to rebuild.
In 1782, work on the Great Siege Tunnels started. The tunnels became a great and complex system of underground fortifications which nowadays criss-crosses the inside of the Rock. Once the Siege was over, the fortifications were rebuilt and, in the following century, the walls were lined with Portland limestone. Such stone gives the walls their present white appearance.
1802 - Several mutinies among some regiments garrisoned in Gibraltar.
In June 1803 Admiral Nelson arrived in Gibraltar as Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean.
1804 - Great epidemic of "Malignant Fever" broke out. Although traditionally labelled as "Yellow Fever" now it is thought to have been typhus.
1805 January - The great epidemic ended. Over a third of the civilian population (5,946 people) died.
1805 October 21 - Battle of Trafalgar.
1805 October 28 - HMS Victory was towed into Gibraltar bringing Nelson's body aboard. The Trafalgar Cemetery still exists today in Gibraltar.
1806 - Gibraltar was made a Catholic Apostolic Vicariate (until then Gibraltar belonged to the See of Cadiz). Since 1840 the vicar is always a titular bishop.
1810 - Britain and Spain became allies against Napoleon.
1810 February - The Governor of Gibraltar removed the Spanish forts of San Felipe and Santa Barbara, located on the northern boundary of the neutral ground. Fearing that the forts might fall into French hands, Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell instructed Royal Engineers to blow the forts up. Such a task was carried out on February 14 together with the demolition of the rest of fortifications of the Spanish Lines.
During the Peninsular War, contingents from the Gibraltar Garrison were sent to aid Spanish resistance to the French at Cádiz and Tarifa.
1822 August 21 - The Anglican Diocese of Gibraltar was founded by Letters Patent and took over the pastoral care of the chaplaincies and congregations from Portugal to the Caspian Sea.
1830 - Gibraltar became a British Crown Colony. Gibraltar Police Force was established.
1869 - The Suez Canal was opened. It heavily increased the strategic value of the Rock in the route from the United Kingdom to India.
1908 August 5 - The British Ambassador in Madrid informed the Spanish Minister of State 'as an act of courtesy', of the British Government's intention to build a fence along the line of British sentries on the isthmus to prevent smuggling and reduce sentry duty. According to the British government, the fence was erected 1 metre inside British territory. Spain currently does not recognize the fence as the valid border, since it claims the fence was built on Spanish soil. Even though Spain, the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are all part of the European Union, the border fence is still relevant today since Gibraltar is outside the customs union. The border crossing is open 24-hours a day as required by EU law.
1921 - Gibraltar was granted a City Council status in recognition for its contribution to the British war efforts in the First World War. The council had a small minority of elected persons. First elections held in Gibraltar.
The history of Gibraltar from the Second World War is characterized by two main elements: the increasing autonomy and self-government achieved by Gibraltarians and the re-emergence of the Spanish claim, especially during the years of Franco’s regime.
1939-1945 - During the Second World War the civilian residents of Gibraltar were evacuated, and the Rock was again turned into a fortress. Control of Gibraltar gave the Allied Powers control of the entry to the Mediterranean Sea (the other side of the Strait being Spanish territory, and thus non-belligerent). The Rock was a key part of the Allied supply lines to Malta and North Africa and base of the British Navy Force H, and prior to the war the racecourse on the isthmus was converted into an airbase and a concrete runway constructed. The repatriation of the civilians started in 1944 and proceeded for some six years, causing considerable suffering and frustration. However, most of the population had returned by 1946.
1940 July 4 - French bombers, based in French Morocco, carried out a retailatory air raid over Gibraltar as a reprisal for the destruction of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria, by the Force H (about 1,300 French sailors were killed and about 350 were wounded in the action against the French fleet).
1941 - Germany planned to occupy Gibraltar (and presumably hand it over to Spain) in "Operation Felix" which was due to start on 10 January 1941. It was cancelled because the Spanish government was reluctant to let the Wehrmacht enter Spain and then attack against the Rock, its civilians or the British Army from Spanish soil, because Franco feared that it may have been impossible to remove the Wehrmacht afterwards. In any case, Hitler was too busy elsewhere in Europe to give this much priority.
1940-1943 - Gibraltar harbour was attacked many times by Italian commando frogmen operating from Algeciras. Underwater warfare and countermeasures were developed by Lionel Crabb.
1942 September - A small group of Gibraltarians, who remained in the town serving in the British Army, joined a mechanic official, Albert Risso, to create 'The Gibraltarians Association', the starting point of what be named the Association for the Advancement of Civil Rights (officially established in December that year), the first political party in Gibraltar. Joshua Hassan (a young lawyer then, later Sir and Chief Minister) was among the leading members of such association. The AACR was the dominant party in the Gibraltar politics for the last third of the twentieth century.
On November, 8, 1942, Operation Torch launched with support from Gibraltar.
So up to the year 1942 we stop in our purpose of describing the main historical events that took place in and around Gibraltar in order to illustrate the incontrovertible military importance that it held all through WWII. We can not forget that Gibraltar has been a fortress for centuries and evidence of this is to be found all over the rock, from guns to battlements and gun turrets; a reminder of its past and most recent history.

Beitragvon Kuno » 22/11/2007, 15:35 the late 17th. century the harbour was also used by US vessels which were employed against the "barbary states".
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Beitragvon JLV-DAK » 22/11/2007, 20:47

The Barbary States were mainly all those located in the North of Africa at that time: Attacks to any comercial ship during this period were common because of this piracy tactics employed by those sailors who were only after riches and treasures. During 1540 there were several attacks by Corsairs from the Barbary Coast, who raided Gibraltar and took away many captives. However, this was a GENERAL introduction so as to allow us to focus with a wide perspective on the issue of Spanish-Nort Africa-Gibraltar roles during WWII.

As it goes, it takes quite a lot of time to prepare information on this topic and I hope to add siomething on OPeración Félix soon.

Beitragvon JLV-DAK » 22/11/2007, 20:50

Sorry for the defective spellings: those normally happen when I am trying to type quickly without using the word tool for correcting sentences. In addition, English is not my mother language...nor German, I'm afraid.

Beitragvon Kuno » 22/11/2007, 22:12

...I did only mention this because I had just read a book about the subject of the "barbary coast" ;-)
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Beitragvon JLV-DAK » 30/11/2007, 21:39

The origins of the US marines have to do with this body of ships that were launched after the pirates in these waters.

Beitragvon Kuno » 15/1/2008, 08:01

Checked it on the map. Gigraltar is that small - would it really have been a problem for Spain to take it by force?
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Beitragvon JLV-DAK » 26/5/2008, 18:38

After having finished a civil war in 1939, Spain was in no position to oppose the Allied forces however much support Franco's forces might have had from the Hitler's Germany. Yet, Franco was in two ways about sezing the Rock as he was calculating the pros and the cons of such a feat. In the end, what prevailed, I think, was a bit of lack of resourcefulness on Franco's side to tackle the problem of the Rock and of allying with the Axis forces in a time when the situation was no particularly enticing for the Spaniards to join the war against the English, the French and the Americans.

Beitragvon Kuno » 26/5/2008, 19:31

...better to wait a little bit and see what happens ;-) Finally the right decision of Franco to remain in power after the war for a very long time.
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Beitragvon JLV-DAK » 25/10/2008, 14:05

Kuno hat geschrieben:...better to wait a little bit and see what happens ;-) Finally the right decision of Franco to remain in power after the war for a very long time.

Precisely. Franco simply sat on the fence and waited to see what wind was blowing. It is hard to say these words, but, in my view, that what was happened in the end.

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