4 August 1704: Gibraltar is captured by the “Grand Alliance”

On this day in 1704 Gibraltar was taken in the name of “Charles III of Spain” by English and Dutch forces as part of the 'War of the Spanish Succession'.

When Spain's King Charles II died in 1700, there was a big pan-European spat over who would succeed him. Charles had nominated Philip of Anjou, grandson of French king Louis XIV. But that would unite France, the continent's dominant military power, with Spain, owner of the world's largest empire.

The maritime powers, England and Holland, weren't having that. So they proposed Archduke Charles, son of Leopold 1 of Austria, and took up arms under the banner of the Grand Alliance to enforce their claim. So began the War of the Spanish Succession, which would be waged for 13 years.

After a few battles in and around the Low Countries, the war moved south after Portugal was “persuaded” to open its ports to alliance ships, so they could more easily move in to the Mediterranean to take on the French fleet. But a port of refuge nearer the action was required. An attempt to take Cadiz had already failed, and so Gibraltar was proposed.

On 4 August, English and Dutch marines landed to the north of the rock while ships' guns pounded it from the sea. After six hours of bombardment, troops landed and took the town.

The inhabitants who refused to pledge allegiance to “Charles III of Spain” were allowed to leave. They moved to the north of the bay, to the town of San Roque, whose motto to this day translates as “The very noble and very loyal city of San Roque, where Gibraltar lives on”.

Gibraltar was ceded to Britain “in perpetuity” in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht. However, had the Grand Alliance succeeded in their aim of getting their man on the throne, it would almost certainly remained part of Spain, as it was taken in Charles's name, not Philip's. As it turned out, Philip was recognised as king of Spain, but renounced any claim to the throne of France.

Recommended

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain
This day in history

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain

On this day in 1999, the national minimum wage was introduced in Britain, bringing an instant pay rise to 1.9 million low-paid workers.
1 Apr 2021
27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party
This day in history

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900.
27 Feb 2021
24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement
This day in history

24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement

On this day in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer made their engagement official in front of the world's press at Buckingham Palace.
24 Feb 2021
24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down
This day in history

24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down

On this day in 1809, celebrated playwright Richard Sheridan was effectively ruined when the Drury Lane theatre went up in smoke.
24 Feb 2021

Most Popular

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it
Bitcoin

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it

The cryptocurrency’s price has soared far beyond its fundamentals, says Matthew Partridge. Here, he looks at how to short bitcoin.
12 Apr 2021
What does the Coinbase listing mean for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?
Bitcoin

What does the Coinbase listing mean for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?

As the bitcoin price hit new highs, the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, listed on the stockmarket. John Stepek looks at what that m…
15 Apr 2021
Properties for sale for around £400,000
Houses for sale

Properties for sale for around £400,000

From a converted church in Banffshire with views towards the Cairngorms National Park, to a period property in the Georgian market town of Beverley, e…
2 Apr 2021