Timeline of the history of Gibraltar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The history of Gibraltar portrays how The Rock gained an importance and a reputation far exceeding its size, influencing and shaping the people who came to reside here over the centuries.[1]


The Gibraltar 1 skull, discovered in 1848 in Forbes' Quarry, was only the second Neanderthal skull and the first adult Neanderthal skull ever found

Evidence of hominid inhabitation of the Rock dates back to the Neanderthals. A Neanderthal skull was discovered in Forbes' Quarry in 1848, prior to the "original" discovery in the Neander Valley. In 1926, the skull of a Neanderthal child was found in Devil's Tower.

Mousterian deposits found at Gorham's Cave, which are associated with Neanderthals in Europe, have been dated to as recently as 28,000 to 24,000 BP,[2] leading to suggestions that Gibraltar was one of the last places of Neanderthal habitation. Modern humans apparently visited the Gibraltar area in prehistoric times after the Neanderthal occupancy.[3]

While the rest of Europe was cooling, the area around Gibraltar back then resembled a European Serengeti. Leopards, hyenas, lynxes, wolves and bears lived among wild cattle, horses, deer, ibexes, oryxes and rhinos – all surrounded by olive trees and stone pines, with partridges and ducks overhead, tortoises in the underbrush and mussels, limpets and other shellfish in the waters. Clive Finlayson, evolutionary biologist at the Gibraltar Museum said "this natural richness of wildlife and plants in the nearby sandy plains, woodlands, shrublands, wetlands, cliffs and coastline probably helped the Neanderthals to persist." Evidence at the cave shows the Neanderthals of Gibraltar likely used it as a shelter "for 100,000 years." Cro-Magnon man took over Gibraltar around 24,000 BCE.[4]


Portion of a Roman map showing the Pillars of Hercules (traditionally but erroneously) as an island, with the coasts of Spain and Africa above and below
The Pillars of Hercules depicted erroneously as an island on the Tabula Peutingeriana, an ancient Roman map

The Phoenicians are known to have visited the Rock circa 950 BC and named the Rock "Calpe". The Carthaginians also visited. However, neither group appears to have settled permanently. Plato refers to Gibraltar as one of the Pillars of Hercules along with Jebel Musa or Monte Hacho on the other side of the Strait.

The Romans visited Gibraltar, but no permanent settlement was established. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Gibraltar was occupied by the Vandals and later the Goths kingdoms. The Vandals did not remain for long although the Visigoths remained on the Iberian peninsula from 414 to 711. The Gibraltar area and the rest of the South Iberian Peninsula was part of the Byzantine Empire during the second part of the 6th century, later reverting to the Visigoth Kingdom.

Muslim rule[edit]

  • 711 30 April – The Umayyad general Tariq ibn Ziyad, leading a Berber-dominated army, sailed across the Strait from Ceuta. He first attempted to land on Algeciras but failed. Upon his failure, he landed undetected at the southern point of the Rock from present-day Morocco in his quest for Spain. It was here that Gibraltar was named. Coming from the Arabian words Gabal-Al-Tariq (the mountain of Tariq). Little was built during the first four centuries of Moorish control (see Reconquista).
  • 1160 – The Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu'min ordered that a permanent settlement, including a castle, be built. It received the name of Medinat al-Fath (City of the Victory). On completion of the works in the town, the Sultan crossed the Strait to inspect the works and stayed in Gibraltar for two months. The Tower of Homage of the castle remains standing today (Moorish Castle).
  • 1231 – After the collapse of the Almohad Empire, Gibraltar was taken by Ibn Hud, Taifa emir of Murcia.
  • 1237 – Following the death of Ibn Hud, his domains were handed over to Muhammad ibn al-Ahmar, the founder of the Nasrid Emirate of Granada. Therefore, Gibraltar changed hands again.
  • 1274 – The second Nasrid king, Muhammed II al-Faqih, gave Gibraltar over to the Marinids, as payment for their help against the Christian kingdoms.
  • 1309 – While the King Ferdinand IV of Castile laid siege on Algeciras, 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.
  • 1310 31 January – Gibraltar was granted its first Charter by the king Ferdinand IV of Castile. Being considered a high risk town, the charter included incentives to settle there such as the offering of freedom from justice to anyone who lived in Gibraltar for one year and one day.
This fact marked the establishment of the Gibraltar council.
  • 1316 – Gibraltar was unsuccessfully besieged by the Azafid caid Yahya ibn Abi Talib (Second Siege of Gibraltar), an ally of the Emirate of Granada.[5]
  • 1333 June – A Marinid army, led by Abd al-Malik, the son of Abul Hassan, the Marinid sultan, recovered Gibraltar, after a five-month siege (Third Siege of Gibraltar).
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).
  • 1344 March – After the two-year Siege of Algeciras (1342-1344), 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 (Fifth Siege of Gibraltar).
  • 1369 – As the Civil War in Castile came to an end, with the murder of king Peter I by the pretender Henry (to be known as Henry II), the Nasrid king of Granada, Muhammad V, former ally of Peter, took over Algeciras after the 3-day Siege of Algeciras (1369). Ten years later the city was razed out to the ground, and its harbour made unusable. This fact increased again the importance of Gibraltar, yet in Marinid hands, in the strait trade. A subsequent truce was signed between Muhammad and Henry, preventing the Christian kings from attempting to recover the city.
  • 1374 – Following a period of internal instability in the Marinid Sultanate of Fez, Abu al-Abbas Ahmad of Fez, ask for Muhammad V of Granada help. Possibly as a condition of the alliance or as reward for Muhammad's successful expedition to Africa, Gibraltar was handed over to the Nasrids of Granada.
  • 1410 – The garrison in Gibraltar mutinied against the king of Granada and declared for the king of Fez, Fayd. Fayd sent his brother Abu Said over to Gibraltar to take possession of the city. He also took over other Nasrid ports such as Marbella and Estepona.
  • 1411 – The son of Yusuf III of Granada, Ahmad, recovered Marbella and Estepona. Next, it laid siege to Gibraltar (Sixth Siege of Gibraltar) and recovered the city for the kingdom of Granada.
  • 1436Enrique de Guzmán, second Count of Niebla, with large estates in Southern Andalusia, assaulted Gibraltar. However, his attack was repelled and Castilian forces suffer heavy losses (Seventh Siege of Gibraltar).

Castilian/Spanish rule[edit]

  • 1462 20 August – Castilian forces captured Gibraltar (Eighth Siege of Gibraltar). (See Reconquista). An immediate dispute broke out between the House of Medina Sidonia (the Guzmán family) and the House of Arcos (the Ponce de León family) about the possession of the town. Finally, the initiative of Juan Alonso de Guzmán, 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia, succeeded and he took possession of the town as personal property. However, the King of Castile, Henry IV, declared Gibraltar to be Crown property and not the personal property of the Guzman family. Henry 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 parish church of Saint Mary the Crowned (Spanish: iglesia parroquial de Santa María la Coronada), now the Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned, on the site of the old main Moorish Mosque. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, whose feast falls on 20 August, became the patron saint of Gibraltar.
  • 1463 – In a tour through Andalusia, Henry IV was the first Christian monarch to visit Gibraltar.
  • 1467 July – In the midst of a nobility revolt against the King, the forces of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, after a 16-month siege, took Gibraltar. Alfonso of Castile, half-brother of Henry IV and puppet pretender handled by the nobility, granted him the Lordship of Gibraltar (Ninth Siege of Gibraltar).
  • 1469 3 June – After the death of Alfonso de Castilla 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 I of Castile.
  • 1470 20 December – A new charter was granted to the town of Gibraltar, now a nobiliary town, based in the Antequera charter.
  • 1478 30 September – The Catholic Monarchs granted the title of Marquis of Gibraltar to the Duke of Medina Sidonia.
  • 1479 20 January – Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon – the Catholic Monarchs, jointly rule the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, including Gibraltar.
  • 1492 31 March – After conquering Granada, the Catholic Monarchs sign the Alhambra Decree ordering the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, to take effect from 31 July 1492. Many passed through Gibraltar on their way into exile in North Africa.
  • 1492 Summer – 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.
  • 1497 – Gibraltar became the main base in the conquest of Melilla by the troops of the Duke of Medina Sidonia.
  • 1501 2 December – Acknowledging the importance of the town, the Catholic Monarchs 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.
  • 1502 2 January – Garcilaso de la Vega[6] took possession of the town on behalf of the Queen Isabella I of Castile.
The arms granted to the city of Gibraltar by a Royal Warrant passed in Toledo on 10 July 1502 by Isabella I of Castile
  • 1502 10 July – By a Royal Warrant passed in Toledo by Isabella I of Castile, 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.
  • 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). The Duke died in 1507.
  • 1516 14 March – Spain becomes a united kingdom under Charles I.
  • 1540 8 September – Corsairs from the Barbary Coast (ruled by Barbarossa) landed at Gibraltar in sixteen galleys, looting the town and taking away many captives.[7]
  • 1552 – After the requests from the inhabitants of the town, 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 (nowadays known as Charles V Wall); also a ditch by the wall of the town and a drawbridge at the Landport (Puerta de Tierra).
The Battle of Gibraltar, by Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
  • 1567Juan Mateos turned his large house in the Upper Town into a hospital. It was Gibraltar's first hospital, and remained on the same site serving the people of Gibraltar for almost four and a half centuries.
  • 1606 – The Moriscos (the descendants of the Muslim inhabitants in Spain) were expelled from Spain by King Philip III. Many passed through Gibraltar on their way into exile in North Africa.
  • 1607 25 April – 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).
  • 1621 – Second battle of Gibraltar on which a Spanish squadron crushed the VOC at the strait of Gibraltar – Battle of Gibraltar (1621)
  • 1649 – Typhoid epidemic in the town.
  • 1656 – In a letter[8] to Councillor General Montagu (afterwards Earl of Sandwich), 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 20 October 1625).

The War of the Spanish Succession[edit]

  • 1700 1 November – King Charles 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 Habsburg, Archduke Charles, supported by the Holy Roman Empire, England and the Netherlands did not accept Charles II's testament.
  • 1701 September – 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 – Formal beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession.
  • 1703 12 February – The Archduke Charles was proclaimed king of Castile and Aragon in Vienna. He took the name of Charles III[9]

The Gibraltar capture[edit]

(There is a common discrepancy in the chronology between Spanish and British sources, the reason being that England still used the Julian calendar. By 1704 the Julian calendar was eleven days behind the Gregorian, and the siege thus began on 21 July according to the Julian.)

George Rooke, the commander of the Anglo-Dutch fleet that conquered Gibraltar on behalf of the Archduke Charles
  • 1704 1 August(NS): (21 July(OS)) – 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 Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne, the Archduke Charles. The Governor of Gibraltar, Diego de Salinas, refused the ultimatum. A brigade of Dutch Royal Marines and Royal 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, were integrated in the troops of the Prince of Hesse.
  • 1704 night of 3–4 August – Heavy shelling targeted the castle and the town.
  • 1704 4 August – The Governor Diego de Salinas surrendered the town to Prince George of Hesse, who took it in the name of Archduke, as Charles III, king of Castile and Aragon. This was the end of the Eleventh Siege of Gibraltar (a map on the situation of attacking forces can be seen in[10])
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,[11][12][13] on his own initiative caused the British flag to be hoisted, and took possession of the Rock in name of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, whose government ratified the occupation. On the other hand, even the British or the Gibraltarians sometimes date the beginning of British sovereignty in 1704 (for instance, in its speech at the United Nations in 1994, the Gibraltar Chief Minister at the time, Joe Bossano, stated that Gibraltar has been a British colony ever since it was taken by Britain in 1704[14]). Also, some British sources have accounted the flag story (He [Rooke] had the Spanish flag hauled down and the English flag hoisted in its stead;[15] Rooke's men quickly raised the British flag ... and Rooke claimed the Rock in the name of Queen Anne;[8] or Sir George Rooke, the British admiral, on his own responsibility caused the British flag to be hoisted, and took possession in name of Queen Anne, whose government ratified the occupation[16]).
Gibraltar antique engraving by Gabriel Bodenehr, c.1704. From his rare "Curioses Staats- und Kriegs-Theatrum".
However, it is claimed by present-day historians, both Spanish and British, that this version is apocryphal since no contemporary source accounts it. Isidro Sepúlveda,[17] William Jackson[18] and George Hills[19] explicitly refute it (Sepúlveda points out that if such a fact had actually happened, it would have caused a big crisis in the Alliance supporting the Archduke Charles; George Hills explains that the story was first accounted by the Marquis of San Felipe, who wrote his book "Comentarios de la guerra de España e historia de su rey Phelipe V el animoso" in 1725, more than twenty years after the fact; the marquis was not an eye-witness and cannot be considered as a reliable source for the events that took place in Gibraltar in 1704. As Hills concludes: "The flag myth ... may perhaps be allowed now to disappear from Anglo-Spanish polemics. On the one side it has been used to support a claim to the Rock 'by right of conquest'; on the other to ... pour on Britain obloquy for perfidy"[19]).
What does seem nowadays proved is that the British troops who had landed on the South Mole area raised their flag to signal their presence to the ships, and avoid being fired upon by their own side.
However, whatever the exact events of the time, Gibraltar ceased being under the rule of Philip V of Spain in 1704. A statue to Sir George Rooke was erected in 2004 as part of the tercentenary celebrations.
  • 1704 4–7 August. Orders were issued to respect civilians[20] as the Grand Alliance hoped to win over the population to their cause. Officers tried to maintain control but (as had happened two years previously in the raid on Cádiz) discipline broke down and the men[21] ran amok.[22] There were numerous incidents of rape, all Catholic churches but one (the Parish Church of St. Mary the Crowned, now the Cathedral) were desecrated or converted into military storehouses, and religious symbols such as the statue of Our Lady of Europe were damaged and destroyed. Angry Spanish inhabitants took violent reprisals against the occupiers. English and Dutch soldiers and sailors were attacked and killed, and their bodies were thrown into wells and cesspits.[23] After order was restored,[24][25] despite the surrender agreement promising property and religious rights,[26] most of the population left with the garrison on 7 August citing loyalty to Philip.[27] Several factors influenced the decision including the expectation of a counter attack[28] and the violence[29] during the capture, which ultimately proved disastrous for the Habsburg cause.[30] The subsequent siege failed to dislodge the Habsburg forces and the refugees settled around Algeciras and the hermitage of San Roque.[31] The Alliance's conduct aroused anger in Spain against the 'heretics', and once again the chance of winning over Andalusians to the Imperial cause was lost. Prince George was the first to complain, which was resented by Byng who had led the fighting and who in turn blamed the Prince and his few Spanish or Catalan supporters.[32] Rooke complained in a letter home that the Spaniards were so exasperated against the Alliance that ‘they use the prisoners they take as barbarously as the Moors’.[33] Spain attempted to retake Gibraltar in 1727 and most notably in 1779, when it entered the American Revolutionary War on the American side as an ally of France.[34]
  • 1704 7 August. A dejected procession, numbering some 4,000 according to most of the sources, such as Hills[35] or Jackson[36] 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 as asked by the terms of surrender. 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 Saint Mary the Crowned.[36][37] 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, and being considered by the Spanish Crown as the heir to the lost town of Gibraltar (historical objects and records predating 1704 were subsequently taken to San Roque where they remain to this day.[38]) King Philip V of Spain dubbed San Roque as My city of Gibraltar resident in its Campo.[36] Others settled down in what today is Los Barrios or even further away, in the ruins of the abandoned city of Algeciras. Only about seventy people remained in the town, most of them religious, people without family or belonging to the Genoese trader colony[39][40] (see list in[41]).
  • 1704 24 August – 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.

The first Spanish siege (Twelfth Siege of Gibraltar)[edit]

  • 1704 5 September – 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 11 November – A notable incident during the siege: 500 Spanish volunteer grenadiers tried to surprise the garrison after being led up a concealed path to the top of The Rock by a Spanish goatherd from Gibraltar, Simón Susarte. Captain Fisher of the Marines with 17 of his men successfully defended the Round Tower against their assault. A contemporary report of this noted defence says, "Encouraged by the Prince of Hesse, the garrison did more than could humanly be expected, and the English Marines gained an immortal glory".
  • 1705 January – Philip V replaced Villadarias with the Marshal of France de Tessé.
  • 1705 7 February – The last assault before the arrival of de Tessé was executed. The Gibraltar wall was damaged, but French troops refused to go on until the arrival of de Tessé (who arrived the day after). The assault becomes unsuccessful.
  • 1705 31 March – The Count de Tessé gave up the siege and retired.

During the rest of the war[edit]

Although nominally in the hands of the Archduke Charles, and garrisoned with both English and Dutch regiments, 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.[citation needed]

  • 1705 2 August – The Archduke Charles stopped over in Gibraltar on 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).
  • 1706 17 February – Queen Anne though not yet the legal ruler of the territory,[42] declared Gibraltar a free port (upon request of the Sultan of Morocco, who wanted Gibraltar being given this status in return for supplying the town)[43]
  • 1707 24 December – The first British Governor directly appointed by 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 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.[17]

British rule[edit]

Treaty of Utrecht[edit]

Allegory of the Peace of 1714
  • 11 April 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 18th 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.

Until the Peninsular Wars[edit]

Topographic map of Gibraltar and the Bay of Gibraltar, circa 1750

Between 1713 and 1728, there were seven occasions when British ministers was prepared to bargain Gibraltar away as part of his foreign policy. However, the Parliament frustrated always such attempts, echoing the public opinion in Britain.[44]

  • 1721 March – Philip V of Spain requested the restitution of Gibraltar to proceed to the renewal of the trade licences of Great Britain with the Spanish possessions in America.
  • 1721 1 June – George I sent a letter to Philip 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".[45] 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 gave up and retired.
  • 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.
  • 1730 – A Belgian Engineer, the Marquis of Verboom, Chief Engineer of the Spanish Royal Engineer Corps, who had 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 were 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.
  • 1749–1754 – Lieutenant General Humphrey Bland is the Governor of Gibraltar. He compiles the twelve "Articles" or regulations that ruled the administration of Gibraltar for over sixty years. First article, dealing with property, establishes that only Protestants may own property. In 1754 the population settled at around 6,000 people, with the garrison and their dependants constituting about three-quarters of it. The civilian population comprised mainly Genoese and Jews.[46]
  • 1776 23 February – One of the heaviest storms ever recorded in Gibraltar. The lower part of the town was flooded. Linewall was breached along 100 m.
  • 1779 June – In the midst of the American Revolutionary War, Spain declared war against Great Britain (as France had done the year before)
The Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, 13 September 1782. By John Singleton Copley (1738–1815)
  • 1779 July – Start of the Great Siege of Gibraltar (fourteenth and most recent military siege). This was an action by French and Spanish forces to wrest control of Gibraltar from the established British Garrison. The garrison, led by George Augustus Eliott, later 1st Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar, survived all attacks and a blockade of supplies.
  • 1782 13 September – Start of an assault involving 100,000 men, 48 ships and 450 cannon. The British garrison survived.
  • 1783 February. 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 which ceded Menorca and Florida to Spain, reaffirmed previous treaties in the rest of issues, thus not affecting to Gibraltar.
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 gave the walls their present white appearance.
The successful resistance in the Great Siege is attributed to several factors: the improvement in fortifications by Colonel (later General Sir) William Green in 1769; the British naval supremacy, which translated into support of the Navy; the competent command by General George Augustus Elliot; and an appropriately sized garrison.[47] As in the early years of the British period, during the Siege the British Government considered to exchange Gibraltar for some Spanish possession. However, by the end of the Siege the fortress and its heroic response to the siege was now acquiring a sort of cult status amongst the population in Britain and no exchange however attractive, was likely to be acceptable.[48]
  • 1800 – Malta is taken over by Great Britain. The possession of Malta (confirmed by the Treaty of Paris in 1814, increased the attractiveness of Gibraltar since controlling both Gibraltar and Malta meant the effective mastery of the Mediterranean Sea by the Royal Navy.[49]
  • 1802 – Several mutinies among some regiments garrisoned in Gibraltar.
  • 1802 – The first merchant token to bear the name Gibraltar (albeit spelt Gibralter) was issued by Robert Keeling in order to alleviate a shortage of copper.
  • 1803 June – 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. Nearly 5,000 people died.[50]
  • 1805 January – The great epidemic ended. Over a third of the civilian population (5,946 people) died.
  • 1805 21 October – Battle of Trafalgar.
  • 1805 28 October – 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 has always been the Bishop of Gibraltar.[51]
  • 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 14 February together with the demolition of the rest of the fortifications of the Spanish Lines.
(According to George Hills,[52] there are no primary sources that could explain whether such a demolition was requested or authorized by any Spanish or British authority. According to him, over time, three different theories have emerged: (a) Campbell ordered the demolition on his own authority (b) under instructions from the British Government (c) upon request of Spanish General Castaños, who was at the time in Cádiz. Spanish authors from 1840 have usually favoured theory (b) while British ones have supported (c). As long as there is no contemporary source or dispatch on the topic, Hills does not personally discard (a) considering it the most likely possibility).
  • During the Peninsular War, contingents from the Gibraltar Garrison were sent to aid Spanish resistance to the French at Cádiz and Tarifa. As William Jackson describes, Gradually Gibraltar changed from being the objective of the San Roque garrison into the supply base and refuge in time of trouble for the Spanish forces operating in Southern Andalusia.[53]

Until the Second World War[edit]

Characters of Gibraltar (R.P. Napper, 1863; private collection)
  • 1814 – Outbreak of malignant fever.
  • 1815 – The civilian population of Gibraltar was about 10,000 people (two and a half times the size of the garrison). Genoese constituted about one-third of the civilian population (a large number of immigrants had arrived from Genoa at the beginning of the century). The rest were mainly Spaniards and Portuguese fled from the war, and Jews from Morocco.[54]
  • 1817 – The first civil judge was established.
  • 1830 – The British government changes the status of Gibraltar from The town and garrison of Gibraltar to the Crown Colony of Gibraltar. Thus, the responsibility for its administration is transferred from the War Office to the new Colonial Office.[55]
Legal institutions and the Gibraltar Police Force were established.
  • 1832 – The Church of the Holy Trinity, built for the needs of Anglican worshippers among Gibraltar's civil population, is completed. (Ten years later it will become the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity).
  • 1842 21 August – The Church of England 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. George Tomlinson is enthroned as the first Bishop of Gibraltar. The Church of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar becomes Cathedral for the Diocese.[56]
  • 1842 – Official Coins of the Realm were struck for Gibraltar by the Royal Mint. Coins were issued in ½, 1 and 2 Quart denominations.
    1842 Half Quart coin issue by the Royal Mint
  • 1869 – The Suez Canal was opened. It heavily increased the strategic value of the Rock in the route from the United Kingdom to India. Gibraltar economy, mainly based on commercial shipping and import-export trade, takes a new income source with the opening of a coaling station for the new steam ships.[57]
  • 1891 17 March – America-bound steamer Utopia slammed in heavy weather into the iron-plated British battleship HMS Anson and sank in the Bay of Gibraltar; 576 people died.[58]
  • 1894 – The construction of the dockyards started.
  • 1908 5 August – 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 World War I. The council had a small minority of elected persons. First elections held in Gibraltar.
  • 19361939 – After the United Kingdom recognised the Franco's regime in 1938, Gibraltar had two Spanish Consulates, a Republican one and a Nationalistic one. Several incidents took place during the Spanish Civil War which affected Gibraltar. In May 1937, HMS Arethusa had to tow HMS Hunter into port after Hunter hit a mine off Almeria that killed and wounded several British sailors. In June 1937, the German pocket battleship Deutschland arrived in Gibraltar with dead and wounded after Republican planes bombed it in Ibiza in retaliation for the Condor Legion's bombing of Guernica. In August 1938, the Republican destroyer Jose Luis Diez took refuge in Gibraltar after taking casualties from the guns of the National cruiser Canarias. The one incident that resulted in the death of Gibraltarians occurred on 31 January 1938 when the insurgent submarine General Sanjurjo sank the SS Endymion, a small Gibraltar-registered freighter taking a cargo of coal to Cartagena, which was chartered by the Republican government. Eleven members of her crew were killed.[59][60][61]

Second World War and after[edit]

Military history of Gibraltar during World War II
• Timeline of events •
A Catalina flies by the North Front of the Rock
as it leaves Gibraltar on a patrol, 1942 (Imperial War Museum)
Late 1939 Construction of a solid surface runway begins in Gibraltar.
9 Sep 1939 No. 202 Squadron RAF is ordered to Gibraltar.
25 Sep 1939 No 200 (Coastal) Group is formed as a subordinate formation to HQ RAF Mediterranean.
Jun 1940 13,500 civilian evacuees are shipped to Casablanca in French Morocco.
13 Jul 1940 Following the creation of Vichy France, Gibraltarian civilians are returned to Gibraltar prior to movement to other locations.
Jul 1940 Evacuees are shipped to the Atlantic island of Madeira and to London.
9 Oct 1940 1,093 refugees re-evacuated to Jamaica.
10 Mar 1941 Operation Felix, the German plan for the invasion of Gibraltar, is amended to become Operation Felix-Heinrich, which delays the invasion until after the fall of the Soviet Union, effectively putting an end to German invasion plans.
Late 1941 Plans for Operation Tracer, a stay-behind plan to be put in place in the event of an invasion of Gibraltar, are formulated.
Jan 1942 Equipment trials for Operation Tracer begin.
Mid-1942 Operation Tracer is pronounced ready for deployment.
Jul 1942 Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower is appointed Allied Commander-in-Chief of Operation Torch.
5 Nov 1942 Eisenhower arrives in Gibraltar to take command
4 Jul 1942 A Liberator bomber from RAF Transport Command takes off from Gibraltar and crashes, killing Władysław Sikorski, Polish military and political leader
Nov 1943 Resettlement Board established.
6 Apr 1944 First group of 1,367 repatriates arrives on Gibraltar directly from the United Kingdom.
28 May 1944 First repatriation party leaves Madeira for Gibraltar.
8 May 1945 Victory in Europe Day
The closed Spanish gate at the border between Gibraltar and Spain, 1977

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 the Francoist dictatorship.

During World War II (1939–1945) the Rock was again turned into a fortress and the civilian residents of Gibraltar were evacuated. Initially, in May 1940, 16,700 people went to French Morocco. However, after the French-German Armistice and the subsequent destruction of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria by the British Navy in July 1940, the French-Moroccan authorities asked all Gibraltarian evacuees to be removed. 12,000 went to Britain, while about 3,000 went to Madeira or Jamaica, with the rest moving to Spain or Tanger. 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 (1938). The repatriation of the civilians started in 1944 and proceeded until 1951, causing considerable suffering and frustration. However, most of the population had returned by 1946.

  • 1940 4 July – French bombers, based in French Morocco, carried out a retaliatory 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[citation needed]) in "Operation Felix" which was due to start on 10 January 1941.[62] It was cancelled because the Spanish government were 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 became 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 the association. The AACR was the dominant party in Gibraltar politics for the last third of the 20th century.
  • 1942 8 November – Operation Torch launched with support from Gibraltar.
  • 1944 April – The situation in Gibraltar is considered safe and the first of the evacuees return to Gibraltar.
  • 1946 – The United Kingdom inscribed Gibraltar in the list of non-self-governing territories kept by the UN Special Committee on Decolonization.
  • 1950 – Gibraltar's first Legislative Council was opened.
  • 1951 – The return process of the evacuees finishes. It was delayed due to an initial shortage of shipping and then of housing.[63] The evacuation was a key element in the creation of the national conscience of Gibraltarians. The experience of evacuation had bonded the Gibraltarian together as a nation.[64]
  • 1951 27 April – The RFA Bedenham explodes while docked in Gibraltar, killing 13, damaging many buildings in the town and delaying the housing program essential for repatriation.
  • 1954 – This was the 250th anniversary of its capture. Queen Elizabeth II visited Gibraltar, which angered General Franco, who renewed its claim to sovereignty, which had not been actively pursued for over 150 years. This led to the closure of the Spanish consulate and to the imposition of restrictions on freedom of movement between Gibraltar and Spain. By the 1960s, motor vehicles were being restricted or banned from crossing the border, while only Spanish nationals employed on the Rock being allowed to enter Gibraltar.
  • 1955 – At the United Nations, Spain, which had just been admitted to membership, initiated a claim to the territory, arguing that the principle of territorial integrity, not self-determination, applied in the case of the decolonization of Gibraltar, and that the United Kingdom should cede sovereignty of the Rock to Spain. Madrid gained diplomatic support from countries in Latin America, with the UN General Assembly passing resolutions (2231 (XXI), "Question of Gibraltar"[65] and 2353 (XXII), "Question of Gibraltar"[66]).
  • 1965 April – The British Government published a White Paper dealing with the question of Gibraltar and the Treaty of Utrecht.
  • 1966 – In response, the Spanish Foreign Office Minister Fernando Castiella, published and presented to the Spanish Courts the "Spanish Red Book" (named so because of its cover; its reference is "Negociaciones sobre Gibraltar. Documentos presentados a las Cortes Españolas por el Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores", Madrid, 1967)
  • 1967 – The first sovereignty referendum[67] was held on 10 September, in which Gibraltar's voters were asked whether they wished to either pass under Spanish sovereignty, or remain under British sovereignty, with institutions of self-government. Over 99% voted in favour of remaining British.
  • 1968 A group of six Gibraltarian lawyers and businessmen, calling themselves the palomos or 'doves', advocated a political settlement with Spain[68] in a letter published in the Gibraltar Chronicle, and met with Spanish Foreign Office officials (a meeting was even held with the Spanish Foreign Office Minister) to try and bring this about.[69] This provoked widespread public hostility in Gibraltar (with attacks on their homes and properties[70] and civil unrest). Things quickly calmed down, although today the term retains a negative meaning in Gibraltar politics.
  • 1969 30 May – A new constitution for Gibraltar was introduced by the United Kingdom Parliament, under the initiative of the British Government (Gibraltar Constitution Order 1969). Under it, Gibraltar attained full internal self-government, with an elected House of Assembly. The City Council and the Legislative Council disappeared. The preamble to the Constitution stated that:
"Her Majesty's Government will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes."
  • 1969 8 June – In response, Spain closed the border with Gibraltar, and severed all communication links. For about 13 years, the land border was closed from the Spanish side, to try to isolate the territory. The closure affected both sides of the border. Gibraltarians with families in Spain had to go by ferry to Tangier, Morocco, and from there to the Spanish port of Algeciras, while many Spanish workers (by then about 4,800; sixteen years before, about 12,500 Spanish workmen entered Gibraltar every day[71][72]) lost their jobs in Gibraltar.
  • 1969 – Major Robert (later Sir Robert) Peliza of the Integration with Britain Party (IWBP) was elected Chief Minister in alliance with the independent group led by Peter Isola.[73]
  • 1971 – The United Kingdom Government led by Heath considered the possibility of exchanging sovereignty for a 999-year lease on Gibraltar, as it was felt it had ceased to be of any military or economic value. The proposals remained secret until 2002.[74]
  • 1972 – Joshua Hassan of the Association for the Advancement of Civil Rights (AACR) was returned to power. AACR rebrands as GLP/AACR (Gibraltar Labour Party / AACR) in an attempt to develop a more clearly working class image.[75]
  • 1972 – Gibraltar TGWU hold a 6-day General Strike, pressing the Ministry of Defence, Gibraltar's largest employer, for better pay and conditions for workers. The strike ends successfully with a £1.85 increase in basic pay rates, and is seen as a catalyst for increased working class solidarity in the pursuit of social, economic and political change. TGWU claims a rise of overall union density within the labour market to around 55% following the strike.[76]
  • 1973 – Gibraltar joined the European Economic Community alongside the United Kingdom.
  • 1975 – The British Foreign Office Minister Roy Hattersley ruled out integration with the UK, and stated that any constitutional change would have to involve a 'Spanish dimension'. This position was reaffirmed the following year when the British government rejected the House of Assembly's proposals for constitutional reform (Hattersley Memorandum). The IWBP broke up and was succeeded by the Democratic Party of British Gibraltar (DPBG), led first by Maurice Xiberras, formerly of the IWBP, and subsequently by Peter Isola.
  • 1975 – Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco died, but nothing changed in relation to Gibraltar.
  • 1980 10 April – The British and Spanish ministers of Foreign Affairs, Lord Carrington and Marcelino Oreja, signs the Lisbon Agreement regarding 'The Gibraltar Problem' stating that the communications between Gibraltar and Spain would be re-established, and restating both Governments positions. The measures agreed were not implemented.
  • 1980 July – The Anglican Diocese of Gibraltar is amalgamated with the Jurisdiction of North and Central Europe to become the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar remains Anglican Cathedral for the Diocese.
  • 1981 – The British Nationality Act 1981 effectively made Gibraltar a Dependent Territory and removed the right of entry into the UK of British Dependent Territory Citizens. After a short campaign Gibraltarians were offered full British citizenship (History of nationality in Gibraltar). The act was ratified in 1983.
Gibraltarians entering Spain after the land border between Spain and Gibraltar was opened on 15 December 1982.
  • 1982 15 December – The re-opening of the border was initially delayed due to the war between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falkland Islands. Upon the change in the Spanish government, with the Socialist Party in power, the border was partially re-opened (only pedestrians, resident in Gibraltar or Spanish nationals were allowed to cross the border by Spain; only one crossing each way per day was allowed). Restrictions on the land border continued until 2006,[77][78] although there are still occasionally issues related to the crossing.[79][80][81]
  • 1984 – Spain applied to join the European Community, succeeding in 1986. Under the Brussels Agreement[82] (27 November 1984) signed between the governments of the United Kingdom and Spain, the former agreed to enter into discussions with Spain over Gibraltar, including by first time the "issues" of sovereignty. The border was fully reopened.
  • 1987 2 December – A proposal for joint control of Gibraltar Airport with Spain[83] met with widespread local opposition which was expressed in a protest march to The Convent. Chief Minister Sir Joshua Hassan resigned at the end of the year and was succeeded by Adolfo Canepa.
  • 1988Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP) leader Joe Bossano was elected as Chief Minister, and firmly ruled out any discussions with Spain over sovereignty and shared use of the airport.
  • 1988 7 March – The Special Air Service of the British Army shot dead three unarmed members of the Provisional IRA walking towards the frontier, claiming they were making "suspicious movements" (Operation Flavius). A subsequent search led to the discovery of a car containing a large amount of Semtex explosive in Spain, which they had planned to use to bomb the Changing of the Guard ceremony a few days later .
  • 1991 – The British Army effectively withdrew from Gibraltar, leaving only the locally recruited Royal Gibraltar Regiment, although the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy remain. Spain made various proposals involving the sovereignty of Gibraltar, which were rejected by all parties in the Gibraltar House of Assembly.
  • 1991 – The Spanish Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) government of Felipe González proposed joint sovereignty over Gibraltar with the United Kingdom. A similar proposal was advocated by Peter Cumming, formerly of the Gibraltar Social-Democrats (GSD), in which the Rock would become a self-governing condominium (or "Royal City"), with the British and Spanish monarchs as joint heads of state.
  • 1995 – GSLP government lost popular support as a result of tobacco smuggling activity.[84] To prevent this activity the fast launches were made illegal and confiscated. This resulted in a riot in July 1995.
  • 1996 – In a general election, Joe Bossano was replaced by Peter Caruana of the GSD, who while favouring dialogue with Spain, also ruled out any deals on sovereignty.
  • 1997 – The Partido Popular Spanish Foreign Minister, Abel Matutes made proposals under which Gibraltar would be under joint sovereignty for fifty years, before being fully incorporated into Spain, as an autonomous region, similar to Catalonia or the Basque Country, but these were rejected by the British Government.
  • 2000 — An agreement was reached between the UK and Spain over recognition of 'competent authorities' in Gibraltar. Spain had a policy of non-recognition of the Government of Gibraltar as a 'competent authority', therefore refusing to recognise Gibraltar's courts, police and government departments, driving licences, and identity cards. Under the agreement, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London would act as a 'post box', through which Gibraltar's police and other government departments could communicate with their counterparts in Spain. In addition, identity documents issued by the Government of Gibraltar now featured the words 'United Kingdom'.
  • 2000 May – 2001 May – Following an incident at sea the nuclear submarine HMS Tireless (S88) was repaired in Gibraltar causing diplomatic tension with Spain.[85][86][87][88][89][90][91] Before consenting to the repair, the Government of Gibraltar insisted on a full safety assessment.[92][93]

Twenty-first century[edit]

  • 2001 — The UK Government announced plans to reach a final agreement with Spain over the future of Gibraltar, which would involve shared sovereignty; however agreement was not reached due to the opposition of the Gibraltarians.
  • 2002 — On 12 July the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, in a formal statement in the House of Commons, said that after twelve months of negotiation the British Government and Spain are in broad agreement on many of the principles that should underpin a lasting settlement of Spain's sovereignty claim, which included the principle that Britain and Spain should share sovereignty over Gibraltar. Political commentators saw this as an attempt by Britain to get Spain to help counterbalance France and Germany's domination of the European Union. Straw visited Gibraltar to explain his ideas and was left in no doubt they had no support.
  • 2002 – In November the Government of Gibraltar called Gibraltar's second sovereignty referendum on the proposal, it achieved a turnout of 88% of which 98.97% of the electorate did not support the position taken by Mr Straw.
The actual voting was as follows: 18,176 voted representing 87.9% of the electorate. There were 89 papers spoilt of which 72 were blank 18,087 of which 187 Voted YES, and 17,900 voted NO.
The Referendum was supervised by a team of international observers headed by the Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, who certified that it had been held fairly, freely and democratically.[94]
  • 2002 – The British Overseas Territories Act 2002 made provision for the renaming of British Dependent Territories as British Overseas Territories, which changed the status of Gibraltar to an Overseas Territory. This act granted full British citizenship to British Overseas Territories, which was already available to Gibraltarians since 1983.
Tercentenary celebrations in Gibraltar, flags fly everywhere.
  • 2004 August – Gibraltar celebrated 300 years of British rule. Spanish officials labelled this as the celebration of 300 years of British occupation.[95]
Despite this, Gibraltar celebrated its tercentenary, with a number of events on 4 August, including the population encircling the rock holding hands, and granting the Freedom of the City to the Royal Navy.

The three participants confirm that the necessary preparatory work related to agreements on the airport, pensions, telephones and fence/border issues, carried out during the last 18 months, has been agreed. Accordingly, they have decided to convene in Spain the first Ministerial meeting of the Tripartite Forum of Dialogue on Gibraltar on 18 September 2006.

1. Spain agrees to recognise Gibraltar's international dialling code (350) and allow mobile roaming.
2. Spanish restrictions on civil flights at the airport will be removed. A new terminal building will also be constructed, allowing a direct passage to/from the north side of the fence/frontier (in order to overcome problems of terminology relating to references to the words “frontier” or “fence”, the phrase “fence/frontier” is used in the documents).
3. There will be normality of traffic flow at the fence/frontier.
4. Britain agrees to pay uprated pensions to those Spanish citizens who lost their livelihoods when the border was unilaterally closed by Francisco Franco in 1969.
5. A branch of the Instituto Cervantes will be opened in Gibraltar.
This agreement is seen as a major milestone in Gibraltar's history.
  • 2006 November – The new constitution was drafted and later approved by the people of Gibraltar in a referendum. It was described as non-colonial in nature by Britain and Gibraltar.[99] However, UK Europe Minister Jim Murphy, told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons said that new Constitution but he stated that "he has never described it as an end to the colonial relationship." Although others have.[100]
  • 2006 16 December – The first passenger carrying Iberia aircraft landed in Gibraltar flying directly from Madrid, and a daily scheduled service started. The service was later reduced in frequency and terminated in September 2008.
  • 2007 10 February — Spain lifted restrictions on Gibraltar's ability to expand and modernise its telecommunications infrastructure. These included a refusal to recognise International Direct Dialling (IDD) code which restricted the expansion of Gibraltar's telephone numbering plan, and the prevention of roaming arrangements for Gibraltar's GSM mobile phones in Spain.
  • 2007 1 May GB Airways began scheduled flights between Madrid and Gibraltar which were later withdrawn in September.
  • 2007 29 June – With a unanimous vote in the Gibraltar Parliament, local MPs approved new legislation that removes the phrases 'the Colony' and 'UK possession' from Gibraltar's laws.[101]
  • 2007 11 October The Gibraltar Social Democrats were returned to Government for a fourth term after a General Election.
  • 2008 18 June – In the annual UN Special Committee on Decolonization meeting on the Gibraltar question, Peter Caruana, Chief Minister of Gibraltar stated that he would not attend future meetings as the Gibraltar Government is of the opinion that "there is no longer any need for us to look to the Committee to help us bring about our decolonisation".[102] The Committee agreed that the Question of Gibraltar would be discussed again next year.[103]
  • 2008 22 September – It was announced that the remaining Iberia flights to Madrid would cease operation at the end of September 2008 due to "economic reasons", namely, lack of demand.[104]
  • 2008 10 October – The bulk carrier MV Fedra ran aground on rocks at Europa Point, and broke in two. The crew were safely rescued, but some of the fuel oil escaped in the very bad weather. The Captain was later arrested.[105]
  • 2009 – in May there were a number of Spanish incursions into British Waters around Gibraltar leading to intervention by the police and a diplomatic protest by the UK.[106][107]
  • 2009 – 7 December four armed Civil Guard officers are detained after three landed in Gibraltar in pursuit of two suspected smugglers, who were themselves arrested. The Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba personally telephoned Chief Minister Peter Caruana to apologise, stating that there were "no political intentions" behind the incident. The Chief Minister was prepared to accept it had not been a political act. Spanish officers were released by the Police the following day, who said that "Enquiries established that the Guardia Civil mistakenly entered Gibraltar Territorial Waters in hot pursuit and have since apologised for their actions"[108][109]
  • 2009 12 December Miss Gibraltar Kaiane Aldorino wins the title Miss World in Johannesburg. Her homecoming five days later is a major public event in Gibraltar.[110]
  • 2009 17 December A ferry service restarts between Gibraltar and Algeciras after a gap of 40 years.[111]
  • 2010 In order to overcome budget problems which follow the departure and arrest of the previous mayor, the mayor of La Linea de la Conception proposes to charge a toll for entry to Gibraltar and to tax telephone lines to Gibraltar. The proposals are opposed by the Spanish Government[112] and the Gibraltar government has dismissed concerns.[113]
  • 2011 GSLP / Liberal Alliance returned to power in the 2011 General Election, bringing to an end 15 years of GSD Government. Fabian Picardo becomes Chief Minister.
  • 2016 About 80 of the Gibraltar electorate favour remaining in EU
  • 2020 British exit from the EU renders Gibraltar foreign territory, but Spain retains the 'status quo', pending further negotiations, A preliminary agreement avoids a hard border between Gibraltar and Spain [114]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Discover pocket guide to Gibraltar, 5th edition Archived 19 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Neanderthals at Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar". Archived from the original on 22 September 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2008.
  3. ^ "National Geographic – Last of the Neanderthals". Archived from the original on 3 September 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
  4. ^ Choi, Charles (2006). "Gibraltar". NBC News. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
  5. ^ Vidal Castro, Francisco. "Ismail I". Diccionario Biográfico electrónico (in Spanish). Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia.
  6. ^ López de Ayala, Ignacio (1845). The History of Gibraltar: From the Earliest Period of Its Occupation by the Saracens : Comprising Details of the Numerous Conflicts for Its Possession Between the Moors and the Christians, Until Its Final Surrender in 1462 : and of Subsequent Events : with an Appendix Containing Interesting Documents. William Pickering. p. 106. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  7. ^ Jackson, Sir William Godfrey Fothergill (1987). "5. Spanish Neglect: The Ninth and Tenth Sieges and the Corsair Raid, 1462 to 1560". The Rock of the Gibraltarians; A History of Gibraltar (Second ed.). London and Toronto: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. pp. 73–75. ISBN 0-8386-3237-8.
  8. ^ a b BBC Radio 4 (1 November 2005). "Gibraltar". The Sceptred Island: Empire. A 90 part history of the British Empire. Retrieved 16 December 2005.
  9. ^ Virginia León Sanz (2000). "El reinado del archiduque Carlos en España: la continuidad de un programa dinástico de gobierno (The reign of the Archduke Charles in Spain: the continuity of a dynastic government program), in Spanish" (PDF). Manuscrits. Revista d'història moderna. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain). Retrieved 16 December 2005.[dead link]
  10. ^ Tito Benady (August 2004). "The Attack on Gibraltar. Friday 2 August 1704" (PDF). Tercentenary Special. Gibraltar Chronicle. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2005.
  11. ^ Campbell, John, 'Of Sir George Rooke', in Naval history of Great Britain: including the history and lives of the British admirals, Volume 4, (London: Baldwyn and Company, 1818), p. 65
  12. ^ Murray, John Joseph, George I, the Baltic, and the Whig split of 1717: a study in diplomacy and propaganda, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), p. 58
  13. ^ Robinson, Howard, The Development of the British Empire, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1923), p. 81
  14. ^ Joe Bossano (1994). "The Fight for Self – Determination. Joe Bossano at the United Nations". Gibraltar... The unofficial homepage. Reference Documents about Gibraltar and its political struggles. Archived from the original on 15 December 2005. Retrieved 16 December 2005.
  15. ^ David Eade (2004). "1704 and all that". Celebrating 300 Years of British Gibraltar (Tercentenary Web Site). Government Tercentenary Office, Gibraltar Government. Archived from the original on 15 December 2005. Retrieved 16 December 2005.
  16. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gibraltar § History" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 491.
  17. ^ Gibraltar. La razón y la fuerza, p. 90.
  18. ^ The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar, p. 99.
  19. ^ a b Rock of Contention. A History of Gibraltar, p. 475-477.
  20. ^ George Hills (1974). Rock of contention: a history of Gibraltar. Hale. p. 165. ISBN 9780709143529. Retrieved 7 April 2011.Ormonde issued a proclamation. "They were come not to invade or conquer any part of Spain or to make any acquisitions for Her Majesty Queen Anne...but rather to deliver Spaniards from the mean subjection into which a small and corrupt party of men have brought them by delivering up that former glorious monarchy to the dominion of the perpetual enemies of it, the French" He laid particular stress on the respect that was to be shown to priests and nuns - "We have already ordered under pain of death of officers and soldiers under out command not to molest any person of what rank or quality so ever in the exercise of their religion in any manner whatsoever.
  21. ^ G. T. Garratt (March 2007). Gibraltar and the Mediterranean. Lightning Source Inc. p. 44. ISBN 9781406708509. Retrieved 7 April 2011.One has but to read the books left to us by the sailors to realize the peculiar horror of the life between-decks. Cooped up there, like sardines in a tin, were several hundreds of men, gathered by force and kept together by brutality. A lower-deck was the home of every vice, every baseness and every misery
  22. ^ David Francis (1 April 1975). The First Peninsular War: Seventeen-Two to Seventeen-Thirteen. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 115. ISBN 9780312292607. Retrieved 7 April 2011.But some of the sailors, before they could be recalled to their ships broke loose in the town and plundered the inhabitants
  23. ^ Jackson, p. 99.
  24. ^ George Hills (1974). Rock of contention: a history of Gibraltar. Hale. p. 175. ISBN 9780709143529. Retrieved 7 April 2011."Great disorders", he found, "had been committed by the boats crews that came on shore and marines; but the General Officers took great care to prevent them, by continually patrolling with their sergeants, and sending them on board their ships and punishing the marines
  25. ^ Allen Andrews (1958). Proud fortress; the fighting story of Gibraltar. Evans. p. 35. Retrieved 7 April 2011.a few of them hanged as rioters after the sacking. One Englishman had to throw dice with a Dutchman to determine who should hang pour encourager les autres. They stood under the gallows and diced on a drum. The Englishman threw nine to the Dutchman's ten, and suffered execution before his mates.
  26. ^ Sir William Godfrey Fothergill Jackson (1987). The Rock of the Gibraltarians: a history of Gibraltar. Farleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 99. ISBN 9780838632376. Retrieved 7 April 2011. Article V promised freedom of religion and full civil rights
  27. ^ Frederick Sayer (1862). The history of Gibraltar and of its political relation to events in Europe. Saunders. p. 115. Retrieved 4 February 2011.Letter Of The Authorities To King Philip V. 115 Sire, The loyalty with which this city has served all the preceding kings, as well as your Majesty, has ever been notorious to them. In this last event, not less than on other occasions, it has endeavoured to exhibit its fidelity at the price of lives and property, which many of the inhabitants have lost in the combat; and with great honour and pleasure did they sacrifice themselves in defence of your Majesty, who may rest well assured that we who have survived (for our misfortune), had we experienced a similar fate, would have died with glory, and would not now suffer the great grief and distress of seeing your Majesty, our lord and master, dispossessed of so loyal a city. Subjects, but courageous as such, we will submit to no other government than that of your Catholic Majesty, in whose defence and service we shall pass the remainder of our lives; departing from this fortress, where, on account of the superior force of the enemy who attacked it, and the fatal chance of our not having any garrison for its defence, except a few poor and raw peasants, amounting to less than 300, we have not been able to resist the assault, as your Majesty must have already learnt from the governor or others. Our just grief allows us to notice no other fact for the information of your Majesty, but that all the inhabitants, and each singly, fulfilled their duties in their several stations; and our governor and alcalde have worked with the greatest zeal and activity, without allowing the horrors of the incessant cannonading to deter them from their duties, to which they attended personally, encouraging all with great devotion. May Divine Providence guard the royal person of your Majesty, Gibraltar, August 5th (N. S.), 1704.
  28. ^ David Francis (1 April 1975). The First Peninsular War: Seventeen-Two to Seventeen-Thirteen. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 115. ISBN 9780312292607. Retrieved 7 April 2011. ...plundered the inhabitants. Partly on account of this, partly because they expected Gibraltar to be retaken soon, all the inhabitants except a very few...chose to leave
  29. ^ Sir William Godfrey Fothergill Jackson (1987). The Rock of the Gibraltarians: a history of Gibraltar. Farleigh Dickinson University Press. pp. 99–100. ISBN 9780838632376. Retrieved 7 April 2011. Although Article V promised freedom or religion and full civil rights to all Spaniards who wished to stay in Habsburg Gibraltar, few decided to run the risk of remaining in the town. Fortresses changed hands quite frequently in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The English hold on Gibraltar might be only temporary. When the fortunes of war changed, the Spanish citizens would be able to re-occupy their property and rebuild their lives. ... Hesse's and Rooke's senior officers did their utmost to impose discipline, but the inhabitants worst fears were confirmed: women were insulted and outraged; Roman Catholic churches and institutions were taken over as stores and for other military purposes ...; and the whole town suffered at the hands of the ship's crew and marines who came ashore. Many bloody reprisals were taken by inhabitants before they left, bodies of murdered Englishmen and Dutchmen being thrown down wells and cesspits. By the time discipline was fully restored, few of the inhabitants wished or dared to remain.
  30. ^ David Francis (1 April 1975). The First Peninsular War: Seventeen-Two to Seventeen-Thirteen. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 115. ISBN 9780312292607. Retrieved 7 April 2011. So the damage was done and the chance of winning the adherence of the Andalusians was lost.
  31. ^ Sir William Godfrey Fothergill Jackson (1987). The Rock of the Gibraltarians: a history of Gibraltar. Farleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 100. ISBN 9780838632376. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  32. ^ Francis: The First Peninsular War: 1702–1713, 115
  33. ^ Trevelyan: England Under Queen Anne: Blenheim, 414
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  48. ^ Gibraltar, pg. 99. Quoted in Gibraltar: British or Spanish?, pg. 8.
  49. ^ Gibraltar, pg. 105. Quoted in Gibraltar: British or Spanish?, pg. 8.
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  55. ^ The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar, p.229:

    The many strands of desiderable reform were brought together when, in 1830, responsibility for Gibraltar's affairs was transferred from the War Office to the new Colonial Office, and the status of the Rock was changed from 'The town and garrison of Gibraltar in the Kingdom of Spain' to the 'Crown Colony of Gibraltar'.

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  77. ^ [1] Archived 24 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine Country Profile: Gibraltar (British Overseas Territory) "On 18 September 2006, the first Trilateral Ministerial meeting was held at the Palacio de Viana in Cordoba. Mr Geoff Hoon, Minister for Europe, represented the UK, while Foreign Minister Moratinos and Chief Minister Peter Caruana represented Spain and Gibraltar respectively. At the meeting, a landmark agreement was reached on a range of issues. These included: telecommunications; the expanded use of Gibraltar Airport; the improvement of pedestrian and traffic flows at the border crossing between Gibraltar and Spain; and a settlement on pensions that would provide a fair deal for those Spanish citizens who lost their livelihoods when the border between Spain and Gibraltar closed in 1969."
  78. ^ [2] Communique of the ministerial meeting of the forum of dialogue on Gibraltar 18 09 2006 "More fluid movement of people, vehicles and goods between Gibraltar and the surrounding area will improve the day to day lives of people in Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar. The Spanish Government, through the Agencia Estatal de Administración Tributaria, is already investing close to one and a half million euros in substantial improvement works to its facilities and those of the Guardia Civil. The works will be completed this year, at which time the access will operate on a two lane basis in both directions and the red/green channels system, for both people and for vehicles, will be introduced. The Gibraltar Government has also invested substantial sums of money on the enhancement of its facilities. "
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  92. ^ "The Government of Gibraltar considers the repair of HMS Tireless in Gibraltar to be an isolated and exceptional case that creates no precedent. The Gibraltar Government is strenuously opposed to the establishment of Gibraltar as a nuclear vessel repair facility." "Press Release: Statement by the Government of Gibraltar relating to the Ministry of Defence's proposal to carry out repairs to HMS Tireless in Gibraltar". Archived from the original on 20 April 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
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    ...relationships between the United Kingdom and Gibraltar [...] had been modernized in a manner acceptable to both sides. Gibraltar was now politically mature, and its relationship with the United Kingdom was non-colonial in nature.

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  103. ^ Special Committee on Decolonization, 9th Meeting (18 July 2008) – As Special Committee on Decolonization considers Question of Gibraltar, Territory's Chief Minister says its decolonisation 'No longer pending':

    Agreeing with a proposal by the Chairman, the Committee then decided that, in light of related developments, it would continue its consideration of the question of Gibraltar at its next session.

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  114. ^ El País newspaper:Deal between Spain and UK plans to eliminate Gibraltar border checkpoint


  • Hills, George (1974). Rock of Contention. A History of Gibraltar. London: Robert Hale. ISBN 0-7091-4352-4.
  • Jackson, William (1990). The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar (second ed.). Grendon, Northamptonshire, UK: Gibraltar Books. ISBN 0-948466-14-6.
  • Sepúlveda, Isidro (2004). Gibraltar. La razón y la fuerza (Gibraltar. The reason and the force). in Spanish. Madrid: Alianza Editorial. ISBN 84-206-4184-7. Chapter 2, "La lucha por Gibraltar" (The Struggle for Gibraltar) is available online (PDF)
  • Peter Gold (2005). Gibraltar: British or Spanish?. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-34795-5.

External links[edit]