Álvaro de Bazán the elder and Álvaro de Bazán 'junior'
Bernandino de Mendoza and Andrés Sanabria
Bernandino de Mendoza and Andrés Sanabria
Rodrigo de Sanabria and Juan de Sanabria - Francisco de Mendoza and Rodrigo Núñez,
Antonio and Doña María de Mendoza - Martin Pintado and Gómez de Balboa
Martin Sánchez and Juan Halcón - Álvaro de Piña and Francisco de Cieja,
Nuño de Piña and Gregorio Piña, - Antón and Francisco Calvo,
García Hernández de Peña and Juan Gómez - Alonso and Alonso de Mesa
Sebastián de Fontalba and Moulay Ismail - Pedro Herrera, Ali Amete and Caramani
In the the early 17th century a Gibraltarian politician called Alonso Hernández del Portillo wrote his Historia de la Muy Noble y Más Leal Ciudad de Gibraltar. (See LINK) It is still the the oldest extant history of the Rock. In it the author devotes an extensive section on the disastrous raid on Gibraltar by Turkish Corsairs in 1540. It is worth a read if only because the author mentions by name so many of the Gibraltarians who were involved.
Front page of a contemporary handwritten copy of Portillo's History ( mid 17th century )
The following is a loose but faithful translation of Portillo's account. My own comments include additional information taken from Pérez Barrantes Maldonado's Dialogo sobre el Saco de los Turcos en 1540 which was published in 1566. Maldonado's chronicle takes the form of a conversation between un Estranjero - a stranger who quizzes Maldonado on what happened during the raid - and el Autor - Maldonado himself - who gives him a blow by blow account.
Front Cover of Pérez Barrantes Maldonado's 'Dialogo' ( 1566 ) (see LINK)
Portillo - How it all Began - in 1540 Gibraltar was at peace - if such a thing were possible in any Spanish town bordering Moorish lands. The only interruptions were the odd sea skirmish with Corsairs and Moors, both sworn enemies of the Catholic faith.
Don Álvaro de Bazán the elder, father of the first Marquis of Santa Cruz was the resident Governor at the time. After the death of Don Juan de Velasco, a brother of the Constable of Castile, Don Álvaro was made Captain General of the Spanish galleys and in 1526 he had wintered in Gibraltar, his galleys packed with captured Moors and Turks.
These man soon became aware that the town was not particularly well guarded and that the southern part of the Rock was completely defenceless. They also noticed that a fortified wall about half a league from the shrine of Our Lady of Europa had collapsed and that it would be a simple matter to climb over it. Not only that but all the residents seemed to be of the general opinion that nobody was about to attack them and behaved accordingly.
In 1535 for unknown reasons, the Emperor Charles V appointed the 8 year old Álvaro de Bazán 'junior' as Military Governor of Gibraltar. Portillo is therefore technically wrong in suggesting that his father occupied this position although, of course, the older man was undoubtedly the real power behind the throne - so to speak.
Portrait of Don Álvaro Bazán about 30 odd years after the raid, son of Álvaro the elder and by now the first Marqués of Santa Cruz de Mudela. ( Unknown )
As regards those rather badly guarded Moors wandering all over the place many of them worked either in the shipyards in Palmones and Guadarranque rivers or in the fortress of Gibraltar itself. As was the custom in then, those who converted to Christianity were allowed to come and go as they pleased.
It is hard to tell which was the wall that had collapsed but from other information offered elsewhere it was almost certainly the old Moorish Wall by the Corral de Fez close to La Caletilla del Laudero ( see LINK )
'A View of the South Front of the Mountain of Gibraltar as taken by Lt General William Skinner in 1740'. The barely legible writing on the middle right just after the end of the sea bastions reads as follows: 'Remains of Moorish Line which the English Escalated in 1704'. This was probably the ruined wall at the Corral de Fez noticed by the spies. (1779 - William Test )
Portillo - Escape from Gibraltar - Several years later Don Álvaro de Bazán asked the Emperor to relieve him of his duties as Captain-general giving various excuses as to why he wanted to resign. The Emperor sent Don Juan de Acuña to Gibraltar to try and convince him to reconsider but to no avail with the result that Don Bernandino de Mendoza, the brother of the Marquis of Mondefor was made Admiral of the fleet.
Don Bernandino de Mendoza (1730 Unknown )
So it was that by the time several of these Turkish slaves managed to escape to Algiers on one of galleys they were already well versed as regards the various entrances and exits of the town. They had also come to realise that anybody so inclined would be able to land - and escape - from Gibraltar without too much trouble.
When they arrived in Algiers they contacted the King and proposed to him the possibility of sacking the town. With a little help, they suggested, it would be a very easy thing to accomplish. Generally security over Moorish slaves in Gibraltar was extraordinarily lax. In 1540 most of them belonged to Alvaro the elder who had obtained them as booty while in Tunis. Throughout the 1530s it was quite common for escaping slaves to take refuge in Algiers - as it was for Spaniards who decided to join the Muslims. These people were known as 'Renegados' or renegades.
In the summer of 1540 there was a mass escape of over a hundred slaves led by a certain Caramani, who was probably an Italian renegade. They went straight to Algiers and made contact with Hasim Aga - the man Portillo calls 'the king'. Caramani must have found it easy to get on with Hasim as he was also a renegade. He was a man of some power as he had been appointed as his lieutenant in Algiers by the famous Ottoman admiral Barbarossa.
Barbarosa Hayreddin Pasha, - A well known Ottoman Turkish Admiral - and occasional Corsair
Portillo - Persuading the King of Algiers - The king, however, proved hard to convince and it took the Turks several days to get him to agree. The town, they told him, was fronted by a long wall which the locals would find impossible to defend properly. Not only that but the place where they would mount their attack was wall-less and out of sight of the town itself. They had no intention of coming to Gibraltar just to pick a fight. What they were after was to plunder the place and to take as many captives as possible.
Algiers with the Spanish built Peñon in the forefront ( 1540s -unknown )
In any case, the people of Gibraltar were under the illusion that their town was in the middle of Castile and immune to attack from anybody. They had been at peace for so long that they were thoroughly unprepared for a fight.
The cost of the armada needed for the raid, was minute in comparison to the enormous profits that would result from it, Not only that but the Spanish Emperor was away from Spain and his galleys were in Italy which meant he was unlikely to be of any assistance to the defenders. Their final argument was, that if it so happened that they actually took over the town completely it would be a magnificent prize for the followers of Muhammad.
The King of Algeria was finally convinced and placed an armada of sixteen galleys and several smaller craft at their disposal together with eight hundred specially selected Turkish soldiers as well as many others such as sailors, rowers and others that were needed to service the fleet.
The armada set sail in the month of August of 1540 under the command of two Turkish Generals. One of them Ali Amete an army General and the other was an Admiral called Caramani. They were soon sighted near the coast of the Kingdom of Granada and arrived near Gibraltar on the 3rd of September with relative ease.
What happened next makes one believe that our Good Lord had served us to be punished for the lack of foresight of our leaders. It never seems to have crossed their minds that the Turks would ever dare to raid the town. A local gentlemen councillor had even gone so far as to tell the residents not to be afraid of the Turks. They would never come - and if they did he would be one of the first they would murder. He missed the mark on the first but was correct in his second prediction.
The records of the town council do show the enormous effort that had gone into making Gibraltar safe and secure since it had been retaken from the Moors. Only two years earlier, Don Álvaro Bazán had made sure that Gibraltar's artillery was effective, that the artillery was properly mounted and that there were adequate stocks of gun power. King Ferdinand had decreed that all the delinquents found in the Kingdom of Granada should be sent to Gibraltar and attempts were made by Bazán to remove all the houses built close to the defensive walls of the Barcina - as was in fact done later but by then it was too late.
The northern section of la Barcina showing houses built right up close to the walls . The large rectangular building was the Atarazana where galleys were repaired ( Early 17th Century - Luis Bravo ) (See LINK)
Whenever there was news of a suspected attack by the enemy, the Judges made sure there was enough money available for the defence of the town. Leaders were also elected and all the usual defensive precautions were taken. Unfortunately none of these preventive measures were carried out this time other than the placing of a few guards along those sections of the fortifications which were known to have been breached during previous raids.
Not for the first and certainly not for the last Gibraltar found itself thoroughly unprepared and in urgent need to modernise its defences. According to Pedro Barrantes Maldonado, a contemporary soldier and writer, its weapons belonged to the previous century and well before the arrival of proper firearms. Portillo was correct. All told there were probably only a handful of guns and no gunners to operate them. Caramani agreed with P:ortillo - raiding Gibraltar would not be a difficult affair. His co-general Ali Amete - also known as Ali Hamat or Ali Ahmed - was yet another renegade, originally from Sicily. He was hand-picked by Caramani.
Those eight hundred soldiers mentioned by Portillo may be on the low side as figures offered elsewhere in the literature are usually much higher - Ali Amete is said to have had a thousand slave rowers and another thousand men to act in their defence, while Caramani himself led another thousand to actually carry out the raid.
Portillo - The Arrival of the Turks and the Landing of the Spy - On the evening of the ninth of September the Turks arrived on the east side of the Rock and well away from town. Autumn was a period in which most of the workers in town were busy at work on the grape harvest in the Campo area. The town was relatively empty of people.
The Turks anchored on the eastern shore at a place called Almadravilla. Here they landed a renegade who would spy for them. It was his jobs to explore the town and advise them whether the population had any inkling of their arrival or whether they were alert to any impending danger. The renegade stayed inside the town for the best part of two hours and satisfied himself that the locals were totally unaware of anything untoward. In fact they seemed almost not to know that such people as the Turks actually existed.
The spy bought bread, some grapes and fish without being accosted by anybody and then returned to the fleet. The Turks were cock-a-hoop when they learned of the town's state of unpreparedness and immediately set off toward the South. It was the third vigil - or the first quarter of dawn as it was known locally.
As they approached the Shrine of Our Lady of Europa, they were challenged by the Rock guards and some of the renegades among the Turks responded that they were Spanish galleys and that they would soon be followed by Don Bernadino. Another Christian on a rowing vessel noted that the guards seemed bemused and silent and became rather overconfident . 'Hey', he shouted, 'are you drunk or somersetting Can't you see that we are Spanish?' It very nearly cost him his life.
Barbarossa's fleet wintering in Toulon - these were probably the kind of Galleys that the invaders would have used ( 1543 - Unknown )
The Almadravilla was Catalan Bay - which suggests that the appearance of a large galley fleet so close to home would have set off every alarm signal available in town. The most likely sequence of events was that the fleet hove to near Europa Point and then sent a small vessel to Almadravilla where several men landed in order to reconnoiter the place more or less as described.
That the guards were fooled by Spanish speakers is not surprising - most of those one thousand rowers were Spanish slaves and there were always plenty of Spanish renegades more than willing to go to war if the prospects for plunder were good.
Not mentioned by Portillo was the fact that the armada had been sighted off Mellila - at that time in the hands of the Duke of Medina Sidonia whose family had once owned Gibraltar as a private fiefdom. A brigantine was sent to Málaga to warn the Spanish authorities. The news eventually seeped into Gibraltar but the only additional precautions taken were to place two additional watchmen on los Tarfes bajos either in the Torre del Tuerto or the Torre de los Genoveses
According to Maldonado the Turks actually landed their troops in la Caletilla del Laudero, close to the Corral de Fez and not far from the shrine of our Lady of Europa. A hermit who actually lived there at the time was one of the first to realise what was happening and is supposed to have raised the alarm by shouting the words 'Moros, Moros!
Map showing both the Torre del Tuerto and the Torre de los Ginobeses or Genoveses, in relation to the Caletilla del Laudero which is the third to the right of the three small coves shown on the Map. The whole of the central area was known as los Tarfes bajos. ( 1608 - Cristobal Rojas - Detail )
Portillo - The Beginning of the Raid - At one o'clock in the morning the Turks began to disembark and it was only then that the guards realised their mistaken. They managed a few warning shouts but they were soon captured by the Turks.
The invading force slowly made its way towards the town without anyone noticing them. At that time of the morning, the people who lived along the road that led to Europa Point were just getting ready to leave in order to work in the fields.
The Turks entered la Turba without any resistance capturing and killing many of the locals who had been caught unawares asleep in their houses. These same Turks had only a short while ago desecrated the holy house of the Virgin Mary and had profaned. But later they would pay for their blasphemy. None of them would ever return to the country from which they came from.
As soon as the residents realised what was happening those women and children who were able to do so ran into town and tried to take refuge inside the Castle. There were so many of them trying to squeeze through the narrow entrance that led into the fortifications that many of them were crushed.
According to Barrantes once they found themselves inside la Turba the Turks began to shout at the top of their voices, sounding their drums and instruments and generally making as much noise as they could in order to terrorise the local inhabitants. As regards the attempt to enter the castle, Barrantes describes this event rather more graphically:
Extranjero: Las mujeres que me dijiste y que iban a guarecer en el castillo, que se hizo de ellas?
Autor: Desde un rato se abrió un postigo muy pequeño de la puerta, el cual es tan estrecho cuanto conviene a puerta de la fortaleza. Y los hombre que venían a acogerla al castillo o a defenderla para entrar dentro pasaban por encima de las mujeres vivas que estaban subidas sobre las muertas . . . veintiséis mujeres y criaturas se ahogaron delante de la puerta de la fortaleza . .
Portillo - Andrés and Juan Suazo de Sanabria - Once the alarm was sounded all the local gentlemen who happened to be in town came out to defend it. According to Barrantes Maldonado, Andrés Suazo Sanabria was one of them. He was a descendent of Rodrigo de Sanabria, who is mentioned in the history of the King Don Pedro.
Sanabria lived in la Barcina which was on the opposite side of town from where the Turks had landed. His owned a fortified house with a strong tower in the middle of it. The Barcina itself - as it is today - was encircled with gated walls.
As the raid progressed Andres de Sanabria allowed women, children and other unfortunates of the neighbourhood into his home and then ensured that the gates into the Barcina and Villa Viejo were closed. With only a few men at his disposal, he placed some of them along the walls of what was then the main fortification of the town. He then sent his son Don Juan de Sanabria together with several foot soldiers and men on horseback to go to the defence of the town while he remained where he was in order to organise the resistance from his home in the Barcina.
The town was swarming with Turks by the time Juan de Sanabria and the other gentlemen of the town joined battle against them. Half of the invading force had detoured towards the top part of the Rock. Their intent was to capture the Castle as they knew that it was just as badly defended as the rest of the town.
Francisco de Mendoza - While the men who were defending the Castle battled against the Turks - even managing to kill a few of them - Don Juan de Sanabria and one of his squires were also killed. Another local - Francisco de Mendoza - had his horse killed under him and was forced to retire to his house. There he defended himself against overwhelming odds. The Turks finally got him when they set fire to his thatched house and captured him as he tried to escape the flames.
The raiders would have been able to do even more damage than they actually did if it hadn't been that the Good Lord stopped them from doing so. When they arrived close to the main church of the town they should have found it easy to capture a large number of women and children who had gathered there for sanctuary. But the church has an ancient statue of our Virgin which is said to have come from Algeciras and to which the locals were very devoted. She did not allow this to happen.
Close by in a narrow street five of our men together with four crossbows and one on horseback forced four hundred Turks to retreat. The rest of the invaders had taken a route towards the upper Rock. They reached the Castle and encircled it. They knew that its artillery was useless as it was not properly mounted and that there were no munitions. The aim was to enter and take it by force as they had promised the Algerian King but our crossbows were more than enough to cause the Turks to reconsider.
Rodrigo Nuñez - In the heat of the battle one of our men, Rodrigo Nuñez, caught sight of a Turk carrying a banner. He separated himself from his comrades killed the man and held the captured banner aloft. The Turks rallied immediately and a whole crowd of them surrounded and killed Rodrigo as they recovered their flag.
The Turk who now held it was in turn killed by a shot from the Castle as was a third who had also tried to hold it aloft. Perhaps it was these events that made the Turks decide to retreat from the Castle area. It was unfortunate that before they left they managed to kill several women and children that had been attempting to take refuge in it.
The Moorish Castle ( 1830s - David Roberts ) (See LINK)
Barrantes visited and was shown around the castle soon after the raid had come to an end. There were plenty of barrels of gun powder as well cannonballs and general artillery. The Calahorra - which he mistakenly calls the Carrabola - was well stocked with rifles and other weapons. In other words the problem was not one of stocks but of a lack of people who knew how to use these things.
Martin Pintado, Don Antonio and Doña Maria de Mendoza and Martin Sanchez - Elsewhere a particularly unruly Turk tried to enter a house and was prevented from doing so by its owner, a certain Martin Pintado. His wife, aware that her husband was in danger took hold of a halberd and came to his aid. Between them they killed the invader. That day and as recorded in many published histories, many a heroic deed took place.
It is hard to tell which of those 'many published histories' Portillo is referring to. Very few were published between 1540 and the date of his own work. The only one that comes to mind is of course Maldonado's 'Dialogo' in which he also writes of several tales of daring do - as well as tragedies - that do not appear in Portillo's account.
For example during the initial storming of the Castle the Turks captured Doña Maria, the wife of a nobleman called Antonio de Mendoza. As she refused to go quietly they set upon her with such violence that she fell to the ground. Thinking that she was dead they pushed her body down the Castle slope. It saved her life as she was still alive when she got to the bottom.
Plan of the northern defences - el Baluarte del Canuto - showing the slope from the Calahorra to the sea ( 1600s - Cristobal Rojas ) (See LINK)
A negro slave accompanying the wife and three children of a local cooper called Martin Sanchez managed to reach the foot of the Castle when he was accosted by four Turks. Calling them dogs the slave attacked and killed three of them. The last one escaped with one of the daughters. She was an eighteen year old girl.
Both Portillo and Barrantes record numerous acts of courage by the locals. The following, however appears in a short history of the Rock written in 1869 by the Spanish historian and professor, Acosta de la Torre.
Pedro Herrera - Un hecho notabilísimo de generosidad y nobleza tuvo lugar durante la sensible desgracia que acabamos de relatar, y no queremos omitirlo. La esclava de un vecino de Gibraltar, anciano y ciego, llamado Pedro Herrera, tropezó con el enemigo en los arrabales; y no obstante que debió considerar á los turcos como salvadores, corrió presuroso á la ciudad á prevenir á su amo del peligro.
Tranquilo y satisfecho lo halló en una de las calles; y como por sus años y ceguera no pudiese andar deprisa, cargóle sobre sus hombros, y, atravesando un gran trecho, no paró hasta dejarle á salvo en la fortaleza. Hechos como éste jamás deben olvidarse.
Locals return from the Vineyards - The locals that had been working in the vineyards tried to return to their homes but found the town gates were shut. The mayor of Gibraltar had himself spent the night in the fields leaving his wife in charge of the keys to the town and because of the confusing and dangerous situation, it took her quite a while to find them. It meant the gates were opened much later than they should have been. Nevertheless once the gates were, the people rushed into town and laid into the Turks with such courage and conviction that the invaders were forced to retreat to their boats.
The people continued to harass the Turks to such an extent that the invaders lost quite a number of horsemen that they had brought with them. In fact it soon became clear that despite their disorganised methods and the fact that they were leaderless, the local people were slowly driving the Turks back on to their ships, forcing them to abandon all those promises they had made to the King in Algiers.
Yet even as they moved away the Turks left behind them a town in total caos. The people of la Turba had been severely affected and many of the residents were either dead or taken away as captives. Of the two principle noblemen of the town one had been killed and the other had been captured.
But there was little loss of spirit. Andrés de Sanabria - despite being one of those who had been most affected as he had lost the son that he had intended to inherit his estate - went about encouraging and consoling everybody just as he always did in such situations and just as those of us who knew him knew he would. Sadly he was later killed by a Turk.
Gomez de Balboa - In the immediate he aftermath, several precautions were quickly taken. The people were armed and de Suazo was accepted as Captain. Meanwhile the mayor, Gómez de Balboa, who was Alvaro de Bazán's lieutenant continued to refuse to leave the safety of the Castle. In other words they took all those precautions that they should have taken before.
Juan Halcón - It seems that one of the resident who had fought against Turks when they were forced to retreat, returned home to find his wife and children missing. Thinking that they might have taken refuge in the Castle he went to look for them.
He found them but on his way back home he met the mayor whom he realised had himself been hiding in the Castle. The resident was an honourable man. He had been one of those who had been working in the vineyards and who had joined the crowd that chased the Turks away. He was also a man of few words. Angrily accosting the mayor he lit a small handheld beacon and hit the mayor across his face injuring him badly.
The name of this gentleman was Juan Halcón. He belonged to one of the oldest families living in Gibraltar. When he was later required to go to Valladolid to face charges for what he had done he simply explained everything that had happened in Gibraltar and was given a full pardon.
But In Gibraltar, the people were still very wary about the possibility of the Turks returning once again to their shores. The Turkish armada had sailed into the bay and towards the front of the town where they found and set fire to several disarmed and derelict galleys which had belonged to Don Álvaro Barzan.
They then sailed across our fortifications and anchored in Diezmo, a protected part of the Bay with a good port about a league away from the town. The Turks disembarked and proceeded to smash all the wine barrels which the people of Diezmo had stored close by. Several other Turks separated from the group and set off to the vineyards to search for grapes.
When the nobleman of Gibraltar noticed that the Turks had landed in the isthmus, they and others rushed out of the town at full gallop. The Turks saw them coming, thought it best not to confront them and returned to their boats. The men nevertheless continued their charge as they realised that quite a few Turks that had been left stranded. Those that they found they either killed or took captive. I myself got to know three of these Turks who were captured that day and who lived for many years in Gibraltar.
The Turks seem to have viewed their efforts in Gibraltar as some sort of a success. They spent three days in front of the town taunting the locals with their drums and trumpets and generally creating the impression that they had left of their own accord. Diezmo is hard to pinpoint but was almost certainly somewhere near Carteia.
Map of the Bay with Carteia on the top left ( 1760s - William Faden - detail )
The total number of Turks killed in the foray from Gibraltar was fifteen and those captured were only three, which were probably the ones that Portillo said he knew. Also not mentioned is the arrival of help from the town of Jimena which was then under the jurisdiction of the Duke of Medina Sidonia.
Alvaro de Piña - A horseman from Gibraltar had brought them the news of what had happened. The arrival of these people was very encouraging for the Gibraltarians who from that moment onwards felt relatively safe from any further attacks from the Turks.
That same day negotiations were held over the exchange of prisoners. Unfortunately nothing was settled because of a lack of money and the fact that one of the Turkish generals was extremely upset about the death of a young man he had brought with him. In the end nothing was settled and the prisoners were taken to Velez de la Gomera in Barbary.
The negotiations were carried out by Alvaro de Piña who met the Turks aboard a white-flagged Frigate. The Turks demanded 1000 ducats for the Regidor Antonio de Mendoza and a good 6000 for the sixty nine others which they held prisoner. In the end they released Mendoza for much less because they thought he was dying. Several of the families of the sixty nine captives tried to make private arrangements in order to obtain the release of their husbands and fathers - but the town authorities would not allow them to do so.
The Turks also demanded that several good looking Tunisian slave girls working in Gibraltar should be thrown in as ballast. With unusual understanding they agreed to accept 'mercaderia de paños' in lieu of hard cash.
But a small yet significant side-show had yet to take place. Two ships from Ayamonte laden with esparto and other goods came into port unaware of the presence of the Turkish armada - and despite the warning shots fired at them by the guards at los Tarfes as they rounded Europa Point.
The Turks captured the two ships and all fifteen members of the crew, transferred all the plundered merchandise on to a small galley and sent it on its way to Algiers. As it passed close by the Torre del Tuerto one of the guards - a man from Jimena - took a pot shot at the boat, hit the Turkish captain and killed him.
The net result of all this was that the Turkish General Caramini furious at what had happened, changed his mind and refused to accept anything but money in exchange for his prisoners. Elsewhere Portillo insinuates that the relationship between the general and this young man was a homosexual one. Whatever the case that lucky shot by that man from Jimena was - as Barrantes suggested - 'un tiro rompetrequas.'
A serious lack of hard cash forced the Gibraltarians to go cap in hand to the Marquis of Tarifa. During the long wait there was a brisk interchange between the two parties;
A serious lack of hard cash forced the Gibraltarians to go cap in hand to the Marquis of Tarifa. During the long wait there was a brisk interchange between the two parties;
. . . . Salían personas de Gibraltar y entraban en la armada de los turcos a verlos, y de los turcos salían de la armada y entraban a la ciudad a comer por los bodegones . . . .
Portillo - The above account only skims through the events that occurred that day between the Turks and some of our noblemen and other residents. I have only named a few as otherwise I would have had to write a separate history much of which can be found elsewhere in other histories. But there are several other Gentlemen that I would like to mention - and even perhaps amplify the deeds of some of those people that have already been mentioned as they surely deserve this, having risked their lives and shown their courage in the defence of our holy faith and that of their Kings.
Few can merit this more than Andrés de Sanabria whose heroic deeds carried out with such effort, prudence and valour as he understood that in order to save the town he needed to safeguard La Barcina. He realised that he needed to sent out his son and squires to do battle with the Turks but that it was necessary for he himself to remain behind to improvise a proper defence of the fortress so that he could retain for his King this praiseworthy town.
It was the reason why he sent his son out to his death yet saved his own life. He understood that the defence of the Barcina was the key to victory. In any case he had already demonstrated his valour both then and later when he placed himself in such danger in order to save our holy faith that he was also killed by the Turks.
Nuño de Piña - There were other gentlemen on horseback who also came to the rescue of the town. One such was Nuño de Piña who belonged to an ancient and illustrious family of this town and who almost single-handedly rescued a great many people that had been captured by the Turkish squadron.
Sancho de Perra - Then there was Sancho de Perra, another nobleman who also on horseback bravely attacked the Turks and was responsible for the death of the young lad that the Turkish general said he would have exchanged for half his cavalry.
Anton and Francisco Calvo, Francisco de Cieja, Gregorio Piña, and Garcia Hernandez de Peña - The two brothers, Anton and Francisco Calvo made sure that the Turks made were made well aware of the iron of their lances, as did the magistrate, Francisco de Cieja and another nobleman Gregorio Piña who also arrived on horse together with the Judge, Garcia Hernandez de Peña.
An unusual view of the Rock from Estepona ( 1560s Anton Van den Wyngaerde - Detail ) (See LINK)
Alonso and Alonso de Mesa - Two young nobleman - both cousins and both called Alonso de Mesa - managed to rescue their nephews and their nanny who had been held captive and forced the Turks to retire. This courageous feat could almost be classified as a miracle - or at least very similar to those that occurred when our ancestors fought against the Moors. In fact I would go so far as to say that this was an even more daring event when you consider how few we were against those eight hundred carefully chosen veteran troops carrying far better weapons than we did such as modern bows and Turkish rifles.
Rodrigo Nuñez, Sebastián de Fontalba, and Juan Gomez - No less brave were those on foot such as Rodrigo Nuñez who was the man who killed the banner-bearing Turk. Others worth mentioning were the five men who stopped all those Turks near the church . I only know the names of two of them - Sebastián de Fontalba a Presbiteran cleric, and Juan Gomez. As regards the rest, time and negligence has made us forget who they were.
If these events had occurred in Roman or Greek eras their names and those of many others that took part would have been used to honour whatever country and town they might have come from. But I do not have neither the money nor the genius of those authors to say anything else about them other than that they were Spaniards and Gibraltarians.
The fact is that whenever anybody from Gibraltar is required to go to war in the service of his Majesty, he will not hesitate to put himself forward regardless of danger - as has been the case recently in Italy, Brittany and Flanders.
Later when it became known that the Turks had raided Gibraltar, many a town throughout the region sent help and assistance as soon as they could. But of course by now it was too late. Perhaps it is appropriate to mention here that while all those who arrived in order to help Gibraltar were made welcome, those of the towns of Medina Sidonia were not allowed to enter. Or so it was said. It has been suggested that the reason these people were denied entry was because of events going back to the days of when Gibraltar was under siege. But it seems to me that this did not happen because as it is now so I think it was in the past; whenever the Duke asked or requested something we have always done whatever he wanted both voluntarily and with love.
I write about this as an eye witness. I have been a judge in Gibraltar for over twenty five years and over this period of time I can confirm that the town has received every favour from his Excellency Don Alonso Perez de Guzman de Mendoza, who is still alive today and towards whom tour town continues to be grateful.
Barrantes Maldonado - who ought to have known best as he was actually one of Medina Sidonia's men - states quite categorically that the gates were in fact shut in their faces when they arrived. Although not for long. This is what he wrote:
Extranjero: Para los Turcos la muralla caída y los portillos abiertos, y para los amigos que con tan buen socorro les dieron, y a tal tiempo y razón, . . . cerrada las puertas . . .
Autor: La Ciudad de Gibraltar fue ganada dos veces a los moros por los Guzmanes, Señores de la casa de Niebla . . . de quien estos eran vasallos. Y así mismo los Duques de Medina Sidonia poseyeron a esta ciudad, muchos años . . . y los de Gibraltar temieron no viese ocasión de hacerse con ella.
However, reason eventually prevailed and the Gibraltarians sent an apology, arguing that they had been badly advised and allowed them all in.
The northern defences of Gibraltar. There were probably three gates at the time, from left to right, Puerta de Granada, Puerta de España and Puerta de Mar - Sidonia's men must have found them all shut ( 1567 Anton Van Den Wyngaerde )
Portillo - Don Bernadino, Captain-general of the Spanish Armada was returning from Italy when the Turks attacked Gibraltar. He was in Carthage that he heard about the raid and about how some of them were making their way back to Algeria. Taking this into account he took on board every suitable man he could find along the coast of the Kingdom of Murcia and made every effort to catch up with the Turks.
Helped by our Lord and driven by the need to redress those injuries caused by those sacrilegious men on the holy shrine of Our Lady of Europa, Don Bernandino overhauled them near the island of Arbolan where he fought against them. Out of sixteen enemy galleys he captured fourteen and sank another. Only one single galley made it to Algeria. God was rightly served as it was a proper punishment for these sacrilegious men and a rightful vengeance for our town.
The island of Alboran ( Unknown )
Portillo is understandably loath to go into the details of looting - not to say the kind of sacrilegious activities - carried out by the Turks in the Shrine of the Lady of Europa. Barrentes was equally reticent:
Entraron en aquella iglesia que os diré de Nuestra Señora de Europa, y hicieron las cosas de ella lo que se espera de moros y turcos hagan en iglesia de Cristianos. . . . todavía tengo por mejor callarlo que contarlo.
Barrentes dedicates a good fifth of his book on Don Bernandino revenge. It differs somewhat from that of Portillo. When they left Gibraltar the Turkish armada went to Velez de la Gomera - which was at that time governed by Mouley Ismail and to whom they sold their Gibraltarian captives for 5000 Ducats.
Moulay must have been a rather reasonable fellow as he offered the Gibraltarian negotiators to return the captives for no more than the ransom money plus a small charge of 400 Ducats. Finalising this little bit of business but feeling that the raid on Gibraltar had not proved as rewarding as anticipated, Ali Hamat joined forces once again with Caramani and they decided to take their armada to Motril via the island of Alboran which lies half way between Melilla and Malaga. They were out of luck.
Don Bernandino de Mendoza, general de la armada de España dio batalla naval a la armada de los turcos y los venció. Mató y captivó la mayor parte de ellos y les tomo diez navíos y libertó setecientos y cincuenta cristianos. . . . España retribuida y la ciudad de Gibraltar vengada.