The People of Gibraltar
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar - J.J. Alcantara - Introduction


A digital friend of mine - Georgina Marks - found a booklet with the title Medieval Gibraltar in a second-hand bookshop in London. It was written by J. J. Alcantara and had been published in 1979. She sent me a copy and I must say I was taken by surprise. During the late 20th century there were several well-known amateur and not so amateur local historians educating people like me by publishing books and articles on some of the more esoteric bric-a-brac of Gibraltar’s never-ending history. I have had the pleasure of reading most of them but I had never come across Mr J. J. Alcantara. Was he a local?


The front cover of the booklet, incidentally, raises an odd  question that I had never given much thought - did any of those medieval Islamic invaders ever bring any of their camels with them? If they did, it must have been rarely. At any rate I have only come across one reference to them modern or medieval, either in peace or at war.
Al Makkarí VI - p 250
This Book contains an account of the conquest of Andalus by the Moslems, commanded by Musa Ibn Nosseyr and his freedman Tarik Ibn Zeyad, and how that country became the arena wherein their noble steeds raced, and the halting-place wherein their camels laid down their burden and grazed, together with much useful and well selected information, drawn from various sources, and the accounts of historians compared together.

The medieval era is mostly accepted as having lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. Alcantara roughly accepts this definition and begins his essay with the birth of Mohammad in the 6th and ends his story in the 15th after the very messy 9th siege that ended Muslim interest in Gibraltar and began that of Spain. Alcantara also introduces his politically correct credentials by tending to avoid the words “Moor “or “Moorish” throughout his essay – which is unusual for local late 20th century historians. 



Mohammed receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel (Early 14th century document)


All in all, given when it was published, it is an exceptionally succinct and readable account of the history of the Rock from 711 AD – the arrival of the Muslims – to 1467 AD - the last but one intervention of the Medina Sidonia family in the affairs of Gibraltar. 

Please take into account that for the non-specialist amateur historian such as I am - tracing the Islamic and Iberian interventions that might have had an effect on the history of the Rock of Gibraltar is a nightmare. Records are thin on the ground and original documents in Arabic have either never been translated into any European language or if they have, are only available to scholars using important international libraries or prohibitively expensive books. And much the same could be said of medieval Crónicas, written in old Castilian.



To make matters worse one needs to have a certain familiarity with the history of Islam from the 8th century right through to at least the 14th and that of Iberia from then on - with the added complication of the very many spelling alternatives given by different authors to the main characters involved. Whether Alcantara was also faced with these difficulties or not I don’t know - but I would not be surprised if he did. 

Here are some of the references I used to compile my running commentary.

9thc - Ibn Abd al Hakem – Conquest of Spain - John Harris Jones’ Translation 
9thc- Ibn Qutaybah - c828-889
9thc - Ermentarius of the island of Noirmoutie – Quoted by Charles Stanton -2015
10thc - Ibn al Qutiya – History of Islamic Spain

12thc - Ajbar Machmua - Translator - E.F.Lafuente y Alcantara – Footnote
12thc - Abu Ja’far ibn Atiyya – From Appendix D of Al Makkari Vol 1
12thc - Ibn al-Athir - Kurdish historian
12thc - Ibn Sahib al-Sala - Al-Mann bil-imama - 1181 1245– From Antonio Malpica Cuello 
13thc - Abnu-l-abbar – From Gayangos notes

14thc - Ibn Abi Zar – Author of the Rawd al-qirtas
14thc - Ibnu Khaldun - quoted Al Makkari - History of Mohammedan Dynasties Vol I - 1620 
14thc - Crónica de Sancho IV – Ms829 BN de Madrid – P. Sánchez-Prieto Borja et al - 2006
14thc - Ibn Battuta’s Travels . . . 1325-1354 - Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb – 1929
14thc - Ibn Marzuq - El Musnad – Merinid preacher - Viguera Molins - 1977 (Sáez) 
14thc - Crónicas de Alfonso XI - Possibly 14th c.
14thc - Ibn Idhari al-Marrakusi - Moroccan author of the History of the Magreb
14thc - Ibn Khaldun - Tunisian Historian quoted by Al Makkarí
14thc - Ibn Juzayy – The Rihla - Travels of Ibn Battuta 
14thc - Pedro López De Ayala – Crónicas de los Reyes de Castilla

15thc - Al Himyarí - Quoted by Al Makarí Vol 2

16thc - Pedro Barrantes Maldonado – Diálogo – 1540 
16thc - Anton Van den Wyngaerde - 1567
16thc - Crónica de Don Alfonso XI – Iuan Nuñez de Villafan – 1595
16thc - Juan de Mariana – History of Spain

17thc - Cristóbal de Rojas – Engineer - 1608
17thc - Alonso Hernández del Portillo – MS - Historia de Gibraltar - 1626
17thc - Fernando Pérez Pericón - Descripción de la . . Ciudad de Gibraltar - 1636
17thc - Luis Bravo de Acuña - 1627 map
17thc - Ahmed Ibn Mohammed Al Makkarí – Mohammedan Dynasties . . . Vol 1 - 1640
17thc - Ahmed Ibn Mohammed Al Makkarí – Mohammedan Dynasties . . . Vol 2 - 1640
17thc - James Howell – The King of Spain – Letter to Viscount Colchester
17thc - Diego de Colmenares - Historia de Segovia – 1640

18thc - John Durant Breval – Remarks on Several Parts of Europe – 1726
18thc - Robert Poole – The Beneficent Bee - 1748: 
18thc - Thomas James – History of the Herculean Straits . . . Vol 1 - 1771 
18thc - Thomas James – History of the Herculean Straits . . . Vol 2 - 1771 
18thc - Francis Carter - A Journey from Gibraltar to Malaga -1772
18thc - Ignacio López de Ayala – Historia de Gibraltar - 1782
18thc - Joachín Ezquerra - Retratos de los Reyes de España - 1788 
18thc - MS Occurrences at Gibraltar - 1756 – From Kenyon

19thc - John Shakespear – History Mahometan Empire – 1816
19thc - James Cavanah Murphy . . . General History of the Arabs – 1816
19thc - John Drinkwater – History of the Siege of Gibraltar – 1839
19thc - José Antonio Conde – Dominación de los Árabes -1840
19thc - Manuel Ortiz de la Vega - Las Glorias Nacionales - 1853
19thc - Richard Ford – Handbook for Travellers in Spain - 1855
19thc - Francisco María Montero - Historia de Gibraltar y de su Campo - 1860
19thc - Pasqual de Gayangos - Notes on Al Makkarí - 1860
19thc - Frederick Sayer - History of Gibraltar - 1865
19thc - Frederick George Stephens – A History of Gibraltar - 1870
19thc - Crónica del Rey Don Fernando IV Vol I – Antonio Benavides - 1860
19thc - Crónica del Rey Don Fernando IV Vol 2 – Antonio Benavides - 1860

20thc - Samuel Laing - Heimskringla - History of the Norse Kings - 1907
20thc - E.R. Kenyon – Gibraltar under Moor, Spaniard and Briton - 1911
20thc - Julian Paz - Castillos y Fortalezas del Reino - 1914 
20thc - Mariano Gaspar Remiro – Correspondencia Diplomática - Granada y Fez -1916
20thc - G.T. Garratt - Gibraltar and the Mediterranean 1939 
20thc - Évariste Lévi-Provençal - Trente-Sept Lettre Officielles Almohades - 1941
20thc - H.T. Norris - Ibn Battutah Andalusian Journey – 1959
20thc - Samuel G. Armistead – US historian and professor in Spanish – 1960?
20thc - H.T. Norris – Early Islamic Settlement in Gibraltar – 1961
20thc - Andre Julien - Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord - 1961
20thc - George Hills – The Rock of Contention – 1974
20thc – Dorothy Ellicott – Our Gibraltar – 1975 
20thc - George Palao – The Guns and Towers of Gibraltar - 1975
20thc - George Palao – Our Heritage - 1979
20thc - George Palao – Our Forgotten Past - 1979
20thc - George Palao – Tales of our Past - 1981
20thc - Sir William Jackson -The Rock of the Gibraltarians – 1990
20thc - A. Axelrod and C. Philips – Dictators and Tyrants - 1995
20thc - Maurice Harvey – Gibraltar - 1996
20thc - Tito Benady – The Streets of Gibraltar 1996
20thc - Tito Benady – La Bibliografía del Gibraltar Musulmán
20thc - Tito Benady – Ingenieros Militares en Gibraltar en los siglos XVI y XVII
20thc - Leopoldo Torres Balbás – Gibraltar, Llave y Guarda 
20thc - José Ortega y Gasset – Spanish Philosopher
20thc - Tito Vallejo – Nuns’ Well - Ancient Jewish Mikveh

21stc - Pierre Guichard - Muslim Spain and Sicily in the 11th and 12th centuries - 2000 
21stc - Idris el Harier and Ravane M’Baye – Islam in Al-Andalus Vol 3 2001
21stc - Antonio Malpica Cuello - La Expansión de la ciudad de Granada – 2001-2
21stc - Ángel Sáez Rodríguez et al - Article - Almohade y Meriní - 2001 
21stc - Hamo Sassoon - Castillo de Jimena - El Aljibe Central - Almoraima 2 - 2003 
21stc – Darren Fa and Clive Finlayson – Fortifications of Gibraltar . . . 2006
21stc - Ángel Sáez Rodríguez - La Montaña Inexpugnable . . . 2006
21stc - Freddie Gomez - Geology: Ground and Surface Water . . . - 2008 
21stc - Linda Gail Jones – The Christian Companion – 2008
21stc - Wenceslao Segura González - Comienzo de la Conquista – Al Qantir - 2011
21stc - Joseph F. O’Callaghan - The Gibraltar Crusade - 2011
21stc - Ross E. Dunn - The Adventures of ibn Battuta – 2012
21stc - Philip Carter – The Norsemen’s Fury - 2014
21stc - Kevin Lane et al – Myths Moors and Holy Wars – 2014
21stc - Miguel Raphael Brufal de Melgarejo y Yule – Gib Heritage Society – 2015
21stc – Charles D. Stanton – Medieval Maritime Warefare - 2015
21stc - Diego Lamelas Oladán - La compra de Gibraltar por los conversos -1474-1476
21stc - Al-Andalus – The Art of Islamic Spain – Metropolitan Museum of Art
21stc - Ángel Sáez Rodríguez - Las Defensas de Gibraltar . . . Undated
21stc - Rose Walker - Art in Spain and Portugal - 2016

To read the booklet without any further intrusions from me please click on the link below.

711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar - J.J. Alcantara

Or click on the appropriate links below to read my commentary.

711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 1 - The Visigoths and Islam
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 2 - Tarik and Gibraltar
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 3 - Tarik’s Mountain
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 4 - Tarik Invades
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 5 - Covadonga
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 6 - Vikings and Almoravids
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 7 - Yusuf Ibn Tashfin
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 8 - Abd al-Mu’min
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 9 - Madinat-al-Fath
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 10 - Moorish Wall, Aqueduct and Town
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 11 - Abd al-Mu’min Revisited
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 12 - The First Siege
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 13 - Christian Gibraltar and the Second Siege
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 14 - La Giralda and the Third Siege
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 15 - Abu al-hasan
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 16 - The Tower of Homage
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 17 - The Line Wall and the Shrine
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 18 - The Mosque, St Mary the Crowned and Rio Salado
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 19 - Siege of Algeciras and Ibn Battuta
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 20 - Southern Defences and Moorish Baths
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 21 - The Nuns’ Well
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 22 - The Gatehouse
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 23 - The 6th and 7th Sieges
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 24 - The 8th Siege – Castilian Gibraltar