The People of Gibraltar
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 24 – The 8th Siege – Castilian Gibraltar


Alcantara’s summary is perhaps the best and most succinct version of this event I have come across. It is far too widely written about for me to attempt dishing out any source material. I must say though that whenever I read about this event, the first thing that always comes to mind is that it truly enlightens the reader as to why it was that la Reconquista took so long to achieve. As regards Ali el Curro . . . 
Crónica de los Reyes de Castilla Vol 3 – 1878 Collection - P26
En un dia del mes de Agosto del dicho año acaesció que un moro vecino de Gibraltar llamado Alí el Curro, se vino á la villa de Tarifa y se tornó Christiano; el qual fabló con el Alcayde de aquella villa, que se llamaba Alfonso de Arcos, y le mostró como pudiese facer una entrada á los moros de aquella cibdad, y de tal manera se lo dixo, que conocieron ser cosa facedera, y luego fabló con algunos de los de la villa y les dixo lo que aquel tornadizo que ya se llamaba Diego el Curro le había dicho, y . . . fuese para Gibraltar . . . 
One moot and very Gibraltarian point is that Alcantara attributes this particular triumph to “the Christians” – as against “the Spaniards”. Which is technically correct. The struggle between the Christian and the Muslim Kingdoms virtually ended with the fall of Granada in 1492. But it was probably not until 1516 when Charles I became the first King of Spain, that the unification of present-day Spain was complete. A few years later Charles became the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. It is by this title that he is best known as in Gibraltar because of a wall he ordered to be built there during the mid16th century.

But perhaps it is the aftermath of the ninth siege that is more interesting than the Siege itself. Alonzo, Conde de Arcos, his son Rodrigo and Juan Alonso de Guzman, the first Duque de Medina Sidonia may have finally managed to take the Rock from the Moors in the name of the Christianity but technically speaking the place now belonged to the rather unfortunately nicknamed 'El Impotent', Enrique IV of Castile. 
Crónica de los Reyes de Castilla Vol 3 – 1878 Collection -P234
E como era pública la impotencia del Rey, é que la Reyna Doña Juana no guardaba la honestidad de su persona, adulterando con algunos privados del Rey é con otros, nunca aquella Doña Juana fue tenida ni reputada por hija del Rey, antes se creyó é afirmó generalmente por todos desde el día que se publicó ser concebida, aquel concepto ser de Don Beltrán de la Cuevaa. . . é no del Rey. 
On top of being cursed with a lousy nickname and an awkward sex-life Enrique soon realised that he had been given a white elephant. He would find it hard to get people to live in Gibraltar unless he offered prospective immigrants a few inducements. Alcantara’s quote comes from the following which I think might be worth taking a closer look.
Letters Patent of Privileges granted by Enrique IV of Castile (1462)
. . . the City of Gibraltar was taken from the Moors, enemies of our holy Catholic Faith, and is now belonging to me . . . as the said City has but few inhabitants; and that to people it, I ought to bestow grace and favour on those who choose to go and dwell there, and remain continually with their wives and families, so that they may be the more disposed to serve me, and defend and protect the said City, and guard the Straits . . . 
. . . for many good reasons, it is necessary to give an extended boundary to the inhabitants, that they may have pastures for their cattle, lands for the plough, for planting vines, and for other uses; it is therefore, by my favour, that the present dwellers therein, and those who may hereafter reside there, may pasture their cattle, plough, sow, plant vines, and make gardens in the district of Algeciras . . . 
and that no persons whatsoever belonging to other towns or places, as set forth in the beginning hereof, shall dare to cut wood in the district of the said City of Gibraltar, nor in those of the said Algeciras, except those who now live or hereafter may live in the said City of Gibraltar. . . 
. . . and if any of you, the Lower Cities or places as aforesaid, shall dare to contravene this order by pasturing cattle, ploughing, cutting wood, &c. &c. within the said district of Gibraltar, I order by these my Letters, and give full power to Pedro de Porras, my Mayor of the Castle and Fortress of the City of Gibraltar, to take prisoners the persons so doing, with their cattle, to be punished as is customary with those who pasture, &c. on the lands of others. 
The somewhat contemptuous way in which Enrique makes use of the town of Algeciras in his Letters Patent, is of course related to its own sad history. In 1369 after a short siege Christian Algeciras was brought back into the Nasrid fold by Muhammed V of Granada. Ten years later Muhammed decided that he would be unable to defend the place against his Christian – or indeed any Marinid enemies -and had it completely destroyed. 

Algeciras then remained a total backwater until 1704 when the name of Gibraltar entered the picture once more when many of the inhabitants of Gibraltar who had left the Rock en masse after its capture by Anglo Dutch forces, eventually made their homes there. 

1726 - J.Breval - Bay of Gibraltar


This last section is somewhat repetitive and perhaps the least impressive section in the entire booklet. Although the end of the Reconquista in 1492 is as good a date as any to end a short medieval history of Gibraltar I would have preferred a later date. Besides there were one or two interesting developments that need to be included. For example:

THE NINTH SIEGE (1466-1467)
Crónica de los Reyes de Castilla Vol 3 – 1878 Collection – P131
Partiése el Rey de Sevilla para Gibraltar, supo cómo el Rey Don Alonso de Portugal estaba en Cepta . . . y lo envié a rogar si quisiese ver con él é venirse a holgar con él; lo quo el Rey de Portugal acepto. . . y estuvo allí por espacio de ocho días . . . Fue tratante entre ellos, para los confirmar, Don Beltrán de la Cueva, Conde de Ledesma . . . E luego que el Rey de Portugal fue partido, el Rey quitó la alcaydia de Gibraltar a Pedro do Porras, quo la tenía desde que la cibdad se ganó, y la dio al Conde de Ledesma, y el Conde puso allí por él á Estévan de Villa-Creces, casado con una tía suya.      
Juan Alonzo de Guzman was understandably incensed – neither Beltrán nor Esteban de Villacreces had ever done anything to deserve Gibraltar. He immediately besieged the town and – as Alcatara tells us - Villacreces was forced to give in after a lengthy siege – the ninth one.

Also of interest, is that Juan Alonso died shortly after and that his son - Enrique Perez de Guzmán y Fonseca - somehow managed to make his peace with Enrique IV and multi-titled Guzmán family. The Guzman family incidentally was probably one of the most titled in Spain – Enrique for example was also known as 7th Lord of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the 4th Count of Niebla and the 2nd Duke of Medina Sidonia. In 1478 he was also awarded the title of 1st Marquis of Gibraltar by the Catholic Monarchs, although that one was short-lived. He was also thought to have been the richest man in Spain – which may have been decisive factor in his dealings with Enrique IV.
Ignacio López de Ayala – Historia – Documentos Ineditos – 1782 - P xix
VIII. Titulo dé Marqués de Gibraltar despachado por los Reyes católicos al Duque de Medina Sidonia, Enrique de Guzmán. 
There is also an extraordinary event that took place in 1474 in which Enrique de Guzman decided to sell Gibraltar to Jewish conversos from Seville and Cordoba. An agreement was signed between the Jewish leader Pedro de Herera and soon afterwards 4350 conversos from Cordoba and Seville entered an empty town on the 14th of August 1474. This interesting episode and its inevitable ending is far to complex to discuss here but perhaps one should exonerate Alcantara for leaving it out – it was virtually unknown in 1979. Anybody who would like to know more should read the article mentioned below.

Diego Lamelas Oladán - La compra de Gibraltar por los conversos andaluces (1474-1476)

To read the booklet without any interruptions from me - click on the link below:

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

To read the rest of my commentary click on the appropriate link below:

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