Till the arrival of the Saracens in Spain, which took place in the year 711 or 712 the rock of Gibraltar went by the name of Mons Calpe. On their arrival, a fortress was built upon it and it obtained the name of Gibel Tarif or Mount Tarif from the name of their General, and thence Gibraltar. It was in the possession of the Spaniards and the Moors by turns till it was taken from the former by a combined fleet of English and Dutch ships under the command of Sir George Rooke in 1704; and this rather through accident than anything else. After many fruitless attempts to recover it, it was confirmed to the English by the treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Repeated attempts have been made to wrest it from England but without success. The war in 1781 and 1782 has made it more famous than ever, when it underwent a long siege against the united forces of Spain and France by land and sea and was gallantly defended by general Elliot and his garrison to the great loss and disgrace of the assailants.
It is a commodious port and formed naturally for commanding the passage of the Straits, or in other words the entrance to the Mediterranean or Levant seas. But the road is neither safe against an enemy nor storms; the bay is about twenty leagues in circumference.
The town is neither large nor beautiful and in the last siege was totally destroyed by the enemies bombs, but on account of its fortifications is esteemed the key of Spain an is always furnished with a garrison well provided for its defence.
The harbour is formed by a mole which is well fortified and planted with guns. Gibraltar is accessible on the land side by a narrow passage between the rock and the sea; but that is walled and fortified both by art and nature and so inclosed by high steep hills as to be almost inaccessible; it has but two gates on that side and as many towards the sea. Across this isthmus the Spaniards have drawn a fortified line, chiefly with a view to hinder the garrison of Gibraltar from having any intercourse with the country behind them; notwithstanding which they carry on a clandestine trade, particularly in tobacco of which the Spaniards are particularly fond. The garrison is confined within very narrow limits; and as the ground produces scarcely any thing all their provisions are brought them either from England or from Ceuta on the opposite coast of Barbary.
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© 2008 The Republic of Pemberley