Nelson's Refuge

Gibraltar in the Age of Napoleon

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Gibraltar has been one of Great Britain’s most legendary fortresses since its capture from Spain in 1704 and its strategic location as the gatekeeper of the Mediterranean Sea has given it a commanding position in the history of Modern Britain and in the history of the region. When war erupted between Britain and France in 1793, Gibraltar was already established as an impregnable fortress and as a strong source of British pride, but it was not yet a position of great strategic importance. However, during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815), Gibraltar became a powerful naval station in its own right and its soldiers became an offensive force as they frequently left the safety of their walls to attack the enemy in Europe and Africa. That combination of military and naval might transformed Gibraltar into a base capable of meeting the various demands in the Mediterranean for many years to come. This primarily naval and military history examines the growth of Gibraltar during this important time. The manuscript is not exclusively naval or military, though. The character of Gibraltar that has made it such a fascinating place to visit today includes a rich diversity of culture, religion, language, population, and history. Therefore, this work is at times a history of Gibraltarian society, of medicine and disease, of the convergence of religions, and of commerce in addition to being a history of Napoleon, Nelson, Wellington and the age in which they lived and fought.

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