The Sieges of Ceuta (also known as the Thirty-year Siege) were a series of blockades by Moroccan forces of the Spanish-held city of Ceuta on the North African coast. The first siege began on 23 October 1694 and finished in 1720 when reinforcements arrived. During the 26 years of the siege, the city underwent changes leading to the loss of its Portuguese character. While most of the military operations took place around the city walls (Muralles Reales), there were also small-scale penetrations by Spanish forces at various points on the Moroccan coast, and seizure of shipping in the Strait of Gibraltar. The city was placed under a second siege in 1721 until 22 April 1727.
|Sieges of Ceuta|
|Part of Spanish-Moroccan conflicts|
War of the Spanish Succession
The stronghold of La Bandera
( Bourbons 1704–1713)
Supported by England (Great Britain from 1707)
|Commanders and leaders|
Joseph de Agulló y Pinos |
Jean François de Bette
|Alí ben Abdalá|
|up to 40,000|
Muley Ismail had succeeded in creating a new state able to challenge European powers in North Africa, as well as the Ottoman Empire in present-day Algeria. His forces had captured La Mámora, Tangier, Larache and most recently (1691) Arcila. In 1694 he gave the governor Ali ben Abdala the task of conquering Ceuta.
Following the occupation of the open country around Ceuta, the sultan’s troops began to construct buildings and cultivate the land to sustain themselves. The governor of Ceuta thereupon asked the Madrid court for help. Troops were sent from Andalusian towns and from Portugal. The arrival of the Portuguese led to friction with the local population. Their intentions were doubted, as Ceuta had been in Portuguese hands up to a few decades previously, and the presence of these troops was seen as an attempt to exert pressure for a return of Portuguese sovereignty. The Portuguese troops were withdrawn without engaging in combat.
During the whole of this period there were bombardments, gains and losses of positions around the city walls. In July 1695 during a dense fog – common at Ceuta in summer – the Moroccan troops made a surprise attack on the Spanish during a change of guard. The besiegers captured the central square (Plaza de Armas) and those among the defenders who did not succeed in crossing the drawbridge were killed in battle or when they jumped into the moat in an attempt to escape. A later Spanish counterattack regained the Plaza de Armas.
In 1704, English and Dutch troops conquered Gibraltar. This was a severe blow for Ceuta, as Gibraltar had been on the main supply route from the peninsula. Communications via Tarifa proved to be difficult owing to strong winds in the Strait of Gibraltar; while other nearby Spanish cities were inaccessible due to their involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession.
On 7 August of that year Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt sent Juan Basset (a Spanish military commander supporting the Habsburg candidate Archduke Charles of Austria as successor to the Spanish throne) to Ceuta with part of the Anglo-Dutch fleet, calling on the city to surrender in the name of the Archduke with the promise that the siege would then be over. The Marquis of Gironella, governor of the city, and the population refused to surrender to the English and reinforced the Almina peninsula to prevent any bombardment by the fleet. No English attack took place, as the fleet was diverted to confront a Franco-Spanish fleet (Battle of Málaga) which was aiming to retake Gibraltar.
Once Gibraltar was in English hands, it became a source of supply for the Moroccan besiegers.
During the following years the siege continued with little significant change until the arrival in 1720 of 16,000 soldiers under the command of the Marquis of Lede. These troops were returning from the War of the Quadruple Alliance, which had not achieved the results the Spanish had hoped for. After the loss of all Spanish territory in Italy, Ceuta became a position of strategic importance in the Spanish defensive cordon in the Mediterranean. The Marquis launched a successful expedition against the besiegers, who retreated to Tetuán. However, upon an outbreak of plague a few months later in 1721, the Marquis decided to leave the city, seeing no prospect of capturing Tetuán or Tangier.
After the Marquis left, the Moroccans immediately recaptured the city. Another siege and several more battles occurred from 1721 until the death of Muley Ismail in 1727. A war for the throne broke out among the sultan’s sons. On April 22, a reconnaissance expedition from Ceuta confirmed that the Moroccans had left.
During the sieges, many buildings had been destroyed and had to be rebuilt. The Almina quarter, almost uninhabited until the start of the siege, began to be populated. Another of the most notable consequences was the gradual loss of Portuguese features: the Portuguese language and currency were replaced by Spanish language and currency. This process was assisted by the departure of several families fleeing from the long siege, and by the mainly Andalucian origin of the soldiers sent to defend the city and of others who were attracted to the city by the presence of the large body of troops.
The Battle of Annual was fought on July 22, 1921, at Annual in Spanish Morocco, between the Spanish Army of Africa and Berber combatants of the Rif region during the Rif War. The Spanish suffered a major military defeat, almost always referred to by the Spanish as the Disaster of Annual, which led to major political crises and a redefinition of Spanish colonial policy toward the Rif.Daniel and companions
Saint Daniel and Companions (died October 10, 1227) are venerated as martyrs by the Catholic Church. They were Friars Minor killed at Ceuta.First Melillan campaign
The First Melillan campaign, also called the Melilla War or the Margallo War (after Juan García y Margallo, the Spanish governor of Melilla whose defeat and death infuriated the Spanish public) in Spain, was a conflict between Spain and 39 of the Rif tribes of northern Morocco, and later the Sultan of Morocco, that began in October 1893, was openly declared November 9, 1893, and was resolved by the Treaty of Fez in 1894.Green March
The Green March was a strategic mass demonstration in November 1975, coordinated by the Moroccan government, to force Spain to hand over the disputed, autonomous semi-metropolitan province of Spanish Sahara to Morocco. The demonstration of some 350,000 Moroccans advanced several kilometres into the Western Sahara territory, escorted by nearly 20,000 Moroccan troops, and meeting very little response by the Sahrawi Polisario Front. Nevertheless, the events quickly escalated into a fully waged war between Morocco and the militias of the Polisario, the Western Sahara War, which would last for 16 years. Morocco later gained control over most of the former Spanish Sahara, which it continues to hold.Hispano-Moroccan War (1859–60)
The Hispano-Moroccan War, also known as the Spanish–Moroccan War, the First Moroccan War, the Tetuán War, or, in Spain, as the African War (Spanish: Guerra de África), was fought from Spain's declaration of war on Morocco on 22 October 1859 until the Treaty of Wad-Ras on 26 April 1860. It began with a conflict over the borders of the Spanish city of Ceuta and was fought in northern Morocco. Morocco sued for peace after the Spanish victory at the Battle of Tetuán.Ifni War
The Ifni War, sometimes called the Forgotten War in Spain (la Guerra Olvidada), was a series of armed incursions into Spanish West Africa by Moroccan insurgents that began in October 1957 and culminated with the abortive siege of Sidi Ifni.
The war, which may be seen as part of the general movement of decolonization that swept Africa throughout the later half of the 20th century, was conducted primarily by elements of the Moroccan Army of Liberation which, no longer tied down in conflicts with the French, committed a significant portion of its resources and manpower to the capture of Spanish possessions.List of Spanish colonial wars in Morocco
There have been several Spanish colonial wars in Morocco or Hispano-Moroccan wars:
Conquest of La Mamora (1681)
Hispano-Moroccan War (1859–1860)
First Melillan campaign (1893–1894)
Second Melillan campaign (1909–1910)
Third Melillan campaign (1911–1912)
Rif War (1921–1926)
Ifni War (1957–1958)List of wars involving Spain
This is a list of wars fought by the Kingdom of Spain or on Spanish territory.Military history of Morocco
The military history of Morocco covers a vast time period and complex events. It interacts with multiple military events in a vast area containing North Africa and the Iberian peninsula.Perejil Island
Perejil Island (Spanish: Isla de Perejil, Berber: Tura or Toṛa, Arabic: تورة, romanized: Toora) is a small, uninhabited rocky islet located off the coast of Morocco, just 200 metres from the mainland coast. Its sovereignty is disputed between Spain and Morocco. It was the subject of an armed incident between the two countries in 2002.Perejil Island crisis
The Perejil Island crisis was a bloodless armed conflict between Spain and Morocco that took place on 11–20 July 2002. The incident took place over the small, uninhabited Perejil Island, when a squad of the Royal Moroccan Navy occupied it. After an exchange of declarations between both countries, the Spanish troops finally evicted the Moroccan infantry who had relieved their Navy comrades.Rif War
The Rif War was an armed conflict fought from 1920 to 1927 between the colonial power Spain (later joined by France) and the Berber tribes of the Rif mountainous region. Led by Abd el-Krim, the Riffians at first inflicted several defeats on the Spanish forces by using guerrilla tactics and captured European weapons. After France's military intervention against Abd el-Krim's forces and the major landing of Spanish troops at Al Hoceima, considered the first amphibious landing in history to involve the use of tanks and aircraft, Abd el-Krim surrendered to the French and was taken into exile.In 1909, Rifian tribes aggressively confronted Spanish workers of the iron mines of the Rif, near Melilla, which led to the intervention of the Spanish Army. The military operations in Jebala, in the Moroccan West, began in 1911 with the Larache Landing. Spain worked to pacify a large part of the most violent areas until 1914, a slow process of consolidation of frontiers that lasted until 1919 due to World War I.
The following year, after the signing of the Treaty of Fez, the northern Moroccan area was adjudicated to Spain as a protectorate. The Riffian populations strongly resisted the Spanish, unleashing a conflict that would last for several years. In 1921, the Spanish troops suffered the catastrophic Disaster of Annual, the biggest defeat in the history of Spain, in addition to a rebellion led by Rifian leader Abd el-Krim. As a result, the Spanish retreated to a few fortified positions while Abd el-Krim ultimately created an entire independent state: the Republic of the Rif. The development of the conflict and its end coincided with the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, who took on command of the campaign from 1924 to 1927. In addition, and after the Battle of Uarga in 1925, the French intervened in the conflict and established a joint collaboration with Spain that culminated in the Alhucemas landing which proved a turning point. By 1926 the area had been pacified; Abd-el-Krim surrendered in July 1927; and the Spanish regained the previously lost territory.
The Rif War is still considered controversial among historians. Some see in it a harbinger of the decolonization process in North Africa. Others consider it one of the last colonial wars, as it was the decision of the Spanish to conquer the Rif — nominally part of their Moroccan protectorate but de facto independent — that catalyzed the entry of France in 1924.The Rif War left a deep memory both in Spain and in Morocco. The Riffian insurgency of the 1920s can be interpreted as a precursor to the Algerian war of independence, which took place three decades later.Roman Catholic Diocese of Ceuta
The Catholic diocese of Ceuta, first Portuguese and afterwards Spanish, existed from 1417 to 1879. It was a suffragan of the Patriarchate of Lisbon until 1675, with the end of the Iberian Union, when Ceuta choose to remain linked to the king of Spain. Since then it was a suffragan of the archdiocese of Seville. Its territory around Ceuta had previously belonged to the Order of Christ.The diocese of Tanger was united to it, in 1570. In 1851, upon the signature of the concordat between the Holy See and Spain, the diocese of Ceuta was agreed to be suppressed, being combined into the diocese of Cádiz y Ceuta (up to then diocese of Cádiz y Algeciras). The agreement was implemented in 1879.Second Melillan campaign
The Second Melillan campaign (Spanish: Guerra de Melilla ) was a conflict in 1909 in Morocco around Melilla. The fighting involved local Riffians and the Spanish Army.Siege of Ceuta
Siege of Ceuta may refer to:
Siege of Ceuta (1419)
Sieges of Ceuta (1694–1727)Siege of Larache (1689)
The Siege of Larache, in 1689, was undertaken by the huge army of Morocco under Moulay Ismail against the Spaniards, who had ruled the city for nearly 80 years. After three months of siege, the defenders were forced to capitulate. Several centuries later, in 1911 the city was again controlled by the Spanish during the Protectorate.Siege of Melilla (1774)
The Siege of Melilla was an attempt by the British-backed Sultanate of Morocco to capture the Spanish fortress of Melilla on the Moroccan Mediterranean coast. Mohammed ben Abdallah, then Sultan of Morocco, invested Melilla in December 1774 with a large army of Royal Moroccan soldiers and Algerian mercenaries. The city was defended by a small garrison under Irish-born Governor Don Juan Sherlocke until the siege was lifted by a relief fleet in March 1775.Treaty of Aranjuez (1780)
The Treaty of Aranjuez was signed on December 25, 1780, between Spain and Morocco. Based on the terms of the treaty, Morocco gained territories ceded by Spain. In return, however, Morocco recognized Spanish rule over Melilla. The treaty defused tensions, lessening the chance that Morocco would agree to British requests to declare war on the Spanish, as in 1774.
Moroccan invasions of Spain
Spanish wars on Morocco