Based on this success, the second event on Sunday 2 June began with the simultaneous lowering of the British Union flag of the era and the raising of the Spanish flag. Four volunteers from Menorca Britannia are acting the parts of the “Red Coats” and flag bearers dressed in period British military uniforms of the time. These replica British uniforms have been specially made to measure by a local elderly seamstress living in Es Castell. The volunteers, all committee members of the Asociación Menorca Britannia, are Steve Morgan, who kindly provided the photographs for this article, Ray Fricker, Stephen Crampton and Mike Poke.
Es Castell Mayor Lluís Camps was delighted with the level of interest generated, which has led to discussions about extending this to October and the possibility of other monthly events, including a British Menorca weekend towards the end of September to be organised in conjunction with the Menorca Britannia Association, similar to that of June 2012. He commented that the aim is to provide tourist attractions of cultural interest throughout the holiday season that can be enjoyed by the maximum number of visitors, as well as encourage more tourists to the area by presenting Es Castell as a town rich in military history.
Treaty of Amiens 1802
Menorca was under British rule for almost 100 years in the 18th century which involved three periods of occupancy. The island was conquered by the British for the final time in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars. Four years later, Britain handed Menorca back to Spain under the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, having decided to keep Malta and Gibraltar as a Mediterranean bases instead.
On 16 June 1802, the island’s national flag of the time was lowered and representativesof the Spanish Soria Light Infantry Regiment received the island of Menorca from the British Battalion of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment. A salvo of cannon followed, and by Spanish Royal Command all ships that passed by the Castillo de San Felipe fired guns loaded with blanks by way of a greeting and to indicate that they were entering the territory unarmed. In response, friendly volleys of cannon were fired from the ruins of the fortress which had been destroyed by this time.
George Town was renamed the Royal Town of Carlos in honour of King Carlos, familiarly known as Villacarlos until just a few years ago. Menorca then entered a phase of regression during the reigns of Carlos IV and Fernando VII which saw it withdraw from the outside world for many years to come.
With thanks to Bryce Lyons, President of the Menorca Britannia Association, for his input to this article.