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The making of modern Gibraltar since 1704

This study concerns the history of Gibraltar following its military conquest in 1704, after which sovereignty of the territory was transferred from Spain to Britain and it became a British fortress and colony. It focuses on the civilian population and shows how a substantial multi-ethnic Roman Catholic and Jewish population, derived mainly from the littorals and islands of the Mediterranean, became settled in British Gibraltar, much of it in defiance of British efforts to control entry and restrict residence. To explain why that population arrived and took root, the book also analyses the changing fortunes of the local economy over 300 years, the occupational opportunities presented and the variable living standards which resulted. Although for most of the period the British authorities primarily regarded Gibraltar as a fortress and governed it autocratically, they also began to incorporate civilians into administration, until it eventually, though still a British Overseas Territory, became internally a self-governing civilian democracy. The principal intention of the study is to show how the demographic, economic, administrative and political history of Gibraltar accounts for the construction, eventually and problematically, of a distinctive ‘Gibraltarian’ identity. With Gibraltar's political future still today contested, this is a matter of considerable political importance.

Abstract only
Stephen Constantine

Gibraltar has a very long history. There is archaeological evidence of human settlement on the peninsula stretching back several thousand years. This book focuses on the policing of entry and the regulations that Britain's colonial authorities put in place, also analysing the origins of those who did secure settlement in Gibraltar. This exercise is particularly necessary because the ethnicity of people in other places has been translated by them into a sense of national identity, and this has carried political implications. The second major theme of the book is to consider why settlers came and stayed. Several chapters explore aspects of the economic history of Gibraltar. First, the book discusses the demographic roots of Gibraltarian identity during the period 1704–1819, before turning to Gibraltar's fortress economy between 1704 and 1815 and its government and politics. It also looks at Gibraltar's economy and living standards in the nineteenth century.

in Community and identity
Stephen Constantine

The majority of those currently living in Gibraltar, and many of the Gibraltar-born who live outside, regard themselves as Gibraltarians, with a culture and identity sufficiently distinctive in their eyes to qualify Gibraltar as a nation. This chapter examines the demographic roots of Gibraltarian identity during the period 1704–1819. It argues that the most important phase for the emergence of the distinctive contribution of demography to Gibraltarian identity was the first century or so of British political control. It was then that the transfer of territorial sovereignty to Britain was secured and, just as important, confirmed, and in the same period substantial numbers of people from several places of origin sought to enter and settle. After considering war and the partition of Gibraltar during 1704–1705, the chapter describes opportunities for immigrants, military security and surveillance, censuses on British Protestants and the others in 1725–1816, and property ownership from 1712 to 1819.

in Community and identity
Stephen Constantine

This chapter explores the economic history of Gibraltar in the century or so after the allied occupation. Gibraltar was, of course, sufficiently attractive economically after 1704 to induce civilians to enter and settle, and eventually to bring up families there, but conditioning their experiences, positively and negatively, was the partition of Gibraltar, upon which stress has already been placed for its demographic consequences. It is difficult to trace precisely how, after 1704, the economy of Gibraltar developed and to say much that is exact about living standards during the first century or so of British rule, given the paucity of statistical data. Because the town of Gibraltar became a ‘free port’, there are not even sound figures for external trade. The chapter shows that the partition of the region of Gibraltar had very important consequences for the economy, occupations and living standards, and, by implication, for a common sense of identity among civilians. The principal determining factor was obviously the Treaty of Utrecht, which confirmed the transfer to Britain of sovereignty over the peninsula (only).

in Community and identity
Stephen Constantine

The military conquest of 1704 was followed by failure and frustration. The occupation of Gibraltar in the name of ‘King Charles III’ was not the prelude, as expected, to his triumphant enthronement in Madrid. As a result, and consequent upon partition and the containment of allied troops behind the walls of a fortified town at the south end of an isthmus on the tip of southern Europe, the problem arose as to who would thereafter govern Gibraltar, and how. There was the question of whether the separation between Gibraltar and mainland Spain would be reversed and, if so, how and on what terms. This chapter examines Gibraltar's government and politics during 1704–1819. It looks at the territory as a British fortress, military rule, civilian politics, cooperation and protest, and civic self-government. The chapter also explores efforts to bring Gibraltar constitutionally into line with towns in Britain and indeed in other parts of the eighteenth-century colonial empire.

in Community and identity
Aliens and us, 1815–1890s
Stephen Constantine

The Congress of Vienna in 1815 did not debate the future of Gibraltar at all, and therefore the retention by Britain of sovereignty over the peninsula was confirmed by default. A porous land frontier with Spain allowed overland migrants to join those arriving as before by sea, and they mixed with a civilian population that in any case was growing by natural increase. What was not increasing was the size of Gibraltar to accommodate them. What was not decreasing was the concern of Gibraltar's local and London managers about the composition of visitors and of the resident civilian population. Civilian experiences and, indeed, their sense of a common identity were therefore to be seriously affected by how, and how effectively, those in authority operated immigration controls. This chapter first examines population growth in Gibraltar from 1815 to 1901, before turning to the regulation of aliens, the response of civilians to the rules on aliens, and the Aliens Order-in-Council of 1873 and 1885.

in Community and identity
Stephen Constantine

In the early nineteenth century, Gibraltar's population growth was very rapid, even though punctured by massive drops when epidemics hit. Thereafter it grew dramatically, albeit more slowly. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to deduce too much about the economy from the number of people living in Gibraltar at any one time, or from the slowing down of population growth from the 1830s. The colony's managers tried to obstruct inward migration and settlement, and many of those whose economic livelihoods depended directly on Gibraltar lived across the border in Spain. Because of population growth, civilian families in Gibraltar were also becoming increasingly dependent on outside supplies and on British government support. This chapter examines occupations and civilians' living standards in order to see how the resources and opportunities generated by economic activity were divided in Gibraltar, first considering demand and supply, import and export, and management of Gibraltar's economy.

in Community and identity
Stephen Constantine

During the nineteenth century, Gibraltar's civilians, by aspiration and by necessity, became further integrated into a world economy that was increasingly dominated by powerful commercial, industrial and financial enterprises centred on the advanced economies of Western Europe and North America. Domestically, they absorbed the material values and aspirations of western capitalism and accepted, pretty much, the ethics of free economic enterprise. This chapter examines the extent to which two other common though not invariable features of this western (and westernising) world may also be discerned in Gibraltar: first, the increased authority and roles of government; and second, the election of those who exercised that authority and provided services and their accountability to those who elected them. It first focuses on the governors and then turns to law and government, charities and education, the origins of the Sanitary Commission of 1865, Gibraltar politics, and the Civil Hospital and its transformation into the Colonial Hospital in 1889.

in Community and identity
Creating the Gibraltarian
Stephen Constantine

By the end of the nineteenth century, the great majority of the civilians living in Gibraltar had, legally, a secure right of residence. But home-grown civilian ministers had to face the challenge of determining who had and who had not unconditional rights of residence, and who else might be let in and on what terms. There was also a siege: the impediments to open access across the frontier with Spain beginning in 1954, and then the closing of the gates in 1969. This plunged relations across the isthmus back to a state not seen since the worst years of the eighteenth century, with serious effects on demographic flows and civilians' sense of their identity. This chapter deals with demography and aliens in Gibraltar during the twentieth century, first describing the Aliens Order Extension Order-in-Council of 1900 and then statutory aliens, British Indians and the Alien Traders Ordinances of the 1920s to 1950s. It also examines the Right of Residence in Gibraltar Ordinance of 1955, the Immigration Control Ordinance, and the Gibraltarian Status Ordinance of 1962 and after.

in Community and identity
Stephen Constantine

It was fortunate that, in the nineteenth century, the circumstances in which people in Gibraltar found themselves were eventually conducive to an improvement in material living standards. The important contextual elements facilitating economic activity included, first, the political stability and legal infrastructure provided by colonial authority and, second, investment, eventually, in public services such as water supply and improved sanitation. It is possible that the circumstances for natives of Gibraltar began to shape a British Gibraltarian identity as ‘better off’ in comparison with the ‘other’ across the frontier. It is therefore important to consider for the twentieth century what happened to Gibraltar's occupational structure and to the material rewards that accrued to Gibraltarians. This chapter explores how Gibraltarians earned a living during the twentieth century, focusing on such economic activities as import and export, tourism, finance and gambling, and also looks at occupations, living standards and health.

in Community and identity