Momentous 240th anniversary of THE GREAT SIEGE

This month is the momentous 240th anniversary of the start of the Great Siege on 21st June 1779. It was Gibraltar’s 14th siege and turned out to be the longest ever siege in British history. Two months earlier, France had persuaded Spain to sign a treaty, in which they agreed to help the American rebels against Britain in the American Revolution. In addition, France promised to help Spain capture Gibraltar and Minorca. The American Revolution therefore crossed the Atlantic. 

Also in June 1779, French and Spanish warships prepared to invade southern England. They succeeded in terrifying the inhabitants of Plymouth and beyond, but the invasion was a complete failure. France went back to helping the Americans, while Spain concentrated on Gibraltar.

Historians Roy and Lesley Adkins have written a book called Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History, which has been widely reviewed, and Roy and Lesley gave popular talks at the 2017 and 2018 Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festivals. Their paperback was launched this April at an event hosted by the Friends of Gibraltar at Gibraltar House in London. In the United States, it has been published as a Penguin paperback.


The Great Siege made Gibraltar the most famous fortress in the world. This was still the case a century later, and in the 1890s the Prudential Insurance Company of America adopted an image of the Rock as its symbol, with the words “The Prudential has the Strength of Gibraltar”. It became the most familiar advertising symbol across the length and breadth of the United States of America, and incredibly the company still uses the symbol of the Rock today!