Context of Menorca

Menorca or Minorca (from Latin: Insula Minor, lit. 'smaller island', later Minorica) is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. Its name derives from its size, contrasting it with nearby Majorca. Its capital is Mahón (Catalan: Maó), situated on the island's eastern end, although Menorca is not a province and forms a political union with the other islands in the archipelago. Ciutadella and Mahon are the main ports and largest towns. The port of Mahon is the second biggest natural port in the world.

Menorca has a population of approximately 93,397 (at 1 January 2019). It is located 39°47' to 40°00'N, 3°52' to 4°24'E. Its highest point, called El Toro (from Catalan "turó" meaning hill), is 358 metres (1,175 feet) above sea level.

More about Menorca

Basic information
  • Native name Menorca
Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 96467
  • Area 692
History
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    The island is known for its collection of megalithic stone monuments: navetes, taules and talaiots, which indicate very early prehistoric human activity....Read more

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    The island is known for its collection of megalithic stone monuments: navetes, taules and talaiots, which indicate very early prehistoric human activity. Some of the earliest culture on Menorca was influenced by other Mediterranean cultures, including the Greek Minoans of ancient Crete (see also Gymnesian Islands). For example, the use of inverted plastered timber columns at Knossos is thought to have influenced early peoples of Menorca in imitating this practice.[1]

    The end of the Punic wars saw an increase in piracy in the western Mediterranean. The Roman occupation of Hispania had meant a growth of maritime trade between the Iberian and Italian peninsulas. Pirates took advantage of the strategic location of the Balearic Islands to raid Roman commerce, using both Menorca and Majorca as bases. In reaction to this, the Romans invaded Menorca. By 123 BC both islands were fully under Roman control, later being incorporated into the province of Hispania Citerior.

    In 13 BC Roman emperor Augustus reorganised the provincial system and the Balearic Islands became part of the Tarraconensis imperial province. The ancient town of Mago was transformed from a Carthaginian town to a Roman town.[2]

    Jews of Menorca
     
    Historic map of Minorca by Piri Reis

    The island had a Jewish population.[3] The Letter on the Conversion of the Jews by a fifth-century bishop named Severus tells of the forced conversion of the island's 540 Jewish men and women in AD 418.[4] Several Jews, including Theodore, a rich representative Jew who stood high in the estimation of his coreligionists and of Christians alike, underwent baptism. The act of conversion brought about, within a previously peaceful coexisting community, the expulsion of the ruling Jewish elite into the bleak hinterlands, the burning of synagogues, and the gradual reinstatement of certain Jewish families after the forced acceptance of Christianity, allowing the survival of those Jewish families who had not already perished.[3] Many Jews secretly retained their Jewish faith while outwardly professing Christian beliefs. Some of these Jews form part of the Xueta community.

    When Menorca became a British possession in 1713, they actively encouraged the immigration of foreign non-Catholics, which included Jews who were not accepted by the predominantly Christian inhabitants. When the Jewish community in Mahon requested the use of a room as a synagogue, their request was refused, and they were denounced by the clergy. In 1781, when Louis des Balbes de Berton de Crillon, duc de Mahon invaded Menorca, he ordered all Jews to leave in four days. At that time, the Jewish community consisted of about 500 people and they were transported from Menorca in four Spanish ships to the port of Marseille.[5]

    Middle Ages
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    The Vandals easily conquered the island in the fifth century. The Byzantine Empire recovered it in 534. Following the Umayyad conquest of Hispania, Menorca was annexed to the Caliphate of Córdoba in 903, with many Muslims emigrating to the island.

    Manûrqa (Arabic: منورقة) was the Arabicized name given to the island by the Muslims from its annexation to the Caliphate of Cordoba by 'Isâm al-Khawlânî in 903 until the rule of the last Muslim ra'îs, Abû 'Umar ibn Sa'îd in 1287. The only urban centre of the island was Madînat al Jazîra or al Manûrqa (modern Ciutadella). Most of the population lived in small farm communities organized under a tribal structure.

    In 1231, after Christian forces took Majorca, Menorca chose to become an independent Islamic state, albeit one tributary to King James I of Aragon. The island was ruled first by Abû 'Uthmân Sa'îd Hakam al Qurashi (1234–1282), and following his death by his son, Abû 'Umar ibn Sa'îd (1282–1287).

    A Catalan-Aragonese invasion, led by Alfonso III (also known as Count of Barcelona Alfons II), came on 17 January 1287; its anniversary is now celebrated as Menorca's national day. Once the island was captured, most of its Muslim inhabitants were enslaved and sold in the slave markets of Eivissa, Valencia and Barcelona, while others became Christians.[6]

    After the Christian conquest of 1287, the island was part of the Crown of Aragon. For some time it was ceded to the Kingdom of Majorca, a vassal state of the Crown, but it was retaken by the king of Aragon in 1343. Eventually the Crown of Aragon merged with the Crown of Castile, and so Menorca became part of Spain.

    During the 16th century, Turkish naval attacks destroyed Mahon, and the then capital, Ciutadella. In Mahon, Barbary pirates from North Africa took considerable booty and as many as 6,000 slaves.[7] Various Spanish kings, including Philip III and Philip IV, styled themselves "King of Minorca" as a subsidiary title.

    18th-19th centuries
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    Attack and capture of Fort St. Philip, 29 June 1756
     
    Port Mahon, Minorca with British men-of-war at anchor after its capture in 1798. By John Thomas Serres

    Captured by Britain's Royal Navy in 1708 during the War of the Spanish Succession, Minorca temporarily became a British possession. Great Britain took possession in 1713, under the terms of Article XI of the Treaty of Utrecht. Under the governorship of General Richard Kane, this period saw the island's capital moved to Port Mahon and a naval base established in that town's harbour.

    In 1756, during the Seven Years' War, France captured the island after the Siege of Fort St Philip and a failed British relief attempt. The 1763 Treaty of Paris enabled the British to return to the island after Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War. In 1781, during the American War of Independence, the British were defeated for a second time, in this instance by a combination of French and Spanish forces, and on 5 January 1782 the Spanish regained control of the island, after a long siege of St. Philip's Castle in Port Mahon. The British ceded the island back to Spain the next year in the Treaty of Versailles. Menorca was invaded by the British once again in 1798, during the French Revolutionary Wars, but it was finally repossessed by Spain by the terms of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. The British influence can still be seen in local architecture, with elements such as sash windows.

    As with the rest of the Balearic Islands, Menorca was not occupied by the French during the Peninsular War, as it was successfully protected by the Royal Navy, this time allied to Spain.

    From 1815 until the mid-century, the U.S. Navy developed its Mediterranean headquarters at Port Mahon,[8] leaving behind the English Cemetery, Menorca, which was restored by the Spanish government in 2008 and is maintained in the 21st century.

    Since 1900

    During the Spanish Civil War, Menorca stayed loyal to the Republican Spanish Government, while the rest of the Balearic Islands supported the Spanish Nationalists. The island did not see ground combat, but it was a target of aerial bombing by the pro-Nationalist Italians of the Corpo Truppe Volontarie Air Force. Many Menorcans were also killed when taking part in a failed invasion of Majorca. During the Pedro Marqués Barber era (July–December 1936) some Mallorcans and a priest were executed on the island. After the Nationalist victory in the Battle of Minorca in February 1939, the British Navy assisted in a peaceful transfer of power in Menorca and the evacuation of some political refugees aboard HMS Devonshire.

    In October 1993, Menorca was designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. In July 2005, the island's application to become the 25th member of the International Island Games Association was approved.

    ^ C. Michael Hogan (2007) Knossos fieldnotes, The Modern Antiquarian ^ Henry Christmas, The Shores and Islands of the Mediterranean, Published 1851, R. Bentley ^ a b Elukin, Jonathan M. Living Together, Living Apart : Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in the Middle Ages. Vol. Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the ancient to the modern world. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007. ^ Bradbury, Scott, ed. trans. (1996). Severus of Minorca: Letter on the Conversion of the Jews (Oxford Early Christian Texts). Oxford University Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-0-19-826764-5. ^ Gregory, Desmond (1990). Minorca, the Illusory Prize: A History of the British Occupations of Minorca between 1708 and 1802. Cranbury, NJ, USA: Associated University Presses, Inc. p. 132. ISBN 0-8386-3389-7. ^ Abulafia, David (2007). "The Last Muslims in Italy". Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society. 125 (125): 271–287. JSTOR 40350668. ^ M. Th. Houtsma (1993). E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936. BRILL. p. 872. ISBN 90-04-09790-2. ^ Dickon, Chris (2011). The Foreign Burial of American War Dead. McFarland. ISBN 9780786446124, pp. 20-23
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