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By Beachcomber, retrieved from Wikipedia
Nov 3, 2003, 20:24
Minorca (Menorca both in Catalan and Spanish and increasingly in English usage; from Latin insula minor, later Minorica "minor island") is one of the Balearic Islands (Illes Balears Catalan official name, Islas Baleares in Spanish), located in the Mediterranean Sea, and belonging to Spain. It takes its name from being smaller than nearby island of Majorca.
The local dialect of Catalan is called Menorquí: it uses "es" for masculine "the" where Catalan uses "els" and Spanish "el". It also has some English loan words dating back to the British occupation such as "grevi" taken from "gravy".
Minorca was annexed to the Caliphate of Cordoba in 903. The island was conquered by Alfons III of Aragon on January 17, 1287, Minorca's national day, and until 1344 was part of the Kingdom of Majorca, before being annexed to Aragon and thus becoming part of Spain. During the 16th century, Turkish naval attacks destroyed Mahon and the then capital Ciutadella.
Captured by the British navy in 1708 during the War of the Spanish Succession, it became for some 70 years a British dependency (and Mahon harbour a Mediterranean naval base) in the 18th century. The capital was moved to Mahon. The British influence can be seen in local architecture with elements such as sash windows.
During the Seven Years' War, the failure to relieve a French siege of Minorca in 1756 led to the execution of Admiral John Byng. It was restored to British control by the Treaty of Paris (1763). During the American Revolutionary War, Spanish and French forces defeated British forces and captured the island on February 5, 1782, but it was recovered by the British in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was finally and permanently ceded to Spain by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802; one story is that Nelson preferred to hold a base at Malta so as to be closer to Emma Hamilton in Naples.
In the Spanish Civil War, Minorca supported the Republicans, while Majorca supported the Nationalists. It did not see combat, and when the Nationalists won in 1939, the British navy assisted a peaceful transfer of power in Minorca and the evacuation of some political refugees.
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