Formally incorporated into the domains of the Spanish crown in 1502, after centuries of occupation by first the Saracens and then the Moors, the rocky peninsular of Gibraltar was fortified by the eminent siege engineer Daniel Speckle in the mid-sixteenth century and thereafter considered impregnable by its new overlords. Despite this, after a siege lasting a mere three days, the fortress fell to allied English and Dutch forces in 1704 and has remained resolutely British until the present day.
When the War of the Spanish Succession began in 1702, England and Holland were championing the cause of the Austrian claimant and although most of the ensuing fighting was land-based, within Europe, the strategic importance of Gibraltar, as gateway to the Mediterranean, was not lost upon the Admiralty in London. Accordingly, as Marlborough's campaign on the Danube was gathering momentum in the summer of 1704, the allies decided to mount an attack on the Spanish fortress of Gibraltar. The combined attack commenced on 21st July and after a brief siege and bombardment lasting only three days, the allied landing parties were already so entrenched that the Spanish governor surrendered on the 24th. British marines marched in the same evening and the Union Flag was hoisted over the Rock from where it has continued to fly, despite repeated Spanish attempts throughout the eighteenth century to dislodge it.