History of Tangier
In the C17th, England's control over Tangier became less and less popular at home. With more troops and money being shipped to English Tangier with every passing year for few obvious returns, the occupation and later siege and demolition of the city was surely a topic of discussion. In recent years interest in English Tangier has been revived among historians, who have come to see it as the early makings of the British Empire.
Some of it can be chalked up to distance, due to contemporary authors writing about events over 1,500 miles away and relying on dubious sources. Other elements can be blamed on the ‘otherness' of North Africa and Islamic cultures colouring expectations, yet other inaccuracies are due to misunderstandings, and some are due to a deliberate attempt to mislead.
Consider this late seventeenth-century painting, likely created only a few years after the abandonment of English Tangier. It might not be very obvious at first glance, but nearly every detail of the city is incorrect. The anonymous painter had clearly never set foot in or around North Africa, let alone laid eyes on Tangier himself.
It's easy for the mind to be immediately drawn to the Sahara Desert when you think of Morocco.
Indeed, several authors with little knowledge of Tangier describe the city and the region as if it were an oasis town rather than a major port,
and lean on images of flowing sands.
“December 1670 Tuesday 13 .... I viewed round, see much ground ploughed without any vacancies, and two or three (Moorish) walking sentinels all up and down the fields, and on the westward great green hill two parties of about forty horse” – Luke, John, Tangier at High Tide The Journal of John Luke 1670 (Geneve: Libraire E. Droz, 1958)
My website will highlight misleading statements and accounts, wherever I find them.
Despite my best efforts and research, I am but one amateur historian. Primary sources mention places which don't appear on later maps or omit aspects of everyday life, while other accounts that are alluded to are nowhere to be found.
In the interest of historical accuracy and scholarly integrity, this site will be updated constantly as more information becomes available or is pointed out to me.
If you notice anything that you think is incorrect, please contact me at email@example.com and quote the correct source.
If you have any further questions, please e-mail me via my contact form and I will do my best to assist.