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Arms granted to the city of Gibraltar by a Royal Warrant passed in Toledo on July 10, 1502 by Isabella of Castile

The Kingdom of Gibraltar is one of the many historic substantive titles pertaining to the Castilian monarchy and its successor, the Spanish monarchy, belonging to what is known as Grand Title (Spanish: Título Grande).[1] It was added to the monarchy titles by the king Henry IV of Castile, upon the addition of Gibraltar to the Crown patrimony in 1462.[2]

As many titles belonging to territories that are no longer under the sovereignty of the Spanish Monarchy (such as Sardinia, Two Sicilies or the West and East Indies), the title of "King of Gibraltar" is kept in the titles and honours of the Spanish Crown and is among the titles of the present king, Juan Carlos I[3][1], although the town Gibraltar was ceded to the British Crown under Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht 1713.


During the Middle Ages, Gibraltar was part of the Moorish Taifa of Malaga in Al-Andalus. It was ruled by Abdul Malik, son of the King of Fez, between 1333 and 1340. After an unsuccessful siege led by Alfonso XI of Castile during the Reconquista period, Emir Isa Ibn al-Hassam proclaimed himself "King of Gibraltar and its lands" in 1355. The kingship remained in Muslim hands for the next century.

Gibraltar was finally captured by Castile on 15 December 1462 when it fell to an army led by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who expelled the Moors from the territory. King Henry IV of Castile, the father of the later Queen Isabella of Castile, rewarded the duke with the title of Marquess of Gibraltar and added the kingship of Gibraltar to the list of titles of the Castilian crown. The title continued to be used by his successors even after the territory was ceded to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.[4] The continued use of the title thus emphasizes a Spanish viewpoint that the British monrarch merely has possession of Gibraltar, rather than sovereignty over it.[5] The United Kingdom, by contrast, takes the position that the treaty transferred sovereignty as well as possession.[6]

When Gibraltar was captured by an Anglo-Dutch fleet on behalf of the Archduke Charles, claimant to the Spanish throne, in 1704, the city council and most of the population left, founding in 1706 the nearby town of San Roque.[7] The original royal warrant of 1502, which the city council took with it to San Roque along with Gibraltar's standard and records, is now in the San Roque municipal archives.[8] San Roque still uses a modified version of the original coat of arms of Gibraltar to symbolise its connection with Gibraltar.

As the rest of the historic substantive titles pertaining to the Spanish monarchy, this title is not officially designated in the 1978 constitution, but the constitution notes that the title of the King is King of Spain and further grants the right to use "the others pertaining to the Crown" (los demás que correspondan a la Corona). This title was among the ones used by Alfonso XIII[9], which, by this provision of the constitution, the King is entitled to use.[10]

Although the kingship of Gibraltar continues to be among the titles of the Spanish monarchy, it was customary for titles and arms of conquered territories to be omitted from British regnal claims. The title and arms were thus never claimed by the British monarchy.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b Francisco López-Nieto y Mallo (2006) (in Spanish). Honores y protocolo. EL CONSULTOR. pp. 126. ISBN 8470523872. 
  2. ^ Maurice Harvey (1996). Gibraltar. A History. Spellmount Limited. pp. 50-51. ISBN 1-86227-103-8. 
  3. ^ Royal Styles: Spain
  4. ^ Juridical Facts as Sources of International Rights and Obligations, vol. 6 in International law in historical perspective, J. H. W. Verzijl, W. P. Heere, J. P. S. Offerhaus, p. 174. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1973. ISBN 9028602232
  5. ^ Spain, George Hills, p. 80. Praeger, 1970
  6. ^ Sharon Korman, The Right of Conquest: The Acquisition of Territory by Force in International Law and Practice, p. 97. Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0198280076
  7. ^ Rock of Contention: A History of Gibraltar, George Hills, p. 176. Robert Hale & Company, 1974. ISBN 0709143524
  8. ^ "Arms of Gibraltar", Government of Gibraltar. Accessed 2005-05-31
  9. ^ Rafael de Fantoni y Venedi (1986). "Títulos del rey don Alfonso XII" (in Spanish). Hidalguía (196-197): 370. 
  10. ^ Article 56 of the Spanish constitution of 1978
  11. ^ The Dublin Review, p. 109, January-February-March 1969. Ed. Nicholas Patrick Wiseman


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