War of Jenkins' Ear

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The War of Jenkins' Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1858,[5] relates to Robert Jenkins, captain of a British merchant ship, who exhibited his severed ear in Parliament following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731. This affair and a number of similar incidents sparked a war against the Spanish Empire, ostensibly to encourage the Spanish not to renege on the lucrative asiento contract (permission to sell slaves in Spanish America).[6]

After 1742 the war was subsumed by the wider War of the Austrian Succession involving most of the powers of Europe. Peace arrived with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.

Contents

Background

At the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession, the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 gave Britain a thirty-year asiento, or contract-right, to supply an unlimited number of slaves to the Spanish colonies, and 500 tons of goods per year. This provided British traders and smugglers potential inroads into the (traditionally) closed markets in Spanish America. However, Britain and Spain were often at war during this period, fighting one another in the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–20), the Blockade of Porto Bello (1726) and the Anglo-Spanish War (1727–29).

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