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    Period Fair Copy a Letter from the King of Spain Declaring War Against Morocco at the Start of the Siege of Melilla in 1774. Seven pages, 8" x 11.5" (with the first sheet being 12" tall), circa 1780. Written entirely in Spanish, the manuscript is written on four sheets of paper that remain bound along the left margin indicating it has been removed from a larger volume. At the top left corner of the first page: "Letter from the King of Spain in which he declares war to the King of Morroco." The first page and a half of the manuscript discusses peace negotiations including border adjustments, and an exchange of deserters, which suggests that the document was produced in 1780. The closing paragraph of this portion of the manuscript introduces the Spanish King's (Charles III) letter to the Sultan and explains that it has been translated from Arabic, but is accurate "to the letter".

    What follows is the King's letter, as prepared by Jerónimo Grimaldi, Chief Minister of Spain, sent to the Sultan Muhammad Ben Abdallah addressing concerns regarding border disputes, specifically using religion as the context for said disputes. The letter identifies the dispute as being one between Christians and "Mahometanos", incorrectly using the name of the prophet Muhammad to identify Muslims.

    The city of Melilla (the land in dispute) had been under Spanish rule since 1497, despite being surrounded by Morocco. Over the centuries, the claim to the city had become a point of much contention. In December of 1774, the Sultan of Morocco, backed by the British, challenged this claim and laid siege to the city from December 9, 1774 until March 19, 1775. It is said that somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 projectiles were fired into Melilla over this period. A peace treaty was finally drawn up in 1780, with parts of Melilla remaining under Spanish rule in exchange for other Spanish lands to be given to Morocco. It is possible that the manuscript offered here was produced at the time the treaty was negotiated.

    There are two sets of pagination used; the original series 257 to 263 has been crossed out and replaced with the numbers 223 to 229. From the Estate of Malcolm S. Forbes.

    Condition: Very fine, with bright paper and stray spots of foxing. A small, clean cut amount of paper loss at top left corner. Some showthrough from the bold ink on page versos.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    18th Wednesday
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