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A Small Affair

The French Occupation of Menorca
During the Seven Years War

By Janet Sloss


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A Small Affair - cover

From the foreword by Richard Holmes CBE, author and presenter of BBC's 'War Walks' and 'The Western Front':

"If the French capture of Menorca in 1756 is remembered in England it is, perhaps, only because it led to the execution of Rear-Admiral John Byng, shot, as Voltaire memorably put it, 'to encourage the others'. And yet this episode in what was effectively the first of the world wars deserves rescuing from obscurity. Some of its aspects are timeless.

"Janet Sloss' delightful account concludes by asking what the French achieved by their brilliant capture of Menorca. It raised French morale, and provided an opportunity for benevolent and tireless - though ultimately fruitless - administration. A French historian summed up the whole fleeting episode. It gave France: 'only three things... La Galissonniere is the name of a battleship; Port-Mahon is the name of a street in Paris; and mayonnaise is the name of a sauce, the sauce of Mahon'."

From the introduction:

France’s capture of Menorca from Britain during the Seven Years War was an anomaly in the long struggle between the two countries for supremacy of the seas. Today, French people know that they took a place called Port-Mahon, and named a street in Paris for it, but are told nothing of their seven-year residence on the island. Menorcans smile at the memory of gay times under a libertarian government, while in Britain the loss of this Mediterranean harbour, so vital to its trade in the eighteenth century, has been completely wiped from the national memory.
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No one knows who first suggested taking Port-Mahon from England. Someone at the table looked at a map of the world, remembered that the Treaty of Utrecht had given Great Britain two prime positions in the Mediterranean, Gibraltar and Menorca, and realized that capturing Menorca was an easy option. The Mediterranean was close, an attack could be quick. At a royal council on March 15th, 1756, the resolution was taken to invade Menorca, Louis stressing that, above all, neither his fleet nor his forces should be at any risk. It was, he said, to be a small affair.
- Janet Sloss -


110 pages, with illustrations (B/W and full colour)
Available in paperback only (ISBN 0-9508153-8-1) at £ 9.99 (United Kingdom Pounds Sterling)
Spanish language edition available, Un Asunto Sencillo, translation by Maria Belmonte. (ISBN 0-9508153-9-X)

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