An Exact Draught of the Bay and Harbour of Vigo


This map of the naval engagement at Vigo, in Galicia, northwest Spain, on October 23, 1702, was engraved by James Basire for inclusion in The Continuation of Mr. Rapin’s History of England: from the Revolution to the Present Times by Nicholas Tindal, published in London in 1759. Paul Rapin de Thoyras (1661‒1725) was a French Huguenot whose experiences in the English army led him to write a history of events in England in order to explain them to other Europeans. His text was well received, in England and elsewhere, but it had only reached the late 17th century by his death. Nicholas Tindal’s first translation from the French appeared between 1725 and 1731. Tindal then continued the history up to the accession of King George II in 1727. The Battle of Vigo, also called the Battle of Rande, occurred in the second year of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701‒14). The Anglo-Dutch fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir George Rooke, was about to return from a failed attempt to capture Cadiz when Rooke learned that the Spanish fleet carrying treasure from the Americas, with its escort of French warships, had harbored in Vigo Bay. The battle was a major success for the English and the Dutch. All the French and Spanish ships were captured, sank, ran aground, or set on fire by their crews, and despite the Spanish having already offloaded most of the silver bullion, the victors gained large amounts of treasure and merchandise. The victors began to tow the Santo Cristo de Maracaibo to England, but this largest of the Spanish galleons struck a rock and sank at the entrance to the harbor. The incident was adapted by Jules Verne in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, in which he describes Captain Nemo and his crew finding treasure among the sunken wrecks. The map is oriented with north to the lower left and shows the forts that the British captured and the defensive boom of masts and chains that the attackers broke through. A decorative cartouche holds the explanatory key; scale is given in miles.

Last updated: June 2, 2017