GREAT BRITAIN George I 1718 Spanish Fleet Destroyed off Cape Passaro, 44.8mm silver medal 35 grams, by John Croker (MI II, 439/42; Eimer 481)
Obverse: laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of George I facing right, GEORGIVS • D : G : MAG : BR : FR : ET • HIB: REX: F: D:
Reverse: King standing atop rostral column as Neptune, with captured naval trophies around, SOCIORVM PROTECTOR / CLASSE. HISP: DELETA. AD. ORAS SICILAE
The Battle of Cape Passaro, was a major naval battle fought on 11 August 1718 between a fleet of the British Royal Navy under Admiral Sir George Byng and a fleet of the Spanish Navy under Rear-Admiral Antonio de Gaztañeta. It was fought off Cape Passaro, in the southern tip of the island of Sicily of which Spain had occupied. Spain and Britain were at peace, but Britain was already committed to supporting the ambitions of the Emperor Charles VI in southern Italy.
The battle was fought without a formal declaration of war but once the Spanish fired on the nearest British ships, this gave Byng his excuse to attack. The British were superior in numbers. The battle was the most significant naval action of the War of the Quadruple Alliance and resulted in a decisive victory for the British fleet, which captured or burned sixteen Spanish ships of line and frigates and several small vessels. Some of the Spanish ships were taken in the main action and some taken or burnt by their crews, who fled to the coast of Sicily. Both Castañeta and Chacón were captured. As a result of the battle the Spanish army in Sicily were thus isolated and cut off from outside help. Four months later the War of the Quadruple Alliance was formally declared.
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