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Tangier Life, 1662-84
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On 30th December 1676, Charles ordered a survey of the city and garrison of Tangier, which was costing about £140,000 a year to maintain. This was a considerable drain on the King's private purse, since Parliament refused to make any provision for Tangier's defence. The survey showed that the total inhabitants numbered 2,225, of whom 50 were army officers, 1,231 other ranks, with 302 army wives and children.  Foreigners numbered 130; there were 156 mole workers; 200 wives and children of citizens; 70 widows and single women; and the remainder were priests, servants and a number of slaves in His Majesty's bagnio (a sort of prisoner-of-war camp where the 'slaves' were employed on building the mole or ransomed, according to the practice of the Barbary pirates). Amongst the buildings was a hospital and an army school, in which the King thought fit to employ Richard Reynolds, Master of Arts and Fellow of Sidney Sussex College (Cambridge) in his service as a schoolmaster.

Social distinctions were strongly marked: the governor and principle officers of the garrison and their families formed the upper circle, followed by municipal dignitaries, merchants, ministers, doctor and schoolmaster. The attractive climate and short two-week journey from Falmouth made Tangier a pleasant place for courtiers and their ladies to visit. There were balls and banquets, cards and music, pretty walks and gardens, and a popular resort called White Hall, "where the ladies, officers and the better sort of people do refresh and divert themselves".

On a fine spring afternoon on the mole, officers in their loose grey (probably a concession to the climate) or red coats, breeches and hose to match, could be seen strolling in the company of English ladies dressed in flowing gowns of French or Italian silk, one or two with feathered hats and perfumed gloves from Madrid. Riding by would be troopers from the Tangier Horse in their black helmets and cuirasses (with no tropical dress concessions), worn over red coats and black thigh-length boots.

From time to time business or curiosity brought out some great personage from England, with money in his pocket and a few court gallants and ladies in his train. Tangier society would then throw itself into the enjoyment of dances and entertainment with such wholehearted frivolity that the Moors remarked, "if you give the officers a ball and the common soldiers a bottle of wine, you may do what you will with an Englishman".

Justice & Discipline | Tangier Social Life | Raising a Regiment | Soldiers Drill 1660-1715
Battle of Blenheim 1704 | Storming of Schellenberg 1704 | War of the Spanish Succession 1701-14
Military Galleries
Gallery 1660s | Gallery 1670s | Gallery 1680s | Gallery 1690s | Gallery 1700s


Graphics Copyright © N. Kipar 2003.
Contents Copyright © Ben Levick 1998. With permission by the author.