Port Mahon

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Port Mahon (In Catalan spelled Maó) is the capital and a deep water port located at the eastern end of Minorca.


Minorca was captured by the Royal Navy in 1708 during the War of the Spanish Succession, Minorca became a British possession in 1813 under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht. Under British rule the island's capital moved to Port Mahon, and a naval base was established. During the Seven Years' War, however, the failure of a British naval squadron under Admiral John Byng to lift a French siege of Minorca in 1756 later led to his court martial and execution. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 saw British rule restored. During the American War of Independence, the British were expelled by a combination of French and Spanish forces, which captured the island after a long siege in 1782. Minorca was recovered by the British once again in 1798, when Admiral Nelson's squadron re-entered the Mediterranean Sea during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was finally and permanently ceded to Spain by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "Master and Commander, HMS Surprise and The Ionian Mission"  follow.

In the Canon

Master and Commander has many scenes set in Port Mahon while under British rule. The Port Captain, who commanded the naval base was Captain Harte. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin meet at a concert in the governor's house in Port Mahon.

In HMS Surprise, Maturin is imprisoned and tortured by French intelligence agents in Port Mahon and is freed by Aubrey who uses his local knowledge of the town to evade detection by the French.

in The Ionian Mission, Aubrey again docks in Port Mahon to pick up Maturin who has been on a mission. Maturin interrupts him while he is renewing his acqaintance with Mercedes, now the attractive wife of an inn-keeper.

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