Poor Jenkins: The 9th April marks the anniversary of the event which led to the bizarrely named War of Jenkins’ Ear, an eighteenth century conflict which came to foreshadow many of the historical themes that dominated the nineteenth century. The man at the centre of the conflict was Captain Robert Jenkins, a British sea captain. On 9th April, 1731, while sailing in the Caribbean, Jenkins’ ship Rebecca was apparently stopped and boarded by a crew of Spanish coast guards led by Captain Juan de Leon Fandino. The coast guards pillaged the ship, attacked the crew, and ultimately set it adrift. Most shockingly, Jenkins claimed that the Spanish crew had tied him up and cut off his ear. At the time tensions were high between Britain and Spain as they competed for influence and control over the New World. Britain sought to expand its trade in the Americas, and its sailors carried out illicit trade in Spanish territories. Both Spanish and British crews frequently launched raids on the other’s ships, making trade in the Caribbean increasingly expensive and risky. As well as competing over the high seas however, Britain and Spain also found themselves in dispute over claims to land on the North American continent. In the preceding century the two countries had found themselves at war with each other on a number of occasions, as they competed to assert their imperial dominance. Jenkins survived the ordeal and set sail for England with the severed, pickled ear. News of the attack enraged the British public, and Jenkins was supposedly called before the House of Commons (with the severed ear) in 1738, to testify about his ordeal. When asked how he had responded to the assault, Jenkins famously claimed “I commended my soul to God and my cause to my country.” Jenkins’ ear became a symbol for the outrage the British public increasingly felt towards what it perceived as Spanish belligerence on the high seas. Holding Spain accountable became a matter of national pride, and the demand for war grew. Just as significantly, British Prime Minister Sir. Robert Walpole found himself increasingly under pressure from his opposition in Parliament, who used the actions of Spanish ships to paint a picture of a weak, powerless British government. Complete text: https://www.newhistorian.com/the-war-of-jenkins-ear/3447/ The more you know, etc.