Detaile plan of the Batlle of Vigo, drawn at the end of the 17th Century in Paris by De La Fueille.
The key at the top right notes English and Dutch officers who participated in the battle. A list of the French ships appears at the bottom left.
The Battle of Vigo Bay, was fought on October 23,1702, during the opening years of the War of the Spanish Succession. The engagement followed an Anglo-Dutch attempt to capture the Spanish port of Cádiz in September, in an effort to secure a naval base in the Iberian Peninsula. From this station the Anglo-Dutch alliance had hoped to conduct operations in the western Mediterranean Sea, particularly against the French at Toulon. The attempt to take Cadiz had proved a disaster, but as Admiral George Rooke retreated home in early October, he received news that the Spanish treasure fleet from America had entered Vigo Bay in northern Spain. Philips van Almonde convinced Rooke to attack the treasure ships, despite the lateness of the year and the fact that the vessels were protected by French ships-of-the-line.
The engagement was an overwhelming success. The entire French escort fleet, under the command of Château-Renault, together with the Spanish galleons and transports under Manuel de Velasco, had either been captured or destroyed. However, most of the treasure had been off-loaded before the attack, so there was very little treasure aboard the ships. Nevertheless, the victory was a welcome boost to Allied morale and had helped persuade the Portuguese King, Peter II, to abandon his earlier treaty with the French and join the Anglo-Dutch alliance.