The battle of Rande and the treasure that was supposed to be submerged in its waters has captivated the imagination for more than three centuries; some historical facts that have been clarified by recent investigations that have transformed into history some facts enveloped by the haze of legend.
Admiral Rooke was so desperate that he poisoned himself with laudanum, having an enema made so he would not die.
When the commander of the fleet anchored in Vigo knew about the attack on Cádiz, he took preventive measures. The Spanish and French ships sailed from Vigo into the interior bay defended by the forts of Rande and Corbeiro. The Corregidor of Vigo mobilized more than a thousand carts and hundreds of laborers to help with the unloading of the ships.
The news of the victory of Cádiz arrived on October 11 in Vigo, accelerating the preparations; so that by the time the fleet of 185 ships of all classes arrived, merchant ships remained on the ships, and they chose to wait for the danger to pass to other ports.
Almost all the money (silver) was in carts way to Madrid. Some carts with part of the treasure were stolen by thieves in the town of Ribadavia (Orense). On October 30, three hundred carts with coins and ingots worth twenty million reales arrived at Casón del Buen Retiro, corresponding to the “Real Third” (the Crown commission). Such was the shouting of the people before the spectacle of their arrival that King Philip V woke up this way from his siesta.
To the great ship Torbay – of 80 cannons – they attached a gigantic ax to him in the prow, sending itself at full speed against the chain was able to break it, allowing the passage to the rest of the attackers. From that moment the result of the battle of Rande was decided.
Since then it has been speculating about the value treasured by the wreck of the Maracaibo galleon, not yet found. The British valued it at a million pounds.
The arrival in England of Admiral Rooke’s fleet was accompanied by a sharp decline in the London Stock Exchange as well as a parliamentary inquiry into the disastrous attack on Cadiz. After hectic parliamentary debates, the military victory in the Battle of Rande won him a congratulatory vote from Parliament, enabling Rooke to be in command of the fleet that took Gibraltar in 1704; reason why the llanitos have erected a statue in the colony of Gibraltar.
Text by Ignacio Suárez-Zuloaga and illustrations by Ximena Maier