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  • Admiral Antonio Barceló, 1716–97: A Self-Made Naval Leader

    Agustín Ramón Rodríguez González

    Chapter from the book: Guimerá A. & Harding R. 2017. Naval Leadership in the Atlantic World: The Age of Reform and Revolution, 1700–1850.


    This chapter aim to clarify accepted opinion of Antonio Barceló’s career as typical of a hard, skilled corsair. It summarizes this sailor’s early career in junior merchant seafaring roles before he joined the Spanish Royal Navy aged 39. Between 1762 and 1769 his record was impressive at the helm of his xebec destroying 19 Barbary corsairs, 6-30 guns, capturing 1,600 prisoners and liberating 1,000 Christians of all nationalities. Promotions and more success followed. After a failed expedition against Algiers, Barcelo was promoted to Rear Admiral having opposed but then ameliorated the consequences of poor Spanish strategic decisions before being ordered to blockade the British in Gibraltar in 1779. One of his most notable innovations was to design gunboats that could bombard a town from sea, which worked sufficiently well to progress hostilities with the Barbary corsairs, and ultimately to succeed in holding back Algiers from privateering. This meritocratic sailor of humble origins did not receive the highest rank but his leadership of xebecs served as a ‘training school’ for other distinguished sailors, his innovations in terms of vessel design were numerous and his ability to speak truth-to-power ensured he was respected and renowned in many quarters.

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    Rodríguez González, A. 2017. Admiral Antonio Barceló, 1716–97: A Self-Made Naval Leader. In: Guimerá A. & Harding R (eds.), Naval Leadership in the Atlantic World. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book2.k

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on March 30, 2017