Saturday, July 4, 2009

Battle of Grenada

On this July 4th it would be easy to talk about the Declaration of Independence and its consequences for France, but instead let us recall that on July 4, 1779 the American War for Independence raged on and at the British-controlled island of Grenada they met the French fleet in a lesser-known battle.

For months in the West Indies British Admiral Byron had been cautious about keeping near to Grenada, but when he left to safeguard a trade convoy in June the French Comte d'Estaing seized the opportunity to capture first St. Vincent and then Grenada (Grenade) on July 4th. Two days later on July 6th, Byron returned too late to prevent them, and engaged the French in a naval battle which ended in a French victory. Subsequently the war in the West Indies died down, but the victory was much-sensationalized in France and several styles were created a la Grenade to celebrate, usually involving the display of a pomegranate motif.

The word Granada is from the latin word granatus "seeded", hence pomegranate or "seeded apple". It shares etymological roots with "Grenade" which is shaped like a pomegranate, and "Grenadine", which is a syrup originally made from pomegranate juice. Finding that the island reminded them of Andalusian Spain, sailors named the island Grenada after Granada in Spain.

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