The watchtowers and defense of the coast
The continuous pirate attacks on the coasts, made it necessary to build an effective line of towers. Each tower saw two other towers. The warning was transmitted to the two that it saw and so on the whole coast.
A huge defensive line throughout the Costa del Levante
The watchtowers were a perfect vantage point from which to observe the sea. A network of places for control and defense of the coast. Located in strategic places, they watched and warned of danger.
They communicated with each other, each one could see at least two others, to warn by signals, if they observed something suspected of being a danger to boats or populations
The Towers watched and warned of the arrival of Pirates
Especially during the reign of Carlos V and Felipe II, a huge guard line was built. It consisted of hundreds of towers along the entire coastline from Catalonia to past the Levant.
Pirates observed from the Watchtowers: A network of defense towers. They could spot pirate ships from long distances and warn nearby towns of possible danger.
The lookout towers located in strategic places
The continuous attacks of French and English Pirates and especially of Berber Pirates to the coasts of the Spanish Empire made it necessary to build a network of watchtowers and defense.
Initially they were built in the Iberian Peninsula, later also in America. These towers exceeded one hundred and constituted a permanent alert network.
Later the problem of attacks on the coast occurred in the New World. For this reason, fortifications were also erected to watch over and defend the colonies from the attacks of Buccaneers, Filibusters, Corsairs and Pirates.
Danger on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea
From the 16th century Barbary pirate attacks
The enormous pressure of the Spanish troops on the Barbary pirates and the death of their leader Aruj Barbarroja put them in danger.
They saw that the only way to survive was to ask the Turkish Empire for help. This received them with open arms since it allowed them to receive good tributes and a part of the booty of the Berber piracy.
But also that by having the Spaniards busy defending their extensive coasts from these pirates, it was driving the Spaniards away from the Turkish coasts, which were especially threatened when they were defeated by a Christian fleet led by Spain in the naval battle of the Gulf of Lepanto.
Abandonment of the coast due to fear of attacks
Small populations move inland
The pirates did not dare to attack the important populations since they had defenses and troops.
But the small coastal towns and fishermen’s nucleus lived in permanent fear of being taken prisoner and turned into slaves if they were captured by pirates.
King Felipe II had to take measures when the coast was depopulated due to the abandonment of the population of the coastal towns and the transfer to the interior of the country.
And effective and lasting measures were needed because pirate ships and sometimes actual fleets of pirate ships were increasingly attacking the coast.
A network of watchtowers and defense
Effective and durable constructions
The built watchtowers allowed the coasts to be monitored in a continuous way. They had systems to warn the towns and the other towers of the arrival of pirates. In addition to the usual system of lighting a fire, signals were made, bells were used and shots were fired.
Before this call, the army troops or the neighborhood militias organized for this purpose from the neighboring towns quickly came.
Over the years the coast of the Mediterranean Sea that belonged to the Spanish Empire both on the Iberian peninsula and in present-day Italy, Naples, Sicily, etc. had their watchtowers.
The construction of the towers was not isolated. Each tower had to have visual contact with two others located one on its left and one on its right. This caused that the mere fact of lighting a fire in one of the towers spread the warning at full speed throughout the coast since each tower to its side did the same.
Berber or Turkish pirate and corsair attacks
Pirates and the rebellion of the Moors (1568)
The maritime trade was threatened by attacks on merchant ships by the Barbary Pirates. Communications between countries were weakened and coastal populations depopulated for fear of these pirate attacks.
Initially, the pirate attacks, although they were not random, did not have effective information on the resistance that could be found in the coastal towns.
The Moors fed up with the treatment they received from the Christians rose up in 1568 in a r