Tuna Wars pp 73-81 | Cite as

The Tuna Dukes

  • Steven Adolf


Supported by their tuna monopoly and its profits, the Guzmán dynasty succeeded in strengthening their powerbase through useful alliances in the wars and the endless internal power struggle of the kingdoms on the Spanish peninsula during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Hendrik II of Castile rewarded Juan Alonso Pérez de Guzmán (1342–1396), fourth lord of Sanlúcar, with the prestigious title of count of Niebla, which covered the majority of the Atlantic coastal province of Huelva, including a number of important tuna fisheries. From 1445 Juan Alonso Pérez de Guzmán y Orozco (1410–1468), sixth lord of Sanlúcar and third Count of Niebla was also permitted to call himself the first duke of Medina Sidonia. The Guzmán family thus obtained the only duchy that existed in Spain at that point. From that time on, the dukes of Medina Sidonia ruled like viceroys in the area from Gibraltar to the border with Portugal. The fact that the noble line was now named after Medina Sidonia was more than a remarkable coincidence. The small town, a few dozen kilometres inland from the coasts where tuna is fished, is more than 2500 years old. Beneath the northern side of the old city centre lie the oldest remains to which the city owes its name. Medina Sidonia—the meaning is literally ‘city of Sidon’—founded by the Phoenicians, who came from Sidon. They were the men in fast boats who had brought the tuna trade to the west.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Adolf
    • 1
  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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