The war of jenkins' ear

Evan M. Graboyes, Timothy E. Hullar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: In 1731, Spanish sailors boarded the British brig Rebecca off the coast of Cuba and sliced off the left ear of its captain, Robert Jenkins. This traumatic auriculectomy was used as a pretext by the British to declare war on Spain in 1739, a conflict that is now known as the War of Jenkins' Ear. Here, we examine the techniques available for auricular repair at the time of Jenkins' injury and relate them to the historical events surrounding the incident. METHODS: Review of relevant original published manuscripts and monographs. RESULTS: Surgeons in the mid-18th century did not have experience with repair of traumatic total auriculectomies. Some contemporary surgeons favored auricular prostheses over surgical treatment. Methods for the reconstruction of partial defects were available, and most authors advocated a local post-auricular flap instead of a free tissue transfer. Techniques for repair of defects of the auricle lagged behind those for repair of the nose. CONCLUSION: Limitations in care of traumatic auricular defects may have intensified the significance of Jenkins' injury and helped lead to the War of Jenkins' Ear, but conflict between Britain and Spain was probably unavoidable because of their conflicting commercial interests in the Caribbean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-372
Number of pages5
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2013

Keywords

  • Auricle repair
  • Auriculectomy
  • Austrian succession
  • Jenkins' ear
  • Otology
  • Surgery
  • Trauma surgery
  • War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology

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