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On the morning of 21 August 1415, king John I of Portugal led his sons and their assembled forces in a surprise assault that would come to be known as the Conquest of Ceuta.The battle was almost anti-climactic, because the 45,000 men who traveled on 200 Portuguese ships caught the defenders of Ceuta off guard and only suffered eight casualties. On the morning of August 22, Ceuta was in Portuguese hands.In 1437, Duarte's brothers Henry the Navigator and Fernando, the Saint Prince persuaded him to launch an attack on the Marinid sultanate.

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The Benemerine sultan started the Siege of Ceuta (1418) but was defeated by the first governor of Ceuta before reinforcements arrived in the form of John, Constable of Portugal and his brother Henry the Navigator who were sent with troops to defend Ceuta.

Under King John I of Portugals son, Duarte, the colony at Ceuta rapidly became a drain on the Portuguese treasury. It was soon realised that without the city of Tangier, possession of Ceuta was worthless.

The looting of the city proved to be less profitable than expected for John I; he decided to keep the city to pursue further enterprises in the area.

From 1415 to 1437 Pedro de Meneses, 1st Count of Vila Real became the first governor of Ceuta.

It was part of Cádiz province until 14 March 1995 when both Ceuta and Melilla's Statutes of Autonomy were passed, the latter having been part of Málaga province.

Ceuta, like Melilla and the Canary Islands, was a free port before Spain joined the European Union.Byzantine governor, Julian (described as King of the Ghomara) who was a vassal of the Visigothic kings of Iberia changed his allegiance after the king Roderic raped his daughter, and exhorted the Muslims to invade the Iberian Peninsula.Under the leadership of the Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslims used Ceuta as a staging ground for an assault on Visigothic Iberian Peninsula.Ceuta was an important Christian center since the fourth century (as recent discovered ruins of a Roman basilica show).In the 7th century the Umayyads tried to conquer the region but were unsuccessful.Álvaro Vaz de Almada, 1st Count of Avranches was asked to hoist what was to become the flag of Ceuta, which is identical to the flag of Lisbon, but in which the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Portugal was added to the center, the original Portuguese flag and coat of arms of Ceuta remained unchanged, and the modern-day Ceuta flag features the configuration of the Portuguese shield.