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TITLE The Order of the Hospital - The Maltese Phase 1523 - 1798

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit traces the history of the Order from 1 January 1523 to June 1798. The Ottoman siege of 1522 and the subsequent loss of Rhodes cast the Order of St John into the worst crisis of its chequered history. For eight whole years the Order remained without a home, roaming about all over war-torn Europe. In the end fear of extinction compelled it to accept Malta together with the North African fortress of Tripoli. But it was not before the turn of the century that the Hospitaller institution began gradually to recover. By then it had experienced another loss to Islam, that of Tripoli, and the long-drawn-out siege of 1565. Throughout the seventeenth century and most of the eighteenth the Order of St John had regained its overwhelming personality again – strong and secure, prosperous and powerful, with its new headquarters, now the princely fortress city of Valletta, rivalling the most flourishing courts in Europe. It is the ultimate aim of the study unit to understand and be able to explain the forces at work behind this Hospitaller revolution. The following aspects will be discussed:

• The eight-year odyssey (1523-1530) from Rhodes to Malta, via Nice and Villefranche.
• The first thirty-five years on Malta. The historical significance of the siege of 1565.
• The state of the Order’s finances in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
• Statutes, ordinances, and privileges. The Hospitaller Chapter-General. The Order’s constitutional development.
• The Grandmaster’s Court, the Order’s foreign policy, and diplomatic relations.
• The State of Malta, the Church, and the Inquisition.
• The Hospitallers as Patrons of Art on Malta.
• The Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Order of St John.
• The political, social, economic, and cultural transformation of Hospitaller Malta – that is, from 1530 to 1798.

Intended Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of the study-unit, candidates will be able (a) to comprehend and explain the basic changes which the Order of the Hospital had undergone by the time it reached Malta; and (b) to demonstrate an ability to engage critically and independently in current historiographical debates on certain issues, like the historical significance of the siege of 1565 and the fall of the Order in 1798. They will have the ability (a) to analyze primary and secondary texts for the purpose of documenting and analyzing historical developments; and (b) locate documents within the various classifications or categories of the Order’s archives in Malta; and above all (c) to recognize a potential area of research in Hospitaller history and write a substantial and scholarly essay to defend it, using a wide range of research materials.

Reading List:

Elisabeth Schermerhorn, Malta of the Knights (Surrey 1929).
H.J.A. Sire, The Knights of Malta (London 1994).
Hospitaller Malta 1530-1798: Studies on Early Modern Malta and the Order of St John of Jerusalem, ed. Victor Mallia-Milanes (Malta 1993).
Bosio and Dal Pozzo should also be consulted. See details in HST 5054.
A detailed thematic bibliography of original sources and secondary works will be handed out in the first session.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (3 Hours) Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Emanuel Buttigieg
Francis Ciappara
Victor Mallia Milanes

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It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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