Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Malta and the Mediterranean in Modern Times

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit is composed of three interlocking parts, as follows:
Part 1: The Mediterranean in Modern Times
Part 2: The Order of St. John and the Mediterranean
Part 3: Themes of Nineteenth Century Maltese History

The Mediterranean in Modern Times is a historical survey aiming to show the changing importance of the Mediterranean in international politics in modern history. It reviews the changes that led to the Mediterranean region being superseded politically and economically by northern Europe in early modern times until it returned to international importance by being itself subjected to largely non-Mediterranean powers. Themes discussed include the anachronism of the Christian-Muslim East-West contest as it is overshadowed by the Christian-Christian North-South divide in the context of the rising capitalist world economy and the wars of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation; the decline of the Spanish and Ottoman Empires; the competing interests of Britain, Russia and France for advantage and access in the nineteenth century; the Eastern question and Balkanization; European imperialism in the Mediterranean; and the consequences for the Mediterranean of the fall of the Austrian and Ottoman Empires.

The Order of St John and the Mediterranean is meant to familiarise the students with the role the religious-military order of the Hospital played in the early modern Mediterranean from the moment it set up its Convent on Malta in 1530 until it was evicted by Napoleon in 1798. During these long years it participated in all the pivotal naval expeditions in the Mediterranean against Islam - either in alliance with powers like Spain, Venice, and the papacy, or on its own initiative in seasonal statutory cruises (known as caravane), or indeed through individual Hospitallers in daring privateering enterprises in every corner of the Middle Sea. These activities, financed by the revenue its massive landownership in Europe yielded every year, thrust Malta into the forefront of Mediterranean history and turned the island into a formidable fortress, a naval centre of considerable strategic significance, an important base of operations for corsairs, an international slave market, and a hospital of wide renown.

Themes in Nineteenth-Century Maltese History examines a number of fundamental themes which comprise the mainframe of nineteenth century Maltese history. These include the peculiar circumstances and context in which the British came to Malta; the strategic development of Malta as a reflection of Britain’s increasing involvement and dominance in the Mediterranean; the huge impact of such strategic development on the economic and political life of the Maltese; the atypical relationship that developed between the Maltese and their British rulers and the ensuing, almost unique, expression of colonial rule; the shifting tripartite relationship between the British administration, the Catholic Church and the emergent political class; issues of taxation and language; constitutional development and its limitations. The central focus of this course is the inevitable interdependence that developed between Malta and Britain, seen within the broader framework of Mediterranean and European history.

N.B. When parts of this study-unit, with the special permission of the lecturer, are taken on their own by students whose area of study is not History, they shall be registered as:
HST1126 The Mediterranean in Modern Times
HST1226 The Order of St John and the Mediterranean
HST1326 Themes in Nineteenth Century Maltese History

Study-unit Aims

• To combine the study of Maltese history with that of the Mediterranean, which constitutes the main external context within which this history unfolds;
• To offer alternative approaches to, and evaluation of, knowledge which in part may have been previously acquired;
• To provide a basis for further study-units on Malta and the Mediterranean at a higher level.

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• Take a more three-dimensional view of modern Maltese history within its Mediterranean context;
• View certain aspects of history, originally learned as European history, from a Mediterranean vantage point;
• Acquire alternative perspectives on certain features of Maltese history;
• Apply the knowledge acquired to a fuller understanding of contemporary issues concerning Malta and the Mediterranean.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• Approach the study of history with a more critical outlook than s/he has been accustomed to at pre-university level;
• Connect and combine knowledge acquired from different lecturers in a synoptic manner;
• Detect broad historical trends.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings

• All readings are available in the University libraries.
• Lecturers will guide the students on the use of the literature at the beginning of the lecture series.

The Mediterranean in Modern Times
Dominic Fenech, 'East-West to North-South in the Mediterranean', Geojournal, 32.1, 1993.
Robert Holland, Blue-Water Empire: the British in the Mediterranean since 1800, London 2012.
John J. Norwich, The Middle Sea: a History of the Mediterranean, London 2007.
David Abulafia (ed), The Mediterranean in History, London 2003--Chapters 7 and 8 (Molly Green, 'Resurgent Islam', and Jeremy Black, 'The Mediterranean as a Battleground of the European Powers').
The New Cambridge Modern History, the following chapters: John Mathiex, 'The Mediterranean', in Volume VI; C. W. Crawley, 'The Mediterranean' in Volume X; A. P. Thronton, 'Rivalries in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Egypt', in Volume XI.
Immanuel Wallerstein, The Capitalist World Economy, Cambridge 1979, Chapters 1 and 2.

The Order of St John and the Mediterranean – Recommended Reading
J. Riley-Smith, The Knights of St John in Jerusalem and Cyprus. c.1050-1310. (London 1967)
Several papers in Variorum edition by A.T. Luttrell: to be identified during the first lecture.
Hospitaller Malta 1530-1798: Studies on Early Modern Malta and the Order of St John of Jerusalem, ed. V. Mallia-Milanes (Malta 1993).
F. Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (London 1972-73).

Themes in Nineteenth-Century Maltese History – Suggested Reading
Dominic Fenech, ‘Birgu during the British Period’, in Lino Bugeja et al. (eds.), Birgu: a Maltese Maritime City, vol.i, Malta 1993.
Dominic Fenech, ‘A Historical Introduction’, in Responsibility and Power in Inter-war Malta: Book One, Endemic Democracy, Malta 2005.
Hilda Lee, Malta 1813-1914: A Study in Constitutional and Strategic Development, Malta 1972.
Victor Mallia-Milanes (ed.), The British Colonial Experience, 1800-1964, Malta 1988.
C.A.Price, Malta and the Maltese: a Study in Nineteenth Century Migration, Melbourne 1987.



Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Dominic Fenech (Co-ord.)
Victor Mallia Milanes

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.