Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Spain and Malta through the Ages

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Spanish and Latin American Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will describe the long association which the Maltese Islands have had with Spain especially as regards the Crown of Aragon and the Crown of Castile.

Starting with Malta's incorporation into the Catalano-Aragonese Commonwealth in 1282 after the Sicilian Vespers and the Aragonese victory over the Anjevins in Malta's Grand Harbour, the study-unit will look at Malta's conversion into Imperial Spain's southernmost outpost when Charles V granted the islands as a fief to the Order of Saint John in 1530. The military nature of the connection remained very strong during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries but was gradually overshadowed by growing economic connections starting in the late seventeenth century which dominated relations between the two territories in the eighteenth century and the earlier part of the nineteenth until the advent of the British period.

After a long hiatus lasting over one hundred and fifty years, direct diplomatic relations were re-established in 1964 but it was not until Malta's incorporation into the EU that bilateral relations really started to flourish in the fields of the economy, education and culture.

Study-unit Aims:

The aims of the study-unit are to enable students to become aware of the importance of Malta's relations with Spain through the ages with particular regard to:

- Cooperation in the military field which permitted Malta to prevail in 1565 and set the scene for its subsequent flourishing and the forging of an identity which was distinguishable from its larger neighbour to the North;
- The prosperous cotton and brigantine trade of the late seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries which permitted the emergence of a mercantile class which was capable of articulating its own interests vis-a-vis the governing power in the early modern and contemporary period;
- The cultural manifestations of the Spanish-Maltese connection.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

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

- Identify Spain's role in the Mediterranean of the Early Modern period;
- Analyze the role of the Maltese Islands within Hapsburg Spain's imperial network;
- Appreciate the shift from defense to commerce starting with the late seventeenth century but especially during the eighteenth century.

2. Skills:

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

- Bring together essential information from primary and secondary written sources;
- Organize and present ideas in a structured manner;
- Acquire skills in historical explanation, causation and argumentation.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Fiorini S., Spanish Influence in Late-Medieval Malta, pp 9-27 in Proceedings of History Week 2013/Second Colloquium on Spanish-Maltese History, MHS Malta.
- Bono S., Naval Exploits and Privateering, pp 351-397 in Mallia-Milanes V. (ed) Hospitaller Malta 1530-1798, Malta 1993.
- Vassallo C. Corsairing to Commerce: Maltese Merchants in XVIII Century Spain, University of Malta 1997.

Supplementary readings :

- Bisson T.N., The Medieval Crown of Aragon: A Short History, Oxford University Press, 1986.
- Luttrell A.T., Approaches to Medieval Malta, pp 1-70 in Luttrell A. T. (ed) Medieval Malta: Studies on Malta before the Knights, The British School at Rome, 1975.
- Mallia D., Malta: A Spanish Presidio in the Mediterranean? pp 29-40 in Proceedings of History Week 2013/Second Colloquium on Spanish-Maltese History, MHS Malta.
- Fontenay M., The Mediterranean 1500-1800: Social and Economic Perspectives, pp 43-110 in Mallia-Milanes V. (ed) Hospitaller Malta 1530-1798, Malta 1993.

ADDITIONAL NOTES The language of instruction is English. Students can follow this study-unit without having any knowledge of Spanish.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (1 Hour) Yes 100%


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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.