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Title: State intervention in the grain trade of Malta (16th-20th century)
Authors: Cassar, Carmel
Keywords: Malta -- History -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798
Malta -- History -- British occupation, 1800-1964
Grain trade -- Law and legislation -- Malta
Grain trade -- Malta -- History
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Busan University of Foreign Studies. Institute for Mediterranean Studies
Citation: Cassar, C. (2013). State intervention in the grain trade of Malta (16th-20th century). Mediterranean Review, 6(2), 59-89.
Abstract: Until the early twentieth century, bread was graded and its quality sanctioned social distinctions in Maltese society. At a time when harvest failure often meant famine and death, setting the price of bread was one of the most difficult tasks from late medieval times to the early nineteenth century. During its stay in Malta, the Hospitaller Order of St John (1530-1798) depended heavily on imported duty-free grain from Sicily. Matters did not change much when Malta was a British Protectorate (1800-1814) but the island witnessed an overhaul in its system of grain provisioning as a British colony (1814-1964). In an attempt to improve the quality of bread for the mass of Maltese, the British colonial administration introduced a ‘free-trade’ policy. However, the new policy was based on the introduction of high tariffs on basic commodities like wheat, which in turn led to the fluctuation and steep increase of prices. Thus, rather than improving the quality of life, the new tariff laws forced many Maltese, peasants and urbanites alike, to spend most of their income on bread and they were left with little money to buy other commodities. Hardship reached a climax by World War I and harvest failures culminated in a popular rebellion in June 1919.
Description: This paper was delivered at a conference entitled: ‘Reconsidering Colonialism’, which was held at The Skilliter Centre for Ottoman Studies, Newnham College, Cambridge: 5-6 February 2010.
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacEMATou

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