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Title: Malta and the sixteenth century struggle for the Mediterranean
Other Titles: Separating fact from fiction
Authors: Cutajar, Dominic
Cassar, Carmel
Keywords: Malta -- History -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798
Mediterranean Region -- History
Malta -- History -- Siege, 1565
Sea control -- Mediterranean region
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: Sacra Militia Foundation
Citation: Cutajar, D., & Cassar, C. (2005). Malta and the sixteenth century struggle for the Mediterranean. In G. Cassar (Ed.), Malta in 1565 : separating fact from fiction, pp.1-33. Malta: Sacra Militia Foundation.
Abstract: One of the major historical events in the Mediterranean region in the latter half of the sixteenth century was, of course, the 1565 Great Siege of Malta. There was a time when it was quite well known and enjoyed a measure of popularity, as we are reminded by a famous remark of Voltaire. It captured the fascination of people over the centuries most of all as a tale of heroic saga - in direct line of descent from the story of Troy, the exploits of Alexander the Great and of Hannibal, and the saga of the Nibelung warriors. It had one advantage over all these heroic stories - that all of it was undoubtedly true and well documented. The Siege itself was the predictable culmination of a given tense international situation, in a particular given epoch of Mediterranean' history - namely, the sixteenth century. The account that follows will not attempt to. convey the incredible blend of heroism, ferocity and barbarities that make the Great Siege of Malta. Rather, it will examine the larger Mediterranean . setting in which it inevitably unfolded, as well as delineate some of the internal developments peculiar to Malta itself. It should be kept in mind that after their expulsion from the Aegean island of Rhodes in 1522, at the hands of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman II, the Knights Hospitallers of St John had reluctantly accepted as a feudal fief, the islands of Malta, together with the port of Tripoli. The Order moved to occupy both localities in 1530, thus freeing the Hapsburg emperor Charles V of direct responsibility in maintaining the security of these southern-most and most exposed areas of his vast possessions.
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