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Title: A study of maritime activities in mid-eighteenth-century Malta
Authors: Falzon, Matthew
Keywords: Pirates -- Mediterranean Region -- History -- 18th century
Pirates -- Malta -- History -- 18th century
Malta -- History -- 18th century
Mediterranean Sea -- History, Naval -- 18th century
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: Falzon, M. (2019). A study of maritime activities in mid-eighteenth-century Malta (Bachelor’s dissertation).
Abstract: The Mediterranean Sea is found in the crossroads in between three different continents. With the premise that transportation via waterways is faster than that on land. This paved the way for sea exploration and then an ever evolving trade network, creating economies capable of war and capital drifting on the sea made easy pickings and thus Pirates. Abulafia explains ‘The Mediterranean region was indeed a complex space where sea-trade and sea conflict co-existed’. So these two conditions, (among many others) and the adventures in sea created a very rich and due to the many actors a diverse history. Throughout its thousands of years of history, the actors in the Mediterranean have changed, and new rising from the old. Rome at the height of its Empire had most of the Mediterranean in its grasp, but once it fell, there were multiple power struggles as result of the power vacuum. In the Centuries that follow two religions emerge, Christianity and Islam, and these two split the Mediterranean into two camps. ‘On the one side to the north and west lay Europe and Christianity; the ‘Occident’, the West. On the other hand to the east and south lay the ‘Orient’, the East: Africa-Asia and Islam.’ And thus evolved a constant back and forth of power in the Mediterranean between the two sides. The Crusades are a stellar example of this rivalry. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 cemented the Ottoman Empire as the dominant power in the Mediterranean. The Spanish Reconquista during the fifteenth century which expelled Arab Muslims and Jews from Spain which then started participating in corsairing activities against Spain. The Battle of Lepanto in 1574 is seen as a power shift back to the west as it was a victory to the Christians. While portrayed as the decline of the Ottomans, its fleet was replenished within a few months and its presence in the Mediterranean was still dominant until the middle of the seventeenth Century. It seems that a sort of duality emerged, on the one hand there were elements of the past rivalry which still remained; the Corso is one such example but at the same time it is important to note that beyond the surface level of enmity that was displayed in the wars simmered down. During the mid-sixteenth century Venice and the Ottoman Empire signed a treaty for cordial relations, after all the two powers were intrinsically very similar, and could benefit a lot from trading with one another. Thereby explaining their hate for the corsairs, as such activities would hinder prosperity. France too was starting to partake in semi-cordial relations with the Ottoman Empire, though there was still a level of hesitance In the meantime there was another rather paradigm shift in the world. The Ottoman Empire had essentially blocked the route to the Far East, which held a lot of treasured spices and goods. This also coincided with advances in technology, better mapping which would allow for longer trips. And it was during this time that Portugal and the recently formed Spain kicked off the Age of Discovery. This shifted the focus of the European powers from the Mediterranean out into the wider world. This changed the Mediterranean to what Fontaney aptly described as a Cul de Sac Status. While it diminished the importance of the Mediterranean it did not extinguish its importance entirely. There was still a viable trade network and control over the Mediterranean was still rather important, as can be seen by English efforts to control and hold strategic positions in the eighteenth century and beyond. Malta is a small island in the middle of this adventurous sea. Because of its size and the fact that it is devoid of natural resources mean it had a lot of issues with self-sufficiency, often depending on trade for necessary resources. However it being in the middle of the Mediterranean and having good natural harbours made it excellent to act as a safe haven in the middle of the sea. For most of Maltese history it was sought for these qualities.
Description: B.A.(HONS)HISTORY
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2019
Dissertations - FacArtHis - 2019

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