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Title: The organisation and activities of the Maltese corsairs between 1775-1798
Authors: Gauci, Liam (2012)
Keywords: Privateering -- Malta -- History -- 18th century
Malta -- History -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798
Knights of Malta -- Malta -- History -- 18th century
Mediterranean Region -- History, Naval
Malta -- History, Naval -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798
Order of St John -- Malta -- History -- 18th century
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: The object of the present dissertation is to explore the historical importance of the last twenty-three years of the corso in Malta between 1775 and 1798. It seeks to understand better who the Maltese corsairs were. This is not an analysis of the subject through diplomatic letters, or through the lens of a foreign diary, but through different set of archival documents and other primary sources which deal with the much more mundane operations and dealings concerning the corso. Everyday life includes the small things which are hardly noticed in global histories over the long term. The more we sharpen our focus onto everyday life, the probabilities are that we find ourselves closer to a better representation of the late eighteenth century Maltese corsair. The broad sweep of history usually corresponds to History with a capital letter, to distant trade routes, and the networks of national and urban economies. If we reduce the length of the time observed, we either have the event or the everyday happening. The event is, or is taken to be, unique; the everyday happening is repeated, and the more often it is repeated the more likely it s to become a generality or rather a structure. It pervades society at all levels, and characterises ways of being and behaving which are perpetuated through endless ages. Sometimes a few anecdotes are enough to set up a signal which points to a way of life.1 Such an analysis favoured by Fernand Braudel may help us gain a better idea of life and contextualise elements of overlooked aspects of Maltese maritime history. The Maltese corso is one such facet: an element tarred with the black brush of piracy, a subject for easy pickings and labels - a theme that holds within its confines a compatriot executed with Dun Mikiel Xerri, a slave-turned These few facts, a legacy of the Maltese corso, intrigued me to investigate the origins of such facts and the protagonists' background. European maritime history of the eighteenth century is rich in scholarly works. There is endless literature about the British, Spanish, French and Venetian navies; historians have an array of primary sources at their disposal. Through such sources the importance of the sea for those states and countries has been highlighted. The Maltese scholar on the other hand has been overwhelmed with pictorial depictions and narratives of the Order of St. John's navy to a certain extent that the Maltese corsair has been overshadowed by the Order's navy. Furthermore, scholars wishing to study the corso have had to make do with a few references about the corso, and unfortunately the evidence for such statements remains scanty, often confused, and too general to be of any significant worth. Known to only a few and dismissed by others, endless evidence has survived of a rich maritime tradition. The corso itself has left us with exhaustive amounts of information. In his unpublished dissertation, Paul Caruana Curran uses documents to point out the lasting influence of the corso on Maltese society. Godfrey Wettinger in his work on Maltese slavery makes good use of the quarantine records to hint at the evident activity of corsairing and its importance to the Maltese economy. Yet none of the aforementioned scholars, to my knowledge, made use of roll calls, log books and account books. I wish to add on to the information Caruana Curran and Wettinger provide. Through these various records one can instantly realise the corso's influence on all tiers of social classes: slaves, paupers, convicts, soldiers, tradesmen, merchants, priests, nuns, noblemen, The corso was not only a livelihood for people living in the harbour area, but also for people from Gozo, Mdina, and villages as landlocked as Kirkop and Luqa. And it was not only reserved for the local Maltese. One could find Germans, Russians, Slavs, Italians, Greeks and Englishmen employed within the corso. Thus this overwhelming evidence of a society shaped by the sea is nowhere better displayed than in the Maltese corso, as the present dissertation hopes to show.
Description: M.A.HISTORY
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2012
Dissertations - FacArtHis - 2012

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