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MALTA


his Algerian allies, before deciding on their final plans. Meanwhile, against Mustapha's better judgment, Piali induced the council of war to attack St Elmo, in order 'to open the way for his fleet to an anchorage, safe in all weathers, in Marsamuscetto harbour. This strategical blunder was turned to the best advantage by La Valette, who so prolonged the most heroic defence of St Elmo that the Turks lost 7000 killed and as many wounded before exterminating the 1200 defenders, who fell at their post. In the interval Dragut was mortally wounded, the attack on Notabile was neglected, valuable time lost, and the main objective (the Borgo) and St Angelo left intact. The subsequent siege of St Angelo, and its supporting fortifications, was marked by the greatest bravery on both sides. The knights and their Maltese troops fought for death or victory, without asking or giving quarter. The Grand Master proved as wise a leader as he was brave. By September food and ammunition were getting scarce, a large relieving force was expected from Sicily, and Piali became restive, on the approach of the equinox, for the safety of his galleys. At last the Viceroy of Sicily, who had the Spanish and allied fieets at his disposal, was spurred to action by his council. He timidly landed about 6000 or 8000 troops at the north-west of Malta and withdrew. The Turks began a hurried embarkation and allowed the Christians to join forces at Notabile; then, hearing less alarming particulars of the relieving force, Mustapha relanded his reluctant troops, faced his enemies in the open, and was driven in confusion to his ships on the 8th of September.

The Order thus reached the highest pinnacle of its fame, and new knights flocked to be enrolled therein from the flower of the nobility of Europe; La Valette refused a cardinal's hat, determined not to impair his independence. He made his name immortal by founding on Mt Sceberras “ a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen ” and making Valletta a magnificent example of fortification, unrivalled in the world. The pope and other sovereigns donated vast sums for this new' bulwark of Christianity, but, as its ramparts grew in strength, the knightsiwere slow to seek the enemy in his own waters, and became false to their traditional strategy as a naval power. Nevertheless, they harassed Turkish commerce and made booty in minor engagements throughout the 16th and 18th centuries, and they took part as an allied Christian power in the great victory of Lepanto. With the growth of wealth and security the martial spirit of the Order began to wane, and so also did its friendly relations with the Maltese. The field for recruiting its members, as well as its landed estates, became restricted by the Reformation in England and Germany, and the French knights gradually gained a preponderance which upset the international equilibrium of the Order. The election of elderly Grand Masters became prevalent, the turmoil and chances of frequent elections being acceptable to younger members. The civil government became neglected and disorganized, licentiousness increased, and riots began to be threatening. Expenditure on costly buildings was almost ceaseless, and kept the people alive. In 1614 the Vignacourt aqueduct was constructed. The Jesuits established a university, but they were expelled and their property confiscated in 1768. British ships of war visited Malta in 1675, and in 1688 a fleet under the duke of 'Grafton came to Valletta. The fortifications of the “ Three Cities ” were greatly strengthened under the Grand Master Cotoner.

In 1 722 the Turkish prisoners and slaves, then very numerous, formed a conspiracy to rise and seize the island. Premature discovery was followed by prompt suppression. Castle St Angelo and the fort of St James were, in 177 5, surprised by rebels, clamouring against bad government; this rising is known as the Rebellion of the Priests, from its leader, Mannarino. The last but one of the Grand Masters who reigned in Malta, de Rohan, restored good government, abated abuses and promulgated a code of laws; but the ascendancy acquired by the Inquisition over the Order, the confiscation of the property of the knights in France on the outbreak of the Revolution, and the intrigues of the French made the task of regenerating the Order evidently hopeless in the changed conditions of Christendom. On the death of Rohan the French knights disagreed as to the selection of his minority were able to elect, in 1797, a

character, Ferdinand Hompesch, as the last rule in Malta. Bonaparte had arranged to

treachery, and he took possession without

successor, and a

German of weak

Grand Master to

obtain Malta by

resistance in June 1798; after a stay of six days he proceeded with the bulk of his forces to Egypt, leaving General Vaubois with 6000 troops to hold Valletta. The exiled knights made an attempt to reconstruct themselves under the emperor Paul of Russia, but finally the Catholic parent stem of the Order settled in Rome and continues there under papal auspices. It still comprises members who take vows of celibacy and prove the requisite number of quartering's.

Towards the close of the rule of the knights in Malta feudal institutions had been "shaken to their foundations, but the transition to republican rule was too sudden and extreme for the people to accept it. The French plundered the churches, abolished monks, nuns and nobles, and set up forthwith the ways and doings of the French Revolution. Among other laws Bonaparte enacted that French should at once be the official language, that 30 young men should every year be sent to France for their education; that all foreign monks be expelled, that no new priests be ordained before employment could be found for those existing; that ecclesiastical jurisdiction should cease; that neither the bishop nor

charge fees for sacramental ministrations, trade, absence of work (in a population of half had been living on foreign revenues of famine, followed the defeat of Bonaparte

the failure of his plans to make Malta a

the priests could

&c. Stoppage of

which more than

the knights), and

at the Nile, and

centre of French

trade. An attempt to seize church valuables ~at Notabile was forcibly resisted by the Maltese, and general discontent broke out into open rebellion on the 2nd of September 1798. The French soon discovered to their dismay that, from behind the rubble walls of every field, the agile Maltese were unassailable. The prospect of an English blockade of' Malta encouraged the revolt, of which Canon Caruana became the leader. Nelson was appealed to, and with the aid of Portuguese allies he established a blockade and deputed Captain Ball, R. N. (afterwards the first governor) to assume, on the 9th of February 1799, the provisional administration of Malta and to superintend operations on land. Nelson recognized the movement in Malta as a successful revolution against the French, and upheld the contention that the king of Sicily (as successor to Charles V. in that part of the former kingdom of Aragon) was the legitimate sovereign of Malta. British troops were landed to assist in the siege; few lives were lost in actual combat, nevertheless famine and sickness killed thousands of the inhabitants, and finally forced the French to surrender to the allies. Canon Caruana and other leaders of the Maltese aspired to obtain for Malta the freedom of the Roman Catholic religion guaranteed by England in Canada and other dependencies, and promoted a petition in order that Malta should come under the strong power of England rather than revert to the kingdom of the two Sicilies.

The Treaty of Amiens (1802) provided for the restoration of the island to the Order of St John; against this the Maltese strongly protested, realizing that it would be followed by the re-establishment of French influence. The English flag was flown side by side with the Neapolitan, and England actually renewed war with France sooner than give up Malta. The Treaty of Paris (1814), with the acclamations of the Maltese, confirmed Great Britain in the aggregation of Malta to the empire. 7 A period elapsed before the government of Malta again became self-supporting, during which over £600,000 was contributed by the British exchequer in aid of revenue, and for the importation of food-stuffs. The restoration of Church property, the re-establishment of law and administration on lines to which the people were accustomed before the French invasion, and the claiming for the Crown of the vast landed property of the knights, were the first cares of British civil rule. As successor to the Order, the Crown claimed and eventually established (by the negotiations in Rome of Sir Frederick Hankey, Sir Gerald Strickland and