Although Malta throughout history, since the Neolithic, i.e. Since approximately 5000 BC, and until the most recent times, it has always been at the center of events in the old world, only two periods of history left the greatest imprint on Malta: the megalithic culture of the New Stone Age and the culture of the knights of the Order of St. John.
Until recently, the Egyptian pyramids were considered the oldest structures on earth, but recent research has shown that the mysterious megalithic sanctuaries in Malta are 500, if not all 1,000 years older than the famous pyramids in Giza. These temples were built from huge blocks of stone weighing several tons – without exaggeration, a difficult task even with today’s level of technological development. Until today, it remains a mystery how 6,000 or 7,000 years ago it was possible to move and even lift such weights to a height of several meters, with only the most primitive auxiliary means available. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Malta.
Around 2000 BC, traces of the mysterious people who once inhabited the islands of the Maltese archipelago suddenly break off – this happens during the heyday of their culture. Was this people, which deliberately renounced any kind of weapons, the construction of fortresses, palaces, houses and, probably, metal in general, exterminated by armed foreign conquerors? Or was it wiped off the face of the earth by a sudden terrible epidemic? There are no answers to these questions.
The history of the island is fraught with many unknowns. There are many legends associated with the life of the island. One of them tells how, off the coast of Malta, in 60 AD, the ship on which St. Paul sailed to Rome was wrecked. It is with this event that the emergence of Christianity in Malta is associated.
In the ninth century BC e. the island of Malta belonged to the Phoenicians, in the VIII century. BC e. – to the Greeks. From the 6th century BC e. possession of Carthage. During the Punic Wars, the island was captured by the Romans in 218 BC. e. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Malta was captured by the Vandals, then by the Ostrogoths, and in 533 became part of the Byzantine Empire.
In 869, the island was occupied by the Arabs, and in the XI century. passed to the Normans, who annexed Malta to Sicily.
From the 16th century the island was transferred to the knights of the order of St. John, who became known as the Knights of Malta. Beginning in 1680, French influence grew on the island, and in the 18th century. Malta was France’s major commercial center in the Mediterranean. In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte captured the island, which, however, in 1800 passed into the hands of the British.
The Knights of the Order of St. John brought a second distinctive highly developed culture to Malta. It cannot be said that in the period between the decline of the Meganites culture and the arrival of the Knights of St. John in Malta, absolutely nothing was achieved – a lot of architectural monuments created between 1500 BC. and 1500 AD, which still delight visitors to Malta today, testify to the opposite, but under no other “conquerors”, be it the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks or Romans, did their own unique culture arise.
The history of the Order of St. John begins around 1050 AD. in the Holy Land. The initial task of the order was to care for the wounded and sick in the crusades, as well as care for the poor. However, soon the duties of the knights were added to the “protection” of those making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the fight against the “infidels”. The order began to understand itself as a “soldier of Christ”, having possessions and castles in the Holy Land and even its own fleet.
However, with the loss in 1291 of Akkon, which had fallen to the Muslims, the fate of the knights in Palestine was a foregone conclusion. First, the knights retreated to Rhodes, becoming, with the support of Europe, for 200 years a shield against the “infidels” – until Suleiman the Magnificent ousted the knights in 1522, led by the then Grand Master Le “Islem Adam from Rhodes. The knights needed a new homeland, they found it in Malta, which was very impoverished at that time, which they received as a fief from Emperor Charles V.
Thanks to the knights, trade began again, and life was filled with changes, they began to build hospitals and, most importantly, fortifications. This brought work and bread to the local population: the necessary funds came from donations collected throughout Europe, from income from the knights’ own possessions, as well as from booty captured during “caravans” – pirate attacks on wealthy Muslim merchants. In 1565, Suleiman the Magnificent marched against Malta, with a strong fleet and a large army at his disposal, in order to put an end to the knightly order.
The siege lasted several months and was carried out with extreme cruelty. In the museums of Valletta, this struggle is described and documented in great detail. The knights held firm and eventually won, having received help from a reserve army of 8,000 from Sicily. Sultan Suleiman withdrew, and the pirate Dragut, who came to the aid of Suleiman, died under the walls of St. Elmo from a cannonball.
The Order of St. John under the leadership of Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valetta again successfully defended the southern flank of Europe from the Turks. The city of Valletta, built on the Sciberras peninsula, was later named in his honor.
After the victory over the Turks, the knights devoted themselves to the further building and development of Malta and Gozo. A flowering of architecture and culture followed. Magnificent buildings arose, which can still be admired in Malta today. But along with the growth of prosperity, the initial tasks of the order began to fade. Arrogance, indiscipline and unbridledness appeared. And like many societies that have survived the decline of society, the history of the order shows that “good years” without moral attitudes carry the germ of decline. When Napoleon, with his fleet and 58,000 troops, in 1789, on his way to Egypt, wanted to “make a halt in Malta” under the pretext of replenishing water and provisions, the comfortably settled knights surrendered without a fight. The order was scattered in all directions of the wind. However, French rule in Malta lasted only two years. after which the Maltese rebelled, calling for help from the British. For more than 150 years, until the end of World War II, the British used the island as a powerful base for their fleet. Malta declared its independence on September 21, 1964 and became a republic on December 13, 1974.