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Siege of Malta History is full of dramatic battles that changed the course of great nations.

From the American Revolution that gained independence for our country, to world war two, that set the greatest countries against each other and ravaged most of Europe. There is a battle that during its time was the greatest European victory of all time, but has fallen into obscurity as the centuries past. This was the siege of Malta in 1565. Today you will learn who partook in the battle, the importance of the battle in history, and how one vastly outnumbered side was victorious. Before we get into the battle, it is important to know where Malta is located. Malta is a small island that is directly south of Sicily, and North of Libya. The siege mainly took place at the Marsa Sirocco harbor, or the Grand Harbor. Three forts, Fort Saint Elmo, Fort Saint Angelo, and Fort Saint Michael defended this harbor. This battle was between the order of the Knights Hospitallers and the Ottoman Empire. Nicholas Ormes The Knights Hospitallers of the English Langue, a history book, tells that the Knights Hospitallers were established during one of the last crusades. Their last holdings in the holy land ended in Rhodes at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. After retreating to Sicily, Charles V of Spain gave them the Island of Malta as a homeland. In Rothmans The Great Siege of Malta, there were only 6,100 soldiers on the Knight Hospitallers side, but they were lead a great strategic general, Jean Parisot de Valetta. In contrast, the Ottoman Empire was the largest empire during the sixteenth century. In Patrick Kinrosss book The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and fall of the Turkish Empire, in 1565, the Ottoman Empire consisted of 15,000,000 people across three continents. The Ottoman Empire nearly consisted of all of the land around the Mediterranean Sea. At the time of the siege of Malta, the Ottoman sultan was Suleiman the Great, who is considered to be the one of the greatest leaders of his time. According to Rothmans The Great Siege of Malta, Suleiman sent over 48,000 Turkish troops lead by Vizier Lala Mustafa Pasha and Piyale Pasha to take the island. The reason why this battle was important for the Ottoman Empire to win was due to the fact that the Suleiman wanted to expand his empire into the European powers. Due to the vast size of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman had the resources and enough soldiers to accomplish his desire. In Helen Bonavitas book Key to Christendom: The 1565 Siege of Malta, the reason why Suleiman want take Malta was to have a strategic foothold to invade Italy from. If Suleiman could defeat and control Italy, and consequently the Vatican, then he would have delivered a major moral blow to the Europeans by conquering their religious leadership. Malta was a prime target because it is the perfect place to send supplies and troops for organization before a major invasion. Thus the siege of Malta was not just about getting land for either side, for the Knights it was about defending their home and their faith, and for the Ottomans it was about gaining a foothold on Christian territory. At the beginning of the battle, the Turks (Ottoman Empire troops) captured Fort St. Elmo, but ultimately the Knights won and remained in control of Forts St. Angelo and Michael. This is considered on of the greatest military victories against all odds. Despite the odds of 8 Turks for every one Knight, the Hospitallers held the

island. This is due to the innovation of effective weapons and the great leadership of de Valetta, the Knight Hospitaller general. In the History Channel documentary Warriors, hosted by Terry Schappert, the Hospitallers had many unique weapons like rudimentary hand grenades, and Arquebuses, an early firearm. The most effective weapons however were the Trumps and fire hoops. The trump is a rudimentary flamethrower, and the fire hoops were just burnable material wrapped around a metal hoop. The reason these were so effective was because the Turks wore loose silk clothing on top of their armor, which means that the soldiers could be easily set on fire. The other reason the Knights won was due to the bravery and tactical genius of their general. Jean Parisot de Valetta was 71 years old at the time of the siege. Despite his age, he was always fighting in the thickest of battles and at one point even continued fighting after a grenade exploded and injured his leg. The other reason de Valetta was a great leader was because he was a tactical genius. In letters and journal entries that presented in the documentary, the Turks final bid for Fort St. Michael was a siege tower that they dismantled a ship to build. Rather than try and defend against the siege tower, de Valetta had a section dug out from the wall where the Turks were sending the siege tower. When the tower got to the wall, de Valetta had a cannon shoot through the remaining piece of wall, which sent the cannon into the siege tower, thus destroying it and giving a blow to the Turks that they could not recover from. Victory was assured for the Knights and the siege was lifted after three months of battle. Thus the battle between the Knights Hospitaller and the Ottoman Empire was over and Europe was safe from invasion. This battle marks the end of the Ottoman reign because now European nations saw that the Ottomans were not invincible, and this led to the eventual fall of the Ottoman Empire. With innovative weapons and a great leader, a small army of 6,100 men repelled a grand army of 48,000 me, and thus ending on of the greatest battles in history.

Works cited: Bonavita, H. (2002). Key to Christendom: The 1565 Siege of Malta, Its Histories, and Their Use in Reformation Polemic. Sixteenth Century Journal, 33(4), 1021-1043. Kinross, L. (1979). The ottoman centuries, the rise and fall of the turkish empire. (PF ed.). Harper Perennial ORME, N. (2007). The Knights Hospitaller of the English Langue 14601565. History, 92(306), 258-259. doi:10.1111/j.1468-229X.2007.394_9.x. Rothman, T. (2007). THE GREAT SIEGE OF MALTA. (Cover story). History Today, 57(1), 12-19. Schappert, T. (Performer) (2010). Warriors: The last crusaders [Television series episode]. In Schapper, T. (Executive Producer), History. New York: History Channel.