History of Malta

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The history of Malta began with the human occupation of the early Neolithic period . The first cultural heyday took place between 3800 and 2500 BC. Then the Maltese Islands remained uninhabited for a long time. Over the past two and a half millennia, the island has been part of various empires. After the rule of the Punians , Romans and Arabs , Malta was under the influence of European noble houses before the Order of Malta settled there in 1530 . His reign, shaped by the struggle against the Ottoman Empire , has influenced island life to this day. In 1798 the islands were occupied by France, which was expelled from Great Britain two years later. After 164 years of British colonial rule, Malta was given independence in 1964 and has been a parliamentary republic since 1974. Malta joined the European Union in 2004 and introduced the euro in 2008 .

Malta , Filfla , Comino and Cominotto on a 17th century map. From the book Historiae universalis cum sacrae, tum profanae nucleus, published by Gabriel Bucelinus in Ulm around 1650 ...

Early days

The coastline during the last ice age

Possibly the oldest human remains are three molars discovered in 1917 and 1936, which, however, are considered to be extremely uncertain in their assignment to Neanderthals . They come from the Għar Dalam , the 'cave of darkness', in which the bones, tusks and teeth of pygmy elephants and hippos were discovered. It is believed that Malta was uninhabited during the period when the island was between 12,000 and 7,000 BC. Was separated from the mainland again with the rise of sea levels. Although other islands, such as Cyprus , were already used by hunters and gatherers in the 10th millennium BC. Were visited, a settlement of the equally accessible Malta can only be found from around 5200 BC. Prove.

The famous Sleeping Lady from the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni

The first settlers are likely to have belonged to the Stentinello culture , a group of the cardial or imprint cultures . They were arable farmers and brought their own pets, pottery, stone tools, and seeds. Malta was forested at that time and had fertile soil. However, there was no flint considered necessary for tool making.

A section of the Tarxien temple complex

From around 3800 BC The people of the so-called Maltese temple culture began to hollow out rocks and build places of worship from large stone blocks. The latter were roofed over, plastered and whitewashed in light ocher colors . They had a similar floor plan: a trilith gate usually led to a corridor through two or four kidney-shaped bays to the head niche. The buildings had an outer, publicly accessible area with a large exedra , as well as the inner one, access to which only the priesthood was permitted if necessary. Some temples were dedicated, as statues seem to show, to the Great Mother of Fertility. The Maltese built temples, of which at least 23 are still preserved. However, they no longer have a roof. It is a mystery what the agglomeration was for, since it is believed that no more than 16,000 people lived on the islands. The grinding marks are also an unexplained phenomenon. The island was isolated during the temple phase. This is evident from the fact that until his abandonment in 2500 BC chr. no Copper Age influences reached the archipelago. It is not yet clear what led to this sudden slump, which is why only hypotheses can be made. These take droughts, epidemics and tidal waves into account, as well as crop failures that forced people to leave the island. However, it can be considered certain that there were no armed conflicts, as no weapons from this culture were found.

The periodisation of the prescribed cultures takes place according to sites that are of central importance. The early development of the Maltese settlement is given in periods and phases, the exact temporal delimitation, however, has not yet been clearly defined. In some cases, very different information can be found. The classification is used to determine the time of the found ceramics and sculptures.

period phase Years before Chr. Found objects
Bronze and Iron Ages Baħrija 0900-700
Borġ in-Nadur 1500-700 Bronze Age village
Tarxien necropolis 2500-1500
The temple period Tarxien 3300 / 3000-2500 Tarxien Temple , Ħaġar Qim
Saflieni 3300-3000 Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni
Ġgantija 3600-3300 / 3000 Ġgantija , Mnajdra
Mġarr 3800-3600
Żebbuġ 4100-3800 Brochtorff Circle
Neolithic Red scorba 4400-4100
Gray scorba 4500-4400
Għar Dalam 5000-4500

The individual phases often bear the name of a known temple or something similar from the corresponding period:

  • The Għar Dalam phase begins with the first detectable traces of human settlement and lasts until around 4500 BC. It is named after Għar Dalam , a 200 meter long karst cave in the southeast of the island. In addition to traces of human settlement, thousands of animal bones were found there, including pygmy elephants and hippos. There are only cave finds from this period, and the artifacts are clearly influenced by the Stentinello culture.
The temple of Mnajdra
  • The Skorba phase is named after a site in the small town of Żebbiegħ. The remains of a megalithic temple were found there. During the excavations from 1960 to 1963 by the English archaeologist David H. Trump , traces of settlement from 5200 BC were discovered. Until the 3rd millennium BC The scorba phase is divided into an early phase with predominantly gray ceramic and a late phase with red ceramic. House burials were carried out at the beginning of the phase; at the end of the phase, the residential complex and burial site were separated. After that, people started building underground burial chambers to bury their dead.
  • The Żebbuġ phase is named after the place Żebbuġ, where primitive burial chambers were found, but also the first single-cell temples. It is possible that there was repopulation over Sardinia at the beginning of the phase.
  • The Mġarr or early Ġgantija phase is named after the graves in Mġarr; others were found in caves near the coastal town of Xemxija. These graves were much more developed than those of the Żebbuġ phase. Some had kidney-shaped bulges that irregularly followed the shape of the cave. This spatial shape was then implemented in early temples, for example in the temple complex of Ta 'Ħaġrat. Later temples of this phase showed the typical kidney-shaped apses in a trefoil-shaped triangular formation. In addition to the temples of Ġgantija and Ta 'Ħaġrat, facilities at Skorba, Mnajdra and Tarxien are also assigned to this phase. The actual 1100 year megalithic phase on Malta begins with it.
  • The Saflieni phase is named after the hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni , which began during this period. The first double- kidney- shaped, five apse temples appeared, for example at Skorba, Ta 'Ħaġrat and Tarxien. In addition, the temple complex was built by Ħaġar Qim. Spiral decorations and trilith altars emerged as stylistic elements .
  • In this Tarxien phase, named after the temples of Tarxien, four- and six-apse models of the temples developed. The central temple of Tarxien was built, the complex of Ġgantija was completed, the temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra were completed and the hypogeum was expanded to include the lower floors. At the end of the Tarxien phase, the temple construction stops abruptly.

Bronze age

The Bronze Age in Malta is associated with a repopulation of the island, which took place around 2500 BC. BC a population with a completely different culture and unknown origin settled on the apparently deserted island at that time.

The new population brought the bronze, previously unknown on the island, and burned their dead. The oldest phase of the Maltese Bronze Age is marked by the Tarxien cemetery. The only previously known urn burial ground was created in the middle of the temple ruins. Rows of open urns with corpses were found in a layer of earth mixed with ashes . The urns often contained smaller vessels as well as charred seeds and plant parts. Lumps of textiles are likely to be leftover clothing. Small, flat pearls accompanying the deceased were found in abundance, as were bronze axes and flat dagger blades . Themistocles Żammit found a number of highly stylized anthropomorphic, mostly seated terracotta figurines in the same layer . Two of them are recognizable as female, while the others have a flat disc covered with geometric incised patterns as their body. There is no reference to the apartments of the population living in the “Tarxien Cemetery Phase”. The only structures that can be associated with them are dolmens of various sizes. In Maltese they are called l-imsaqqfa (with a roof). The dolmen consist of a roughly hewn capstone, which is supported on two or three sides by bearing stones, which usually stand on one of their long narrow sides. The bedrock is worked out under the middle, so that a pit up to 60 cm deep was created. The dolmens were used as burial sites (for cremation graves). The closest parallels can be found in Apulia and Sicily .

Uncertainty and danger are apparently indicated 1000 years later, in the so-called Borg in Nadur phase (approx. 1500–700 BC), which got its name after a walled place near Marsaxlokk . It consisted of a group of oval huts perched on a triangular ledge. Two steep slopes formed the natural protection, the third side was secured by means of a massive wall using the Cyclops technique . Other places of the Borg in Nadur phase were on flattened hills (Fawwara and Wardija ta 'San Gorg on Malta and In-Nuffara on Gozo). Typical for the phase are shallow, bottle-shaped pits with vertical walls, the purpose of which is unclear. Groups of such pits have been found in Wardija ta 'San Gorg, on the rocky promontory of Mtarfa, In-Nuffara and in Borg in-Nadur. In the vicinity of the village there is a group of mines directly on the coast. Some are even under water, which indicates that this part of the island has subsided over the last millennia. The function of cymbals (rock-cut pans), which were picked into outcrops as flat as possible, is also unclear , as in Mġarr ix-Xini .

Typical of the ceramics of this time is a red coating that tends to peel off. The decoration consists of deeply cut zigzag lines, which are often encrusted with a white mass. Characteristic shapes are a two-handled goblet on a high, conical base and a bowl with an ax-shaped handle. In Borg in-Nadur there were indications that metal was not only used but also processed.

The last section of the Maltese Bronze Age, the Bahrija phase (approx. 900–700 BC), spans little more than a century. It brought a small group of new settlers who probably came from southern Italy and occupied the naturally protected rocky promontory of Qlejgha near Bahrija. Although this is the only known settlement of the people so far, their pottery has also been found in other places (Ghar Dalam, Borg in-Nadur, Tas-Silg). The pottery is dark gray to black with a black coating. The decoration of geometric patterns such as triangles, zigzag lines and meanders consists of notches that have a rectangular cross-section and are usually encrusted with a white mass. Some painted pottery shards show a relationship to the shaft grave culture of Calabria .


Phoenicians and Carthaginians (800 BC to 217 BC)

Around 800 BC BC (according to other sources as early as around 1100 BC), the Levant- born Phoenicians established a trading post on the archipelago. In Phoenician sources, the larger island is referred to as MLT (probably pronounced malet , which means refuge), and the smaller island is referred to as GL (probably pronounced gol , after the breadth of the Phoenician trading ships). The ethnic intermingling with the local population quickly took place , and they also adopted the Phoenician customs and traditions. This can be seen from the fact that two temples for Phoenician deities were built on the main island: Above the Grand Harbor, presumably in the area of ​​today's Fort St. Angelo in Vittoriosa , a sanctuary was built for Melkart and on the bay of Marsaxlokk near Tas-Silg one for Astarte . At that time, Malta, like all Phoenician bases, was self-sufficient . Although written records of events on the islands began at this time, no reports have been received indicating which goods were traded on Malet and Gol. However, it can be assumed that olive oil was an important product. In addition, the Phoenicians probably intensified the weaving trade and began to produce pottery.

The Carthaginian sphere of influence around 264 BC Chr.

Gradually, the Levantine Phoenicians lost their influence, and the Carthaginians (Punians) of North Africa, descended from the Phoenicians, began to exert their influence on the islands. So it came to the adoption of new gods on the archipelago; The symbol of the Carthaginian fertility goddess Tanit can be found in an artificial cave at Dwerja Bay on Gozo . Although Malta was dependent on Carthage, it maintained close ties with the Greek cities in Sicily and southern Italy. Southern Italian black-glazed and red-figure pottery was widespread during this period, and the tombs were decorated in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. BC almost corresponds to that in the necropolis of Leptis. The economy flourished under the loose control that Carthage had over Malta. Malta became a hub in the Carthaginian trading system, where fine linen, olive oil and honey were handled. Egypt is a secure trading partner , as an anthropomorphic terracotta coffin was found in a grave in Ghar Barka and scarab amulets elsewhere , which were typical of Egyptian handicrafts and date back to that time. At the same time, shipyards were used to build and repair Carthaginian ships. The temples, which are known in a larger area, attracted pilgrims from more distant regions. The Punians tried to use the base of Malta to defend themselves against the Hellenic colonization of Sicily . Despite the hostility, finds of ancient Greek coins, inscriptions and ceramics have shown that besides Carthaginians, Hellenes also lived on the archipelago. 392 BC The inhabitants succeeded in averting an occupation of the island by the Greek tyrant Dionysios . Although the Carthaginians were among the most skilful seafarers of their time, there were repeated raids on Malta by pirates who often abducted and enslaved residents. With the rise of the Roman Republic , which was a militarily equal opponent to Carthage, the task of Malta also shifted. The islands no longer served primarily as a defense against the Greeks, but as a base against the Romans. In the First Punic War , the 264 BC Began, the archipelago was an important base for the Carthaginian galleys , and after the end of the conflict in 241 BC. Unlike Sicily, it initially remained under the influence of Carthage. But as early as 217 BC At the beginning of the Second Punic War , Malta fell under Roman influence and the Carthaginians were unable to retake it.

Roman Empire (217 BC to 395 AD)

The Romans initially treated Malta like all conquered lands and appointed a procurator responsible for civil and military affairs . They changed the names of the islands: Malet became Melita and Gol Gaulus. It can be assumed that Melita is derived from Mel, the Latin word for honey , which was then obtained in large quantities on the main island. In addition, in addition to the construction of the city of Melita (today's Mdina ) over an older Punic settlement , the Romans also ordered the establishment of Victoria on Gozo. After several decades, the relationship with the Roman Republic changed positively in that it saw Malta more as an ally than as a conquered and made numerous concessions to the population. This change in relations was probably due to the fact that the Romans recognized Malta's strategic position in the fight against the Carthaginians. The residents were allowed to keep their language as well as their own gods. After the end of the Third Punic War in 146 BC. In BC Malta was surrounded by Roman provinces, which brought long-term military security. The previously frequent looting by pirates has now stopped.

The Romans introduced an irrigation system and thus enabled a more extensive cultivation. The most important agricultural goods in the archipelago at that time were flax , wax , wheat , olive oil and honey. Other sources of income were the repair and supply of the Roman ships. In order to be able to meet the increasing demand for these services, the existing port facilities were expanded and new ports were built in Burmarrd and San Pawl il-Baħar on Malta and Xlendi and Marsalforn on Gozo. As a result of the increasing prosperity on the islands, an upper class developed over the years and settled in villas on Comino . 45 BC Chr. Handed Julius Caesar , the island's veterans and so began the slow Romanization. This ultimately led to the old Phoenician and Carthaginian gods being ousted from everyday life in Malta. The temple dedicated to Astarte on Marsaxlokk Bay was taken over for Juno and that of Melkart for Heracles . However, the Romans also introduced new gods. A temple was built for Apollo in Melita and Proserpine in Mtarfa .

According to legend, the famous shipwreck of Paulus of Tarsus , who was escorted from Crete to Rome as a prisoner , occurred off Malta in 59 (see also St. Paul's Bay and St. Paul's Island ). He was housed in an underground grotto in Melita, but had such great freedom of movement that he had the opportunity to convert the first Maltese to Christianity and to appoint the first bishop. After three months he traveled on. In the 2nd century, under Emperor Hadrian , the island was made a municipality with internal self-government and a government committed to Rome was established. Nowadays it is no longer clear whether Gozo was a separate municipality or was affiliated to Malta. Christianity continued to spread in Malta, but its followers were initially forced to practice their religion in secret to avoid persecution. For this reason the extensive catacombs in Malta were created , which served both as burial places and as prayer rooms. In the years 305 to 311, during the last great persecution of Christians, numerous Sicilian Christians fled to Malta. Two years later, Constantine the Great introduced the Constantinian Turn , from which Christians could freely live out their faith.

When the empire was divided in 395 , when the Roman Empire was divided between his sons after the death of Emperor Theodosius I , Malta fell under the political sphere of influence of the Western Roman Empire , but ecclesiastically belonged to the Eastern Roman, later the Byzantine Empire .

Germanic peoples and Byzantines (395–870 AD)

The Western Roman Empire was extremely unstable and disintegrated within a few decades in the course of the great migration . In general, only a few documents relating to Malta are known from the following epoch, which lasted about 385 years. In 439 the Vandals under their king Geiseric began attacks against the receding empire, especially against Sardinia , southern Italy and Sicily . It can be assumed that Malta was also affected by these advances, but it was only after the sack of Rome in 455 that it became part of the realm of the Vandals. In 494 the Ostrogoths under Theodoric conquered the archipelago. In the early 530s, Belisarius , an Eastern Roman general and general, began to recapture the former Roman possessions in North Africa. He landed on Malta in 533 and took possession of the islands for the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I.

The Maltese archipelago was also affected by the military restructuring of the Byzantine Empire into so-called themes , and the names of officers Nicetas, Drungarios and Arcontes are found in the records between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century. Malta and Gozo may have been strategically important bases for warships, but because they were on the edge of the Byzantine sphere of influence, their importance as a trading hub steadily declined and soon dried up. This led to a deterioration in living conditions, and towards the end of Byzantine rule over the archipelago, the majority of the formerly splendid buildings had fallen into disrepair and the Maltese were mostly living in poor conditions in the countryside again.

middle Ages

The Arab Period (870-1090)

The Byzantines on Melita were faced with the North African Muslims in the early 9th century, who tried to expand their sphere of influence. Their military attacks on the small Mediterranean islands began around 836, but could initially be repulsed. In 870 the Aghlabids from what is now Tunisia managed to plunder Malta during their conquest of Sicily . Many residents were murdered. But the invaders initially left the island and did not finally take possession of it until 904. The Islam was introduced, and many place names were arabisisert; the ancient names Melita and Gaulus eventually evolved into Malta and Gћawdex. The two small offshore islands were also renamed. One was given the name Kemmuna ( Comino in Italian ) because of the predominant caraway cultivation there and the other was named Filfla because of the pepper cultivation there .

Among other things, the Arabs introduced the economically important cotton cultivation to Malta

The subjugated population was given the choice of converting to Islam or becoming second class residents. Many who remained true to the Christian faith were enslaved. Malta became a major hub for the Arab slave trade . Comparatively happier were those Christians who paid a tribute (Harag) or a special tax ( Jizya ). These persons, who are tolerated with restricted legal status, are called dhimmi in the Islamic world . However, as far as is known, there was no religious persecution in Malta at any time. Most people adopted the Muslim faith in order to avoid the jizya tax and other discriminatory rules e.g. B. to escape in property, family and inheritance law. According to a census carried out in 991, 6,339 Christian and 14,972 Muslim families lived on the islands at that time. It can therefore be assumed that Christianity continued to be practiced, possibly also in secret, for example in the catacombs. However, there were also Christian Maltese who lived with Muslims. It was called rum, which was the common Arabic name for both the Byzantine Empire and its inhabitants. Even today there are place names on Malta that indicate this fact, e.g. B. Wied ir-Rum (Valley of the Rum).

Although the Maltese islands were considered to be rather backward from a cultural point of view - the center of Islamic art and culture in the western Mediterranean was on Sicily - the Arabs nevertheless introduced some important innovations. For example, they installed numerous animal-driven water wheels , so-called sienjas, for more efficient irrigation of the fields on the archipelago . Mainly cotton was planted on these , the sale of which was Malta's most important source of income in the centuries that followed.

In order to secure their power, the Muslims built a fortress on the site of the former Temple of Heracles, under whose walls and protection several warships were anchored. Many Maltese were obliged to work on the ships. At the same time, the Arabs built heavily fortified fortresses in the interior. So they separated part of the city of Melita, surrounded it with a wide moat and high walls and called it Medina ( Mdina ). The unfortified parts of the city were given the name Rabat (suburb). Similarly, the citadel of the main town of Gozos, Victoria , which was also called Rabat, was built. This division of the cities into a fortified and an unfortified part was common in the Mediterranean area at the time and was used by the Arabs especially in North Africa. As in Malta, the walled area was usually named Medina, which means "city". These fortified areas with their narrow streets nowadays often represent the old town of the places and can still be found, for example, in Fez , Tunis , Hammamet and Tripoli .

The Byzantines made several attempts to retake the islands, but were unsuccessful. An attack in 1048 caused the Arabs to call for help from Sicily. The emir also lifted a regulation that prohibited the Maltese people from carrying weapons. According to the Arab historian Kawzuni , he urged them:

“Take up arms by our side, if we win, you should be free like us and share our property with us; if you do not fight, we will be killed like you. "

The Maltese decided to join in the fight, and together they managed to fend off the Byzantines. As a reward, the emir granted the residents a number of privileges. In 1090 the islands were conquered by the Normans . Roger I drove out the Muslim rulers after conquering Sicily from them in a 29-year war.

Even today, most of the topographical names in Malta have Arabic roots. In the far west of Gozo there is a place called Għarb , which means west, and the village Baħrija on the main island of Malta bears the Arabic name for oasis .

Rule of the Normans, Hohenstaufen, the House of Anjou and Aragón (1090–1525)

Roger I occupied Malta to build a southern front against attacks by the Arabs. He made the Muslims into vassals and took tribute from their governors. The Christian forced laborers were freed, but the majority of the institutions established by the Arabs remained. Unlike after the Arab conquest in 870, the Normans did not exert any pressure to convert. A census in 1240 found that 73% of families were Muslim, 24% Christian, and 3% Jewish. The Christian consolidation came later. In 1156 the diocese of Malta was subordinated to the Archdiocese of Palermo as a suffragan . 1168 the first bishop of Malta is known by name. The notary of Frederick I , the Strasbourg Vitztum Burchard, wrote in a report about his diplomatic mission to Alexandria after 1175 that the island of Malta was inhabited by Saracens and was under the rule of the King of Sicily. It is not certain whether he was in Malta. Margaritos of Brindisi is attested as the first count of Malta from 1192 to 1194. These loyal servants were granted feudal rights and fiefs on the islands.

The last Norman king had no descendants, so that Sicily and thus also Malta in 1194 to the Hohenstaufen under Henry VI. fell. His successor, Frederick II , had a Muslim uprising suppressed in Sicily in 1249 and banished all residents of the Muslim faith from Malta. Many Muslims were forcibly converted to Christianity. In the 13./14. In the 19th century, Malta saw heavy immigration from Sicily and Italy. In 1223 the citizens of the city of Celano, who had rebelled against Emperor Friedrich, were deported to Malta.

In 1268 Charles I of Naples , the younger brother of the French King Louis IX, succeeded. To conquer Sicily, with which he also gained control of Malta. The archipelago was temporarily under Angevin control. After only 14 years this was ended as a result of the Sicilian Vespers , during which Peter III. enforced by Aragón . Malta became a subject of dispute between Charles I and Peter III.

The conflict was decided in 1284 in a naval battle off Malta, from which Aragón emerged victorious. The French were forced to withdraw from Malta. The Maltese wanted to incorporate the island into the royal domain and submit it directly to the rule of the sovereign instead of being administered by a governor. After several requests to this effect, their request was granted, but the integration was not permanent.

From around 1350 on, members of the Maltese population could also be raised to the nobility. The consequence was the convening of a council with administrative tasks, the so-called "Universitas Melitiae" ("Entire Malta", Italian: Università), whose members elected a governor ( hakem , Maltese-Arabic: sage ) from their ranks. Such a council was also established on Gozo. Both councils were unreservedly recognized by the king. In later decades of the Aragonese rule, both councils formed the "Universitas Melitiae et Gaudisii" ("the whole of Malta and Gozo").

Piracy was still an important industry for Malta in the late 14th century , but reprisals were not uncommon. In 1371 ten ships of the Republic of Genoa attacked the islands and plundered them after a Genoese merchant ship had been captured by the Maltese. In the following years, the inhabitants therefore intensified relations with Sicily, which Malta supplied with grain and cattle. The last feudal lord of Malta, Don Gonsalvo Monroy , was banished from the archipelago after a riot. At the court of Aragón he demanded severe punishment against the Maltese and the repayment of 30,000 guilders that he had to spend on the fief. The Maltese offered to pay the sum and at the same time asked the court again to be incorporated into the royal domain. King Alfonso V was impressed by the loyalty of the Maltese and described the archipelago as "the most venerable stone in his crown". He gave the capital Mdina the honorary name Notabile , which, however, was hardly used by the Maltese. It was agreed to repay the required amount of gold within four months, but when Viceroy Nicola Speciali visited the islands and became aware of the poor cotton harvest and the modest living conditions, he advocated an extension of the deadline. Eventually the Maltese paid 20,000 guilders until Monroy released the remaining debt on their deathbed in 1429.

Meanwhile, Christianity had established itself in Malta. This was also shown by the fact that the most important Christian orders established monasteries. Franciscans had already arrived in 1370, Carmelites and Benedictines followed in 1418, Augustinian hermits in 1450 and Dominicans in 1466. The Benedictines founded the first elementary school and the first hospital in the archipelago. The Maltese themselves were responsible for defending the islands. The male population between 16 and 70 years of age was obliged to serve in companies, the Dejmas. The greatest military challenge was an attack by the Moors in 1429 , who took the islands and wanted to use them as a starting point for further conquests, including to put a stop to the Reconquista . There is little historical data about the battle. It is known, for example, that the Moors army of around 18,000 men was under the command of Kaid Ridavan , while the entire population of Malta at that time numbered just around 17,000, of whom just under 4,000 served as soldiers. Legend has it that the Moors sent a cart loaded with loaves of bread to their enemies as a sign that they did not want to starve the Maltese but to fight them with armed force. The Maltese sent these back, placing a gbejna, a typical Maltese cheese cake, on each loaf. The traditions speak of Paul of Tarsus , who appeared to the islanders and saved them from the Muslims. The real background to Malta's unexpected victory may have been due to military support that arrived in time.

After the amalgamation of the Crown of Aragón with the Kingdom of Castile in 1516, Malta belonged for a few years to the new Kingdom of Spain under the European hegemonic emperor Charles V. In 1525 , he offered the island, together with Tripoli , as a fiefdom to the Order of St. John, who had been driven out of Rhodes . However, it still took a papal bull before the knights settled in Malta on October 26, 1530. The order determined the island's history for the next 268 years.

Modern times

The Order of Malta (1530–1798)

The beginnings

The Grand Master of the Order of St. John , Philippe de Villiers de l'Isle-Adam , promised when he entered Mdina in 1530 that he would protect and uphold the rights and privileges of the Maltese people. Only a year after the arrival of the Knights of the Order, the Ottomans launched a small attack on the islands, which induced the Maltese to expand the fortresses . They put on the peninsula between the Grand Harbor and the Marsamxett Harbor , the Fort St. Elmo and built over the old Castel à Mare in Birgu , the Fort St. Angelo . In 1532 the Grand Master decided to relocate the seat of the order from the inland Mdina to Birgu, which underwent a rapid change from a fishing village to the most important city in Malta.

The Ottoman Sultan Suleyman I had meanwhile changed his tactics and no longer allowed large armies to attack, but instead distributed letters of piracy to seamen who were to operate as the vanguard of his planned expansion of the empire. One of these sailors was from the island of Lesbos originating Khair ad-Din Barbarossa . He was recognized as a representative of the Sublime Porte in the Maghreb in 1533 and repeatedly devastated the coasts of Sicily and Malta until his death in 1546. His successor was Turgut Reis , who raided the Maltese archipelago six times by 1561. For example, he plundered Gozo in 1547 and on the south coast of the main island in 1548. In 1550, his followers on Gozo put more than 1,000 locals into slavery, which resulted in the island being depopulated. The following year, 1551, he launched an invasion of Malta together with some Ottoman units. He devastated the country and only stayed away from the fortified cities of Mdina and Birgu. Supplies were stolen and villages burned down. As a result of this attack, a famine broke out on the islands, which caused the population to drop to the lowest level in this century.

The Siege of 1565 in a painting by Matteo Perez d'Aleccio in the Palace of the
Grand Masters in Valletta. The heavily fortified old island capital Mdina is easy to see.

This accumulation of attacks prompted the Maltese to intensify the building of fortresses. This was promoted in particular by the Grand Master Jean de la Valette appointed in 1557 . Under his leadership, the islanders and knights of the order, with support from Spain and Sicily, succeeded in driving out the vastly outnumbered armies of the Ottomans after more than three months and inflicting heavy losses on them during the first great Maltese siege in 1565 . This defeat meant a severe blow to the Ottoman expansion efforts and is still considered Malta's greatest military success to this day. As a result, the order, which was now mostly referred to as the Order of Malta , received large financial donations from the European nobility, who had recognized the strategically important situation in the fight against the Ottomans and were grateful for the danger that was initially averted.

Monument to Jean de la Valette in Valletta

On the basis of the constant financial support now available, de la Valette laid the foundation stone for a project he had been pursuing for a long time on March 28, 1566, just a few months after the end of the siege, below Fort St. Elmo: a new capital. It was created under the direction of the Italian architect Francesco Laparelli and his Maltese assistant Gerolamo Cassar . Behind the walls, which were unusually thick for the time, a chessboard-like road network was laid out and the most important buildings of the order were erected, including the Grand Master's Palace . For fear of another attack by the Ottomans, plans to level the entire area were rejected, so that the city could be completed as early as 1571 - and thus much faster than originally planned. It was named Valletta after Jean de la Valette, who died in 1568, and after only 39 years replaced Birgu, which had received the honorary name Vittoriosa since the victory over the Turkish besiegers , as the island's capital.


Galley of the Johanniter fleet

In the year of the inauguration of Valletta, the order took part in the naval battle of Lepanto as a coalition power and was thus able to inflict another severe defeat on the Ottoman Empire . This intervention increased the respect of the Europeans towards the Maltese and the Knights of the Order and allowed prosperity to grow, which ushered in a heyday of Malta.

The Order of Malta was able to increase its wealth considerably during this time. There are two main reasons were decisive: First of all, often considerable property was a knight after his death into the possession of the Order and the second was a main branch of the Maltese economy with the approval by the European aristocracy houses on directed against the Ottomans raids . If the Maltese had feared the Ottoman pirates before the Great Siege, they now practiced this form of legalized piracy , which brought the archipelago big profits.

Wignacourt Aqueduct

The knights developed a program to raise the living standards of the population, including the establishment of a university in Valletta in 1592. The servants of the superiors of the order - for example the cooks, tailors and gardeners - mostly came from the countries of origin of their masters. They were allowed to marry local women, which gave them the opportunity to pass on their skills. Over the years many locals have found work with the order as soldiers, seafarers, craftsmen or employees. At the same time, on the recommendation of the Order, numerous talented Maltese were sent to mainland Europe and trained there to become recognized musicians, philosophers, painters, sculptors and architects. Many of them returned to their homeland and cooperated with foreign artists who were asked to work on the island. Together they designed numerous churches and palaces, which the Order of Malta commissioned in a time of abundance.

The Ottoman raids on the islands continued until the beginning of the 17th century, as evidenced by the sacking of imejtun in 1614. However, the expansion of the defenses continued and around the middle of the century the Maltese had almost completed their fortress and protection system so that they could live safely on the islands. The most important cities were surrounded by mighty walls, bastions stood on the bays and prominent land points and the so-called Redin Towers, named after the Grand Master Martin de Redin, rose on the coasts . These angular, two-story towers were (and still are in some cases today) at regular intervals in sight on the mostly steep bank. In the event of an alarm, a cannon was fired during the day and a beacon was lit at night. The towers to the right and left repeated the signals and within a short time the entire coast of the island was on alert.

Already in the year of the attack on Żejtun, under the aegis of the Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt , the construction of an extensive aqueduct from Mdina on the main island began, which was completed in 1615. He transported water from the interior of the country to Valletta and thus secured the supply of the capital with the rare raw material. The knights of the order - who were the first rulers of Malta who also lived on the island - introduced numerous village and folk festivals, most of which were of Christian origin, during the militarily quiet years of prosperity and the flourishing economy. These celebrations included the carnival and the more than 100 parish celebrations, of which the day of “Our Lady of Victory” was the most important.

In 1676, a plague epidemic in the Maltese archipelago killed over 10,000 people and ushered in the end of the order's heyday in Malta, although the prosperity would continue for several decades. However, the population was weakened and never developed back to their original community under the rule of the order.


In the middle of the 18th century, the military threat posed by the Ottoman Empire decreased significantly and as a result many ships of the order lay idle in the Grand Harbor. The financial situation of the knights was very precarious at that time. This was due, on the one hand, to the fact that the European nobility held the opinion that Malta no longer needed donations and, on the other hand, to the fact that the Order of Malta had surrounded itself with ever greater pomp and had neglected financial calculations. The military inactivity, often longed for by the Maltese, now led to high unemployment figures and poverty, which aroused resentment among the population. When the Order tried to pay for its growing expenses through higher taxes, there was a public uproar in 1775. The uprising, led by some priests, was bloodily suppressed and the majority of its initiators were executed. When all of the Order's properties in France were confiscated by the First French Republic during the French Revolution , several hundred French fled to Malta. This wave of refugees put a further financial burden on Maltese society. In 1798 the aspiring general Napoléon Bonaparte finally succeeded in taking the islands without resistance and thus ending the rule of the order.

French occupation (1798–1800)

The French troops under the command of Napoléon Bonaparte also reached the Maltese archipelago in the run-up to the Egyptian expedition in 1798. It can be assumed that plans to take the islands were already in place at the beginning of the year. On June 9, the fleet arrived off the islands.

Napoléon Bonaparte had the Maltese islands occupied

The following day Bonaparte sent some soldiers to Valletta to ask to be allowed to supply the ships with fresh drinking water. The Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim , who had recently been elected to office, granted the French the relevant permission, but with the proviso that only four warships were allowed to be in the Grand Harbor at the same time . Bonaparte was evidently prepared for this demand, because as soon as the first soldiers landed, a French-speaking fifth column of knights of the order voluntarily came under his leadership. Since the regulations forbade the Order of Malta from fighting other Christians, the French managed to get most of the island's settlements under their control within a few hours that same day. Allegedly not a single shot was fired during this occupation. On June 11th, the surrender paper was signed on board the "L'Orient" and on June 14th the Egyptian fleet left Malta after a few dozen soldiers had been stationed there and more followed later. Von Hompesch zu Bolheim, the last grandmaster to rule Malta, left Malta in the following days, accompanied by a few knights.

In the first two weeks after the occupation, the French introduced numerous reforms. Slavery was forbidden and the few slaves were freed anyway. In addition, a state-funded elementary school system was established and the nobility banned, whose coat of arms was removed from the Maltese public or, if this was impossible, at least made illegible. The latter measure was directly related to the demands of the French Revolution . The French indirectly placed Malta under a bishop and assured him that the rights of the church would continue to be guaranteed. The prelate then sent a pastoral letter to the Maltese, in which he exhorted them to remember the teachings of St. Paul to obey the authorities. Those Maltese men who had served in the Order's army or navy were drafted into the armed forces of the French First Republic .

In the summer of 1798, the French soldiers stationed on the islands looted the vast majority of mansions and palaces, including the Grand Master's Palace in Valletta and then the churches, breaking the promise to the bishop. The stolen art objects made of gold and silver were melted down into bars. While the French benefited so financially, they were also withdrawing pensions from former religious employees. Since the majority of the residents of Malta had worked directly or indirectly for the Order, a large number of families were affected.


The occupation of the islands brought their economy to a virtual standstill. The export of cotton , the most important export product at the time, was stopped by the French because the main buyer was the Kingdom of Great Britain , with which France had been at war since 1793. The dwindling trade had a negative impact on the living conditions of the Maltese farmers and paralyzed the country in a chain reaction. An uprising against the occupation began in September 1798 because of displeasure with the French inaction. On September 2, the valuables of the local Carmelite Church were to be auctioned in Mdina , for which several onlookers had gathered. A French commander and a sergeant tried to disperse the crowd. According to Maltese tradition, a boy of about twelve threw a stone at the commandant at that moment. The Maltese had the element of surprise on their side, attacked the French and lynched them.

The monument with Doric columns erected in 1810 in memory of Sir Alexander Ball in the Lower Barrakka Gardens in Valletta

While the occupiers closed the city gates of Mdina, the Maltese rang the alarm and, with reinforcements from neighboring villages, penetrated the city through a hidden passageway that was still laid out in the days of the Order, where they quickly succeeded in overpowering the troops. As a result, the residents recaptured all cities with the exception of the fortresses at the port within a day and thus won several cannons. On the evening of September 2 a provisional national assembly was called (later renamed Congress).

Despite the cannons, the armament of the insurgents with lances, clubs, swords and shotguns was rather poor, so that they asked for help to the Kingdom of Sicily under Ferdinand I and his ally, the British King George III. directed. While Ferdinand I provided several dozen shotguns with ammunition and small sums of money, the British blocked the ports of the islands under the command of Horatio Nelson , who had previously defeated the Napoleonic French in the sea ​​battle at Abukir , so that the French from Resupply deliveries were cut off. The siege led in October to the surrender of the occupiers detained in the citadel of Victoria on Gozo, which resulted in the proclamation of the short-lived Republic of Gozo . The British and the Maltese received support from the Kingdom of Sardinia in November - yet they did not have the clout to storm the bastions. In 1799, Sir Alexander Ball , the captain of one of the siege ships, was appointed President of the Maltese Congress. He united the islanders, who were often at odds, and also forced grain deliveries from Sicily . These put an end to the permanent food shortage caused by the fact that most of the Maltese soldiers were soldiers and that the already barren fields were often fallow. With this measure, Ball increased the reputation of the British with the Maltese.

Malta (1854)

In 1800 the French were so weakened that they were ready to surrender, but without wanting to submit to the Maltese, since they were rebels in their eyes. The British pursued the goal of moving their ships as quickly as possible to other scenes of the Second Coalition War . The Maltese were excluded from the negotiations. Eventually the French were granted free retreat and the Maltese Congress dissolved. The British withdrew, but stationed a regiment on the islands. This hoisted the Union Jack in Valletta on September 5, 1800, a good two years after the start of the uprising, thus establishing the subsequent colonial rule.

The British Colonial Era (1800–1964)

19th century

The British initially showed no particular interest in keeping Malta and Gozo under their control. On the contrary, in the Peace of Amiens in 1802 , which ended the Second Coalition War, even a return to the Reformed Order of St. John was recorded. This should take place under the protection of the Kingdom of Sicily and the neutrality of Malta should be recognized by all great powers. The majority of the Maltese population opposed this regulation, because if the British refused sovereignty over the islands, they wanted to decide for themselves. The handover ultimately failed due to contractual inconsistencies with the order, so that the islands remained a de facto protectorate of Great Britain.

It was only in the wake of further military conflicts with France that the British slowly learned, like the French before them, to appreciate the strategically favorable location of Malta and now tried to hold onto it. When filling the vacant administrative positions, they refrained from appointing foreigners, but instead promoted Maltese, which increased their support among the population. From 1806, all merchant ships under the British naval command had to enter the Grand Harbor to be cleared there by the British Navy. Because of this destination, Malta quickly developed into an important trading center in the Mediterranean. It was not until 1814, in the First Peace of Paris, concluded after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1814 , that the archipelago was officially granted to the British as a crown colony "[...] through the voice of Europe and the love of the Maltese ." This was subordinate to a governor who moved into his official residence in the Grand Master's Palace.

The primacy of Malta as ruler of the western Mediterranean decreased significantly after the final defeat of France in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and the consequent loss of the French archenemy. In addition, a plague epidemic spread on the island in 1816, which decisively weakened the economy. The Maltese hoped at the time that their waning presence in the British Empire would allow them to revive their old National Assembly. But this was not the case. Instead, the British even abolished the Università in 1819. Elections had taken place for this until the very end, but it only had the representative task of organizing supplies for the population. Around the same time, the colonial power began to control island life more strictly than before. The focus was on breaking off Maltese trade relations with Sicily. For this reason, from around 1821 the grain destined for the archipelago was no longer imported from the nearby island, but from the Black Sea region , so that the Maltese were forced to trade with the British. The intention to keep the contact of other states with Malta limited and to increase one's own influence also plays the fact that the sphere of power of the Bishop of Malta was separated from the Metropolitan Diocese of Palermo .

In 1827, the Royal Navy selected Malta as one of its main bases and shortly thereafter put the first dry dock into operation, which was to be followed by many other shipyards. Ten years later, the colonial government allowed the establishment of a government council with seven members. However, this had no decisive powers and served primarily to apparently fulfill the wishes of the Maltese for greater national self-determination. Two years later, construction work began on an aqueduct northwest of Kerċem on Gozo , the remains of which are still well preserved today. It was used to direct spring water from Ghar-Ilma Hill to the reservoir in Victoria. "Ghar Ilma" means something like "Cave of Water", the place is still known today as a source of fresh water. The construction was completed in 1843 and secured the water supply of the Gozitan capital over the long term.

Victoria Lines laid out by the British

After steamships increasingly replaced the pure sailing ships on the sea routes of the trade routes in the middle of the 19th century, Malta developed into an important stopover for reloading coal supplies, especially after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 by sea to India. Even before that, during the Crimean War in the early 1850s, Malta had served as a starting point for the British military operations and as a reception location for the injured. The islands experienced an unprecedented economic boom that lasted for the remaining 30 years of the century. It was almost full employment, as the numerous shipyards offered so many jobs that the demand for labor even exceeded the supply in some cases and workers were brought to Malta from Sicily. So that the colony could cover its own food needs, agriculture was promoted and the cultivation of potatoes - today an important agricultural export item - was introduced. Due to the prosperity, the population grew rapidly (around 1855 Malta exceeded the limit of 120,000 inhabitants) and in order to relieve the economy, the British supported emigration, for example to North Africa. Refugees from Italy encountered this prosperity in the late 1850s. It was supporters of a nation-state idea, the Risorgimento , who were persecuted in their homeland. In Malta, on the other hand, they found open ears and with their ideas evoked a renewed nationalism among the islanders, which had faded into the background during the economic boom. From 1883 the first - and so far the only - railway line in the archipelago ran between Valletta and Mdina . In 1897 the colonial rulers completed the Victoria Lines, a central fortification in the heart of the main island of Malta, which, however, was never able to distinguish itself due to the already existing naval superiority of the British in this sea area. Six years later, the difficult construction work began on a 390 meter long breakwater at the entrance to Grand Harbor, through which countless Maltese found work.

20th century

In the early years of the 20th century, the British made several attempts to Anglicize the Maltese. They had some success with this, but the upper class turned away and withdrew into their old, Italian culture. As a result, the administrative officials, who mostly belonged to the upper class, were exchanged for protégés . These were young Maltese who had studied in Great Britain and were considered loyal to the British. As a result, there was a language conflict because the upper class wanted to reintroduce Italian teaching in schools. The protégés advocated the continuation of the long-established teaching of English. Ultimately, it was agreed to teach bilingually. A little later, the officials abolished the Italian language from everyday life in Malta. At the same time, the old Maltese language experienced an upswing.

During the First World War , as in the Crimean War , Malta made its ports and shipyards available to the Allies as military bases and again served as a hospital station. This is why Malta is sometimes jokingly referred to as the “nurse of the Mediterranean”. Operations against German submarines were mainly initiated from the island.

After the end of the First World War, the shipyards received fewer orders, so that employees were made redundant. Unemployment rose rapidly; food prices also rose. The dissatisfaction of the upper class received encouragement from the workers, and calls for more self-determination were again made. In 1919, with the approval of the British, a national assembly was elected to propose a new constitution. At one of the public meetings on June 7th, there was a violent clash (Sette Giugno uprising) between citizens and the military, in which four Maltese were shot. The governor tried to mediate the situation and accelerated the constitutional process. The new constitution, which finally came into force in 1921, granted Malta limited internal self-government. The British, however, retained control of the Departments of Defense, Foreign Policy and Immigration Affairs.

At that time, three parties established themselves in Malta that had previously been almost insignificant in the political system:

  • the pro-British group (constitutional party) favored the spread of British culture and language, but also the Maltese language;
  • the pro-Italian group advocated the use of both English and Italian and promoted Italian culture;
  • the Malta Labor called for the establishment of the English and the Maltese language and the establishment of a compulsory education and the improvement of working and social conditions.

The National Assembly was unable to act because parties blocked each other. For example, if the Nationalist Party decided to reform, the church rejected them. Because of these difficulties, the British canceled the 1930 elections and suspended the constitution for two years. In the 1932 elections, the pro-Italian group won. However, when they tried to assert their interests, unrest broke out again, with the result that the constitution was repealed from 1933 to 1936 and Malta had to return to the colonial status of complete political immaturity in 1934. The colonial rulers made English and Maltese the official languages ​​and abolished Italian. This regulation still applies today.

In 1942 the British King awarded the Colony of Malta the George Cross for bravery.

During the Second World War , Malta again served the Allies as a base due to its strategically favorable location. The island was subsequently exposed to over 2,000 German and Italian air raids (see Siege of Malta (World War II) ), which killed more than 1,500 Maltese. Most of the bombs dropped in World War II fell on the island in terms of area, and Winston Churchill called Malta the "unsinkable aircraft carrier". In recognition of the courage and bravery during the attacks, the then British King George VI. the Maltese population received the George Cross on April 15, 1942 , which has since adorned the Maltese flag .

In 1947 Great Britain granted the country self-government. On September 5, 1947, the MacMichael Constitution came into effect, which included universal suffrage and the "one person - one vote" principle for women and men over the age of 21, which abolished multiple votes. Universal suffrage for men and women was introduced at the same time. Six weeks later, on October 25, 26, and 27, 1947, the first elections took place.

Great Britain provided £ 30 million in reconstruction aid. The first problem was - as after the First World War - the increasing number of unemployed, since the workers were no longer needed in the ammunition factories and shipyards. Emigration, especially to Australia, was seen as a means of overcoming the crisis, which was supported by the political parties. In order to get more participation, the parties pleaded for a representation of Malta in the British Parliament , which was rejected by the colonial power. Thereupon the Maltese government demanded complete independence from the British crown.

At the beginning of 1964 a congress of all Maltese parties took place in London, at which the possibility of independence was discussed. The formalities had already been clarified on May 5th and the Maltese voted in a referendum for a new constitution proposed by Ġorġ Borg Olivier , which provided for a constitutional monarchy under the British crown in the Commonwealth of Nations and declared the Catholic Church a state church. On September 21, 1964, Malta was given full independence after 164 years of British colonial rule. This day is celebrated as a national holiday under the name "Independence Day".

The independence of Malta (since 1964)

Monument to the independence of Malta in Valletta

As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Malta had the British Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, who was represented on the small archipelago by a local governor. In the first parliamentary elections, Ġorġ Borg Olivier, who had been head of government since 1962, emerged victorious from the Nationalist Party and was thus appointed Prime Minister. In exchange for the provision of naval bases, the young state received extensive financial aid from Great Britain. The Royal Navy remained stationed on the islands through this arrangement, albeit under the command of NATO .

Over the years, Malta has developed into a nearly two-party system, despite the existence of roughly half a dozen political parties . The politically often deeply divided population regularly votes almost equally for the social democratically oriented Malta Labor Party (MLP) or the Christian-conservative Nationalist Party (NP), so that electoral victories are very narrow.

In the 1970s, the MLP determined Maltese politics under Prime Minister Dom Mintoff . As one of his first official acts, Mintoff negotiated a new troop stationing agreement with Great Britain on March 26, 1972 after his election victory in 1971. In addition to British and NATO financial aid, this also provided EC funds for industrialization projects. In return, the British NATO troops were granted a military presence in Malta until 1979 and at the same time undertook not to provide any member state of the Warsaw Pact with facilities that could be used militarily. On December 13, 1974, a new constitution was introduced and Mintoff proclaimed the parliamentary republic (this day is still celebrated today as Republic Day), creating the office of President, who replaced the Queen. At the same time he uncoupled the Maltese lira from the British pound sterling and terminated the troop stationing agreement with NATO. As agreed, the last British military units withdrew from Malta on March 31, 1979 (Freedom Day). Mintoff was reprimanded especially in Western Europe for his pro-Soviet policies. During his tenure, Malta maintained close foreign policy relations with the former Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact, the People's Republic of China , North Korea and, as part of the “common Mediterranean identity” it advocated, also with Libya . On March 11, 1980, he signed a defense agreement with the North African state and less than a year later, on January 26, 1981, Malta authorized the Soviet Union to use its ports. In the same year, the country's first seawater desalination plant was put into operation at Ghar Lapsi on the southwest coast near the temple complexes of Mnajdra , thus reducing the chronic water shortage. Due to the success of the facility, others soon followed, for example on the north coast of Gozo at Reqqa Point.

On October 19, 1982 Malta was elected as the smallest country to date (in terms of population and area, at that time it was 340,000 inhabitants) for two years in the UN Security Council. This record was only broken in 2019 by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with a population of 111,000. Malta chaired the body in November 1983. It was the country's only membership in the Security Council to date.

In a treaty ratified on March 11, 1983, Italy assured Malta of neutrality, and on June 29 of the same year the Mintoff government expropriated all church property on the islands.

After Dom Mintoff's resignation on December 21, 1984, political relations with Western Europe improved again and in 1987 the Republic of Malta incorporated neutrality and non-alignment into the constitution. Also in 1987, the Nationalist Party won parliamentary elections after calling for an end to the dispute with the Church, and in May 1990 it was finally settled with a visit by Pope John Paul II .

American officers visit the Slav in advance of the 1989 Malta Summit .

From December 2 to 4, 1989, during the term of office of President Vincent Tabone, a meeting took place in Malta between Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the CPSU , who had been in power in the Soviet Union (USSR) since 1985 , and the one on January 20, 1989, who succeeded him Ronald Reagan's new-in-office US President George Bush . The talks and negotiations could not be held alternately on the two warships " Slawa " and " Belknap " - as planned - due to a persistent violent storm , but instead took place on the Russian cruise ship " Maxim Gorki ". For the first time, a Soviet-American meeting ended with a joint press conference. Gorbachev described the meeting as "the beginning of the end of the Cold War".

In July 1990, the Republic of Malta, under its Prime Minister Edward Fenech Adami, submitted its first formal application for membership to the European Community , which was approved by the European Community in 1993, subject to a number of economic reforms. However , Prime Minister Alfred Sant , who came into office after the election victory of the Malta Labor Party in the parliamentary elections on October 25, 1996 , withdrew the application for membership a few days after the election and also declared the country's withdrawal from NATO's “ Partnership for Peace ” program ". He cited the reasons for wanting to preserve the island's neutrality and national character. Due to internal party problems, Sant was forced to hold new elections in 1998. This won the Nationalist Party , so that there was another term of office Fenech Adamis, who took up his Europe-friendly course again and renewed the application for admission to the European Union in the same year . On February 15, 2000, official accession negotiations began between the state organization and the Mediterranean island - at the same time as those of Bulgaria , Latvia , Lithuania , Romania and Slovakia . A little more than four years later, on May 1, 2004, Malta was finally admitted to the European Union together with nine other states in the course of EU enlargement in 2004 , after the population had voted in a referendum with a narrow majority, and has been a member ever since its smallest member. At the same time, the Mediterranean state also joined the Schengen Agreement and on December 21, 2007 the border controls ceased to exist. After Malta had been a member of Exchange Rate Mechanism II since April 29, 2005 , it had the option of introducing the euro as its currency, for which the application was made on February 27, 2007. On May 16, the European Commission and the European Central Bank announced that the country could introduce the common currency of the European Economic and Monetary Union on January 1, 2008. This decision was officially confirmed by the heads of state and government of the European Union on June 21 at an EU summit in Brussels . On January 1, 2008, Malta introduced the euro with its own coins .

See also

Portal: Malta  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Malta
Portal: Order of Malta  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the Order of Malta


  • Claudia Sagona: The Archeology of Malta. From the Neolithic through the Roman Period. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • Marcello Ghetta et al. a .: Malta. In: Real Lexicon for Antiquity and Christianity . Volume 23, Hiersemann, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-7772-1013-1 , Sp. 1252-1265.
  • Thomas Freller: The History of Malta. An island between Orient and Occident. Thorbecke Verlag, Ostfildern 2008, ISBN 978-3-7995-0801-8 .
  • Wolfgang Korn : Megalithic Cultures. Theiss, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-8062-1553-7 .
  • Martin Kremp: The Arabs in the western Mediterranean. Sardinia, Corsica, Malta. Mediterranea, Frankfurt am Main 2004.
  • Joachim von Freeden: Malta and the architecture of its megalithic temples. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1993, ISBN 3-534-11012-9 .
  • Jacques Godechot : Histoire de Malte. 3rd edition, Presses universitaires de France, Paris 1981, ISBN 2-13-036801-8 .
  • Themistocles Zammit : Malta. The Maltese Islands and their history. AC Aquilina, Malta 1952.

Web links

Commons : History of Malta  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Claudia Sagona: The Archeology of Malta. From the Neolithic through the Roman Period , Cambridge University Press, 2015, p. 20.
  2. For a selection of sources, see for example: dmoz.org
  3. Malta Before Common Era
  4. The Enigmatic Rock-Cut Pans of Mgarr ix-Xini. (PDF) Retrieved January 19, 2016 .
  5. ^ Jacques Godechot: Histoire de Malte . Presses universitaires de France, Paris, 3rd ed. 1981, p. 18.
  6. a b Jacques Godechot: Histoire de Malte . Presses universitaires de France, Paris, 3rd edition 1981, p. 19.
  7. ^ Jacques Godechot: Histoire de Malte . Presses universitaires de France, Paris, 3rd ed. 1981, p. 21.
  8. Harry Bresslau: Handbuch der Urkundenlehre , Vol. 1, pp. 499 and 510.
  9. ^ JCM Laurent: Burchard of Strasbourg . In: Serapeum , vol. 19 (1858), issue 10, p. 149.
  10. ^ Jacques Godechot: Histoire de Malte . Presses universitaires de France, Paris, 3rd ed. 1981, p. 26.
  11. ^ Themistocles Zammit: Malta. The Maltese Islands and their history . AC Aquilina, Malta 1952, p. 94.
  12. ^ Themistocles Zammit: Malta. The Maltese Islands and their history . AC Aquilina, Malta 1952, p. 108.
  13. Pascal Firges: Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 18th century. European equilibrium policy and geopolitical strategies. Sonnenberg, Annweiler 2009, ISBN 3-933264-56-1 , pp. 16-18.
  14. See Azzopardi, p. 17.
  15. ^ Azzopardi, page 18
  16. ^ A b Ruth Farrugia: Female Suffrage in Malta. In: Blanca Rodríguez-Ruiz, Ruth Rubio-Marín: The Struggle for Female Suffrage in Europe. Voting to Become Citizens. Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden and Boston 2012, ISBN 978-90-04-22425-4 , pp. 389-405, pp. 396-397.
  17. ^ Jad Adams: Women and the Vote. A world history. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-870684-7 , p. 438, p. 553 ( preview in Google book search).
  18. ^ Mart Martin: The Almanac of Women and Minorities in World Politics. Westview Press Boulder, Colorado, 2000, p. 250.
  19. Michail Gorbatschow: Memories , Wolf Jobst Siedler Verlag, Berlin 1995. Quoted from: btb Taschenbuch im Goldmann Verlag, 1996, p. 692 ff.