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Maltese History and Geography. HISTORY. Knights of Saint John

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history
HISTORY

Knights of Saint John

In the early 16th century, the Ottoman Empire started spreading over the region, reaching South-East Europe. The Spanish king Charles V feared that if Rome fell to the Turks, it would be the end of Christian Europe. In 1522, Suleiman II drove the Knight Hospitallers of St. John out of Rhodes. They dispersed to their commanderies in Europe. Wanting to protect Rome from invasion from the South, in 1530, Charles V handed over the island to these Knights.

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The Great Siege

On May 18th 1565, Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Malta. By the time the Ottoman fleet arrived the Knights were as ready as they could be. First the Ottomans attacked the newly built fort of St. Elmo and after a whole month of fighting the fort was in rubble and the soldiers kept fighting till the Turks ended their lives. After this they started attacking Birgu and the fortifications at Senglea but to no gain.

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The French in Malta

Over the years, the power of the Knights declined; their reign ended when Napoleon Bonaprate's fleet arrived in 1798, en route to his expedition of Egypt. Napoleon asked for safe harbor to resupply his ships, and when they refused to supply him with water, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a division to scale the hills of Valetta. Grand Master Hompesch capitulated, and Napoleon stayed in Malta for a few days during which he systematically looted the moveable assets of the Order and established an administration controlled by his nominees; however, Napoleon also established a liberal law system based on that of the French Revolution in place of the archaic and feudal system in place, and freed 2000 Muslim slaves kept on the island.

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The English in Malta

In 1800, Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire. Under the terms of the 1802 Treaty of Amiens, Britain was supposed to evacuate the island, but failed to keep this obligation - one of several mutual cases of non-adherence to the treaty, which eventually led to its collapse and the resumption of war between Britain and France.

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World War 2

Being a British colony, situated close to Sicily and the Axis shipping lanes, Malta was bombarded by the Italian and German air forces. Malta was used by the British to launch attacks on the Italian navy and had a submarine base. It was also used as a listening post, reading German radio messages including Enigma traffic.

The first air raids against Malta occurred on 11 June 1940; there were six attacks that day. The island's biplanes were unable to defend due to the Luqa Airfield being unfinished; however, the airfield was ready by the seventh attack. Initially, the Italians would fly at about 5,500 m, then they dropped down to three thousand metres.

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Major Paine stated, we bagged one or two every other day, so they started coming in at. Their bombing was never very accurate. As they flew higher it became quite indiscriminate." Mabel Strickland would state, “The Italians decided they didn't like, so they dropped their bombs off Malta and went back.”
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The climate is Mediterranean with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. There is no real thermal dormant season for plants, although plant growth can be checked briefly by abnormal cold in winter (patches of ground frost may occur in inland locales), and summer heat and aridity may cause vegetation to wilt. Effectively there are only two seasons, which makes the islands attractive for tourists, especially during the drier months. However, strong winds can make Malta feel cold during the spring months
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Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean Sea (in its eastern basin), some 93 km south of the Italian island of Sicily across the Malta Channel; east of Tunisia and north of Libya in Africa. Only the three largest islands Malta Island (Malta), Gozo and Comino (Kemmuna) are inhabited. The smaller islands, such as Filfla, Cominotto and the Islands of St. Paul are uninhabited. Numerous bays along the indented coastline of the islands provide good harbours. The archipelago itself lies on the edge of the African tectonic plate, as it borders with the Eurasian plate.