The Battle for Malta

September 11 was a significant date in the history of Christian-Islamic conflict long before the year 2001. Do you know what happened on September 11, 1565? I didn't either, until I read this excellent article by Paul Cella.

By the middle of the 16th century, the Knights of Malta had been for decades a particular irritation to the Sultan of the Empire of the Ottoman Turks, then the world's premier superpower and the imperial power of the Jihad. The Knights were skilled and cunning seamen: the Christian answer to the Barbary pirates whose razzias or jihadist raids had, literally for centuries, terrorized the coastal lands of southern Europe. These pirates were slavers and pillagers, terrors of the sea. How many "sick and sunless" captives were made by them, consigned to the filth and misery of the life of a galley oarsman, can only be conjectured. They made prisons of great oared ships; and the fate of their prisoners was one of wretchedness beyond reckoning. Athwart this menace stood the ancient Noble Order of St. John of Jerusalem. One historian (voicing a consensus of historians) gives them this honor: "in skill, seamanship, and fighting ability there was no single vessel in the Mediterranean that could compare with a galley commanded by one of the Knights from Malta."


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