The Knights of Malta and the Great Siege of 1565 with Dr. Emanuel Buttigieg - Context Travel

The Knights of Malta and the Great Siege of 1565 with Dr. Emanuel Buttigieg


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As an organization, the Knights of Malta are nearly 1,000 years old, yet they still remain shrouded in mystery and misconception. In 1565, they defended Europe against the mighty onslaught of the Ottoman Empire. This lecture will seek to unravel both the organization and this epic event.

"They neglected to live, but were prepared to die, in the service of Christ” – this eloquent assessment, made by Edward Gibbon towards the of the eighteenth century, has become one of the most frequently quoted and readily accepted views about the Knights of Malta. Yet there is so much more to them than such a general characterization. Established in eleventh-century Jerusalem as a humble hospitaller institution, the Order – dedicated to St John the Baptist – evolved into a multi-faced organization capable of sophisticated military and naval operations. It also acquired the trappings of sovereignty over territories, in particular Malta, which it ruled from 1530 to 1798. We’ll learn how the membership consisted largely of the second-born sons of the European (Catholic) nobility, and the brethren took the vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, and swore to fight and die in the name of Christ. In the interstices of all this, their lives as individuals wove a rich and complex tapestry of personal experiences.

Perhaps their best known moment was the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, when, in the face of overwhelming odds, they managed to halt the might of the Ottoman Empire. Our conversation will also discuss this momentous event. In Malta, in that summer, they wrote a glorious chapter of their story in blood, steel, and stone, which led Voltaire to proclaim that nothing is better known than the siege of Malta.

Led by an expert on the Knights of Malta, Dr. Emanuel Buttigieg, this interactive seminar will look at the Order of Malta’s millennial history and focus on the epic Siege of Malta of 1565. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of an organization that is often mired by misconceptions or a lack of awareness about its very existence.

Emanuel Buttigieg is a Senior Lecturer in early modern history at the University of Malta. In 2004 he was awarded a Commonwealth (Cambridge) Scholarship in order to read for an M.Phil. in early modern history at the University of Cambridge; in 2005, he was awarded further scholarships in order to be able to pursue his studies at a doctoral level at Cambridge. His books include 'Nobility, Faith and Masculinity: The Hospitaller Knights of Malta, c.1580-c.1700' (London and New York: Continuum, 2011), and 'Islands and Military Orders, c.1291-c.1798' (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013) co-edited with Simon Phillips.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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