Heraldic Tour of Malta

Malta is an independent republic located in the Mediterranean, between Sicily and Tunisia. Its territory consists of two large islands, Malta and Gozo, and the almost uninhabited islet of Comino. Its population is about 360,000.

Malta has a very long history, stretching back to the first settlers around 5200 BC, whose descendants created the most remarkable neolithic monuments in the world. It was settled again by the Phenicians, passed under Roman control, then Byzantine, then Arab (from 870), then Norman when the island became a dependency of the kingdom of Sicily in 1090.

In 1522, the Order of Saint John was expelled from Rhodes by the Turks. It finally found a new home when Charles V, as king of Sicily, granted the islands of Malta to the Order (along with the fortress of Tripoli on the African Coast, soon lost to the Arabs). From 1530 to 1798, these resource-poor, infertile rocks in the middle of the Mediterranean were owned by one of the richest institutions in the Christian world. The knights were lavish builders, and they loved to show off their arms. As a result, Malta is today filled with outstanding examples of heraldry from the 17th and 18th c.

In 1798, Bonaparte, ojn his way to Egypt, seized the islands and expelled the Order. A year later the local population revolted against the French occupiers and called on Britain for help. In 1800, the British took Malta and, although they promised to return the islands to the order in the treaty of Amiens of 1802, they never did. Malta was a Crown Colony until independence in 1964.

I present here some pictures taken in Malta. If you have a slow internet connection, this will take some time: there is a total of 5 Megs of JPG files presented over four separate pages.

  1. The Tombs of the Grand Masters
  2. Other Depictions of Grand Magistral Arms
  3. Arms of Various Knights
  4. Maltese Heraldry and other Heraldry on Malta

See also:


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François Velde

Aug 11, 2002