Siege of Malta (1429)

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Siege of Malta
Aerial view Mdina, Malta.jpg
The city of Mdina as it is today (it has undergone many modifications since the 15th century)
DateSeptember 1429
LocationMdina, Malta, Kingdom of Sicily
Coordinates: 35°53′10″N 14°24′11″E / 35.886003°N 14.403017°E / 35.886003; 14.403017
Result Maltese victory
Belligerents
Hafsid Kingdom  Kingdom of Sicily
Maltese civilians
Commanders and leaders
Kaid Ridavan Unknown
Strength
18,000 men 4,000 soldiers
16,000–18,000 civilians
Casualties and losses
Unknown Many killed[1]
3,000 enslaved

The Siege of Malta of 1429 was an attempt by Hafsid Saracens to take over the island of Malta, then part of the Kingdom of Sicily. The invaders were repelled but many Maltese were killed or enslaved.

Background[edit]

By the fifteenth century, the Maltese islands had been completely Christianized, and had just been freed from feudalism in 1426. At the time, Malta had a population of about 16,000 to 18,000 people.[2]

Malta's defence consisted of an Aragonese army, as well as 300 Maltese Dejma soldiers. More soldiers were rallied and about 4,000 men took up arms against the Hafsid invaders.[3]

Siege[edit]

In September 1429, an army of about 18,000 Hafsid Saracens led by Kaid Ridavan arrived in Malta from Tunisia. The Hafsids first attacked the capital city of Mdina. After three days of fierce fighting, they left the city, looting the other towns on the way. At one point, the Augustinian monastery in Rabat was captured and destroyed by the invaders.[4]

Throughout the siege, 3,000 Maltese inhabitants were captured by the Hafsids and were taken as prisoners, while many others were killed. The rulers of Sicily subsequently encouraged immigration to Malta to replace the diminished population.[1] The siege devastated Malta, and its effects were felt for a number of years afterwards.[5]

According to local legends, Saint George, Saint Paul and Saint Agatha helped the Maltese during the siege.[6] St Paul appeared on a white horse with a dagger in his hand to defend the Maltese. In 1682, Mattia Preti was commissioned to paint a painting of this event. The painting can now be found in a chapel within St Paul's Cathedral in Mdina.

Legacy[edit]

Despite being less well known than the 1565 siege, according to some historians, the 1429 siege was worse because the Maltese fought the invaders alone, without any foreign help.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Castillo, Dennis Angelo (2006). The Maltese Cross: A Strategic History of Malta. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 36–37. ISBN 0313323291. 
  2. ^ "History of Malta - The Middle Ages". Maltese Ring. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Pirates". knowmalta.webs.com. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Cauchi, Mark (12 September 2004). "575th anniversary of the 1429 Siege of Malta". Times of Malta. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  5. ^ Laspina, S. (1950). Outlines of Maltese History (5 ed.). Malta: A. C. Aquilina & Co. p. 56. 
  6. ^ "New stamp set features paintings of St George". Times of Malta. 22 April 2003. Retrieved 20 February 2015.