Il-Konti Ruġġieru is one of those people who a lot of us heard of, but don’t really know who he actually was. After covering Daddies, Daddies 2 and Daddies 3 in previous editions of this series detailing Malta’s history, we are finally ready to cover Malta Sicilian/Norman/Aragonese/Angevin overlords.
The last Arab stronghold on our island was broken by Count Roger II of Sicily. In 1091 his dad Count Roger I of Sicily, who was really a Norman, tried to take over but he totally failed.
This might be slightly confusing-ish but basically the Normans were these guys who came from France. But they weren’t really French; they were actually Norse people who settled in France.
In 1127, his son Roger II totally established Norman rule over our islands. He took over Sicily and a bunch of other lands in the area, including Malta, giving birth to the Kingdom of Sicily.
We were part of the Kingdom of Sicily for 440 years, but during this time, we were constantly being passed from one feudal lord to another.
This is going to sound really confusing, but since we were being hot patato’d from one lord to another, at one point we formed part of the Spanish Empire and even the Crown of Aragon in 1479.
During this time, the administration of our islands fell to local nobility. It is well known that Malta was largely Muslim during these times, and the Normans allowed them to to do whatever they wanted as long as they paid an annual tribute.
Since the tribute was not too expensive, the Muslims kind of continued to dominate our island, both economically and demographically, for at least another 150 years.
However, in 1127, the Muslims staged a successful uprising, taking over the islands, which were taken back by Roger II in 1127. #Drama
We were still predominantly Muslim for another five decades, until at least 1175.
In around 1194, we just kind of became part of the Kingdom of Sicily all over again, and a makeover for Malta started.
We started speaking in Latin and Maltese, our culture got a major makeover to look more like a Roman one, and we also started morphing into Roman Catholics.
By 1224, we almost became totally Catholic and our population kept on growing, mainly through immigration from Northern Italy and Sicily. At one point, the entire male population of Celano was exiled to Malta in 1223 due to a long ass siege that took place there.
We went through a bit of a weird purge in 1249 where all the Muslims in Malta were literally shipped off to Lucera, an island established for Sicilian Muslims.
This event marked the end of Islam on our island, and by the beginning of Angevin times (1250-ish) the only Muslims who lived here were sadly slaves.
Over the next century or two, we got hot potato’d from one Lord to another for a couple of years, until in 1429, the Hafsid Saracens tried to capture Malta, but we were having none of their bullshit.
So instead they pillaged the island and took around three thousand Maltese people as slaves.