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A (Brief) Beginner’s Guide To Maltese History Part 11: The Dark Knights Episode 4

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This is the fourth Knights series in this guide. We seriously cannot wait to get rid of these guys.

There was Episode 1 which covered the arrival of the Knights and their honeymoon period on the island and Episode 2 where we talked about how the Knights and the Ottomans had a giant squabble at sea. We also had Episode 3 where they decided to build the opulent city of Valletta.

At some point after Valletta was done being constructed, the Pope decided to set up the Roman Inquisition on the island.

The Inquisitor would be responsible of running a system of tribunals to prosecute individuals which were being accused of weird crimes like witchcraft, bigamy, apostasy (the renunciation of religious beliefs), possessing fun books, blasphemy, heresy and anything remotely related to Satan. They also took care of censorship, obv.

These are the guys responsible for offing Galileo by the way. We forgot to mention that. Anyway, The Inquisitor came to Malta in the 16th century. The real reason why the Pope gave us an Inquisitor was because the Grandmaster at the time, La Cassiere had a stupid fight with the local Bishop.

La Cassiere ratted the Bishop out to the Pope, and since the Pope had no time for that, he just sent out an Inquisitor to live here. This inquisitor survived Malta for less than a year, but that was enough to set up a proper Roman Inquisition here on the island.

The Inquisitor mostly dealt with Maltese women and their fixation with getting love spells done by the Muslim slaves living on the island. These spells were seriously ridiculous.

The Inquisitor totally took up residence in the Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu, since the Knights really did not want to have him around to spy on their discrepancies. The building was also a makeshift prison.

Anyway, the Order was losing its popularity in Europe and a ton of its property all over the continent. In the mid-16th Century La Cassiere had another fight with this other guy who was a knight at the time, Romegas.

La Cassiere ended up locked in Fort St. Angelo like the damsel in distress he totally was. Mutiny ensued.

Romegas was elected Grandmaster and the Pope, being used to getting his chubby fingers in the Knights’ pies, sent his envoy to settle this dispute and rescue La Cassiere.

The two offending knights were sent to Rome to explain what the hell they were fighting about. But Romegas died, so La Cassiere was re-elected Grandmaster. These guys are just teenagers in armour. Literally.

La Cassiere died too, probably someone poisoned him over some petty squabble. De Verdalle was elected Grandmaster mbad, għax qażżu il-kuħadd.

Eventually, the Knights decided to actually do something for the country, so they built the Wignacourt Aqueduct to transport water from Rabat to Valletta.

They started improving towns u hekk like the Ċittadella. They started constructing stuff like the Cottonera Lines and the Santa Margherita Lines. They bulked up the Grand Harbour and started building Fort Ricasoli.

Later on, they started building those coastal towers we talked about on the Forts entry here. De Redin was chosen to be the new Queen Bee when Wignacourt died. This guy had a fixation with towers, so he started getting busy building a bunch of those, for fun.

Being a Grandmaster must’ve been cool.

Anyway, when Cotoner was elected later on, there was the 1693 earthquake which destroyed the island and much of Mdina. The cathedral was completely demolished and had to be rebuilt by 1697. What a century.

In the meantime the Order started having more and more battles with the Ottomans. A bunch of entrenchments, redoubts and batteries were built all over the country by these guys.

Pinto was eventually elected and we had the Game of Thrones plot were a bunch of slaves tried to murder everyone. By 1754, we no longer were part of Sicily, making us a sovereign state under the Knights.

By this time, the Order was on its way to a steady decline. They were becoming bankrupt due to their lavish tastes and the Maltese people kind of stopped liking them.

The French Revolution was happening at the time and as once someone who’s famous said “When France sneezes, Europe catches a cold” I don’t remember who the hell said that but I remember it clearly. Probably a French guy did.

A bunch of the Knights’ stuff was seized by the French people, driving the Order into further financial despair. There was no saving these guys brah.

In 1798, on what we assume was probably a hot and sticky day, a bunch of ships with over 30,000 hunky men and one tiny guy were making their way to our island.

The arrival of these ships meant a new future for Malta, a new summer fling and the end of the Knights’ rule.

We can finally say goodbye to the Knights.

Do you know anyone who likes Knights? Tag them in the comments below

READ NEXT: Is Gozo Home To The Most High-Brow Feud In History?

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