One of my historical interests is the Crusades, but I haven’t done a lot of reading about them lately, and I’ve only posted about an account of Richard III’s Third Crusade. This history, of course, is not about the Crusades, but it does center on one of the peculiar institutions that sprang from them: the warrior-monk of Christendom.
Review: The Great Siege, Malta 1565, Ernle Bradford, 1961.
In the summer of 1565 on the parched ground of Malta, the future of Western Civilization was decided. Would the Moslems continue their expansion into the Mediterranean, preying on European ships and taking Christian slaves as far away as England? Or could they be held back?
It was an epic struggle, an astounding tale of resolve and leadership, of disunity in command and disunity among allies.
Soleyman the First was on the move. Even his European foes grudgingly said he earned the title “The Magnificent”. He had conquered large parts of the Middle East. His movement into Europe was only stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1529. But, at age 70, he was not resting on his laurels. Malta was a strategic thorn in the side of the Ottoman Empire, a base Christians could use to attack his supply and communication lines.
It would not be the first time Soleyman had tangled with the Knights of St. John, the Hospitallers, who used Malta as their base. In 1493, he had driven them off Rhodes. But they had turned Malta with its fine harbors into a base for raiding Moslem shipping.Continue reading