Knights against the Great Empire

Malta is known as the “Mediterranean Heart”. Many Chinese people may not be able to find this island nation on the map. Its area is only over 300 square kilometers, but the projectile land carries a very heavy human history. Whenever I read the history of Malta, I ca n’t help but think of the legendary islands in the magical works of art, such as Dragon Stone Island and Bear Island in The Song of Ice and Fire. I always feel that there are flying fire dragons there. , Fearless warrior.

Yes, except that Malta did not have a flying dragon, it really was a knight island. The knights were there to withstand a large empire and staged a tragic legend.

In 1453, the fall of Constantinople by the Ottoman army shocked Europe, causing widespread panic and loss. After the fall of Constantinople, east of the Mediterranean Midline, one of the three knights, according to the Knights of St. John of Malta (also known as the “Hospital Knights” and “Malta Knights”), is the only remaining Catholic military power.

Sultan Suleiman could not tolerate a spike in the heart of the Mediterranean. In 1565, he sent 40,000 troops to surround Malta. Although Vallet, the chief of the Knights, had only 700 knights and more than 8,000 soldiers, he vowed to co-exist with Malta.

In the cold weapon era, siege was usually dominated by siege rather than rushing to attack. At the time, the Ottoman army was equipped with powerful cannons. The cannons bombarded the walls with artillery, and the soldiers swarmed up after making a gap. Whenever they rushed to the gap, they would fight bloody melee against the knights who came to resist. Every advancement of the Ottoman army paved the way for flesh and blood. Fort Saint Elmo on the island was bloody offensive and defensive for a month after all foreign aid was cut off. The Ottoman army lost 6 for 1 (the Cavaliers lost 1,500 and the Ottoman army lost about 8,000) before it captured the fort.

By the third month, most of the towns on the island were destroyed, more than half of the Knights were killed and 9,000 soldiers and civilians were killed. Valette, who has been in a flower armor for three months, has not slept well. He flatly rejected the offer of surrender and shouted to the exhausted remnants: “Is there anything more glorious than defending faith and consecrating?”

The siege was more difficult than expected by Commander Ottoman. The Ottoman army was also plagued by a shortage of forage and disease, and its morale was so low that it could not organize a threatening assault.

The Cavaliers’ adherence to Malta has moved Europe, and a total of 10,000 reinforcements have rushed to Sicily to gather. Twenty-eight ships carried reinforcements across the strait, quietly headed towards Malta, and rushed to the beach the next morning.

Ottoman Commander Mustafa is a battle-tested valiant general. After his last attack was defeated, he heard the news of the arrival of the other reinforcements, and was finally discouraged. He ordered the withdrawal and lifted the 3-month siege on Malta. .

The imperial army evacuated dejectedly. Behind it were dreadful islands. The city walls were full of gaps and ruins. From hillsides to bays, there were corpses, including the bodies of 30,000 Ottoman soldiers. Three months after the end of the war, the smoke of the island remained for a long time, and the disabled were rags and unkempt, moving hard in the rubble heap, like an upright corpse.

Faced with the bloody assault of a great empire, Malta did not die. It survived, albeit at an extremely heavy price. This catastrophe, the famous “Siege of Malta” in European history.

The news of the victory spread to continental Europe. No matter in Protestant or Catholic areas, from Palermo to Rome, from Paris to London, the bells of various churches rang, and residents of many places embarked on the streets to celebrate. Malta’s island is famous all over Europe, and its reputations include “Fortress of Faith” and “Island of Heroes”.

The British Mediterranean military historian Ernest Bradford once served in the Royal Navy and sailed the Mediterranean for 30 years. He presented the tragic history to his readers with a book “The Siege: Malta 1565”.

In the era when the Ottoman Empire was aggressive and the Christian world was declining, Europe had a sense of crisis and fear. Malta, controlled by the Knights, undoubtedly became a Christian spiritual island in the Mediterranean. After reading Ernley’s work, I have a feeling: sometimes the pillars that carry civilization are so weak, but at the same time very tough.

The Ottoman Empire never conquered Malta. Surprisingly, it was Napoleon who finally expelled the Knights from Malta. Since then, the Knights no longer have their own territory, but they have worked on the island for hundreds of years, leaving indelible marks there. To commemorate the history of that siege, today Malta’s capital is called Valletta.