Sciberras Peninsula

Capture of Fort St Elmo by Matteo Perez d'Aleccio

Capture of Fort St Elmo by Matteo Perez d’Aleccio

Valetta was founded on this day in the year 1566 on the Sciberras Peninsula in Malta.  The foundation stone for the City was laid by the eponymous Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller Order, Jean de Valette.

It is fitting that the Maltese capital should be named after Valette.  It was he who commanded the defence of the Island against the Turkish invasion the previous year.  A force of only 500 knights and about 2,000 soldiers defended the island against an invading force of Turks and Algerians numbering between 30,000 and 50,000.

The defending force withstood 4 months of constant frontal attacks by elite Turkish troops and endured a relentless barrage from the Turkish cannon.  They rebuilt walls even as they were destroyed.

It was one of the greatest and most uplifting victories in history.  It is one of three great battles that stemmed the expansion of the Ottoman Empire; the others being the Siege of Vienna and Lepanto.

Valetta was built upon the ruins of Fort St Elmo, which was lost to the Turks in the siege.  The small star shaped fort was reduced to rubble by Turkish guns within a week of their arrival.  Still, it held out for two incredible months, the defenders fighting for every scrap of stone with every drop of their blood.  St Elmo took the lives of 6,000 Turkish attackers, and half of the elite Janissary force.

Farewell to Malta; by Lord Byron

Adieu, ye joys of La Valette!
Adieu, sirocco, sun, and sweat!
Adieu, thou palace rarely enter’d!
Adieu, ye mansions where I’ve ventured!
Adieu, ye cursed streets of stairs!
(How surely he who mounts you swears!)
Adieu, ye merchants often failing!
Adieu, thou mob for ever railing!
Adieu, ye packets without letters!
Adieu, ye fools who ape your betters!
Adieu, thou damned’st quarantine,
That gave me fever, and the spleen!
Adieu, that stage which makes us yawn, Sirs,
Adieu, his Excellency’s dancers!
Adieu to Peter–whom no fault’s in,
But could not teach a colonel waltzing;
Adieu, ye females fraught with graces!
Adieu, red coats, and redder faces!
Adieu, the supercilious air
Of all that strut ‘en militaire’!
I go–but God knows when, or why,
To smoky towns and cloudy sky,
To things (the honest truth to say)
As bad–but in a different way.

Farewell to these, but not adieu,
Triumphant sons of truest blue!
While either Adriatic shore,
And fallen chiefs, and fleets no more,
And nightly smiles, and daily dinners,
Proclaim you war and woman’s winners.
Pardon my Muse, who apt to prate is,
And take my rhyme–because ’tis ‘gratis.’

And now I’ve got to Mrs. Fraser,
Perhaps you think I mean to praise her­
And were I vain enough to think
My praise was worth this drop of ink,
A line–or two–were no hard matter,
As here, indeed, I need not flatter:
But she must be content to shine
In better praises than in mine,
With lively air, and open heart,
And fashion’s ease, without its art;
Her hours can gaily glide along,
Nor ask the aid of idle song.

And now, O Malta! since thou’st got us,
Thou little military hothouse!
I’ll not offend with words uncivil,
And wish thee rudely at the Devil,
But only stare from out my casement,
And ask, for what is such a place meant?
Then, in my solitary nook,
Return to scribbling, or a book,
Or take my physic while I’m able
(Two spoonfuls hourly by the label),
Prefer my nightcap to my beaver,
And bless the gods I’ve got a fever.

Templar Burning


From the Archives of the Royal French Bulletin, Paris  March 18th, 1314 AD (Translation by the Author)

The atmosphere was fantastic down here in front of Notre Dame for the main event today.  Not just one, two or three, but a full four senior officers of the Knights Templar went out in flames today.

Leading the Templar team was none other than Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master himself.  De Molay was ably supported by the Master of Normandy, Geoffroi de Charney and the Master of Aquitaine, Godefroi de Gonneville.  Also on the podium today was none other than the Templar Visitor of France, Hughes de Peraud.

Informed pundits have suggested that King Philippe manufactured charges against the Templar Order to evade the enormous debt owed by him to the order.  Not a debt of gratitude, but a debt of money.  Considerable sums of money lost to Edward I of England and also lost in the Flanders debacle.  The pride of French nobility was lost in the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and Philippe is feeling the pinch at the loss of so much tax revenue.

There were celebrations in the streets in 1306 when our “Philip the Fair” threw the Jews out of France.  Perhaps we should have looked beyond our religious bias and glanced at the loan books.  The Jewish elders are waving mortgage slips around in Rome, Avignon and the other courts of Europe in a quest for payment.

One year later we heard of the dreadful sexual and heretical acts of the Templar Order.  We all love a good conspiracy theory, but isn’t it more than coincidental that they also held a large wad of debt against Philippe?  The same Philippe who appropriated the lands and commandaries of the order, and is selling them to the highest bidder.

Today, on the scaffold, after seven years jail time the Templars were to burn for acts to which they confessed.  In an unscheduled move De Molay and Geoffroi de Charney called a last minute press conference.  In their statement they claimed they had been guilty, they said, not of the crimes imputed to them, but of basely betraying their Order to save their own lives.

The assembled cardinals called for a ruling from the TV referee:  the Prevot of Paris.  But they were saved the embarrassment of a last minute reversal of the penalty when the news reached Philippe. He pulled out an obscure ruling that a relapsed heretic is to be burned without a hearing!

So the executioners got straight to work.  By sunset  a pile of lumber was erected on Ile des Juifs, where more than one Jew has roasted over a slow flame in the past.  The gathered crowd were able to warm themselves in the heat from the flames as de Molay and de Charney were slowly burned to death.

In another departure from the expected script, they refused all offers of pardon for retraction.  They bore their torment with a composure which saw them acclaimed as martyrs by the people.  There was a scramble at the end of the event for relics which were plucked from the smoldering ashes of the bonfire.

Following the burning we received this comment from Guillaume de Granmercy, CEO of “Debt Resolutions Ltd” who provide debt resolution negotiation services to lenders and their clients.  “We have had considerable success using conciliation and arbitration approaches to debt resolution.  We believe that our approach could have resolved Philippe’s issues without needing to resort to banishment, imprisonment and burning the bondholders”