History of Malta

Malta is an island full of history, holding a strategic position at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. Uncover Malta decided to make you a small summary.  Let’s start with the prehistory People first arrived in Malta around 5200 BC. These first people probably arrived from Sicily, and were mainly farming and fishing communities, with […]
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Malta is an island full of history, holding a strategic position at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. Uncover Malta decided to make you a small summary. 

Let’s start with the prehistory

  • People first arrived in Malta around 5200 BC. These first people probably arrived from Sicily, and were mainly farming and fishing communities, with some evidence of hunting activities.

Antiquity

  • Approximately the 8th century BC: Phoenicians began to colonize the islands in order to expand sea explorations and trade in the Mediterranean. A century later the Greeks establish a colony in the location of current Mdina.
  • By the late 4th century BC: Malta is under the control of Carthage. The island thus finds itself involved in the wars which bring into conflict Carthage and Rome.
  • In the year 218 BC: the Maltese Islands passed into the hands of the Romans.

Middle Ages

  • Between 870 AD and 1090 AD, Malta was occupied by Muslims from North Africa. The island is occupied by the Arabs which gives in Malta a big part of their culture and make Mdina the capital of the island. This long occupation left behind her some imprints, in particular in the Maltese language which has a strong Arabic consonance.
  • In 1091, Count Roger I of Sicily, made an initial attempt to establish Norman rule of Malta and was greeted by the few native Christians. In 1127, his son succeeded. This marked the gradual change from a Moorish cultural influence to a European one. The Muslims have been forced off their land. The population “re-Christianizes” but the Arabic language remains very present in Malta.

Early years (1530–1798)

  • In the early 16th century, the Ottoman Empire started spreading over the region, reaching South East Europe. The Spanish king Charles V feared that if Rome fell to the Turks, it would be the end of Christian Europe. In 1522, Suleiman I drove the Knights of St. John out of Rhodes. Wanting to protect Rome from invasion from the south, in 1530, Charles V handed over the island to these knights.
  • For the next 275 years, these famous “Knights of Malta” made the island their domain and made the Italian language official. They built towns, palaces, churches, gardens and fortifications and embellished the island with numerous works of art and enhanced cultural heritage.
  • 1565: Great Siege of Malta. Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Malta. By the time the Ottoman fleet arrived the Knights were as ready as they could be. After a protracted siege ended on 8 September of the same year, which became known in history as the Great Siege, the Ottoman Empire conceded defeat and leave.
  • The year after, the Order started work on a new city with fortifications, near of the sea. It was named Valletta due to Jean Parisot de Valette, the Grand Master who had seen the Order through its victory.

Modern age (1798 – now)

  • French occupation (1798–1800): Over the years, the power of the knights declined; their reign ended in 1798 when Napoleon Bonaparte’s expeditionary fleet stopped off to Malta (on the way to his Egyptian expedition). During his very short stay, Napoleon accomplished quite a number of reforms: for example the creation of a new administration with a Government Commission, the creation of twelve municipalities, the setting up of a public finance administration, the abolition of slavery…
  • Malta in the British Empire (1800 – 1964): After several failed attempts by the locals to retake Valletta, the British were asked for their assistance. In 1800, Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire as a protectorate. Through the Treaty of Paris, Malta becomes a British colony in 1814. Before the arrival of the British, the official language since 1530 (and the one of the handful of educated elite) had been Italian, but this was downgraded by the increased use of English. In 1934 Maltese was declared an official language, which brought the number up to three.
  • On September 21st, 1964, Malta becomes an independent country. However it belongs to the Commonwealth. In 1965 Malta joined the Council of Europe, and in 1970, Malta signed an Association Treaty with the European Economic Community.
  • Malta becomes a Republic in 1974 and his first president, Anthony Mamo, is elected.
  • In 2004 Malta join the European Union then the Euro zone in 2008.
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