Anniversary of a turning point in Christian history

Precisely in this time of year, it is the anniversary of the Great Siege of Malta, by the invading infidel Muslim under Suliman, called by some “the Magnificent”. This was a key moment in Western history, given the strategic importance of the little islands.   Everybody in the day, understood how important this was.  Elizabeth I of England said of it: “If the Turks should prevail against the Isle of Malta, it is uncertain what further peril might follow to the rest of Christendom.”

The Siege of Malta began on 18 May 1565 and ended, propitiously, on 11 September with, of course, a Christian victory over the attacking Islamic infidels.

Do you think that Islamicists of today have forgotten?

I am listening to the book from Ernle Bradford: The Great Siege, Malta 1565: Clash of Cultures: Christian Knights Defend Western Civilization Against the Moslem Tide.


It came highly recommended by an Army Colonel whom I met recently at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, who also has a keen interest in chess. As it turns out he was on the hunt for the Latin funerary inscription on the tomb of perhaps the greatest of the Grand Masters of the Knights of Malta back in the day, Jean Parisot de la Vallette. He found an English rendering and I rooted around in sites that had photos of the restoration of the tomb. Once I picked up a clear phrase in the Latin original, I found it quickly. I had tried to reverse engineer the English, but it turns out that the knight’s epitaph was in verse, so that didn’t work. But I digress.

I have the Audible version of Bradford’s book read by the inimitable Simon Vance, probably my favorite reader out there. Which he also did the magnificent series by Patrick O’Brien.

I see that the Kindle version is only $1.99.  Get a Kindle!

The person of Jean de la Vallette is amazing. His life demonstrates something of the stakes involved, for he had spent some time as a galley slave. He understood well what awaited the vanquished and he set himself with resolve in the face of the Islamic threat.

For the curious, here is the Latin of the tomb of this great Catholic solider.


Here are a few links of the books the Colonel recommended about Malta.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. monstrance says:

    Just ordered Great Siege –
    Thank you Fr Z for heads up

  2. Semper Gumby says:

    From 1940-42 Malta successfully resisted another siege, this time by the Fascists and Nazis. The George Cross was awarded to the entire population of Malta and is on their national flag.

  3. Eoin OBolguidhir says:

    A small quibble about dates. The Siege is usually referred to as having been raised on September 8th, the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, and providentially for the Knights, their Patronal Feast of Our Lady of Philermo, under which name they venerate the Theotokos.

    September 11th is of course a doubly propitious and glorious day being the date of the raising of the Siege of Vienna by King Jan Sobieski in 1683, which marked the end of Ottoman incursions into Christendom, and also of the Battle of Zenta in 1697 in which the Holy League was victorious over the jihadis of the Grand Turk, and which was followed soon after by the Treaty of Karlowicz. This treaty marked beginning of the expulsion of the Turk from Europe.

    There is an EXCELLENT movie about Vienna, The Day of the Siege, starring Academy Award Best Actor winner F. Murray Abraham as the Blessed Fr. Marco D’Aviano. It stresses unapologetically, so to speak, that the god of the Koran and our God are not the same. I’m sure it would pair nicely with the book Father recommends. It was at least recently FREE to watch on Amazon Prime Video.

  4. Gab says:

    “Here lies Valetta, worthy of eternal honour, terror of Asia [meaning Asia Minor] and Libya [Meaning North Africa] and sometime shield of Europe whence he subdued through sacred arms the Geta [ meaning barbarians in general], first to be buried in this kind city which he founded.”

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    Eoin OBolguidhir: Thanks for the movie recommendation. Good point about the god of the Koran, three examples:

    113:2 Allah created evil

    5:32 Note that killing for “causing corruption in the earth/land” is permissible. Also see 5:33. 5:32 was misquoted by Pres. Obama in his Cairo speech of 2009. (Interestingly, the “whoever saves one saves all mankind” element of 5:32 was likely taken from early material in the Talmud.)

    4:34 commands wife beating

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