Uprisings & Revolts

November 1372 – Uprising against Giacomo Pellegrino

In the mid 14th century, Frederick’s IV Malta was a semi autonomous, Arabic speaking dependency of the Regno, where growing cotton was a major occupancy.

castrum_marisIt was the time when the family of Ciccio Gatto was appointed Castellan of Malta, but his family was pushed aside for the next two decades by the rise of a local strongman, Giacomo de Pellegrino a Messinese privateer who was related to the Counts of Malta through his marriage to ‘the royal kinswoman’ Margaret of Aragon. By 1356 he held the captaincy of the Maltese islands wielding power through his armed contingent.

In 1372 the king himself, at the head of a Genoese squadron of 10, led the siege of Pellegrino’s forces in the castrum – St. Angelo and Mdina.

Apparently the royal involvement met with extensive local support which led to an exceptional show of force by an otherwise sovereign which was sealed by numerous grants of royal favours, posts and holdings to local inhabitants who, in one way or another, supported the Genoese-Sicilian intervention in the Maltese islands. Thirty-two concessions, issued in the six days between 8 and 14 November 1372 by Frederick IV in Malta, document the role played by various individuals in the reduction of the castle of Malta to royal obedience.

But peace prevailed only for a short period. Around 1375, Frederick IV found once more that the royal patrimony was dispersing in private hands, undermining the ability to pay the salaries of the castellan and servientes defending the castrum maris.

He appointed William of Aragon, Frederick’s illegitimate son and infante of Sicily, as Count of Malta. It was a return to feudal rule. Armed rebellions from the populance, supported by noble families followed. The crown read the situation as a direct challenge to its authority, and proceeded to dispossess the ringleaders, reinforcing the Maltese Castrum.

The rebellion spread around Malta and Gozo, causing regional repercussions. Meanwhile in his will, Frederick stated that Maria, his daughter was to be crowned queen of Sicily. After his death though the Islands were drawn more closely into the sphere of influence of the ambitious count of Modica, Manfred Chiaramonte.

No heed was taken of the king’s wishes, Maria was placed under tutelage of Artale Alagona, the magnate based at Catania. The Regno was divided into the wardships of four different magnates. The queen was kidnapped and taken to Sardinia by Guglielmo Moncada, at the wish of King Peter IV of Aragon but he did not manage to conquer the island except symbolically. In 1377 Manfred Chiaramonte claimed his title of count of Malta. The feudal period led the islands to uncertainty and decline. Heavy fighting in different places, including Gozo and Mdina, marked the transfer from feudal to crown rule. The stronghold of this insurrection became the Castrum maris and this developed in a lengthy affair lasting months, with the crown needing all the support it could master. This benefitted the islanders no better.

This led a highly vulnerable defensive situation which together with the crown’s financial needs were certainly two factors behind the pawning of the islands by the new king.

1426 – Uprising against Gonsalvo Monroy

In January 1421 King Alfonso granted the islands and all the Maltese revenue to Don Antonio Cardona who was his viceroy in Sicily. He needed the pawned 30,000 Aragonese florins for his campaigns in the conquest of Naples.

Cardona pledged to fly the royal flag over the Maltese islands, and be committed towards Aragonese foreign policy. The Maltese swore their loyalty towards Cardona against pledge that their rights and privileges would be honoured. Four weeks later (7th March 1421), Cardona officially transferred all his rights to Don Gonsalvo Monroy a Castillian galley captain and trusted servant of King Alfonso.

In 1423 a Moorish force attacked the Maltese islands devastating the countryside and carried away a large number of inhabitants into captivity.  No direct effort was made to alleviate the serious food shortages faced by the population.

This was apparently one factor forcing the Gozitan population to revolt against their Feudal Lord who by 1425 had become admiral of Sicily and was numbering among the chief barons of the Regno.

monroyMonroy could not bring the island to heel, and turned to the king for help. The Maltese town councillors sent their representations to the crown. They pointed out they were doing all within their power to prevent the insurrection from spreading to Malta; pointing several grievances. The crown was alarmed but dragged it’s feet; Monroy was inflexible. The rebellion spread to the larger island in 1426.

The dissatisfied Maltese were getting more restless and in 1426 with the backing of the Universita’ rebelled, pillaging Monroy’s house in Mdina and laid siege on the Castrum Maris at Birgu.

Monroy’s men, as well as his wife Lady Constance, were blockaded in the Castrum Maris. King Alfonso asked his viceroys in Sicily to appoint a governor for Malta. Upon Monroy’s return to Sicily the Maltese and Gozitan populations were outlawed.

By May 1427 forces were put together ready to set sail to subdue the revolt in the Maltese islands and liberate Monroy’s men, including the Maltese who were at the Castrum Maris and punish the perpetrators. Local representatives claimed their right to redeem the islands by paying Monroy his money.

For a brief period, the Maltese had complete control on their homeland. The Maltese were ready to pay 30,000 florins to redeem their islands.

The Maltese never paid the 30,000 florins before Monroy’s death. In his will he divided the sum that had been raised between his heirs, the king and the Maltese who had contributed. The king’s part was to be spent in repairing the fortifications.

Despite the poor options available, negotiations dragged on for many months during which time the Maltese held out against their King who had initially threatened them with extermination (no empty threat in 1427).

Monroy was in favour of the deal offered by the Maltese. It was about to fall apart when hostages were demanded pending payment and the release of Donna Costanza but was salvaged when negotiator Antonio Inguanez offered his two sons in her place.

An inscribed marble plaque inside one of Mdina’s gates records this extraordinary service to the king but also to Inguanez’s own people.

On 20 June 1428 King Alfonso V issued from Valencia an extraordinary royal charter in favour of the Maltese islands, which was to mark a political crown for the next one hundred years. The islands would always to form part of the royal domain.  The resulting charter, granting the Maltese and the Gozitans a right to rebellion in perpetuity, granted rights to all Maltese and Gozitans and their descendants.image

Post Monroy Period

Therefore the islands were returned to the dominio by 1429. Whether or not the outcomes were positive for the natives is in debate considering that the frequency of corsair attacks remained high with chronic poverty and periodic famine rampant. Afterwards the titles and fief of the Marquisate of Malta was never given to any one ruler of the islands. The period of dominio status for Malta and Gozo than came to an end in 1530 when Charles V of Spain gave the islands to the Order of Saint John and although they were to pay tribute to the Viceroy of Sicily they were not given the title of Count or Marquise of Malta, thus concluding the line of Counts of Malta.

List of Counts of Malta

  • Margarito da Brindisi (c.1190/1192-1197)
  • Guglielmo Grasso (c.1197-1203)
  • Enrico “Pescatore” De Candia (c.1203-1232)
  • Nicoloso (c.1232-1266/1282)
  • Andreolo da Genova (c.1290-1300)
  • Ruggiero de Lauria (claimant)(c.1300-1305)
  • Lukina de Malta (heir apparent)(c.1300-1320)
  • Guglielmo Raimondo I Moncada (claimant)(c.1305-1320)
  • Guglielmo (c.1320-1330)
  • Alfonso Federigo d’Aragona (c.1330-1349)
  • Pietro Federigo d’Aragona (c.1349-1350)
  • Niccolo’ Acciaiuoli (claimant)(c.1357-1360)
  • Guido Ventimiglia (c.1360-1362)
  • Manfredo III Chiaramonte (c.1366-1370)
  • Guglielmo (c.1370-1377)
  • Manfredo III Chiaramonte (c.1377-1391)
  • Elizabetta Peralta Chiaramonte (c.1391-1392)
  • Guglielmo Raimondo III Moncada (c.1392-1393)
  • Artale II Alagona (c.1393-1396/1398)
  • Guglielmo Raimondo III Moncada (c.1396-1397)
  • Antonio Cardona (c.1420-1425)
  • Gonsalvo Monroy (c.1426-1428)

September 1775 – The Rising of the Priests

In 1773 Ximenes had frequently given assurances to the people that on his becoming grandmaster he would effect a reform in the administration and reduce the cost of living.

XimenesBut faced with a depleted Treasury  he proceeded to rush reforms by a very unwise economic policy. He issued an edict in February 1773, forbidding the hunting of hares for a time to allow them to  breed in order to secure an abundance of cheap meat. This measure caused protests from the people and some of the clergy.

Above all, the Bishop, Mgr. Pellerano, expressed his disaffection about the harm done to his estates by the great number of hares. Thereupon the Grandmaster granted him permission to hunt in his possessions.

Some ecclesiastics soon began to avail themselves of the permission.  Ximenes again protested against the open transgression of his edict. Eventually the edict was repealed in  July 1774. But the friction between the Order and the clergy did not cease.

On August 30, 1774, a deputation of the clergy from all the parishes assembled before the palace and presented a memorial to the Bishop. They demanded the convocation of a Chapter General in order to safeguard ecclesiastical immunity and the dignity of the clergy.

Mgr. Pellerano did not accede to their request. He urged them to return to their parishes in order to avoid further trouble.

The Government became more unpopular when Ximenes took drastic steps to effect strict economy. He dismissed all foreign professors from the University and reduced the number of courses. He abolished certain government offices, reduced the salaries of many officials and tried to enforce economy in the administration. To make matters worse the price of corn was raised, thus causing much discontent and misery among the people.

At the beginning of May 1775 Mgr. Pellerano left Malta, never to see it again. The triumph of the Order over the Bishop exasperated both clergy and people, and increased the prevailing tension.

The Inquisitor called all the parish priests and directed them to emphasize the clergy their duty of respecting and obeying the civil authorities.

A revolt was being concocted in the Island planned to take place on the night of the 8th September. It was so timed as to elude the vigilance of the authorities. The ringleaders . had counted on many followers.

imageOn the appointed day few turned up. Yet Don Gaetano Mannarino decided to carry on. The band consisted of some priests, clerics and laymen.

They formed themselves into two groups. One group, thirteen in all proceeded to assail fort St Elmo under the leadership of Don Mannarino.

With the help of a corporal of the fort they succeeded in entering the fort in the early hours of the morning. The guards were taken by surprise and unarmed.

The other group with false keys succeeded in opening the gates of St James Cavalier and in capturing this fortress.

The flag of the Order on both posts was lowered and the Maltese banner was hoisted instead.

At the news Ximenes called the Council of State to take the necessary steps to suppress the rising.

Tranquillity was soon restored in Valletta, and the measures of defence were effected without loss of time.

All the citizens rose to the occasion and took up arms against the rebels. The Governor of Notabile, who happened to be in Valletta on that day, later reported that in Notabile and in the country all was quiet.

The rebels from time to time fired shots from St Elmo.  The Grandmaster was hoping to effect a reconciliation.

The Council resolved to send the Vicar General, Mgr. Gaetano Grech to find out what were the rebels’ grievances.

Through the Vicar General they asked for a truce up to 4.00 pm and promised that they would state their demands in writing. The truce was agreed upon but hostilities did not come to an end. The assault on the Cavalier took place during the truce, as the Council had decided to recapture the fortress from the hands of the rebels.

The rebels concealed themselves in a corner whence they fired some shots at the assailants. The fort fell into the hands of the knights. Only four men were found within.  The rebels in fort St Elmo threatened to blow the powder magazine and destroy the City.

Determined to avert such a calamity, they resolved to recapture the fort by surprise.  Hearing the shots, the rebels opened fire, but after a short time they all dispersed and surrendered.

In two letters of Don Mannarino  the names of all those involved in the rising are disclosed. Among whom were twenty-eight ecclesiastics.  Ten of them did not turn up on the appointed day, while six fled from Fort St Elmo or St James Cavalier. This leaves the number of eighteen ecclesiastics who took part in the rising, and twelve who remained at their posts to the last.

On October 20, 1775, the trial of the rebels, who had been detained in Fort St Elmo since the rising, started in the same fort. These were ecclesiastics, seven in all including   Don Gaetan Mannarino.  The five other rebels, who were all laymen, were tried in the Court of the Castellania. The trial went on after Ximenes’s  death.

On November 4, 1775 the new Grand Master, de Rohan, was disposed to clemency.  Immediately after his election he removed the skulls of the three rebels from the corners of St James Cavalier.  The ringleaders of the rising, Don G. Mannarino and Cleric Giuseppe Dimech, were sentenced to life imprisonment.  The other rebels, with the exception of the three clerics set free, were exiled.

Don Gaetano Mannarino was released from prison by Napoleon Bonaparte in June 1798.

September 1798 – Revolt against the French

On 19 May 1798, a French fleet sailed from Toulon, escorting an expeditionary force of over 30,000 men under General Napoleon Bonaparte. The force was destined for Egypt, Bonaparte seeking to expand French influence in Asia and force Britain to make peace in the French Revolutionary Wars, which had begun in 1792.

Malta-1798Sailing southeast, the convoy collected additional transports from Italian ports and at 05:30 on 9 June arrived off Valletta, the heavily fortified port-city on the island of Malta. At this time, Malta and its neighbouring islands were ruled by the Knights of St. John, an old and influential feudal order weakened by the loss of most of their revenue during the French Revolution. The head of government was Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim. He refused Bonaparte’s demand that his entire convoy be allowed to enter Valletta and take on supplies, insisting that Malta’s neutrality meant that only two ships could enter at a time.

On receiving this reply, Bonaparte immediately ordered his fleet to bombard Valletta and on 11 June General Louis Baraguey d’Hilliers directed an amphibious operation in which several thousand soldiers landed at seven strategic sites around the island.

The French Knights deserted the order, and the remaining Knights failed to mount a meaningful resistance. Approximately 2,000 native Maltese militia resisted for 24 hours, retreating to Valletta once the city of Mdina fell to General Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois.

vabouisAlthough Valletta was strong enough to hold out against a lengthy siege, Bonaparte negotiated a surrender with Hompesch, who agreed to turn Malta and all of its resources over to the French in exchange for estates and pensions in France for himself and his knights.

Bonaparte then established a French garrison on the islands, leaving 4,000 men under Vaubois while he and the rest of the expeditionary force sailed eastwards for Alexandria on 19 June.

The French rapidly dismantled the institutions of the Knights of St. John, including the Roman Catholic Church. Church property was looted and seized to pay for the expedition to Egypt, an act that generated considerable anger among the deeply religious Maltese population.

On 2 September, this anger erupted in a popular uprising during an auction of church property, and within days thousands of Maltese irregulars had driven the French garrison into Valletta.

Valletta was surrounded by approximately 10,000 irregular Maltese soldiers led by Emmanuel Vitale and Canon Saverio Caruana. The Maltese were armed with 23 cannon and a small squadron of coastal gunboats. Although there was intermittent skirmishing between the garrison and the Maltese, the fortress was too strong for the irregulars to assault.

Late in September, a British convoy consisting of 13 battered ships under Captain Sir James Saumarez appeared off the island. Survivors of the Battle of the Nile, they were in urgent need of repair and unable to directly assist in the siege.  Nevertheless, Saumarez met with representatives of the Maltese and on 25 September, sent an offer of truce to Vaubois on their behalf. Vaubois replied “Vous avez, sans doute, oublié que des Français sont dans la place. Le sort des habitans [sic] ne vous regarde pointe. Quant à votre sommation, les soldats français ne sont point habitués à ce style” (“You might have forgotten that the French hold this place. The fate of the inhabitants is none of your concern. As for your ultimatum, French soldiers are not accustomed to such a tone”). Unable to persuade the French to give in, Saumarez instead provided the Maltese forces with 1,200 muskets with which to continue the siege. Saumarez, unable to delay repairs any longer, sailed for Gibraltar at the end of the month.

F6In mid-September, a squadron of Portuguese ships also had arrived at the island. They included the Príncipe Real, Rainha de Portugal, São Sebastião and Afonso de Albuquerque, and the British ship HMS Lion, all under the command of Tomás Xavier Teles de Castro da Gama, Marquess of Niza. This force had been sent from the Tagus to augment Nelson’s fleet, and after a brief stay off Malta continued to Alexandria. The Portuguese ships returned to the blockade of the island in October.

On 12 October, the British ships of the line HMS Alexander under Captain Alexander Ball, HMS Culloden under Captain Thomas Troubridge and HMS Colossus under Captain George Murray joined Niza’s ships off Malta, marking the formal start of the blockade.

On the same day, Vaubois withdrew the last of his soldiers into the fortified new city of Valletta, accompanied by approximately 100 Maltese nationals who had joined the French forces.

The garrison numbered over 3,000 men and initially at least was well supplied. In the harbour lay the ships of the line Dégo and Athénien and the frigate Carthaginoise, all of which were former ships of the Maltese Navy, as well as the newly arrived Guillaume Tell and frigates Justice and Diane, survivors of the Battle of the Nile under Rear-Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, which had reached Malta at the end of September.

On 24 October, after a ten day passage from Naples, Nelson joined the blockade squadron in HMS Vanguard accompanied by HMS Minotaur. On 28 October, Ball successful completed negotiations with the French garrison on the island of Gozo.  The 217 French soldiers there agreeing to surrender without a fight and transferring the island, its fortifications, 24 cannon, a large quantity of ammunition and 3,200 sacks of flour to the British.

Although the island was formally claimed by King Ferdinand of Naples, it was administered by British and Maltese representatives, whose first action was to distribute the captured food supplies to the island’s 16,000 inhabitants.

french-gold-ingotMalta and the surrounding islands were not self-sufficient and quickly the challenge of feeding the population became a strain on the islands’ resources, particularly with so many men under arms.

Although now formally in command of the islands, King Ferdinand refused to assist with supplies, and the responsibility was left to Ball and his captains to arrange for the transport of supplies from Italy.

By the end of the year, the number of Maltese troops in the field had fallen from 10,000 to 1,500, supported by 500 British and Portuguese marines from the blockade squadron.  The blockade fleet, consisting of five British and four Portuguese ships, operated from St. Paul’s Bay and Marsa Scirocco (now Marsaxlokk) on the island of Malta itself.

1799 was a frustrating year for the British and Maltese forces deployed against Malta, as efforts to secure sufficient forces to prosecute the siege were repeatedly denied.

Major-General James St Clair-Erskine, commander of British Army forces in the Mediterranean, considered the ongoing War of the Second Coalition in Italy and the defence of Minorca to be higher priorities than Ball’s siege, while the defeated Neapolitans continued to refuse assistance.

A Russian squadron under Admiral Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov briefly appeared off the island in January, but was almost immediately ordered to join the Russian and Turkish forces besieging the island of Corfu. In addition to the difficulties the Allies faced in obtaining food for the Maltese population, the French succeeded in bringing supplies through the blockade in the early part of the year: in January 1799 a schooner reached Valletta from Ancona, and in February the frigate Boudeuse evaded the blockade and entered the port with supplies from Toulon.

In May, a major French expedition under Admiral Etienne Eustache Bruix entered the Western Mediterranean, forcing Nelson to recall his scattered fleet from across the region, temporarily raising the blockade of Malta. During this operation a number of French supply ships took advantage of the absence of the British squadron to enter Valletta.

However, despite these occasional supply ships, the French garrison was rapidly running out of food. To conserve resources, the French forced the civilian population out of the city; the civilian population dropped from 45,000 in 1799 to 9,000 by 1800.

HoratioNelsonNelson himself took nominal command of the blockade, while Ball was made president of the Maltese National Congress. As liaison between the Maltese military and civilian commanders, he directed the distribution of supplies to the Maltese population, which was beginning to suffer from disease brought about by food shortages.

He was replaced on Alexander by his first lieutenant, William Harrington.

On 1 November Nelson again offered terms of surrender to Vaubois, and was again rebuffed, with the reply

“Jaloux de mériter l’estime de votre nation, comme vous recherchez celle de la nôtre, nous sommes résolus défendre cette fortresse jusqu’ l’extrémité”

(“Keen to deserve the esteem your nation, as you seek that of ours, we are resolved to defend this fortress until the end”).

By this point, Nelson was conducting the blockade at a distance, based at the Neapolitan court in Palermo. There he indulged in gambling and social engagements, becoming closer and closer to Emma, Lady Hamilton, wife of the ambassador Sir William Hamilton. His behaviour was heavily criticised, not just by his commanding officer Vice-Admiral Lord Keith, who had recently replaced Earl St Vincent, but also by old friends such as Thomas Troubridge, who wrote to him “If you knew what your friends feel for you I am sure you would cut out all the nocturnal parties . . . I beseech your Lordship, leave off”.

In December 1799, Erskine was replaced by Lieutenant-General Henry Edward Fox, who immediately redistributed 800 troops from the garrison at Messina to Malta under Brigadier-General Thomas Graham. These troops filled the gap left by the withdrawal of Portuguese forces, which had been ordered to return to Lisbon.

Disease began to spread within the city as rations became scarcer. The arrival of an aviso in January 1800 with the news of the events of 18 Brumaire that made Bonaparte First Consul of France prompted a brief respite and a public statement from Vaubois that the city would never be surrendered, although conditions continued to deteriorate.

At the beginning of February 1800, the Neapolitan government, reinstated in Naples after being expelled the year before, finally agreed to participate in the siege and 1,200 troops were embarked on a squadron led by Vice-Admiral Lord Keith’s flagship HMS Queen Charlotte and landed on Malta.

For a time, both Keith and Nelson remained with the blockade squadron, which consisted of six ships of the line and several British and Neapolitan frigates. On 17 February a message arrived with the squadron from the frigate HMS Success, which had been stationed off Sicily to watch for French reinforcements. Captain Shuldham Peard reported that he was shadowing a squadron of six or seven French ships sailing in the direction of Malta.

These vessels were a relief squadron, sent from Toulon with extensive food supplies and 3,000 additional troops under Contre-Admiral Jean-Baptiste Perrée in Généreux, one of the ships of the line that had escaped at the Nile two years earlier.

F7On 18 February, the convoy was sighted by lookouts on Alexander. In the ensuing chase, Success captured a French transport and attacked the much larger Généreux. Although the frigate was damaged in the exchange, Success’ second broadside mortally wounded Perrée and delayed the ship of the line long enough for HMS Foudroyant, under Lord Nelson, and HMS Northumberland to join the battle. Heavily outnumbered, Généreux surrendered.

Shortly after the capture of the Généreux, Keith returned to the Italian coast in Queen Charlotte, where his flagship was lost in a fire that killed more than 700 of its crew, although Keith was ashore at the time. Before departing, Keith issued strict instructions to Nelson that he was not to return to Palermo, but was to confine any shore leave in Sicily to Syracuse. Nelson ignored the order and by late March was in Palermo conducting an open love affair with Emma Hamilton. In his absence, Troubridge took over command of the blockade, delegating temporarily to Captain Manley Dixon. Dixon led the squadron on 31 March when Guillaume Tell attempted to break out on Valletta under Decrés. Spotted by the frigate HMS Penelope under Captain Henry Blackwood, Guillaume Tell was chased northwards and engaged by first Penelope and then by Dixon’s HMS Lion, driving both ships back but suffering severe damage.

F9Eventually the arrival of the powerful Foudroyant under Captain Sir Edward Berry proved too much for Decrés, but he continued fighting for another two hours before he was forced to surrender his battered and dismasted ship; in the engagement, he lost more than 200 men killed and wounded.

In the aftermath of these defeats at sea, and with the food supply in Valletta dwindling, the British sent another demand for capitulation. Vaubois again refused, with the reply “Cette place est en trop bon état, et je suis moi-même trop jaloux de bien servir men payset de conserver mon honneur, por écouter vos propositions.” (“This place is in too good a situation, and I am too conscious of the service of my country and my honour, to listen to your proposals”) In reality, the situation was dire: during February, prices of basic foodstuffs stood at 16 francs for a fowl, 12 francs for a rabbit, 20 sous for an egg, 18 sous for a lettuce, 40 sous for a rat and six francs per pound for fish. For the civilian typhus patients, the only food available was a horse-flesh soup.

On 23 April, Nelson departed Palermo in Foudroyant, with both Sir William and Emma Hamilton on board as his guests. The party visited Syracuse and then travelled on to Valletta, where Berry took Foudroyant so close to the harbour that the ship came under fire from the French batteries. No hits were scored, but Nelson was furious that Emma had been taken into danger and immediately ordered Berry to withdraw. His anger was exacerbated by Emma’s refusal to retire from the quarterdeck during the brief exchange.

From there, Foudroyant anchored at Marsa Sirocco, where Nelson and Emma lived together openly and were hosted by Troubridge and Graham. Sir William Hamilton, a prominent antiquarian as well as a diplomat, spent his time exploring the island.

By early June, Nelson and his party had returned to Palermo, the beginning of a lengthy overland journey across Europe to Britain. Nelson also detached Foudroyant and Alexander from the blockade, again in defiance of Keith’s explicit orders, to assist the Neapolitan royal family in their passage to Livorno.  Enraged at Nelson’s disobedience, Keith publicly remarked that “Lady Hamilton has had command of the fleet long enough”.

In May, Troubridge returned to Britain and was replaced in command by Captain George Martin, while Graham was superseded by Major-General Henry Pigot.

The British blockade continued to prevent French efforts to resupply Valletta during the early summer of 1800, and by August the situation was desperate: no horses or pack animals, dogs, cats, fowls or rabbits still lived within the city, the cisterns had been emptied and even firewood was in short supply.

So desperate was the need for wood that the frigate Boudeuse, trapped by the blockade, was broken up for fuel by the beleaguered garrison. With defeat now inevitable, Vaubois gave orders that the frigates Diane and Justice were to attempt a breakout for Toulon, the frigates given minimal crews of approximately 115 men each.

On 24 August, when the wind was favourable and the night dark enough to obscure their movements, the frigates put to sea. Almost immediately, lookouts on HMS Success sighted them and Captain Peard gave chase, followed by HMS Genereux and Northumberland. Diane under Captain Solen was too slow and Peard soon overhauled the under strength French ship, which surrendered after a brief exchange of shot. The frigate later became HMS Niobe. Justice, under Captain Jean Villeneuve, was faster however and outran its pursuers, eventually making Toulon, the only ship from Malta to do so during the siege.

On 3 September, with his men dying of starvation and disease at the rate of more than 100 a day, Vaubois called a council of his officers at which they unanimously decided to surrender. The next day, envoys were sent to the British and in the afternoon General Pigot and Captain Martin signed the agreed terms with Vaubois and Villeneuve. The Maltese were excluded from negotiations entirely, although their commander, Alexander Ball, subsequently became the first Governor of Malta. The terms of the surrender were absolute: the island, its dependencies, fortifications and military supplies were all turned over to British control. This included the ships of the line Athenien and Dégo and the frigate Carthagénaise, although only Athenien was of sufficient standard to be incorporated into the Royal Navy, becoming HMS Athenienne. The other ships were broken up in their berths. Two merchant ships and a variety of smaller warships also were taken.

The capture of Malta returned control of the central Mediterranean to Britain and was an important step in the invasion and liberation of Egypt from French rule in 1801. An essential condition of the Treaty of Amiens in the same year, which brought an end to the French Revolutionary War, was that the British leave Malta. Russian Tsar Alexander I had a long standing claim to the island as titular head of the Knights of St. John, and demanded that it be turned over to Russian control before agreeing any alliance with Britain. Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger flatly refused, and the Napoleonic Wars with France began soon afterwards, in part due to the failure of Britain to comply with this clause of the treaty. The island subsequently remained in British hands until its independence in 1964.

 The French Blockade

January 1799 – Dun Mikiel Xerri & compatriots

MikielXerri2During the blockade of the cities, hundreds of people were dying from starvation and deprivation. Elements from within the fortress hence decided to risk their life in order to resolve the situation, and these were led by Dun Mikiel Xerri. The Maltese planned an attack against the French forces in Valletta and in Cottonera, but the French forces discovered the plot. Amongst the 49 persons captured in the ensuing investigation, there was Dun Mikiel Xerri.

In the morning of January 17, 1799, the Archbishop of Malta, Labini visited Xerri and his companions.

The prisoners were taken from Fort Saint Elmo to Palace Square, where a platoon of soldiers were waiting for them.

DunMikielXerriOn their way to the square, Dun Mikiel encouraged his companions, and when they arrived in the square, he demanded a few minutes to talk to them. After they fortified themselves with prayers, and asking for remission of their sins, Xerri gave a silver watch to the official on duty and asked him to shoot him in the heart. Then he turned on the crowd in the square, and with the others he shouted; “May God have pity on us! Long live Malta!”

They were then shot in the square, but they were then taken to the chapel of Saint Rocco, where they were finished off.

The large part of these men were buried on the side of the church of Saint Publius in Floriana.



June 1919 – Sette Giugno Revolts

In the aftermath of World War I, with the disruptions in agriculture and industry across the whole of the continent, the Maltese colonial government failed to provide an adequate supply of basic food provisions for the islands.

7jun8The cost of living increased dramatically after the war. Imports were limited, and as food became scarce prices rose; this made the fortune of farmers and merchants with surpluses to trade. The dockyard and government workers found that wage increases were not keeping up with the increase in the cost of food. The dockyard workers formed a union in 1916, and in 1917 organised a strike after being offered a ten per cent pay increase which was generally regarded as failing to keep up with the cost of living. Some segments of the society did well economically. There was a wide spread belief amongst the populace that grain importers and flour millers were making excessive profits over the price of bread. Merchants controlling other commodities also made large profits from the war, in spite of price regulations.

Political developments were also a fundamental cause of the uprising. The first meeting of the National Assembly, held on February 25, 1919, approved a resolution which reserved for Malta all the rights given to other nations by the Versailles peace conference; this would have meant independence from the British Empire. This resolution, tabled by the extremist nationalist faction led by Dr. Enrico Mizzi, was opposed to an original resolution by Dr. Filippo Sceberras which asked solely for responsible government. This moderate resolution was removed in order to secure unanimity, and to prevent a break between the moderate and extremist factions.

Extremism was also present in the crowds who, on February 25, attacked shopkeepers who had remained open during the meeting of the Assembly, such as the shop “A la Ville de Londres.” The police forces had not stopped these attacks, and this played in the hands of the extremist currents in the Assembly.

A few days before the June 7 National Assembly meeting, the Secretary of State for the Colonies had informed Dr. Sceberras that the incoming governor for the islands, Lord Plumer, was to study the situation and report back to London with regards to the possibility of giving the Maltese a larger say in the administration of their country.

The followers of Enrico Mizzi stated that the Imperial government could not be trusted. Resultantly, the two currents of thought were also reflected in the crowds outside. University students were mostly linked to the extremist camp, and these had staged a protest of their own on May 16, 1919. The police forces were threatening strikes, as were the postal employees.

On Saturday, June 7, 1919, the National Assembly was to meet for the second time in the Giovine Malta building. The police had foreseen the possibility of unrest, and on June 5 asked for a number of soldiers to be posted in Castille. As stated later by the Commission inquiring on the June 7 uprisings, “Evidently the Police did not appreciate the gravity of the situation.”

The first spark of unrest centred on the Maltese flag defaced with the Union Jack flying above the “A la Ville de Londres.” Unlike the previous meeting, the shop was now closed. This did not prevent the crowd from forcing itself inside, to remove the flag and flagpole.

This incident sparked the uprising. The death of the President of the Court some days earlier had required all governmental departments to fly the Union Flag at half mast, including the Bibliothèque buildings in Pjazza Regina, and the meteorological office. The crowd proceeded to the Officers’ Club, insisting that the club’s door had to be closed. Window panes were broken, while officers inside were insulted. Police officers trying to restrain the mob were also assaulted. The crowd then returned to the front of the Bibliothèque, shouting for the Union Flag to be taken away; it was promptly removed by the men on duty.

The crowd moved on to the meteorological offices, housed in a Royal Air Force turret. After breaking the glass panes, the mob entered the offices ransacking and destroying everything inside. Some individuals climbed onto the turret, removing the Union Jack and throwing it into the street. The crowd burned the flag along with furniture taken from the offices nearby.

7jun6The mob then moved back to Palace square, where they began to insult the soldiers detached in front the Main Guard buildings. The N.C.O. that was responsible for the watch, closed  the doors of the building, as were the doors of the Magisterial Palace across the square. In Strada Teatro, the offices of the Daily Malta Chronicle were broken into, with pieces of metal jammed in the workings of the presses to break them. While this was taking place, other crowds were attacking the homes of perceived supporters of the Imperial government and profiteering merchants in Strada Forni.

The Police forces’ acting-commissioner then called for military support. At 17.30, sixty-four soldiers from the Composite Battalions entered the Courts which housed the headquarters of the police force. Later historians criticised the use of such a small number of soldiers to counter a crowd made up of thousands, which was attacking locations in Strada Teatro and Strada Forni and had now progressed towards Strada Santa Lucia. Six soldiers, under the command of Major Ritchie, the G.S.O., and Captain Ferguson, made their way towards Strada Forni to defend the house of Anthony Cassar Torreggiani, a leading importer, which was under attack by the crowd. Furniture was being thrown outside from the windows.

In the National Assembly, which was unaware of the uprising outside, the moderates were gaining the upper hand. The moderates were bent on accepting the message of the Secretary for the Colonies as a genuine step towards improving the situation, and had to be recognised as such.

7jun12Ten soldiers, led by Lieutenant Shields, approached the offices of the Chronicle, which were surrounded by a crowd which then began to throw stones and other objects at the soldiers. The same happened in Strada Forni, where six soldiers were trying to stem a crowd of thousands. Ritchie sent Ferguson to bring reinforcements. With his revolver stolen and his uniform torn, the captain reached a troop of twenty-four soldiers, which was then directed to Strada Forni. The soldiers were posted along the street, facing in both directions. It is important to note that the troops were not to shoot without being ordered to do so. The soldiers took their positions, aiming at the crowd – which then retreated.

The report of the inquiring commission then proceeded to state that a shot was heard from the direction of a window of the Cassar Torreggiani house. At face value, this gives the impression that the Maltese were the first to shoot during the uprising.

At that moment, as eyewitnesses reported, one of the soldiers shot a round into the crowd, with the rest of the troop following. The first victim of the uprising, Manwel Attard, fell in front of the Cassar Torregiani house. Other individuals were injured. Ġużè Bajjada was hit near Strada Teatro, and fell on top of the Maltese flag he was carrying. The officer in charge began shouting for the firing to cease. Meanwhile, in the Chronicle offices, Lieutenant Shields ordered his men outside, since there was an evident smell of gas in the building. Shields feared making the soldiers exit the office one by one, since the crowd outside would certainly attack them; on the other hand, they could not remain inside. To clear a way out, Shields ordered a soldier to shoot low, away from the crowd. This shot hit Lorenzo Dyer, who tried to run away. Since the injury was serious, he was lifted by the crowd and carried to Palace square. During this initial uprising, three died and fifty were injured.


The proceedings in the National Assembly were interrupted as persons injured in the streets were brought inside. Some of the delegates left the buildings, while others ran to the balcony. The Assembly passed a quick motion in order to have a resolution to present to the Imperial government. Count Alfredo Caruana Gatto then addressed the crowds, asking them to restrain themselves from further violence. The Assembly then sent a delegation to the Lieutenant Governor, asking for the troops to be removed for the crowds to retreat. The Governor accepted, and Caruana Gatto addressed the crowd again, which complied and began to fall back.

7jun9Disturbances continued the next day, with crowds attacking the palace of Colonel Francia, who also owned a flour-milling machine. Royal Malta Artillery soldiers were used to protect Francia’s house, but they were loath to use force against their own countrymen. The crowd forced its way in and threw furniture, silverware and other objects outside. In the evening, one hundred and forty navy marines arrived, clearing the house and street of crowds. Carmelo Abela was in one of the side doorways of Francia’s house, calling for his son. Two marines proceeded to arrest him, and when he resisted, a marine ran him through the stomach with a bayonet. Abela died on June 16.

The riots reflected the unsatisfactory nature of economic and political life in Malta. Economically the island had become a fortress in which a few prospered when military spending was high. Strategically, the imperial fortress was so important that political development was stifled.

The day after the attack, censorship was reinstated for political articles. In the morning, flowers and other tributes were placed in the streets where the victims had died. The deaths and injuries of so many people did not halt the uprisings. Another group attacked the flour mills owned by Cassar Torreggiani in Marsa, while other trading houses were raided in the outlying villages.

7jun4A Military Court was opened to investigate the uprising on June 16, with a court martial instituted to investigate thirty-two people who had taken part in the uprisings. For legislative matters, the Sette Giugno underlined the urgency of reform. The new Governor, Lord Plumer, recommended liberal concessions to the Maltese. The House of Commons of the United Kingdom stressed that Malta was to have “control of purely local affairs”, with the Colonial Secretary sending a detailed description of the proposed constitution to the National Assembly. On April 30, 1921, the Amery-Milner Constitution was proclaimed; political censorship enforced after the uprising was repealed on June 15, 1921. The first election held under the new constitution was held in October 1921, with the Prince of Wales inaugurating the new representative chambers on November 1, 1921.

The bodies of the four victims of the Sette Giugno were placed in their tomb in the Addolorata Cemetery on November 9, 1924.

On June 7, 1986 the Sette Giugno monument was inaugurated at St George Square (Palace Square), Valletta. The Maltese Parliament declared the day to be one of the five national days of the island, on March 21 1989, with the first official remembrance of the day occurring on June 7 1989.




Two works of art conceived by artist Gianni Vella (1885-1977) shape our collective memory of the June 1919 riots. For those of us whose knowledge of Malta’s post-Great War uprising against foreign domination is only second-hand, Vella’s images, hovering somewhere between myth and reality, root our imagination into something tangible.

One image, like some raw news footage, seemingly gives us a straight rendition of the trouble that took place at the Circolo La Giovine Malta on that fateful June 7. The other, a funerary monument, is that day’s apotheosis, its exalted epitaph. Between them, these two images, one narrative and one devotional, convey two facets of the heroic, if gruesome, events of 1919.

On June 7, 1919, Vella was at the Circolo La Giovine Malta in St Lucy Street, Valletta, where the Assemblea Nazionale was discussing a course of action in its dealings with the British colonial government.

Gianni’s magistrate brother, Serafino Vella, was one of the protagonists. Relations between the Maltese and the British had long gone from bad to worse but, on that fateful day, things came to a head.

Many young people congregated in Kingsway intent on setting off some disturbance. The crowd, initially quite docile, started to get agitated and restless due to the weighty presence of police and military men.

In the melee, three men got killed; a fourth, seriously injured, died some days later. Vella made a watercolour illustration as a first-hand witness at the Giovine Malta. It is an almost monochromatic, relatively large, image that captures the frantic atmosphere of the moment.

The members of the assemblea, some of whom easily recognisable, such as Filippo Sceberras (1850 -1928) and Mgr Joseph De Piro (1877-1933) are nervously trying to get to grips with a situation that had got well out of hand.

The image has all the qualities of a lived veracity, but one cannot help wondering whether Vella was being solely objective. For, like a master storyteller, he surely stoked up the drama.

He freeze-framed a number of cord-bottomed chairs (tas-sogħda) as they were about to topple over. He also included a still-life in the left foreground made up of an umbrella and a bowler hat – two objects whose intrinsic Englishness makes them stand out in a gathering of people whose political leanings were largely pro-Italian.

Vella included a seriously injured person, carried, with some difficulty, inside, and another, standing on a chair, who flags a bloodstained white handkerchief. The factuality of these events are certainly  not questioned; Vella must have seen it all.  But there still remains the niggling feeling that the image, made from memory by Vella soon after the event, is somewhat staged. It is Vella the artist rather than Vella the improvised journalist who is at work here.




If the Maltese had undergone a bloodied intimation of nationhood in 1919, Russia’s coming of age, starting with the 1917 October Revolution, was bloodier and longer drawn out. And as is understandable during any civil war, throngs of civilians started to escape the country, some of whom found a haven in Malta.  The sculptor Boris Edwards (1861-1924) and a young three-year-old girl named Anastasia or Assia (or Asya), daughter of his sister Lidia, arrived in Malta, along with some other 800 Russian refugees, in 1919.

For the first couple of months they set themselves up in Vella’s house. The friendship between the Maltese painter and the Russian sculptor went back to the period of the Roman Accademia, where Edwards was on a state-funded scholarship, and Vella did his utmost to help his former companion.

Mary, Gianni’s wife, doted upon Assia, mothering her as if she were her own. In return, Boris modelled a full-length portrait of her, comfortably sitting cross-legged on her armchair – a work he called Reverie (present at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta).

Edwards was to live the last five years of his life in a rented house in Fleur-de-Lys Road, Birkirkara, just next to his friend Gianni Vella. Aldo (b.1917), Vella’s son, clearly remembers Assia (with whom he used to play) and Edwards in the house of his parents, but he has no recollection whatsoever of a wife. And yet, Edwards did have a wife, actually his second, (his first wife was perhaps killed in the Bolshevik insurrections) even though her legal bearing, upon the sculptor’s demise, was somewhat put into question. He must have contracted this marriage some time during late 1922, somewhere on the continent. Her name was Rosa Reisz.

Edwards and Vella collaborated together on one important project: a monument honouring the four men killed during the Sette Giugno riots. It was inaugurated at the Addolorata cemetery on June 8, 1925.

As much as he would have liked to, Edwards did not attend the unveiling ceremony. It would have made an apt palliative for his suffering, but it was not to be.  The sculptor was just about finishing this monumental work when he suffered a fatal stroke. He breathed his last on February 12, 1924.

The idea for this funerary monument came about as early as October 16, 1919, proposed by Enrico Mizzi, secretary of the Comitato pro-Maltesi Morti e Feriti il 7 e 8 Giugno, an ad-hoc committee, set up in all earnest on 8 June 1919, intended to perpetuate the memory of the victims and to help their destitute families.

Mizzi specifically chose Edwards and, as recorded in the minutes of the Comitato, he described the Russian refugee as a very talented sculptor and a patron of the Giovine Malta.  Just a week later, Mizzi presented Edwards’ bozzetto to the rest of the committee together with a letter of approval written by the art connoisseur Vincenzo Bonello who also commented that the £200 promised were too little for a work of such high calibre. Mizzi’s enthusiasm was, however, gradually stalled in its tracks as other ideas and proposals started to take shape.

Some months later, the Comitato received a letter recommending a certain Gio. Maria Bajada as a possible candidate for the execution of the monument. Soon after, a competition was organised and this time round four artists submitted their ideas, namely Edwards, Ruggiero Calì, Beniamino Sultana and Vella.

Vella’s design won the competition but it was decided that the actual sculptural work was to be carried out by Edwards. The sculptor was promised £170 for the work, inclusive of casting and installation. Vella and Edwards requested the re-internment of the four victims of the riots in a new, better sited, grave.

And thus, for the third time, the resting place of Lorenzo Dyer, Giuseppe Bajada, Carmelo Abela and Emanuele Attard changed.

Stylistically, the finished bronze monument, very much in the guise of a high relief set against a simple background of coralline limestone, has an undulating and graceful rhythm with affinities with the Liberty style. It is dominated by a female figure who inconsolably mourns the death of one of her children; very much a secular, politicised Pietà.  The down-turned palm frond, evocative of victory over death, and the national flag draped over the dead body are emblematic of heroic martyrdom.

It is a rhetorical image full of hope and defiance; a rousing, political statement in the face of death. The inscription ‘Ai Caduti del 7 Giugno 1919 la Patria Riconoscente’ on the monument’s stone background was coined by Enrico Mizzi.

28 April 1958 General Strike

On 21 April 1958, Prime Minister Dr Dominic Mintoff (1916–2012) and his Ministers met the Governor of Malta Sir Robert Edward Laycock (1907–1968) and handed in their resignation from the Legislative Assembly. A few days later the British revoked the Constitution

On 28th April, 1958 a national strike broke out throughout the country. The strike was brought about due to an accumulation of a number of factors which led workers to riot and stand up for their conditions.

The strike was mainly caused by the bad social and working conditions of the working people. Adding to that, the intentional closure of the Malta Drydocks by the British authorities, which at that time provided the livelihood of more than 13,000 families further worsened the situation.  The Malta Labour Party together with the GWU, started demonstrations against such action.

From early in the morning the strike was seen as a success but two factors led to the escalation of the events. The first factor was that the British Government in Malta prohibited the officials of the General Workers Union from using the ‘Rediffusion’ (radio station) to inform their members who should or should not go to work. The second factor was that the drivers of the public transport were being intimidated and persuaded to work on the day of the strike or else they will lose the license to work.

Some of the drivers feared that they would lose their jobs and thus they tried to work but they were becoming the target of the protesters who were blocking the roads with barricades and spreading oil on the streets. Fighting between the protesters and the Police, which were helped by the British commandos occurred in Raħal Ġdid and Marsa with the worst episode happening at ‘It-Telgħa ta’ Kordin’. Other smaller accidents were reported.

The day after, the British Government embarked on a mission to arrest the protesters. The protesters were mainly General Workers Union officials and supporters of the Labour Party, amongst them even Ministers.

Mario Cutajar (Storja tal-Partit Laburista, Malta 2011) lists ninety-nine names of those that were arrested during the mentioned revolts. Seventy-eight out of ninety-nine people that were arrested were aged between sixteen to thirty-five years.

Apap Gejtu, 32, Hamrun – 2 months prison sentence
Apap Anglu, 16, Qormi – not guilty
Attard Richard, 21, Floriana – not guilty
Attard Victor, 16, Birgu – 1 month prison sentence
Azzopardi Guzeppi, 19, Bormla – 40 days prison sentence
Barbara Agatha, 33, Zabbar – 32 days prison sentence
Bonello Salvu, 25, Marsa – not guilty
Borg Cikku, 20, Bormla – 15 days prison sentence
Borg Zaren, 29, Zabbar – 4 months prison sentence
Brincat Ganni, 20, Paola – 2 months prison sentence
Bugeja Manwel, 22, B’Bugia – 2½ months prison sentence with hard labour
Buhagiar Nenu, 37, Gzira – 40 days prison sentence
Busuttil Gamri, 28, Luqa – not guilty under article 23
Busuttil Girgor, 20, Luqa – 12 days detention sentence
Busuttil Rafel, 27, Zabbar – 4 months prison sentence
Buttigieg Fredu, 19, Valletta – 3½ months prison sentence but freed on appeal
Cachia Guze, 49, Tarxien – 2 months prison sentence
Callus Karmnu, 21, Paola – 3 months prison sentence
Camilleri Ganni, 32, Bormla – 30 days prison sentence
Camilleri Guze, 15, Bormla – 1 month prison sentence with hard labour
Camilleri Guze, 24, Zejtun – not guilty
Camilleri Toni, 20, Zejtun 3 months prison sentence with hard labour
Caruana Manwel, 31, Ghaxaq – not guilty
Caruana Mikiel, 38, Zejtun – £1
Caruana Robert, 30, Zejtun – not guilty
Cassar Guze, 40, Zabbat – not guilty
Cefai Guze, 34, Ghaxaq – 40 days prison sentence
Ciantar Francis, 30, Paola, – 3 months prison sentence
Ciantar George, 45, B’Kara – not guilty
Craus Wenzu, 18, Paola – 2½ months prison sentence
Curmi Fredu, 17, Paola – 12 days prison sentence
Cutajar Charles, 26, Zejtun – not guilty
Debono Karmenu, 22, Bormla – 5½ months prison sentence with hard labour
Degiorgio Fortunato, 17, Tarxien – 2 months prison sentence with hard labour
Degiorgio Gorg, Bormla – 40 days prison sentence with hard labour
Degiorgio Toni, 25, Tarxien – not guilty
Degiovanni Gammari, 30, Ghaxaq – 3 months prison sentence
Delia Fredu, 16, Bormla – 7 days prison sentence
Demanuele Alfred, 20, Msida – not guilty
Demanuele Karmenu, 37, Valletta – 12 days detention sentence
Ebejer Manwel, 18, Bormla – 4 months prison sentence with hard labour
Ellul Guze, 28, Luqa – not guilty
Ellul Mikiel, 47, Zejtun – £6
Esposito Censu, 32, Valletta – 15 days prison sentence changed to £7 on appeal
Falzon Edgar, 13, Marsa – not guilty
Farrugia Emanuel, 32, Tarxien – 16 days prison sentence changed to £20 on appeal
Farrugia Charles, 16, Hamrun – 6 months prison sentence
Fiorini Gorg, 17, Paola – 20 days prison sentence
Galea Fredu, 18, Kalkara – 6 months prison sentence
Galea Fredu, 18, Qormi – not guilty
Gales Guze, Bormla – 32 days prison sentence
Galea Guze, 16, Tarxien – not guilty
Galea Toni, 22, B’Bugia – 2 months prison sentence
Grech Cikku, 49, Hamrun – 11 days prison sentence
Grech Fredu, 22, Bormla – 55 days prison sentence
Grech Ganni, 20, Bormla – 40 days prison sentence
Grech Joseph, 41, Gzira – 50 days prison sentence
Grech Karmenu, 17, Bormla – not guilty
Grima Ganni, 18, Bormla – 5 days prison sentence
Grixti Grezzju, 16, Zejtun – £5 & 6 months probation with a £50 guarantee
Grogan George, 38, Paola – not guilty
Guazzo Joseph, 19, Kalkara – 6 months prison sentence
Holland Patrick, 24, Valletta – 14 days prison sentence changed to £18 fine
Hyzler Bertu, 41, Valletta – 32 days prison sentence
Lungaro Victor, 31, Zejtun – £11
Mallan Jimmy, 19, Kalkara – 6 months prison sentence
Mizzi Guze, 52, Zabbar – 5½ months prison sentence
Pace Guzeppi, 46, Tarxien – 2 days prison sentence
Pace Joseph, 16, Bormla – 1 month prison sentence with hard labour
Pappalardo Ganni, 18, Bormla – 2½ months prison sentence
Pellicano Vincent, 17, Birgu – 3 months prison sentence
Pirotta Guze, 20, Qormi – 3 days prison sentence but had spent 10 days arrested
Pisani Fredu, 18, Tarxien – 40 days prison sentence
Pisani Guzeppi, 20, Luqa – 12 days detention
Piscopo Gorg, 22, Tarxien – 1 month 10 days prison sentence
Pullicino Anthony, 24, Bormla – 20 days prison sentence
Rodo Charles, 20, Paola – 7½ months prison sentence
Saliba Joseph, 38, Gzira – 40 days prison sentence
Sammut Pawlu, 33, Rabat – 20 days prison sentence with hard labour
Scerri Joseph C, 25, Hamrun – 6 days prison sentence changed to £10 on appeal
Schembri Gorg, 19, Qormi – not guilty
Schembri Mikiel, 28, Luqa – 12 days detention
Scicluna Guze, 41, Rabat – £4
Scicluna Maurice, 23, Qormi – 5 months prison sentence
Seisun Joseph, 22, Kalkara – 15 days prison sentence with hard labour
Seychell Karmenu, 22, Bormla – 55 days prison sentence
Spiteri Toni, 21, Zejtun – 40 days prison sentence
Swain Joseph, 38, Valletta- 32 days prison sentence
Tabone Cikku, 19, Zejtun – 30 days prison sentence
Theuma Victor, 18, Kalkara – 6 months prison sentence
Urpani Manwel, 21, Birgu – 55 days prison sentence
Vassallo Cikku, 22, Zabbar – 4 months prison sentence
Vella Censu, 56, Valletta – 32 days prison sentence
Vella Guze, 24, Paola – 32 days prison sentence
Zaffarese Xmun, 16, Bormla – 1 month & 10 days prison sentence with hard labour
Zammit Gerry, 28, Gzira – 36 days prison sentence
Zammit Guido, 23, Valletta – not guilty
Zammit Spiru, 19, Bormla – 3 months prison sentence with hard labour
Zarb Alfred, 17, Zabbar – not guilty
Zarb Indri, 24, Bormla – 3 months prison sentence

Public meetings and demonstrations were banned and the Labour Party adopted passive resistance. Subsequently, direct rule by the British was  introduced, following the Nationalist Party’s refusal to lead a minority government.

28 April 58 b 28 April 58





2 responses to “Uprisings & Revolts

  1. Charlie Busuttil

    November 10, 2017 at 12:17 am

    Once again, what fantastic history our Islands have. Thank you to all those who put this up.

  2. Harry Vassallo

    August 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Gonsalvo Monroy may be the most maligned figure in Maltese history.

    The Maltese never paid the 30;000 florins before Monroy’s death. In his will he divided the sum that had been raised between his heirs, the king and the Maltese who had contributed. The king’s part was to be spent in repairing the fortifications. Not bad for somebody who has been cast in the role of foreign oppressor ever since.

    The resulting charter granting the Maltese and the Gozitans a right to rebellion in perpetuity should be our cherished Magna Charta Libertatis, No government since has been tempted to remind us. Unlike the English Magna Charta it grants rights to all Maltese and Gozitans and their descendants and not only to the barons.

    Despite the poor options available, negotiations dragged on for many months during which time the Maltese held out against their King who had initially threatened them with extermination (no empty threat in 1427).

    Monroy was in favour of the deal offered by the Maltese. It was about to fall apart when hostages were demanded pending payment and the release of Donna Costanza but was salvaged when negotiator Antonio Inguanez offered his two sons in her place.

    An inscribed marble plaque inside one of Mdina’s gates records this extraordinary service to the king but also to Inguanez’s own people.


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