Saturday, August 30, 2008

Desperate Attempts

I previously mentioned that I am reading Empires of the Sea. I just found something that interested me greatly.

In 1565 the Ottoman Empire decided to push into the western Mediterranean. In order to do this, they had to take Malta from the knights of the Order of St. John. Jean Parisot de La Valette led the Order of St. John.

The knights faced long odds. On the heights, the Turks took Fort St. Elmo over a period of weeks amid scenes of thousands of men burned alive by oil and pitch, killed by musket (arquebus) and cannon, and mutilated by the sword. Both sides tortured prisoners to death and massacred the helpless in combat.

After St. Elmo, the Turks laid seige to the other two fortresses on the island, replaying the carnage.

Here is the quote about La Valette that fascinated me (p. 163).

The grand master was seen everywhere, accompanied by two pages carrying his helmet and pike, and by a jester, whose duties included informing him of what was happening at various posts and "trying to amuse him with his quips--although there was little enough to laugh about."


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