The Great Siege of Malta - The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St. John, Bruce Ware Allen

The Great Siege of Malta - The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St. John, Bruce Ware Allen

The Great Siege of Malta was one of the most important military encounters of the Sixteenth Century. Earlier in the century the Knights of St John had been expelled from Rhodes, and the remaining Christian enclaves in the Eastern Mediterranean were slowly falling to the Ottoman Empire. The Knights of St. John ended up finding a new home on Malta, sitting at a key point in the centre Mediterranean. After a period of more limited conflict, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent decided to send a massive army to capture the island. The resulting siege saw the outnumbered Knights (supported by a number of allies and mercenaries) defend the fortresses around the Grand Harbour (the site of modern Valetta, named after the commander of the defence during the siege).

This book begins on Rhodes, and tracing the developments that led to the Great Siege. The build up takes up the first quarter of the book, and gives us a good feel of the Mediterranean world at the time and the pressures that led to the siege. The remaining three quarters of the book focus on the siege itself, which began with a determined defence of the outlying fortress of St. Elmo, before the always wearied Ottomans were finally free to concentrate on the main defences. Most of our attention is focused on events around the main siege, but Allen also covers the limited fighting elsewhere on Malta and the Christian relief effort, which was being organised on Sicily by the Spanish viceroy.

This is a compelling account of this vitally important siege, a conflict that helped define the borders between Christianity and Islam in the Mediterranean. Allen provides us with a vivid account of the desperate fighting at Malta, portraits of the main characters on both sides, and of the worlds in which they were operating. This is an impressive account of this epic siege.

Part One: Corsairs and Rulers
1 - The Siege of Rhodes, 1521
2 - The Road to Malta, 1522-1530
3 - In Service to the Empire, 1531-1540
4 - War at Sea, 1541-1550
5 - Djerba, 1551-1560
6 - An Almost-Peaceful Interim, 1561-1564
7 - Dark Clouds in the East, 1565

Part Two: Objective: St. Elmo
8 - First Blood
9 - Sizing up the Enemy
10 - Preparations for a Siege
11 - A Fatal Oversight
12 - Thrust and Parry
13 - Fresh Resolve
14 - Bullets Wrapped in Smoke and Fire
15 - A Plea to God
16 - The End of the Battle

Part Three: Honor Bought with Blood
17 - Piccolo Soccorso
18 - Relief into Birgu
19 - Barvi d'Algieri
20 - Endurance
21 - Onslaught of the Ottomans
22 - Two Gentleman of Perugia

Part Four: A Line Drawn in Water
23 - The Gran Soccorso at Sea
24 - Mustapha's Last Hazard
25 - The Gran Soccorso at War
26 - From the Ashes
27 - Verdict
28 - The Survivors

Author: Bruce Ware Allen
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 328
Publisher: ForeEdge from University Press of New England
Year: 2015

 


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