THE SECOND CENTENARY OF A FORGOTTEN MALTESE GLORIOUS VICTORY
Malta commemorates and celebrates every year two victories. Those of 1565 and 1942 Rightly so. But there is neglect and disregard of another glorious victory. A victory of which Maltese should all be even more proud those of the two being officially celebrated.
In my opinion this is an act of irreverence of a victory that is truly Maltese. In 1565 the commanders and officers were knights of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John. Foreigners In 1942 the overall command was in the hands of British Officers. No disrespect is meant to those able and gallant commanders. All honour to them. But they were not Maltese.
Here due tribute must be paid to the courageous Maltese Officers and rank and file of the three services. The same is due to the civilian population. Their courage and bravery earned them the George Cross award by King George VI. This forms part of our national flag.
I am here referring to the Maltese victory of 1798.The militarily untrained Maltese defeated the invincible French Army. Or at least the French garrison left in Malta by General Bonaparte, an armed force that formed part of the French Army of the Nile.
It cannot be denied, of course, that the Maltese insurgents against their oppressors were helped by their Allies. The British Navy under the command of Lord Nelson, the Portuguese fleet under Admiral de Niza and the King of Naples. But all ranks of insurgents were Maltese.
The only casualties - admittedly not many - were the executed conspirators who were actually patriots, were Maltese. With one exception. Captain Guglielmo Lorenzi, on the payroll of the Tsar of Russia, was executed without betraying his fellow conspirators. These were led by the indomitable Professor Dun Mikiel Xerri.
Next year, that is 1998, is the second centenary of this exclusively Maltese signal victory. Such centenary cannot and is not going to be ignored. There can be no doubt that the first seeds of nationalism were sown at this time. A spirit that was hallowed in the Declaration of Rights of 1802.
A declaration expressing our "inalienable rights" to decide our own destiny as a people whose rights could not lawfully be denied. Even though for almost one and a half centuries this is exactly what happened. I do not want to be misunderstood. I have every respect for the Order of St. John, now known as S.M.O.M. (Sovereign Military
The same applies to the revolutionary French doctrine of Liberte, Egalite', Fraternite'. I also hold in high regard British institutions and customs that now form part of our culture. But above all, Maltese and Gozitans feel, without doubt, equally honoured of being sons and daughters of this fair land.
A special ad hoc Committee has been appointed by the Government to prepare a program of celebrations. Hopefully this will be publicised worldwide to attract world interest and therefore inducing a fair increase in cultural tourism.
There will be celebration obviously also of the positive side of the French occupation: beginning of journalism by the publication of journal de Malte, democratic ideology, liberal system of education, decentralisation of government, and later on, when Napoleon became Emperor, our forefathers based our commercial Code of Laws on the Code Napoleon.
The Surrender of Malta to the French Republic by the Order of Malta.
Done and concluded on board the Orient off Malta; on the 24th Prairial, the 6th year of the French republic ( 12th June, 1798). The commander Bosredon de Ransijat (who had forsaken the order). Thec bailiff Marie Testa Ferrata, ) Doctor Jear Nies Muscat, ) Doctor Benoit Schembri, } all Maltese. Counsellor Bonani. ) The bailiff de Turin Frisani, without prejudice to the right of dominion which belongs to my sovereign the king of the Two Sicilies. Chev . Philippe Amat, the Spanish charg�-d'affaires.
ARTICLE I.- The knights of the order of St. John of Jerusalem shall give up the city and forts of Malta to the French army; at the same time renouncing in favour of the French republic all right of property and sovereignty over that island, together with: those of Goza .and Cumino.
ARTICLE II.- The French republic shall employ all its credit at the congress of Rastadt, to procure a principality for the: grand-master equivalent to the one he gives up ; and the said republic engages to pay him in the mean time an annual pension of three hundred thousand French livres, besides two annats of the pension by way of indemnification for his personals. He shall also be treated with the usual military honours during the whole of his stay in Malta.
ARTICLE III.- The-French knights of the order of St. John of Jerusalem actually resident; in Malta, if acknowledged as such by the commander in chief, shall- be permitted to return to their own country;- and their residence in Malta shall be considered in the same light as if they inhabited France. The French republic will likewise use its influence with the Cisalpine, Ligurian, Roman, and Helvetian republics, that this third article may remain in force for the knights of those several nations.
ARTICLE IV.-The French republic shall make over an annual pension of seven hundred French livres to each knight now resident in Malta ; and one thousand livres to those whose ages exceed sixty years. It shall also endeavour to induce the Cisalpine, Ligurian, Roman, and Helvetian republics, to grant the same pension the knights of their respective countries.
ARTICLE V.-The French republic shall employ its credit with the different powers, that the knights of each nation may be allowed to exercise their right over the property of the order of Malta situated in their dominions.
ARTICLE VI: The knights shall not be deprived of their private property either in Malta or in Gozo.
ARTICLE VII.-The inhabitants of the islands of Malta and Goza shall be allowed, the same as before, the free exercise of the Catholic, Apostolical, and Roman religion : their privileges and property shall likewse remain inviolate, and they shall not he subject to any extraordinary taxes.
ARTICLE VIII:-All civil acts passed during the government of the order, shall still remain valid.
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