Valette and The Great Siege of Malta (Part 3)

May 24, 2021

Valette and The Great Siege of Malta (Part 3)
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After a heroic final stand, Fort St Elmo has finally fallen.

With the Ottoman navy now streaming into the harbour, the Knights prepare for an assault on three fronts as both sides are pushed past their breaking point.

Meanwhile, Valette receives the soul-crushing news that reinforcements from Spain will not arrive in time; and prepares to go down fighting.

The explosive conclusion to our three-part series detailing The Greatest Siege of All Time. The 1565 Siege of Malta.

Further Reading and Sources:




  • ‘The Wanderer’ - Jordan Windslow


Hello again, you're listening to Anthology of Heroes, and this is part 3 of what I originally

planned to be a two-part series on Valette, the thorn in the heel of Allat. It turned

out that the greatest siege of all time was just not going to fit neatly into the two

episodes I'd originally planned, but I assure you this will be the final part.

In part 1 we covered the history of the Crusades, the history of the Knights, and the preparation

of the siege from both the Ottoman and Knights perspective, while in part 2 we covered the

siege up until the fall of Fort Sonelmo, including the death of Dragut, the drawn sword of Islam.

While that may not sound like a lot for two whole episodes, there was a lot happening

from both sides, and many of the difficult decisions made by Valette earlier had consequences

that would carry into this episode, and the fall of Sonelmo was nothing if not emotional.

So if you haven't already, I'd recommend flicking back to the previous episodes to

really understand the motivations and the force of personality that was Valette.

Part 2 concluded with a group of teary-eyed knights listening to the last whimpers of

resistance being snuffed out from the men inside Fort Sonelmo who had fought up until

their last breath in an attempt to buy more time for a relief army to arrive from Europe.

Let's get into it.

After the last pockets of resistance inside Fort St Elmo had been silenced, Mustafa Pasha,

the Ottoman army commander, ordered that the bodies of Lamas, Daguerres and Miranda to

be beheaded.

If you don't remember, these were the three that rallied the younger knights of Fort Sonelmo

back into military order.

Wanting to show the knights the fate that awaited them, he had the three men's headless

bodies crucified and floated across the harbour.

Once the corpses washed ashore, Valette retaliated by ordering all Ottoman prisons beheaded and

had their heads fired from a cannon across the harbour back at Mustafa and his men.

With the fall of Sonelmo, the siege had entered a new stage, and the world watched in bated


Queen Elizabeth I of England wrote to her friend stating, quote, if the Turks should

prevail against the Isle of Malta, it is uncertain what further peril might follow the rest of

Christendom, end quote.

Would Solomon come for Italy next?

If that fell, then what?

As Valette and his men mourned their loss, an unexpected but much welcome surprise came

to light.

A small relief force of around 650 men had been levied from Italy and arrived on the

northern coast of Malta.

The commander of the fleet had been told explicitly that if Fort Sonelmo had fallen, then they

were to return home as Malta was as good as lost.

But once they came ashore to assess, the commander of the force, a man named Don De Robles, lied

reporting back to the fleet commander, Fort Sonelmo, yep, still all good.

De Robles was actually a member of the Knights Hospitaller himself and, understandably, felt

a sense of loyalty to his comrades.

Though the reinforcements were not enough to break the siege, it was a welcome surplus

to the exhausted and demoralized men.

As they marched into Burgu, I imagine Valette embracing De Robles with a warm hug, like

Aragon in Lord of the Rings when the elves show up at Helm's Deep.

You are most welcome.

But even with the bump in numbers, Valette and his war council were in a difficult position.

With Fort Sonelmo no longer guarding the entrance to the harbour, the Turks had much more room

to maneuver and many more spots to place their long-range guns.

Mustafa Pasha reckoned that, perhaps now that the Knights were hemmed in from all sides,

the Grand Master would be able to see reason and stop this pointless waste of life.

Perhaps the fall of Sonelmo had made him realize the inevitable.

A messenger was sent under the banner of Truce to Burgu.

Valette had the man blindfolded and marched through the fortress.

When his blindfold was removed, the terrified man found himself facing one of the huge,

deep ditches at so-called Fort Sonelmo.

Valette addressed him, quote, Tell your master that this is the only territory I will give


There lies the land he may have for his own, provided only that he fills it with the bodies

of his janissaries, end quote.

Peace was off the table.

Later that evening, the pensive mood of the council was interrupted by the distant sound

of wood being dragged through dirt.

It turned out that after surveying the Knights' remaining strongholds, Mustafa and Piyali

had agreed that the two fingers of land that stretched into the harbor were untakable in

a conventional attack.

Since the Knights had arrived on Malta decades ago, they had strengthened and restrengthened

the harbor, and given how long Fort Sonelmo had held out for, a frontal attack on Burgu

could take years.

So they came up with another idea.

Half the navy would occupy the harbor, while the other half would be dragged overland and

dropped in the harbor behind the fortifications, placing them out of range of the cannons of

Fort Sonelmo.

This very strategy had been used to take Constantinople a century or so back, and had also been used

by Dragut multiple times in his own lifetime.

So it's fair to say the plan likely came from him before he died, rather than Mustafa

or Piyali.

I've uploaded a picture on our Instagram page of the layout of the harbor, though I

usually try and stay away from relying on a visual guide.

For this next part, it's really worth it to have an idea of how the attack played out.


But to summarise, two fingers of land stretched out into a wider harbor.

The left finger was called Sengliya, and the right was called Burgu.

Burgu was where Valette and the majority of his knights were, and where Fort Sonelmo was.

At the end of the fingers, a large metal chain was stretched between them to keep out the

Ottoman ships.

Got that?


With the boats out of range of the cannons, Valette again prepared to consult his war


But just as before, he caught another lucky break in the form of a Turkish defector.

But this wasn't your usual run-of-the-mill galley slave.

According to the man himself, he was a member of the noble Lascaris family.

For any Byzantine history nerds like myself listening, you'll know that the Lascaris

family were the ruling dynasty of the empire of Nasir.

Because of his noble blood, the man held a high rank in the Ottoman army, but was so

moved by the knights' bravery he chose to help them.

Who knows, perhaps he saw parallels between this and the fall of Constantinople, and this

was a time to right the wrong?

Whatever his motivation, the man proved to be an incredibly valuable addition to the

war council.

The urgency of his message was impossible to miss.

A combined assault was coming for Sanglia, and it was coming soon.

Mustafa had planned to hit the peninsula from three fronts at once, aiming to overwhelm

the defenders in a lightning-fast strike.

The boats transported overland would bombard the peninsula from behind, while the ones

left in the main harbour would hit it in front, with Drukhut's coastal guns covering them.

All the while a convoy of transport vessels full of janissaries would be waiting to unload

on shore at the opportune time.

With this information, Valet immediately ordered the construction of a barricade along the

side of the peninsula.

He didn't have the men to defend all sides at once, so his best hope was to try and slow

them down.

The men of Malta were set to work.

As the best swimmers on the island, it was up to them to try and secure the floating

barrage to the sea floor.

Once the Turks saw the structure assembling from the other side of the harbour, they swam

out to stop them, resulting in a very bizarre half-underwater battle taking place, as Maltese

natives dived into the ocean with a knife gripped between their teeth, swimming out

to defend their countrymen while they built the stockade.

The barrier was hastily built and shaky, but it proved its worth.

On the 15th of July, Mustafa's master plan was unveiled.

Though Valet knew it was coming, it was now to the dice roll of fate whether or not they

had the strength to push it back.

The main reason the ships were moved behind the harbour was to avoid the guns of Fort

Saint Angelo, but in the nick of time, a few of the guns were moved to help defend the

floating palisade, and this proved to be absolutely pivotal.

As the Ottomans now held almost complete superiority of the surrounding area, the bombardment was

immense and unending.

Saint Angelo was pounded from six different directions at once, and there's even an

estimate of 130,000 cannonballs being fired during this part.

It's likely that this would have been the most intense shelling ever conducted in history

at this point.

A barrage of this magnitude would not be seen regularly until the Napoleonic Wars some 240

years later.

The experience of this wall of sound would have been otherworldly to the men.

While gunpowder and artillery had been used in Europe for the last 150 years, no state

except the Ottomans had the resources to deploy them on such a large scale.

As the unending roar of the cannons threatened to split apart the fortress, it's hard to

imagine the level of isolation the defenders would have felt.

No matter where they cast their eye, all that was visible were a sea of men bearing down

on them and behind them, ocean, miles and miles of ocean.

Perhaps they were inspired by biblical stories like David and Goliath, or the suffering that

Job endured for his faith.

So the knights held on, and as buildings collapsed all through Bergu, Verlet was at the helm,

barking orders at his men, his usual resoluteness and clarity unaffected by the tempest of death

and destruction that swirled around him.

As a distraction, he gave the order to the men that were stationed in Medina, the inland

capital of the island, to raid the Turkish camp while they were preoccupied with the


As the largest concentration of firepower in history bore down on their fortifications,

a breach opened up.

The knights moved to block it, but it was too late.

Janissaries swarmed through.

For a moment it seemed that all was lost, but in that split second, word reached them

of the advancing army burning their camp.

This was, of course, the men that Verlet had sent from Medina, but the Turks didn't know


Thinking this was THE Christian relief army coming to break the siege, they quickly retreated

in order to defend their camp.

As the eldermans poured out of the breach they'd just created, the defenders hastily

filled it.

At that crucial moment of the siege, the enemy had fallen back.

It must have seemed like a miracle.

Meanwhile over at the harbour, word reached Mustafa of the breach being opened, and he

decided it was now or never.

As Dragut's guns pounded the coastline into rubble, Mustafa gave the signal, and his landing

party pulled out of the harbour and made a beeline for the coast.

Believing that the knights were too preoccupied elsewhere, or too shell-shocked to respond,

he ordered the boats, full of his precious few Janissaries ashore, right in the middle

of battle.

The attack was a brazen gamble, and an incredibly stupid one at that.

There is no way that if Dragut was still in command this would have happened.

Chevalier de Guiarell, the knight in charge of the repositioned cannon batteries, was


Were this guy really going to try and land men right in front of his cannons?

But as the ships pulled out, there could be no doubt.

He gave the order, and the cannons swivelled and let loose a barrage on the landing party.

The boats were blown to smithereens, one after the other after the other.

Nine ships were sunk in the harbour.

Many of the men now stranded on the beach begged for mercy and surrendered.

But the Guiarell commanded that they be given St. Elmo's pay, an expression that still exists

in Malta today, meaning no mercy.

Seeing their comrades torn to shreds at the beach, the steam went out of the attack.

Mustapha's master plan had failed, and as the guns cooled on the night of the 7th August

1565, the White Cross of St. George still flew defiantly atop Fort San Angelo.

Channeling his rage through his artillery, Mustapha recommenced the bombardment the very

next day.

He controlled almost the entire peninsula at this point, and was determined to soften

up the formidable walls before another attack.

Inside the shaky Fort San Angelo, Vallet and his senior knights sat staring at their latest

setback, a letter.

The letter was from Don Garcia, and the message, though not unexpected, was a virtual death

blow to the knights.

Already weeks late from his original date of the 20th of June, Don Garcia now stated

that he would send a relief force by the 20th of August.

As the letter lay opened on the table, another barrage of artillery rang overhead and a few

specks of sealing plaster fell onto the page.

How on earth could they endure two more weeks of this?

All of Europe, it seemed, had abandoned them.

That night, Vallet summoned his officers and told them, quote,

I will tell you now openly, my brethren, that there is no hope to be looked for except in

the succor of Almighty God, the only true help.

He who has up till now looked after us will not forsake us, nor will he deliver us into

the hands of the enemies of our holy faith.

My brothers, we are all servants of our Lord, and I know well that if I and all those in

command should fall, you will stay and fight on for liberty, for the honor of our order,

and for our holy Church.

We are soldiers, and we shall die fighting, and if by any chance the enemy should prevail,

we can expect no better treatment than our brethren who were inside St. Elmo, end quote.

But if the men were expecting that with this news Vallet was to command a doomed final

charge into the maw of oblivion, they were very much mistaken.

Undeterred by the news, Vallet strengthened the defenses again.

They had powder, food, water, and men.

If Suleiman was to take Malta, they would make him bleed for every last inch of it.

All the critical defense points had food and ammunition storages moved closer to them so

the men would never need to leave their post.

Large tubs filled with seawater were also carted up the walls.

As the Turks were relying more and more on fire and flame, these were to quickly douse

anything or anyone that caught a light.

The Maltese people that were too injured, old, or unskilled to fight with a weapon were

stationed on the walls with large kettles of boiling oil to toss over.

But as the new defensive strategies were rolled out, Turkish engineers began digging mines

underneath the walls.

And from their fortifications, the knights watched a mighty siege tower beginning to

take shape in the Ottoman camp.

Something was coming.

Something big.

On the 18th of August, for the first time in weeks, the guns fell silent.

The familiar continuous rumble and crack of artillery fire replaced by the horn and gong

of the Janissary band.

As the knights peered out from the ramparts, they saw it.

The full might of the Ottoman Empire thundered towards them from all sides.

The Senglea Peninsula was hit hard.

Mustafa had hoped that Valet would direct all his manpower to repel the attack, which

was in fact a diversion.

But the old knight didn't fall for it.

As the huge siege tower rolled ominously towards the main bastion of Bergu, Valet readied his


But in that very moment, a colossal explosion tore through the southern wall.

The miners had detonated a huge bomb underneath it.

Bricks, mortar, and human body parts rained from the sky as Janissaries poured through

the breach.

Whatever defenders were left standing immediately broke and fled.

A chaplain ran to the Grandmaster.

All is lost.

We must fall back.

But Valet knew there was nothing to fall back to.

Grabbing a pike and helmet from an injured man nearby, he called on all men to follow

him into the breach.

Seeing the immediate danger that the Grandmaster of the Order was bringing on himself, a big

crowd of knights and Maltese militia fell in line behind him.

Charging in at the head of the vanguard, Valet rallied the beleaguered knights and began

to push back the tide, sustaining an injury to his leg as he did so.

When one of his officers told him he was being too daring and insisted he retreat, Valet

turned to him and said, quote, I'm 71.

And how is it possible for a man of my age to die more gloriously than in the midst of

my friends and brothers in the service of God, end quote.

The sight of the Grandmaster in the midst of the fray inspired many shell-shocked knights

to shake themselves back and rejoin the combat.

And with all the strength the Order had left, they forced the Turks back out of their breach.

While all this was going on, another member of the Valet family took it upon himself to

try and bring down the siege tower.

Henri de la Valet, the Grandmaster's very own nephew, realized the urgency of this situation.

If it reached the wall, there would be nothing to stop an unending stream of men flowing


Musket fire, cannons, or grenades had all proved useless.

The towering machine lumbered closer and closer.

In desperation, the young Valet, with a few of his men, forced his way through the front

lines to the foot of the great tower.

It wasn't long before his shining gilded armor disappeared into the Sea of Turks.

When the news was broken to the Grandmaster, in the midst of the fighting, he mourned for

his young nephew and despairingly remarked that he, like all others who had fallen, would

only precede them by a few days.

While he and his men argued about the best way to try and destroy the machine, a carpenter

approached Valet and insisted that the tower should be destroyed in the same way a ship's

mast is destroyed in naval warfare, chain shot.

A chain shot is where two or more cannonballs are welded to a metal chain and fired from

the cannon.

The result is an erratic, whirling typhoon that hooks around the first obstacle, swinging

around the other cannonballs with precise force.

The cannonballs were quickly modified and the first round was aimed at the midsection

of the tower.

Immediately, it caused massive damage, turning the heavy wooden beams that supported it to


The crew immediately called for the tower to be pulled back, lest it be damaged more.

But it was too late.

As the second shot found its mark, the hulking pillar collapsed.

The ammunition that had been prepared for when they reached the wall exploded, killing

many of the crew members and showering others in gore, wood and dirt.

Taking his chance, Valet immediately commanded that the breach was to be repaired and the

Maltese again sprang into action.

But as the knights were distracted temporarily, the Ottomans had managed to lug a large, crude

bomb to another section of the decimated walls.

Lighting the fuse, they dropped the bomb and ran.

A few defenders selflessly grabbed it and charged back up the wall with it.

As the fuse on it splattered and dimmed, with all their might the defenders heaved the thing

over the wall and pushed it back over.

As the bomb rolled towards them, the advancing army broke as men dived out of the way as

it picked up speed, bouncing down the hill.

But many weren't quick enough.

Halfway down the hill the bomb exploded, killing many and maiming many others.

This was one misfortune to many and finally the signal was given to retreat and Mustafa's

army limped back to their camp.

Incredibly, against all odds, the knights had survived the meticulously planned attack.

The Turks controlled virtually the whole island, including the harbour, but still, Valet and

his ragged band of pirate knights had pushed them out.

It seemed like during this siege, Valet himself had lost hope after seeing his nephew die.

Perhaps he didn't think he would last a day as he prepared to hold the breach.

But yet here he was.

Here they were.

As the bloodied knights feverishly repaired the walls and, no doubt, thanked God for their

survival, things were getting very rotten in the Ottoman camp.

The dysentery in the camp, which had first appeared when they were besieging Fort San

Elmo, was now ravaging the army.

This wasn't just from the bad water.

Siege camps were usually notorious for poor hygiene.

It was a temporary home after all, so apart from the officers' quarters, the soldiers

lived on whatever they could find and in whatever they could find.

Human excrement, food, blood, urine, fleas, rotting and putrid bodies and water, all within

a few meters of each other, perfect conditions for plague and disease to spread, especially

considering the baking heat of Malta.

Supply lines too were starting to break down as Mediterranean pirates raided the supply

ships going from Tripoli to Malta, which in turn led to ammunition and food shortages.

So it should be no surprise to you to learn that the soldiers were very, very reluctant

to attack again.

Military order was breaking down.

Time too was against them.

The siege had dragged on far, far longer than it should, and Mustafa now risked a seasonal

change in the winds that could put their navy in severe danger.

The two commanders once again argued openly about what to do, but inside Bergu, the knights

were not much better.

The last attack had pushed them right to the edge, and they were in a similar position

now to the final knights of San Elmo.

The walls were a piecemeal of rubble, packed dirt and smashed bricks, while the streets

were lined with the dead.

The hospitals, which the knights were so famous for, overflowed with the sick and injured.

Seeing the dire conditions of the wall, Valette's war council advised him to pull back to the

citadel, to Fort San Angelo, but he shut this down quickly, rebutting that Fort San Angelo

would not last long with all the cannon fire directed at it.

Besides, what then would happen to the Maltese men and women who had been so invaluable,

particularly in these late days?

While both sides suffered badly, it was clear that the Ottoman troops were down in the dumps.

Another attack from them was defeated with relative ease after an arrow was shot into

Bergu, with a note attached telling the defenders of the day the attack was to be planned.

In preparation for it, all injured men and women were pressed into service, dragged up

from their hospital beds and back onto the walls.

The attack, however, didn't last long.

Another meticulously built siege tower was swiftly taken by the knights, who this time

mounted guns on it, using the invaders' weapons against them.

In his stunning, silk-laden tent in the middle of the Ottoman camp, Mustafa Pasha sat with

his head in his hands.

What on earth was he going to do?

The men now were hardly responding to his commands.

Their huge cannons that shined so brightly on their arrival to the island were now badly

worn out and dangerous to fire.

They were not meant to be used this often and required constant repair, meaning the

artillery barrages could not go at the same pace they once did.

Just recently, a huge supply ship, one that they had badly needed, had been stolen on

route to Malta.

The food they had on hand would only last a few weeks now, even on reduced rations.

Meanwhile, every foraging party that was sent out into the countryside came back empty-handed,

or not at all.

Mustafa knew failure was not an option.

He could not leave this island empty-handed.

Though Sultan Suleiman was a blood relative of his, he was not known for his mercy of

those who failed him.

How had this God-forsaken spit of land still not fallen?

His idea of waiting out the winter on Malta was met with a firm no by both his men and

Piali Pasha, who refused to leave the navy in such a vulnerable position to what was

now looking like a lost cause.

In desperation, he roused his men to raid the inland city of Medina, thinking that the

city storehouses could sustain them while they sorted out their logistics problem.

Scouts reported to Mustafa that Medina was vulnerable now, with virtually no men or cannons.

Valette heard of the attack and gave the word to the governor, a man called Don Mesquita,

to expect trouble.

Having no more than a few fighting men left and a couple of broken ancient cannons, the

scout's report was spot on.

Medina was incredibly vulnerable indeed, but Mesquita was a cunning man.

As the worn-out Ottoman soldiers trudged up to the walls of Medina, they saw the bastions

chock-full of soldiers standing to attention.

Once they got in range, the wall-mounted cannons opened fire.

It seemed that their intel was bad.

Medina was more than ready for an attack, except they weren't.

Don Mesquita had dressed all the townsfolk in soldiers' uniforms.

All the men, women, and children tall enough to pass as adults from the distance had been

told to stand to attention on the walls.

And the cannons, the shots they fired were the last stores of both powder and shot.

But the ruse worked, the demoralized Ottomans trudged back to their camp, hungry and wishing

that this whole ordeal would finally be over.

Attack after attack was launched against Bergu, but there was no heart in them anymore.

The intimidating gong of the Janissary band was replaced with the slow, plodding footsteps

of whatever man was unfortunate enough to be drafted in today's death march.

The shimmering silk vestments and gleaming white turbans, now a mess of tatters, dirt

and blood.

All this had not gone unnoticed by Valette, and slowly he began entertaining the idea

of pushing the Turks back themselves, without help.

But on the 7th of September, it didn't matter.

On the north-east side of Malta, the bow of a ship crunched into the sandy shore.

And then another, and another, and another.

Wading into the sea came 10,000 Spanish soldiers, pristine, well-rested, well-supplied and ready

for battle.

Carrying with them mountains of ammunition, food and medical supplies, they trudged overland

towards the beleaguered city.

Don Garcia had finally arrived.

As the knights watched in awe as the new recruits streamed into Bergu, it must have seemed surreal.

The help that had been promised and re-promised for three hellish months was finally here.

The Grand Master was ecstatic.

But these estimates were less than what he expected, and the Ottomans still held the

numerical advantage, even if they were completely done.

Valette knew that, with just a nudge, Mustafa would be forced to concede the loss.

So as an act of quote-unquote clemency, Valette had one of the Ottoman prisoners released.

But not before he was made to, accidentally, overhear two of his men discussing the size

of the relief army.

16,000 men, wow!

Once the slave reached Mustafa's camp, he reported the inflated number, just as Valette


This was the final blow for the Ottoman conqueror.

It was time to go home.

Apparently it was not God's will that Malta should be part of Suleiman's domain.

As the Ottomans gloomily packed up the siege, the final engagement took place.

It's not clear if this was started by Turkish troops once they realized that the relief

force was half the size they thought it was, or if it was just a few hot-headed knights

who for so long had endured such punishment from the invaders that they were not able

to contain themselves.

Whatever the case, many Turkish troops were killed as they clambered back onto the boats.

It was done, at long last, after three months, three weeks, and five days.

It was over.

All around Europe, the news spread.

Against all odds, the Knights Hospitaller, that relic of the past, had beaten back the


The aura of invincibility that surrounded Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was broken.

And back in his court, Mustafa and Piali were publicly disgraced by their Sultan, who shamed

them for their incompetence, while vowing that he himself would return to Malta the

very next year.

But it was never followed through.

Suleiman Zen would come soon, in a little-known siege that we'll be covering later, that

I'm sure my Hungarian listeners would know very well indeed.

Fallett became an international celebrity overnight in Europe, with the Pope even offering

him a role as a Cardinal.

But the old Grand Master turned it down.

His home was, and would always be, Malta.

From the prestige he had gained, money followed, and in the subsequent years, he set to work

rebuilding the battered island from the ground up.

Burgu, the city that had held out until the very end, was given a more appropriate name.

Citta Vitriosa, the victorious city which it's still known as today.

Meanwhile, the area surrounding the flattened Fort San Elmo was rebuilt and named Valletta,

which is now the capital city of the island.

The story of the siege, and all the colourful characters that took part in it, has inspired

a heap of classic artwork over the years and I'll be putting a few of my favourite ones

on Instagram.

The siege itself has gone down in history as one of the most intense and glorious ever

to have taken place.

150 years after it occurred, the famous French Enlightenment writer, Voltaire, remarked that

nothing is so well known as the Siege of Malta.

Even today, the legacy still continues, with fan fiction books and board games such as

San Elmo's Pay, where one player tags on the role of the Ottomans and the other the


But the thing that gets me about the siege is just how many what-ifs there were.

What if Dragut lived?

The boat unloading at the worst time?

The ruse in Medina?

How much of this would have happened?

Lascaris, the defector of royal blood?

What if he hadn't made it to the knights, or his tip was ignored?

What if the first batch of reinforcements found out that San Elmo had fallen and then


What if the raiding party from Medina hadn't triggered the overreaction from the troops

that had breached the wall?

What if Don Garcia didn't arrive at all?

But most of all, what if someone else had been in charge?

Jean de la Valette combined an irresistible mixture of bravery, charm and realism, a cocktail

that inspired men in 1565 just as much as it would today.

In the later stages of the siege, I don't think he ever really thought Don Garcia's

relief force would arrive.

He made his peace with immortality and encouraged his knights to do the same.

So many of his quotes, though perhaps exaggerated by the writer, paint the picture of a determined

and unbending man who sacrificed everything and anything for the survival of the Order.

For me personally, I was gripped by the Siege of Malta from the first time I heard about


As you can probably guess by the themes we cover on this show, I love a good underdog

story and it doesn't get more underdog than this, does it?

As for the hero of the story, Valette would pass away after suffering a stroke during

prayer around three years later.

Having completed the Herculean task that fell on his shoulders, he could rest in peace.

Nowadays Malta is a premiere party destination.

As thousands flock to all the festivals around the countryside, they arrive en masse at the

very docks where the brave souls in Saint Elmo made the ultimate sacrifice to buy their

comrades a few more precious days.

Under the baking heat of a Maltese summer, perhaps a few festival goers might try and

escape the heat for a moment and duck into a sandstone-coloured cathedral in the centre

of town, where, underneath the floor, tucked away from the din of traffic and crowds, a

gilded marble sarcophagus sits quietly with a dusty plaque that reads,

Here lies La Valette, worthy of eternal honour, he who was once the scourge of Africa and

Asia and the shield of Europe, once he expelled the barbarians by his holy arms, is the first

to be buried in this beloved city, whose founder he was.

I hope you've enjoyed my first three-parter series on Earthology of Heroes.

It just passed 20 episodes and I can honestly say I never thought we'd get this far, so

thanks everyone for listening.

If you do have any feedback or comments, I'd love to hear it, especially any ideas you've

got for certain countries that are a bit more obscure and hard to research.

You can find me on Instagram at at anthology of heroes, where I post regularly.

Thanks and take care.