Early Modern

The period currently represented here spans from the end of the 16th century to mid 17th century. During this period, Malta was home to the Hospitaller Order of St. John. 

The Order of St. John was born in the Holy Land in the 11th century, starting off with a number of hospitals along the main pilgrimage routes to the Holy Land, and it was officially sanctioned by Pope Paschal II in 1113. After the First Crusade, the Order of St. John adopted a secondary branch, extending its mission to the armed protection of pilgrims, thus becoming a Religious Military Order. When the Muslim forces captured the last Latin stronghold in the East, Acre 1291, the Order moved to Cyprus and then Rhodes. The knights prospered on Rhodes, which gave them the opportunity to exercise governance in relative autonomy. After having repelled a number of attacks from the Ottoman Empire, notoriously that of 1480, they succumbed to a major onslaught in 1522. After seven years wandering around Europe, they finally settled in Malta. 

The sixteenth century was a tumultuous one for the Order. The impending threat of another Ottoman attack materialised in 1565, and Malta was not adequately fortified. Against all odds, the Order succeeded in defending the island. 


Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt succeeds Grand Master Martin Garzes. 


A large Ottoman force invades Malta landing at St Thomas Bay (southern area). It is engaged in battle in the vicinity of Zejtun. The Ottomans withdraw by sea but land again at the Northern part of the Island and raids the area. 


An aqueduct to Valletta is completed and fresh water is thus brought to the new city.

1627 - 1628

Galleys of the Order engaged in sea battles in particular against the Huguenots in France (La Rochelle)