Napoleon Bonaparte in Malta
Here today, gone "tomorrow".
Napoleon Bonaparte is credited with ending the Knights of St John’s rule in Malta.
This however is not believed to have mainly materialized because of Napoleon’s military prowess and leadership.
One of the main reasaons why Napoleon easily took over the islands, was because the Knights of Malta offered little resistance.
During the eighteenth century the Knights of Malta became heavily corrupted, and they spent most of their days drinking and chasing women.
The Maltese people no longer saw them as worthy leaders, since they could see and feel their corrupted ways daily.
Their influence and power ended abruptly when Napoleon Bonaparte and his ships anchored off Malta. The rise of Napoleon in Europe was already evident in those days since he had already invaded Italy and the Low Countries.
Napoleon landed in Malta in 1798. He was actually on his way to Egypt. He captured the island quite easily, losing only three French men. In that period, the Knights didn't care much about putting up a fight and although the Maltese forces wanted to resist this occupation, Grand Master Hompesch surrendered.
Napoleon left the islands after only 6 days and left some 4,000 men to guard Malta. During his presence in Malta, Napoleon Bonaparte reorganized Malta’s administration. His administration skills were remarkable.
In fact, Napoleon referred to himself as the man who completed the French Revolution, meaning that while the goals of the revolution had been achieved, it was he who managed to institutionalize them and create the necessary administrative framework.
While in Malta, Napoleon also abolished slavery and the inquisition and established a new education system. However, Napoleon and the French made one huge mistake!
They stole and ransacked numerous churches in Malta. This to the locals, was simply not acceptable. They hated the fact that foreigners were literally emptying the churches that they had built with such love and passion.
When the Maltese people learned that St John’s Cathedral in Valletta was the next target, they cleverly painted and covered most of the valuable ornaments and decorations in an effort to disguise their true value.
Napoleon also looted millions of francs from the Maltese treasury as well as the famous Grandmaster La Valette's ceremonial sword and dagger, which remain in Paris to this day.
In September 1798, the Maltese rebelled against the French and they drove them out of Mdina. The French relocated in Valletta. It was then that the Maltese people appealed to the British for help.
The French held out for 2 years in Valletta and finally surrendered in 1800.
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