The Great Siege of Malta 1565 by Ernle Bradford (1961)
Heidi sent me a copy of this book. It made for gripping reading.
In 1565 the Ottoman Empire, under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, was the strongest single military force in all the world. Suleiman tried to conquer all of Europe by land, but was stopped at the gates of Vienna. He then tried to conquer by sea.
One small obstacle opposed him: the fortified island of Malta, held by the Knights of St. John commanded by their Grand Master, Jean de La Vallette. Expecting to reduce the island in a matter of days, and so break through into the Western Mediterranean, Suleiman sent an army and a fleet, a great armada carrying at least 30,000 men, artillery and siege equipment galore. Against them, La Vallette had some 500 knights and squires, three or four thousand regular soldiers and cavalry, and another few thousand hastily-equipped native Maltese “irregulars.” With these he had three forts to defend–and no realistic help of assistance from any European power.
With day-and-night artillery support, the Turks threw wave after wave of attackers against the forts. The smallest and oldest of the forts, St. Elmo, which the Ottomans expected to wipe out in just a few days, resisted to the last man and ate up over a month, costing the attackers some 4,000 casualties.
The other two forts, St. Angelo and Birgu, with breaches torn into their walls by cannonballs, bombarded from all directions day and night, nevertheless repelled every attack. Incredibly, the Turks, having suffered terrible losses (at least 25,000 men, according to contemporary sources), were forced to withdraw. Very few of that great army made it back alive to Constantinople.
Enduring every kind of privation, forced to fight while carrying great wounds, cut off from the outside world, the knights and their soldiers held the island.
Suleiman tried one more time, in 1571, to break through Christendom’s defenses. His fleet was decisively defeated in the Battle of Lepanto. This began the long decline of the Ottoman Empire, culminating in its final destruction in World War I.
The extraordinary heroism and devotion of the Knights of St. John changed the course of world history. We can’t help but wonder if Europe will ever again be able, or even willing, to defend itself so valiantly. It is once again being attacked by Islam, this time without military force. But instead of the knights we have all these characters who seem to have crawled out from a murky Swedish movie.
Omnipotent God will decide whether Europe will survive, this time.
Who would you rather have defending you? The Knights of St. John, or a lot of self-serving globalists whose god is their bank account and whose creed is radical moral uncertainty?