Thursday, October 31, 2013

Malta in the Fall

Where's Malta?  There it is!
Tomorrow I’m off to Malta.

Yes, that Malta.  The one of Maltese Falcon fame, based on a true story, no less.  Well, the falcon part, not the hard-boiled detective part.

Where’s Malta?  Good question.

It is not where you might think it is.  Unless you’re familiar with the area, and then it’s exactly where you think it is.

But the better question is . . . yes, you in the back with the Michael Meyers mask on.  Yes, the better question is: Why Malta?

Send 'em to the Hospitallers, lads!
First, there’s the history.  Malta is famous for not just one, or two, but three major sieges that helped change the course of history.  The first took place in 1565, and pitted the Knights Hospitaller, the Maltese and some random foot soldiers, about 6,000 fighters total, against the armed might and machine-like force of the Ottoman Empire and 48,000 of their warriors.

Guess who won?

The second important siege of Malta is equally interesting.  In 1798, Napoleon, en route to Egypt, seized Malta from the Knights.  Initially, this wasn’t a big deal, but then the French looted the hell out of Malta and really irked the very religious Maltese.  A small committee of about 10,000 irregular Maltese showed up to discuss the issue with the French.  At the same time, the British, under Admiral Lord Nelson (yes that Lord Nelson) blockaded the island, preventing resupply of the French.  There really wasn’t much in the way of fighting.  The British simply starved out the French, and when they ran out of croissants (and any other food), and disease started thinning the ranks, they surrendered.
Rubble, rubble everywhere

The third major siege of Malta occurred during WWII.  This time, the British had control of Malta.  The island had always been a linchpin in the Mediterranean, providing a safe harbor and landing field between Europe and Africa.  Obviously, this wasn’t lost on either the Allies or the Axis powers.  From 1940 to 1942, Malta became a the site of a gigantic tug-of-war between these two, complete with bombings, an invasion (that wasn’t carried out), and some impressive airshows put on between the British RAF and the German Luftwaffe (which historians like to call air combat battles).
Hello, boys.

So wow, that’s a lot of history, and in just a few five-hundred years!

I’m mostly interested in all the castles, bastions and fortified towers that the Knights Hospitaller built during their reign.  I’ll be working on the release of Tears of Heaven, but also focusing heavily on my next book The Second Cut about the samurai warrior-woman Tomoe Gozen.

If you think Joan de Arc kicked buttocks, wait to read this!

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