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First Siege of Livron, June 1574

First Siege of Livron, June 1574

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First Siege of Livron, June 1574

The first siege of Livron (June 1574) was an unsuccessful Catholic attempt to capture the small Huguenot-held town that took place in the gap between the Fourth and Fifth Wars of Religion.

Livron was a small town located on the northern bank of the Drôme, close to that river's confluence with the Rhône and only ten miles south of the Episcopal city of Valence. A large number of Huguenots took refuge in the town, where they were led by the veteran Huguenot leader Montbrun. Under his command the fortifications of the town were improved.

The first siege was commanded by François de Bourbon, Prince Dauphin d'Auvergne, the eldest son of the Duke of Bourbon-Montpensier. Prince Dauphin began this siege on 23 June, but it was short-lived. The Huguenots sallied from the town, spiked one of his few cannons, and forced Dauphin to raise the siege a few days after it began.

Livron was besieged again, from 17 December 1574-24 January 1575, but despite the presence of Henry III this second siege was no more successful than the first.

Siege of Wesenberg (1574)

The Siege of Wesenberg (Rakvere, Rakovor) was an abortive Swedish siege of the Russian-held town of Wesenberg in Estonia from January through March 1574, during the Livonian War. The siege is infamous for a brawl and subsequent combat between German and Scottish mercenaries within the besieging army, which claimed the lives of about 1,500 Scots. Wesenberg was seized in a renewed Swedish assault in 1581.

The Second siege of Nagashima (1573) [ edit | edit source ]

The campaign against the Ikkō-ikki of Nagashima reopened in July 1573, and this time Oda Nobunaga took personal charge of the operations. The number of Nobunaga's troops are not recorded, but Nobunaga is said that he recruited heavily from Ise province. Covered by an advance from the west under Sakuma Nobumori and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Nobunaga sent his gunners on ahead along the main roads into Nagashima, hoping that the volley of fire would blast a way for him. Unfortunately for the Oda, as soon as his men were ready to fire, a fierce downpour occurred, and the rain soaked the matches and pans rendering nine out of every ten arquebuses temporarily disabled. The Ikkō-ikki launched an immediate counter-attack for which the forward matchlock-men were ill prepared. They began to fall back taking the Ise troops with them, and as the Ikkō-ikki pressed forward the rain stopped, enabling them to employ their own matchlocks. The defenders advanced perilously close to Nobunaga himself, who was in the thick of the fighting astride the horse. One bullet narrowly missed his ear, and another felled one of his retainers through the armpit. For the second time in two years, the Oda army withdrew. The western force had been more successful, with Takigawa Kazumasu taking Yata castle which was the most southerly point of Nagashima complex, but he too, was forced to withdraw by a counter-attack. Β]

Key developments of 1574 (mainly, Ottoman)

All the usual things were happening in the world of 1574 CE: Mughal Emperor Akbar consolidating his growing territories Protestants and Catholics contending over broad areas of Europe Portuguese and Spanish conquistadors doing their transnational thing, and so on. The main development of world-historical importance that year, however, was the Ottoman navy’s final conquest of Tunis, which marked the end of various efforts by Spanish and other Christian-European powers to effect a conquista of North Africa, thus leaving the whole of North Africa– with the exception of two tiny Spanish enclaves in Morocco– to be ruled by Muslim powers.

Then, at the end of 1574, Ottoman Sultan Selim II died and was succeeded by his son Murad III. This post will say a little about that and also about the amazing career of the Ottomans’ star architect and builder, Mimar Sinan, whose masterpiece, the Selimiye Mosque, was completed shortly after the death of the eponymous Selim.

The Conquest of Tunis

Engraving of the siege of Tunis in the Braun & Hogenberg “Cities of the World” series, published 1575

Tunis had basically been contested between the Spanish and the Ottomans for several decades. In October 1573– 18 months after his victory over the Ottomans at Lepanto– the Habsburg admiral John of Austria (re-)captured the city and presumably once again set about strengthening its fortifications.

The Ottomans were meanwhile rebuilding their navy– just as Grand Vizier Mehmed Sokullu had vowed would happen… And various Protestant forces battling the Spanish and Habsburgs in northern Europe had reached out to Istanbul to ask the Ottomans to open a second front…

For the Ottoman attack on Tunis, their admirals mustered a fleet of 250-300 warships, with about 75,000 men. (Interestingly, some of these numbers seem to have been derived from the journals of Miguel Cervantes, who– having been ransomed from his earlier capture during the Battle of Lepanto– was now back fighting on the Spanish side.)

Tunis is “protected” on the seaward side by an outer, well-fortified presidio called Goleta. The Ottomans were easily able to impose a maritime siege on Goleta and John of Austria was unable to send enough ships to challenge them there. English-WP tells us that “The Spanish crown, being heavily involved in the Netherlands and short of funds was unable to help significantly.”

Anyway, the siege and eventual fall of Goleta and Tunis only lasted from July 12 through September 13. “The general of La Goleta, Don Pedro Portocarerro, was taken as a captive to Constantinople, but died on the way. The captured soldiers were employed as slaves on galleys.”

The Ottoman challenge to the Spanish/Habsburgs in Tunis did have the effect of reducing Spain’s pressure on the rebellious Dutch and in 1582, they established a consulate in Antwerp. But we get ahead of ourselves.

The death of Selim II

Selim (“the Sot”) had never taken much interest in governing, leaving that to Grand Vizier Mehmed Sokollu. Unlike his father (who had died on a battlefield) neither Selim nor the son who succeed him, Murad III, ever made any attempt to lead his troops in battle. Indeed, in Murad’s case, he would never leave Istanbul at all and leave his palace there only very rarely. Clearly, in this case as in the case of several decades’ worth of happenings in the Ming Empire, the survival and wellbeing of the empire depended much more on the effectiveness of a well-developed professional civil-service class than it did on the leadership skills of the “Emperor” himself.

Murad was the eldest of Selim’s seven sons. He’d been born in 1524 and received some early favors and administrative training from his grandfather, Suleiman. One of Murad’s brothers had died in 1572. When Selim died in 1574, that left Murad with five younger brothers. His first act in office was to have them all strangled.

A note on Mimar Sinan

When Selim II died, the “Selimiye” mosque in Adrianople (now Edirne, in Eastern Turkey) was near completion. The renowned architect Mimar Sinan considered this to be his masterpiece– in a total lifetime oeuvre that included Istanbul’s great Suleimaniye Mosque and the following other items:

Pencil drawing of Sinan
  • 92 other large mosques (camii),
  • 57 colleges,
  • 52 smaller mosques (mescit),
  • 48 bath-houses (hamam).
  • 35 palaces (saray),
  • 22 mausoleums (türbe),
  • 20 caravanserai (kervansaray han),
  • 17 public kitchens (imaret),
  • 8 bridges,
  • 8 store houses or granaries
  • 7 Koranic schools (medrese),
  • 6 aqueducts,
  • 3 hospitals (darüşşifa)

Sinan had been born around 1488-90, and after 1574 would go on working almost until he died in 1587 or 1588. English-WP tells us this about his life and legacy:

The son of a stonemason, he received a technical education and became a military engineer. He rose rapidly through the ranks to become first an officer and finally a Janissary commander, with the honorific title of ağa. He refined his architectural and engineering skills while on campaign with the Janissaries, becoming expert at constructing fortifications of all kinds, as well as military infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges and aqueducts. At about the age of fifty, he was appointed as chief royal architect, applying the technical skills he had acquired in the army to the “creation of fine religious buildings” and civic structures of all kinds. He remained in this post for almost fifty years.

His masterpiece is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, although his most famous work is the Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul. He headed an extensive governmental department and trained many assistants who, in turn, distinguished themselves… He is considered the greatest architect of the classical period of Ottoman architecture and has been compared to Michelangelo, his contemporary in the West. Michelangelo and his plans for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome were well known in Istanbul, since Leonardo da Vinci and he had been invited, in 1502 and 1505 respectively, by the Sublime Porte to submit plans for a bridge spanning the Golden Horn. Mimar Sinan’s works are among the most influential buildings in history.

The photo at the head of today’s post shows part of the interior of the dome of the Selimiye Mosque. Here are a couple of other views of it:

  • Selimiye Mosque, general view
  • Selimiye Mosque, South facade

List of Monarchs of Iberia (Battle of Manzikert)

This is a list of Monarchs of Iberia from the formation of the Kingdom of Iberia on April 4, 1482, to the Iberian Revolution Revolution in November of 1821 and again from June 6, 1852 - October 6 of 1944.

The first ruling house of the Kingdom of Iberia was the House of Trastámara, who ruled from 1482 to 1534. They were succeeded by the House of Jiménez, who ruled from 1534 to 1717. Following the Iberian War of Succession, Iberia entered into a union with the Byzantine Empire, with the Byzantine House of Molivesti becoming the ruling family of Iberia. Following the Iberian War of Restoration in the 1730s, the Catalan House of Barcelona came to power, ruling from 1737 to the abolition of the Iberian Monarchy following the Iberian Revolution. In 1852, following the reinstating of the Iberian Monarchy after the First Iberian Civil War, the House of Castro ruled Iberia from that year until the second abolition of the Iberian Monarchy in 1944 following the Second Iberian Civil War.


Battle between Dutch and Spanish ships on Haarlemmermeer, 26 May 1573. Hendrik Cornelisz. Vroom, 1629

Towns that did not surrender immediately were encircled and starved into submission. That happened at Haarlem, which was besieged in the winter of 1572-1573. With three thousand rebels garrisoned in Haarlem, the city was able to repulse the Spanish assaults, while food supplies were brought in by ship across the lake.

But when a Spanish fleet attacked and defeated the rebel ships on Haarlemmermeer in May 1573, the supply line was broken and the city was isolated. For seven months, Spanish troops kept a stranglehold on the city. Eventually, the hunger and deprivation became unbearable and the city surrendered. Over two thousand rebels and defenders were executed, often in the most appalling ways.

Military sieges [ edit | edit source ]

Ancient [ edit | edit source ]

    (c. 1530 BC) (c. 1457 BC) (c. 1296 BC) (c. 1200 BC)
  • Siege of Rabbah (10th century BC) (Bible Reference: II Samuel 11-12)
  • Siege of Abel-beth-maachah (10th century BC) (Bible Reference: II Samuel 20:15-22) (10th century BC) by Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenq I
  • Siege of Samaria (9th century BC) (Bible Reference: II Kings 6:24-7:7) (701 BC) (701 BC) (701 BC) – the Assyrian siege of Sennacherib by Nebuchadnezzar II by Nebuchadnezzar II Part of the Ionian Revolt and the Greco-Persian Wars (490 BC) - Part of the Persian invasion and the Greco-Persian Wars (415 BC) – the Athenian siege (334 BC) (334 BC) by Alexander the Great (332 BC) (329 BC) (327 BC) (c. 327 BC) (305 BC) by Demetrius Poliorcetes (278 BC) - Part of the Pyrrhic War (261 BC) - Part of the First Punic War (255 BC) - Part of the First Punic War (249-241 BC) - Part of the First Punic War (218 BC) – casus belli for the Second Punic War (214–212 BC) – the Roman siege (149–146 BC) by Scipio Aemilianus Africanus (134–133 BC) by Scipio Aemilianus Africanus (73 BC) by Pompey the Great (52 BC) by Herod the Great (67 AD) (70 AD) – the Roman siege of Titus (72-73 or 73-74 AD) (193 AD–196 AD) by Septimius Severus forces. (344) (356) (356) (359 AD) (452) by Attila

Medieval [ edit | edit source ]

    - Ostrogothic conquest of Italy - part of the Gothic War - part of the Gothic War (541) - part of the Gothic War - part of the Gothic War - part of the Gothic War - part of the Gothic War (555–556) - part of the Lazic War - Lombard conquest of Italy (580–582) - Avar conquest of the city – Attack on the city by Slavs and Avars by the Persians by the Persians under Shahrbaraz – Attack on the city by Slavs – Attack on the city by Slavs and Avars
  • The Siege of Constantinople (626) by Avars and Sassanid Persians in 626
  • The Siege of Derbent (627)
  • The Siege of Tbilisi (628) - almost certainly fictional (630) (635) by Khalid ibn al-Walid (Rashidun general) (637) (637) (638) (645) in 674–678 – Attack on the city by Slavs by the Umayyads during the Second Fitna by the Umayyads during the Second Fitna by the Umayyads by the Umayyads by the Umayyads (729) by the Turgesh (749–750) by the Abbasids by the Abbasids - Lombard kingdom conquered by Charlemagne (799) by the Slavs of the Peloponnese by the Aghlabids (838) by the Abbasids by the Aghlabids by the Aghlabids by the Aghlabids by Saracen corsairs (971) by the Byzantines (Spring 1063) (1068–1071) - Norman conquest of Southern Italy (1071–1072) - Norman conquest of Southern Italy (1097) – part of the First Crusade (1097–1098) – part of the First Crusade (1098) (1098) – part of the First Crusade (1099) – part of the First Crusade (1102–1109) (1140) (1144) (1147) (1148) (1159–1160) - part of the wars between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I and the Northern Italy cities (1160) – the main action of the Heiji Rebellion took place in Kyoto (1161–1162) - part of the wars between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I and the Northern Italy cities - the first major clash of the Norman invasion of Ireland (1174–1175) - part of the wars between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I and the Lombard League (1180) – during Genpei War (1183) (1185) by the Normans (1187) (1187) – part of the Fourth Crusade (1203) – part of the Fourth Crusade (1204) – part of the Fourth Crusade (1207) (1214) (1215) - King Johns Danish mercenaries attempt to take the castle of Rochester during the First Baron's war. (1215) – Genghis Khan conquers Zhongdu, now Beijing (1235) – a joint Bulgarian-Nicaean siege on the capital of the Latin Empire. (1236) – Batu Khan conquers the city of Bilär. (1240) – Mongol conquest of Kiev. (1243–1244) by the Khwarezmians (1247–1248) - part of the wars between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and the Lombard League (1267–1273) – Mongol conquest of the city of Xiangyang in the invasion of the Southern Song. (1302–1303) – first siege of Gibraltar, by Juan Alfonso de Guzman el Bueno in the Reconquista – second siege of Gibraltar, by the Nasrid caid Yahya in the Reconquista , by Cangrande I della Scala, lord of Verona (1326) by Ottoman Turks (1328–1331) – part of the Byzantine-Ottoman wars (1333) – end of Ashikaga shogunate. – third siege of Gibraltar, by a Marinids army, led by Abd al-Malik in the Reconquista – fourth siege of Gibraltar, by King Alfonso XI of Castile in the Reconquista – part of the Byzantine-Ottoman Wars
  • (1346) (1346–1347) – Hundred Years' War – fifth siege of Gibraltar, by Alfonso XI in the Reconquista (1370) – sixth siege of Gibraltar, by the Nasrid in the Reconquista (1378–1390) (1382 or 1385) (1393) (1410) – in the aftermath of the Battle of Grunwald (1418) – reopening of the Hundred Years' War (1420) (1422) – first siege of Constantinople, by the Murad II (1429) (1429) – seventh siege of Gibraltar, by the count of Niebla in the Reconquista (1453) – second siege of Constantinople by the Mehmed II

Early modern [ edit | edit source ]

Monks successfully defended the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra against the Poles from September 1609 to January 1611.

    (1456) – part of Ottoman wars in Europe – eighth siege of Gibraltar, by a Castilian army in the Reconquista (1461–1468) – part of Wars of the Roses. Longest siege in British history. (1463) – ninth siege of Gibraltar, by the Duke of Medina Sidonia (1474–1475) (1480) – first siege of Rhodes (1480–1481) (1482) (1486) (1487) (1492) – tenth siege of Gibraltar, by the Duke of Medina Sidonia (1509) - part of Italian wars
  • Siege of Smolensk (1514) (1517) (1521) – fall of the Aztec Empire. (1522) – second siege of Rhodes - part of Italian wars (1526) (1529) (1529) – first siege of Vienna (1529–1530) - part of Italian wars (1532) by Ottomans (1534) (1536–1537) (1536–1537) (1538) (1539) (1543) (1548) (1550) (1522) (1552) – part of Russo-Kazan wars (1552–1554) (1552) – part of Ottoman-Habsburg wars (1554–1555) - part of Italian wars (1560) (1563) (1565) (1566) – Ottoman siege during which Suleiman the Magnificent died (1567) (1569)
  • Turkish siege of Nicosia, Cyprus (1570)
  • Turkish siege of Famagusta, Cyprus (1570–1571) (1570–1580) – longest siege in Japanese history (1571) – part of Russo-Crimean Wars

During the Cologne War (1583–1589), Ferdinand of Bavaria successfully besieged the medieval fortress of Godesberg during a month-long siege, his sappers dug tunnels under the feldspar of the mountain and laid gunpowder and a 1500 pound bomb. The result was a spectacular explosion that sent chunks of the ramparts, the walls, the gates, and drawbridges into the air. His 500 men still could not take the fortress until they scaled the interior latrine system and climbed the mountain to enter through a hole in the chapel roof.

    (1571, 1573, 1574) (1572) (1572) (1574) (1575) (1578) (1581) (1581–1582) (1584) (1584) (1584) (1584) (1584–1585) (1590) (1592) (1601–1602) (1601–1604) – (1609–1611) – 20 months (1609–1611) – 16 months (1614–1615) (1624–1625) (1627–1628) (1628–1629)
  • Siege of Mantua (1629–1630)
  • Siege of Casale Monferrato (1629–1631) (1629) (1632), Thirty Years' War (1637–1638) (1637–1642) – part of Russo-Turkish Wars by Ottomans (Crete) (1648–1669) –The longest siege in history (1649) -Cromwellian conquest of Ireland (1649) (1649–1650) (1650) , Ireland (1651) (1652) (1656) – during The Deluge
  • Siege of Riga (1656) – in the Russo-Swedish War of 1656–1658 (1658–1659) Second Northern War, Swedes defeated by Danish and Dutch defenders (1664) in northern Croatia – Austro–Turkish War (1663–64) (1667) (1668–1676) – eight years
    (1672) (1672) (1673) (1683) – second siege of Vienna (1689) (1690) – first siege of Québec City , Ireland (1690–1691) (1691) (1704) – eleventh siege of Gibraltar, by Sir George Rooke's Anglo-Dutch fleet
    (1704–1705) – twelfth siege of Gibraltar, by a Spanish-French army (1704–1705), during the War of the Spanish Succession (1706), during the War of the Spanish Succession (1707), during the War of the Spanish Succession (1708) (1714), during the War of the Spanish Succession (1718) (1727) – thirteenth siege of Gibraltar, by a Spanish army (1734) (1739) (1741) – by Edward Vernon in the War of Jenkins' Ear , during the War of the Austrian Succession , during the War of the Austrian Succession (1746), during the War of the Austrian Succession (1757), during the Seven Years' War
  • Siege of Olomouc (1758) – by Frederick the Great in the Seven Years' War (1759) – second siege of Québec City (1761)
  • Siege of Havana (1762) British fleet headed by George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albemarle lays siege to Spanish controlled Havana for a month. (1775–1776) (1779–1783) – fourteenth siege of Gibraltar, by a Spanish-French army in the American Revolutionary War (1781) (1796–1797) – First Coalition, French besieging (1799) – Second Coalition, French defending (1799)

Modern [ edit | edit source ]

American soldiers scale the walls of Beijing to relieve the Siege of the Legations, August 1900

Malta, Where Suleiman Laid Siege

At sundown, Maltese flock to the town square. They gaze at their church, decorated with strands of multicolored light bulbs. They sing the folk songs played by local musicians who stroll through the square and down the narrow streets. Young women in sundresses push strollers their husbands buy ice cream and kinnie, a cold, bittersweet Maltese drink. Teen-agers hold hands, discreetly, in a corner of the square. Children wave town flags while young boys lock arms and twirl round and round to the music until they become dizzy.

At 10 P.M., the fireworks begin. Suddenly the sky is ablaze in color and the stillness of the night is shattered by a thunderous roar.

It happens almost every other night, in various towns and villages around Malta, from May through October. For this is the season of festi, carnivals held in honor of patron saints. There are an average of three each Sunday.

Four centuries ago, another roar shattered the silence of the summer night. Then it was not fireworks, but the thunder of cannons that were pulverizing a tiny fort at the tip of what is now Malta's capital city, Valletta. The protracted battle here was to become one of history's most dramatic sieges.

The Great Siege of 1565 has left its mark on Malta, fortunately for the modern visitor. This tiny island republic, about 100 square miles and with a population of 320,000, is not merely sun and beaches it is redolent of history. It was here, on this barren, rocky island, that the Ottoman forces of Sultan Suleiman I (the Magnificent) were beaten back against overwhelming odds by the forces of Christianity - the Knights of the Order of St. John, sometimes called the Knights of Malta. It was here on ''this cursed rock,'' as the Turks denounced it, that the Sultan's army was defeated, his great fleet humiliated, and his western expansion checked for the first time. Some 10,000 soldiers and knights died in the siege, which lasted more than three months, but they killed more than 30,000 Turks. The battle is one of the decisive actions in the history of the Mediterranean.

My introduction to this slice of history came years before I ever set foot on the island. A friend gave me a slender volume entitled ''The Great Siege, Malta, 1565,'' by Ernle Bradford, a British sailor and historian whose account of the siege of the island is riveting, and historically accurate. Mr. Bradford, who died in July in Britain, wrote several books about Malta, including a sequel to his book about the Great Siege, ''Siege: Malta, 1940-1943,'' which concerns the island's second lengthy siege, by Germany in World War II.

With Mr. Bradford's book as a guide, you can visit many of the sites of the Great Siege, most of which are largely ignored by the sun worshipers, most of them British, who descend on Malta each summer.

The best place to start a tour is Valletta, Malta's architecturally splendid capital, built on the main battle area of the siege after the knights' victory. It was named for the defender of the island and the faith, Jean Parisot de la Valette, the single-minded Grand Master, leader of the order, whose strategic acumen and uncompromising leadership were pivotal in the knights' triumph.

I started my tour at the oldest building in Valletta, the Baroque church, Our Lady of Victory, whose cornerstone was laid by Valette himself in 1566. It was completed in 1567 to commemorate the siege, but the structure itself is not memorable.

Across the street, however, is the perfect vista of the battle area - a breathtaking view of Malta and its harbor. The Upper Barracca Gardens, as the lookout is known, was built in the 18th century and is filled with bright hibiscus and oleander, statues and a graceful fountain. It is located on what was Mount Sceberras before it was leveled somewhat to build Valletta. From here, you can look down toward the end of the peninsula, as did the Turks, on tiny Fort St. Elmo at the tip of Valletta. St. Elmo was the knights' most important forward post, and Valette's decision to hold it to the last man is seen by historians as key to the knights' victory.

The Turks predicted that St. Elmo would hold out for three or four days at most. It finally fell on June 23, after 31 days of continuous siege.

Across the Grand Harbor on two adjacent peninsulas are Vittoriosa (formerly Birgu), the site of Fort St. Angelo, the knights' major fort, from which Valette supervised the defense of St. Elmo, and Senglea, where the knights and Maltese had houses, convents and warehouses of supplies that enabled them to endure the siege. The knights' fleet was docked in the narrow channel of water between Senglea and Vittoriosa. Throughout the bloody stuggle, Maltese distinguished themselves by swimming between the two peninsulas, to repair the underwater chain defense that protected the fleet and to carry critical messages back and forth. To this day, Maltese, regarded as ardent Catholics, are also superb swimmers.

Gazing out at this now-tranquil harbor, one can hardly imagine the savagery of the combat that took place here. Historians record, for example, that after St. Elmo fell, the Turks took prisoner the nine surviving knights. (The rest of the 120 defenders had been killed.) Observing the ''rules'' of siege warfare, the Turks took no prisoners. The knights were decapitated, their bodies tied to mock crucifixes and floated across the harbor, where they washed up below St. Angelo, much to the horror of Valette. The Grand Master responded by immediately killing his Turkish prisoners and firing their heads out of cannons from Fort St. Angelo across to the Turkish-occupied St. Elmo.

Fort St. Elmo is a police and military installation now, but part of it has been converted into a War Museum, which is open to tourists. The choice is appropriate, since St. Elmo was also used by the British as a base in World War II. The museum, which is open from 9 A.M till 2 P.M., has a rich array of World War II relics, including one of the three Gladiator planes - Faith, Hope and Charity - that constituted Malta's air force when Italy declared war in 1940.

Across the Grand Harbor is Senglea, which is named after the Grand Master who fortified this area before the Great Siege, Claude de la Sengle. It can be reached by bus from Valletta, or by car. There is a spectacular lookout at Senglea Point, also known as Isola Point, set in a peaceful garden, a perfect spot for watching the sun set over Valletta. From here, the knights watched the pulverization of their Fort St. Elmo.

On an adjacent peninsula, five minutes away by car or bus, is Vittoriosa, the knights' headquarters during the siege. The city was given this name after their victory. This lovely town is far more tranquil than touristy Valletta. The main street, Mistral, is graced by the magnificant facade of the Auberge dɺngleterre, one of eight such structures where the different nationalities of the Order of St. John lived. The order was divided into eight langues, or tongues, representing languages of Europe each langue had its own inn, some of which can be visited in Vittoriosa and Valletta.

Fort St. Angelo in Vittoriosa is being converted into a government-owned tourist complex, but from here visitors can still have an excellent view of the Grand Harbor. The Phoenicians first built a temple on this spot, then the Greeks, and later the Ro-mans. The Arabs were the first to build a fortress, which the knights improved upon. You can visit the prison that housed prisoners during World War II, and, some say, Turkish prisoners during the Great Siege.

This fort has a splendid small chapel, St. Anne's, dating from 1430. There is one marble pillar in the center, the site of the ancient temples.

To the west of Valletta, separated from the city by Marsamxett Harbor, is another site of the siege, Dragut Point. A Holiday Inn is now being built on this point, and one hopes its owners will commemorate at least with a plaque the spot where the greatest pirate warrior of all time fell. Dragut Reis was respected as the best Moslem seaman of his era, a true pirate, Governor of Tripoli and a military genius. Many historians believe that, had he lived, the siege would have succeeded. His death, however, prompted squabbling between the two senior Ottoman military officers, which led, in turn, to a series of disastrous decisions that helped save the knights.

It was on this point, where tourists now sunbathe and the Maltese fish, that Dragut was mortally wounded before the fall of St. Elmo when a fragment of rock thrown up by a cannonball struck his head. He would have died instantly had it not been for his thick turban. Death came days later in his tent, shortly after he received news from a messenger that St. Elmo had fallen at last.

This tour takes either a full morning or afternoon. It's a good idea to visit forts in the morning, when it is cool. Reserve the afternoon for siege sites in Valletta, many of which reopen after siesta ends at about 4:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. The National Museum of Archeology, which houses an unimpressive collection, is in the grand, austere Auberge de Provence. Farther down on the city's main Republic Street is the Grand Master's Palace, completed in 1574, now the seat of Malta's House of Representatives and the President's office. You enter the building through a Baroque archway, which gives onto one of the palace's two garden courtyards. Inside, the Throne Room has a spectacular wood-beamed ceiling and a giant wall-to-wall frieze featuring scenes of the Great Siege painted by Matteo Perez dɺlessio.

The armory at the back of the palace contains the Grand Master's carriage and a lavish, gold-inlaid ceremonial suit made for Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, 1610-1620. There is also an array of Turkish weapons used in the siege, such as the stone cannonballs the size of basketballs that pounded St. Elmo, and what may well be Dragut's sword.

When you see the armor and feel the heat of the summer day, it is easy to understand why many of the knights got sunstroke. One suit of armor in the palace weighs 110 pounds the backplate is 22.5 pounds.

The Turks were more sensibly clad for war. They wore flowing robes and turbans to protect them against the sun. But this clothing was easily ignited by the hoops of flame that the knights threw down over the fort's walls on the advancing Turkish forces, especially on the 4,000 Janizaries. They were an elite corps of converts to Islam specially trained by the Turks for fighting and killing. Some 2,000 of them died, largely because of the flaming hoops, during one early assault on St. Elmo.

The National Library is well worth a visit. Constructed in the 18th century, it houses books, manuscripts and documents dating back to the 11th century. Knights were forced to prove aristocracy on both sides of their family for four generations in order to be admitted to the Order of St. John. Here, protected under glass, are the books of heraldry that they submitted to prove their noble blood.

A good place to end a tour is St. John's Cathedral, one of the most moving siege sites. Built in 1577 to plans by the Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar, this church is considered his masterpiece. Sir Walter Scott wrote that he had never seen a more striking church nave. The barrel-vault is 189 feet long, 64 feet high, and 115 feet wide. The nave is flanked on both sides with chapels representing different langues.

The church's museum contains 15 magnificent 17th-century Flemish tapestries commissioned by Grand Master Ramon Perellos (1697-1720) based on paintings by Rubens and Poussin, as well as a breathtaking masterpiece, ''The Beheading of St. John,'' one of Caravaggio's last and greatest paintings. Another Caravaggio painting, ''St. Jerome,'' was stolen from the church two years ago by thieves who casually removed it in broad daylight by cutting the canvas from the frame.

The church's most striking feature is its floor. The entire nave is paved with some 400 multicolored marble stones that cover the tombs of the knights. Each bears the fallen knight's coat of arms and trophies. Because the knights came from nobility, the floor is filled with the names and escutcheons of the most famous European families - Doria, Medici and Spinola among them. Many who are buried here had left their vast estates in Europe to report for duty when Valette issued his emergency call to save the order and Malta. They had fought for nearly four long months, alone. Valette had issued countless appeals to England and Spain and all Europe for reinforcements. Finally, on Sept. 6, as the Turks were running out of ammunition, supplies and the will to fight, Garcia de Toledo, the Sicilian Viceroy, arrived in Malta with reinforcements. But this paltry aid of about 10,000 troops would not have been sufficient to counter the Turks had their morale been high.

The Turks were already beaten, however, by the time Garcia's forces arrived, and on Sept. 8, 1565, what was left of the attack force sailed away, two-thirds of its original numbers lost. The siege was lifted, and there was rejoicing on Malta.

Almost immediately, Valette began the construction of Valletta and his church. On Aug. 21, 1568, three years after the siege, he died. Carrying out his final command, the knights of the Order took his body here to the city that bears his name. He was initially buried in Our Lady of Victory Church, but his remains were later transferred to St. John's, and laid to rest in a small, silent crypt that contains the tombs of 12 Grand Masters who ruled the island, and of Sir Oliver Starkey, the Englishman who was Valette's secretary and friend throughout the siege, the only man who was not a Grand Master to be buried here.

On Valette's tomb is an inscription in Latin composed by Sir Oliver:

''Here lies La Valette, worthy of eternal honor. He who was once the scourge of Africa and Asia, and the shield of Europe, whence he expelled the barbarians by his holy arms, is the first to be buried in this beloved city, whose founder he was.'' TIPS FOR PLANNING A TRIP: Accommodations In Valletta, a hotel favored by many frequent visitors is the Phoenicia (The Mall, Floriana 221211). Situated only a few minutes' walk from downtown, it has a British colonial atmosphere. It has no beach, but there is a pool, heated in winter, that is reached by a long walk through a splendid garden. The food, as in most hotels in Malta, is very disappointing. But the hotel's Blue Bar is a favorite with Maltese. Double room, about $96. A more modern hotel, the Malta Hilton (St. Julian's 336201), is about a 10-minute drive from Valletta, with a heated pool, its own beach and tennis courts. Double room, from about $106. Another hotel in St. Julian's is the Dragonara (336421), which has its own private beach, a swimming pool and Old World charm. The service is reputed to be excellent, and the food slightly better than in the Phoenicia. Double room, about $98. Restaurants The British influence on Malta, alas, is all too evident in the islands' restaurants. Although fresh fish is amply available, it is invariably overcooked. Heavy olive oils and uninspired salads are two hallmarks of the local cuisine.

There are a couple of exceptions to the grim culinary outlook. One is a fish restaurant, the Hunter's Tower, most popular at lunch, which is in Marsaxlokk (pronounced MAR-sash-lok), Malta's largest fishing village, on the eastern part of the island about 15 to 20 minutes' drive from Valletta. Here diners can gaze out on Marsaxlokk Bay and watch the luzu, brightly colored fishing boats based on those used by the Phoenicians. The fish is excellent. Stick to Italian wine. Lunch, about $10 to $15 a person. After lunch, visitors can stroll through this village and buy shopping bags fashioned by the wives of Maltese fishermen out of fishnet.

The Carriage Restaurant in Salina, about a 10-minute drive from Valletta, has excellent meat cooked on an outdoor grill. Meals are served in a garden during warm weather - here, at least five months of the year. For a leisurely dinner this is about the best in Malta $15 to $20 a person.

The Mdina is recommended in the town of the same name, which is Malta's ancient capital, and should not be missed. About $15 a person.

Visitors with a sweet tooth will find the Caffe Cordina on Republic Street in Valletta worth a visit. It stocks a variety of nougats, which are also sold by street vendors during festi. The Caffe is also said to have the best ice cream in Valletta. Reading Two good guidebooks are easily available on the island. The best is a slim volume with an uninspired title: ''Malta, Gozo and Comino, All You Need to Know'' by Geoffrey Aquilina Ross, a Maltese journalist based in London. Another fine little guide is the Berlitz Travel Guide, which is also available at the Complete Traveller, 199 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016 212-685-9007.

Good books on Malta's history include ''The Great Siege, Malta, 1565'' by Ernle Bradford, and two of Mr. Bradford's other books, ''The Shield and the Sword: the Knights of St. John,'' and ''Siege: Malta 1940-1943.'' For those who like military histories, Peter Elliott's ''The Cross and the Ensign, A Naval History of Malta 1798-1979,'' is less riveting, but informative. J. M.

A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century

This is an unrivalled account of sixteenth-century warfare, in which Sir Charles Oman traces the dramatic, far-reaching changes in the military strategy, tactics and organization of the period.

Showing how warfare developed, he covers the Great Wars of 1949-1559 military events in Tudor England, including Henry VIII’s continental wars the French Wars of Religion, 1562-98 the Dutch revolt and war of independence, 1568-1603 and the Turkish offensive against Christendom, from 1520 until the Peace of Sitva Torok in 1606.

The battles, sieges and campaigns that Oman examines in detail clarify military development across the century, such as Ravenna (1512), the first battle won by dominance in artillery Pavia (1525), a ‘victory by surprise’ Pinkie (1547), where an old-fashioned infantry army proved helpless against the combination of all arms and Arques (1589), exemplifying the defence of a defile by very inferior number.

Contemporary maps illustrate many of the actions, and add to the value of this brilliant and lucid history of the art of war.

Sir Charles Oman was one of Britain’s foremost historians and a gifted writer. His books, noted for being both scholarly and accessible, include the two-volume History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, the seven-volume A History of the Peninsular War and others.

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For a long time, this was the definitive work on European Warfare in the period. It is still a worthy stop on the route of specialist study. Читать весь отзыв

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Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman KBE (12 January 1860 - 23 June 1946) was a British military historian. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering.

Sir Oman was born in Muzaffarpur district, India, the son of a British planter, and was educated at Winchester College and at Oxford University, where he studied under William Stubbs. In 1881 he was elected to a Prize Fellowship at All Souls College, where he remained for the rest of his academic career. He was elected the Chichele Professor of Modern History at Oxford in 1905, in succession to Montagu Burrows. He was also elected to the FBA that year, and served as President of the Royal Historical Society (1917-1921), the Numismatic Society and the Royal Archaeological Institute. Oman's academic career was interrupted by the First World War, during which he was employed by the government's Press Bureau and the Foreign Office.

He was the Conservative Member of Parliament for the University of Oxford constituency from 1919-1935, and was knighted in 1920. He became an honorary fellow of New College in 1936, and received the honorary degrees of DCL (Oxford, 1926) and LL.D (Edinburgh, 1911 and Cambridge, 1927). He was awarded the Medal of the Royal Numismatic Society in 1928.

A prolific author, Sir Oman published in excess of 90 books and articles, including The Art of War in the Middle Ages (1885), A History of England (1895), the two-volume A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages (1898) and the seven-volume History of the Peninsular War, published between 1902 and 1930.

First Siege of Livron, June 1574 - History

Pigeons are the oldest domesticated bird. The predecessors of modern day racing pigeons were pigeons bred for their homing ability, primarily to carry messages. "Racing Pigeon Posts " have been established all over the world and while mainly used in the millitary , some are still in service today. Modern pigeon racing originated in Belgium in the mid 19th century .

The importance of homing pigeons in the centuries before electronic communications, such as the telegraph and telephone, is seldom recognized. However the Reuters News Agency, the world's largest information provider, began as a pigeon service carrying closing stock prices between Belgium and Germany, basically between the Western and Eastern terminus of the telegraph in Europe. Also the use of homing pigeons by Financier Nathan Rothschild to gain advance news of Napoleon's unexpected defeat at Waterloo is thought to have led to a fortune being made in the bond market of the day.

The Dickin Medal was awarded for any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during World War II and its aftermath. Of the 53 Dickin Medals presented, 32 went to pigeons.

The founder of the People s Dispensary for Sick Animals Mrs Maria Dickin, instituted the award, popularly referred to as the ‘Animal VC’, and was made only upon official recommendation and was exclusive to the animal kingdom.

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The Americas

United States

The sport was introduced into the United States about 1875, although regular racing did not begin until 1878.
The sport of pigeon racing is well established in the US, and growing. According to the American Racing Pigeon Union, one of two large accrediting groups, there are 15,000 registered lofts in the U.S. Although the sport is banned in Chicago it was popular throughout the twentieth century in the New York area, particularly Hoboken New Jersey and Coney Island, where it still has devotees. Shady Hills ,Florida is home to a pigeon racing club and hosts an annual racing event.


The sport of pigeon racing has increased in Canada with Pigeon Clubs and Ladies Auxiliary popping up in cities and towns. CRPU - The Canadian Racing Pigeon Union is an organization that is dedicated to the Growth, Preservation and Support of Pigeon Racing in Canada.


The "Brazilian Pigeon Racing Grandprix" is the biggest pigeon race in South America. The Sergipe's Pigeon Racing Association and the government from Aracaju City, organizes this event.

Pigeon racing is becoming increasingly popular in parts of Asia, especially China, Pakistan, Philippines, Japan, Taiwan and Bangladesh. Its popularity in India is now on a rise, and youngsters are particularly involved in this hobby, especially in places like Chennai, Bangalore,Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Tuticorin. In Bangladesh there are three pigeon racing associations which are looking after the sport and are organizing many races. There are thousands of registered pigeon fanciers in Bangladesh and more people are getting involved in this sport.

Clubs in Chennai, India holds the record of long distance races of up to 1300 miles(2100 km) mark in India.

Taiwan has more racing pigeon events than any other country in the world, and can point to between 2 and 3 million birds. Nearly 500,000 people race pigeons on the island, and each year, prize money for races reaches the billions of NT dollars.



The largest Racing Organisation in Australia is the Central Cumberland Federation.

In Australia, velocities are recorded in meters per minute. The state of Queensland also has a number of clubs and organisations. The biggest of these is the Qld Racing Pigeon Federation Inc (QRPF). Located in Brisbane, the QRPF has a long history dating back to the second world war. Each year the QRPF organises pigeon races for its some 80 members. These races start at approximately 145 km in distance and continue on a gradual basis out to distances of over 1000 km. A specialised transporter is used to transport the birds to the release points. This transporter enables the birds to be fed and watered on route before mass release at a predetermined time for their flight back to various home lofts. Many thousands of pigeons compete in races each weekend during the winter months.

An innovative new One Loft Race is the Australian Pigeon Punt Race held in Victoria,Australia.

The sport of pigeon racing has been declining around Sydney with pigeon club members gradually dying off as fewer younger people take up the sport. The high cost of feeds and fuel have also contributed to the decline.


The first regular races in Great Britain was in 1881. The British Royal Family first became involved with pigeon racing in 1886 when King Leopold ll of Belgium gifted them breeding stock. The tradition continues to this day, with a bird of Queen Elizabeth II even winning a race in 1990.The sport is declining in the UK with membership of recognized clubs and federations falling by about five per cent annually.

The National Flying Club is a British pigeon racing club, and open to anyone in England and Wales.

In the United Kingdom Pigeon Racing is regulated by 6 independent organisations.

  • Irish Homing Union (IHU)
  • North of England Homing Union (NEHU)
  • North West Homing Union (NWHU)
  • Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA)
  • Scottish Homing Union (SHU)
  • Welsh Homing Union (WPHU)

In 2007 the British Parliament banned pigeons racing from the mainland of continental Europe to Britain because of the risk of bird flu.A British MP is supporting fanciers to have the ban lifted. Labour's MEP Brian Simpson, from Golborne, believes that it is unfair to allow concerns about avian flu to throttle the fanciers' sport.Mr Simpson said, "But what is clearly apparent now is that pigeon are low-risk in regards to avian flu and the decision to ban continental pigeon racing was wrong."


The Janssen Brothers (Louis, Charel, Arjaan and Sjef) are a famous and very successful pigeon racing family from Arendonk Belgium.

Louis Janssen, born 1912, is the last of the Janssen Brothers still alive.

Descendants of their pigeons can be found racing all around the world.

Another famous and successful pigeon fancier is Karel Meulemans. Karel, born in Retie, also lives in Arendonk As often occurs in smaller communities there is much competition between the families Meulemans and Janssen.


Pigeon racing in Romania is one of Europe's hot spots in the sport. Many pigeon breeders join the (FCPR) National Association every year, triggering more and more competitive challenges. Another aspect is the image that has changed in the last decade in regards of pigeon racing, since nowadays it stands for a fine art within the country, with high prizes and bets. A high collaboration with pigeon fanciers from Belgium, Holland, Germany and so forth is also observed.

In the recent years FCPR which is the national association, is organizing a national race with a release point from Berlin ,in which more than 10000 pigeons from all over the country are send ,pigeons sent on this racewill have to fly a distance of over 1300 km for the fanciers located in the south of the country .


The sport is popular in Turkey. In May 2008 a nine part, 1,150-kilometer pigeon race from the town of Manisa to Erzurum was organized with participants from many pigeon associations across the country.

The sport is very popular in Hungary ,these fanciers even organizing extreme long distance races from Barcelona within the Panon Marathon Club ,their pigeons will have to fly a distance of 1300 km


South Africa

South Africa is the home of the richest One-Loft Race in the world, the Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race. The Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race pits 4,300 birds from 25 countries against each other for a share of $1.3m in prize money. The runners-up win cars and smaller monetary prizes, while the overall winner can expect to pocket US$200,000. Sun City's "one-loft" race, sees birds from across the world air-freighted to South Africa as squabs, months before the race, and trained to orientate to a single loft. Then on race day, after being released 550 km out on the South African veldt, the birds all race back to the same destination.

Watch the video: Η ιστορία ενός θαύματος Οι Έλληνες (June 2022).


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