The Great Siege of Malta

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

Hi all,

I read a fair bit (both physical books and audiobooks), as well as being a great amusement and diversion on the long drives which constitute a major part of my day job. Books offer me food for though and can help to develop or inspire the ideas which I often develop in my philosophy. Due to this informing and inspiring role, I believe it may be interesting and useful to examine the books I read in this blog to examine what I take from each one.


This review is on the Great Siege of Malta by Ernle Bradford. I have chosen it for the first review partly because I finished it today but also as it is typical of many of the books, I read in that while it is non-philosophical in nature it still can contribute to the contemplation of important points by providing illuminating comparisons with the world of experience. Firstly, let me say the book while being listed as a history book reads more as an adventure novel than the more academic-focused histories I have often perused.

The book is focused on the Great Siege of Malta (18 May 1565 – 11 Sept 1565) in which the Knights of St. John and the Maltese fought off a concerted invasion by the Ottoman Turks. This siege is remembered as one of the pivotal moments in history and it is worth contemplating that if the choices and chance had gone the other way the history of the western world may have been markedly different.

What I took away from this work apart from the undoubtable enjoyment of the tale of chivalric ardour was primarily one of the value of "The Community" in a crisis. In this monumental siege it was shown again and again how the knights of St. John were able to resist the far greater forces of the “Great Turk” through their commitment to each other cemented by their vows to their order. In addition, the Maltese who had little reason to love the Knights became some of their most loyal supporters as they were treated with care and respect (for the times) by the knights.

The focus on the welfare of the Maltese by the Knights led to the two disparate groups becoming a true community and consequently to their very survival. This care and it laudatory effects were contrasted in this book by the references to the Siege of Rhodes scattered throughout. The knights were recorded in the Siege of Malta to have helped to reinforce the homes of the Maltese so that they would be protected from artillery fire, to have provided food to the civilians and to have treated their wounds. All actions which it is implied did not take place on Rhodes. As a consequence, the chroniclers report that the Maltese being or feeling as being in community with the knights remained loyal and worked with them while in Rhodes there were mentions of trouble with the locals and serious discontent with the townsmen throughout the siege. The importance and positive contribution of the community illustrated in this momentous siege is analogous to the focus placed on the community in the Code.

The Community is the second element of the achievement of the Individual Purpose in the Code. A community exists to provide for the mutual support of the welfare of the families which it consists of. A community when it exists in reality and not just name is a group of people who recognise each other as having a reciprocal relationship and duties to each other. For a community to function in practice each individual must consent to act in such a way as to enhance the survival or welfare of the other citizens of the community and their families and refrain from acting in any way which harms the survival or welfare of the other citizens.

It is only when each of us can trust that the others in our community can be trusted to act or refrain from acting to support our collective welfare can we be said to truly be part of a community. If this sounds like a long way from the ‘community’ you are part of and if you want to help to change that, consider joining the community on this site and work with me to make our communities better.


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