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GenghisTheHun (171)
Today is September 7. On this date in history, in 1565, the Knights of St. John and relieving forces raised the Siege of Malta that was being invested by the invading Ottoman Turks, bearing, of course, as our beloved President would say, the "Religion of Peace," Mohamedanism.

The Turks had driven the Knights from their stronhold at Rhodes in 1522, and the Emperor Charles V, gave Malta to the Knights as a replacement.

The Turks landed on Malta in May, 1565, with about 50,000 men. The defenders had received word that the Turks were on the way and were able to prepare the defenses.

The Knights of St. John were able to muster about 3500 defenders of all kinds under the command of the Grand Master, Jean Parisot de la Valette. So began one of the greater seiges of history and one of the more gallant stands that we might ever witness.

The key to the situation was Fort St. Elmo held by the knights and other defenders. St. Elmo was the smallest fort and first attacked by the Turks.

The fort held out for a month continusously reinforced at night. The Turks bombarded it until finally they reduced it to rubble and stormed the place. The knights knew it was the end and were determined to fight to the last. Two of them were so weak from wounds that they were placed in chairs with sword in hand to meet the assailants. 1500 defenders fell in the battle but the Turks lost over 8000. St. Elmo fell on June 23, 1565, but the knights gained valuable time as they awaited relief.

The Turks turned to another of the forts, but the defense was just a stubborn. Some near misses occurred, but the garrison held out.

Relief finally arrived from Sicily and the seige broke on this date. The Turks left Malta on Sepember 11.

The defenders lost about 2500 soldiers and the Turks lost about 30,000. This was the highwater mark for Turkish expansion in the Mediterranean. After this, it was down hill for the Sultan.

I annually read an account of the stand of the knights at Fort St. Elmo to remind myself what courage, determination and sacrifice are all about.

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