Mediaeval Malta

For more than two centuries, the Maltese Islands were under Arab rule (870-1090). In 1090, Count Roger the Norman, with a small force, landed in Malta. The Arabs did not offer any resistance and after negotiations with Count Roger it was agreed that they were to continue to govern the islands, but they had to pay an annual tribute to Roger the Norman. The Maltese Islands were formally incorporated with the Sicilian Crown about the year 1123 when Sicily was governed by Roger II (1105-1154), the Son of Roger the Norman.

After the death of King William II of Sicily (1154-1164) his aunt Constance who was married to the Emperor Henry VI of Germany inherited the Sicilian Crown. Constance's title to the throne was contested by Tancred of Lecce who was elected King of Sicily by the Sicilian Parliament. Eventually, however, Sicily and Malta fell under the German rule. Henry's descendents ruled Malta and Sicily till 1266 when they were defeated by the French Prince, Charles of Anjou, at the Battle of Benevento (1266) and Tagliacozzo (1268).

Angevin rule did not last long. In March 1282 the Sicilians rose against the French and by September the French had left the Island - King Peter of Aragon now became King of Sicily, and by December 1282 the great majority of the Maltese had adhered to the new ruler of Sicily. In April 1283, at the request of the Maltese, the new sovereign of Sicily incorporated Malta with the Sicilian crown.

During the fourteenth century, the Maltese Islands were given to a series of Feudal Lords. However the islands were again incorporated with the Sicilian Crown in 1350 and in 1397.

In January 1421, King Alfonso V pawned the Maltese Islands to Antonio Cardona for 30,000 gold florins. Cardona, in March 1421, transferred his rights over the Maltese Islands to Gonsalvo Monroy. The Maltese revolted against Monroy, and offered to pay him the sum of 30,000 gold florins he had paid to acquire the Maltese Islands. The request was accepted and by a Royal Charter dated 20th June 1482 King Alfonso V confirmed the right of the Maltese.

In the following century there were no Feudal Lords in the Maltese Islands and there was very little interference from Sicily. The Maltese Islands had a local government, the Universita', made up of the government officials who carried on the day to day administration, and the Consiglio Popolare, or local Council, which although it could deliberate local affairs had no legislative power.

Key Dates - Arabs

395  Byzantine domination of Malta
870  Arabs occupy Malta


Key Dates - Middle Ages


870     Invasion by the Arabs

1048  The Byzantines try to regain Malta

1091  The Norman invasion

1194  German Princes rule Malta
1266 - 1283  The Angevins (French)

1283    Beginning of Aragonese rule in Malta

c 1350 Establishment of Maltese Nobility

c 1400 Establishment of the Universita' (Local Government)
1417   Earliest Militia List of Malta

1429   Pirate attacks on Malta

1485   Death of Pietro Caxaro - author of a ballad, the earliest evidence of written Maltese

1530  Arrival of the Knights