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Digital Subscriptions > BBC History Revealed > July 2019 > The Great Siege of Malta

The Great Siege of Malta

The Ottoman Empire invaded Malta with aspirations of control over the Mediterranean, but the Knights Hospitaller were in the way Julian Humphrys delves into the last epic battle of the Crusaders: the Great Siege of Malta
News of the violent four-month battle spread across Europe, with the great Voltaire saying: “Nothing is better known than the Siege of Malta”


The four-month Siege of Malta was one of the bitterest conflicts of the 16th century. In 1565, forces from Suleiman the Magnificent’s expanding Ottoman Empire launched an invasion to capture the island from the Knights Hospitaller, an order of military monks originally formed for service in the Holy Land. The Hospitallers and the local population successfully held out until a relief force arrived, halting the Ottoman advance into the Western Mediterranean.



Malta, central Mediterranean


May-September 1565


Ottoman attempt to capture the island


Hospitallers/Maltese c6,000

Ottomans c40,000

RESULT: Ottoman defeat

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