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Siege of Malta
Detail from the Galleria Delle Carte Geografiche

The island-state of Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy), consists of three inhabited islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino, of which Malta is the largest island. Cominotto and Filfla are uninhabited.

In its history, the Maltese archipelago was strategically important for the domination of the Mediterranean.

Around 700BC, Malta and Gozo were colonized by the Phoenicians and around 550, by the Carthaginians, who remained masters until 218BC.

The Romans took over in 218 BCE at the beginning of the second Punic War, creating Gozo a municipally independent of Malta with a republican sort of Government that minted its own coins The Romans turned the Citadel into their acropolis and a town developed beneath its walls. The acropolis and its town were known simply as Gaulos Oppidum - the town of Gozo. Under the Romans, Christianity reached the shores of the island. In 60 A.D., Saint Paul the Apostle, while journeying to Rome was shipwrecked on Malta.

The increase of commerce between the island led to the foundation of a settlement close to Mgarr Harbor. However, during the summer months, living in the area was dangerous. A constant flow of corsairs entered the harbour to replenish their cisterns with water and to plunder.

On 5th September 1800, Great Britain took the Maltese islands under their protection. Malta and Gozo became a British Crown Colony in 1813. Fort Chambray was put to very good use by the British and this generated trade and jobs for many Ghajnsilmizi.


Pirates used to hide at Comino, biding their time to raid Gozo or escape from their protagonists. The Knights of Malta were more interested in Comino as a hunting ground. The Island was home to wild boar and hares when the Knights arrived in 1530. The Grand Masters went to great lengths to ensure their game on Comino was protected: anyone found breaking the embargo on hunting could expect to serve three years as a galley slave.

With the British arrival in 1799 to help assist the cause of the Maltese revolution against French Napoleonic rule on the islands, the British forces used the Comino Tower as a prisoner of war camp. Comino was made out of bounds for all civilians, and sailors were ordered to give the island a wide berth, or face the consequence of a death by a firing squad and confiscation of the shipping vessel. The presence of the British navy held off incursions by the Ottomans and other invaders.

The Santa Marija Chapel of Cominio, first recorded in a mid-thirteenth century navigational map, is situated in a bay that bears its name. The chapel was built in 1618, at the same time of the building of the tower, and enlarged in 1667 and again in 1716. Both the Chapel and the bay continued to be called by its former dedication: ta' Santa Marija. The chapel may have fallen victim many a time to the pillaging and ransacking exploits of Muslim raiders from the Barbary Coast, which might explain the buttress at the back of the chapel.

The Santa Marija Battery has seven gun emplacements. Built in 1715, it faces the Wied Musa Battery at Marfa on Malta. The battery was armed with six cannons, two of which were twenty-four pounders, with the other four being six pounders. However, when the Knights came to man these batteries, insufficient troops were available to protect the battery.


Colonies and India, April 14, 1877


"The Queen's morning drum beats round the world;" but nowhere does it beat more vigorously and emphatically than in Malta, the largest and most important naval station of Great Britain abroad. Possessing fortifications second only to those of Gibraltar, and sheltered harbours in which the largest ironclads can ride safely at anchor, with a position in the centre of the Mediterranean, midway in the track of ships coming from the Atlantic Ocean to the Suez Canal, Malta has become one of the busiest and most valuable positions belonging to the British Empire. Owing to the fact that the greater proportion of the vast fleet of steamers that are now engaged in the traffic between this country, India, China, and the Australian Colonies touch at Malta to coal, almost everybody who has travelled at all is familiar with that island; and the "streets of stairs" that so troubled Lord Byron, the Strada Reale, the church of St. John of Jerusalem, and the "dried monks" in the convent of the Capuchins, are as household words to those passing to and from the East, and their name is legion.

But few, however, of the many thousands who pass and repass by way of Malta extend their rambles beyond the Palace of San Antonio; or at furthest, beyond the old capital of Civita Vecchia in the centre of the island, as the few hours occupied in coaling are too limited to permit of a more extended survey.

The Maltese Islands are, however, three in number Malta, the well known; Comino, known only to those who indulge in rabbit shooting; and Gozo, the neglected. Not far inferior in size to Malta, and of greater fertility, the island of Gozo is well worthy of a visit, if only for the purpose of seeing the Phoenician ruins that occur in several places.

During a sojourn of some weeks in Malta, I determined to have a peep at "Gozo the neglected;" having exhausted all the "lions" of the sister isle from the Grotto of Calypso to Ilajar Kim. In company with a friend I engaged a boat with four men for the trip, and about eight o'clock on a fine evening towards the close of September we started from Valetta harbour and steered away towards the island of Gozo. After a good run before a favouring breeze for some hours, the wind at last died away, and our boatmen had recourse to their oars.

About two o'clock next morning we reached the little bay of Migarro, in Gozo, where we landed, and proceeded to a fisherman's cottage near at hand at which we obtained some coffee; then, having refreshed ourselves, we started, though it was still dark, for a walk to the old city of Rabbato, some three miles distant. Our road was an almost continuous ascent; and as the day dawned and we looked behind us from the high ground, we enjoyed an enchanting prospect. The dark and rugged shores of Gozo lay beneath us, with the island of Comino to the right; whilst, farther on, to the eastward, Malta bounded our view; the intervening Straits of Fregi winding between the two islands like a broad purple river. Presently, the first golden streaks of morning lighted up the tops of the Maltese hills, and gleamed over rocks and seas till they gilded the spot whereon we stood. Soon after sunrise we reached Rabbato, and from the old castle and fortifications of this decaying and dilapidated old city we obtained quite a panorama of the island.

Like Malta, all the accessible spots on Gozo appear to be securely fortified; whilst the whole of its southern and western coasts are guarded by inaccessible cliffs. The face of the country looked more fertile than that of Malta, although one sees everywhere the white limestone walls that divide the miniature fields and gardens, and glare so painfully in the unclouded sun. At the period of my visit there had been a long drought in the Maltese Islands, and scarcely any rain had fallen for two years; so that the people had to depend on irrigation for the preservation of their trees and orange-orchards. More rain, however, falls in Gozo than in Malta, and in good seasons it produces wheat, barley, cotton, fruits, and vegetables. We got a tolerable breakfast at a small alberyo kept by one Signor Lippo, and then proceeded to look round the town. The houses are many of them very ancient, and are all built of the white stone of the island, which is oven softer than that of Malta. The inhabitants seemed to be a fine race of people, more robust than the Maltese. We found them both courteous and polite, and the "nix mangiere" beggars, that are such a nuisance in Valetta, did not pester us during our walk through the town. Many of the ancient customs of the Maltese are still preserved in Gozo, especially those connected with the burial of the dead; where hired mourners go through a series of lamentations, smite their breasts, and howl and tear their hair.

After breakfast we inquired for a calense to convey us to the Hagra tal Girnal, or "Generals' Rock," but had considerable difficulty in procuring one. At last a vehicle made its appearance, which certainly surpassed anything of the kind I had previously seen. It looked as though it had been dug up out of the earth, and might have belonged to the Phoenicians for aught we know. It was all over of a rusty brown colour, patched up here and there with bits of old leather; there were no spring; the door was tied together with a piece of string, and we feared at every jolt that the bottom would fall out. However, it was the only carriage obtainable; and in this antique and fearful conveyance, drawn by a most magnificent mule more than 14 hands high, we underwent a thorough shaking over a terribly rocky and uneven road, until we arrived at the brow of a hill that overhangs the small bay of Duejra, at the western extremity of the island. Here we left our calesse, and proceeded on foot down a steep path, over limestone rocks, abounding in fossil sea-urchins, halting at the extremity of a point, between which and the "Generals' Rock" flowed an arm of the sea that looked intensely blue under the cloudless sun. Several women and boys had followed us, offering various curiosities for sale amongst these were a number of fossil sharks' teeth, which they faithfully assured us were the tongues and teeth of the serpents which St. Paul cast out after he was shipwrecked. However, the good saint did not completely get rid of the snakes, for I saw several rather pretty ones during my rambles both in Gozo and Malta. The "Generals' Rock" is an isolated mass of limestone, about half a mile or so in circumference, surrounded by perpendicular cliffs, and separated from the main island by a chasm 150 feet wide. It is remarkable as having growing on its summit the famous Funyus Meliteitsis, as well as the fruit called Cynomorium coccinmm, which it is said is not known in any other part of the country. To reach the rock it is necessary to cross the chasm seated in a small box, which is suspended in mid-air between two ropes, and drawn along by a cord and pulleys. the other side, and on the return of the box I got in, and holding firmly by the rope was not long in reaching tho rock. The journey over this arm of the sea was anything but agreeable, as it consisted of a series of jerks, and the landing on the other side was very steep and dangerous. I found the top of the rock covered with a low growth, of bushes, wild stocks, and golden rod. After I had succeeded in finding a fungus, I returned safely in the box and rejoined my friend, who informed me that he had just been told that some time previously the ropes of this novel aerial conveyance gave way, and precipitated a passenger into the abyss below.

Returning to Rabbato, we dined hastily upon macaroni, with a dessert of excellent peaches, and then set off in an opposite direction to visit the Torre tal Gigant, or Giants' Tower, which is one of the most important of the Phoenician remains in Gozo. It consists of a circular inclosure surrounded by enormous masses of rock piled one upon another. The entrance faces the east, and many of the huge slab of stone forming the walls exhibit the marks of rude chiselling. In the upright pillars which flank the entrance, and look like doorposts, are several holes, probably intended for the introduction of bolts. This rum is supposed to have been a " puratheion," one of those open edifices in which the rites of fire were formerly celebrated; that element being the one under which "the Phoenicians, who are supposed to have been the first settlers in the Maltese Islands, worshipped the sun. After a survey of this ancient temple we returned to the Bay of Migarro, where we had left our boat, and, reembarking, bade farewell to Gozo.

Mgarr Harbour, Gozo, Malta

Mgarr Harbour, Gozo, Malta.

The majority of the villagers were engaged in sailing and farming. Sailors on the Gozo boat would be leaving the port as early as three o' clock in the morning arriving at the Grand Harbour in the evening. The return journey used to start the following morning and the arrival to Mgarr at sunset the same day.

The farmers on the other hand would already be at work early in the morning doing the hard work before the scorching sun at its highest. At about nine o' clock the housewives went to the bakery where the bread had to be molded - it was done by the housewives themselves. After mid-day meal, the woman folk used to turn their attention to lace-making. Nearly every member of the female population learned when still young the intricate art of lace-making.


Editor's Note: Edgar L. Wakeman, author of the following, is the son of controversial and well-noted Captain Edgar L. Wakeman and Mary Lincoln. The younger Wakeman was born in San Francisco in 1863 and became a noted travel writer in the late 1800s.

Sunday, March 6, 1891, The Syracuse Standard

Malta and the Maltese -- From Palma on a Maltese Brigantine--
A Typical Tunisian Merchant and His Views

Copyright, 1898, by Edgar L. Wakeman

Latin races dwelling to the north of the Mediterranean and all those of original extraction to the south and east, look upon the English occupation of the island of Malta and the two contiguous lesser islands of Comino and Goza in much the same spirit as they regard the occupation of Gibraltar by the English.

That is in an evil and vengeful spirit. The fact could have had to clearer illustration than in the sentiments expressed by the captain of the coaster upon which I made my way from Majorca to Malta, and by the only other passenger besides myself upon the odd little brigantine upon which we sailed.

My companion passenger came aboard at Tunis where we touched to land Majorcan wine, making up our part cargo of wine for Malta with Tunisian hides and wheat in curious little brown sacks which were tied in the middle and stowed away in the hold crisscross, as you would lay dump-bells each upon the other.

Our crew comprised six half naked and barefooted Maltese sailors with cotton trousers, crimson scarfs certainly 30 feet long wound about their waists, ugly sheath-knives in those, and no other clothing whatever save tiny tasseled caps resting jauntily upon the crisp and curly hair of their hard little heads. They were little wiry fellows, the best sailors in the world, it is said, with snapping, beady eyes, sharp, short noses, thick lips, splendid teeth, and altogether as merry and sunny-natured a lot as you could find sailing upon any sea.

The captain was of Spanish extraction and Maltese birth. He had been a fisherman of Valetta; had saved his money; had got an education at the free English schools of Malta; and from the position of port pilot had come to own the craft which he commanded. In his little cabin were many good books, both in Spanish and English, and his surroundings in his tiny sea home were as pleasant, and certainly more evident of education, refinement and good taste than you will often find in cabins of the most pretentious American sailing vessels.

His wife, Teresa, and nine children, the latter grading in size from an infant in arms to a lad of 11 as regularly as a set of ten pins and nearly as naked, cooked for and waited upon us, lending a hand at light seamen's' duties whenever required with wonderful agility, adding pleasantly to the picturesque of the every-day life of the tiny vessel, and providing those blessed of all sounds at the, she voice of women and the prattle of children, ceaseless, tuneful and winsome as every make melodic the sunniest home of city, hamlet or vale.

Not the least picturesque object on board of brigantine was our other passenger, who with the dried hides, which so resembled in visage, had been taken on at Tunis. He was a Tunisian merchant trading between Tunis and Malta. We all treated him with much consideration because his flowing robes and white burnoose, which took up a good deal of room, gave this otherwise measly looking man a most important appearance, and, unconsciously, I presume, because he owned the hides and wheat. Then too, he was very bland and agreeable, a peculiarity of all Moslems when they are found one mile from home.

You will notice this characteristic if you travel much about the Mediterranean. In their own homes, streets and shops there are no more imperiously grave, imperturbable and sodden humans than Turk, Arab and Moor. But let them once turn their faces towards Christian ports and profit, and their manner and bearing at once change. They seem to have suddenly become ready-greased with graciousness for all trade and social exigencies. Their striking habiliments no longer comport with their reputed dignity of character. The bags on their heads and their ample robes and sandals suggest the harlequin. Neither Yankees nor Jews are a match for them in the subtle shuffling and diplomacies of trade. In fact, they are the "Oily Gammons" of the Mediterranean.

In the long, languorous days and glowing evenings of our lazy sailing they were both, The Maltese captain and the Tunisian merchant, more to me than weeks of desultory meetings of their kinds in their own lands. They were both intelligent, companionable and both spoke English fluently. Their true feelings and opinions came gradually and surely out of the confidential companionship of sea voyages universally impel. They represented, in heredity, education and feelings the implacable and endless religious and race war between the people of the Crescent and the Cross. The forefathers of each had doubtless been slain defending the banners of one or the other. They typified Christian Europe pitted against Infidel Africa and Asia.

But all the race and religious hatred was blended in a common hatred of the English masters of Malta.

To reach the sentimental reason of this I constantly espoused the English cause. To the Maltese captain I pointed out his own successful career, and reminded him delicately that he would have remained an ignorant and impoverished fisherman but for this very English rule which he resented.

"Si, si, senor," he would sadly reply; "but I would not have had the devil of greed set to work in my heart. I am no more hungry for a great ship than I was at first for a little felucca."

Malta Historical Reprints Available.
Feluccas on the Beach at Oneglia, Italy
Edward William Cooke

"But has not the condition of your 150,000 fellow countrymen of the Islands been vastly improved?"

"My fellow countrymen grieve over the passing away of the old things they loved. A little higher wall to one's patch of ground, another room or two added to one's home, a little more finery in one's ears or on one's back, or a little more coin clinking between the finger, do not make peasant folk better or happier. They cannot become like their masters. They learn only to envy them and to be ashamed of themselves and each other. I would give my brigantine and all but Teresa and the ninos (children)," the captain would conclude with an indescribably pathetic and loving gesture of protective fondness, which included all the romping curly heads on shipboard; "to live in a hut by the shore and see the red-coats no more forever!"

The grief of my Tunisian fellow passenger was of a different sort, though it was none the less real and poignant; but it was mitigated also by the fanatical belief that some time the Musseulman faith and folk will prevail and rule all lands.

"Christian feeling and despoliation," he would feelingly say," have been the real motive of every so-called holy crusade and expedition against us whom you call Infidels, but who along worship the one true God. The English have profited greatest by conquest under cover of pious pretence."

I called his attention to the fact that, with the exception of England's quasi occupation of Egypt to secure payment for moneys advanced by English capitalists in connection with the Suez Canal scheme, and the recent establishment of a trading post at Cape Juby, on the west Morocco coast, Great Britain did not claim to possess, or hold, a foot of soil to which any Musselmans race had the slightest possible hereditary right.

"Ah, but Gibraltar!--Malta!"

This would be uttered in passionate exclamation and with his face as hateful as a fiends.

"They were once ours with Andaluz, and gave us the empire of all Africa and supremacy upon the Mediterranean."

"Surely, but only through invasion and butchery," I replied, harrying him a little. "Simply for pillage the Berber invader, Tarik, took Gibraltar and overran southern Spain in 711; with the same purpose your Berber ancestors in 798 took possession of and held the Balonrie Islands for 450 years; and about a thousand years ago you seized and held Malta until the Normans dispossessed you. Moslem rights were not deprived by your expulsion from lands where you did not belong."

"But our imperial Barbary is cut into pieces. We are no more a mighty people. Our temples and our treasures are gone!" he passionately retorted.

"So are your pirates and slaves," I persisted unfeelingly. "Those are the sort of things civilization will never again tolerate. It will never disturb an earnest an zealous religion; but it will surely eventually extirpate any religion or race that deprives the lowliest of its followers and people, men or women, of equal justice!"

North Africa. Malta, Gibraltar. 1879

North Africa. Malta. Gibraltar. 1879.

He would not dwell upon this implied contrast between Christianity and Mohammedanism, but continually bewailed the English possession of Gibraltar and Malta as a menace to all Oriental supremacy, and the direct cause, or permissible cause, of the dismemberment and appropriation of Northern Africa by Spain, Italy and France. He admitted that its development especially in Tunis, Tripoli and Algeria had been marvelous within the last quarter of a century; that Gibraltar and Malta in the hands of the English guaranteed permanent and peaceful trade with all Mediterranean countries by the fleets of the whole world; and even confessed that without this very English supremacy in the Mediterranean his own safety with his hides and wheat, in transit from Tunis to any neighboring port would be extremely problematic if not altogether improbable.

In such unusual converse with these strange folk, the voyage to Malta was passed. I was often able to lead the momentary topic from Moors to Maltese, and thus secured much valuable information concerning the real as well as the sentimental condition of the latter. Two very interesting facts developed through the apparent extraordinary hatred of English rulers by the captain and Tunisian and their seeming equal mutual affection for the common people of Malta, the folk who were its peasantry even before its days of chivalry under the olden Knights of Malta who deeds and fame were the most luminous to all medieval history.

The first was the passionate love all Maltese have for their sterile, sun-baked, sirocco-swept little hump of rock to which they cling and nurture so lovingly that it returns them, conditions being considered, the most bounteous and luxuriant rewards of any equal area on the face of the earth. "Flower of the earth" they call this treeless spot. "My country adored" they ever name the vessel or village where they are born. And as "the purgatory" or penance-spot they know any other land beneath the sun to which necessity has led them.

I have noticed the same almost pathetically desperate affection for one's birth spot to be true in other rugged and sterile abodes of men. Nothing could induce the half-frozen people of Labrador to quite those regions of silence and desolation. The Highland crofter of Scotland is a spiritless, heartbroken man when forced from his wild straths and glens. Who that has stepped foot on the Arran Islands off Galway ever saw other such pictures of hopeless poverty and suffering? Yet for generations their people have clung to the rocks like the dolorous puffins which nest in their sides amid the Atlantic's howlings and no power has been sufficient to tear them away from their starvation and wretchedness.

It was a curious thing, too, the learn from the Tunisian that the peasantry of Malta were more Berber and Arab races than of Greek, Italian and Spanish. By all affinities, save the one of religion, he claimed them as brethren to a man. In their customs, superstitions and many of their homeside ways, as well as in nearly all methods, or rather want of method, in agriculture they are, he claimed, precisely like the Berber tribe farmers in the valley behind Tunis and Algiers. But more striking than all Elysian proof that the Maltese were his kindred, was his claim which I have since found to be true, that while nearly all spoke a sort of English, Italian or Spanish patois, every one could at any moment cross into Northern Africa and converse with the natives in a measurably pure Arabic tongue.

Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta.

"We are at Malta, senor. Would you look upon sleeping Valetta from the sea in the early morning?"

Such was the cheery call of our captain as we approached the most famous island of the Mediterranean. When I reached the deck our craft lay a league distance from port, almost imperceptibly moving towards the white island and whiter city over a rippleless sea with sails scarcely filled by the faintest of breezes which whispered of the morning; for the sun seemed to stand a tremendous globe of crimson on the sea horizon, away over there between Greece and Crete.

My eyes never before beheld so transcendent and radiant a scene. The whole bosom of the sea seemed enveloped in a downy mantle of pearl, gold and crimson, which, lying low upon the water, showed countless matchless changes of color, and possessed the added marvelous effect of lifting all discernible objects to an unwanted altitude.

Our brigantine, with our craft here and there about us, appeared to ride upon an opalescent, intangible yet palpable surface of solidly flaring cloud. Though Sicily lay 60 miles to the north, its shoreline, lifted vertically, and not in mirage, showed strangely near, with the huge cone of Etna like a spear-head of silver above.

Knights of the Order of Malta
Titian (Tiziano Vecelli)

Knights of the Order of Malta. Titian.

The Knights of Malta were formed long before their reign on Malta. The Order was originally established in 1085 as a community of monks responsible for looking after the sick at the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem. They later became a military order, defending crusader territory in the Holy Lands and safeguarding the perilous routes taken by medieval pilgrims.

The Knights arrived in Malta in 1530, having been ejected from their earlier home on Rhodes by the Turks in 1522. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, gave them the choice of Malta or Tripoli as a new base. Neither was to their liking, but nothing, they thought, could be worse than Tripoli. Having chosen Malta, the Knights stayed for 268 years, transforming what they called 'merely a rock of soft sandstone' into a flourishing island with mighty defences and a capital city coveted by the great powers of Europe. Knights were chosen from the aristocratic families of France, Italy, Spain, England and Portugal. On acceptance into the Order they were sworn to celibacy, poverty and obedience.

But where are the words with which to paint for another's seeing the island and its ancient city of the Knights as they rose out of the pulsing, throbbing, tins of that glorious morning witchery." If one could dream that the gods had transformed the sea into a bed of cameo rose, and through cycles of time, with their most cunning artificers wrought it into miracles of filigree, and then chiseled upon it a white relief of the island's area, whose wondrous design had culminated in outlines and detail of massive grandeur and matchless simplicity where the city of fortresses and palaces stood, a vague hint of this morning scene could come with the dreaming and seemings.

And on this morning, as we slowly glided into the eastern of the two ports, and the ideal gradually resolved into the real, the mind, following the imagery of the cameo, its setting, and those who wrought loved to linger oft the thought that those who had built had left their miracle of labor silent and still, as a ghostly and stately housing for all who came. Utter silence brooded over the vast bleached battlements. Escarpments, terraces, bastions, entablatures and huge flat roofs were lifeless and still. The shipping was flagless, apparently crewless, and still as though graven from onyx into the picture. Not an oar stirred the mirroring harbor.

Jackdaw of Rheims. Arthur Rackham.

Jackdaw of Rheims, Arthur Rackham.

Not more still or pregnant with mystery in the Libyan Sphinx than was every strange object upon which the eye might rest. Not a thing having life stirred or was visible, save when our craft swung around and tugged gently at her anchor, the rays of the sun, shooting over ramparts, struck like golden spears upon St. Elmo. They routed a myriad drowsy jackdaws, which rose in flocks and hoarsely screamed. This was our only welcome to Malta and impregnable Valetta.

Edgar L. Wakeman

Suleiman the Magnificent

In 1521, Suleiman the Magnificent, Muslim ruler of the Ottoman Empire, dispatched an invasion fleet to the Christian island of Rhodes. This would prove to be the opening shot in an epic clash between rival empires and faiths for control of the Mediterranean and the center of the world.

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Mosque and Tomb of Suleiman, C.1850
William Henry Bartlett.

In Empires of the Sea, historian Roger Crowley has written an account of the brutal decades-long battle between Christendom and Islam for the soul of Europe, a tale of spiraling intensity that ranges from Istanbul to the Gates of Gibraltar.

Crowley conjures up a cast of pirates, crusaders, and religious warriors struggling for supremacy and survival in a tale of slavery and galley warfare, bravery and brutality.

Empires of the Sea provides a context for our own clash of civilizations.

Roger Crowley is a UK-based writer and historian and a graduate of Cambridge University. As the child of a naval family, his fascination with the Mediterranean world started early, on the island of Malta. He has lived in Istanbul, walked across much of western Turkey, and traveled widely throughout the region. His particular interests are the Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman empires, seafaring, and eyewitness history.

He is the author of three books on the empires of the Mediterranean and its surroundings: 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the WestMalta., Empires of the Sea (2008) and City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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