Past Events: Lecture 21 March 2017

By Charles Gatt Monday, 27 March 2017

Maltese Trades and Professions of Yesteryear"


Joseph Borg


 The second MHA lecture for 2017 was given by our president, Joseph Borg, on 21st March.  The range of occupations, tools, techniques and terminology used by the men and women of yesteryear was fascinating. 



The Audience at the MHA

21 March 2017





Windmills, wheat, cotton, wool, and silk, lacework, fishing, making rope and nets, baskets, candles and wheels, loading and unloading ships, building roads and waterproofing roofs, door to door knife sharpening and tinsmithing, and deliveries of groceries, fish, bread, milk and pitrolju (kerosene) were a few of the topics covered.





Women waterproofing a roof in Malta












You can view the entire PowerPoint and listen to the lecture recording here:






Past Events: Lecture 21 February 2017

Last Updated on Monday, 13 March 2017 Friday, 10 March 2017

The Demise of the French and the Arrival of the British


Joseph Borg




IMG 8984The president of the MHA, Joseph Borg, gave our first talk for 2017 at 7:30 pm on 21st February at the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville.  His topic was The Demise of the French and the Arrival of the British (1798 – 1815).


Touched on by Robert Blythe in his October 2016 lecture on Sir Alexander Ball, this was a particularly turbulent period in Maltese History.  In 1798, the Knights under Grandmaster Hompesch surrendered to Napoleon, who left a strong garrison of 3000 men on Malta. Napoleon went on to conquer Egypt but his fleet, including his flagship, L’Orient, carrying looted Maltese treasure, was destroyed by the British under Nelson and Ball in the Battle of the Nile at Aboukir Bay. 


Meanwhile the Maltese soon rebelled against the French and, declaring allegiance to the King of the Two Sicilies, eventually forced them to retreat to Valletta. The French were blockaded there, with the help of the Portuguese and the British.  A plot to open the gates of Valletta from the inside was thwarted and over 40 insurgents, including Dun Michael Xerri, were executed in the palace square.  The Portuguese and the British left, the latter being preoccupied with other sea battles in the Mediterranean, and it was left to the Maltese to maintain the blockade. 


IMG 8989Starvation set in on the island, both for the Maltese and the besieged French. French relief forces were mostly unsuccessful but Alexander Ball organised food and troops from Sicily to support the Maltese.  Eventually the starving French were forced to surrender but key players, including Ball, representing the King of Sicily, and the Maltese were excluded from the negotiations.  However, Ball did secure a share of the prize money for the Maltese who had served on the blockade. 


Russia also had designs on Malta and had formed an alliance with Napoleon.  Now the Tsar tried to lay a claim under a pre-existing Convention with the British and the Two Sicilies.  He was unsuccessful. A stalemate between the British and French led to the Preliminary Treaty of Peace, which included returning Malta to the Knights. 


IMG 8986The Maltese objected strongly, prepared to submit only to the British or demand independence, even if it meant death!  Smaller groups of Maltese favoured the Knights, some even the French.  The tenth article of the Treaty of Amiens included a compromise offer.  Both the French and British would withdraw from Malta and it would become neutral, guaranteed by the signatories of the treaty.  The Knights would be restored but without the British or French langues and with the creation of a Maltese langue.  The Maltese felt betrayed and they drew up a “Declaration of Rights of the Inhabitants of the Islands of Malta and Gozo”


Meanwhile Britain, realising Malta’s strategic importance, secretly halted her withdrawal, facilitated by the breakdown of the Treaty of Amiens by the French, objections from Russia, and the delay in appointing a Grandmaster of the Order.  The Maltese demonstrated their objections to the Knights so strongly that a visiting representative of the Order left in disgust.  A number of different proposals, including independence, were put forward but Britain had made up her mind to possess Malta and ensure British naval supremacy in the Mediterranean. 


The defeat of the French by Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, the Treaty of Paris, and the Congress of Vienna ensured that Malta would become an important part of the British Empire, and commit her to the roles she would play in world history over the next 150 years.




Vale Fra Richard Divall AO OBE

By Charles Gatt Sunday, 22 January 2017

The MHA is saddened to report that Fra Richard Divall AO OBE passed away on Sunday 15 January 2017

Richard was Conductor, musicologist and for thirty years Music Director of the Victorian State Opera, and Principal Resident Conductor of the Australian Opera.  Amongst many other honours, he was  a Knight of The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.

Richard was one of the founders of the MHA and a long time supporter of our group.  He gave many interesting talks about Maltese Music and was involved in transcribing the music of early Maltese composers, especially from the period of the Knights, including the complete sacred music and operas by Nicolas Isouard (1773–1818) and was working on the sacred music and operas of Girolamo Abos (1715–1760).

He will be greatly missed.

May he rest in Peace.

His Requiem Mass will be held on Wednesday 25 January 2017 at 10:30am at St Patrick’s Cathedral.



Season's Greetings

The crib at St Mary Star of the Sea in West Melbourne


The MHA wishes all its members and friends a Happy and Holy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year for 2017.  May it be your best year ever!

We are looking forward to our first talk at 7:30 pm on 21 February, as usual on the third Tuesday of the month, at the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville.





By Charles Gatt Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Maltese Historical Association held its Annual General Meeting on 15 November 2016 at the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville, with 15 members present. The minutes of the previous year’s AGM were read and Robert Blythe was thanked for the MHA facebook page, which has received 12,000 likes!






October 2016 Lecture

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 November 2016 By Charles Gatt


 Sir Alexander Ball and the Part of Malta that Almost Was


Robert Blythe


On Tuesday 18th October 2016, Robert Blythe gave a lecture to the MHA about Sir Alexander Ball.  Ball was a British Navy Admiral who played a key role against the French in Malta and also at the Battle of the Nile. Popular with the Maltese, he helped bring Malta under British rule. He also tried to annex the Island of Lampadusa to British Malta, which could have altered the course of Maltese history. 




September 2016 Lecture

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 October 2016 By Administrator Wednesday, 12 October 2016


The Building of Valletta 1566


Joseph Borg

It is the 450th anniversary of the foundation of Valletta.   In 1565 Malta was in ruins after the Great Siege but the Order of Malta, under Grandmaster Jean Parisot de la Valette, was being praised in the courts of Europe for their outstanding defence of the Island of Malta, stemming the Turkish tide into the underbelly of Europe.


IMG 8943v2








Some of the audience at Joe Borg’s talk  

Photo:  Lewis Zammit






August 2016 Lecture

Monday, 22 August 2016

Lola’s Story



Susan Pierotti

On Tuesday 16th August 2016, Susan Pierotti spoke to us at the MHA.  Last year, she edited and brought to publication City Kid, the memoirs of Lola Russell.  Lola's story begins with the arrival in 1838 of her great-grandfather, Antonio Azzopardi, Melbourne's first Maltese settler. 





July 2016 Event

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Malta a Panorama


Mario Bonnici


Last month a number of members again braved the winter weather and attended our July activity. This was a PowerPoint presentation with various photographs of Malta and Gozo. Since many of our friends or family members are currently holidaying in Malta, we thought we will join them for a couple of hours, at least visually.





June 2016 Event

By Charles Gatt Friday, 08 July 2016


Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Malta

by Joseph Borg

Summary: Charles Gatt


Joseph Borg introduced his talk with an introduction to Plate Tectonic Theory.  The solid earth we know is just a thin crust, floating on molten rock, called magma.  The crust is cracked like a broken egg shell and the pieces, called plates, move around in different directions, driven by convection currents, warm magma rising and cool magma sinking.  These slow but powerful forces cause volcanoes and earthquakes, especially at the edges of the plates.




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