The Making of Christian Malta: From the Early Middle Ages to 1530

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The Making of Christian Malta: From the Early Middle Ages to 1530. By Anthony T Luttrell. [Variorum Collected Studies Series.] (Brookfield, Vermont:Ashgate Publishing Co. 2002. Pp. viii, 342. $105.95.)

Dr. Anthony T Luttrell has over the past forty-odd years given an outstanding contribution to the study of the medieval past of the Maltese Islands. The rigors of his inquisitively analytical study of the written and unwritten evidence have been a major driving force in the demythologizing process of a seminally important period in the history of the small Central Mediterranean archipelago. Together with, but independently of, the Maltese medieval specialist, Godfrey Wettinger, he has in this way been responsible for the opening of new approaches that have been pursued and consolidated by the research of other academics, among them Stanley Fiorini, Charles Dalli, and the present reviewer.The great breakthrough came in 1975 when he edited for the British School at Rome a book of collected essays by an international team of scholars, Medieval Malta-Studies on Malta before the Knights, to which he contributed the introductory and most substantial study, that was subsequently published separately as Approaches to Medieval Malta. It is also reproduced as the second essay in the collection of studies under review:

Strategically located at the cultural crossroads of Christian South Europe and Muslim North Africa, the Maltese Islands have played a role in history disproportionate to their physical limitations of space and natural resources. International scholarly attention has focused largely on the Knights of St. John, who ruled them between 1530 and 1798, and, to a lesser extent, on their subsequent role as the most important British naval base on route to the Middle East and India. Their interest as a microcosm of the social, economic, religious, and linguistic realities, that shaped the emergence of a multifaceted Central Mediterranean identity in the millennium between the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and the dawn of the modern age was largely ignored. …