Friday, May 24, 2013

Historical Footnotes

On August 7, 1565 the Turks surged against a breach in the walls of the bastion of Castile in the fortified wall of Birgu during the Great Siege of Malta. For days canon blasted the walls, greatly reducing them. The Knights of St. John and the Maltese rebuilt them at night, only to suffer them blow apart again the following day. A great long section of the wall at last gave way into a giant heap.

The Turks surged forward plunging into the city of Birgu, full on knowing that the town was won. But the Master of the Order had long since given the command for the construction of an interior wall, lower than the first, and unseen from beyond the wall. The Turks surged into the gap, pushing the shattered remnants of the defenders into the inner wall and the living wave of soldiery came up short, blocked agains the second wall.

The great press of Turks behind them crushed them into the space, so that the wedge of humanity was tightly packed. At that moment the Knights opened fire with canon and arquebuses; lead and powder ripping into the wall of humanity, tearing great gaps into their ranks. The turned to flee but those pressing behind pushed forward and the slaughter became immense. Mounds of dead were heaped on the ground; and the knights, armored from head to toe surged from the second wall and fell upon them.

The Turks were destroyed and the flower of their ranks vanished in a bloody haze of iron and gore.

The outer ramparts were taken again and the knights banners shown above the field. But the Turks regrouped, undaunted by the defeat . . . .

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