450th Anniversary of the Great Siege SI

450th Anniversary of the Great Siege

The battles of 1565 in Malta were the climax of longstanding hostility between the Christians and the Islamic Ottoman Empire for control of the Mediterranean. Emperor Charles V granted Malta to the Knights of St. John in 1530 also to create a line of defence for Christian Europe from Ottoman attacks.

In May 1565, an Ottoman fleet of 40,000 men arrived in Malta and this marked the start of the Great Siege. The Ottomans first attacked Fort St.Elmo because of its commanding position between two harbours. The Turks overran St.Elmo but at the cost of losing 8,000 men. The battle continued at Fort St. Angelo, which is recorded as one of the bloodiest episodes of this conflict. Other attacks continued on the rest of the fortified Three Cities.

The siege of Malta ended on the 8th September 1565 when the Ottoman troops retreated and the event is still commemorated as a National Day and popularly known as il-Vitorja.

The 450th anniversary of the Great Siege is commemorated by the issue of a miniature sheet depicting "The Allegory of the Triumph of the Order". This is the work of the great artist Mattia Preti, which is found in St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta.

Preti who was commissioned in 1661 to execute the life of St.John of the Conventual Church painted the Allegory of the Triumph of the Order on a lunette over the main doors of the Cathedral. The artist used "oil on stone" technique that consisted of globigerina limestone soaked in linseed oil and painted with oil based pigments.

Preti painted the allegorical figure of Victory to represent the Order, dressed in armour and helmet with a sword in one hand and a flag of the Order in the other. In the background lie wounded knights and a fortified city that recalls the Great Siege.

The lunette has recently undergone restoration works that sought to reveal the original brush strokes and vibrant colours applied by Preti.

Technical Details

Issue Date: 07.09.2015
Designer: MaltaPost p.l.c.
Process: Offset
Colours: 4 Colours
Size: sheet size: 120mm x 80mm, stamps size:48mm x 39.5mm
Values: €4.25