The Killing of all the Gozitan Christian Male Population: The Story of a Little-Known Arab Siege

This public lecture is about a Muslim siege in Gozo that occurred before the year 1200 A.D. Unfortunately, the history of this siege does not form part of Malta’s chronicle, as it is unknown to both Maltese and European historians, despite being well recorded in Arab and medieval Muslim sources. Thanks to the research conducted by Francis X. Cassar, his research in Arab texts for references to Malta, led him to unearth a series of medieval documents referring to Muslim culture in Malta. Among the documents he discovered, there are two documents referring to a Muslim siege against Gozo. During this siege, the entire Christian population of Gozo was put to the sword. Only the women and the children were spared. The discovery of these two documents complements another discovery made by Cassar about an attack, led by a Maltese army, against Djerba in 1039 A.D. and the well-known references to Malta in Al Athir’s text. What is more important is that these two texts about this siege on Gozo fill the hiatus left by Al Qazwini when he refers to the failed attempt by the Byzantines to recapture Malta in 1054 A.D. This important discovery in the history of Malta will be the subject of this lecture. These two documents will be read and analysed within the context of what is already known about the Arab period in Malta’s history.

Prof. Simon Mercieca, is an associate professor within the Department of History at the University of Malta. For many years, he occupied the post of Director of the Mediterranean Institute and was involved in several EU-funded  projects related to the tangible and  intangible maritime heritage of the Mediterranean. He also coordinates the course on Contemporary Mediterranean Studies.

Prof. Mercieca conducts research in the field of Historical Demography and is responsible for setting up a database on Malta’s population in   the past. In his work, he conveys his  interest in the social and/or cultural impact on population growth. He has conducted extensive  research on the lives and tribulations of Maltese seafarers and has published extensively both in Malta and abroad.

Event Info

June 24, 2023 10:30 am - 11:30 am

Location: Ministry Hall, Ministry for Gozo, Victoria