The Jew of Malta

posted 30 May 2016, 05:24 by Charles Greene   [ updated 30 May 2016, 05:26 ]

The Grand Master and the Jew

Grand Master Jean de la Valette_w600.jpg

The Grand Master and the Jew


Jean Parisot de la Valette was one of the only two Magistri of the Maltese order who ever bothered to learn the Maltese language (the only semitic language in Europe, a propo).


He is famous for repelling the Ottomans in the Great Siege of Malta, building one of the most exclusive and aristocratic fortresses in Europe, and founding today's capital, Valetta, which is named after him.


His record where it concerns the Jews is very much in line with the local politics of the epoche; after the Spanish expulsion in 1492, Jews appeared in Malta for nearly 300 years almost uniquely as slaves and hostages, usually taken captive for ransom from passenger merchant ships.


It will be some 30 years after Jean de la Valette's that Christopher Marlowe will write his play The Jew of Malta, universally believed nowadays to have had a great influence on Shakespeare when he, in turn, penned the Merchant of Venice.


Today Malta is a relaxed, warm place between Sicily and Africa, perfect for getting a day of rest and letting your hair down if you can afford it (not me, of course; haven't got that much hair left, in the first place. Still, this is the perfect place to put on the Hawaiian shirt that my wife bought for me on a Purim 6 years ago. I try to wear it at least once on every trip).


Yours,

The Jew of Malta


Comments