I write books about history. Whether it’s a Civil War romance or a genealogical how-to, I’m always head over heels in history. Most days I can take it, but I have days when I can’t. There are two periods in history that depress me the most. The medieval ages of the crusades and the slavery of the nineteenth century. Both were times when people were not attached to their hearts. There are accounts of crusaders sweeping through Jerusalem, killing almost everyone in sight. And the atrocities done to the Knights Templar after their fateful arrest on Friday the thirteenth (giving that day its unlucky reputation) are recorded in great detail, right down to what happened to their flesh when they were burned on the cross. The gruesome details of slavery are everywhere. I can’t avoid it. And if anyone wants to feel singled out, don’t. We all have ancestors who were victims of those whose heart was disconnected from the decision-making part of their brain. Like every good romance… whatever your ethnicity… isn’t it time we put a happy ending on it? Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78
I just heard a caller to a San Francisco radio station (KGO) say that Donald Trump was a member of the Knights of Malta. Sounds like Freemasonry or an ancient fraternity left over from the Christian Crusades. Time to find out…
Checking my WW II-era dictionary under “knights,” it doesn’t make the list. There is Knights of Columbus, Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (Knights Templar) but no Malta. So let’s see what Malta has listed. Nothing except, Malta fever, “undulant fever,” see the gazette. So I go to the gazette at the back of the book and Malta is listed as the chief island of the Maltese Islands. The Maltese Islands are listed as Malta, Gozo and Comino in the Mediterranean Sea, fifty-eight miles south of Sicily. Back when this dictionary was printed (1940’s) the Maltese Islands were British colonies.
I turned to my beloved encyclopedia that is almost as old, (I love the old reference books, they were written before political correctness and they say things authors would not say today,) and no Knights of Malta is listed under the various fraternities. Here though is some interesting history about Malta and its knights, taken (and reworded) from the Grolier Encyclopedia volumes 13 & 14, pg. 176, Doubleday, Doran and Co., New York, 1956:
The Phoenicians colonized Malta about the 10th century B.C.E. and used it for trading. Then the Greeks in the 8th century B.C.E., then the Carthaginians in the 5th B.C.E. and then it fell to Rome in the 3rd B.C.E. The Vandals and Goths ravaged it in the 5th century A.D. but Belisarius drove them away and attached Malta to the Byzantine empire (Turks). The Moors (Muslims) seized it in the 9th century and pirated from the island. The Normans (think Vikings) ran the Moors off and after that Malta was a dependency of Sicily (think Italy). It was later given by marriage to the house of Hohenstaufen (medieval German rulers). Later the king of Argon (Spain) took charge and Charles V inherited it. It looks like Charles V gave Malta to the Knights of St. John in 1530 and it had a “glorious period.” (The Knights of St. John had been driven from Rhodes by the Turks.)
Napoleon took Malta on his way to Egypt in 1798, the British blockaded and the French surrendered in 1800. The island was supposed to be restored to the Knights of St. John but the Maltese refused that promise and were granted the protection of Great Britain in 1814.
So who are the Knights of Malta? Are they the Knights of St. John who were refused by the Maltese or are they Knights of Maltese who refused the Knights of St. John? Oh look… the next entry in the encyclopedia has this:
“Maltese Cross. Badge of the order of the Knights of Malta.”
I wrote a blog about the Maltese cross about four years ago. Here it is: What is The House of Windsor? Is That a Maltese Cross On the Queen’s Crown? The House of Windsor is the title used by the Royal Family of Great Britain since 1917. The name derives from Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England. Before 1917, the title of the British Royal Family was the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. To my way of thinking, I see Saxe as Saxones as in Anglo-Saxon, which we know many of the English claim to be, and Gotha as from Gothic which refers to the Teutonic tribes who encompass a broad range of people, especially Germanic. The Saxe-Coburg and Gotha title sounded too Germanic, so King George V changed it to the Royal House of Windsor during World War I. On the cover of Newsweek, Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee is featured and visible is what looks like a Maltese cross in her crown, bringing images of Hitler’s Third Reich. But this cross was used long before Hitler used it. Besides representing Christianity, it may also symbolize heroism and impeccable leadership. It does remind one though that even though England has become extremely multi-cultural, tribes of “Northmen” played a pivotal role in its culture.
Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy – A How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy II – Uncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III – From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees and Secret Genealogy V– Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees. Available here:
Secret Genealogy II: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-II-Christian-Ancestors/dp/1484053222
Secret Genealogy III: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-III-Jewish-Anglo-Saxon-Acadians/dp/148407579X
Secret Genealogy IV: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-IV-Native-Americans/dp/1500756105