Centre for Continuing Education

Malta Course: From Prehistory to Napoleon

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The islands of Malta have always been a crossroads of civilisations producing diverse cultural influences on its people. Famous for its Neolithic stone temples, the islands of Malta was later occupied by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. The Arabs and Normans incorporated the islands within their control of Sicily. The Knights of St John, expelled from Rhodes by the Ottomans in 1522, made a lasting mark on the islands with the construction of the mighty fortifications designed to guard against Ottoman attack. Napoleon’s looting of Malta in 1789 changed everything – the islands would soon be brought within the sphere of the British Empire.


At the completion of this history course, participants should be able to:

  1. Examine the origins of the megalithic temples
  2. Understand the chronology of Malta
  3. Explore how the Knights of St John came to control Malta
  4. Examine the decline of the Knights.


This course will cover the following topics:


Malta has been inhabited since the 6th Millennium B.C. when settlers came from Sicily. Around 3500 BC the locals began to construct megalithic stone religious buildings and made sacrifices for a female fertility deity. This culture continued for about 1000 years before disappearing. A Late Bronze Age culture subsequently occupied the islands.

Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans

Ancient Greek and Phoenician settlers came to Malta from around 700 BC. For a while part of the Carthaginian Empire, the islands sided with Rome and were eventually incorporated into the Empire. It would later become part of the Byzantine Empire with the division of the Empire in the late 4th Century AD.

The Arabs and Normans

Malta was attacked by the Arabs in the 9th Century and settled by them in the 11th Century. Shortly afterwards Roger I of Sicily annexed the islands to his new Norman state in Sicily. All Muslims were expelled from Malta in 1224. The island became part of the Kingdom of Aragon in the early 15th Century.

The Knights of St John

The Holy Roman Emperor gave Malta to the Knights of St John of Rhodes when they were ejected by the Ottomans. The island withstood a siege by the Ottomans in 1565, after which major fortifications were built around the city of Valetta.

Napoleon and the British

The rule of the Knights on Malta effectively came to an end with the arrival of Napoleon who was on his way to Egypt in 1798. Through a ruse he took control and his forces pillaged the island. Malta officially became part of the British Empire in 1814.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • I thought the presenter was extremely knowledgeable, shared information most generously, answered participants questions and was extremely respectful and patient. Admirable!

  • This tutor always has the lecture very well prepared – PowerPoint presentation enables a good understanding of the material. Course notebook is brilliant.