Tuesday, 8 September 2020

ir-rewwixta tal-qassisin

Though suppressed by the Soverign Order of Saint John (SMOM—see also here and here, the Knights Hospitaller) who controlled the island after a few hours, the 1775 rebellion known as the Rising of the Priests was undertaken on this day by the clergy advocating for the Maltese people for a series of austerity measures instituted by Grand Master Francisco Ximenes de Texada in an attempt to replenish the Order’s treasury.
The unpopular cost-savings steps introduced included severe reductions in public spending, regressive tax hiks that made wheat and other staples unaffordable and a ban on rabbit-hunting (fenek tax-xiber) for commoners and preserving the right exclusively for the members of the Order. This date was picked for the revolt knowing that most ships would be at sea and coincided with the anniversary and festivities of the the Knights lifting the Ottoman siege in 1565. A group of thirteen priests took Fort Saint Elmo but were eventually overpowered. Some of the co-conspirators were imprisoned afterward in this same fortification at the northern tip of Valetta, three of the principle organisers being executed with the rest being sent into exile. The Order continued to rule the island until it was annexed by Napoleon in 1798, remanded to a British Protectorate through the second world war, finally attaining independence on 21 September 1964.