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City of Birgu (Malta)

Città Vittoriosa

Last modified: 2006-03-18 by santiago dotor
Keywords: malta | birgu | città vittoriosa | sword: pointing up | arm (black) | branch: olive (green) | branch: palmtree (green) |
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[City of Birgu (Malta)] 3:5
image by Dirk Schönberger, exported to GIF by António Martins, 28 October 2002

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Blazon: Gules a hand couped proper clad Sable holding a sword erect Argent surrounded by a wreath Vert..

Željko Heimer, 1 November 2002

A red flag with a black arm holding a grey/silver sword erect, the sheath flanked by an olive branch (?) and a palm tree branch (?). From this webpage:

It was never officially a capital, yet Birgu (Vittoriosa) is the epitome of a medieval capital city. Like Mdina, Valletta and Rabat, the cities that served as capitals for Malta and Gozo, il-Birgu consists of a heavily fortified citadel and a suburb across the moat. Similar to the Italian Borgo and the Greek Pirgos, the popular name was unique in the 15th century, when most localities in the archipelago had Arabic ones. In 1530, when the Knights of St. John arrived in Malta, Grand Master L'Isle Adam was given the keys to Mdina amid great pomp, but it was from Birgu that the Knights governed, leaving Mdina in the hands of the Maltese nobility. (...)

In 1565, the invading Turks opted to do away with St. Elmo, the fortress across the harbour in Valletta, before tackling the brawnier St. Angelo. St. Elmo took over a month to fall and cost the Turks 8,000 men. In a macabre tit-for-tat, the contemptuous Turks floated the headless bodies of Christian prisoners across the harbour and Grand Master Jean Parisot De la Valette fired the heads of moslem prisoners from his cannons in Birgu toward the fallen St. Elmo...

...De la Valette exhorted the defenders towards an astounding victory that earned their city the name Vittoriosa (Victorious) and the motto Victrix Palmam Fero (Victorious, the Palm I Bear). (...)

St. Angelo's victory was not only Malta's victory but also Europe's. Even protestant Queen Elizabeth I had expressed fear for her Britain when the Ottoman empire attacked Malta. London celebrated with bells and fireworks and prayers of thanksgiving were read for six weeks.The fort's cemetery holds the remains of the fallen, their graves covered by the Land Caltrops (Tribulus Terrestris). Legend claims that this flower feeds on the blood of the Great Siege heroes. Nature seems to support this tender fable. The flower resembles the eight-pointed Maltese Cross.

Santiago Dotor, 9 February 2006