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JOAN ABELA is Senior Lecturer in the Legal History and
Methodology Department at the University of Malta, Founding
Member of the Notarial Archives Foundation and past Secretary of
the Malta Historical Society. She was the winner of the 2014 Boydell
& Brewer Prize for the best doctoral thesis in maritime history.
Cover image: Fragment of a re-cycled portolan chart which served as a parchment binding
to the acts of Notary Natale Parmisano for the administrative year 1670–1671 showing the
Eastern and Central Mediterranean. Courtesy: Notarial Archives Malta.
Cover design by Greg Jorss.
Hospitaller Malta and the Mediterranean Economy
in the Sixteenth Century
Malta in the sixteenth century is usually viewed in military terms:
the great bulwark of Christendom against Islam, the island ruled
by the crusader Knights of St John – the Hospitallers – with its vast
fortifications and its famous siege of 1565. This book, however,
which examines the development of the economy of Malta and its
place in the wider Mediterranean economy in the period, paints a
much more complex picture. It shows how Malta was the hub of
a large, complicated trading network, with Christians of various
denominations, as well as Jews and Muslims, participating in
commercial activity, and with well-developed instruments of trade
and commercial law in place to support this network. It demonstrates
that trade was not just in grain, a necessary commodity for Malta as a