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"Guarding against Contagion" Topic

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30 May 2017 3:13 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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385 hits since 30 May 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2017 1:02 p.m. PST

"This latest issue of ARX occasional papers (Issue 6/2016), authored by Dr. Stephen C. Spiteri, is dedicated to the role that coastal fortifications and guard posts played in the Hospitaller knights' attempt to secure the Maltese islands against the real threat of contagion following the devastating outbreak of plague in the harbour city of Messina, in nearby Sicily, in 1743.

The risks to the Island on this occasion were deemed exceptionally high, given the close proximity of the source of contagion and the many maritime, commercial, and social contacts which the Maltese had with the city of Messina. The situation demanded even more careful vigilance not the least because of the ferocity of the outbreak, which would destroy some 50,000 persons – nearly two-thirds of Messina's inhabitants – by the time it had run its course.

Ensuring that the pestilence did not set foot on the Island, however, called for more stringent measures than the requital quarantine provisions. Foremost amongst these was the need to establish a cordon sanitaire – a defensive ring which allowed the Knights to keep both a strict and careful watch over every inch of shoreline bordering their little realm and also to intercept any efforts which sought to disregard the ‘safety' barrier laid around its shores. Inevitably, the exisiting system of coastal military watch towers and militia guard posts which had been set up to guard against approaching enemy galleys and corsair vessels was immediately recruited as part of the line of coastal pickets. Yet, it was soon realized that these handful of towers and militia posts alone were not going to be enough to hermetically seal off all the vulnerable landing places. For although comprising a land mass of little more than 316 Km (121 sq miles), in practice Malta's long and easily accessible shore line spanned some 136 km in length, making the task of controlling every single bay, inlet, and hundreds of possible landings places a considerably more difficult task than it may have seemed a prima vista…"
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Chokidar Inactive Member31 May 2017 9:41 a.m. PST

Great find Armand – thank you.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP31 May 2017 11:12 a.m. PST

A votre service mon ami!. (smile)


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