Grandmaster La Vallette


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La Vallette and his Family

Jean Parisot de La Vallette was born in 1494 and died a short time after the Great siege had ended on the 21st of August of 1568.  He entered the Order as soon as he was 20 years old. La Vallette’s family was Provencal, very old and noble descending from the Counts of Toulouse. He was quite faithful to the vows he has taken, in fact more than any of his ancestors ever where. Some describe portrayed him as an unemotional and tranquil person who knew how to speak Turkish, Spanish, Greek, Italian and Arabic effortlessly.

Tripoli and Slavery

In 1530 the Order was a sovereign to Malta and their mission was to fight the corsairs of Barbary who were maintained by the Turkish Sultan. In the mean time La Vallette increased in ranks in the Order. During 1537 he was the leader and ruler of Tripoli, where Dragut used to attack without stop. La Vallette was prepared by removing unnecessary people out of town and penalizing wrongdoers. In 1541 he ended of being a Turkish galley-slave for a whole year, as he had lost his ship to them. He was freed due to an exchange of prisoners among the corsairs and the Order. Dragut conquered Tripoli in 1556; however La Vallette had already left.

La Vallette declared Grandmaster and his troubles with Tripoli

La Vallette was declared to be a Grandmaster on the 21st of August of 1557, the 48th Grandmaster of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. He was selected unanimously as a Knight of Provence, and he immediately had many troubles to take care of. Jean Parisot was adamant in his fight against the Moslems. His attempt in 1560 to form a coalition with Juan de la Cerda to get Tripoli back was revoked due to the fact that there was some waste of time in the fight of Jorba. The corsairs of Barbary demolished 22 Christian warships and around 4000 were killed. La Vallette managed to save some ships and imprison a great number of corsairs.

The Great Siege

The Moors of Barbary and the Turks were starting to feel trepidation at the Knights of Malta. After one quite bloody conquest, Sultan Soliman commanded all his ships to gather around Malta and Dragut together with the corsairs provoked them into joining their quest. Spies were sent to gather information regarding the fortifications. The Viceroy of Sicily immediately informed La Vallette of this when he got the information and tried to get Philip II to help Malta. The Grandmaster managed to bring together all the Christian knights, 600 knights from the various provinces, 2000 men from Italy and two Spanish troops sent from Don Garcia. Though the King of Spain guaranteed his help, it did not arrive in time to prevent the Turkish ships from attacking on 18th May 1565. While the Turks had 159 ships and 30000 people, Malta had 700 knights, 8500 mercenaries and a number of citizens and peasants.

La Vallette’s Heroic Acts and the end of the Great Siege

A long battle lay ahead of the Knights of Malta where the fort was taken, thousands died and many horrors where seen. La Vallette himself went to fight the Turks when they tried to enter in the wall which consisted of six hours of fighting. As the Castille bastion was taken, the Grandmaster thought of building new defences. Meanwhile on the 7th September, Don Garcia’s ships finally arrived. Mustapha, seeing this, gave up and abandoned ship. La Vallette’s heroic struggle is something to never be forgotten. In order to shield the island he built another town on the site of Fort St. Elmo in 1566 which consisted of the city of Valette. He died serenly in 1568 before Valette was ready and can be found in the Crypt of St John’s Co-Cathedral.

For pictures regarding La Vallette
http://www.smom-za.org/grandmasters/49.htm

See the spanish translation.