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Book: Narratives of Peace in Religious Discourses

Chapter: Religious Co-existence in Malta, 1530-1798

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44443


During the government of the Order of St John (1530–1798) Malta was a frontier city and a focus of religious border crossing. Christians of all shades, as well as Jews and Muslims both free and enslaved, brushed shoulders with each other. How did the governing majority preserve its Catholic identity? Did it make the minority adopt its culture? This chapter argues that a recurring theme in frontier history is that of acculturation. Far from being a barrier, the Maltese bastions were only a symbolic boundary; they were formidable and awe-inspiring but porous to every influence. Commercial imperatives obliged the various ethnic groups in border areas to maintain constant relations. A Maltese frontier identity eventually evolved into an integral part of national identity, a multi-ethnic and poly-religious society, whose members were engaged in constant exchanges with each other.

Chapter Contributors

  • Francis Ciappara ( - fciappara) 'University of Malta'