A man with an avid interest in Maltese history is appealing to the authorities to embark on diplomatic efforts with France to bring back Grand Master de Valette’s sword and dagger, which are exhibited at the Louvre in Paris.
Jesmond Bugeja, an IT manager, has created a Facebook group to raise awareness that part of the islands’ history is in another country’s museum.
His aim, he says, was simply to gauge the interest in the subject but this soon changed into an attempt to convince the authorities to take up the issue on a diplomatic level with France.
Mr Bugeja said the French in Malta had ransacked a number of churches, forcing the local community to rebel. Among the items stolen was Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette’s sword and dagger.
The sword and a matching dagger had been given to the Grand Master by the Holy Roman Emperor Philippe II of Spain in 1565, to mark the Order’s victory in the Great Siege in the same year, which had led to the retreat of the Ottoman forces.
In 1798, while on his way to Egypt, Napoleon landed in Malta. He captured the islands with the loss of only three Frenchmen. The knights had lost their fighting spirit and although the Maltese forces offered to resist the occupation, Grand Master Ferdinand Von Hompesch surrendered.
In his Facebook page, Bring Back The Sword of La Valette to Malta, Mr Bugeja says: “This sword was unfortunately taken from us by Napoleon’s soldiers when they invaded Malta and is now on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris. This sword rightfully belongs to the Maltese people and should be in a Maltese museum and not in Paris.”
Mr Bugeja insists that other countries, such as Italy, were returning similar objects to their “rightful owners” and questioned why France could not do the same.
The Facebook group is gathering momentum, with members approaching the 300 mark in just a few weeks.
Asked about the next step, Mr Bugeja said decisions would be taken depending on the size of the group. He did not exclude petitioning the French government in an attempt to bring back the military memorabilia.
The Facebook page can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=107838372578431 .