By a decree dated the 23rd March 1530 the Emperer Charles V ceded
the Islands of Malta and Gozo and the fortress of Tripoli, in North
Africa, to the Sovereign Military Order of St John which was in
search of a new home after the loss of Rhodes in December 1522,
following a six months long siege by the Turks.
Grand Master Phillipe Villiers de l'Isle Adam and a great part of
the Convent arrived in Malta on the 26th October 1530 and took up
residence at Birgu, which now became the headquarters of a Sovereign
After an incursion by Dragut in July 1551, the order took steps to
straighten the island's defences, by erecting two forts, St Michael
and St Elmo. During the magistracy of Fr. Claude de La Snegle (1553
- 1557) a part of the isola peninsula was surrounded by bastions,
and a new town called Senglea, after the Grand Master was erected in
the same place.
Grand Master Claude de La Sengle (1553 - 1557) was succeeded by the
French knight Jean Parisot de La Valette. In May 1565 a Turkish
armada appeared over the horizon, consisting of about 200 vessels
with about 40,000 men on board. As the Grand Master had been
forewarned about the Turkish plans, preparations had been made by
the Order for impending siege. The knights and Maltese retreated
within the fortification. The Turks laid siege to Fort St Elmo which
fell into their hands on the 23rd June 1565.
Following the fall of Fort St Elmo, the Turks attacked Senglea and
Vittoriosa several times but the two towns offered a valiant
resistance to the attacks. On the 7th September 1565 the long
expected relief force arrived from Sicily and the Turks immediately
raised the siege and departed.