Battle of Malta

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Battle of Malta
Part of War of the Sicilian Vespers
DateJuly 8, 1283
LocationGrand Harbour, Malta
Result Aragonese victory
Estandarte de la Corona de Aragon.svg Crown of Aragon Flag of the Kingdom of Naples.svg Kingdom of Naples
Commanders and leaders
Roger of Lauria William Cornut
Bartholomew Bonvin
21 galleys
5,500 men
27 galleys
7,800 men
Casualties and losses
Unknown 10 galleys captured

The Battle of Malta took place on 8 July 1283 in the entrance to the Grand Harbour, the principal harbor of Malta, when a galley fleet commanded by Roger of Lauria defeated a fleet of Angevin galleys commanded by William Cornut and Bartholomew Bonvin. Cornut was killed.

Charles of Salerno, in the absence of his father (Charles I of Naples), had sent the Provençal fleet to relieve the besieged garrison of Malta, which was trapped in the Castello del Mare (the "Castle of the Sea", now known as Fort St. Angelo) in Grand Harbour after the inhabitants of Malta had revolted.

Roger learnt this and sent his own fleet to support the Maltese. Arriving at night, he made contact with a besieger and sent a sentry boat into the harbor. It reported that the Angevin galleys were beached under the castle walls. Roger moved his galleys into line abreast at the entrance to the harbor, silencing the guard boats in the process, and connected his ships together. At about dawn he ordered a trumpet challenge to be sounded. His reason for doing this is not clear. Perhaps he wanted to show the bravery and boldness of his crews, or to prevent anyone from saying he couldn't have won if the enemy hadn't been asleep, but since he later attacked a sleeping enemy, it would seem that he did it to draw the Angevins out to his prepared position. It would've been difficult for him to attack in the confines of the harbor, and he would've lost the element of surprise anyway. Also, beached galleys were almost impossible to defeat in close combat, as they could be continually reinforced from shore.

The Angevin crews rushed to launch their galleys, and they moved out in a disorganized manner. Roger first used his Catalan archers, then closed for hand-to-hand combat. Cornut was killed by Roger in single combat when he boarded Roger's flagship, but Bonvin broke through the line with some galleys and escaped. About 10 galleys were captured.

Ships involved

Aragon (Roger of Lauria)

probably 22 galleys; possibly as few as 18
4 lignas?
1 tarida?
1 vassellus?

Angevins (Cornut and Bonvin)

about 19 galleys - About 10 captured


  • DeVries, Kelly. Battles of the Medieval World. New York: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 0-7607-7779-9. 

Coordinates: 35°53′N 14°27′E / 35.883°N 14.45°E / 35.883; 14.45

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