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Fort Manoel

ARX OCCASIONAL PAPERS ISSUE 4 / 2014

ARX

Available also on CD-ROM 1

Dr. Stephen C. Spiteri Ph.D.


ARX Occasional Papers - ISSUE 4 / 2014

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Dr.Stephen C Spiteri Dipl. (Int. Des.) RI,  B.A. (Hons),  Ph.D,  was born in Malta, 15 September 1963.  Dr. Spiteri specializes in the military architecture of the Hospitaller knights of St. John and the fortifications of the Maltese islands. He is the author of a number of books and studies on the military history and fortifications of Malta, the Knights of St. John, and British Colonial defences.  He is a founding member of the Sacra Militia Foundation for the Study of Hospitaller Military and Naval History and is also a part-time lecturer at the International Institute of Baroque Studies at the University of Malta, where he lectures on the history and development of military architecture, and on the art and science of fortification. Dr. Spiteri is currently working on new second editions of his books Fortresses of the Cross (1994) and The Great Siege of 1565 (2005).

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ARX Occasional Papers ISSUE 4 / 2014

Fort Manoel ‘un model de fortification fait avec soin’ A study of the design and construction of an eighteenth-century bastioned fort By Dr. Stephen C. Spiteri Ph.D.

This series of papers and books by Dr. Stephen C. Spiteri Ph.D published by ARX is a continuation and an ‘approfondimento’ of the author’s earlier publication entitled ‘Fortresses of the Cross’, first published in Malta in 1994. That study had set out to examine and illustrate the Hospitaller contribution to the art and science of military architecture in the Holy Land, Rhodes and the Dodecanese, and the Maltese islands and Tripoli - it brought together, for the first time, all the major castles, forts and fortresses, towers, batteries, redoubts and entrenchments built by the Knights of St. John in defence of their territorial possessions. The new material published in this series by ARX will eventually be reworked to produce a new and expanded edition of the aforementioned book.


ARX - OCCASIONAL PAPERS - ISSUE 4/ 2014 - FORT MANOEL

Acknowledgements The author is greatly indebted to Prof. Denis de Lucca, Arch. Hermann Bonnici, Arch. Claude Busuttil, Dr. Giovanni Bonello, and Dr. Theresa Vella for their assistance in the preparation of this study. Special thanks also go to the staff of the National Library of Malta and the Notarial Archives in Valletta, in particular Ms. Maroma Camilleri and Dr. Joan Abela, for their assistance and permission to reproduce the plans and documents shown in this publication. The author is also specially indebted to Dr. Giovanni Bonello for bringing to his attention the original elevation of the gate of Fort Manoel and also for allowing its reproduction in this publication. The author is likewise thankful to Prof. Keith Sciberras for drawing the attention to the studies on the representation in relief of Fort Manoel in the sarcophagus of Grand Master Vilhena. The author also acknowledges the assistance provided by Arch. Svetlana Sammut, Arch. Edward Said and Arch. Ivan Piccinino, as well as Mr. James Vassallo and Mr. Josef Cassar (Midi Plc). A great thanks also goes to Mr. Ian Ellis for his permission to reproduce various photographs from the Richard Ellis Archive. This work was has also benefitted immensely from the many excellent studies published by a number of historians and researchers over the course of the past decades and is greatly indebted to them in many ways. Some of these works are listed in the brief select bibliography.

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Fort Manoel

ARX - OCCASIONAL PAPERS - ISSUE 4/ 2014 - FORT MANOEL

c ont ent s

i. The Isolotto i.i Initial ideas and proposals i.ii. i.iii i.iv i.v i.vi i.vii i.viii

1669 - 1722, A Renewed Sense of Urgency Valperga’s Fort, 1670 Grunenberg’s Idea, 1681 The French Solution, 1715-1723 Coastal Battery and Redoubt, 1715-1716 The Design of the Fort, 1715 The Final Design - Fort Manoel, 1723

ii

Fort Manoel - the main features of the fort

iii

Construction - building the fort

iv.

Armament and garrison

v.

Under Fire - Resistance & Surrender

vi.

References, Sources & Notes

ii.i ii.ii ii.iii ii.iv ii.v ii.vi ii.vii ii.viii ii.ix

iii.i iii.ii iii.iii iii.iv

iv.i iv.ii

v.i

The Main Enceinte - Bastions, Curtains & Cavaliers The Ditch & Outworks - From Sally-ports to Countermines Monumentality & Aesthetic Appeal The Piazza & Barracks - Baroque Vistas The Church of St. Anthony of Padua & Crypt The Bronze Monument of Grand Master Vilhena The Main Gate & Drawbridge - Couvre Porte & Corpo di Guardia The Gunpowder Magazines & Garde de Feu The Guerites & Echaugettes - Guardiole

Design & Execution Building Materials - Rock, Stone, Earth and Lime Maintenance - The Fondazione Manoel The Lazaretto - A Security Concern

Defensive Ordnance & Munitions The Fort’s Garrison

French Attack and Occupation

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section i

The Isolotto Initial Ideas and Proposals

i.i Fort Manoel was the last major work of fortification built to the conventions of the bastioned trace by the Order of St. John in Malta. It is also, undisputedly, the most striking and beautifully proportioned bastioned fortress erected by the Hospitaller knights, complete with all the refined adjuncts of defence that military engineers could hope to devise in the early eighteenth-century. Its one salient characteristic feature which sets it distinctly apart from the other Hospitaller fortresses in Malta, however, is the fact that Fort Manoel was the undiluted product of French military architecture. It owes this quality to two important factors – firstly, the Order’s drift from the Imperial to the French sphere of influence at the beginning of the eighteenth century, which saw the reorganization of the Hospitallers’ military establishment on French military lines and, secondly, the genius of Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban, whose methods of fortification, considered as the perfection of the bastioned trace, came to dictate the pattern of many of the fortification projects employed by French military engineers in their numerous commissions outside France.

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Above all else, however, Fort Manoel owes its existence to the inherent structural problems that plagued the Order’s defensive strategy from the second half of the sixteenth century onwards. For although the building of the mighty bastioned fortress of Valletta on the heights of Mount Xeberras in 1566 had solved many of the defence issues which had plagued the Knights of St. John when they first settled their beleaguered Order in Malta way back in 1530, the enceinte of the new city also served to create other problems. For one thing, while relatively well protected on its southern Grand Harbour side by the neighbouring strongholds of Birgu, Senglea, and St. Angelo, the new fortified city was itself fully exposed to bombardment and attack along the full length of its northern flank straddling Marsamxett harbour. Even as Valletta was still taking shape, the Knights quickly began to appreciate the difficulties and challenges posed by the task of securing their newborn city against bombardment from that direction. Already by 1569, various concerns were

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Detail from Giovanni Francesco Camocio’s Disegno del Porto di Malta (Venice, 1565) showing the barren Isolotto and Turkish galleys berthed alongside it. (Image source: Courtesy of Dr. A. Ganado)

This proposal, the first of many, was not taken in hand even though the threat posed by the ‘Isolotto assai eminente’ was again demonstrated by Scipione Campi in 1577, and then again by Giovanni Battista in 1582.6 Reporting to Pope Gregory XIII on the ‘stato dell’Isola di Malta’ in 1582, one observer (believed to have been the Nunzio and Apostolic Delegate, Mons. Gaspare Visconti) could likewise not fail to drew attention to the danger posed by the little island in the absence of any measures taken to neutralize the threat:7 ‘Resta diffettiva parimenti questa fortezza per l’ Isoletta sudetta ch’ è nel mezzo di Marzamusetto tanto rilevata che fa Cavagliere al fianco che

ARX - OCCASIONAL PAPERS - ISSUE 4/ 2014 - FORT MANOEL

being raised about this state of affairs, particularly the threat posed by a small islet jutting out into the middle of this harbour. One such report, entitled ‘Discorso sopra le fortificatione’, written by an anonymous Cavagliere di Malta,1 clearly pointed out the danger posed by this Isolotto, which owing to its vicinity to the walls of Valletta, would provide the ideal site for the setting up of an enemy siege battery intent on bombarding Valletta’s fortifications and its houses. The remedy, according to the same Cavagliere, was to occupy this position with an advanced work in the form of a small fort, ‘una ‘piattaforma’ with ‘due teste dipendente, affine che nella batteria che vi si facesse sempre vi restasse piazza di buona forma.’2 The work was to contain a high towering cavalier ‘whose guns would sweep the crest of the Xeberras Peninsula in front of Valletta and deny the enemy cover in St. Rocco Valley’.3 Outer perimeter walls on either side of the cavalier, all built a safe distance away so that any falling rubble dislodged from the cavalier would not hinder the garrison, would also protect it form bombardment and infantry assaults, while a battery facing the mouth of the harbour would cover communications with the city.4 For added security, the whole Isolotto was then to be stripped of all the vegetation and soil in order to deny an assailant any shelter and whatever materials that could serve for the construction siege works.5

Detail from an early 17thcentury map of Valletta and its surrounding areas, published by Jean Boisseau in Paris showing a small chapel on the ‘Isle du Marza Mouchet’ .

communemente chiamano delle beccarie. I due terzi delle muraglie da quella parte, [____] Ia qual cosa non si puo fuggire, si per la natura del sito il qual e havendosi a fortificare, era necessario d’ esponersi ad essa isoletta, si anco perchè non è possibile d’ impedire al nemico Ia batteria, perch è calcando dall’ altra riva opposita di Marzamusetto sarà sempre sicuro dall’ artiglieria de’ nostri, per Ia distanza, et di quivi pot rà condursi parimenti sicuro all’ Isolotto, coperto del medesimo rilievo

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A mid-17th-century map of Valletta and its harbours, from a print by Jean Boulanger (published by N. Berey - Plan des Forteresse de Vallete Bourg et Sangle de Malte), around 1645, showing the unfortified Isolotto with its first quarantine station established there by Grand Master Lascaris.

suo et in simile occasione vogliono alcuni che non possano aiutarsi con altro quelli di dentro che con il fare una contro batteria gagliarda sul fianco che fa cavagliero a questo delle beccarie, perchè dominabuona parte d’ esso Isolotto, ma il doversi compatire assegnatamente Ia munitione, del mancamento della quale si ha sempre da dubitare nelli assedi, debilita grandemente questa speranza, massimamente che nell’ Isola non se ne fa et bisogna comprarla con grandissimo scommodo. Da questa stessa parte, potendo li nemici traghettare dall’ Isoletta gente, et di condurli per certo valloncello sino all’ orlo del fosso del balloardo della parte, senza poter essere offesi dalle nostre artigIierie, et potendo, comportandolo il sito, piantare anco una batteria et assicurarsi maggiormente all’ espugnatione con notabile pregiuditio di tutta quella parte...’

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In 1643, the land on the Isolotto, which up until then had belonged to Cathedral Chapter of Mdina, was acquired by the Order of St. John so as to enable the Knights to build a Lazzaretto, or quarantine hospital.8 Various unsuccessful attempts had been made earlier by the Order to secure the Bishop’s Isle (as it was also known), particularly during the reign of Grand Master Antoine de Paule, ever since it began to be used for quarantine purposes after the plague epidemic of 1592-93. It was Grand Master Lascaris, however, who managed to secure it in exchange for other properties appertaining to the Order located in the 9 ‘terreno Magistero delli Fideni’ (Tal-Fiddien), in the northern part of Malta, and the Knights immediately set about constructing ‘il Lazaretto e lo sprogo delle merci sospetti.’ Hitherto, the islet had contained only one small house, and had been exploited by the Canonici della Catedrale largely for its agricultural value, who hired out its few fields and enclosures to farmers. With the establishment of the Lazaretto, however, a number of new buildings, stores, sheds, and enclosures, including a small church dedicated to St. Rocco, were erected on the Ta’ Xbiex side of its foreshore. Further buildings were added in 1647 and additional accommodation, most of it temporary, had to be put

8


Map of Valletta and its harbours by Oliver Dapper (Valetta civitas nova Maltae olim Mellitae - Amsterdam, 1669), showing the Isolotto in Marsamxett Harbour. (Image source: Courtesy of Dr. A. Ganado ).

Detail from Oliver Dapper’s map, showing the quarantine hospital on the Isolotto.

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A mid-17th-century view of Valletta from Marsamxett harbour, with the Isolotto and its Lazaretto in the foreground from a print by Benoist after J. Goupy, entitled ‘A View of the City of Malta, on the side of the Lazaretto or PEST HOUSE, where ships perform Quarantine’.

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Author’s graphic 3D simulations of one of Francesco Laparelli’s initial schemes of 1566 for the fortification of Valletta (later modified) showing the potential threat posed by artillery siege batteries sited on the Isolotto to the Marsamxett side of the enceinte. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

St. John Bastion and Cavalier

St. Michael Bastion and small cavalierCavalier

St. James Bastion and Cavalier

SS. Peter & Paul Bastion

St. Andrew Bastion and Cavalier

St. Barbara Bastion (tiered)

Galley-pen (Manderaggio)

San Salvatore Bastion

St. Sebastian Curtain

German Curtain

ARX - OCCASIONAL PAPERS - ISSUE 4/ 2014 - FORT MANOEL

English Curtain

The exposure of the land front defences (St. Michael Bastion and the gorge of St. John Bastion) and that of ramparts around the Manderaggio to the artillery fire from the direction of Marsamxett was of particular worry to the Order. In this scheme, Laparelli places a cavalier on St. Andrew Bastion to counter the guns on the Isolotto. In another design, he envisaged two other cavaliers facing the little island (far right, bottom - Image source: Courtesy of R. de Giorgio - A City by An Order, 1985).

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St. Christopher Bastion and Cavalier

St. Lucy Curtain

St. Lazarus Bastion


Author’s graphic 3D simulation of the proposed small fort with hornwork and cavalier proposed in 1569 - the first documented proposal for the fortification of the Isolotto. ( Image source: Author’s private collection).

Small fort with towering cavalier St. Michael Bastion and small cavalier ARX - OCCASIONAL PAPERS - ISSUE 4/ 2014 - FORT MANOEL

Galley-pen (Manderaggio)

St. Andrew Bastion and cavalier St. John Cavalier

St. John Cavalier

Arsenal

Fort St. Elmo

Cavalier of Fort St. Elmo

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1566

Commencement of construction of Valletta’s fortifications

1635

1638

1670

Commencement of construction of Firenzuola enceinte Commencement of construction of Floriana enceinte

Commencement of construction of Cottonera enceinte

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A late-17th-century view of Valletta and its harbours, from a series of city prospects by engraver and publisher Louis Crepy (16801754). The illustration, albeit crude and inaccurate in its details, nonetheless manages to capture the difference between the heavily fortified Grand Harbour (with its new ring of Cottonera fortifications and Fort Ricasoli) and the exposed and then still vulnerable Marsamxett harbour with its unfortified Isolotto.

up in December 1675 to receive a large number of people following a violent outbreak of plague. By the end of the seventeenth century the ‘Lazaretto con sue dipendenze’ had grown into a sizable complex of permanent and interconnected buildings occupying an area of about ‘salma una tummuli quattro’ of the total surface area of the ‘salme quattordeci tummuli qundici mondelli tre’ that comprised the Isolotto.

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These buildings included a small watch tower, said to have been built around 1660 to shelter two sentinels posted there in order to enforce the quarantine regulations and guard the approaches to the Lazaretto.10 This tower however, had no defensive value whatsoever and it was not the work of fortification which military engineers had prescribed on many earlier occasions for the defence of Valletta.


i.ii

It was the general emergency created by the fall of Venetian Candia, in Crete, to the Ottoman armies in 1669, that served to bring back to the fore the dangers posed by the unfortified little island in Marsamxett harbour. This crisis sparked off a major overview of the Hospitaller defences, a task that was entrusted by Grand Master Nicholas Cotoner to the Italian military engineer Antonio Maurizio Valperga in 1670. It is here, in Valperga’s master scheme, that one encounters the first concrete attempts to come up with a design for a new fort on the Isolotto.11 Valperga’s proposal, nevertheless, featured low down on the Order’s list of priorities, which was then largely concerned with the completion of the unfinished schemes protecting the Grand Harbour area. Furthermore, the criticism levelled at Valperga’s proposed design by Count Vernada12 and the Order’s resident engineer, Mederico Blondel,13 in 1671, as being too small for its intended role, did not help to promote the project either. By the 1680s, interest in Valperga’s blueprint had all but evaporated and this prompted another visiting military engineer, Don Carlos de Grunenberg, in 1682, to design a larger fort with a ‘falsabraga, assi a los dos flances, como a la cortina, su fosso abierto, ravelin, estrada en cubierta, y explanada, y la demas obra que la revine’.14 Once again, however, the Order’s heavy and burdensome commitment to the construction of its many unfinished schemes, including the vast Cottonera enceinte, Fort Ricasoli, and the Floriana faussebraye and crownedhornworks, effectively ruled out any further attention to the problem of the defence of the Isolotto. It was only with the arrival of a French military mission in 1715, headed by Brig. René Jacob de Tigné’, that the Order’s attention was once again directed towards the unresolved defence problem. The French engineers were quick to recognise the seriousness of the threat posed by the Isolotto, situated like a thorn in the side of Valletta, and came up with a

number of proposals and designs aimed at securing and fortifying the offending island. Even so, nearly another decade had to pass by before any work on this project, which resulted in the construction of Fort Manoel, was finally taken in hand during the reign of Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena.

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A Renewed Sense of Urgency 1669 - 1722

The incident that provided ‘l’impulso maggior per intrapredenere le opprtune prevensioni’15 was the allarme of 1722, caused by the appearance of a squadron of five Turkish Sultane in the waters between Malta and Gozo on 28 June 1722, and its reappearance later in September. Although the presence of the Turkish fleet on this occasion led to no particular outcome, it nevertheless threw the whole island into a state of frenzy even after the enemy ships disappeared over the horizon, for the Knights were convinced that the Turks had gone to North Africa to get hold of reinforcements and supplies from their Barbary allies and then intended to return to invade the island. A major mobilization, invariably, followed and some 55,800 scudi were spent on implementing a string of military preparations and minor defensive works designed to meet the impending onslaught. By the end of the year, however, nearly everyone had convinced the Order that the threat had evaporated but the Grand Master, unable to secure assurances that the Turks would not return in the following year, was now determined to undertake the one project that had remained outstanding in the defence of Valletta. Even so, aware that the Order’s resources were not up to the task, Vilhena set out to build the desired fortress on the Isolotto out of his own pocket, and then went on to set up a special fund, the so-called Manoel Foundation, to provide for its maintenance. Named in Vilhena’s honour, Fort Manoel was built and finished in a relatively short period of time and soon came to form an important link in the chain of defensive outposts protecting the fortress of Valletta. Little would the Grand Master have imagined then, however, that ‘his’ fort would eventually fall briefly into French hands and then end up its days as a naval establishment in the service of the British crown.

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Detail from a copy of an anonymous map of Valletta and its harbours showing Valperga’s proposed design for a roughly hexagonal fort on the Isolotto (Image source: Author’s private collection)

i.iii Valperga’s Fort 1670

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Like most works of fortification which never made it off the drawing board or never went beyond the design and concept stage, Valperga’s unrealized project for a fort on the Isolotto attracted little scholarly attention to date. Although no detailed architectural plans of Valperga’s proposed fort have survived, its basic arrangement is thought to be illustrated in Vincenzo Coronelli’s Città e Fortezza di Malta colle nuove e proposte fortificationi (Venice, 1688), which depicts a map of Valletta and its fortified harbours, and which most modern historians believe represents Valperga’s master scheme of 1670. The proposed fort is also described by Valperga himself in one of the reports which he presented to the Congregation of War. Together, these documents provide enough information to allow a basic reconstruction of the proposed structure and show that Valperga’s fort for the Isolotto utilized many of the features and design solutions also adopted by him in his other major works of fortification featured in his scheme, namely Fort Ricasoli, which was built at the mouth of the Grand Harbour, and the Galdiana erected along the Floriana land front.

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Vincenzo Maria Coronelli’s Città e fortezza di Malta colle nuove, e proposte fortificationi (Venice 1688) is believed to show Valperga’s master scheme of 1670, designed to envelop the city of Valletta within an apron of defensive lines and forts. Marsamxett harbour was to be defended by three forts - at Dragut Point, on the Isolotto, and at Ta’ Xbiex. (Image source: Courtesy of Dr. A. Ganado). Below, Enlarged detail of Valperga’s fort for the Isolotto showing its main features.

Valperga’s fort was designed all’ Olandese, that is, in the Dutch style, and is immediately recognised as such by the relatively short curtain walls, large bastions, and the use of aggressive outworks. Valperga’s design was based, fundamentally, on the concept of a hexagonal fort but differs from this typology because its perimeter was a combination of both bastioned and tenaille fronts, as opposed to a purely bastioned trace fitted with six beluardi. Valpera’s fort, in fact, can be deconstructed to show that it consisted of two main features – a bastioned land front in the form of a crown work, and a tenaille trace facing the harbour entrance. Both these design solutions were adopted in Fort Ricasoli, the main difference, however, being that the terrain at Gallows Point consisted of a narrow and long promontory, and hence dictated a fort with longer flanks, while on the Isolotto, the topography featured a small hillock rising roughly in the lower southern half of the island.

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Tenaille trace

Covertway situated very close to the shore land leaving very little room for a glacis

Lazaretto (quarantine hospital) Covered passage way linking fort to Lazaretto

Bastioned land front in the form of a crownwork

Sunken piazza Ditch Hornwork Covertway Place-of-arms Passage linking cattle shed to the shoreline and the Lazaretto

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Cattleshed

Author’s general graphic reconstruction of Valperga’s proposed fort on the Isolotto, shown in high aerial perspective as seen from the north west. The drawing is based on the details provided in Coronelli’s map and the description given in Valperga’s own reports. The illustration does not show the field walls which partitioned the land on the Isolotto into various fields worked by local farmers.

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Valperga sought to take advantage of this land feature and to position the fort further inland with its land front exploiting the low crest of the rocky hill. He then sought to reinforce the land front of the proposed fort with a small hornwork, a device which he also incorporated into a section of the Floriana enceinte in order to strengthen the area ahead of St. Francis Ravelin. At Floriana, however, the hornwork was much larger in scale than the one designed for the Isolotto and, furthermore, was itself protected by an opera coronata, to form the crownedhornworks that came to be known as La Galdiana. Unlike Fort Ricasoli, which occupied a long peninsular site, Valperga’s proposed fort on the Isolotto adopted a circular rather than an elongated plan. Moreover, the structure was to occupy only part of the terrain provided by the Isolotto. Valperga sought to exploit the higher ground in the third quarter of the island in order to enable the larger part of the enceinte to be solidly carved out of the bedrock. As a matter of fact, both of Valperga’s works at Ricasoli and Floriana (the faussebraye and the crowned-horn works) sought to exploit the rocky nature of the ground. The proposed work on the Isolotto was also to be surrounded by a rock-hewn ditch and a continuous covertway which extended down, in the form of a caponier, to link up with the quarantine compound situated along the shore of the island facing Ta’ Xbiex. Like Fort Ricasoli, the Isolotto fort was to be both a hollow work (i.e. its piazza was to stand at a lower level than the platforms of the enveloping ramparts) and also an open work, designed to be commanded from the heights of Valletta.


Author’s graphic re-construction of Valperga’s proposed fort on the Isolotto, shown in high aerial perspective as seen from the south, based on the details provided in Coronelli’s map and Valperga’s own reports.

Hornwork Sunken piazza with barrack blocks

Ditch

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In his short report, Valperga advised the Knights to ensure that in the construction of the ramparts and ditch of this new fort, the engineers entrusted with the task were to follow the same proportions and dimensions employed by him at Fort Ricasoli prior to his departure; ‘Nella costruttione de rampari del ditto fortino s’osserveranno le proportioni contenute nel secondo ramparo attorno del posto Ricasoli, tanto nelle grosezze, altezze, de muri quanto nelle larghezze, et altezze de fossi.’16 Valperga’s instructions also referred to what he calls a ‘tenaglia’ (tenaille) placed in front and lower than the main ramparts - most probably the same short hornwork shown in Collignon’s map and mentioned earlier in this article;

Covertway Tenaille trace

‘Con osservanza che la Tenaglia avanti al suo ramparo pigliara forma simile del ramparo de le mezelune del ditto Forte Ricasoli, avertendo che detta Tenaglia rimangha piu’ bassa del ramparo d’una Canna con la construttione della sua fossa simile in larghezza, et altezza di quello Avanti il ditto ramparo di ditto fortino et il tutto in modo e forma che si vede dissegnato nel dissegno rimesso a’ Sua Eminenza.’17

Covered passage way linking fort to Lazaretto

Salient of covertway lacking glacis owing to vicinity of shore

Casemated land front ramparts (as at Fort Ricasoli)

Possible location of main entrance

Tenaille trace

Author’s graphic simulation of Valperga’s proposed fort on the Isolotto, shown in low aerial perspective, as viewed from the south. The model is based on the details provided in Coronelli’s map and in Valperga’s own reports. The location of the gateway is hypothetical, although it would have faced Valletta. According to Valperga, most of the ramparts were to be hewn out of the bedrock, particularly along the bastioned land front and its protective hornwork.

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i.iv Grunenberg’s Idea 1681

Valperga’s scheme for the defence of the Isolotto found little support and met with considerable disapproval from various quarters. The plan of the fort was particularly criticised by Count Vernada and the Order’s resident engineer, Merderico Blondel, both of whom agreed that it was hopelessly inadequate to fulfil its intended role. Vernada considered it weaker than Fort Ricasoli, which he likewise found to be of little capacity and ‘composti di membri ancora piu piccoli non ostante l’esser di figura essagonale irregolare.’18 Such cramped works, he believed, could offer ‘poca resistanza oltre che vengono grandemente tormentati dalle bombe, e sassi tirati da un gran numero di mortari’.19 Vernada sensed that the defence of Valletta would be better served if Dragut Point was fortified instead and, indeed, his revision of Valperga’s scheme, thought to be depicted in a plan entitled Pianta delle fortifi. [cazioni] di Malta Relativa al discozso fatto dal Con:e Verneda P:no Ing:re della Republica, which accompanied his 1671 report, omits a fort on the Isolotto altogether in preference for two other forts, one at Ta’ Xbiex and the other at the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour.20 Alison Hoppen mistakes Detail from Boulanger’s ‘Plan des Forteresse de Vallete Bourg et Sangle de Malte’, c.1645, showing a proposal for a fort on Gallows Point. Excluding the large outer work in the form of a crownwork, the main enceinte of the fort is not much different to the one later suggested by Grunenberg for the Isolotto.

18

the demi-bastioned fort with ravelin shown on the Ta’ Xbiex promontory in this plan as being that on the Isolotto. 21 Blondel, likewise, found Valperga’s fort ‘trez inept’ and ‘trop defecteuse’ both for its smallness and unnecessary irregularity. 22 This deadlock led the Flemish military engineer, Don Carlos Grunenberg, in 1687, to come up with a fresh design for a larger fort having a front of about 100 canes (200 m) which, as will be seen again, was about the maximum dimensions that could be fitted into the available stretch of ground. Grunenberg’s fort, described in the last part of the Relatione dell’Ingegniere coronillo grunembergh, dated 26 February 1687, and entitled De la Isla, Y Peninsula de Marchemuchet’,23 was to have four bastions and a ravelin, and was to be enveloped within a covertway, ditch, and faussebraye. Its main front was to comprise two bastions, a faussebraye and a curtain facing the approaches from the mainland. Two smaller bastions were to face directly towards Valletta: ‘...dos baluartes, y una cortina de mediocre capacidad, siendo el poligono exterior de unas 100 canas con su falsabraga, assi a los dos flancos, como a la cortina, su fosso abierto en la pena, ravelino, e strada encubierta, y explanada, y la de mas obra, que la recine, asta a la vista de la Ciudad, de dos otros baluartes, y cortinas mas pequenos con un angulo saliente, y sus cortinas, siendo por aquella parte dha obra algo mas inferior, y sus parapetos mas debiles por ser dominados de las obras de la plaza, y hasta la orilla del puerto de Marchemuchet a la parte de la Mesayda continuar la contraescarpa de la altura sufficiente, que no se puede baxar en el, para comprender el Lazareto a fin de empedir, quetel, enemigo no lo occupe, y el viejo, o antiguo se podra arrazar.’ Grunenberg’s design was also to take into consideration the nearby quarantine hospital, which stood too close for comfort to the flank of the proposed fort. This he sought to neutralize by extending the counterscarp of the ditch and building up the glacis. Most of the fort, Grunenberg believed,


Detail from a map of Valletta and its fortifications prepared by the French military mission in 1715, clearly showing the still-unfortified Isolotto.

i.v

would be easily carved out of the bedrock forming the hillock, including the magazines and cuerpos de guardia while various barracks and the governor’s quarters would be erected within the enclosure: ‘De mismo se podra engruttar adentro de la obra (q. es visto de la Ciudad) en aquella roca, para formar almagazenes, y cuerpos de guardia, para valerse dellos a su tiempo, dexando a parte las casas, que se podran fabricar por el presidio, y Governador.’ The fort itself, including its outerworks, was to be an open work ‘asta a la vista de la Ciudad’. No plans showing the design of Grunenberg’s fort have surfaced to date. However, based on the above description, it appears that Grunenberg had opted for a squarish rather than hexagonal configuration. His four-bastioned fort with ravelin and faussebraye was, as a matter of fact, to remain the favoured solution and was again considered and adopted by the next group of military engineers assigned to deal with the issue twenty years down the line.

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The French Solution 1715-1723

More than anything else, it was the smallness and restricted nature of the Isolotto that was to determine the shape and form of the fortress. This constraint was immediately recognized by Brig. René Jacob de Tigné and his team of French military experts in 1715 as they set about studying the location and devising practical and efficient means of addressing the problem. Like Grunenberg, their instinctive response was to come up with a four-bastioned square plan. Fundamentally, this was because the defence of a bastioned fortress relied heavily on its bastions, and the number and shape of the bastions in a fortress were, in turn influenced, by the configuration and size of its enceinte and the principal element dictating these factors was the length of the ‘line of defence’ (i.e., the distance from the flank of one bastion to the salient of the next). By the eighteenth century, most military engineers believed the line of defence should not exceed the range of musketry fire (ie., around 180 m to 250 m). Small areas of ground that severely restricted the size of a fortress, therefore, presented serious problems. The two main challenges facing engineers in such situations were the need to avoid narrow angled bastions, and cramped interiors that limited the number of troops and amount of cannon that could be housed therein. The smaller the area to be enclosed for defence, therefore, the smaller the number of bastions which could effectively be incorporated into the design of the fortress. For any given area, the number of sides to the polygon was inversely proportionate to the size of the bastions. In practice, however, there was also a limit as to how much an engineer could reduce the dimensions of a bastion without defeating its purpose. What this meant in effect, was that the smallest possible configuration for a regular bastioned fort could only be provided by the square plan with four corner bastions.24

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Based on this reasoning, Brig. Jacob de Tigné and his team knew well enough that the basic fourbastioned arrangement was the only practical design solution for a small regular fort, and that this recipe had been prescribed by many military engineers when confronted by the constraints imposed by unfavourable site conditions, urgency, and limited resources. Even so, although widely used, they also appreciated the fact that the square four-bastioned fort was not without its defects. The narrow salient angles and short flanks that were characteristic of this form of plan held many disadvantages for the defenders, not the least of which were the cramped fighting spaces and the narrow gorges of the bastions. Indeed, Vauban preferred the regular pentagonal plan based on the classical example of the citadels of Torino and Antwerp built by the Italian military engineer Pacciotto for the Spaniards in 1564 and 1567 respectively. But even Vauban was often obliged to comprise as can be evidenced by the citadels of Sainte Martin de Re’ (1681).

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Fortunately the survival of a few fortification proposals and schemes for the Isolotto prepared by this French team provide the student of eighteenthcentury Hospitaller military architecture with a rare insight into the way the design thought process and the evolution of a fortress scheme determined the choice of a fortification typology suitable for a particular site. For the choice of the site and the choice of what type of building to place on that site were, according to the late prof Quentin Hughes, the two most important considerations that faced military engineers and planners. That such an evaluation is possible for Fort Manoel is largely possible because this fort happens to be the most amply documented of all the Hospitaller works of fortification. Indeed, out of a total of some 218 fortification plans preserved at the National Library of Malta, 31 (14%) are related to the fort on the Isolotto as opposed to 21 for Valletta, 25 for Floriana and 28 for Cottonera and Sta Margherita (28). Of the 31 plans and drawings of Fort Manoel, four depict proposed schemes, while a fifth, preserved at the

20

National Museum of Archaeology, shows one of these four schemes in sectional and side elevation. The proposed schemes for the defence of the Isolotto mentioned above can be divided into two types of fortifications, and these, in turn, immediately show that the problem was initially approached from two very different angles. In other words, the surviving designs appear to show two diverse schools of thought as to how the Knights sought to deal with the issue of securing the Isolotto against attack and investment. The first of these involved the common notion of establishing a bastioned fort, that is, a garrisoned outpost and stronghold that was to serve both to deny the place to the enemy and be capable of withstanding a determined siege. The second approach, on the other hand, sought a cheaper solution aimed, primarily, at denying access to the Isolotto from across the mainland by means of a large coastal battery backed to its rear by an infantry redoubt. In other words, the problem was seen from a ‘coastal defence’ point of view. Nevertheless, at some stage, the two ideas were brought together to form one comprehensive defensive scheme covering the whole of the islet (Cat. Ref, M19). Eventually, however, only the first option for a bastioned fort was retained and developed into the final design of the fort that can be seen today. There is little doubt that Brig. de Tigné and Charles François de Mondion were behind the proposals for a four-bastioned fort but the idea for the coastal battery-redoubt alternative seems to have come from a different source - possibly from Philippe de Maigret, another French military engineer who had come in the retinue of the Prior of France and was placed in charge of the project for the coastal defence scheme. This hypothesis is supported by the heated debate that was then unfolding in Malta between Brig. de Tigné and his team, who sought to give priority to the completion of the massive harbour enceintes, and the Prior of France, Philippe de Vendôme and his followers who, on the other hand,


‘A difference of opinion soon arose as to the most effective method of fortifying the island: whether the Order should direct its main effort towards the completion of those fortresses under construction, or whether it would be better to fortify the coast-line so as to prevent the enemy gaining a foothold on the island. Tigné and his followers favoured the former course and recom­mended that the fortifications of Floriana and Sta. Margherita be completed while, at the same time, work on the coastal defences be continued. However, this was probably too ambitious a programme to be carried out at one time, the halfbuilt fortifications which were vulnerable to attack by the dements should be, Tigné felt, perfected first, and only then should the Order direct its energies to defending the shore-line. Vendôme and Folard, on the other hand, could see little wisdom in adding to the proliferation of forts around the harbour when the islands’ coast-line offered such an excellent natural barrier to an enemy. Those few places where a landing was possible could be protected by redoubts and entrenchments and the whole island defended by a far smaller body of troops than would be necessary if all the completed and half built forts had to be garrisoned. As Floriana required, however, only the finishing touches to make it perfect, they were prepared to allow this work to continue. The congregation of fortification and war met on 4 June to consider the conflicting views put to it, but being unable to decide on either course of action, came to a compromise solution. The council in turn reacted unfavour­ably to Vendôme’s actual proposals for the coastal fortifications, as did Tigné and his engineers, but Vendôme’s position and background were such that it would have been impolitic to reject his views out of hand; besides, his opinion commanded support among a section of the Order. The council there­fore compromised by accepting Vendôme’s scheme without instructing that work elsewhere should cease. This was made possible, in part, by the prior’s offer to advance an interestfree loan of 40,000 scudi repayable in three years, thus removing any problem caused by the lack of

immediate funds. Once the scheme had been sanctioned Vendome made a donation of 4,000 scudi which proved a stimulus to other knights to contribute, albeit on a rather less generous scale. The engineer Maigret was put in charge of the project and Tigné confined his attention to the major forts surrounding the harbours.’25

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were strong advocates of coastal defences. The struggle is best defined by Alison Hoppen in her book The Fortification of Malta by the Knights (1979), and is reproduced below:

It is perhaps more than just a coincidence, then, that the two proposed schemes for the Isolotto so uncannily mirror the two diverging opinions held by the Order’s military advisers and leading knights. The third plan (M19), therefore, may have been an attempt to reconcile the two views, creating in the process an extensive fortification scheme covering practically all of the surface of the little island. It is difficult to comprehend, however, how the Order, who was then having serious trouble finding the resources to build a basic fort, could afford the implementation of this extensive project. Not surprisingly, the ambitious project was not taken in hand, especially after Brig. de Tigné and his military advisors went on to re-classify the fort as non-urgent and were ready to postpone its construction to a later date when the Order’s financial position would prove itself more favourable.26 The opportunity finally presented itself with the election of the new Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena in June 1722,who anxious to show his zeal and devotion to the Order, chose to finance the work out of his own pocket. By this final stage, however, the trace of the fort, although still reflecting the fourbastioned configuration first recommended by Brig. de Tigné some eight years earlier, had evolved significantly to included various other novel features. The redoubt and battery, however, were quietly dropped from the scheme.

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i.vi Coastal Battery and Redoubt 1715-1716

NLM / Plan M15

The proposal for the coastal defence of the Isolotto, shown in plan M15 envisaged a large semi-circular battery designed to command the narrow shallow crossing from the mainland with its guns. This in turn, was to be backed up from the rear by a powerful rectangular infantry redoubt situated on slightly higher ground farther inland. The two were to be linked together by means of a long caponier. The drawing bears no written date but seems to belong to either 1715, or 1716-17. At that time, coastal batteries and redoubts were still a relatively new feature in Malta. Actually, the idea for these types of coastal defences had been first mooted by Commissioners D’Arginy and Fontet[te] and a French secondary engineer by the name of François Bachelieu in 1714,27 and a few such batteries were already under construction before the arrival of the French military mission in 1715.

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The coastal defence strategy found an enthusiastic exponent in the Prior of France, Philippe de Vendôme, and it was mainly through his insistence, and a generous loan of 40,000 scudi which he presented to the Order, that a network of batteries and redoubts quickly took root around the shores of the Maltese islands in 1715-16. These works were modelled on the patterns evolved by French military engineers towards the end of the seventeenth century – Fort Lupin at Saint Nazaire (1683), Fort St. Louis at Toulon (1692–1697), la Tour de Camaret (1694), Fort du Chapus at Bourcefranc (1690– 1692) and Fort d’Ambleteuse at Pas-de-Calais (1680–1690) are typical prototypes.28 Although much smaller in scale, the Maltese batterie costiere were given the same type of semi-circular gun (or polygonal) platforms with between four to nine guns each firing through embrasures in the parapets, while their landward side were closed off by defensible blockhouses.

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Bottom - Plan and elevation of one of the many coastal batteries erected around the shores of the Maltese islands in 1715-16. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta).

The Isolotto battery proposal very clearly follows the same formula adopted in most of the other coastal batteries begun in 1715 but differs slightly in one detail – its size. Whereas most of the coastal batteries had been given a maximum of around nine embrasures, the Isolotto battery was to be provided with a larger platform for 12 embrasures, backed by two large blockhouse to the rear. The work, however, was designed to be open to the rear, lacking the loopholed redans given to most of the ordinary coastal batteries, in order that its interior could be commanded by a large redoubt sited on the sightly higher ground to its rear. The idea of placing infantry redoubts on higher ground and to the rear of a battery appears to have been common military practice at the time. In 1761, for example, Brig. François Charles, Comte de Bourlamaque, proposed this solution for many of the coastal batteries situated around the shores of the island, although none were actually built. This large infantry reduit was to be square in plan and was to be surrounded by a dry ditch and a covertway with four places-of-arms (a second variation, containing only two places of arms, is shown on plan M12). The drawing provides two


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Plan of the proposed solution for the defence of the Isolotto combining a large coastal battery and and inland infantry redoubt – NLM / Plan M15 (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta).

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Battery platform and parapet

Blockhouse Gorge of battery Glacis

Sea-filled moat Blockhouse

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options for the redoubt, one of which was to contain a conical polverista (gunpowder magazine or magazin à poudre) similar to that later built inside Fort Chambrai after 1749. A long caponier, or covertway, was to link the redoubt to the battery. As the drawing clearly shows, the redoubt was actually conceived as an extensive conversion of a then-existing and abandoned warehouse. This the building, which still survives, originally formed part of the quarantine complex of the Lazaretto, where it was apparently used as a cattle shed.

Author’s graphic 3D simulations of the large coastal battery and inland infantry redoubt as shown in NLM Plan M15. Had this structure been built, it would have been the largest coastal battery of its kind to be erected in the Maltese islands, capable of mounting 12 guns. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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Traverses

Covertway linking redoubt to gorge of battery


Author’s graphic 3D simulation of the defence scheme proposed for the of the Isolotto combining a large coastal battery and inland infantry redoubt as shown in NLM Plan M15 (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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Corpo di guardia (possibly converted from old farmstead existing on site and incorporated into scheme) Traverse

Rock-hewn ditch

Glacis Covertway

Tambour traverse

Place-of-arms

Polverista

Place-of-arms

Casemated redoubt Entrance to redoubt via small bridge

Traverse Glacis

Place-of-arms

Glacis

Passage linking redoubt to the shore and the Lazaretto

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NLM Plan M15: Sectional elevation showing low-walled redoubt with built-in gunpowder magazine and deep rockhewn ditch. The red coloured walls belonged to the then-existing cattleshed. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta).

Author’s graphic 3D simulations of the two versions of the infantry redoubt proposed for the Isolotto as shown in NLM Plan M15: the first shows a low-walled enclosure with built-in gunpowder magazine and deep rock-hewn ditch, and the second (bottom image), a highwalled structure with low ditch. Both structures were to incorporate a pre-existing cattleshed which occupied the site. This building is still standing today (below).

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By the time that the project was being drawn up, the magazine was already abandoned for it is labelled as ‘Magazino abbandonato’ in the plan which accompanied the Cabreo Vilhena (M27A). However, in later years, Bali Guedes is still founding petitioning the Council for ‘la demolitzione del Magazeno vecchio del lazzaretto, che serve in oggi di stalla a i Bovi, che fanno quarantena’. It is possible that the redoubt depicted in this plan is same reduit which the French military engineer Philippe Maigret proposed to build on the Isolotto for the cost of 2,600 scudi 29 in a report dated 1715. This same document, however, does not provide any details about redoubt other than that it was to be similar to another undefined redoubt proposed to be positioned at Dragut Point. Nor, for that matter, does it mention the battery. The estimated cost of 2,600 scudi that Maigret assigned to the project would have only sufficed to build either the redoubt or the battery, but not both. A look at the accounts of the construction costs of the coastal batteries erected in 1715-16 shows that a large coastal battery would have cost, on average, around 1,500 scudi. A redoubt of the size planned for the Isolotto, however, fitted with its ditch, casemates, covertway, and glacis would have cost considerably more. Evidently then, the idea for the scheme combining battery and redoubt came after Maigret penned his first report. Still, It is very likely, that Maigret, as the military engineer assigned with the implementation of coastal defences, was also the author of this scheme.30

NLM Plan M15, Sectional elevation showing the second proposal for a highwalled redoubt with low rock-hewn ditch. The redcoloured walls belonged to the existing cattleshed. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta).

NLM Plan M12, Detail showing a third proposal for the infantry redoubt on the Isolotto – this version was to have its courtyard roofed over, and a smaller covertway with only two places-of-arms and four traverses. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta).

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i.vii

Detail from the contents page of NLM Manuscript MS Lib. 1301, showing an entry for a plan of a proposed design for a fort on the Isolotto on page 190. This sheet and the ‘Memoire’ on page 193 are no longer to be found in the volume. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta).

The Design of the Fort 1715

The first reference to the French engineers’ proposal for a fort on the Isolotto is encountered in the reports penned by Brig. René Jacob de Tigné, the head of the French military mission to Malta in 1715. Brig. de Tigné visited the Island three times in all, and in the first two of these, in 1715 and in 1716-17, he produced several written reports on the state of the fortifications in Malta. Two of these, in particular, concerned the need for a new fort on the island of the Marsamxett.

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The first of the two reports, dated 25 September 1715,31 was penned just before Brig. de Tigné’s return to France. In it, he concludes that either a hornwork (ouvrage à corne) or a small fort with four bastions with a front of 90 or 100 canes facing Valletta, sited on the highest part of the Isolotto would suffice to do the job. This fort was to have flanks about 100 canes on each side, orientated in the direction of Valletta, and was to be enveloped by a covertway: ‘II n’est donc pas moins indispensable d’occuper cette Isle par un où vrage à corne où un petit fort à quatre bastions dont le front de 90. où 100 cannes de longueur, et paralelle à la Ville, occupera toute la hauteur, abaissant un peu la crête du Rocher où se trouvera la courtine pour que les deux bastions soient moins élevés et plus aizé à couvrir par un chemin couvert, les deux branches retourneront sur la Ville et en seront flanquées par plus de 100 cannes de chaque côte s’il en étoit besoin le reste se fera comme à I’ouvrage cy-dessus.’32 This would tend to imply that there was only a basic concept at this stage and that no specific plan for the proposed fortress had actually been drafted, given that Brig. de Tigné was also considering the . other alternative of constructing a simple hornwork

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Indeed, Brig. de Tigné’s second report,33 presented to the congregation of war in the following year, dated 15 September 1716 and drawn up at the start of his second visit to Malta, is also mainly concerned with a basic trace rather than with the actual design details. On this occasion, Brig. de Tigné also plays down the urgency for such a work in favour of other fortifications and even went on to list the proposed fort under the heading ‘Ouvrages qu’on peut remettre’.34 Here, nevertheless, Brig. de Tigné includes an estimate of 25,000 scudi,35 (later in the report it is given as 28,000) as being the cost required for the construction of the new fort. Was this simply a very rough estimate or a figure based on some sort of scheme that had been drawn up? And it would seem, in fact, that detailed concept plans for the proposed fort had actually been drawn up by this stage for a copy of such a plan is recorded as having been attached to a report entitled ‘De La necessitè de construire un Fort sur l’Isle de Marsamuscietto, communement nomme Izoletto’ written by Brig. de Tigné’s deputy, Charles François de Mondion, in 1715.36 This was bound together with the report in MS 1301, at page 190, as indicated by the contents page of this volume which mention a ‘Plan du fort proposé sur cette isle ... fol. 190’.37 Unfortunately, it was removed and is no longer to be found in the document. Mondion’s accompanying report,


Detail from a finely executed presentation drawing containing plan and sectional elevations, entitled PLAN DE

L’ISLE DU LAZARET, ET D’UN FORT PROPOSE A FAIRE POUR COUVRIR LE FLANC DROIT DE LA CITTÈ VALLETTE (Image

source: Museums Department, 1995).

This plan represents the first proposed solution prescribed by Brig. René Jacob de Tigné and his team of military engineers in 1715 and may be the same document mentioned in NLM Lib. MS 1301, referred to by Mondion (see text).

Detail from PLAN DE L’ISLE

DU LAZARET, ET D’UN FORT PROPOSE A FAIRE POUR COUVRIR LE FLANC DROIT DE LA CITTÈ VALETTE

showing the side and sectional elevations of the proposed fort. Note the stepped curtain and the 7 canes (14 m) difference in level (relief) between the land front and sea front bastions owing to the sloping nature of the site. This feature was to remain an important characteristic of the final design of Fort Manoel when eventually built in 1723. (Image source: Museums Department, 1995).

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however, makes no specific reference to any plan, nor does it discuss its merits, other than stating that the work was to be a square fort (quarré) with four corner bastions and a front of 100 canes (200 m) – basically the same features outlined by Brig. de Tigné in his report of 1715. Mondion also fails to provide an estimate for the costs involved, although he claims, somewhat optimistically, that it would not prove too expensive to construct since it would have had to be a small work (restricted by the dimensions of the site) and, as such, would not require to be heavily fortified except for its land front (la teste) and ditch.

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In this document Mondion appears mostly concerned about making a strong argument for the need for a fort on the Isolotto, given the importance of the site and its relevance to the security of Valletta in the event of a Turkish invasion for, together with Dragut Point, he believed it provided the ideal location from where enemy batteries could mount their attacks on the city. Of the two, however, Mondion thought the Isolotto was the one that provided the best defensive advantages and ought to be fortified first in view of the financial restrictions. This was largely due to the fact that the Isle du Lazaret had the highest ground closest to the flanks of the city, allowing the position to also protect the flanks of Floriana and command the nearby promontory of Ta’ Xbiex, while the sea separating the islet from the mainland, formed a natural defensive obstacle. Evidently, then, the design concept for the new proposed fort on the Isolotto had already taken shape by 1715. The author has traced two plans which appear to show the initial design. The first is a finely executed presentation drawing containing plan and side and sectional elevations, together with measurements and scale, entitled PLAN DE L’ISLE DU LAZARET, ET D’UN FORT PROPOSE A FAIRE POUR COUVRIR LE FLANC DROIT DE LA CITTÈ VALETTE;38 the second is an identical drawing of this plan but lacks both the elevations, dimensions, and scale, and is found at the National Library in Valletta. This appears to be either a

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copy taken from the presentation drawing or an earlier drawing prepared for the execution of the presentation sheet. Both plans are undated and reveal a small rectangular fort with four corner bastions fitted within an exterior trapezoidal polygon with a land front of 90 canes (180 m) and flanks 70 canes long (140 m), and a Valletta-facing rear front of 100 canes. This fits in neatly with the dimensions given by both Brig. de Tigné and Mondion. The fort also displays the same inequality of defence highlighted in Mondion’s report with the land front receiving stronger defences with the addition of a large triangular ravelin, which completely covers the curtain wall, and a stretch of covertway containing two places-of-arms. A ditch, 6 canes (12 m) wide at the salient, was to envelope the fort along the land front and its two flanks and was to be accessed by a singular sally-port cut at the foot of the land front curtain. This sally-port was itself to be protected by a drop ditch while a caponier of communication joined it to the ravelin. The plan of the fort is not based on a square, however, as indicated in Mondion’s report but a rectangle with short sides, making the flanking curtains considerably shorter than those on both the land and sea fronts. Furthermore, the pair of bastions on the land front were not identical to the ones facing Valletta: the former were to have a flanked angle (the angle of the salient) of 60 degrees and while the latter, were to be slightly larger, at 64 degrees. The parapets on the land front bastion were to be twice as thick as those on the flanks and the front facing Valletta, which are shown as being 1 cane wide. All four bastions, however, are roughly equal in size (the seaward bastions being marginally larger) and all are asymmetrical, that is, they were to have one flank considerably longer than the other. It is not known how much of this design for a square fort actually borrowed from Grunenberg’s earlier proposal which is known to have been conserved at the Chancellerie together with his papers and which the French engineers must have surely consulted for Grunenberg’s plan, unfortunately, as already stated, has not yet been traced by historians.


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Preparation drawing of the first proposed plan for a fort on the Isolotto prescribed by Brig. René Jacob de Tigné and his team of French military engineers for the defence of the Isolotto – NLM Plan M17 (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta). This plan is identical to the one shown on previous page but lacks both measurements and a legend.

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Ditch of ravelin

Place-of-arms Triangular ravelin (no flanks)

Covertway

Place-of-arms Caponier

Pas-de-souris

Casemated curtain

Stepped pa ground (Pia

Stepped left face of bastion

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Stepped curtain

Rock-hewn ditch

Glacis

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Two rows of barracks


Author’s graphic 3D simulation of the bastioned fort proposed for the Isolotto by Brig. Jacob de Tigné and his military team in 1715, based on NLM Plan M17 (Image source: Author’s private collection).

Covertway

Rock-hewn ditch

arade azza)

é Main Gate and entrance into the fort Small breakwater to shelter ferry boat

The plan of the land front designed by the French military engineers, dictated by the lines of defence and the angles of the flank, was determined using Vauban’s method, where the perpendicular of the front was set at 1/8th of the length of the front. Vauban had earlier establish a perpendicular of the front of 1/8th for the square plan, 1/7th for the pentagon, and 1/6th for polygons with a greater number of sides.39 This formula, however, was not applied by Mondion to the flanks and sea front of the Isolotto fort, both of which were designed with lines of defence having second flanks. The interior of the fort, on the other hand, was to have a sunken rectangular piazza containing two pairs of barrack blocks running parallel to the flanks. The ramparts themselves were to be largely hewn out of the solid rock-hewn while a set of five casemates were to be cut into the gorge of the land front curtain, thus providing some bombproof shelter for the garrison. The main entrance, which was to be situated in the centre of the long seawardfacing curtain, was to be approached by a pair of curved flights of steps. Placing the main gate on the side facing Valletta ensured an easier and quicker communication with the city across the harbour.

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Various views of the author’s 3D graphic simulation of the bastioned fort proposed for the Isolotto by Brig. Jacob de Tigné and his military team in 1715 (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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Ravelins

Place-of-arms

Stepped left face of bastion

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Caponiers


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Partially sunken piazza

Stepped curtain

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Barracks


Proposed scheme for the defence of the Isolotto as shown in NLM Plan M12 (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta). This plan is undated, but appears to have been produced around 1717, and not later than 1722 (see main text).

The sectional elevation provided in the above-cited plan is also important because it shows that the fort was not to be built on one level plane. Rather, it was to be carved out from the sloping side of the hillock dominating the Isolotto, giving the fort a distinctive inclined profile composed of three levels, the highest of which formed the land front bastions and curtain, linked by an inclined piazza and flanks to the lower level of the sea-facing front. The sectional drawings also show that the ramparts on the landward side were to be much higher than those on the sea front, roughly in the ratio of 1:1.4, with those on the land front being slightly more than 10 canes (20 m) high from the foot of the ditch and those on the sea front, 7 canes (14 m) high. This inclined profile, with an exposed piazza, was to remain a distinctive central design feature that was carried down into the final plan of the fort when built in 1723.

Detail from a plan of the Fuerte de la Concepcion, first built in 1663-64 and rebuilt in 1735-76; the fort is linked by a long covertway to a casemated redoubt and batterycum-stables, in a manner similar to that proposed for the Isolotto (After F. Cobos and J. Campos, Ameida / Ciudad Rodrigo, La FortificiĂłn de la Raya Central (Spain, 2013).

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There are other design elements which can also be found in the final plan of Fort Manoel that point to the same authorship of both schemes. These also attest to the fact that the initial design was developed and refined between 1715 and 1723, without, however, doing away with the basic concepts put forward in the initial proposal. A second important feature is the manner in which the land front-facing flanks of the present fort (i.e., St. Helen Bastion and St. Anthony Bastion) were pushed considerably outwards from the flanking curtains not only to provide enfilading fire along the flanks of the landward bastions, but also to serve as powerful gun batteries facing the land front ditch. This design feature was also accentuated by the reduction of the length of the Valletta-facing flanks of the land front bastions (i.e., St. John Bastion and Notre Dame Bastion). The designer of the trace of Fort Manoel was also concerned not to reduce the interior of the fort too much, for, had all the four flanks of the two land front bastions been given equal length (i.e. by making them symmetrical), without increasing their salient angles, then the resultant bulwarks would have been bastions with very narrow and restricted gorges and the resultant piazza, much smaller in area (see comparative diagram and table on page 45).

A second proposal for the Isolotto, likewise undated, is found in the National Library (Catalogue Ref. M12) and shows a skewed, asymmetrical plan. The concept is still that of a four-bastioned fort, but the flanking curtains are considerably much longer although the dimensions of the land front continue to be restricted by the 100 cane limit imposed by the site. The skewed configuration, defined by a shorter curtain on the Ta’ Xbiex side, served to rotate the land front closer towards the orientation of the central axis running through the length of the little island. This allowed the main land front of the proposed fort to face out directly towards the line of approach of an enemy force crossing over from the main land. This design feature was eventually dropped from the final plan which, instead, was given the same orientation applied to the initial proposal (see page 48). Definitely, the second proposal put forward a more ambitious and refined design, containing a more extensive ditch, covertway, and glacis designed to envelope all the four sides of the enceinte, unlike in the initial proposal which omitted the fossÊ and the chemin couvert from the Valletta-facing front. The covertway, protected by 20 traverses, was to be fitted with five re-entrant places-of-arms, with the fifth, protecting the main entrance on the Valletta side, to be reinforced further by means of a lunette or couvre porte. The land front was to retain the large ravelin, which, however, was now modified from it is initially triangular form to one having small splayed


Proposed scheme for the defence of the Isolotto combining a fort, a coastal battery and a redoubt – NLM Plan M12 (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta).

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Coastal battery Tambour traverse Infantry redoubt

Lunette

Caponier of communication

Large traverse Ravelin with flanks

Caponier of communication Re-entrant place-of-arms Caponier of communication

Salient place-of-arms

Traverse Sheds of quarantine station Covertway Caponier

Re-entrant place-of-arms

Lazaretto (quarantine station/ hospital)

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Author’s graphic 3D simulation of the defensive scheme proposed for the Isolotto combining a four-bastioned fort, lunette, redoubt, and coastal battery, based on NLM Plan M12 (Image source: Author’s private collection). The fort is shown as seen from a south-easternly direction, facing Valletta.

Re-entrant place-of-arms Covertway

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flanks, while its platform divided was to be divided in two by a large traverse. The proposed fort was also to have a tenaille inside the ditch to shield the main land front curtain. Four caponiers cut into the ditch were to provide access to the outerworks. As in the initial proposal, the fort was to have a sunken piazza flanked by casemated curtains and lined with six barrack blocks.

Tenaille Ditch

Re-entrant place-of-arms

Barracks

Casemated curtain

Sunken piazza

Salient place-of-arms

Main entrance into fort (cutting protected by caponier)

Covertway

Covertway

Redoubt / couvre porte Steps leading up to fort from landing quay

Ditch

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Author’s graphic 3D simulation of the defensive scheme proposed for the Isolotto combining a fourbastioned fort, lunette, redoubt and coastal battery, based on NLM Plan M12, shown from a northwesterly direction (Image source: Author’s private collection).

All-round covertway

Bastioned land front of Fort

Lazaretto buildings

Ravelin

Caponiers of communication

Lunette

Infantry redoubt

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Caponiers of communication

Coastal battery

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The four corner bastions were all asymmetrical and differed in size, with the two land front bastions being considerably larger than the pair facing Valletta. Each of the four bastions was to have a large internal magazine. The proposed fort was to have no formal gateway. Instead, a simple cutting, approached across a caponier from the gorge of the couvre porte, sited roughly in the centre of the sea-facing curtain, provided a direct access into the interior of the enclosure.


Author’s graphic 3D simulation of the land front of the asymmetrical bastioned fort proposed for the Isolotto illustrated in NLM Plan M12, shown from a north-westerly direction (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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Caponier

Tenaille Covertway

Ravelin with flanks Large traverse

This second proposal, as mentioned earlier, was to incorporate the redoubt-and-battery combination designed as a separate alternative scheme, which elements were to be linked to the fort by means of a long caponier of communication reinforced, half way along its length, by a small pentagonal lunette. Combined together, these various elements created a very formidable and extensive defensive coverage that would have left very little room for a besieging enemy force of soldiers and their guns to manoeuvre on the islet. Finding the resources to implement such an ambitious project proved to be a serious handicap and the plan which was finally adopted and used in the construction of the fort in 1723 clearly had to drop many of these outposts from the equation.

Re-entrant place-of-arms

Caponier of communication

This second design, although undated, appears to have materialized in the course of Tigné’s second visit in 1716-17 or some time later. If so, then it shows that the engineers were clearly well on their way to crystallizing their ideas about the size and nature of the fort. Nonetheless, there was still a leap to be made before the engineers could arrive at the design finally adopted for Fort Manoel in 1723, which came to include two low casemated cavaliers on the land front, connected together by a casemated curtain, two large gunpowder magazines placed on the Valletta-facing bastions, a spurred glacis, and a piazza that was not sunken into the ground as in the first two proposals.

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i.viii

Proposed scheme for the defence of the Isolotto as shown in NLM Plan M20. The plan has no date, but appears to have been produced around 1722/23, and appears to have been an early proposal for Fort Manoel (see main text). (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

The Final Design - Fort Manoel 1723

The National Library in Valletta contains seven general full plans of Fort Manoel. Of these, only one (Catalogue ref. M20) seems to predate the construction of the fort and appears to bridge in the gap between the second proposal, as illustrated in plan M12, and that adopted in the final design of Fort Manoel in 1723. Indeed, both M12 and M20 adopt a similar layout showing a map of Marsamxett harbour with the surrounding terrain at Ta’ Xbiex, Dragut Point and the west flank of Valletta. The execution of the drawings however, differs considerably, with M20 also providing a detailed layout of the fields and rural terrain.

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The plan of the fort itself can be considered as a form of early draft since it differs in some details from the plan of Fort Manoel as actually built. Primarily, these differences are most evident in the treatment of the barracks - there is one large continuous barrack block instead of the two officers’ blocks that were eventually built, while the soldiers’ barracks contain no outhouses to the rear. The chapel, on the other hand, is located farther away from the centre towards the right end of the block. There is then one continues ditch running along the foot of the sea-facing curtain instead of the shorter drop ditch that was excavated in front of the main gate. This last feature is curiously repeated again in plan M24, and is difficult to explain given that no such curtainlong ditch was ever excavated and that the drawing itself was executed at a much later date when the drop-ditch was already in existence. One possible explanation is that plan M24 was copied off an earlier draft plan. Of the six plans of Fort Manoel, four were executed either contemporaneously with the construction of the fort or slightly afterwards, and the last two appear

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to have been drawn during the French occupation in 1798, one by the French garrison and the other possibly by Maltese insurgents for the benefit of British troops since it contains measurements in Maltese canes and English tese (yards). Of the four ‘record’ plans40 of Fort Manoel, one (M27a) was bound inside the thick volume comprising the Cabreo of the Manoel Foundation and although providing a detailed plan of the fort, is more concerned with providing an accurate graphic representation of the fields and terrain on the Isolotto. M16, on the other hand appears to be an incomplete working drawing showing only the outline of the fort in sepia ink. Of these six plans, M14 provides the most detailed planimetric layout of Fort Manoel, showing all its divers features, including its system of subterranean countermines. The plan is not annotated and contains no measurements. It does have, however, a beautifully rendered sectional elevation cutting through the central axis of the fort along its land front showing through the countermines beneath the counterscarp, ravelin, caponier, tenaille, curtain and its sally-port, curtain cavalier and side elevation of the officers’ barrack block. The sectional elevation, however, reveals that this drawing was executed well before the works where brought to completion since the ravelin


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Detail from NLM Plan M20, showing an advanced design for Fort Manoel prior to the commencement of its construction. The plan differs from the final design of Fort Manoel as actually built largely in the treatment of its barrack blocks, the location of the church, the size of its gunpowder magazines, and the presence of a ditch at the foot of the sea-facing curtain containing the main gate – see main text. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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NLM Plan M17

is shown as being at a much lower level than the curtain wall, when in fact it stands practically in line with the curtain. This discrepancy may have developed as a result of the re-negotiated conditions that followed the hiatus of 1728-29, as discussed below. The sheet, unfortunately, is badly damaged along the edges and seems to have lost its scale rule. NLM Plan M12

Front of Fortification The final design adopted at Fort Manoel in 1723 employed a much smaller front than that which had been proposed by Brig. de Tigné and Mondion in 1715. Rather than the 90 and 100 canes (209.5 m ) recommended for the length of the land front, the final trace was only given a front of 70 canes (roughly 151 m). This is about 50% shorter than the smallest of the fronts (Petite Royale) advocated by Vauban and Pagan before him (which measured some 310 m). By comparison, for example, the fourbastioned square forts (citadels) of St. Martin de Re and Bayonne had lengths of fronts of fortifications that measured 275 m and 235 m respectively. More comparable in size and dimensions were the citadels of Santa Lucia (139 m) and Fuerte de Graça (149 m) both in Elvas, Portugal, as well as the Fuerte de la Concepcion in Spain (150 m). (See comparative table of four-bastioned square forts on pages 46-47). NLM Plan M27a

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Vauban continued to adopt Pagan’s classification of the fortifications in three main classes - Grand Royale (200 toises = 388 m), Moyenne Royale (180 toises = 349 m) and Petite Royale (160 toises = 310 m). By the eighteenth century, the Moyenne front was the most favoured. Clearly then, even the Petite front was too large a template for the Isolotto and Mondion must have struggled considerably to fit Brig. de Tigné’s four-bastioned trace into the limitations imposed by the physical restrictions of the site. Although, earlier in 1715, Mondion had specifically stated that ‘le peu d’espace du lieu qui ne permet pas de luy donner d’aitre figure que celle d’un quarré, dont les fronts où poligones auront


c

a g f

b h

d

e

b

a

ab = front = 151 m ag = face = 47 m fe = curtain = 52 m fg = flank = 18 m fb = line of defence = 105 m cd = perpendicular of the front = 22 m = 1/7 of front hb = face of bastion = 47 m = roughly 1/3 of front

θ1 θ2

θ4

θ3

environ 100 can. de long’,41 in reality the available space, after making the necessary provisions for the covertway and glacis, had left an even smaller area to work with. The reduced front of 70 canes meant that the land front bastions had to be considerably smaller than those featured in the first two proposals where the bastions were given faces of around 30 canes (62 m), as opposed to the 22 canes (roughly 48 m) of the actual bastions. The ravelin and curtain had likewise to be built to smaller dimensions. An important feature of the design, which reflects Vauban’s influence on the plan of Fort Manoel, are the angles of the curtain, and the angles of the flank to the line of fire, which were set at 100̊ and 85̊ respectively (Ө3 and Ө4 in diagram above). In Antoine de Ville’s fortifications, the angle of the curtain was set at 90 degrees (perpendicular to the curtain), while Pagan designed his flanks perpendicular to the lines of defences (see line diagram, top). The length of the faces of the land front bastions at Fort Manoel measures some 48 m, practically 1/3 of the front (151 m) as dictated by Cormontaigne, which was slightly larger than the 2/7 prescribed by Vauban. The perpendicular of the front is also larger than the 1/8th prescribed by Vauban for square forts, which at 22 m, is equivalent to the 1/7 applied to pentagonal works.

a

x

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Ө1 = 68 ̊ Ө2 = 117 ̊ Ө3 = 100 ̊ Ө4 = 85 ̊ (Pagan Ө4 = 90 ̊ ) (De Ville Ө3 = 90 ̊ )

angles of exterior polygon abyx

b

aby = bax = 96 ̊ yxa = byx = 85 ̊

y

Mondion, as most engineers laboured with the task of tracing the plan of a fortress on site, sought to position his land front on the highest part of the promontory in order to exploit the solidity provided by the bedrock, which in turn allowed most of the ramparts to be carved out into the rocca viva, leaving little actual construction works other than those required for the formation of the parapets, cavaliers and free standing buildings within the enclosure.

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Le Fort Quarrè This method had the added advantage of imbibing the ramparts with a tremendous solidity and power of resistance to bombardment. Once the extremities of the front had been determined, Mondion was then able to work inwards using Vauban’s method to work out, geometrically, the angles of the bastions and the lines of fire. For regular works of fortifications, Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban had recommended that a fort be designed from the exterior, that is, by first establishing the location of the salient points of the bastions. These, in turn, then determined the ‘fronts’ or ‘polygon’ of the fort, and enabled the engineer to derive, geometrically, the lines of defence and, ultimately, the angles and dimensions of the flanks and faces of the bastions, and the curtain walls joining them together.

Detail copied from a project of Ciudad Rodrigo, dated 1710, during the War of Spanish succession after the city was retaken by Bourbon troops in 1707, showing a proposal (top) by the Spanish engineer Pedro Borrás for a large square four-bastioned fortress intended to protect the city from siege batteries.

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It was seldom possible, however, for an engineer to be able to achieve a perfectly regular work of fortification. The topography and uneven nature of a site had often to be taken into consideration and accommodated, and this generally dictated variations from a completely regular ground plan. The Isolotto was one such site, which did not allow for a perfect square fort. As a matter of fact, one characteristic feature of the design that remained constant throughout both the two proposals and the final plan for Fort Manoel was the treatment of the secondary flanks of the two landward-facing bastions which were reduced considerably in length (thereby creating asymmetrical bastions) so as not to diminish the interior area of the fort and thereby choke the gorge of the bastions. The most distinctive defensive feature of the final design, and the one that sets the 1723 Fort Manoel design apart from the two earlier proposals, however, was the inclusion of the two joined cavaliers which were intended to reinforce the land front defences. This interesting, and to a certain degree, unique feature, comprised two low casemated cavaliers, located one on each of the land front bastions and linked together by a casemated curtain. In introducing cavaliers on the land front bastion, Fort Manoel’s designers were borrowing an idea adopted

Far right, Comparative diagram showing various forms and sizes of four-bastioned square forts (shown to scale). Fort Manoel is coloured orange. Right top, comparative table , after Nicholas Goldman, showing the different angles of bastion in square, pentagonal and hexagonal forts. Various representations of fourbastioned square forts in archiotectural treatises, right, by D’Antoni, and below, by Dogen. Bottom, Fort Nassau as built by the Dutch at Isle de banda in 1646.


1. Forte Michelangelo (Civita Vecchia - Italy) 2. Forte del Sangallo (Nettuno - Italy) 3. Mont Alban (France) 4. Fort Augusta (USA ) 5. Havana (Cuba) 6. Fort Duquense (USA - 1754) 7. Fort CarrĂŠ (France - 1580) 8. Fort William (Ghana - 1740) 9. Fort Gross (Ghana - 1710) 10. Fort San Marcos (Venezuela )

100

200

11. Fort William Henry (USA - 1755) 12. Fort Stanwix (USA - 18) 13. Fort Ticonderoga (USA) 14. Forte Stella (Sardinia) 15. Fort des Bains (France) 16. Fort Le Pree (France) 17. Forte de Zamorra (Spain) 18. Fort San Marcos (USA -1672) 19. Calle Fuerte (Spain) 20. Fort CondĂŠ (USA - 1723) 21. Fort St. Nicholas (France - 1660) 22. Sadras (Indonesia) 23. Barletta (Italy - 16C) 24. Aquila (Italy - 16C) 25. Fort de Grazia (Potugal - 17C) 26. Fort Sta. Lucia (Portugal - 17C) 27. Fort Jay (USA - 18C) 28. Fort de la Concepcion (Spain - 17C)

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29. Morbilhan (France - 17C) 30. Annapolis (USA -1779) 31. Fort Union (USA - 1851) 32. Fort St. Philip (Minorca - 16C) 33. Fort Nieulay (France - 17C)

34. St. Martin de Re (France - 18C) 35. Bayonne (France - 17C) 36. Fort Medoc (France) 37. Mont Louis (France - 18C) 38. Julich (Germany - 16C+)

34

35

36

37

38

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by their contemporary French military engineer Louis de Cormontaigne, Vauban’s successor.42 The combined cavalier created a structure not much unlike a hornwork. However, the restrictions of the land front bastions meant that the imposition of the cavaliers on to the bastions left very little open space for manoeuvring, and this gave the land front the semblance of having a faussebraye – not much unlike that encountered at Fort Ricasoli. Indeed, seen in cross-sectional profile, one would be forgiven for thinking that the fort has a faussebraye (see sectional elevation on page 73). The cavaliers and their interlinking curtain were built on top of a

The dimensions and scale of Fort Santa Lucia, one of the outposts defending the approaches to the fortress of Elvas (Portugal), are very similar to those found at Fort Manoel. Work on this fort was begun around 1643 to the design of the Jesuit military engineer Padre Joäo Pisiásio and was based on Maralois’ Dutch system of fortification. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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series of heavily barrel-vaulted casemates which were designed to double up as bomb-proof barrack accommodation capable of housing a garrison of 500 men in the event of a siege. The design of Fort Manoel was given the same profile applied to the two earlier proposals, since it was likewise adapted and fitted to the reverse slope of the hill facing Valletta. The inclined profile comprised three levels, the highest of which formed the land front bastions, followed by a sloping piazza and flanks, and ending on a lower level forming the sea-facing front. This tilt allowed the piazza and


Detail from NLM Plan M27a showing the layout of Fort Manoel, drawn up shortly after the completion of the fort around 1733. Originally, this plan was bound together with the Manoel Foundation decree in NLM Treasury manuscript Volume 23, but was removed and filed with other fortification plans, probably during the course of the nineteenth century – see main text. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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Plan of Fort Condé, built in Mobile, Alabama by the French in 1723, the same year that the construction of Fort Manoel was commenced in Malta. Fort Condé was designed by the French military engineer Adrien de Pauger and, like Fort Manoel, adopted a simple square plan with four corner bastions. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

interior of the fort to be fully open to the defenders and their guns stationed on the ramparts of Valletta to the rear, making Fort Manoel, in essence, an open outwork commanded by the fortifications of city. Unlike in the earlier 1715 proposal, however, the inclined flanking curtains did not descend in a stepped fashion but were given a gradual slope. The same inclined profile was applied to the faces of the two bastions facing the sea. This allowed the military engineer the ability to place batteries in the flanks of St. Helen Bastion and St. Anthony Bastion without having to create piazze basse. These two bastions were each provided with a large gunpowder magazine, à la Vauban, then a novel feature hitherto unseen in the Maltese islands.

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The profile of the fort was kept relatively low and most of the ramparts, which were largely cut down into the bedrock, were shielded by the rock-hewn counterscarp and the parapet of the covertway. This gave the fort, especially along its land front, a very low silhouette that served to protect it from bombardment. As in the first proposal, Fort Manoel was only shielded by a ditch on three of its sides. In the final design, however, this was accompanied by a wide covertway containing four re-entrant places-ofarms, ten traverses, and eight cuttings that enabled the defenders to sally forth onto a spacious glacis reinforced with masonry spurs. Three sally-ports, each provided with a caponier, connected the fort to its outworks and, most importantly, to the system of countermines that underpinned the glacis. Indeed, Fort Manoel was the first of the harbour forts whose design included an in-built system of countermines. Up until this period, all the Hospitaller forts had either lacked such devices altogether or were being retrofitted with them by the French engineers. Another novel aspect of Fort Manoel was the impressive manner in which this stronghold was fitted out with its ordered layout of barracks. Unlike in the two earlier proposals, however, these edifices were not built down into a sunken piazza. Instead, the parade ground was kept at the level of the ramparts. Although making for a more aesthetically

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pleasing architectural arrangement, this configuration actually served to expose the lateral barracks to bombardment since they could not be shielded by the enveloping walls. On the other hand, this arrangement had the advantage of ensuring that the two huge underground cisterns which were cut into the rock beneath the parade ground, in order to provide the fort with an abundant water supply, kept the water well above sea level. The influence of Cormontaigne’s ideas on Brig. Jacob de Tigne’s design of Fort Manoel are reflected in many of the features of the fort, from the inclusion of the cavaliers with low command, mentioned earlier, to the layout of the crochets en cremaillere along the covertway, which were so designed to prevent the besiegers from finding shelter in them, as was the case with those of Vauban. The tenaille, likewise, did away with Vauban’s re-entrant angles, and its curtain was traced parallel to the enceinte to mask the Trous des Tenailles. Cormontaigne’s system was first applied in 1728 and 1735 at the Forts of Moselle and Bellecroix at Metz.


Detail from NLM Plan M14 showing the layout of Fort Manoel, probably drawn up during the early British period as evidenced by the presence of the two raised traversing platforms for c-pivot carriages on the salients of the landward-facing cavaliers (highlighted and inset). (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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Although the Knights did experiment with traversing carriages towards the late 1780s, it is more likely that this plan is showing early British alterations to the fort. The sheet also contains a sectional elevation of the land front, showing the ravelin, cavalier, tenaille, curtain (with sallyport) and casemated cavalier. The draughtsmanship style, employing red magistral lines, also tends to support a late date for the execution of the drawing.

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The earliest known photograph of Fort Manoel, taken from across the harbour in Valletta around the early 1860s showing the fort practically as left by the Knights in 1798. By the end of the nineteenth century, the British military would inflict a number of alterations to the fort, such as the dismantling of the Polverista on St. Anthony Bastion, the demolition of the murs d’isolament and the removal of the two echaugettes that would serve to detract from the overall geometrical symmetry of the fort’s architectural composition. The British interventions at this stage were limited to the construction of a ball court in the space between the church and the officers’ barrack block, the addition of various chimneys to the roofs of the barracks, and removal of the bronze monument of Grand Master Vilhena (which had been transferred to Valletta - see main text). A curious feature is the small sentry box (or guerite/ garita) located in the reentrant angle of the junction of the Sliema-facing curtain and the left flank of St. Anthony Bastion, adjoining the mur d’isolament (highlighted by a white box). There are no traces of this structure to be found on site and this may be because this was one of the wooden guerites which are documented to have been employed at Fort Manoel during the 1770s and 1780s. (Image source: Museums Department, 1995)

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section ii

Fort Manoel The main features of the fort

In his Description of Malta and Gozo, (1838) the English traveller Percy Badger, could only describe the Fort Manoel in a few lines as having strong walls enclosing a spacious yard containing a central statue of Grand Master Vilhena, around which stood three ranges of buildings, each containing two rows of apartments and a small church. His laconic description was probably gathered from the little that he could observe from across the harbour in Valletta for the fort, at the time, was inaccessible to the public. Similar descriptions, with varying degrees of detail and information are encountered in various visitors’ accounts written throughout the course of the eighteenth century.

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The best contemporary description, however, is to be found in the Cabreo della Fondazione Manoel, a hand written volume prepared not long after the completion of the fort and dated to around 1734.43 This document provides historians with a concise but accurate description of the various features of the fort and with important information about the manner in which these spaces and structures were utilized. It is reproduced below under different headings describing the various elements that make up the fort and its layout, which, for the purposes of this study, have been subdivided structurally into the following major components; • • • • • •

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Bastions, Curtains, and Cavaliers Ditch, Sally-ports, and Outworks Piazza, Barracks, and Church Gateway and Drawbridge Gunpowder Magazines Echaugettes


ii.i

Fort Manoel, like any gunpowder fortress, was defined by the number and size of its bastions. Its main defensive features, therefore, were its four corner bastions. These were named after St. Anthony, St. Helen (Bastion de la missida),44 St. John, and Notre Dame. The two land front bastions (St. John and Notre Dame) were largely carved out of solid rock, with the exception of their parapets which were built in stone, while the two Vallettafacing bastions were constructed of masonry: ‘recinto composto di quattro cortine, ed altretanti bastioni, un de quali riguardante la Tramontana è dedicato a S. Gio. Battā altro a sinistra riguardante Ponente è dedicato a Nrā Sig.ra, ambi scavati nella viva rocca, indi altro riguardante il mezzo giorno dedicato a S.Elena, ed altro riguadante Levante dedicato a S. Antonio, ambi elevat’in fabrica.’45 The bastions were built in pairs, with the two on the land front being slightly smaller than those facing out towards the sea, the outer faces of which measure 54 m at the magistral line. The size of the bastions was unavoidably dictated by the restrictions of the site but Mondion still managed to endow the bulwarks with salient angles (flanked angle) of around 68 degrees, which was respectably more than minimum acceptable angle of 60 degrees. Unlike the Valletta-facing bastions, the two land front bastions were asymmetrical owing to their unequal flanks, with the south-facing flanks on both bastions being considerably shorter and allowing for only one embrasure. Nearly all plans show the land front flanks as containing three embrasures each (with the exception of plan M24 which shows two).46 The two pairs of bastions also differed considerably from one another in their angles of curtain and in the

length of the intervening curtain walls. Three of the four curtains, namely those on the land front and the two flanks, were carved out of the rock while that to the rear, facing Valletta and containing the main entrance (which was also the longest), was built in stone. The ramparts have on average a height of about 12 m (39-40ft) from the floor of the ditch. This makes them marginally higher than most revetments found on similar eighteenth-century forts built on the Continent, where the standard height was set at about 10.7 m (35ft).

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The Main Enceinte Bastions, Curtains & Cavaliers

The walls have a batter (external slope) with a gradient of about 1:5, perfectly in line with guidelines recommended by Vauban. This was marginally steeper than the ‘cascata d’un sesto di scarpa dal piede sino la goletta’ applied by earlier engineers such as Mederico Blondel. As in the other forts, the rampart elevations were relieved with a cordon and goletta, a kind of continuous decorative string course, of rounded section, projecting slightly from the face wall beneath the parapet at the point where the sloping escarp gave way to the tableau of the parapet. In Fort Manoel, the parapets crowned most of the enceinte except for the gorge of the ravelin. As was then the custom in Malta, the parapets were built of dressed stone and filled in with stone chippings. Most foreign engineers, however, found little merit in such a manner of construction and instead preferred breastworks made solely from a packing of earth.47 On average, the parapets of Fort Manoel measure some 3.7 m in thickness, except for those along the Valletta-facing part of the curtain and bastion faces which are considerably smaller. Generally, four metres of packed earth was considered enough to stop a shot fired from a 24-pdr cannon. Comparatively, the parapets built at Fort Ricasoli, after 1788, were given 6 m of thickness including an external wall 1.04 m thick. The parapets of Fort Manoel were given a superior slope (an outward inclination) of about 1:4 and were covered with a layer of flagstones, the intrices

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Close-up view of the largely-rock-hewn curtain on the left flank of Fort Manoel, showing how the ratio of masonry construction to rock-shaping increases further down the slope of the ground at the foot of the hill on which the fort was erected. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

sealed shut with a cementitious mixture of lime and pozzolana to prevent rain water from seeping into the earthen core of the rampart and cause structural damage.

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The parapets all round the enceinte of the fort were pierced with 73 embrasures, eight of which were located on the ravelin. Some plans (M19, M23 & M24), however, also show a further seven embrasures on the parapet of the Valletta-facing curtain but there are no traces of these today. It is not clear if these were actually constructed. A significant number of the embrasures were blocked up by the British military in the course of the early decades of the nineteenth century and today only about one third of the original embrasures are still open and visible. About nine of the embrasures were demolished in the course of the British-period alterations to the fort, including all the embrasures on St. Anthony Bastion. The embrasures were of the common V-shaped plan with the mouth (bocca) wider than the neck and having, on average, a field of fire of around 30 degrees. The only exceptions were the two very wide embrasures opening up in the short flanks of the land front bastions, which were more of cuttings in the parapets designed to allow guns to fire en barbette rather than veritable embrasures. Mondion had made no particular effort to reinforce the most vulnerable parts of the embrasures (i.e., the corner stones) with quoins of harder and larger

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blocks of stone as was sometimes employed in other works of fortification (eg. Fort Chambrai).48 The embrasures were served by ‘platteforme’ (piatteforme) designed to provide stable platforms for the guns to fire properly, specially reinforced to support the weight and the forces generated by the guns and their recoil. It appears that the earthpacking beneath the gun platforms on St. Helen Bastion was enclosed within purposely-built stone gabions (‘casse di muri secchi di due canne’),filled in with stone chippings (‘scorcie sottili di materiali minuti’) and tightly rammed to ensure no subsidence. This was a common practice that is also well documented at Fort Chambrai.49 The paved platforms sloped gently downwards towards the parapet at an angle of around 4 degrees – this was made in order to help counter the recoil of the gun. Some plans of the fort also show two flat platforms on the north flanking curtain which seem to have been added at a later stage in order to mount a mortar battery. Where not pierced by embrasures, the parapets were served by banquettes, or firing steps, designed to allow soldiers to discharge their muskets over the crest of the


Close-up view of the largely-rock-hewn face and flank of Notre Dame Bastion. Note the opening for the run-off rain water culvert in the flank of the bastion. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Close-up view of the right flank and face of St. Helen Bastion. The two-seaward bastions at the foot of the hill had to be built up rather than carved down out of the bedrock. Hardstone blocks from surface quarries in St. Julian’s Bay was employed in their construction – see main text. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

St. Anthony Bastion

Polverista

Piazza St. Helen Bastion

Seaward-facing Curtain

St. John Bastion

Main Gate

Polverista

Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of Fort Manoel (c.1780). (Image source: Author’s private collection). Re-entrant place-of-arms

Spur of glacis

Rock-hewn caponier in ditch Covertway

Traverse Spur of glacis

Ravelin Tenaille

Cavalier Notre Dame Bastion

Demi-caponier Spur of glacis

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Close-up view of the Salient of St. John Bastion with its low cavalier. Note how the ramparts are practical carved out of the Globigerina bedrock for more than two-thirds of their height. The metal bridge, and its correspondent cutting in the parapet on the left face of the bastion were the result of early 20th century British military interventions designed to provide access to the fort from the main land to the north. Up until this point in time, Fort Manoel could only be adequately accessed from its main gate on the seaward side of the fort, via Valletta. The structure crowning the cavalier was a WWII Anti-Aircraft Battery command post for the battery of four 3.7-inch HAA guns deployed on the covertway and glacis around the perimeter of the fort. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Close-up view of the low cavalier on Notre Dame Bastion showing one of the large windows which ventilated the bombproof casemates inside the cavalier. The platform of the bastion is itself fashioned directly out of the bedrock. Also visible in the photograph is the reconstructed dome of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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NLM Plan M10 shows the terrace platform and interior layout of the cavalier on Notre Dame Bastion shortly after completion in 1724. Many of the embrasures were eventually blocked up and filled in by the British military. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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Interior view of the bombproof vaulted casemates inside St. John Cavalier. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Below, Various views of the low casemated curtain which links the two cavaliers and itself designed to serve as a cavalier battery. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

breastworks. At Fort Manoel, many of the banquettes were made of packed earth, as was the common practice, except along the parapets of the land front curtain, the tenaille, and the north-facing curtain, which were carved out in the surface bedrock. The land front bastions also differed significantly from the seaward-facing bastions by being each surmounted by a low casemated cavalier. The two cavaliers were linked together by a long curtain wall, likewise casemated, and all the three elements combined formed a kind of elevated ‘hornwork’ battery capable of mounting thirty-three guns. The combined cavalier structure rested of a series of heavy barrel-vaulted casemates built ‘à prova di bomba’, with the long curtain containing eleven interconnected vaults measuring some 10 m deep and 5 m wide, and the two cavaliers on the bastions having five casemates each arranged in the manner illustrated in the Pianta del Cavaliere Sinsitro del Forte Manoel da farsi sotto la piattaforma di D. Cavaliere (see opposite page) and in plan M18. Each of the two cavaliers contained a main vault some 29.5 m deep and about 5.5 m wide, linked to four smaller transverse lateral vaults measuring about 12 m deep by 4 m wide. Each vault was served by a large widow opening for ventilation. These were not openings for mortar fire as can be found, for example, in the redoubt-cum-stable of the Fuerte de la Conception in Spain. The terrace platforms on top of the cavaliers were reached by two external stairways, placed one the gorge of each cavalier and protected laterally by a traverse-like extension of the flank: ‘Li due bastioni di San Gio. e Nrā Sig.ra muniti caduno di cavaliere, che regn’altre so longo alla loro cortina, guarnito di cannoniere in tutta, la sua estenzione con ramparo, sostenuto da vuolte di cinque sotteranei, sotto ciasche d’un cavaliere de bastioni, e di undici sotto quello della cortina, tutti e ventuno a prova di bomba con scala in due branchi per ogni lato per salire al sudetto cavaliere de bastioni e cortina’ 50

Above, detail of the parapets on the cavalier and bastions on the fort’s land front. Some of the embrasure were reconstructed by the British military and built more solidly with larger bonded masonry as can be seen in the example above, situated on the casemated curtain cavalier. Right protective shoulder on the flank of Notre Dame Cavalier. (Source of images: Author’s private collection)

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Close-up view of the low cavalier on Notre Dame Bastion showing the large windows which ventilated the bomb-proof casemates inside the cavalier. A number of original embrasures were blocked up and filled in by the British military in the course of the nineteenth century. One of these occupied the rounded salient of the cavalier as can be seen in Plan M12 shown on the previous pages. The very low relief of the cavalier was based on Cormontaigne’s ideas (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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Crochet

Traverse

t un Co

Rock-hewn place-of-arms inside ravelin

e in m er ry lle ga Sally-port in left flank of ravelin

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Notre Dame Cavalier

Elevated traverse wall, shielding battery on curtain from ricochet fire

passage leading down to left sally-port Sally-port Caponier

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St. John Cavalier

Sally-port in right flank of ravelin

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Tenaille

passage leading down right sally-port

passage leading down to sally-port on main land front curtain

Author’s graphic simulation showing a cutaway diagram of the low casemated cavalier-curtain linking the cavaliers on St. John Bastion and Notre Dame Bastion. These the bomb-proof vaults were designed to house a garrison of some 500 men in the event of a siege. The fort was served by three sally-ports which provided access into the ditch. These were situated in the land front curtain and in the flanking curtains respectively.

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View of the gorge of the low casemated cavalier-curtain linking the cavaliers on St. John Bastion and Notre Dame Bastion, showing the entrances to the bomb-proof barrack accommodation. These vaults were designed to house a garrison of some 500 men in the event of a siege. (Image source: Author’s private collection) The two inset photographs at the bottom of the page show the terrace platform of the combined-cavalier feature with various British additions, the most notable of which are the expense magazine on St. John Cavalier, and the two thick traverses (bottom) near Notre Dame Cavalier. (Image source: Author’s private collection). Opposite page, bottom right, Two views of the casemated interiors of St. John Cavalier and of the central casemate in the cavalier curtain, with its tunnel leading down to the sally-port at the foot of the land front curtain. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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British expense magazine

British-period traverses

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ii.ii The Ditch & Outworks From Sally-ports to Countermines

An important element in the defences of Fort Manoel was the ditch. This was cut out of Globigerina limestone ‘à punta di picconi’ and covered three of the four fronts of the fort. On average, the ditch measures about 15 m wide in front of the land front bastions and 23 m at its widest in front of the land front curtain, behind the gorge of the ravelin, and was about 10 m deep at the counterscarp. The ditch narrows considerable down to 10 m in front of the faces of the ravelin. Its floor is all level along the land front but tilts downwards towards the sea half way along the flanks of the fort. This inclination helped drain the ditch by channelling access rain water down into the sea.

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The ditch of Fort Manoel contains various rock-hewn features. The first of these was the ravelin, a large isolated pentagonal bulwark, open at the gorge and designed to shield the curtain wall to its rear against direct enemy fire. Immediately to the rear of the ravelin stands the tenaille: ‘Le opere esteriori del forte sono una tenaglia, e mezzaluna, scavata nella viva rocca, posta innanti il fronte principale, e di Lebeccio e Gregale, fosso piccolo innanti la mezzaluna per communicare alla quale vi è una porta secreta co due piccioli corpi di guardia in rocca, e capponiera sotto la mezzaluna, vi è un sotterraneo con due aperture lateralli per andare alle due mezze caponiere del fosso piccolo. Altre due porte segreti per andare alle capponiere delle corine di lebeccio e Gregale, alla strada coperta, quale regna innanti il fronte principale.’51

down to the sally-port. It was some 8 palms wide and was cut out of the rock. Two smaller galleries, one on each flank, gave access to the ditch on the sides of the fort. A caponier of communication linked each of the three sally-ports to the forward positions. Another two demi-caponiers protected the sally-ports in the flanks of the ravelin. In the bastioned system of fortifications, access to the outer works from inside a fortress was only possible by running across an open ditch. Under fire, crossing across the open expense of ditch was a risky undertaking and one device which was designed to deal with this problem was the ‘caponiere per comunicazioni’, a sort of sheltered passageway equipped with banquettes, parapets, and sloping glacis which was built, or cut, across the width of the ditch, and was deep enough to shelter the troops in transit. The caponiers at Fort Manoel, fashioned out of the ‘rocca viva’, are the best surviving examples of their kind to be found in Malta. This is largely because many of these features were only retrofitted to the local forts in the eighteenth century and, by this late date, most of the ditches of the earlier forts had already been fashioned out from the bedrock. As a result, the larger part of the caponiers had to be built out of stone and earth and in time these were swept away once the ditches were opened and developed for modern usage. Cut into the rocky counterscarp of the ditch of Fort Manoel are also four pairs of narrow and steep flights of steps, known as pas-de-souris. These were designed to allow the soldiers to reach the covertway from within the ditch. As at Mount Dauphin (an

Access to these outer works from inside the fort was via a sally-port opening up into the ditch at the bottom of the land front curtain. The gallery reached Farrow of glacis

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Spur of glacis Crest of glacis


Below, Rock-hewn ditch, counterscarp and covertway on the right flank of Fort Manoel. Note the perfectly aligned flank of St. Anthony Bastion, designed to enfilade the whole length of the side of the fort. This originally held a battery of three guns firing through embrasures. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of the land front defences of Fort Manoel (c.1780). (Image source: Author’s private collection).

Covertway with palisades

Spur of glacis

Salient place-of-arms

Ditch

Ravelin Glacis

Spur of glacis Re-entrant place-of-arms

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Below, View of the left flank and gorge of the ravelin on the land front of Fort Manoel. The ravelin is largely rock-hewn, including parts of its parapet. The gorge of the ravelin is occupied by a two-stage pas-de-souris. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Below, bottom right, The steps of the pas-de-souris at Fort Manoel, cut into the counterscarp and into the gorge of the ravelin, all stop about a metre or so higher than the level of the ground of the ditch. This was a defensive technique commonly employed in French fortifications as can be seen from the photo of the pas-de-souris in the counterscarp of the fortifications of Mont Dauphin, France (bottom left). (Source of images: Author’s private collection)

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The four pairs of pas-de-souris on the counterscarp at Fort Manoel linked the ditch to the four re-entrant places-of-arms (mustering areas for troops waiting to counter-attack the enemy or defend the forward positions) that punctuate the covertway (strada coperta, or chemin couvert) running along the top of the counterscarp. Effectively, this was the first defensive position outside the walls of Fort Manoel, the outermost defensive perimeter so to speak. It

Rock-hewn central caponier and tenaille. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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example of Vauban’s first system), the pas-de-souris at Fort Manoel stopped short about a metre above the floor of the ditch, thereby requiring removable wooden ladders to make them accessible. This was a defensible feature designed to deny attacking troops the ability to descend into the ditch. Although an inconvenience for the defenders, who had to carry ladders every time they need to access the covertway, it assured that the besiegers could only descend into the ditch by jumping down, with no possibility of retreat. Interestingly, this feature does not appear to have formed part of the original design during the initial stage of the construction of the fort for the pas-de-souris, as depicted in the sectional elevation in plan M24, is shown with its steps reaching down to the bottom of the ditch.

Rock-hewn demicaponier on left flank of ravelin. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Rock-hewn tenaille and sally-port with land front curtain in the background. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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Entrance to countermine gallery View of the land front ditch and fortifications as seen from the flank of the cavalier on St. John Bastion, showing the rock-hewn tenaille, caponier, and gorge of the ravelin. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Rock-hewn counterscarp

Entrance to countermine gallery beneath re-entrant place-of-arms

Rock-hewn stepped banquette

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Tenaille

Rock-hewn pas-de-souris

Passage through tenaille to caponier

Sally-port exit into ditch (hidden from view)

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Original passage onto platform of ravelin blocked up with concrete wall by British military

Rock-hewn pas-de-souris leading up to covertway on land front

Rock-hewn gorge of ravelin

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Rock-hewn pas-de-souris

Cutting of caponier widened to allow for passage of vehicles

Rock-hewn glacis of caponier

Caponier Entrance to large rock-hewn chamber inside ravelin

Rock-hewn glacis of caponier

WWII bomb crater

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Below, Rock-hewn features on the covertway of Fort Manoel (from top to bottom): traverse near place-of-arms (now part of the HAA Battery), traverse with banquette (note culvert for wooden palisade); crochet between rock-hewn traverse and parapet of covertway. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Above, detail from NLM Plan M14 (19th century) showing the pas-desouris reaching down to the level of the ground of the ditch. This was a draughtsman’s error as in reality the steps stopped much high up, leaving a drop that could only be accessed by a ladder, see image top right. Right, Rock-hewn features inside the ditch of Fort Manoel (from top to bottom): pas-desouris and entrance to countermine gallery beneath left re-entrant place-of-arms; demicaponier on right face of ravelin; passageway cut into in glacis of caponier beneath counterscarp. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Vauban-type of traverse and crochet Cormontaigne- type of traverse and crochet

ran along the land front and extended to half way along the flanks, covering a distance of some 430 m. By the eighteenth century, a width of ten metres for the covertway was considered wide enough to allow for the movement of troops yet still too narrow to enable the attackers to plant their siege batteries without having to cut into the glacis. At Fort Manoel the covertway is around 8.5 m wide, splayed out from the bedrock and protected by a series of masonry traverses. Ten of these small solid stone parapets, complete with banquettes equipped to take palisades, were placed perpendicularly along the line of the covertway to intercept enemy cannon balls. Only four of these traverses, however, can still be seen today. Traverses had become an indispensable feature in fortification after Vauban reputedly invented ricochet fire in 1688 at the siege of Philipsburg and perfected it at the siege of Ath in 1697.52 Thereafter the tir à ricochet became an effective method of lobbing cannon shot at low velocities over parapets to dismount the defenders’ artillery from their carriages and sweep troops assembled behind the defences. Up until the arrival of French military engineers in Malta, traverses were still largely absent from most of the covertways of the local fortifications, and in the Palisaded traverses

Below, View of remains of a culvert cut out in a stone block at the foot of the parapet of the couvertway. This formed part of the banquette and was designed to house a wooden palisade. This culvert would have run all along the parapet enveloping the covertway. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

few places where they had actually been erected, such as along the Floriana Lines, these were laid out in a saw-tooth fashion, ‘à dente di sega’, leaving most of the covertway open to enfilading artillery fire. In 1715, some 11,200 scudi were allocated by Brig. de Tigné to cover the completion and refashioning of the covertways of Valletta, Floriana, Senglea, Birgu, and Sta. Margherita with their ‘places d’armes et traverses ordinaires’. The system of covertway and traverses at Fort Manoel was based on the Covertway (chemin couvert / strada coperta)

Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of a section of the ditch and covertway of Fort Manoel showing the location of the wooden palisades. (Image source: Author’s private collection). Notre Dame Cavalier and Bastion

Crochet Palisaded gates closing off cutting in parapet of place-of-arms

Sally-port Rain-water outflow

Caponier with palisades

Palisades enveloping re-entrant place-ofarms

Palisaded gates closing off cutting in caponier


Palisaded gate

Entrance to countermine gallery

Wooden ladder used by defenders to access the pas-de-souris

Flight of rock-hewn steps, Pas-de-souris (in two stages)

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Caponier

Palisaded gates closing off cutting in caponier

Rock-hewn glacis of caponier

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Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of a section of the ditch, covertway and re-entrant place-of-arms of Fort Manoel, showing the manner in which wooden palisades were installed along the foot of the parapets of the glacis, behind traverses traverses, and inside the caponiers of communication. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Wooden palisades built in modules. These were generally only deployed during the summer period and were often removed and kept in storage during the rainy winter months.

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Ventilation shaft of underground countermine gallery beneath the place-of-arms

Palisades of traverse

Palisaded gate closing off cutting in parapet of place-of-arms

Crochet

Traverse Banquette

Covertway (chemin couvert / strada coperta)

Passageway in cutting of glacis of caponier

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Below, Detail from a plan of Fort Chambrai, Gozo, showing the palisades of the caponier serving the sally-port of the main gate. Unlike the caponiers at Fort Manoel, which were carved out into the rock, the one shown here was built up of stone and earth in the same manner that can still be seen in the ditch of the Birgu land front. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

pattern adapted by Cormontaigne,53 who gave it the en cremaillere profile designed to shield the defile (passages of communication) around each traverse with crochets arranged in such a manner so as to cause the least disruption to troop movement (see comparative diagram on page 77).

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Right, Detail from a plan of the Floriana land front showing a section of a palisade de chemin couvert together with a palisaded gate closing off the cutting. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta). Below, Diagram showing the system of palisades employed at Fort Manoel. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Banquette

The outer edge of the covertway at Fort Manoel was bordered by a parapet built in smooth-faced ashlar – most of this has largely disappeared. The parapet of the glacis, as it was also called, had an earthen banquette running along its length of which, however, hardly any traces have survived. The banquettes had masonry slots that were provided to accommodate wooden palisades, a sort of fence made of wooden stakes with pointed tips joined together by a timber cross-pieces that served much in the same manner of modern barbed wire. Where the ground allowed it, these culverts were cut out into the rock, ‘...strada coperta dovrà esser fatta al solito colli canali di pietra p. la palizzata o’ fatta nella rocca di 2: palmi almeno profonda ove il sito la dimandera’.54

Palisate pales

Traversa Horizontal spanner

Colonna Buttress post

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Culvert tamped with earth

At Fort Manoel, the palisades, or palisades du chemin couvert, as they were called in French, were made of castagno (chestnut wood) and rovere (oak) and consisted of vertical pales some 1.95 m high fixed to horizontal spanners (known as traverse) and supported at intervals by buttress posts (colonne). The dimensions of the palisades, however, varied considerably from country to country and from period to period. In most places, such palisades were planted into earthen banquettes but the system adopted at Fort Manoel, as in all the covertways built by Mondion at Birgu, Sta. Margherita enceinte, Floriana land front, Valletta, and Mdina, these were housed in culverts some 16 cm wide, shaped by stone blocks or cut into the rock. Both the dimensions of these culverts and the few depictions of the palisades found in the period plans suggest that the Knights preferred thick pales of square plan rather than rounded ones or those shaped more crudely from the stems of young trees. The palisades at Fort Manoel, as in all Hospitaller fortifications, were kept in store during the wet wintery months and


Cutaway diagram showing general layout of the countermine galleries beneath the covertway and glacis of the right flank of Fort Manoel. (Image source: Author’s private collection.) Countermine beneath salient place-of-arms

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Firing chamber (forno)

Corpo di Guardia

Countermine beneath re-entrant place-of-arms

Branch (rameau)

only issued during the open sailing season. This was undertaken around May, as the entry for the expenses of the work which went into the ‘piantare alcune palesate nel Forte’ in 1782 seems to imply. Other entries speak of ‘palizzate’ kept under lock and key in the ‘Magazzini del Forte’, with the ‘chiavi ... [nel] potere del Luog.te e del Sargente’.

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Above, Background image, Detail from NLM Plan M27b entitled ‘Sezione delle mine sotto la Piazza d’armi innanzi alla Cortina della Fronte Laterale a dritta del Fort Manoel’ showing a sectional elevation of a countermine gallery. This is one of a handful of measured drawings, in sepia ink, showing Fort Manoel’s countermines. The watermarks on the sheets of paper on which these drawings were executed reveal the date 1801, which means that they could not have been produced in Hospitaller times but were instead made for the British military. The fact that they are annotated in Italian, however, suggests that local Capomastri, such as Matteo Bonavia and his son, ‘trained in the manner of a military engineer’, were commissioned for the job. Right, Detail from NLM Plan P7 showing the countermine galleries and fornelli beneath the two re-entrant placesof-arms on the left and right side of the ravelin. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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Beyond the parapet of the covertway, the fort was enveloped by a spacious glacis, or spalto, an area generally of outward-sloping ground, cleared of all obstacles, which extended round the whole front and flanks of the fort. The ground of the glacis was levelled out in a series of smooth planes which fell away from the covered way, forming a pleated pattern of ridges and furrows in line with the salients and re-entrant angles of the covertway. At Fort Manoel the glacis was built up of packed earth and soil and is nowadays planted over with shrubs. Beginning at a distance of around 60m from the covered way, the glacis at Fort Manoel was reinforced with five ‘speroni ... per sostenere le terre del spalto’55, the spurs being revetted in masonry. Also cut into the counterscarp of Fort Manoel were the gallery openings to the fort’s system of countermines, lodged deep beneath the glacis. The Cabreo della Fondazione Manoel states that these consisted of ‘cinque gallerie principali oltre li altri rami per le mine fatte sotto lo spalto’.56 In actual fact, however, the fort had seven principal galleries, five of which were situated along the land front and the other two, placed beneath the placesof-arms along the flanks. Fort Manoel was the first fort in Malta which was designed with an in-built system of countermines. Most of the other forts, as a matter of fact, had to be retro-fitted with these devices since their counterscarps and ditches had already been formed by the time of the arrival of the French military mission in 1715. A large effort in the construction of countermines went into the Floriana outer works, which were remodelled by Mondion in 1715-16, as well as those at Fort Ricasoli and


Below, Detail from NLM Plan M27b entitled ‘[Galleria sotto] la Piazza [d’ar]mi d’inanzi alla Cortina del fronte laterale, a destra del Forte.’ (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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the Santa Margherita enceinte. This work was then entrusted to Lieutenant Boule, Le mineur du Roy, a sapper in Brig. de Tigné’s military mission. In 1715, when accompanying the special mission to Malta as a lieutenant, Boule was then one of the 20 officers engaged in the Compagnie des Mineurs (with a strength of 240 men. He would later be promoted to the rank of Lt-Colonel in command of the five companies of the Corps des Mineurs (together with Gribeauval, Douville, Châteaufer and Rouyer) which were merged into Corps-Royal de l’Artillerie et duGénie under the directeur de corps, Jean Florent de Vallière [Junior] (1717-76) as a result of Louis XV’s instructions, in 1755, to unite all the technical services of the artillery, miners, artificers and engineers into one corps. Boule’s manner of countermine construction (as found at Ricasoli for example), however, varied considerably from that found at Fort Manoel and shows that his earlier examples had had little bearing on its design. By the 1723, a system of permanent countermine tunnels was considered one of the most important

Above, View of the ditch of the Ravelin of Fort Manoel showing the entrance to the salient counterscarp gallery. Left, One of the rockhewn branches forming the underground countermine galleries at Fort Manoel. (Source of images: Author’s private collection).

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Below, Detail from NLM Plan P4 entitled ‘Mine sotto della Piazza d’armi inanzi all’angolo Saliente del Bastione sinistro, del Fronte principale del Forte’. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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Below, Detail from NLM Plan M14, a large drawing of the northern half of Fort Manoel, showing the level of the counterscarp. Also shown, in dotted lines, are the subterranean countermines. The plan contains no measurements. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

adjuncts of defence since such devices enabled the defenders to intercept the besiegers’ mining efforts. No fortress lacking such subterranean devices was thought capable of holding out against a determined attack for any length of time. In 1761, Bourlamaque and his team of military engineers stressed that a good countermining system depended on a main (magistral) gallery running beneath the covertway with secondary tunnels, or branches (rameaux), radiating out from it and extending some 50 to 60 toises (100–120 m) beneath the glacis. Fort Manoel’s countermine system, however, was not based on magistral galleries but consisted instead of isolated, fan-shaped networks of tunnels radiating beneath the glacis in the form of branches (rameaux) and listeners (écoutes), ending in small chambers designed to take small explosive charges, called forneaux (forno). Access to each set of tunnels, as result, was only possible from the ditch through openings cut in the counterscarp. This meant that the sappers could not move from one gallery to the next without exposing themselves to enemy fire out in the open ditch. The entrances to the main galleries had small corpi di guarda likewise cut into the bedrock. The countermine galleries and branches at Fort Manoel were carved out in rocca viva. In such solid ground, their forni would have required huge quantities of gunpowder for the explosions to be effective, without backfiring through the tunnels. This would only have been possible if the explosive chambers were very heavily tamped. At Fort Ricasoli, for example, Boule had constructed the galleries much closer to the surface of the bedrock and vaulted them over with trogli of rubble stone. This form of construction gave the charge a much greater explosive effect and helped direct the blast upwards. It would seem, therefore, that the Fort Manoel countermines were either never truly completed, or were intended to serve primarily as listening chambers (écoutes) from where countermining could proceed towards incoming enemy galleries in the course of a siege. The documents, nevertheless, give the impression that the countermines required no further work.

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Masonry revetment of the earthen glacis on the right side of the fort (facing Sliema) as seen from Valletta. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Debris and earth packed on top of the covertway by the British military during WWII to provide added protection for underground installations placed deep within the rock behind the counterscarp. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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View of the ditch and counterscarp on the right flank of Fort Manoel. The floor of the ditch is inclined downwards towards the sea in order to channel rain water away from the ditch. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Above, Views from the rear of the two re-entrant placesof-arms situated along the flanks of the fort. The place-ofarms on the Sliema (Ferry) side (right inset photograph) contains two 12-pdr QF concrete gun emplacements (19th Century) and a WWII heavy anti-aircraft emplacement with its low concrete blast walls. Both places-of-arms were reached from the ditch by a rock-hewn pas-desouris, shown in close-up in the image below. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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ii.iii Monumentality & Aesthetic Appeal

As a Baroque fortress worthy of its name, the design of Fort Manoel was not only concerned with functionality, but also, equally important, with aesthetic appeal. The Baroque fortress had to look good and impress its beholder with the visual power of its monumentality, spatial order, and grace. There was no divided opinion among the military engineers of the time about the dramatic effect of artistically designed fortifications on the human eye and most military engineers sought to apply Vitruvius’ criteria of venustas (beauty) to their fortifications – Mederico Blondel, for one, was quick to remind Grand Master Caraffa, in 1687, of the necessity of giving ‘l’occhio la dovuta sua parte’ when it came to designing works of fortification.57 The Order’s military engineers were

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View from Valletta of the Baroque gateway of Fort Manoel, with the façade of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua behind it, and the couvreporte immediately in front. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

able to achieve this formula exceptionally well at Fort Manoel where their sense of dramatic architectural orchestration, fuelled by the idea of Baroque miseen-scène and the need to maximize vistas clearly echoed Leone Battista Alberti’s concern that there was ‘no greater security’ than ‘through beauty and dignity’. This effect was accentuated largely by the architectural ensemble created within the ordered symmetry of the fort’s ramparts, focused around a central piazza, with its enveloping barracks, entered through a triumphal main gateway. Rather than using the beautiful architecture to disarm an enemy’s anger, however, as had been earlier suggested, perhaps somewhat optimistically, by Alberti, the visual power of Fort Manoel’s architectural ensemble was actually directed towards Valletta to the rear, in a clear attempt to impress the inhabitants of the city. In this manner the fort became a veritable work of art, set like the stage of an open theatre facing its audience in Valletta. It is little wander that the Comte de Bourlamaque, visiting Malta with his team of French engineers in 1761 to overhaul the knights’ system of fortification, could not help but be impressed by this sublime creation, and went on to claim that Fort Manoel was indeed a ‘model de fortification fait avec soin, et fini dans toutte ses parties’.58 It is not surprising either that Lieutenant Æ Anderson, inspecting this fort in 1801 shortly after the British takeover, by which time ideas on defence had changed significantly, thought it ‘less remarkable perhaps for its defensive utility, than the beauty of its construction’.59 Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of Fort Manoel, shown in aerial perspective from the direction of Valletta. Were it not for the off-centred position of the Church, Fort Manoel would have had a perfectly symmetrical layout. Order, balance, and symmetry were considered important qualities in Baroque architecture. The monumental architecture of the gateway and the church provided emphasis, while the arcaded loggie of the barrack blocks gave the design a degree of rhythm. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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ii.iv

The central element of the fort’s architectural arrangement was the large piazza bordered by the ordered arrangement of barracks, symmetrically disposed along the central axis of the fort, which was also to double up as a ‘grande place d’armes’. The four blocks enveloping the plaza were fronted by an arched portico in the fashion of contemporary ideas about the visual quality of urban spaces dictated by the Baroque order.60 Up until the eighteenth century, the Order’s engineers had devoted hardly any attention to providing the knights’ fortifications with accommodation for garrison troops. The problem was generally solved by billeting soldiers within the available spaces existing inside a fortress’ casemated ramparts. Such poorly ventilated, dark and damp spaces, however, provided only for the most appalling living conditions. Purposely builtbarracks only began to appear in Malta in the late seventeenth century at Fort Ricasoli but it was only in the early eighteenth century, first at Fort St. Elmo (1727) and then at Fort Manoel, that they become a distinct component of a fortress in their own right. Designed and built by Mondion, these caserme followed the guidelines for model barracks first set down by Vauban in 1679, who was concerned to improve discipline, good order, and sanitation in garrisons.61

Mondion, like Vauban, laid out his barracks with their backs parallel to the curtain walls and set them around a central parade ground. He seems to have experimented first with this idea at Fort St. Elmo, which was completed around 1727 and designed to house some 200 men from the regiment of Grand Master’s Guards. These barracks were fitted with an arcaded portico, an effective cooling device in the warm local climate, had external stairways to regulate and facilitate troop movement, and were adequately ventilated. The whole ensemble was further enhanced with the addition of a beautiful small church and an adjoining chaplain’s quarters. The composition, however, was severely restricted by the cramped and asymmetrical layout of the interior of Fort St. Elmo and failed to achieve the same dramatic effect that Mondion was able to create at Fort Manoel.

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The Piazza & Barracks Baroque Vistas

The barrack blocks in Fort Manoel, on the other hand, were laid out along three sides of a large rectangular piazza. In all, four blocks were erected, two facing Valletta and one on each flank. Initially, and judging by plan M19, the two blocks facing Valletta were first designed as one long continuous edifice but this was changed by 1727 to include two smaller blocks detached from one another, one of which contained a small beautiful Baroque church: ‘due corpi di fabrica ambi con loggia coperta in due piani verso la Piazza, de qual’il piu vicino al Bast.e S. Gio contiene la cappella, sagrestia, ripostiglio, e garagollo per salire a due tribune, ed indi alle terrazze, e cuppola della cappella. A lato dellla cappella, vi è la casa del Cappellano, qual contiene al piano terrano due stanze, cortile, cucina, luogo

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Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of Fort Manoel, shown in aerial perspective from the direction of Valletta. Where it not for the off-centred positioning of the church, Fort Manoel would have had a perfectly symmetrical layout. The design achieves an excellent combination of order, balance, and symmetry. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Covertway Salient place-of-arms

Officer’s quarters Chaplain’s quarters Soldiers’ barrack block Re-entrant place-of-arms

Church of St. Anthony of Padua

Armoury

Gunpowder magazine on St. Anthony Bastion

Governor’s quarters

Piazza Gatecourt with corpo di guardia

Bronze monument to Grand Master Vilhena cast by the local founder Louis Bouchet and commissioned by Chev. Savasse.

Drop ditch

Soldiers’ barrack block

Main Gate Mur d’isolament

Echaugette Gunpowder magazine on St. Helen Bastion

Couvre-Porte protecting approaches to main entrance


commune, e due branchi di scala per salire al piano superiore in cui ha un vestibolo, sals, camera, e gambinetto verso il cortile.’ ‘Al lato della sudetta, vi è la casa del luogotenente del forte simile alla sud.a. L’altro corpo di casa, cioè i più vicino al bastione di Nrā Sig[nor]a contiene la casa del Sig.re Governatore consistente in due stanze terrane, cortile, cucina, luogo commune, e due branchi di scala per salire al pian superiore in cui un vestibolo, sala, e tre camere successive, con altra sala maggiore per custodia delle Armi del Presidio. A lato di questa, vi è quella del Sotto Cappellano consistente in un stanza, terrana, cortile, cucina, luogo commune, e due branchi di scala per salire al piano superiore, in cui ha un vestibolo, saletta e due gabinetti.’ The arcaded barracks were fitted with separate quarters for officers, chaplains, and soldiers. The block adjoining the church was designed to house the officer’s quarters and those of the chaplain of the fort. Built on two storeys, the ground floor was barrel-vaulted (col volte a lamia [three-centred arch]) while the roof of the upper floor was coved with slabs resting on rib arches (archi e balate). To the right of the church, and separated by a passage 7 canes (14 m) wide, stood a similar block designed to house the governor of the fort, two officers, and an armoury. The governor’s quarters, unlike those of the officers, were roofed ‘à gavità’, a type of groin vault with a flat central part. The faces of these two blocks overlooking the parade ground were given arcaded loggie, ‘una bassa, e l’altra di sopra’, the uppermost of which were roofed over with slabs carried on chestnut beams (‘con travi di castagna, e balate’). The latrines (gabinetti) and kitchens were placed in low buildings on the rear side of the barracks.62

NLM Plan M18, showing the state of the fortress around January 1727, with largely complete ramparts and unbuilt barracks and church (see main text). (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)


The two blocks on the sides, designed to house the rank and file, were built more solidly ‘avendo ogn’uno di detti quartieri sette stanze con volte à prova di bomba’; 63 ‘A lato destro e sinistro della Piazza e contro le due cortine riguardanti Lebeccio e Gregale, sono posto due corpi di cazerme a prova di bomba. Le caserme sono sette a dritta, e sette a sinistra, cad.a de quali contiene stanza, gabbinetto, cortile, cucina, luogo commune, e due branchi di scala per salire ad una camera super.a con loggia continuata alla lora facciata verso la Piazza.’

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Each room, measuring some 8 m x 2 m, was fitted with a loft or intermediate floor (‘un raffò con archi e balate, al quale si monterà con una piccolo scala’). This was served by two windows, one facing the parade ground, fitted with a small balcony (gallaria) and the other facing the sea. The rear sides of the blocks were fitted with latrines and kitchens, placed in low outhouses attached to the main block itself. The practice of fitting barrel-vaulted constructions with mezzanine floors to increase the area of accommodation is encountered in many of the fortifications. The huge barrel-vaulted casemates built into the curtain wall of the Floriana entrenchment near Polverista Curtain, which were utilized as a hospice for old men, were likewise fitted with intermediate floors (‘nella loro altezza [con] altri piani, o solaci mezzani’). An identical arrangement was introduced in the casemates of Fort San Salvatore. By the 1770s, a number of barrack rooms were being used for purposes other than billeting soldiers. There was a tavern set up in one of the rooms, the location of which is unknown, for a wooden door is recorded as having built for it in 1780.64 There was also a mill (centimolo) and a blacksmith’s workshop. The soiled water from latrines was drained away into interconnected pits (fosse coperte) of a capacity of around 60 barrels (botti) each and made to flow out into the ditch through culverts cut into the rock beneath the steps of the sally-ports. Rain water,

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on the other hand, was channelled from the roof of the barracks and platforms to a main cistern through stone and clay pipes (cattuse di pietra or di terracotta) fixed to the walls and placed in underground culverts. The two main cisterns (gibioni) were cut into the rock in the middle of the piazza to receive all the rain water from the parade ground and the terraces of the buildings inside the enclosure. These two large cisterns, each with a capacity of 1,000 barrels, were also designed to feed a small niche fountain opening onto the entrance courtyard behind the corpo di guardia. Special overflow culverts, or sporgatori, were cut out to channel excess water out of the reservoir into the piccolo fosso della Porta Maggiore (drop ditch of the main gateway). The records of the Fondazione Manoel show that the doors and windows of the lodgings and barracks were painted and frequently given a change of colour. Many of these apertures appear to have been painted grey (‘colore grigio’), including ‘le due porte dell’armeria’ (1776) and the ‘persiani’ (blinds) in the ‘casa del sig.n luogotenete’ (1780), while those of the Governor and chaplain were painted red. In July 1781, the persiane in the Lieutenant’s lodgings were repainted green and later in the same month ‘tutte le porte del Forte Manoel’ were re-coloured red. By September, however, the ‘porte e finestre’ of the Governor’s lodgings were being repainted grey. In August 1778, the doors of the rooms in the soldiers barrack blocks had numbers painted on them in red.65 The furniture inside the barracks was kept to a bare minimum. The basic fixtures were wooden bunks or letti and wooden trunks designed to hold the soldiers’ personal belongings. These were supplied by the Fondazione Manoel. In August 1778, the Manoel Foundation paid for the acquisition of ‘quattro tavolati di letto per i soldati dell Forte Manoel.’ Later, in 1799, The French commander of the fort requested 100 straw mattresses, but given that hay was then required for fodder, mattresses made from rope hemp were sent instead.


Below, View of the right half of the piazza of Fort Manoel enveloped by the soldiers’ barrack block and officers’ quarters with their ‘loggia’, and church. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Left, View of the Governor’s quarters with rebuilt arcaded portico, an indispensable cooling device in the hot summer climate of the Maltese islands. This block also contained the sala d’armi (armoury) and the assistant chaplain’s quarters. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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ii.v The Church of St. Anthony of Padua & Crypt

A central feature in the architectural ensemble of the piazza was the Church of St. Anthony of Padua. Given the religious and conventual nature of the Order of St. John, religious edifices were an important feature in Hospitaller fortifications. The importance given to these sanctuaries is more often than not reflected in the fact that such structures were generally among the first buildings to be erected and finished within a newly-built fortress. Indeed, the church of St. Anthony of Padua in Fort Manoel was already being fitted with a dome and Side view of the newly reconstructed and restored Church of St. Anthony of Padua, destroyed during the Second World War.The rear of the edifice, with its large oval windows, comprises the sacristy. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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decorated internally with carved ornamentations by 1727 when the barracks and magazines had not yet been laid out on site. The church appears to have been completed by June 1727 for it was consecrated and dedicated ‘à Dio e al Titolare della Cappella S. Antonio’ on the nineth day of that month by the Bishop of Malta, Mgr. Melchiore Alphera, in the presence of the Grand Master, the commander of the garrison, the knight Fra. Gio. Alessio Margon, and various other dignitaries, knights, and chaplains accompanied by a large crowd of people.66 Then, following a petition by Grand Master Vilhena to Pope Benedict XIII, the church was raised to the status of a Parish Church in 1728. The first parish priest, Rev. Michele Angelo Pisani, was appointed on 28 June 1729, not before, however, having first renounced his obligations at the chapel of Sta. Maria delli Angioli eretta nelle Terre del Comino.67


maintenance of the church, as well as on religious functions and celebrations. It appears to have been well furnished with ‘damasco, tovaglie, ombrello, due sedili co loro genuflessorij’, and silver candelabra – in 1796 an argentiere was paid 5 scudi for having ‘imbianchito l’ argenteria’.70 Various expenses were made to purchase panno, tela, and fornimenti required for the manifattura of the mezzo vestuario del presidio del forte. The church also had its organ, which in 1781 was in need of ‘una accomodatura col

Early 20th-century photograph of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua. The two statues in the niches represent St. John the Baptist, and St. Anthony. (Image source: Museums Department, 1995)

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Structurally, the Church, described by Mondion himself as ‘una Chiesola bellissima’, has a rectangular plan with its main elevation facing Valletta. The original façade, partially demolished during WWII but now carefully restored, was given an ‘imposing classical temple front’ with ‘four giant order Ionic pilasters framing two niches and the central portal. The niches hosted stone statues of St. John the Baptist, patron saint of the Order, and St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon, in recognition that the patron Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena had a special devotion to the saint as he was Portuguese.’68 Highly ornate stone carvings of military paraphernalia, echoing the trophies of arms used to decorate gateways and armouries, together with a central escutcheon that once bore the coatof-arms of the Grand Master, adorned the triangular pediment which crowned the façade of the church. The side elevation on the other hand, was left rather plain except for four Ionic pilaster, two doorways and five windows, three of which, including two oval ones, opened onto the sacristy. Internally, the church contained a nave, a ‘sagrestia, ripostiglio, e garigollo [spiral staircase] per salire à due tribune, ed indi alle terrazzo, e cupola’. The nave contained the altare maggiore and four secondary side altars (dedicated to St. Anne, the Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, and The Assumption of Our Lady) set within highly ornamental reredoses, while a sixth altar was located in an underlying crypt (carniera). All the secondary altars were commissioned between 1750 and 1752.69 The altars were adorned with large paintings of the saints to which they were dedicated, all of which were lost during the destruction of the church in WWII, except for that of the main altar showing St. Anthony of Padua. The records of the Manoel Foundation show that a considerable amount of money was expended on the furnishings, decoration, and

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A close-up view of the triangular pediment, with its escutcheon and trophies-of-arms, crowning the façade of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua. The façade was the only part of the church which remained largely intact after it was hit by bombs during the Second World War. The central escutcheon originally displayed the coat of arms of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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View of the crypt below the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, with its vandalized altar, prior to restoration (below) and during restoration (left margin). (Source of images: Author’s private collection)

aggiustare li mantici e molte canne affinche verra in perfezione.’71 A sum of 35 scudi was paid to the organaro Pietro Santucci to fix the device. A yearly expense of 10 scudi also went into the purchase of a bochetto which was presented to the Grand Master ‘il giorno della festivita di St. Antonio di Padova titolare della chiesa del forte’. During 1775, for example, the sum of 9.13 scudi was spent on the purchase of ‘Palmi e Rami d’Oliva per la Chiesa’ on the occasion of the Domenica Palmarum. Other festivities held in the church were the ‘Vespro e processione del Corpus Christi,’ which entailed a ‘spese di foglie’ for the making of torches. The Church of Fort Manoel also had an impressive ‘arsenale’ of holy reliquaries, including the entire body of S. Generoso, placed inside the main altar, and a relic of the Holy Cross donated to the church by the Grand Master himself,72 all of which were displayed for ‘publica Venerazione’.73 These included the following:74 • Il legno della S.ta Croce in Ostensorio d’Argento – con cristallo guarnito à filograno d’oro. • St. Antonio di Padova in Ostensorio di in Ostensorio d’Argento à filograno d’oro. • Il Velo di Maria SS.ma, S.ta Anna, e Sn. Giaocchino tutti assieme in Ostensorio d’Argento. • Sn. Giuseppe, e Sn. Filippo Neri in Ostensorio d’Argento donativo del Com.re Fr. Giuseppe • Colomb. • La Sacra Cera in piccola Techa d’Argento. • Li SS.mi Martiri Cosimo, e Damiano in piccola Techa d’Arg.to • Li SS.mi Gaetano, ed Andrea Avellino in piccola Techa d’Arg.to • Sn. Pietro Gelestino in piccola Techa d’Arg.to • Sn. Gio. Battista in Techa di Rame con cornice d’Argento. • Il Corpo di Sn. Generoso entro l’Altare Maggiore.

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• Due Casse di Relique con vetro ai Lati dell’Altare Maggi.re The items held in the church are mentioned in an exhaustive inventory which was drawn up in 1780 by Rev. Emmanuel Solano, the last, and apparently the longest serving of the fort’s chaplains to be buried in the crypt underlying the church in 1803. This crypt, with its altar dedicated to Our Lady of Graces, adorned with carvings of souls in purgatory, as well a an eight-pointed cross, served for the burial of the chaplains. Mondion is also documented as being buried there in 1733. A note in the Order’s archives at the National Library records his tombstone ‘nella chiesucola del Forte Manoel’, and read as follows: A DIO OTTIMO MASSIMO HIC IN AREI QUAM CONDIDERAT JUXTA EJUS ULTIMA VOTA, FACET CAROLUS DE MONDION PARISIENSIS S.H.R ARCHITECTUS POLEMICUS OB MORUM SUAVITATE ET INGENIS DOTES EQUITETES VEN. LINGUAE FRANCIA OBI ANN. 1733 DIE 25 DCE.IS The crypt witnessed three other known burials besides Mondion and Solano, namely, Rev. Mederico Attard (1754), Rev. Aloisio de Lucia (1760), and Rev. Carmelo Galea (1771).75


Right, Plan and side elevation (below) of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, as proposed in 1727, taken from NLM Plans R23 and R23A (see main text)

For many decades the elevation was wrongly catalogued under the heading of ‘Church of Fort Ricasoli’. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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Inventory of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, 1780.

Inventario delli Argenti, Rame, Giugali ed altre appartenente alla Fondazione Manoel per uso della Chiesa Parrochiale di St. Antonio di Padova, nel Forte Manoel, de’ qual si è fatta la Consegna al Cappellano di esso Forte Fr. Emmanueli Solaro il di Primo Febraio 1780. Sacre Reliquie, che si espongono alla publica Venerazione (listed on page 92)

Above, Titular painting of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, now at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta. This painting was originally housed in the framed moulding of the reconstructed reredos of the main altar shown right (Image source: Midi p.l.c., courtesy of Arch. Svetlana Sammut; photograph by Mr. Tony Terrible)

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Two religious confraternities, those of St. Anthony and St. Anne had acquired permission to meet in the Church of Fort Manoel. They were later combined into one confraternity, that of St. Anne but after the uprising of the Priests in 1775, Fort Manoel, like many of the other garrisoned forts, was placed out of bounds to the public and, owing to these stricter regulations, the Confraternity was obliged to transfer its seat to the Church of the Nativity in Valletta. Normally, two masses were celebrated in the Church of Fort Manoel each day. The first daily mass was said before the opening of the gates in the morning, and that in the evening, after the review of the troops. As a rule, all the soldiers had to return to their barracks by the sounding of the Angelus. In 1762, as a result of an edict issued by Bishop Rull to cover all rural sanctuaries, the Church of Fort Manoel was endowed with ecclesiastical immunity.

Argenti Due Calci con Platine. Due Pissidi. Un’ Ostensorio per il Venerabile. Duo Piccoli Candelieri. Una Croce Ottogona per l’Asta di Bandiera. Un’ Incensiere, con sua Navetta, e Cocchiaino, Un’ Piattino per Ampolline. Un’ Secchio, e suo Aspersorio per l’Acqua Santa. Un’ Vasetto per l’ Oglio Santo, e sua Casetta per il Bambacio. Due Chiavette, l’una per il Tabernacolo, e l’altra per la Capsula. Una Cassetta, ò sia Bussola dorata al di dentro per conservare il SS.no Sagramento, regalata dal Sig.r Com.re Fr. Dn Emmanuele Guedes nel 1760. Rame Un’ Crocifisso con finimenti d’Argento. Un’ Crocifisso dorato in una Cassa d’ebbano con cristallo. Un’ Crocifisso per li Moribondi. Dieci Candelieri per l’Altar Maggiore. Due Cornacopi. Un’Aspersorio di rame. Un’ Lampiere. Una Croce Processionale. Una grossa Campana, ed una piccola Campanella. Un’ Braccio di ferro per il Croce. Quattro Fanali per il SS.mo Viatico. Un’ ferro per fare le Particole.


Una Bandelora di damasco bianco dipinta per il SS.mo Viatico. Un’ Ombrello di damasco bianco guarnito con gallone d’oro e pendent simili. Una Tovaglia d’Araesino rosso guarnita con zerletto d’Argento. Un velo di damasco bianco con zerletto d’oro per coprire la sfera. Due Portiere di Cataluffo rosso, e giallo per le porte della Sacristia. Una Portiera di tela verde per il finestrone della porta Maggiore. Altra grande di tela ... verde nuova per la Porta Maggiore della Chiesa.

Una portiere di tela torchina per l’Altar Maggiore ne’ giorni di Passione. Un’ strato di seta rossa con suo Genuflessorio per il Sig.r Governatore. Un’ Genuflessorio con suo tapeto di lana per il Sig,r Luogotenente. Una portiere di damasco violesco Avanti l’Oglio Santo. Una portiere di damasco bianco avanto le Sacre Relique. Una Girandola à fiori di Cannutiglia. Un’ Cero Pasquale rifatto l’Anno 1764. Due torcie per accompagnare il SS.mo Viatico, ed alter funzioni. Un’ Scannello, con Altare Portatile per la Cappella del Corpus Christi. Due Confessionari. Due Tapeti vecchi. Due sedie di noce per il Sig.ri Governatori, e Luog.te. Una sedia di vacchetta per il Celebrante, e due alter per l’assistente. Due banchette di vacchetta per la Sacristia. Un’ Pergano.

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Giocali Una Pianeta di brocato d’oro co’ suoi fornimenti senza il velo del Calice. Due Tonicelli di broccato in seta co’ loro fornim.ti. Due Pianeta di damasco bianco fornite. Due Pianete di damasco rosso fornite Una Pianeta di damasco verde fornita. Una Pianeta di damasco violaceo fornita. Una Pianeta di damasco violaceo, e verde fornita. Quattro Pavaglionl, cioè, bianco, rosso, violaceo, e verde. Due Tonicelle di damasco bianco fornite. Quattro Cappe di damasco, tre de’ quali in seta, ed una in lana negra. Due Pianete, e due Tonicelle di damasco negro co’ loro fornim.ti. Altra Planeta di damasco negro. Una croce ia Legno con Crocifisso d’Avorio. Dodeci vasetti mistorati in oro co’ loro fioretti. Tre Missali, e due Aggiunte di Morti. Un’ Rituale. Un’ quadretto con cornice dorata rappresentante la .B Vergin per le Litanie. Una Capsula per SS.mo Sepolcro. Un’ Baldacchino di Legno dorato per l’esposizione. Un’ Baldacchino verniciato di rosso per il SS.mo Viatico. Due Pagliotti di broccato per l’Altar Maggiore. Un’ Pagliotto di damasco nero. Due Cornici Dorati per d.ti Pagliotti. Un’ piccolo Pagliotto di broccato d’oro colla sua cornice dorata per la piccolo credenza. Un Baldacchino di damasco bianco con aste di legno per il SS.mo Viatico.

Biancheria Due tovaglie nuove fine per l’Altare con merletti, l’uno de’ quali riportato da una Tovaglia vecchia. Altra tovaglia vecchia con merletto. Quattro tovaglie ordinarie nuove senza merletti. Tre tovaglie vecchie ord.rie senza merletti. Due tovaglie per il Bianco della Sagra Communione. Lacere. Una Toviglia per la credenza. Cinque albe fornite, l’una di tela, e merletto fini, ed altra di essa vecchia. Nove Corporali. Dodici Purificatori nuovi. Dodici fazzoletti per il Lavabo nuovi. Sei sciugamani. Due suppelliccie. Tre Canopei per Coprire le Pisside, due de’ quail di Lama d’Argento. E l’altro di broccato d’oro, con gallone, donativo d’un Devoto. Una Sedia al Confessionario col suo sedile di marocchino, e due piccolo genuflessori per l’uso delle Confessioni nella Sacristia.

Fr. Emmanuele de Solano, Parroco.

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Extracts from various documents related to the contents of the Church of Fort Manoel - (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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Various views and details of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua before and after restoration. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Façade prior to restoration

Cornice

Ionic Order capital

Ionic Order pilasters

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Reredos of one of the side altars

Side entrance to church blocked up following installation of new side altar in 1750-52 Entrance to sacristry

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Lantern

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Triangular pediment

Trophy-of-arms The faรงade has a classical temple front with four giant order Ionic pilasters framing two niches and the central portal

Left niche hosted a stone statue of St. John the Baptist, patron saint of the Order

Right niche hosted a stone statue of St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon, patron saint of G. M. Vilhena

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ii.vi

Photograph of Fort Manoel taken around 1858 showing the statue of Grand Master Vilhena still in situ prior to its removal to Valletta. (Image source: Courtesy of Richard Ellis Archive -Malta)

The Bronze Monument of Grand Master Vilhena

By the late 1730s the Gran Piazza del Forte Manoel76 had acquired an additional fixture – a beautiful monument in bronze of Grand Master Vilhena mounted on a large marble pedestal, sited somewhere in the middle of the parade ground. This monument is not indicated on any of the plans of the fort produced before 1736, nor does it feature in the drawing produced during the French occupation. This Baroque life-size bronze effigy of Vilhena, cast in Malta by Louis Bouchet, the Order’s French bronze founder, and probably modelled by the talented Pietro Paolo Troisi,77 who was soon to

The monument to Grand Master Vilhena with its full length bronze statue and marble base. The monument is currently located in Piazza Sant’ Anna, Floriana. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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become Master of the mint, was commissioned by the French Knight commander Felician de Savasse in 1734.78 The statue is a beautiful Baroque masterpiece which portrays the Grand Master in a majestic pose attired in his full regalia, wearing an embroidered coat topped by a breastplate, large flowing cape and riding boots, wearing his wig and with his sword by his side. It was completed and ‘inalzata nella Piazza del Forte Manoel’ in 1736 for the cost of 1,274 scudi 7 tari 14 grani.79 Another document, however gives the total ‘spesa avanzata dal detto Fondatore p. la statua .. unitam.e coll’importare della di lui opera, e lavoro ascese a scudi due mila cento cinquanta, tari cinque e grani quattordici’ (2,159.5.14 scudi).80 Unfortunately for Bouchet, he had only received the sum of 100 scudi ‘somministrate in due volte’ by Chevalier de Sante Jay,81 by the time Savasse left the island to return to his commandery in 1734, leaving the unfortunate founder with no other option but to petition the Grand Master for the settlement of the balance. Bouchet sought desperately to acquire his dues from Savasse but to little avail and went to his early grave a poor men. Attempts to secure Savasse’s spoglio after his death also proved futile, as this bankrupted knight had only left huge debts behind him. Bouchet’s widow, after struggling in court for a settlement for many years, was eventually granted the sum of 800 scudi, paid out from the Manoel Foundation in 1775 on the order of Grand Master Ximenes.82 This payment was made more out of compassion rather than a legal obligation, since Savasse had commissioned the work privately on his own initiate and not on behalf of the Order.


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Unfortunately, the monument was removed from Fort Manoel by the Colonial Government and transferred to Piazza Tesoreria in Valletta in 1858.83 In the course of this procedure, two fine commemorative bronze medallions were found inside the base of the statue, and these were later identified as having been produced by Soldani Benzi and presented to Grand Master Vilhena.84 Today the Vilhena monument is to be found in Piazza Sta. Anna in Floriana. Close-up view of the head and bust of the bronze statue of Grand Master Vilhena. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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ii.vii The Main Gate & Drawbridge Couvre Porte & Corpo di Guardia

After the church façade, the most architecturally ornate element at Fort Manoel is its main gateway. By the eghteenth century, the main gate, or Porta Reale as the Italians called it,85 was the only element on the ramparts which totally defied functional considerations and served solely to break up the austerity of the plain mass of the walls, introducing an element of façadism that had reached its climax during the age of Baroque, where it had assumed the semblance of a triumphal arch with its classicized features.86

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In the design of a fort’s gateway, the Order's engineers sought to combine decorative elements with the physical force of the ramparts to create a symbol of power and authority. Ever since the late 1600s, fortress gateways in Malta had been slowly becoming a means of propaganda, communicating the power, might, and authority of the prince to his subjects. The elaborate ornamention communicated a direct visual language, conjured up to awe and subdue a society that was still largely illiterate. It is easy to forget that in this age of absolutism, even an enlightened grand master like Manoel de Vilhena was still a veritable autocrat. At Fort Manoel, all this was achieved with a great sense of aesthetic sensitivity and spatial grace and the gateway of the fort was transformed into sublime monumental work of art, endowed with sensuous proportions and lyrical composition. It is manifestly more refined than the other Baroque gateways erected on the fortifications of Birgu, Mdina, and earlier, those of the Cottonera enceinte executed under Blondel’s supervision.87 Gateway design, as applied at Fort Manoel encapsulated the synthesis of what fortifications had come to stand for in the age of Baroque – magnificence and military power.

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Sited for maximum effect in the middle of the Valletta-facing curtain, in line with the fort’s main axis, it imparted beauty, emphasis, and symmetry to the composition and at the same allowed it to be adequately covered by the guns mounted in the flanks of the adjacent bastions. The main architectural elements in the gateway were the decorative portal and façade, an entrance passageway, two the corpi di guardi (guardrooms), and a drawbridge.The Cabreo della Fondazione Manoel describes the main gate as being made of a vaulted bay with ‘architettura in pietra Zoncol, busto di Bronzo, armi del Fondatore, ed inserizzione di marmo’.88 All that remains of the bronze bust of Grand Master Vilhena today is just its pedestal88 while the carved stone effigies which once portrayed a lion and winged hand (the symbols in the coat of arms of the Vilhena) on two low pilasters sited on the outer sides of the portal were truncated. The bronze bust itself, which is still clearly visible in situ in mid-to-late nineteenth century photographs of the gate, was apparently first transferred to the Magistral Palace in Mdina, and then re-allocated to the foyer of the Manoel Theatre, where it can still be seen today. A detailed original front elevation drawing of the gate, probably executed before 1727 is reproduced on page 109, courtesy of Dr G. Bonello. A commemorative inscription fitted above the doorway, inscribed with Latin verses in lead lettering, commemorated the construction of the fort and the glory of its founder as prince, protector, and benefactor and reads as follows: AD VALL. URB. TUTELAM ET MAJOREM REIP. SECURITATEM D.ANT. MANOEL DE VILHENA M. MAG. SUMMO GENERE OMNIQUE DOTE PRINCEPS ORNATISSIMUS, ARCEM HANC ÆRE PROPRIO CONSTRUXIT ARMIS ET PRÆSIDIO MUNIVIT, ANNUO CENSU DOTAVIT AN. SAL. MDCCXXVI The inscription suggests that the fort was completed by 1726, but modern studies have now shown that


Original front elevation drawing of the main gate of Fort Manoel, dated 1727, around the time that it was being completed (Image source: Courtesy of Dr. Giovanni Bonello)

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The escutcheon with G.M. Vilhena’s coast-of-arms, nestled between the two scrolls of the broken pediment, is missing today, probably having been demolished during the French occupation of the Fort in 1798-1800. The stone effigies of the seated lion and winged hand clasping a sword, the heraldic motifs of Vilhena’s family coat of arms, were also vandalized and only survive in part.

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Broken segmental pediment

Scroll

Bronze bust of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena

CORNICE FRIEZE ARCHITRAVE

ENTABLATURE

PEDIMENT

Festoon

Corinthian capital Chamfered voussoir Remains of lion sculpture Marble plaque with Latin inscription in lead letters Garland

Pilaster Base of pilaster with Torus Pedestal and plinth

Front elevation of main gateway of Fort Manoel

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Monograph with letters 'M' (Manoel) and 'V' (Vilhena) carved on pilaster of frieze

Various details of the main gate, showing broken pediment, pilaster, rustication and base. (Image source: Author’s private collection)


Mid-nineteenth century view of the main gate of Fort Manoel with its wooden palisade. (Image source: Museums Department, 1995)

The elevation drawing shows that the gateway was crowned with a singular escutcheon bearing the arms of the Grand Master. More often than not, gateways were generally decorated with a pair of escutcheons, one representing the arms of the Order (a plain Latin cross) and the other those of the reigning grand master.91 The absence of the Order’s arms in this case may be explained by the fact that it was the grand master, and not the Order, who had financed the fort. The gateway also lacks a trophy of arms. An important element of the gateway at Fort Manoel was its the corpo di guardia, designed to house and accommodate the sentinels on guard duty. This consisted of two casemates, placed on either side of the entrance passage and fitted with vertical loopholes to help the guards defend the immediate approaches to the doorway: ‘indi proseguendo s’incontra un corpo di guardia a dritta, altro a sinistra dell’arcata con loggia, tutto a prova di bomba, inanti de quali, uno spazio piano con nicchia, ornata di una statua di Mose, quale colla sua verja da motivo di un scherza di acqua proveniente da due gran cisterne di capacità botti mille caduna, due scale in due branchi quali conducono alla Piazza del forte’92

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that works were still under way in 1733, and the fort was only truly operational around 1735, more than a decade after the decision to fortify the Isolotto was first taken in 1723. Indeed, by December 1726, Fort Manoel still lacked the tenaille and the caponiers in the ditch, all its sally-ports, the six pairs of pasde-souris, the underground countermine galleries, cisterns, barrack blocks, the dome of the church and the powder magazines, while a large part of the ditch had yet to be excavated.89 The main gate itself, and the adjoining curtain, however, seem to have been among the first elements of the fort to have been completed and this may explain the date on the plaque.90

Enlarged detail of the wooden palisaded gate placed outside the drawbridge. It is not clear if this was the original Hospitaller palisade or a British nineteenth-century replacement. Many such wooden palisaded gates were replaced by the British military in the course of the 1800s. The new British gates did not always retain the original knights’-period patterns. The records of the Fondazione Manoel show that this wooden gateway was generally painted gray, but at one time it was repainted red.

These two vaults were open to the rear and this would have made them very uncomfortable for the sentinels in winter. Each of the vaults, moreover,

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Latin inscription with lead letters on marble plaque, crowning the entrance into Fort Manoel. The inscription commemorates the building of the fort by Grand Master Vilhena through his generosity. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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The modern reconstructed drawbridge at Fort Manoel. The Order’s drawbridges, however, had certain features which were slightly different from other French examples,such as, for instance, the side wooden railings, which were often independent of the tavolatura.

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Main Gate of Fort Manoel after restoration, fitted with replica wooden drawbridge à la Vauban shown in the raised position. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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The drawbridge’s original metal pivoting axle, discovered in situ during the excavation of the cantina del ponte levatoio.


had two large vertical slits opening to the front, in the manner of musketry loopholes, that would have rendered the rooms even more draughty. Not surprisingly, the open ends of the vaults were eventually walled up at some unknown date, for an entry in the accounts of the Fondazione payments incurred ‘per il travaglio di telari per le vetrate nel corpo di guardia’ in January 1778.93 Up until the time when the two religious confraternities were still allowed to meet inside the Church of Fort Manoel, a small wooden donation box was to be seen affixed to the wall of the guard room.94 Immediately to the rear of the entrance passageway, set within the wall of the small sunken courtyard, was a niche with a small fountain containing a statue of Moses,95 fed by the water inside the large cistern within the parade ground of the fort. This courtyard and the rear of the open corpi di guardia were in fact overlooked by a parapet which allowed the defenders inside the fort to fire upon any intruders erupting through the gates. This feature, designed to counter a coup de main, made it difficult for enemy soldiers to access the interior of the fort directly from the entrance by creating a defensive feature analogous to the bent entrance ways of medieval castles. The gate of Fort Manoel was shielded by a small triangular outwork known as a couvre porte, which served as a sort of redoubt of the type used by Vauban to defend the rear of lunettes and ravelins. Access into the gate from the couvre porte was via a wooden drawbridge, the so called ponte levatoio. This drawbridge was of the type locally known as ‘à la Vauban’ 96 by virtue of its French pattern which was then commonly in use throughout France. This consisted of a simple counter-balanced platform (known as the tavolatura) which pivoted roughly about its middle. When raised (i.e., pulled up from the horizontal), its inner side swung downwards inside the gateway’s passage and into an underground chamber, the so-called cantina del ponte levatoio. The tavolatura itself consisted of a stout timber framework which was covered over with

wooden planks. The pivoting bar, which was made of iron, was nailed to the bottom of the framework and fitted into sockets carved out in the sidewalls along the entrance passage way. The original pivoting axle was discovered in situ when the cantina of the drawbridge was excavated and cleared of the rubble that had been dumped into the pit by the British military in the early twentieth century.97 All the gateways erected anew, or else rebuilt, during Mondion’s term of office as a resident military engineer were all constructed in this fashion. These included the three gateways of the fortress of Birgu, St. Helen Gate at Bormla (Sta Margherita Lines), the two gates of Mdina (Sta. Maria Gate & Greeks Gate), as well as the Porta dei Cannoni and Notre Dame Gate in Floriana. A narrow drop ditch separated the gate from the gorge of the couvre porte. When pulled up in its retracted vertical position, the tavolatura also served to shelter the wooden gateway itself while the inner half pivoted downwards into a basement or pit. This so-called ‘cantina del ponte levatoio’ was reached through a small side doorway via a flight of steps leading down from the adjoining corpo di guardia to the right of the entrance. The platform was pulled down by hand by means of metal handles which were fixed to the inner end of the tavolatura with heavy chains. Being perfectly counterweighted, the platform could be easily raised and lowered by a single soldier or two. In fact, it was so perfectly balanced that wooden poles were required to secure it from below when in the lowered position in order to prevent it from sinking back into the pit under the weight of people walking across it. By September 1775, the drawbridge of Fort Manoel was in dire need of repair and, later that same month, it was decided to replace it altogether with a nuovo ponte.98 This may explain why in the original elevation of the gateway mentioned earlier (see page 109), the drawbridge platform is shown as having a framework with three timber beams yet the iron axle that was found buried in situ in the cantina in the course of the restoration works undertaken in recent

Fort Manoel’s first drawbridge was built on a framework of three supporting beams, as shown in this detail extracted from the 1727 elevation of the main gate (see page 103). However, in 1775, the drawbridge was replaced by a new tavolatura built with four supporting beams for greater strength and durability. The author’s reconstruction, above, shows what the first drawbridge structure would have looked like, based on Francesco Marandon’s notes on the gates and drawbridges of Malta.

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Scroll

Escutcheon with coat of arms of Grand Master Vilhena (possibly of marble)

Broken segmental pediment Festoon Bronze bust of Grand Master Vilhena

Monograph with letters 'M' (Manoel) and 'V' (Vilhena) carved on pilaster of frieze

Effigy of winged hand clasping sword

Corinthian capital Chamfered voussoir Effigy of seated lion Large looholes opening from within the corpo di guardia flanking entrance passage inside gateway

Marble plaque with Latin inscription

half-column

Base of halfcolumn with Torus moulding

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Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of the main gate of Fort Manoel and its defensive features c.1750. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Drawbridge in raised position

Pedestal and plinth

Wooden palisaded gate Sally-port

Left, Sectional elevation through the main gate and its corpo di gaurda, drop-ditch, couvre porte, and gatecourt as documented by British surveyors in the nineteenth century (Image source: CD Office, Project House, Works Division, Floriana, 2005)

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Right corpo di guardia

Drawbridge in lowered position

Cantina del ponte levatoio

Rock-hewn drop-ditch

Advance gate in the flank of the small lunette known as couvre porte, designed to protect the immediate approaches to the main gate and its drawbridge. It is not clear if this pilastered gateway was fitted with a wooden palisaded gate. The couvre porte had two such openings, one on each flank.

Drawbridge in raised position Sally-port

Above, Cut-away diagrams showing the workings of the counter-weighted drawbridge of the type built at Fort Manoel and favoured by Mondion. This type of drawbridge was also fitted to the gates of Mdina, Birgu, Floriana and the Sta Margherita enceinte.

Incisions left by the pivoting drawbridge platform in the side walls of the cantine del ponte levatoio at Fort Manoel. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of the layout of the gatecourt of Fort Manoel showing the rear open end of the central passageway flanked by two corpi di guardia. Below, View of the gatecourt. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Cutaway diagram showing the layout of the corpo di guardia of Fort Manoel. Left, The interior side of the original wooden gate of Fort Manoel with its open wicket. (Image source: Author’s private collection)


View of the main gate of Fort Manoel with its drop ditch and couvre porte, after restoration, as seen from the right flank of St. Anthony Bastion (Image source: Author’s private collection). The small lunette (couvre-porte) with its low parapet may have been designed to serve as an infantry redoubt protecting the approaches to the main gate but its defensive value was rather limited.

years, was manufactured to take four beams. The new drawbridge appears to have been fitted in place by October 1775, since it was painted (probably grey) by the Fondazione’s resident painter-cumartist Melchior Xicluna (Scicluna),99 together with its sally-port door, and the rastello grande situated immediately outside the bridge. Other repairs are documented as having been made to the drawbridge in November 1795 for the cost of 13.6.17 scudi.100 Fort Manoel still retains its large and heavy wooden gate, constructed of hard and durable red wood, laid on a heavy timber framework and built in two leaves with a small wicket cut into one side. Its iron hinges, locks, and securing rods (ferramenti) are probably all original. Mid-nineteenth century photographs also

Diagram showing the path into the fort up from the quay.

show that the outer end of the drawbridge of Fort Manoel was shielded by a heavy wooden palisaded gate. Most fortress gateways were protected by similar ‘rastelli raddopiati di palizate’101 which consisted of wooden stakes, nailed to a framework, pointed at the upper end and sometimes (though not at Fort Manoel) tipped with metal points. These were set up as a precaution against a coup de main and were designed to give the sentinels enough time in which to pull up the ponderous drawbridge. In the event that the drawbridge malfunctioned or was rendered out of action by enemy fire and could not be raised, a small sally-port opening out into the drop ditch immediately below the bridge gave the defenders the possibility of blowing up the bridge or setting it alight.

View of the sally-port opening into the drop-ditch of the main gate of Fort Manoel, during the course of excavation works.

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ii.viii The Gunpowder Magazines & Garde de Feu

Aside from the barracks and the church, the other free standing buildings inside Fort Manoel were its two gunpowder magazines situated on St. Helen Bastion and St. Anthony Bastion respectively. In the Order’s records they are frequently referred to as ‘polveriste’,102 ‘magazzino da polvere103’ or ‘magasins a poudre’.104 In the military language of the time they were also referred to as polveriere.105 Today only one of the structures survives, since that which once stood on St. Anthony Bastion was demolished by the British military to make way for a gun emplacement and its underground magazine.

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The powder magazines at Fort Manoel were built in the French manner according to the standardized form of construction established by Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban in the late seventeenth century.106 These dedicated structures, with their rectangular plan, reinforcing lateral counterforts, barrel-vaulted interiors, and gabled roofs, were designed to be bombproof, fireproof, and damp-proof. The polveriste of Fort Manoel appear to have been the first of their kind to be built in Malta. Other similar structures were eventually erected at Floriana (Capuchin Bastion),107 Vendôme Bastion (Valletta),108 and in St. John Cavalier (Valletta).109 The magazines’ distinctive slanting roofs, and solid barrel-vaulted interiors, gave them great resistance against bombardment, helping to deflect mortar shells and cannon balls. Upwards of 80 shells are said to have been thrown upon a magazine of this type during the siege of Landau, without doing the least damage to the vault.110 Such extraordinary resistance was achieved largely by the vaulted construction and the lateral buttressing provided by exterior counterforts. The magazines were also amply cross-ventilated to provide a good circulation

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Various views of main façade (pignon), flank, and interior of the polverista on St. Helen Bastion. (Image source: Author’s private collection)


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NLM Plan M20 shows a proposed small magazine with 4 counterforts as opposed to the five counterforts which were given to the structures that were eventually built.

NLM Plan M44 entitled ‘Magazino da Polvere e Munizioni’ shows the gunpowder magaizne (à la Vauban) on St. Helen Bastion, Fort Manoel. British-period annotations (in pencil) relate to the conversion of the magazine into a garrison reading room. The draughtsman failed to project the faces of the pignons beyond the line of the counterforts and this indicates either an error on his part or the fact that the façades of the magazines were altered at some later stage. (Images source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

Above, Detail of one of the eight mural sfiatatori (events) that ventilated the interior of the magazine.

NLM plan M14 shows the magazine on St. Helen Bastion partitioned into three separate areas

Paved area encircling base of magazine Lateral counterfort Mur d’isolament

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Close-up view of the main entrance into the magazine on St. Helen Bastion, topped by a large ventilation window. These openings were mirrored on the opposite end of the structure. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

of air. This was achieved by a combination of large windows set high up in the end walls (pignons) and a series of small blind ventilation shafts (known as sfiatatori111 in the Order’s records, and as events 112 in French military jargon) and controlled access points, both of which ensured that no potentially dangerous materials could be introduced into the storage areas. The main façades of the magazines (pignons), with their principal entrances and ventilation windows, faced the interior of the fort. In typical Vauban style, the façades of the Fort Manoel magazines were not perforated by sfiatatori. Unfortunately, the magazine on St. Helen Bastion lost all of its ventilation shafts when the side walls between the counterforts were pierced by arched openings designed to enable the magazine to serve as a garrison reading room.113

Below, A retouched photograph of the side elevation of the magazine on St. Helen Bastion, showing how the original magazine would have looked with its five lateral counterforts and four ventilation openings (sfiatatori / events) (Image source: Author’s private collection).

The two magazines erected at Fort Manoel were both located in the centre, and on top of their respective bastions in accordance with the practice adopted by Vauban, which was meant to protect the surrounding fortifications from the blast of an accidental explosion. For added security they were also secured behind a high masonry boundary wall, a mur’ d’isolament, a sort of garde de feu,114 and kept under constant guard ... ‘E per impedire, che non si possa accostare da d.i magazzini, sarànno essi inserrati in d.i bastioni con un muro di pal. 4. di larghezza da un’angolo reintrante al I’altro de loro fianchi.115

In practice, however, only one of the fort’s two magazines appears to have been actually used for the storage of powder. The first description of the


View of the inward-facing side of the magazine on St. Helen Bastion. The low modern parapet indicates the location of the original boundary wall, known as a mur d’isolament, a security feature designed to protect the magazine. (Image source: Author’s private collection) ARX - OCCASIONAL PAPERS - ISSUE 4/ 2014 - FORT MANOEL

Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction showing the layout of the Polverista on St. Anthony Bastion. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

fort, written in 1734 shortly after its commissioning, reveals that one of the structures, possibly that on St. Helen Bastion, was being used for the storage of victuals . ‘... Ne Bastioni di S.Elena e S. Ant.o vi è un magazzeno a prova di bomba, uno per li viveri, altro per la polvere.’

Barrel-vaulted interior

Sloping roof

The different usage is also mirrored in plan M14, which shows the magazine on St. Helen Bastion divided internally into three areas by partitions. The original intention, nevertheless, was to employ both magazines for the storage of munitions, ‘uno per la polvere, e l’altro per altre monizioni.’ 116 Still, the situation does not appear to have changed in later

Entrance to magazine

Sfiatatore / event

Counterforts

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years for in 1758, a specially set-up commission recommended that the stocks of gunpowder kept at Cottonera, which were then considered to be situated too far away to be of any use in an emergency, were to be redeployed instead to the ‘Magazeno del Forte Manoel, che é alla prova di bomba sotto un custodia sicura e più à portata della Città Valletta che quelli della Cottonera’,117 again suggesting that only one of the polveriste was being used for this purpose. Inside the magazines, the powder was kept in wooden barrels stacked horizontally in rows on wooden skids, or tavolate. The Order’s records show that Fort Manoel’s magazines contained 1,000 barrels of gunpowder, compared to the 400 barrels in storage at Fort St. Elmo118. Most of these barrels, however, were part of the Order’s general reserve stock (‘di rispetto’) that was being kept at hand, but safely out of harm’s way, for use in Valletta in the event of an emergency. In 1774, this stock had increased to 1,584 barrels amounting to 1,079 quintali, 6 rotoli and 1/2 libra.119 The actual consumption of gunpowder at Fort

Manoel, however, was rather low. From 1795 to 1797, for example, only 147.16 rotoli of polvere ordinaria were consumed in Fort Manoel and Fort Tigné together, for the cost of scudi 147.6.8 scudi, and this had been used for gun salutes.120 On 22 September 1798, during the French occaption of the fort, the magazines contained 167 ‘Barils de Poudre de Guerre pleins’ and 8 empty barrels.121 The 1727 contract for the completion of works at Fort Manoel (see below), obliged the builders to construct the walls of the magazines more solidly in stone than was the usual practice, with little use of ‘mastrizzo in d.e mura’, in order to reduce the dampness inside the magazine ... ‘acciò non vi sia tanta umidità in ambidue d.i magazzini’.122 The lateral walls, which were to be ‘rinforzati con contraforti‘ were to have ‘sfiatatori nel modo solito per portare aria in d.i magazzini,’ while each roof, ‘fatto à schina, e lastricato con pietre di pal. 1½ d’altezza’ was to be laid in such a manner ‘ch’il taino delle diverse filate resti coperto.’ 123

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Mur d’isolament

Mur d’isolament

St. Helen Bastion

Gunpowder magazine

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Detail from NLM Plan M14 showing the magazine on St. Helen Bastion, which is shown as partitioned internally into three separate areas. For most of the time, only one of the magazines was used for the storage of the fort’s munitions. (Images source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

Gunpowder magazine

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The accounts of the Manoel Foundation also reveal the presence of ‘a polverista piccola’ which was then in need of a repointing.124 This is definitely not referring to any one of the two main magazines but more probably to a small magazine found inside one of the casemates of Notre Dame Cavalier, long thought to have been added by the British military in the course of the nineteenth century. The fort also had a Sta. Barbara,125 which is a term usually used to refer to rooms or small magazines set aside for the storage of artillery tools and implements. A sentry box was built to guard it in 1776 while a rastello126 protected its entrance. It is not yet clear where this store was located inside the fort. The same accounts also show that one of the two polveriste was enclosed within a wooden palisade which was painted red in 1775 while in May 1774 it was found necessary to ‘foderare una porta di finestra della polverista’.127

St. Anthony Bastion

Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of Fort Manoel showing the position of the two gunpowder magazines on the seaward front of the enceinte. This was the side of the fort most protected from direct bombardment. By placing the magazines in the centre, and on top of their respective bastions, the Order’s engineers were following the practice adopted by Vauban which was designed to ensure the least physical damage to the fort in the event of an accidental explosion. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Detail from a 19thcentury British record plan showing the magazine on St. Helen Bastion, designated as ‘No.3 Artillery Store’. Note the two external rooms grafted onto the sides of the magazine. These may have been added by the British military after 1800. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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The Guerites & Echaugettes Guardiole

The location of one of the four wooden guerites, as still surviving on the salient of Notre Dame Bastion. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Another feature of Fort Manoel, now long since missing, were the sentry boxes which once stood on the salients of St. Helen Bastion and St. Anthony Bastion respectively. These guérites, garite,or echaugettes,128 referred to locally simply as guardiole, were projected outwards from the face of the parapet on cantilevers, thus enabling the sentries to see the base of the adjoining walls. The two echaugettes were dismantled around the late 1860s to make way for British coastal gun emplacements but, fortunately, were captured on camera before they were eradicated. These handful of pictures show that these echaugettes were elegant and highly ornate structures with mouldings and crowning finials, of hexagonal plan, and capped with small domes. It would appear, however, going by the records of the Fondazione Manoel, that the two stone echaugettes were added at a later date and that initially, at least up until the 1780s, the fort was fitted with wooden guerites. This is implied by the continual reference in the Fondazione’s accounts to the expenses incurred in the painting of the garite by the painter-cum-artist-cum-carpenter Melchior Xicluna. In 1773, the fort had four wooden garite,129 but by 1777, there were six, all painted red, one of which was acquired in 1776 for the cost of 31.7 scudi (including the cost of wood at 18.2.5 scudi, manufacture, nails, and transportation to the fort) in order to shelter ‘la sentinella della Sta Barbara nel Forte Manoel’130 while another, which was kept in the magazines at Fort Manoel, was used in the Qala Lembi Battery before it was eventually replaced by a permanent echaugette built in stone in November 1779 for the cost of six scudi .131 The presence of the four wooden garite is also borne out by one of the earliest detailed plans of Fort Manoel (M27a), which was originally bound

with the Cabreo della Fondazione Manoel. This shows squarish box-like elements situated on the salients of all four bastions, without however being corbelled out. Furthermore, two of the other plans of Fort Manoel (M19 and M24) do not show any echaugettes at all. Nor does the detailed and largescale Pianta per i Magazeni da Polvere e Monizioni on St. Helen Bastion show any such feature132. The only plans that do show two corbelled echaugettes are plan M14, which was executed before the completion of the fort, and is most probably, as already discussed earlier, an initial design executed before 1727, and M23, which was drawn during the French occupation. Two flagpoles are documented inside the fort by the 1770s.133 It is not known where these were actually located during the course of the eighteenth century but at least one painting of the fort shows two flagpoles mounted on the cavaliers, the highest point in the fort. By the twentieth century, one flag pole was affixed to the parapet immediately to the rear of the main gate, facing Valletta. The records of the Manoel Foundation reveal that i­n 1774, a M.ro Bandolero was paid 7 scudi for the manufacture of two flags for Fort Manoel and a third for Qala Lembi Battery.134 These were then painted by the ‘pittore Melchiore Xicluna’, presumably with the emblem of the Order. In March 1778 ‘l’albero della bandiera del forte’ had to be repaired with three ‘cerchi di ferro’ for the cost of 2.1.14 scudi , and in the following month it was pulled down, re-proportioned and hauled back up again.135 Possibly, the flag poles were painted red like the one at Qala Lembi Battery.136 Author’s graphic 3D reconstruction of the echaugette on St. Helen Bastion. Note how high it stood in relation to the parapet - another factor indicating that it was added at a later stage (Image source: Author’s private collection)


Corbelled base of the domed echaugette which once occupied the salient of St. Helen Bastion, as can be clearly seen in the late nineteenth-century photograph (right). (Image source: Author’s private collection).

M44

M27A

M14

There is clear documentary evidence to show that the two stone echaugettes were not a feature of the original design of Fort Manoel (top) and appear to have been added in the 1780s. Various documents speak instead of wooden guerites (garite) and these square wooden boxes are actually depicted on the plan of the fort that was bound with the Fondazione Manoel volume (M27A).(Source of Images: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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section iii

Construction building the fort

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Silver medals by Pietro Paolo Troisi commemorating the building of Fort Manoel, showing the profile of Grand Master Vilhena and a plan of the fort on the reverse side. Similar medals and other coins were buried with the foundation stone of Fort Manoel on 14 September 1723. (Image source: Courtesy of Dr. Giovanni Bonello, Art in Malta,FPM, 1999)

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Design & Execution

The design and construction of a major work of fortification on the scale of Fort Manoel was a huge and complicated undertaking by any standards. In this task, Mondion, as the chief engineer responsible for implementing the project, was assisted by a team of highly skilled and capable periti, foremen, surveyors, and draughstmen (some of whom were experienced architects in their own right) and backed by the Order’s efficient administrative framework. Foremost among his assistants was Donato Francesco Zerafa,137 the Capo Mastro delle opere (foreman of works), the Architect Romano Carapecchia138 and, after 1727, the second engineer, Francesco Marandon.139 All three made a name for themselves in their respective fields. Zerafa would go on to design the Castellania in Valletta in 1757 and was also involved in the construction of the Manoel theatre.140 Carapecchia, a celebrated genius of the Baroque, dominated the local scene until his death in 1738, and Marandon would go on to invent the fougasse-pierrier and supervise the building of Fort Chambrai in the years 1749-1760, amongst many other works executed during the course of his long years of service as a resident engineer. What is still not clear, however, given the contradicting statements in the Order’s own records, is how far Mondion was actually responsible for the final design and overall layout of Fort Manoel. The Order’s documents persistently accredit the design of Fort Manoel to Brigadier de Tigné: ‘le Forte Manoel execute par MM. le Chev. Mondion d’apres les projets de M. le Chev. de Tigné’.141 Vertot, too, writing in his second volume of his Histoire des Chevaliers hospitaliers claimed that the draft of the fort was made in the month of June 1723, by the Chevalier de Tigné in his third voyage


to Malta and that only its execution was ‘pursued by the Chevalier de Mondion’.142 The source of Vertot’s information was probably none other than Chevalier de Tigné himself who is acknowledged in the book’s frontispiece as having supplied the ‘plans and fortifications of Malta’ (presumably information under the sub-heading ‘An Explanation of the References in the Plan of Malta, with a Chronological Account of the Progress of its Fortifications). The last of the Order’s military engineers, the Frenchmen Antoine Etienne de Tousard, when writing about Fort Manoel in his papers in 1803, likewise claimed that the trace of Fort Manoel was given to it by Brig. de Tigné and that the fort was constructed, in part, by Mondion and then finished ‘par un espece d’architect’ who went on to become the official in charge of the fortifications of Malta, in other words, by Francesco Marandon.143 If these claims are indeed true, than this would mean that Mondion was primarily responsible only for executing the design. It is often maintained, however, that Mondion modified Tigné’s original plans to

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Detail form an eighteenth-century oil painting of Valletta and its harbours showing a fairly accurate depiction of Fort Manoel and the terrain on the Isolotto. Note the two flag poles flying the Order’s flag, mounted on the cavaliers on the land ward side of the fort (the highest part of the fort) as well as the terraced fields on the Isolotto. The Order continued to rent out the fields on Manoel Island (as the Isolotto came to be known) to local farmers who were also obliged to maintain the field walls at their own expense.

produce the final design of Fort Manoel. Brig. de Tigné, however, was the commanding officer in charge of the French military mission, and Mondion, as his deputy, would have worked under his command, executing his orders and translating his ideas into a workable design. Neither Mondion nor the Order would have sought to tamper with Tigné’s ideas without appropriate consultation. Indeed, copies of the planned fortifications projects prepared in Malta by the French military mission, were sent to France by Brig. de Tigné for the approval of the Comte de Vauban,144 Marshal Claude Louis Hector de Villars,145 the Secretary of State for War, and to the military engineers Charles Guy de Valory146 and Jean Baptist Favart,147 in 1715 and 1716 respectively. Again, in his letter to Michel Le Pelletier de Souzy148 in September 1715, Grand Master Perellos informed the French Director General of Fortifications that Mondion would be held in Malta to work on Tigné’s exact plans for the projected fortifications until the latter returned to Malta from France to continue his task.149

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By 1723, however, the professional relationship between Brigadier de Tigné and Charles François de Mondion had changed considerably, given that the latter was now the Order’s resident military engineer, and his new role would have allowed him a greater ownership of the scheme and a greater influence over the issues related to its design. For although resident engineers were generally only expected to implement works of fortifications designed by visiting foreign experts, Mondion was given a freedom of operation that would have been the envy of all his predecessors in the post, not the least because of his exceptional merits which were recognised and highly appreciated by his patron, Grand Master Vilhena. Mondion’s project for a new fortress in Gozo150 (later to become Fort Chambrai), as well as his proposals for the re-fortifications of Mdina,151 both produced independently of Brig. de Tigné in 1722, show that he was well equipped to conceive major defensive scheme on his own terms. After all, was it not Brig. de Tigné himself who had assured the knights that, in his absence, Mondion would make ‘un bon second qui ne se fera moins de plaiser que moy de concurir aux avantages de Votre Religion.’152

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Yet it was surely not an accident of fate that Brig. de Tigné’s final visit to Malta, in 1723, coincided with the laying of the foundation stone of the new fort on the Isolotto!153 If Mondion, as the Order’s engineer was solely responsible for the design of Fort Manoel, then why was it necessary for Brig. de Tigné to travel all the way to island? Brig. de Tigné’s presence in 1723 is particularly emphasized in a letter by the Inquisitor, Mons Antonio Ruffo to the Cardinal Secretary of State di S. Agnese who claims that this engineer, after having revisited ‘le situazioni più importanti di quest isola, ha ritrovato essere indispensabile l’erigere un Forte nella piccola Isola del Lazaretto’.154 In fact, it was that very summer that a plan of the new proposed fort was sent to Rome by Grand Master Vilhena’s secretary, the knight Cevoli, to be shown to the Pope, where it was received with ‘particolar applauso’.155 And, as has already been shown earlier on in this study, this final plan still bore the signature design features that first appeared in

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the initial proposal. Whoever was responsible for the trace of Fort Manoel in 1723, was also responsible for the first drawing of 1715. Clearly, Brig. de Tigné was still very much involved in the project. The question that needs to be asked, then, is what influence did Mondion have over the final design of Fort Manoel? Was there more to his role than simply supervising the execution of works as claimed by Vertot? The Italian version of his epitaph, recorded in a manuscript volume, at the National Library in Valletta seems to leave little doubt – ‘Giace qui [Mondion] nella fortezza da lui fabbricata’. More likely than not, therefore, the planimetric design of Fort Manoel was the product of the co-operation between the two – Brig. de Tigné conceived the initial concept and laid out the four-bastioned trace and Mondion ‘made it happen’. Yet the debate about Mondion’s contribution to the design of the fort does not end here. It is encountered again in the design of the fort’s church and gateway. There has been a tendency to assume that Mondion, as supervising military engineer was de facto responsible for the design of the decorative architectural elements of the fort.156 Yet, the stylistic similarities of the façades of both the church and the gateway to the works of Romano Carapecchia, as first observed by Prof Denis De Lucca and J. Tonna way back in 1975,157 tend to militate against this hypothesis. At the time, Romano Carapecchia, Architetto della Sacra Religione and Fontaniere,158 was unquestionably the most gifted and acclaimed ‘design’ architect on the island, entrusted with many architectural projects commissioned by the Knights as they sought to beautify their city with sumptuous churches and palaces. It is difficult to see how Grand Master Vilhena could have refrained from roping him in to embellish ‘his’ fort with the desired aesthetic appeal. Although not a military engineer, Carapecchia’s foray into military architecture is attested by his architectural studies of gateway designs, preserved in an album of drawings at the Conway Library.159 Indeed, by 1723, Carapecchia had also been employed in the design of two fortification gateways, the Del Monte Gate (or Porta Marina) in Valletta, and


Again, this does not mean that Mondion lacked architectural sensitivity. His ability to bring together, and balance, the various disparate architectural elements within the fort so as to create the aesthetically imposing ensemble that defines the piazza of Fort Manoel appears to have been all his doing. Mondion’s Parisian influences, and his mastery of the Baroque mis-en-scene is encountered again and again in other civil projects undertaken by him - Vilhena palace in Mdina,165 Casa Leone at Sta. Venera,166 the Palazzo Giuratale (Mdina)167 as well as the barrack complex at Fort St. Elmo.168 Seen in this context then, the design of the church and gate of Fort Manoel becomes more the fruit of the co-operation between two men working together – Carapecchia the design artist and Mondion the military planner - rather than the exclusive construct of one or the other. Indeed, the

close co-operation between the two is also borne out by Francesco Marandon, the secondary military engineer mentioned earlier, who began his career in the employ of the order as assistant to Mondion and then went on to inherit Mondion’s post after the latter’s demise in 1733 and continued to serve in this capacity for four decades, becoming the longest serving military engineer in the annals of the Order’s history.169 In his petition to Grand Master Pinto, in which he was seeking a raise in salary after ten years in service, 170 Marandon reminds his overlord and prince that he had assisted Mondion in his work together with two other fellow assistants, the architect Romano Carapecchia and a hitherto unknown personality by the name of Coulon, a French military engineer:

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the Notre Dame Gate (Zabbar Gate) in Cottonera.160 The latter was the more impressive of the two. Its construction appears to been begun earlier under the direction of Mederico Blondel sometime after 1676 but it was remodelled by Carapecchia after 1707 and fitted with a monumental superstructure bearing a massive sculptured panoply-of-arms containing the bronze bust of Grand Master Nicholas Cotoner. The use of the broken segmental pediment to crown the entrance into Fort Manoel strongly echoes some of the drawings in his album.161 It is a device which he also employed in a number of façades of his churches, such as that of Sta. Barbara, the doorway of the Auvergne annexe of St. John Conventual Church opening onto Strada Lucia, the door to the sacristy of the Church of St. Paul, and in the entrance to the Palace Armoury. Carapecchia’s ‘refined approach and sensitivity towards proportion and detail’, as observed by Prof. De Lucca, contrasted markedly with Mondion’s ‘more robust military approach’.162 But then again this should not be a surprise. Mondion was, after all, first and foremost, an ‘Architectus Polemicus’ 163 and, as the Order’s register of deceased brethren reiterates, a ‘Praefectus Bellicarum Artium (commander of the military arts).164

‘il sud.o suo antecessore [i.e. Mondion], è sempre stato aiutato, o dall’ Or.e, o dall’Architetto Carapecchia, o dal Discreto Coulon.’171 Furthermore, it transpires from another of Marandon’s petitions, that he was first engaged as the Order’s second engineer in January 1727: ‘L’Ing.re del suo Sacro ordine Fran.co Marandon um.o servo e vall. Fed.mo dell A: V: Em.a no.te espone esser’ entrato in Gennaio 1727’’ come Ing.e in secondo, ed aver con continuato poi i corso di otto anni esercitando la sua professione nel continuoat lavoro dell fortif.ni che si facevano sotto la direttione dell’allora Ing.re dell’ordine il Nobile Cavaliere de Mondion per la morte del quale ha’ succeduto nel d.o officio il suppli.te in principio del 1734.’172 This means that Marandon’s date of his first engagement in the service of the Order’s fortification works, coincided with the commencement of the second phase of the building of Fort Manoel (on 27 January 1727), as will be shown below, and, consequently, may in effect be directly related to the growing volume of works generated by the construction of this fort and Mondion’s need for a full-time assistant to help him cope with the

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Sepulchral monument to Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena, by Massimiliano Soldano-Benzi, in the chapel of St. James of the Langue of Castille and Portugal, at the Conventual Church of St. John, Valletta. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Above and left, Details from the bronze relief of the sarcophagus of the sepulchral monument to Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, by Massimiliano Soldano-Benzi, showing an allegorical presentation of a plan-relief of Fort Manoel to the Grand Master. (Image source: Author’s private collection). Soldano-Benzi (16561740) was an Italian sculptor, medallist, and bronze caster who was employed by the Medici in Florence for most of his career. His main commissions by the Knights of St. John involved two ‘virtuoso’ monuments to Grand Masters Zondadari and Vilhena. The monument to Vilhena, finished in 1729, includes a plan-relief of Fort Manoel (and the Isolotto) being presented to the Grand Master. The fort is shown larger than its actual scale in relation to the Isolotto but is otherwise accurate in its basic plan and details, lacking only the combined cavaliers, the couvre-porte (lunette), the two polveriste, and one of the two officers’ quarters. It also shows the ditch and covertway with its four re-entrant places of arms. The plan of the fort, however, does not differentiate between the size of the bastions and is practically identical to the plan of the fort depicted in the engraved portrait of Grand Master Vilhena by Pietro Paolo Toisi on the frontispiece of Leggi e Costituzioni in 1724. It appears that Soldani-Benzi, who worked on the commission in Rome, had asked for some guidance on the design of the fort from Mondion, after some difficulties were encountered in the manner of representing the relief of the fort on the sarcophagus in 1726.172a By this date, the planimetric layout of Fort Manoel (including the cavaliers) had already been carved out indelibly into the rock but the barracks and magazines had still to be constructed.

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ever increasing load of fortification projects and commitments. However, despite Tousard’s claim that Fort Manoel was completed by Marandon, the fort does not feature in Marandon’s own list of works undertaken by him during the early years of his employment, except perhaps indirectly, where he mentions the great effort that he put into the compilation of a Cabreo in 1734: ‘Avendo di più compilato in 1734 à beneficio della Ven.d Cong.ne di Guerra il Libro Cabreo, che oggi di per ord.e della sud.a serve di guida, e servirà in avenire alli Com.li per verificare le rendite tanto di qua che de la del mare, per il qual straordin.rio lavoro, e ben si stato ricompensato il sottoscrivano Louiso Abdilla, che l’ ha copiato, ma non l’Or.e, che vi hà impiegato qualche poco del suo denaro, oltre il suo travaglio sul luogo, e poi in casa propria per otto mesi’.173

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Marandon’s reference to ‘il Descreto Coulon’ is intriguing. Coulon was a French military engineer working in Malta but his presence here has hitherto gone by unnoticed. Hardly anything is known about him and his contribution to the Hospitaller’s military architecture. The historical documents have largely kept silent on this personality and his involvement, as well as on the issue of Mondion’s real contribution to the Fort Manoel project. More research and information are evidently required here before any definite conclusion can be reached. Four very important documents that have turned up, on the other hand, are the detailed appalti (contracts) from the first, second, and third phases of the building process of Fort Manoel, the only ones of their kind that have come down to us from eighteenth century and detailed enough to help shed invaluable light on many aspects of the technical issues involved in a large-scale fortification project. The first contract was drawn up on 26 July 1723174 the second, on 26 January 1727,175 and the last in 1733, all in the name of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena. It is interesting to note that the bids to the

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first call for tenders were adjudicated and contracts awarded after only a day and a half of public bidding, held in a room in the magistral palace in Valletta: ‘Em.o e Rev:mo Sig.re Fra’ Don Antonio Manoel de Vilhena Gran Maestro di d.o Sacro Ordine e Principe dignissimo di quest’Isole Malta e Gozzo da’ in appalto li Lavori del Forte Manoel, che l’Em.za Sua a’ proprie’ spese’ ha’ ordinato si fabricasse nell’Isolotto esistente nel porto di Marsamuscetto di quest’Isola di Malta all’in.fratte persone come quelli che nel publico incanto tenuto sotto il giorno di ieri e oggi nella Ricetta esistente nel Palazzo Mag.le si sono offerti di farli p. il minor prezzo degli altri concorrenti’176 The second contract was undertaken roughly half way during the execution of the project in order to settle an industrial dispute that broke out between the contractors engaged in the construction of the fort and their employer, the Order. This development was also largely the result of the vagueness of the original contract which only established the rates to be paid for the various types of works involved, without setting limits to the budgets, costs, and completion date. Not surprisingly, the Order, after three years of unremitting expenditure, sought to contain the ever-growing expenses by binding the contractors to finish the works within a specified time and to a fixed amount of money. The contractors, however, came back with a figure of 29,000 scudi, but this was deemed exorbitant by the Order’s military engineer and after some negotiations the two sides eventually agreed upon the sum of 25,000 scudi . To this end, and unlike the first contract, which was mainly concerned with rates of payments per length, area, or volume, the second document laid down, in a long list of articles, a detailed description of all the works that still had to be executed as well as the conditions that the contractors were required to respect in the execution of these works, including the type and qualities of the materials to be employed, the different techniques of construction for the different elements of the fort and a range of other


Casal Zabbar e 11. m.ro Giuseppe Caruana del fu Domenico di detto Casal Luca,

When this second contract was drawn up in January 1727, the works on the fort had been under way for around three years since their commencement sometime during the last week of July 1723.178 Inquisitor Antonio Ruffo, in one of his letters to Rome, states that the works had begun sometime in the second week of June. If correct, this can only mean that these initial exertions were begun not by private contractors but by the Order itself, making use of its slaves and forzati, and possibly soldiers, to clear the site. The first stone was laid down with due ceremony by Grand Master de Vilhena on 14 September 1723,179 a month after the Knights had ‘gia dato principio alla costruzione del Forte Manoel’, in the presence of ‘molte Gran Croce e da una grande comitiva di Cavaglieri’, an event of such importance that it was officially recorded in the Liber Conciliarum Status under the heading ‘Prima Pietra Del Fort Manoel.’180 As was then the custom, Grand Master Vilhena buried various coins à futura memoria.181

For some reason, Maestro Mario Pullicino from Attard did not appear again in the 1727 contract. This is not because he had dropped out, for his name features once again in the contract of 1733 drawn up for the clearance works, even though by this time, he had passed away and his eredi had to stand in for him. The reason why Pulliciono is omitted in the 1727 appalto could be because he may have been the contractor responsible for the construction of the main gate with its delicate carvings and sculptures, which works appear to have been completed by 1727 since there is no mention at all of the Porta del Forte in this second phase of works.183

In the initial contract of 1723, the various works were awarded to eleven different partitarji (contractors), namely,182 1. Mro Giovanni Bonavia (or Bonavita?) del fu Clemente di Casal Zabbar, 2. M.ro Giovanni Zammit del fu Giuseppe della Burmula, 3. m.ro Domenico Saliba del fu Antonio di Casal Zebbug, 4. m.ro Mario Pullicino del fu Daniele di Casal Attardo, 5. Antonio Azzupardi del fu Dom.co di Casal Luca, 6. m.ro Alberto Galdes figlio di Giovanni di Casal Curmi, 7. mro.Michele Micallef del fu Dom.co di Casal Lia, 8. m.ro Gio. Maria Borg figlio d’Andrea, 9. m.ro Carlo Mifsud del fu Francesco della Michabiba, 10. m.ro Paolo Friggieri del fu Bartolomo di d.o

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contractual obligations.177 No rates are mentioned at all, since those established in the original document were to remain binding.

At first glance, one would think that eleven contractors would have translated into a considerable workforce. By comparison, for example, there were only four contractors working on the much larger fortification project at Fort Chambrai in 1749, comprising a workforce of some 205 men and although this had increased to six contractors by the mid-1750s, the number of labourers and masons working on site had actually fallen to 85 labourers, ‘gente pero tutta di travaglio ordinario’.184 The records for the construction of the ‘trincee, e fornelli di S. Giuliano’ show that the initial work force of 12 men and 11 figlioli working on site on 17 June 1767 had increased to 214 men and 90 figlioli by 24 September, and by the end of the year, it was even necessary to employ 3 soprastanti to oversee a workforce of 362 men so that when eventually completed in 1770, the works had consumed nearly 35,000 scudi.185 Likewise, the records for the construction of the Red Tower in Mellieħa, begun in November 1647, show that the work force changed considerably in size and composition over the course of the seventeen months it took to complete the structure, reaching its largest number in October 1648, when there were some 117 workmen engaged on site. For the first seven months of the works, however, this force stood at around 50 men strong with the Bacconieri and the Perriatori (quarrymen) forming the greatest percentage of the labour force

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respectively, but as the emphasis of the works shifted from the quarrying to the building phase there was a marked and dramatic expansion in the size of the workforce.186 Whatever the size of the workforce employed at Fort Manoel, it was does not appear to have been large enough for the task as evidenced by the fact that the Order was constrained to grant the contractors an increase in the free use of its own slaves from 60 (as stipulated in the first contract) to 150 for every day of work in order to accelerate the pace and bring the project to completion as quickly as possible.187 The ‘numero grande di Travagliatori’ seen by Inquisitor Ruffo labouring on site from across the harbour in Valletta in June 1723 may have been mostly slaves. The contractors were responsible for the well being of the slaves and had to refund in full the cost of any who escaped from the sites under their watch. For this reason, the slaves were kept chained down at night, probably in the cavalier, which was completed by 1727.188 Even so, some slaves did manage to get away – eight schiavi escaped from the site in 1723.189 The 1727 contract stipulated that payments were to be made at the rate of no less than 300 scudi a

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Detail from notarial deed dated 9 March 1735 certifying the completion of the works (quittanza generale) and the satisfaction of all parties concerned. (Image source: Author’s private collectionCourtesy of the Notarial Archives, Valletta)

week. Judging by the expenses incurred on similar projects, such a sum would have roughly sufficed to cover the weekly wages of about 290 men - in 1767, for example the weekly cost of engaging 304 men on the construction of the coastal fortifications of St. Julian’s amounted to 397 scudi.190 Counting the slaves, there were probably some 450 to 500 men labouring at Fort Manoel in 1727-28. At 300 scudi a week, less the 1,000 scudi which were held back as a guarantee, the 25,000 scudi allocated for the second phase of the project would have run out after one and a half years, i.e. by mid-1728. And indeed, the contract stipulated that the remaining works were to be completed by 1729 at the latest. Even so, it is clear from the records that the works were not completed by the end of the stipulated period. Indeed, in 1732, the countermines were still being hewn out of the rock beneath the glacis,191 indicating that the fort, although in a very advanced stage of completion, was still unfinished. On 10 March 1735, the contractors, via Notary Domenico Chircop, drew up a legal document (a quittanza generale) certifying that all due payments had been received, that is, the 25,000 scudi stipulated in the 1727 contracts, together with another 1,349 scudi 1 taro and 9 grani of extra works which had been incurred in the completion of the project; ... del pagamento di quelli scudi venticinque mila di ‘ moneta di Malta dovutili per l’Appalto del finimento del Forte Manoel accordato a’ loro in atti miei sotto li 26 Gennaro 1727 ed anche del pagamento di quelli scudi mille trecento quaranta nove, un tari e grani nove, montante del di più, che oltre l’Appalto sud.to hanno fatto in detto Forte secondo la stima e misura fatta dal fù. Sig.re Cav.re Mondion gia Ingeniere...’ They also declared themselves fully satisfied with all the payments and valuation of their works, ‘... pienamente sodisfatti in tanti danari de conti dall’Illmo Sig. Ricevitore. antecesore di d.a Ricetta da settimana in Settimana, avendoli detti due partite componenti in tutto la somma di scudi venti sei mila trecento quaranta nove, un tari, e grani nove e fatto da detto Paolo Frigeri à nome loro, e da questo pagati li lavoratori, e diviso tra loro tutto il rimanente’. On his part, the Order’s Ricevitori, Knight Commander Francesco de Ximenes, issued a similar quittanza certifying the highest satisfaction with the

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standard of the work and released the contractors from any further obligations.

NLM Plan M16 is a damaged and incomplete drawing that only shows the fortification elements and omits altogether the interior barracks and church. It is not clear why the draughtsmen chose not to include the barracks and yet at the same time depict the gunpowder magazine since both elements were begun around the same time. Consequently, it is difficult to date the plan, which has all the elements of a working drawing and appears to be largely concerned with the layout and completion of the glacis. These works were still under way in 1728. Note, also, the square garita on the salient of St. Helen Bastion. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

Militarily, Fort Manoel appears to have been commissioned into service sometime before 1734.192 The inscription on the main gate, as already mentioned, claims that the works were finished by 1726, but this, evidently was not the case. Indeed, finishing touches continued to be made to the fort even as the century wore on. Walter H. Tregelles, writing in 1879 (Professional Papers RE) records the dates 1755 inscribed on a marble slab in the chapel; another, ‘1792’, carved on the escarp on the right side of the fort, and an inscription referring to the ‘17th year in the reign of Rohan’ (i.e., 1792) on the gate.193 In 1723, Grand Master Vilhena himself had feared that the actual cost would far exceed the 80,000 scudi

E

F

C

As the main free-standing building in the centre of the Isoletto, the cattle shed (marked A) was then the most obvious and effective landmark to serve as a point of reference for the surveyors mapping out the isolotto and the fort, particularly in their attempts to mark out the position of the fortifications. The prolongation of the line of the northern façade of the cattle shed (BC) served as the baseline for all the offsets required to establish the measurements related to the boundaries of the glacis and other features of the fort, employing a common method of triangulation. This plan, however, was a surveying exercise carried out after the construction of the fort and is not related in any way to the establishment and positioning of the front of fortification (EF). It has nothing to do, therefore, with the creation of the design of the fort, as erroneously claimed elsewhere. Instead, it was points EF which would have been the first positions to be established, and these would have, in turn, determined the design of the bastioned front. The actual positioning and length of EF were determined by the military engineer after various considerations and geometric calculations, the whole exercise worked out as outlined in the main text according to the system established by Vauban and Cormontaigne. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

B

A

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The two sea-facing bastions were the only part of Fort Manoel to be built up from masonry to any substantial height, since the larger part of the ramparts were carved out of the bedrock. With masonry revetments of such height, it was then the common practice to reinforce the walls internally by a series of buttresses, erected at regular intervals, called counterforts. It is not known if the faces and flanks of the bastions of St. Anthony and St. Helen were built in this manner for there have been no excavations undertaken to establish this fact. The restoration works on the battery platform of St. Helen Bastions, however, unearthed what appears to be a larger masonry gabion (a rectangular enclosure built of rubble stone) which was used to contain a more tightlypacked terreplein required to support the heavy weight of the guns placed on the bastions, as can be seen from the photograph above (Image source: Author’s private collection). Such gabions are also documented in use in the construction of the counterguard at Fort Chambrai in the 1750s.

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The initial contract of 1723 stipulated that the salients and flanks of the two bastions facing Valletta were to be constructed of hardstone brought by boat from surface quarries in St. Julian’s Bay. An examination of the two bastions today shows that hardstone was also used in the footing of the two bastions. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

estimate arrived at ‘giusto il sentiment de Periti’.194 And he was right. By the end of 1728, when the fort was considered as being structurally complete, Grand Master Vilhena would claim, in a petition to Pope Benedict XIII, that the fort had consumed 150,000 scudi.195 Evidently, much more than the 25,000 scudi Brig. de Tigné had optimistically estimated it would cost way back in 1715. The new contract drawn up in January 1727 shows that the works which were still outstanding after three years of ongoing efforts were the following: i. the excavation of the tenaille in front of the curtain walls ii. the excavation of the three caponiers and two demi-caponiers in the ditch iii. the excavation of the three sally-ports and their tunnels of communication leading down from the Fort the excavation of the to the ditch, each with two small corpi di guardia at theirs entrances iv. the excavation of the six pairs of pasde-souris (narrow flight of steps) - four leading from the ditch to the place-ofarms on the covertway, one at the gorge of the ravelin, and another smaller pair at the gorge of the tenaille v. the excavation of an underground gallery beneath the ravelin with its two sally-ports vi. the excavation of the countermines beneath the glacis vii. the excavation of a small square basin for sheltering small boats on the shore facing Valletta viii. the excavation of an underground cistern and a catchment system for channeling rain water ix. the completion of the church with its dome x. the construction of the various lodgings of the Governor, officers, and chaplains and the two barrack blocks for the troops xi. the two gunpowder magazines It also emerges that the ravelin and covertway were still under construction, while the ditch had only been excavated to roughly two-thirds of its full depth, given that the tenaille, which is made of solid rock, had still

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Fully completed, on the other hand, were the two cavaliers and the interlinking curtains. Plan M10 shows that works on one of the cavaliers had been completed by 1724. The parade ground, it appears had been levelled out (spianato) and fitted with two large underground cisterns while the church, which was the first free standing building to be erected inside the enclosure, had been commenced but was as yet still missing its dome. The gateway too, was completed but it is not clear if it had acquired a functional drawbridge.

Hardstone quoins and footing of St. Helen Bastions. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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In other words, by the end of 1726, Fort Manoel was roughly three-fifths complete and all the works, including the glacis ‘per la larghezza di quindici canne e l’intervallo fino alla spiaggia, che riguarda la Valletta’, covered surface area of ‘salme quattro, tummoli quattro, mondelli tre’.197

to be fashioned out of the bedrock. This also implies that the countermines were also not yet begun. The primary concern of the first building effort in 1723, as was to be expected, had focused on the formation of the enceinte. By 1727, it appears that the main ramparts (the bastions and curtains), including the gate and the couvre-porte, had been built and fitted with their parapets and embrasures, although the escarps, being carved out of the bedrock as they were (particularly the two land front bastions and three adjoining curtains), had still not reached their full height. The bastions facing Valletta, on the other hand, although structurally complete as masonry shells, had still not been completely filled in with terreplain and levelled out.196

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The construction works appear to have progressed on schedule after the contract was renogtiated and signed in 1727, for by 31 January 1728, Grand Master Vilhena could inform Baron de Schade, his ambassador to the Vatican, that Fort Manoel was nearing completion ‘... essendo per terminar fra poco tempo la fabbrica del Nostro Forte Manoel.’198 Then, on 12 July, Grand Master Vilhena wrote again to inform the ambassador that the fort was was practically finished except for some part of the outer works (‘gia compiti a riserva di qualche lavoro che resta da fare nell’opere esteriori’), possibly the countermine tunnels which still needed to be fashioned out of the bedrock, and by September, the Grand Master could claim that Fort Manoel was ‘posto perfettamente in stato di difesa’, albeit ‘privo della dovuta custodia’.199 Elsewhere, however, it is stated that the countermines were still under construction in 1732, which seems to imply that the pace of works had slackened considerably after the agreed sum of money had been paid out in 1729. The full completion of the project appears to have been undertaken in the course of 1733, as implied


Rock-hewn features; Below, Banquette and parapet of the tenaille (the whole tenaille is fashioned out of the bedrock); Bottom, Cordon of ravelin. (Images source: Author’s private collection)

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by a final contract agreed upon between Mondion and the partitarij. This was drawn up to ‘perfettionare detto Forte‘ and was signed on 10 January 1733. This document stipulated the last remaining works, listed in 18 clauses, which were still required to be undertaken, and these largely involved the clearing up of the place from all surplus materials. The contract, reproduced on pages 168-169, shows that parts of the covertway and various elements of the glacis, practically on all the four fronts, had still to be levelled out, either by cutting away at the rock, as was the case on the place-of-arms facing Dragut Point, or to be filled in, as was required in many parts of the glacis. A few walls were also needed to retain parts of the earthen glacis on the Valletta side, which glacis was to be topped up and levelled with the surplus materials gathered from around the site. As things turned out, the cheapest bid of 640 scudi was made by Mro. Michele Michallef, who was then awarded the contract and undertook to carry out the work of cleaning up all the areas around the fort, including those work sites falling under the responsibility of the other contractors. As a result, it was agreed that the sum was to be divided into 10 equal parts and each of the other ten partitarji was to pay Mro. Michallef 64 scudi, either in one full payment or in seven monthly payments (6 x 10 scudi and 1 x 4 scudi). Among the final clearing works which Mro. Michele Michallef was obliged to undertake was also that of dumping all the excess material at a site just across the harbour from Marsamxett, known as ‘Le Tre Punte’. This area, situated just outside and below the entrance to the mouth of the large main ditch of Valletta, had acquired its name from the three huge mounds of earth and debris which rose out of the water close to shore. These mounds had been created by Girolamo Cassar during the excavation of the ditch of Valletta way back in the years 15661571, as a result of the vast quantities of debris generated from the said excavation works, which material he tried to dispose off by dumping it into sea.

The document also reveals that four of the original contractors had passed away since 1727, namely Mario Pullicino, Giuseppe Caruana, Antonio Azzopardi, while Giovanni Bonavia had died by the time that the project was officially concluded in 1735. It would appear, then, that the fort was only truly and fully finished during the course of 1733, that is, ten years after works were initiated in the summer of 1723. The main body of the structure of Fort Manoel, however, was brought together in a much shorter period of time, in around five years – an impressive accomplishment by any standards.

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Slaves were an important component of the unskilled part of the labour force at Fort Manoel. Both the initial 1723 contract, and its 1727 follow-up, guaranteed that a number of the Order’s own slaves were to be placed at the disposal of the private contractors involved in the building of the fort. Initially the number of slaves to be supplied by the Order was established at 60, but in 1727 this was doubled to 150 so as to ensure that the pace and volume of works that were still outstanding could be completed within a shorter period of time. The contractors, for their part, were burdened with the responsibility of feeding and looking after the welfare of the slaves and were bound to replace or cover the costs of any who died or ran away. Since it was impractical to transfer the slaves to and from the slaves’ prison each day, most of the slaves were quartered inside the fort and one place where the slaves seem to have been stationed was inside the casemated cavaliers. This is implied by a large number of curious rock-cut tie points, running along the walls of the casemates, at ankle level, which appear to have been used to secure the large number of slaves at night. The images on these two pages show some of the rock-hewn tie-points which may have served for such a purpose. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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In some places inside the casemates, the tie-points are carved in stone at around knee level. As a rule, the Order’s slaves and those that were forced to labour on public works and fortifications wore metal rings around their ankles and these were secured to tie-points to prevent the slaves from escaping. In the slaves’ prison at Birgu, the chains were secured to large iron rings fixed to the walls at ankle level, as can be seen in the nineteenthcentury photograph at bottom right. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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iii.ii Building materials rock, stone, earth and lime

The ramparts at Fort Manoel were largely cut out of the layer of lower Globigerina limestone found on site. Most of the building material came from the excavation of the ditch, which was treated as quarry to produce both the building blocks – the cantuni, smarrati, and xulieli – as well as the rubble and debris required for the formation of the terrepleins and glacis:

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‘che la rocca da tagliarsi p. la scavatione de fossi dovra’ essere impiegata p. fare le pietre della fabrica di detto Forte scieglendo sempre la parte della miglior qualita’ p. gfare le facciate esteriori a’ scarpa, le facciate interiori a’ piombo, le golette e cordoni, le pietre della sommita’ de parapetti tanti p. il di dentro come p. il di fuori.’200

Right, bottom image, Other evidence of quarrying activity can be found on the surface of the rock-hewn covertway. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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Only the Valletta-facing ramparts, and the cavaliers, (as well as the barracks, church and magazines) had to be built up rather than cut down into the ground. The Globigerina limestone, known locally as talfranka, was considered ‘ideal for building, white in colour, easy to cut, and specially suitable for use in the erection of fortress walls as it is not easily crushed by artillery’ although, on the other hand, it did not stand up very well to humidity, and was rather soft.201 The smooth-faced ashlars quarried from the ditch by the perrieatori, with a 41 cm course height, were used for the formation of the parapets of the main bastions, curtains, ravelin, couvre porte, traverses, and covertway, and for the full structure of the vaulted cavaliers, the revetments, and parapets of the two Valletta-facing bastions and curtain, as well as in the building of the barrack blocks, church and magazines: ‘... tutte le pietre di facciata esteriore con scarpa dovranno havere l’altezza solita nel filo. cioe’

Below, View of the rock-hewn scarp on the right flanking curtain of Fort Manoel, showing the rock-hewn cordon and what appears to be evidence of the initial stages of quarrying activity. (Image source: Author’s private collection)


Most of the built-up parts of Fort Manoel and its ramparts were constructed from the soft and yellowish Globigerina limestone quarried on site, extracted from within the ditch. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

1 cane (2.095m)

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Żonqor blocks were employed in the lower courses of the exterior of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua. It was a common practice at the time to use hardstone blocks of Żonqor as a kind of damp-proofing course in the lower layers of a building. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

View of the parapet and exposed section of the interior revetment of St. John Bastion. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

5 coures per cane

Smooth faced ashlar parapets and exposed walls

course height = 0.41m

ground level of terreplain (platform or banquette) Cordon Goletta Coursed rubble-work walls (Żmarrat) hidden by terreplain

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Right, Manipulated photograph of the land front bastions and ditch of Fort Manoel, touched up to emphasize the relationship between the excavated and built up sections of the fortifications, clearly showing how the larger part of the ramparts were cut down and fashioned out of the bedrock with only the parapets, and the salient of the bastion, being built up from stone blocks. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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5: fili allla canna e almeno da’ 3: in 4: palmi di Longhezza, d.e pietre saranno ributtate. / Settimo che le pietre di scioglieli cioe’ a piombo p. le facciate interiori haveranno La med.ma altezza di 5: fili p. canna e faranno almeno di tre palmi di Longhezza.’202 The better quality stone excavated from the ditch was set aside to be used in the ornamentation of the façades (pilasters and cornices) of the barracks and church, and in the formation of ceilings slabs (xorok/ balate) and for paving stones (ciangatura). In the event that no suitable stone of good quality could be extracted from the ditch, the contractors were obliged to procure the necessary material from a barriera (quarry) at Sta. Venera at their own expense:

‘Per fare i soffitti delle stanze superiori, i partitarij faranno scelta della pietra di miglior qualità per tutte le balate da impiegarsi, e in caso, che nella scavazione de fossi del Forte non si trovasse tutta la pietra di qualità dovuta per fare tutte le balate necessarie alla copertura di d.i soffitti, i partitarij sarànno obbligati di provedersi di d.e balate à spese loro dalla cava di S.Venera, in med.o s’intende anche in caso di mancanza della d.a pietra di buona qualità per la ciangatura delle stanze.’203 By the late seventeenth-century, it had become the established practice to construct those sections of the fortifications exposed to harmful hot winds (the


Below, Detail of the left flanking curtain of Fort Manoel, showing the relationship between the rock-hewn lower twothirds of the rampart and the built-up upper third. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Rock-hewn sally-port

Filled-in caponier prior to re-excavation

Below, The rock-hewn gallery leading down to the sally-port, and (in the margin) the sally-ports on the left flank and main front (bottom) of the fort. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Ponente and Libeccio) as much as possible out of the best-quality stone. It was also the practice to build the lower courses of both buildings and ramparts out of hardstone – one of the conditions imposed on the contractors was that the first three or four lower courses above the ground were to be of the hardest stone that could be extracted from the vicinity of the fort (‘pietre della qualità più dura, che si potra trovare vicino al Forte’). There was a good reason for this technique, for the Maltese builders had learnt, empirically, to appreciate the low moisture-absorbing qualities of the local hardstone. With its lower capillarity, Corallaine Limestone provided a measure of natural damp-proofing and, prior to the use of bitumen, its use in foundations was the only damp-proofing measure available. The hardstone also had a greater resistance to the salinity of the sea and was employed, especially from the late late seventeenth century onwards, in works of fortifications that needed to be built close to the sea.204 At Fort Manoel, hardstone was employed in the construction of the salient angles and flanks of St. Anthony Bastion and St. Helen Bastion and in the lower courses of the interlinking curtain. Since there was no good hardstone to be found on the Isolotto, the supplies of this material were quarried from St. Julian’s Bay some 2.2 km away, and transported by boat to the building site: ‘li angoli salienti delle due bastioni, che vicinano il mare dalla parte della Valletta saranno fabricate con

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Below, View of the levelled rock-hewn surface of the covertway running parallel to the left face of Notre Dame Bastion.(Image source: Author’s private collection)

Right, The platform and banquette of the land front curtain are all carved out and levelled from the surface rock. This marked the highest point of the hill from which the fort was fashioned.(Image source: Author’s private collection).

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Below, Coursed rubble work (xulliel) makes up the pietra à secco walls of the revetments of the spurs of the glacis at Fort Manoel.(Image source: Author’s private collection)

una facciata esteriore di pietra dura di San Giuliano come anche alcune fili di piede della cortina e fianchi di d.a fronte.’205 To facilitate the off-loading of the supplies of stone from the on board the vessels, the Order built a small wooden pontone out into the sea along the shore of the island. In all, the builders were required to produce the following types of stone blocks: - ashlars of 41 cm course height - ashlars di caravana - ashlars of ordinary size for the parapets of covertway - cordons and golette - capstones for the superior slopes of parapets - balati (xorok - stone slabs) - paving stones - rough faced square blocks for interior walls (smarrat) - rough faced stones sciolleli (Maltese xulliel) - hardstone quoins for seaward bastions. The material (remblai) required for the formation of the glacis (spalto) and the terreplein of the bastions also came from the ditch and other areas of the fort that required a refashioning and levelling of the bedrock, and generally consisted of rock chippings, soil and other debris (known deblai): ‘Per formare i spalti, impire le casse de speroni, e il di dietro delle due controscarpe verso il mare, vi sarànno portate i materiali, e mazzacani provenienti dalla scavazione, e spianatura de fossi, quelli della spianatura della rocca al piede de speroni, e anche li materiali provenienti dalla spianatura del circuito della strada coperta, finche d.i spalti, e controscarpe siano munite di d.imateriali secondo i declinj, e pendenti che sarànno ordinati.’206 The bastions of St. Helen and St. Anthony, facing Valletta, were built first as a shell and were then filled in with rubble ‘fino all’altezza di pal. 8 sotto i parapetti di d.i bastioni, osservando, che la superficie di d.i materiali abbia li pendenti, e declinij necessarij

per condurre le acque piovane nelli canali più vicini, acciò gli magazzini di munizioni da farsi in d.i bastioni restino sempre asciutti.’ 207 Likewise, the banquettes, both those lining the covertway as well as the parapets inside the fort, ‘nelle parti ove d.e banchine non potranno essere fatte della propria rocca’, were to be fashioned from the deblai ‘osservando ch’abbiano le loro rampe, e declinij commodi per l’uso di d.e banchine’.208 Curiously, there is no mention whatsoever in either of the two contracts for the building of contraforti, particularly in the construction of the seaward bastions and curtain. Although these were not

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View of an exposed section of the solidlybuilt culvert running along the foot of the curtain cavalier which was designed to drain run-off rain water out of the fort and down into the ditch via two openings cut in the rocky scraps in the flanks of St. John Bastion and Notre Dame Bastion (above) respectively. Both the culvert and the heavy flagstones covering it are of hardstone. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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View of flagstones covering the culvert running along the foot of the combined curtain-cavalier. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

necessary in the landward bastions and three adjoining curtains, which were largely carved out of the rock, they would have been a crucial and important reinforcing element in the high masonry revetments of the seaward ramparts. The term contraforti is only used once in the second contract and then to refer only to the side buttresses of the gunpowder magazines. It is not known, at this stage, if the bastions were built with counterforts since this requires an excavation to confirm or otherwise. The material forming the glacis was anchored in places by five ‘speroni di fabrica smarrata à secco’ (spurs built of dry stone walling) with the walls given ‘la larghezza proporzionata alla loro altezza’, and built ‘alla scarpa, o sia talus, e che le prime filate del piede siano fabricato con taino, accio d.isperoni possino portare il peso delli materiali, che vi sarànno messi.’ 209 It is interesting to note that the contractors were authorized to deepen the ditch in order to quarry more rubble in the event that the volume of material generated during the projected excavation and levelling works did not suffice to provide the required amount remblai, ‘...che al contrario i materiali provenienti dalla scavazione, e spianatura di rocca non bastassero per formare li spalti, e terrapienare i bastioni verso della Valletta, sarànno obligati d.i partitarij di scavare maggiormente i fossi per avere la quantità de materiali mancanti alle perfezzione di d.i terrapieni.’ Any surplus material, however, was to be gathered outside the fort on the Valletta side and then levelled out: ‘... doppo finito tutto il travaglio delli terrapieni del Forte, sarànno levati del suo circuito tanto fuori, come dentro, tutte le pietre, e mazzacani residui, quali sarànno collocati fuori del Forte, nella parte della Valletta per formarne qualche piano d’abellimento, permezzo de quali resteranno tutte le opere nette, e libere da d.e pietre, e mazzacani’. The contractors were also allowed to sell any access building materials to third parts either for building purposes or as ballast (zavorra) for ships. In such cases the money earned from such sales was deducted from the payments due to the contractors.

The construction of the fort also involved a considerable degree of stone carving, particularly in the ornamentation of the main gate and the exterior and interior of the church. Such work was a specialized art entrusted to skilled scalpellini. Among the sculptors known to have been employed in fortification works around this time were Francesco Zahra, who executed the decorations of the Torre

View of rain water drainage system on the cavalier platform. The culvert fed the water into covered channels running beneath the platform and down pipes along the façade of the casemated curtain. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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General layout of the water drainage system along the foot of the curtain cavalier which was designed to direct run-off rain water out of the fort and down into the ditch via two openings cut in the rocky scraps in the flanks of St. John Bastion and Notre Dame Bastion respectively.

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The ceiling of the arcaded portico of the officers’ quarters at Fort Manoel is spanned by large curved xorok springing from side corbels. Arcaded porticoes were an effective cooling device in a building, particularly in a hot climate like Malta’s.

Above, Wooden form work used in restoration of arcaded portico.(Source of images: Author’s private collection)

dello Standardo in Mdina, and ‘Mro Gerolamo Fabri e suoi Figli scultori’ who worked on the decorations of the main gateways of the old capital, including the ornamentation of the friezes, the vermiculation of the pilasters, and the carving of effigies of the three saint-protectors placed on the interior façade of the gate, both projects undertaken under the direction of Mondion. The Fabris were a family of prominent sculptors from Birgu who also worked on the decorations of the Banca Giuratale and the dome of the Mdina cathedral. The 1727 arrangement obliged the contractors to ensure that ‘tutti gl’ornati d’architettura, e scoltura da farsi in tutte le d.e fabriche fuori, e dentro della chiesa, rilievi di pilastri cornici’ etc., were to be executed ‘secondo i disegni gia fatti e con tutta la polizia, e diligenza, che dimanda I’arte, impiegandovi pietre scelte’.

Lime Mortar

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Both earth and lime mortars were used in the construction of the fort. The former were employed for binding the rubble fill inside the ramparts and parapets, while the latter were reserved for bonding the masonry, for pointing (riboccatura), whitewashing of interior surfaces of rooms (biancheggiatura), and waterproofing of roofs and cisterns (bittumatura). The lime and pozzolana (puzzolana) necessary for the production of the mortar was supplied to the contractors directly from the magazines of the Order: Żonqor blocks in the lower courses of the exterior of the church of St. Anthony of Padua at Fort Manoel. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

‘La calce, e pozzolana necessaria per tutte le d.eopere da farsi sarà fornita à d.i partitarij à conto di S.A.E., e sarànno inserrate sotto chiave d.e calce, e pozzolana, per essere distribuite giornalmente à proporzione del bisogno delle d.e opere.’ Pozzolana, a siliceous volcanic earth imported from Italy, was mixed with local lime to improve its hydraulic and pozzolana had cementitious properties, making it ideal waterproofing compound for sealing off the heads of walls and parapets where flagstones and capstones were not available. It was also employed in the bittumatura (waterproofing) of

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Detail of the roof of the Officers’ barrack block at Fort Manoel, showing tal-franka slabs covered with a thick layer of torba and sealed with a cementitious waterproof mixture of deffun, lime, and pozzolana. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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wells and cisterns. This strong binder was generally made with four parts lime and three parts pozzolana. Lime and pozzolana were to be supplied to the builders solely by the Order, the contractors being only obliged to see to its transportation from the ‘pontone’ onwards, ‘... Et in oltre se li dovra’ fornire a’ d.ti Partitarji la calce e puzzolana dove sara’ bisogno d’impiegarle’. The contract clearly states that the ramparts were to be simply pointed and not whitewashed, ‘... I partitarij faranno rimboccare tutti i fili della mura di fortificazione cioè bastioni, mezzaluna, strada coperta, magazini etc., con tutta la diligenza dovuta e del med.o modo che di gia è rimboccata la cortina della gran porta, e alle facciate di rocca ove sarànno fili, o vene, questi sarànno da per tutto incolmate, e rimboccate di sopra.’ Whitewashing was specified only for the interior rooms of the barracks, churches and magazines, ‘ ... passandovi le calce almeno due volte finche restino d.e stanze della maggior polizia possibile’, and for the façades of the barracks overlooking the parade

Collapsed masonry parapet at Fort Manoel, prior to restoration. The effectiveness of the incolmatura applied to the upper layer of stone is clearly revealed in this photograph. Soil was used to bind the rubble fill of the ramparts and parapets. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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1723 contract Notary Gaspare Domenico Chircop, 26 June 1723

quarrying and quality of stone

angle of batter

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cordon and goletta

height of courses

Infill

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Actum . Melita in hac Civit.e Vall. pontibus mj Joanne Bapta. Ghiun et Ludovico Dandalona qd. Michaelij de Insula Gauli Testibus Nel nome del Si.re l’Anno dalla nascita di nro. Sig.re Giesu Christo mille settecento venti tre li venti sei del mese di Luglio corrente la p.ma inditione Personalmen.te constituito inanzi Noi Not.i e test.ij infri l’Ill.mi Sig.r Com.re Fra Don Giovanni de Vereterra Cab.re del Ord.ne Militare di San Gio: Geros.mo della Ven.da Lingua di castiglia a’ me conosciuto, spontaneam.te come Ricevitore dell Em.o e Rev:mo Sig.re Fra’ Don Antonio Manoel de Vilhena Gran Maestro di d.o Sacro Ordine e Principe dignissimo di quest’Isole Malta e Gozzo da’ in appalto li Lavori del Forte Manoel, che l’Em.za Sua a’ proprie’ spese’ ha’ ordinato si fabricasse nell’Isolotto esistente nel porto di Marsamuscetto di quest’Isola di Malta all’in.fratte persone come quelli che nel publico incanto tenuto sotto il giorno di ieri e oggi nella Ricetta esistente nel Palazzo Mag.le si sono offerti di farli p. il minor prezzo degli altri concorrenti, cioe Mro Giovanni Bonavia del fu Clemente di Casal Zabbar, M.ro Giovanni Zammit del fu Giuseppe della Burmula, m. ro Domenico Saliba del fu Antonio di Casal Zebbug, m.ro Mario Pullicino del fu Daniele di Casal Attardo, Antonio Azzupardi del fu Dom.co di Casal Luca, m.ro Alberto Galdes figlio di Giovanni di Casal Curmi, mro.Michele Micallef del fu Dom.co di Casal Lia, m.ro Gio. Maria Borg figlio d’Andrea, m.ro Carlo Mifsud del fu Francesco della Michabiba, m.ro Paolo Friggieri del fu Bartolomo di d.o Casal Zabbar e Giuseppe Caruana del fu Domenico di detto Casal Luca, à me Not.o parimente conosciuti, p.nti stip.nti e riceventi a’ staglio li sud. ti lavori di d.o Forte Manoel sotto le conditioni infre p. l’osservanza de’ quali essi partitarij si sono obligati insolm. l’uno per l’altro R.ndo e vogliono esser tenuti insolm. come sopra e nonalte. Le conditioni poi de quali sopra si e’ fatta mentione sono le seguenti, cioe’ Primieram.te che la rocca da tagliarsi p. la scavatione de fossi dovra’ essere impiegata p. fare le pietre della fabrica di detto Forte scieglendo sempre la parte della miglior qualita’ p. gfare le facciate esteriori a’ scarpa, le facciate interiori a’ piombo, le golette e cordoni, le pietre della sommita’ de parapetti tanti p. il di dentro come p. il di fuori. Secondariam.te che nel scavare la rocca di detti fossi li Partitarji doveranno osservare nelle trinche la med.ma scarpa che sara’ data alle facciate esteriori contigue. Terzo che la rocca che si tagliera’ nella interiore del Forte dovra’ essere anche impiegata a’ fare pietre p. la constructione dell’opere pigliando sempre la migliore a’ tali effetto. Quattro che doppo la scavat.ne di tutta la rocca tanto nelli fossi come nel interiore’ del forte li sud.ti Partitarij dovranno fare la spianatura della rocca ben regolata con li declinij che li saranno determinati. Quinto che dove la rocca permettera’ di fare li cordoni e la goletta colla medesima rocca essi partitarji saranno obligati di farlo. Sesto che tutte le pietre di facciata esteriore con scarpa dovranno havere l’altezza solita nel filo. cioe’ 5: fili allla canna e almeno da’ 3: in 4: palmi di Longhezza, d.e pietre saranno ributtate. Settimo che le pietre di scioglieli cioe’ a piombo p. le facciate interiori haveranno La med.ma altezza di 5: fili p. canna e faranno almeno di tre palmi di Longhezza. Ottavo che tutte le pietre generalm:te da’ impegarsi nella construtione dovranno essere lavorate con tutta la maggior diligenza e polizia possibile senza difetti ne scagliatura all’angoli, altrim.te saranno ribuittate, o’ p. non sfabricare quel che sara’ fatto, sara’ sscemato alli Partitarji del prezzo a’ proportione del difetto. Nono che li masticci dovranno essere fatti con tutta l’attenzione e la maggior diligenza possibile senza alcun vacante’ e che nessun pietra sia messa in opera senza aver p.ma il suo letto di taino grasso ben remischiato e che mancando a’ questa conditione importante p. la p.ma volta li s’impone la pena d’ oncie venti e che d.a pena sara’ a’ profitto di quello, che ne dara’ l’avviso, p. la seconda volta l’istessa pena, e la carceratione di piu’, e per la terza volta il doppio de d.a pena la carceratione e

cacciato dal partito. Decimo che nelli masticci dovranno essere impiegate grandi pietre di caravana e menze massimamente dalla parte della facciata esteriore. Undecimo, che d.i Partitarji dovranno impiegare tutti i Lavoranti ed altri operatorij come parera’ migliore purche siano dalli buoni, e non essendo tali saranno cacciati. Duodecimo che li Partitarji si dovranno fornire a’ proprie spese di tutti li stigli generalmente che li faranno di bisogno cioe’ mezze botte, barrili, baglioli, libani, bastoni, cuffe et ogn’ altro Decimo terzo, che tutti li materiali procedenti dalla barriera nella scavat.ne de’ fossi, e lavoratura della pietra dovranno esser portati a’ spese de’ Partitarji p. formare li spalti de banchine tanto della strada coperta come nell’interiore de’ bastioni conforme li sara ordinato, e che il sopra piu’ dovra esser portato anche a spese loro al piede dello spalto ove li sara’ assegnato e cio’ p. obbligare i d.i Partitarji e lavoranti di fare il meno che si potra di detti materiali. Decimo quarto, che p. la construtione de’ parapeti della strada coperta potranno impiegare pietre di filate ordinarie, purche l’ultima filata di parapetto sia di scarpe grandi al solito. Decimo quinto, che tutte le pietre degl’angoli e delle cantoniere saranno tutte di caravana. Decimo sesto, che d.a strada coperta dovra’ esser fatta al solito

tools & equipment

parapet of covertway


andante. Pietre della sommita’ de’ parapetti l ‘una a’ tari cinque la canna andante Cononiere di fabrica a’ tari dieci setti l’una. Canoniere di rocca a’ tari nove l ‘uno Ciangatura ordinaria a’ tari nove la canna quadra Piatforma grossa d’un palmo, e mezzo di grossezza a’ tari sedici la canna quadra parapetti di strada coperta compresa l’ultima filata a tari dodici la canna quadra Banchine con canali compresi li profili tre tari la canna andante Banchine di terra compresi li profili a’ tari tre la canna andante Et in oltre se li dovra’ fornire a’ d.ti Partitarji la calce e puzzolana dove sara’ bisogno d’impiegarle, con questo per’, che loro dovranno fare il trasporto. Parimenti se li dovra’ fiornire a’ med.mi li travi, serratizzi, tavole, tavolini et altro grosso legname che haveranno bisogno, alli quali li sara’ fatta la consegna p. restituirli doppo finito il partito insolm. come sopra. E se la terra, che si ritrova nell’Isola non fosse sufficiente p. il taino della fabrica si dovra fornire da. terra d’altre parte a’ conto di Sua Em.za Di modo che d.i Partitarji insolm. come sopra saranno tenuti verso dett’ Ill.mo Sig.r Ricev.re a’ n. sud.o stip.nte a’ tutti danni, spese, et interessi, tutte le volte non adimpiranno tutte le sud.e conditioni, sen’ alcuna eccetione. Qua. omnia

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colli canali di pietra p. la palizzata o’ fatta nella rocca di 2: palmi almeno profonda ove il sito la dimandera’. Dodecimo settimo che in tutte le opere di fabrica da farsi, le filate che veranno sotto terra saranno solam.te di smarrato. Decimo ottavo che li sud.i Partitarji faranno la spianatura dell’ covertway interiore della strada coperta colli suoi declini conforme li sara’ ordinato. decimo nono, che essi partitarji saranno tenuti di fare tutte le pas de scale e rampe necessarie, tanto di rocca come di fabrica ove li souris sara’ ordinato e li saranno pagati a’ stima. Vigesimo, che nelle porte, passaggi, mine, et altre opere dove sara’ disegno di farsi tragli d.o trogli saranno pagati alli partitarjia’ stima dal Sig.r Ingeniere e Capom.ro. Vigesimo primo, che dove saranno fatti ornamenti d’archiettura, architectural cornici, pilastri, colonne, rilievi di scoltura, et altre simili esse ornamentation saranno’ pagate a’ stima delli periti. Vigesimo secondo, che saranno’ li Partitarji sud.i incaricati del trasporto dell’acqua che dovra’ esser presa dalla fontana delle tre puntei. Vigesimo terzo, che essi Partitarji anche saranno incaricati di tutto il trasporto della pietra generalm.te, materiali ed altre esse sia collo schiavi o’ figlioli come parera’ migliore. Vigesimo quarto, che Sua Em.za dovra’ fornire a detti Partitarji slaves settanta schiavi ogni giorno che loro impiegheranno come meglio lo vederanno. Vigesimo quinto, che li angoli salienti delle due bastioni, che vicinano il mare dalla parte della Valletta saranno fabricate con una facciata esteriore di pietra dura di San Giuliano come anche alcune fili di piede della cortina e fianchi di d.a fronte, e che sara’ hardstone pagata separamente la facciata di d.a pietra a’ cann quadrata. Vegesimo sesto, che li sud.i Partitarji siano incaricati del taglia di detta pietra a’ S. Giuliano et anche dal suo trasporto p. mare p. il qual’ esso li sara’ fornito un Pontone del quale saranno pleggi nel caso perisse. Vigesimo settimo, che p. passare la Gente dalla Porta di Marsamuscetto all’Isolotto sara’ data a’ loro un carico di vasselli dal quale pagheranno li Marinari e che anche potranno servirsi del medesimo carico p. il trasporto dell’acqua p. la fabrica. Vigesimo ottavo che li sud.i partitarji saranno tenuti di scavare tutta la volta de fossi fino a perfettione e che li sara’ lecito di vendere pietra alli particolari dela quale sara’ tenuta la nota cioe’ tante barcate di savorra, e tanti viaggi di pietra smarrata, a’ i particolari, e si sfalchera’ dal partito il danaro che li Partitarji averanno ricevuto in tal modo p. il qual effetto saranno obligati al trasporto fino al Pontone p. particolari e fino alla marina per lai savorranti. et Ultimo, che li sud.ti Partitarji saranno pagati ogni settimana a’ buon conto et a’ proportione del travaglio fatto che li sara’ misurato, e che potranno anche a’ beneplacito aumentare la genete, e crescere i travaglio se averanno la facolta di farne l’avanzo. E cio’ a’ staglio p. li prezzi infri, cioe’ rates of La scavatione di rocca a’ tari tredici e grani dieci la canna cuba. payment Le trinche a’ tari due la canna quadra. La facciata esteriore di pietra dura di San Giuliano a’ scudi quattro, e tari due la canna quadra. La facciata esteriore di pietra ordinaria a’ tari quattordici la canna quadra. La facciata interiore di scioleli a’ tari tredici la canna quadra. La facciata di smarrato a’ tari diece la canna quadra. Il masticcio a’ tari sedici la canna cuba. Cordone e goletta di rocca a’ tari otto la canna andante. Cordone e goletta di pietra insieme a’ atri cinque la canna

scaffolding and formwork

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Excavation of traverses

Excavation of ditch and fashioning of scarp walls and gorge of ravelin

Construction of casemated cavalier on Nortre Dame Bastion

Excavation and levelling of covertway from surface rock

Construction of casema curtain cavalier

Scarp walls of bastion carved out of bedrock

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Construction of masonry revetments for spurs of glacis, built in the pietra Ă secco style and filled in with rubble and earth

Excavation of ditch to about 2/3 of its full height: the ditch served as the principal quarry for the supply of Globigerina Limestone blocks.

level of original bedrock

excavation

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Construction of masonry parapet gabions


Author’s graphic 3D simulation of Fort Manoel under construction, showing the works which were undertaken in the first stage of the building works spanning from 1723 to early 1727. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Excavation and levelling of covertway and erection of parapet of covertway

Excavation of ditch and shaping of counterscarp Filling in of terreplein of bastion with earth and debris excavated on site level had still not reached full height by 1727

Commencement of Church

Commencement of outer masonry shell of bastion faces and flanks - hardstone from St. Julian’s is employed in the footing and salients of the bastion: It is not known if these walls were backed up by counterforts as shown here

Excavation of two large cisterns

Excavation of drop ditch

Construction of curtain with corpo di guardia and main gate

Main gate completed but not known if already fitted with drawbridge by 1727

Wooden pontoon constructed by the Order to facilitate the unloading of stone supplies shipped from St. Julian’s Bay and other supplies sent from Valletta

Hardstone footing of bastion face

Filling in of terreplein of bastion with earth and debris excavated on site level had still not reached full height by January 1727

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ated

Construction of casemated cavalier on St. John Bastion


1727 contract Notary Gaspare Domenico Chircop, 26 January 1727

Actum Melita in Hac Civit.e Vall.a pntibus m.co Philippus Ludovico, et Valerio Quattromani filio Vincentij de dicta Civit.e Vall. Terribus DieVigesimo sexti mensis Janurij v Ind. is millesimo septingentesimo vigesimo septimo a n.e Volendo Sua Altezza Eminentissima dare à staglio il partito di diverse opere, e travagli, che restano à farsi nel suo Forte Manoel per essere messo detto Forte in stato di tutta perfezzione ordinò si partecipasse alli partitarij, che sin al presente si sono applicati alle fabrica del medesimo la nota ben distinta delle dette opere, et havendo d.ti partitarij fatto sopra cio matura riflessione, comparvero tutti nelle stanze della Ricetta, ed ivi in presenza dell’Ill.mo Sig.r Comm.re Fra Sebastiano Francesco Barone de Remching Ricev.re di dett.i A. Emm.a, e del Nobile Sig.r Cav.re di Mondion Ingegniere, e Com.rio delle Fortificationi fecerero il progetto, che per mettere in esecuzione tutte le d.e opere volendo la somma di scudi ventinove mila moneta di Malta, che non li fu accordata, perche della stima che antecedentemente havea fatto d.o Sig.r Cav.re de Mondion unitam.te col Capo M.ro e Donato Franscesco Zerafa si riconobbe essere la loro domanda esorbitante, per loche d.i partitarij in diverse volte han ridotto d.a somma fino à quella di scudi venticinque mila, e comeche la domanda di quest’ultima somma è stata giudicata ragionevole, e giusta, pertanto gli fu accordata à condizione pero, che li sud.i partitarij dovessero mettere in esecuzione tutte le d.e opere, che restano à farsi à fine di perfezzionare di tutto punto il d.o Forte, conforme si specifichera in appresso, e sotto I’infr.e condizioni, e non altrimente etc... Quindi è, che oggi giorno sopra descritto personalmente constituiti inanzi noi not.o e testimonij infrascritti Mro Giovanni Bonavita del fu Clemente di Casal Zabbar, M.ro Giovanni Zammit del fu Giuseppe della Burmula, Domenico Saliba del fu Antonio di Casal Zebbug, Alberto Galdes figlio di Giovanni di Casal Curmi, Gio. Maria Borg del fu Andrea ed Antonio Azzupardi del fu Dom.co di Casal Luca, Carlo Mifsud del fu Francesco della Michabiba, Michele Micallef del fu Dom.co di Casal Lio, Giuseppe Caruana del fu Dom.co di Casal Luca, e Paolo Friggieri del fu Bartolomo di Casal Zabbar à me Not.o conosciuti, obbligandosi in solidum I’uno per I’altro R.do spontaneamente promettono e s’obbligano verso d.o Ill.mo Sig.r Com.re Fra Francesco Sebastiano Barone de Remching Ric.re di d.a Altezza Ser.ma à me pure conosciuto p.nte, et à me sud.o stip.nt e di dover fare d.e opere, cioè

quarrying and rock-cutting works

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caponier with rock-hewn glacis

central sally-port

lateral sally-ports

pas-de-souris

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Opere di Rocca 1. Sarà fatta tutta la scavazione di rocca, che resta à farsi nelli fossi del Forte, comprese quelle della mezzaluna fino à tale profondita che da pertutto vi siano can. 5 d’altezza dal piano di d.e fossi fino al di sotto della goletta de Bastioni, e della mezzaluna. 2. Nel fosso della fronte principale, che riguarda à maestrale sarà fatta inanzi alla cortina una tenaglia tutta di rocca col suo parapetto di pal. 8. di larghezza con una mina di passagio per di sotto, ove siano due piccoli corpi di guardia, anche incavati nella stessa rocca. 3. Nel fosso fra la d.a tenaglia, e la mezza luna sarà fatta una capponiera tutta di rocca con li suoi parapetti à destra, e sinistra terminati in spalto nel d.o fosso, et inanzi alle cortine delle fronti laterali; como anche nel fosso della mezzaluna sarànno fatte altre simili capponiere, per communicare sicuramente à tutte le piazze d’armi della strada coperta. 4. Per scendere dall’interiore del Forte al fosso della fronte principale sarà fatto sotto, e in mezzo della sua cortina una mina di comunicazione scalinata di pal. 8. di larghezza, quale principiendo nel passagio Superiore in mezzo della cortina del Cavaliere sarà scavata indeclino fino al d.o fosso; e vicino alla porta bassa di d.a mina, sarànno incavati nella rocca à destra, e sinistra due piccoli corpi di guardia da 10. in 12. pal. di quadratura. 5. Per communicare paramente dall’interiore del Forfe alli fossi delle fronti laterali sarànno fatte sotto delle loro cortine due altri mine scalinate, le porte false [sally-ports] delle quali si ritroveranno fra i parapetti delle due capponiere da farsi in d.i fossi, e vicino alle de porte sarànno anche fatti due piccoli corpi di guardia [guard rooms] incavati nella rocca. 6. Per montare dal fondo del fosso sopra la mezzaluna della tenaglia, e delle quattro piazze d’armi di strada coperta, sarànno fatte sei scale doppie intagliate nella rocca [pas-de-souris], cioe una nell’angolo reintrante della gola di d.a mezzaluna, una dietro della cortina della tenaglia, e le altre quattro nelli angoli reintranti nella d.a

piazza d’armi. 7. Al piede della Porta Maggiore del Forte sarà perfezzionata la scavazione del fosso seguitando d.o travaglio nel modo, che digia è principiato. 8. Sul lido del mare à sinstra della scala della marina sarà scavata la rocca in figura quadra di long.za can.6., larghezza simile, e profondità fino à pal.3. Sotto il piano del mare, per formare un piccolo posto, ò sia Darsa, ove le barche di passagio possino stare à ridosso delle onde. 9. Nella Gran Piazza del Forte, e parallelmente al riparo del cortile della Porta Maggiore sarà scavato nella rocca un Gibione di can.18 di long.za, can.5 di larg.za à basso, e can. 3 ½ di profondità, il quale ricevera tutte le acque piovane delle piatte forme, e terrazze delle case del Forte, e nel fondo di d.o Gibione sarà fatta una mina per condurre I’acqua sotto della nicchia fatta

large cisterns beneath piazza


fountain

cisterns and drainage system

Spianatura di Rocca 13. Finita, che sarà la scavazione de fossi, sarà spianato da pertutto il loro fondo, osservando, che i spalti delle capponiere siano della stessa rocca, e che i declinj de d.i fossi verso il mare siano tirati à linee rette nel modo, che sarà prima regolato, e con tutta la polizia dovuta. 14. Per formare il piano della strada coperta, la rocca sarà covertway spianata da pertutto il suo circuito; osservando, che le banchine colli loro declinj siano della stessa rocca, ove sarà possibile, e ch’il bordo della controscarpa sia al meno di pal.8 più bassa, che il parapetto di d.a strada coperta. 15. La rocca superflua nell’interiore della mezzaluna ravelin sarà tagliata, e spianata, osservando di farci nei diversi declinj opportuni, conforme sono segnati al profilo di d.a mezzaluna, e che la controscarpa della sua gola non sia più alta, che le altre controscarpe vicine. 16. I spazij fra li speroni de spalti sarànno spienati ovunque sarà di bisogno, di modo tale, che dalle faccie della piazza d’armi di strada coperta si possa scuopire à linea retta fino al piede degl’angoli di d.i speroni con una larghezza simile à quella delle d.e faccie di piazza d’armi. 17. Sarà spianata la rocca da pertutto I’interiore del Forte, si nel circuito de bastioni, come nella gran Piazza; osservando di fare le banchine, e loro declinj della stessa rocca, ove sarà fattibile, e di pratticare tutti gl’altri declinj necessarij per l’adito delle acque piovane. levelling of rock surfaces

countermines

20. Acciò non resti nissuna parte dello spalto, che non habbia mine di sotto, al piede della contrascarpa dirimpetto alla faccia destra del bastione della destra, e dirimpetto alla faccia sinistra del bastione della sinistra sarànno fatte d’ogni parte altre tre piccole gallarie colli loro rami, e, fornelli, e secondo la norma sud.a, e gli dissenii che ne sono fatti. Questi sei fornelli colli 38 sud.i faranno in tutto il numero di 44 fornelli. 21. Per facilitare la scavazione delle d.e mine, e dare fiato alli minatori, si faranno de pozzi, sian spiragli, quali principiando dal piano delle piazze d’armi porteranno aria, e luce alle d.e sette gallarie; d.e spiragli di forma tonda averanno pal.6 di diametro, e fra 24, 26 pal. di profondità. Sotterranei 22. All’angolo reintrante della gola della mezzaluna, e fra le due branche di scale, sarà scavato secondo la linea capitale un sotterraneo nella rocca di can.14 di longhezza, pal.20 di larghezza, e pal.16 di altezza, e à destra, e sinistra di d.o sotterraneo, sarànno fatte due gallarie di communicazione per andare alle due piazze d’armi di strada coperta della destra, e sinistra di d.a mezzaluna. Opere di Fabrica 23. La chiesa di d.o Forte di can.6 di longhezza interiore, e can.3 di larghezza sarà perfezzionata nel modo che di gia è principiata, e sarà fatta la sua volta à gavità di forza competente per portare una cuppolina, e sarànno eseguiti tutti gl’ornati dell’interiore di d.a Chiesa, conforme sono segnati alli profili, e spaccati della m.da. 24. Alla destra della d.a chiesa sarà fatto un quartiere di due case, una per il cappellano, e l’altra per un officiale, d.o

explosive chambers

countermine ventilation shafts ARX - OCCASIONAL PAPERS - ISSUE 4/ 2014 - FORT MANOEL

in d.o cortile ove sarà pratticata una fontana, e per dare l’adito libero delle acque superflue, quando fosse pieno d.o Gibione, sarànno fatti à suoi capi due canali, o sian Sporgatori, quali conduranno d.e acque superflue nel d.o cortile, la onde sarànno condotte permezzo d’un altro canale nel piccolo fosso della Porte Maggiore. 10. Nelli cortili d.e case del Governatore, Capellano, et altri officiali sarànno fatte cinque piccole cisterne di 60. botti in circa di capacità, quali avranno i loro spugatori nelli canali più vicini. 11. Dietro delle d.e case, e delle caserne di soldati sarànno fatti de canali, per condurre le acque lorde fuore del Forfe, passando sotto la scala delle tre mine da farsi per communicare alli fossi, e al piede delle d.e tre mine sarànno fatte delle fosse coperte, nelle quali si perderanno le d.e acque. 12. Intorno al Piede del Cavaliere sarànno fatti piccoli canali, quali conduranno le acque piovane nelli altri canali più vicini.

communication passages in ravelin

building works church

officers’ and chaplain’s quarters

Mine 18. Per accrescere la difesa del Forte, sarànno fatti mine, e fornelli sotto tutti gl’angoli salienti della strada coperta, e per quest’ effetto sarànno scavati nella rocca sette gallarie principali di pal.6 di larghezza, e pal.7 di altezza, quali principiendo tutte dal fondo del fosso al piede della contrascarpa, sarànno prolongate secondo le linee capitali delle sette piazze d’armi di strada coperta fino sotto li loro angoli salienti. D.e gallarie principali daranno modo di aprire à destra, e sinistra diverse altre piccole gallarie, o sia rami di pal.4 larghezza, e 6 di altezza, e capo de quali sarànno anche fatti altri Rami di pal. 2 ½ di larghezza, e 4 di altezza. Questi averanno solamente can.3 di larghezza e sarànno inoltrati sotto de spalti, di modo che i fornelli da farsi à capi di d. rami in numero di 38 siano almeno di can.6 in fuori del parapetto di strada coperta, e alla distanza di altre 6 can. fra di loro. 19. All’ingresso delle d.e sette gallarie principali, sarànno fatti nella rocca piccoli corpi di guardia in num.ro di 14 in tutto, avendo ogn’uno da 10 in 12 palmi di longhezza, larghezza, e altezza.

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officers’ quarters

soldiers’ barracks

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gunpowder magazine

cordone & goletta

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quartiere sarà prolongato fino alla distanza di can. 5.4 dal parapetti della cortina verso Grecale. D.e case averanno due piani, uno basso, l’altro superiore, il piano basso sarà coperto col volte à lamia, quello di sopra con archi, e balate. La facciata di d.o quartiere, che riguarda alla Piazza sarà decorata con due ranghi di loggie, una bassa, e l’altra di sopra, questa à livello del 2.do coperta con travi di castagna, e balate, e al di dietro di d.e case sarànno fatti due piccole cortini, quali averanno ogn’uno una piccola cucina, e un luogo di commodità. 25. Alla sinistra di d.a chiesa, sarà lasciata una strada di can.7 di larghezza, e dal punte di d.e 7 canne fino alla distanza di can.5.4 dal parapetto della cortina verso Lebeccio sarà fabricato un’altro quartiere, la facciata del quale sarà nella med.a linea di quella della Chiesa; in d.o quartiere sarànno fatte tre case cioe quella del Governatore, et altre due piccoli per officiali, la facciata sarà simile à quella del quartiere contigua alla chiesa, cioè con loggie à basso, e sopra, nel di dietro vi sarànno tre cortili colle loro cucine; le volte delle stanze basse sarànno à lamia; i soffitti delle stanze superiori delle case d’officiali, sarànno fatti con archi, e balate, ma li soffitti delle stanze del Governatore sarànno fatti à gavità, in tutto conforme alle piante, e profili gia fatti per d.e fabriche. 26. Parallelmente alle due cortine di Grecale, e Lebeccio, e alla distanza di can. 5.4 dal loro parapetto sarànno fabricati due quartieri, di caserme per soldati, avendo ogn’uno di d.i quartieri sette stanze con volte à prova di bomba, le facciate di d.i due quartieri verso della Piazza sarànno con un loggia per parte, e per dietro ogni stanza avera un piccole cortile, ove sarà una cucinetta. Ogn’una di d.e stanze avera can. 4 di longhezza interiore, e can. due di larghezza, e vi sarà pratticato un raffo con archi, e balate, al quale si monterà con una piccola scala; d.i Raffi averanno due finistre, cioe una verso della loggia col piccola gallaria, e I’altre verso il cortile, l’altezza della fabrica di d.i due quartieri sarà di can.4. in tutto, conformandosi alle piante, profili, e spaccati à tal fine gia fatti. 27. Nel centro de due bastioni, che riguardano alla Città Valletta, sarànno fabricati due magazzini à prova di bombe, uno per la polvere, e l’altro per altre monizioni, osservando, che le mura di d.i magazzini siano fatte con pietre di tale grandezza, che vi sia poco mastrizzo in d.e mura, acciò non vi sia tanta umidità ambidue d.i magazzini sarànno rinforzati contraforti tra i quali sarànno pratticati sfiatatori nel modo solito per portare aria in d.i magazzini, il tetto di quali sarà fatto à schina, e lastricato con pietre di pal. 1½ d’altezza lavorate in maniera, ch’il taino delle diverse filate resti coperto. E per impedire, che non si possa accostare da d.i magazzini, sarànno essi inserrati in d.i bastioni con un muro di pal. 4. di larghezza da un’angolo reintrante al I’altro de loro fianchi. 28. II parapetto delle due faccie, e fianchi della mezzaluna, sarà perfezzionato secondo la sua pianta, e profilo, osservando, ch’il cordone e la goletta siano di rocca ove questo sarà fattibile, e di pietre ben lavorate nelle parti ove la rocca si ritrovera di mala qualità; d.a mezzaluna avera otto cannonieri, cioè due per ogni fianco, e due per ogni faccia, le pietre delle quali sarànno della maggiore grandezza possibile per resistere all’impulsione della polvere nello sparare. 29. Da per tutte le opere di rocca, come Gebbia, cisterne, controscarpa, scale, canali etc., sarà tagliata la

rocca alle parti di mala qualità, ed à luogo suo sarà fabricato con buone pietre adattate agli diversi luoghi ove ne sarà di bisogno. 30. Le piatteforme di tutte le cannoniere sarànno fatte dalla gun propria rocca spianata con decline verso de parapetti, ove d.a platforms rocca lo permetterà, ed alle parti diffettuose, sarà rimediato con fabricarvi pietre di piatteforme, almeno d’un palmo d’altezza con mastrizzo di sotto, ove ne sarà di bisogno. 31. Per condurre le acque piovane dalle Piatteforme, culverts & e terrazze al Gibione, e cisterne, sarànno fabricati ove sarà pipes di bisogno canali di pietra chiamati cattuse ben lavorate, ed incolmate di maniera, che le d.e acque non spandino per di fuori di d.e cattuse. Speroni delli Spalti 32. Per reggere i materiali de spalti inanzi alli angoli salienti della strada coperta, e regolare d.i materiali di maniera, che i loro piani siano veduti, e diffesi dalle parapetti delli bastioni, e mezzaluna, si faranno speroni di fabrica smarrata à secco, ed alla distanza da d.i angoli salienti, che sarà determinata, osservando, che le mura di d.i speroni abbiano la larghezza proporzionata alla loro altezza, che siano fatte alla scarpa, b sia talus, e che le prime filate del piede siano fabricato con taino, accio d.isperoni possino portare il peso delli materiali, che vi sarànno messi. Rimboccatura 33. Tutte le opere di fabrica generalmente sarànno rimboccate del miglior modo, e con tutta la polizia possibile, si per dentro, come per fuori à contro delli Partitarij, osservando che sopra le facciate delle fabriche civili, come la chiesa, le case, e caserme sarà messo un colore di pietra, che cuopra la rimboccatura di maniera, che non comparischino più li fili delle filate. Biancheggiatori 34. Tutte le mura interiori delle case, caserme, stanze, stanze sotterranee 8 sarànno biancheggiate due volte sopra la rimboccatura, acciò restino d.e mura interiori della maggiore polizia possibile.

Spurs of glacis

pointing

whitewashing of of interiors

Materiali 35. Per formare i spalti, impire le casse de speroni, e il di materials dietro delle due controscarpe verso il mare, vi sarànno portate i materiali, e mazzacani provenienti dalla scavazione, e spianatura de fossi, quelli della spianatura della rocca al piede de speroni, e anche li materiali provenienti dalla spianatura del circuito della strada coperta, finche d.i spalti, e controscarpe siano munite di d.imateriali secondo i declinj, e pendenti che sarànno ordinati. 36. L’interiore, o sia centro delli due bastioni, che materials riguardano alla Valletta sarà anche impito di materia fino all’altezza di pal. 8 sotto i parapetti di d.i bastioni, osservando, che la superficie di d.i materiali abbia li pendenti, e declinij necessarij per condurre le acque piovane nelli canali più vicini, acciò gli magazzini di munizioni da farsi in d.i bastioni restino sempre asciutti. 37. Le banchine de parapetti, si dell’interiore del Forte, banquettes come della strada coperta, capponiere, etc, sarànno formate & parapets con materiali nelle parti ove d.e banchine non potranno essere fatte della propria rocca, osservando ch’abbiano le loro rampe, e declinij commodi per l’uso di d.e banchine. 38. Nelle parti ove la superficie nella gran Piazza in mezzo al Forte non potra essere della stessa rocca spianata, specialmente verso della porta maggiore, dovrassi supplire con


materiali riportati, il piano de quali con quello fatto di rocca versa ad unirsi in linea retta, di maniera, che non si sia ne monti, ne fosse in tutta la superfcie di d.a Piazza, quale avera un decline, o pendente della parte della porta maggiore nel modo, che sarà determinato. Canali 39. Per portare le acque piovane dalle terrazze delle case, e caserme e dalla piatta forma del cavaliere al Gibbione, e alle cisterne, sarànno fatti, oltre delle cattuse di pietra legate alle d.e fabriche, tutti i canali necessarij sotto terra per condurre le d.eacque in d.o Gibione, e cisterne, come anche altri canali chiamati sporgatori per portar via le acque superflue, quando sarànno piene il d.o Gebione, e cisterne. 40. Per la polizia, e salubrita del Forte vi sarànno fatti luoghi communi ove ne sarà bisogno, specialmente in tutte le case, e caserme, quali averanno le loro fosse coperte di grandezza competente, e nel fondo di d.e fosse coperte di grandezza competente, e nel fondo di d.e fosse sarànno fatte delle branche di canali, che corrisponderanno ad altri canali maestri quali girandosi intorno alli quartieri porteranno le acque lorde fino alli fossi passando per di sotto delle scale delle mine di communicazione à d.i fossi, e à capo di d.i canali maestri, sarànno fatte altre fosse spaziose ove si perderanno le d.e acque, e queste fosse sarànno coperto con archi, e balate ben uturate per obviare alla mala esalazione. 41. Per I’adito delle acque piovane fra i bastioni, e il circuito del cavaliere, la rocca sarà spianata in pendente di maniera, che le d.e acque venghino al piede di d.o cavaliere ove sarànno fatti canali superficiali anche con la loro pendenza necessaria per condurre d.e acque nelli canali maestri più vicini, e alli luoghi ove sarànno delle piatte forme per il cannone col loro solito declino, sarànno fatti altri canali superficiali al piede di d.i parapetti, quali porteranno le acque in altri canali fatti sotto delle d.e piatta forma finche queste restino libere da d.e acque.

La chiesa sarà coperta con una volta, o troglio à gavità, quale portera una piccola cuppolina, ne pietre di d.a volta, e cuppolina,

ARX - OCCASIONAL PAPERS - ISSUE 4/ 2014 - FORT MANOEL

culverts and channels

case, caserme, magazini di monizione etc., sarànno fabricate secondo i disegni gia fatti, con pietre scelte, della miglior qualità, che si ritrovera nelli fossi del Forte. Tutte le pietre delle facciate della mura, tanto interiori, quanto esteriori, sarànno della grandezza, e altezza dovuta, lavorata con tutta diligenza, e fabricate con taino sempre ben impastato, e accio d.e fabriche abbiano tutta la solidità possibile, e si conservino maggiormente, le tre, o quattro prime filate del loro piede fuor di terra, sarànno di pietre della qualità più dura, che si potra trovare vicino al Forte. I trogli delle stanze basse de due quartieri di case sarànno fatti à lamia, e di tale solidità, che sopra di d.i trogli possino essere fabricate mura divisorie in caso di bisogno per la distribuzione delle stanze de piani superiori. I d.i trogli sarànno fabricati con pietre scelte della miglior qualità, e quelle degl’angoli, delle lamie sarànno sane, e non diverse per maggior solidità della fabrica. I soffitti delle stanze del Governatore sarànno fatti à gavità con una cornice in torno, e i soffitti di tutte le aftre stanze superiori sarànno fatti con archi, e balate, e il tutto con la maggiore polizia, che sarà possibile. I trogli delle caserme sarànno fabricati à prova di bomba, e per ciò raddoppiati con tre palmi di masticcio di sopra conforme sono gia fatti quelli del Cavaliere del Forte. I tetti, o sian terrazze, sopra de trogli delle caserme, sarànno lastricati con piatta forma ben lavorate, incolmate, e rimboccare con taino di puzzolana, osservando, che d.e piatte forme formeranno una schina sopra ogni troglio, accio questi restino sempre liberi dalle acque piovane.

vaults

ceilings

roofs

church

Le condizioni che i partitarij del Forte Manoel s’obligano di

conditions osservare nell’esecuzione delle diverse opere di fabriche for contractors descritte di sopra da farsi per mettere il d.o Forte in stato di tutta

perfettione sono le seguenti, cioè .

quarrying Opere di Rocca In tutte le parti del Forte ove le opere potranno essere fatte dalla & excavation stessa rocca, sarà questa conservata, e scavata, con questo

fine, osservando da per tutto, che le trinche o sian facciate delle d.e opere di rocca, tanto in scarpa, quanto à piombo, siano piane, e tirate à linee rette, senza monti, ne fosse, e perche d.e facciate quando una volta sono state malfatte, difficilmente posso rimediarsi, per obligare i Partitarij d’impeniarvi uomini prattici e attenti, li sarà imposta una pena di denari à proporzione delli difetti, e la somma di d.a pena sarà scemata da quella che gli è stata promessa. Lo stesso sarà pratticato à riguardo di tutta la spianatura di rocca, quando sarà ritrovata malfatta per colpi delli spianaturi, e il med.o anche s’intende per le trinche, e facciate delle sotterranei mine di communicazione, loro corpi di guardia, Gallarie di mine, capponiere, scale, e generalmente per tutte le molte opere di rocca da farsi, quali doveranno essere incavate e tirate à linee rette con tutta la polizia dovuta, ed essendo altrimente, al pena di denari scemati dovra seguire senza indulgenza veruna.

building

Opere di Fabbrica Le fabriche civili, cioè della chiesa, casa del Governatore, altre

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sarànno lavorate per fuori, come per dentro, non sia bisogno farvi terrazza di sopra, il med.o sarà pratticato per la piccola cuppola da farsi per coprire il campanile. Per tutte le opere sopra accenate sarànno impegnate pietre scelte ben lavorate fabricate colla diligenza dovuta, e ovunque sarà fatto altremente, se sarànno messe in opera pietre mal lavorate, o scardate, queste sarànno levate à spese de Partitarij, e ancorche vi fussero altre filate di sopra, il tutto sarà demolito, o pure li sarà trattenuta una somma per pena à proporzione delli difetti, e mancamenti. sculpture

pointing with a lime mortar

.

Scoltura Tutti gl’ornati d’architettura, e scoltura da farsi in tutte le d.e fabriche fuori, e dentro della chiesa, rilievi di pilastri cornici etc., sarànno eseguiti secondo i disegni gia fatti e con tutta la polizia, e diligenza, che dimanda I’arte, impiegandovi pietre scelte; e non essendo cosi, sarà scemata dalla somma concessa à proporzione della trascuragione. Rimboccatura I partitarij faranno rimboccare tutti i fili della mura di fortificazione cioè bastioni, mezzaluna, strada coperta, magazini etc., con tutta la diligenza dovuta e del med.o modo che di gia è rimboccata la cortina della gran porta, e alle facciate di rocca ove sarànno fili, o vene, questi sarànno da per tutto incolmate, e rimboccate di sopra. I partitarij faranno rimboccare similmente tutte le facciate esteriori delle fabriche civili, osservando, che quelle, che reguardano alla gran Piazza del Forte, sarànno coperte con un colore di pietra, di maniera, che à d.e facciate non comparisca più l’unione delle filate.

whitewashing of interiors with a mixture of lime, sand & xaħx

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slabs for roofing

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Biancheggiatura I d.i partitarij faranno biancheggiare le facciate interiori di tutte le stanze delle case, e caserme magazini etc., passandovi le calce almeno due volte finche restino d.e stanze della maggior polizia possibile. Ciangatura Tutte le stanze de piani superiori sarànno lastricate con pietre di ciangatura della grandezza ordinaria di buona qualità lavorate con tutta diligenza, conforme sono quelle di Santa Vennera, e non sarànno ricevute le ciangature, che averanno scaldature, o fossi, specialmente per il pavimiento della chiesa, quale potra essere fatto con pietre di grandezza maggiore di quelle delle stanze, sceliendo anche quelle della qualità più dura. Le stanze di piani bassi, come anche il di sotto delle loggie sarànno lastricate con pietre di piatta forma lavorate però con la med.a diligenza, che le ciangature, osservando di fare una platea di terra bagnata, e battuta per di sotto ove ne sarà di bisogno per assolidare maggiormente il d.o pavimiento. Sotto il pavimiento della chiesa sarà fatta una cantina, o sia carniera per la sepoltura de morti coperti di maniera, che non comparisca in d.o pavimento. Balate di Sotto Per fare i soffitti delle stanze superiori, i partitarij faranno scelta della pietra di miglior qualità per tutte le balate da impiegarsi, e in caso, che nella scavazione de fossi del

Forte non si trovasse tutta la pietra di qualità dovuta per fare tutte le balate necessarie alla copertura di d.i soffitti, i partitarij sarànno obbligati di provedersi di d.e balate à spese loro dalla cava di S.Venera, in med.o s’intende anche in caso di mancanza della d.a pietra di buona qualità per la ciangatura delle stanze. Terrazze I partitarij faranno fare tutte le terrazze necessarie alle fabriche del Forte impiegandovi la turba di miglior qualità battuta di sopra con calce, e terra coll’assistenza, e cura del miglior maestro terrazzaro, osservando che d.e terrazze abbiano le pendenze necessarie per portare le acque piovane in cattuse di pietra, o terra cotta secondo il bisogno e in caso, che spendasse I’acque da qualche parte di d.e terrazze i d.i partitarij sarànno tenuti di farne le riparazioni finche restino perfette d.e terrazze, le cattuse sian di pietra, o di terra cotta sarànno anche fatte à conto delle stessi partitarij. Speroni dei Spalti I partitarij sarànno obligati alla fabrica di s.i speroni [spurs of the glacis] nel modo, ch’e stato spiegato al cap.32 delle opere da farsi. Materiali I med.mi partitarij sarànno obligati al trasporto, e collocazione di tutti i materiali provenienti da tutta la scavazione di rocca, e lavoratura della pietra à tenore de cap. 35. 36. 37. 38. delle opere da farsi, osservendo, che doppo finito tutto il travaglio delli terrapieni del Forte, sarànno levati del suo circuito tanto fuori, come dentro, tutte le pietre, e mazzacani residui, quali sarànno collocati fuori del Forte, nella parte della Valletta per formarne qualche piano d’abellimento, permezzo de quali resteranno tutte le opere nette, e libere da d.e pietre, e mazzacani e in caso, che al contrario i materiali provenienti dalla scavazione, e spianatura di rocca non bastassero per formare li spalti, e terrapienare i bastioni verso della Valletta, sarànno obligati d.i partitarij di scavare maggiormente i fossi per avere la quantità de materiali mancanti alle perfezzione di d.i terrapieni. Bittumatura II Gebione la mina, che deve condurre la sua acqua al cortile della Porta Maggiore, e la cisterne delle case doveranno essere bittumate con calce, e pozzolana, e colla diligenza dovuta, osservando d’incolmare prima i fili della rocca da pertutto ove sarà necessario, e sarànno parimente incolmati, e bittumati à conto de partitarij tutti i canali, i cattuse per i quali le acque devono passare sino à tanto, che facciano I’effetto dovuto, e senza spardare de nissuna parte. La nicchia nel cortile della Porta Maggiore sarà incrustata con pietre rustiche, e congellazioni attacate, e legate in d.a nicchia con taino fortissimo, e vi sarà fatta anche di sotto una grande pila per ricevere I’acqua della fontana e tutti gl’altri ornamenti e commodi convenevoli à d.a fontana. I partitarij s’obligano, e promettono, che tutte le opere di fabrica, come chiesa, case caserme, etc. sarànno finite e pertezzionate per tutto il corrente anno 1727, e I’opere, che resteranno da farsi per I’anno seguente 1728 e 1729, sarànno solamente spianatura de i fossi, o spalti, i maggazzini di munizione, qualche mine, scavazione del porto delle barche, e trasporto de materiali, e non essendo finito il travaglio generalmente per tutto I’anno

roofing

Spurs of glacis

materials

waterproofing

rustic surround for niche


1729 conforme viene spiegato nel presente atto sarà scemata la somma di scudi mille da quella accordata come sopra à d.i partitarij, le quale averanno di meno per il loro partito e staglio. E perche i d.i partitarij hanno rapresentato essere impossibile il

concession perfezzionare tutte le d.e opere nello spatio di d.o tempo, e per of 150 la somma à loro accordata se non gli fosse concesso il med. slaves

Se nel corso del travaglio alcuni schiavi fugiranno per trascuragine delli loro guardiani i partitarij non sarànno p. ciò molestati, ma bensi saremo obligati di pagare in conservatoria il prezzo delli otto Schiavi fuggiti dal Forte l’anno 1723, o pure compreranno altri otto schiavi capaci per servire sopra le galere per restituirli in luogo di quelli otto fuggiti essendosi d.i partitarij allora fatti pleggi de schiavi che dormivano nel Forte. treatment of slaves

I partitarij non doveranno maltrattare ne strapazzare i schiavi, che sarànno mandati al travaglio con intenzione di trarne maggior loro profitto. D.i schiavi sarànno castigati d’ordine del Commissario del Forte quando l’haveranno meritato, e il d.o Commissario havera cura, che d.i schiavi siano pagati al giorno conforme, e stato pratticato fin’adesso. Per obligare i partitarij d’attendere alla polizia, e solidità di tutte le opere da farsi, evi impieghino i migliori maestri, quali facciano tutta la diligenza dovuta, sarànno d.i partitarij pleggi in commune di tutte le fabriche del Forte p. il tempo di dieci anni; di modo che nel caso di d.o tempo venisse à consentirsi qualche parte di d.a fabirca, e med.mi partitarij, e loro eredi in commune sarànno obligati di demolire, e rifabricare à spese loro le d.e parti acconsentite.

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mo numero di cento cinquanta schiavi ogni giorno di lavoro conforme gli hanno adesso, S.A.E. accorda à d.i partitarij di fargli fornire il d.o numero di cento cinquanta schiavi al giorno fino à tanto, ch’abbiano ricevuta la d.a somma di scudi venticinque mila di qst.a m.ta à loro concessa per l’esecuzione, ed adempimento di tutte le opere specificate nel presente atto, ma essendo stati una volta pagati dalla d.a somma, non potranno più d.i partitarij pretendere nulla ne per servizio di schiavi, ne p. denari.

scudi mille à d.i partitarij, quale non gli sarà pagata, che non quando tutto il travaglio sarà perfezionato à tenore del presente atto. Se per trascuragine, e mal governo delli partitarij succedesse, che avessero spesa la d.a somma à loro accordata, e che pera restasse ancora qualche travaglio, e opera da farsi sia in poca, sia in grande parte le rapresentazioni de partitarij, per avere più denari non sarànno accettate, ma sarànno essi obligati d’impiegarli tutti, e loro eredi insolidum per l’intiera perfezzione di tutte le d.e opere, ed in caso di dissubbidienza, sarànno meritevoli di castigo à tutto giudizio di S.A.E. Se nell’esecuzione di tutte le opere sopr’accenate accedesse la necessità di fare qualche mutazione di poco momento, o aumentazione, o veramente qualche differenza per I’interpretazione delli capitoli del med.mo atto, queste mutazioni, et interpretazioni sarànno decise, et esguite à giudicio dell’ingegnieri, e commissarij sum.i, senzache li partitarij possino pretendere nulla di più della somma concessa p. ragione di d.e mutazioni. E p. ultimo d.i partitarij ne meno potranno pretendere nulla p. ragione del travaglio da loro fin’adesso, ne dimandare che li sia niente bonificato per cagione di qualche profitto loro sopra il travaglio fatto fin’al giorno d’oggi in vigore delli partiti con loro fatti antecedentem.te p. gl’atti miei, quali s’intendano derogati, et annullati col p.nte atto di commun consenso delle parti contrahenti Quae omnia et. lurraverunt etc Onde etc Actum Melite. in hac Civite. Val. p. ontibus M.cis Joseph Velasco, et Giulio Garzin de hac pred.a Civit.e testibus. Ex Actis meis Not. is Gaparis Dom.ci Chircop.

La calce, e pozzolana necessaria per tutte le d.e opere da farsi

supply of sarà fornita à d.i partitarij à conto di S.A.E., e sarànno inserrate line and pozzolana sotto chiave d.e calce, e pozzolana, per essere distribuite

giornalmente à proporzione del bisogno delle d.e opere.

payment for works

Per I’esecuzione di tutte le opere sopr’accenate i partitarij si provederanno à spese loro di tutti li stigli bisognevoli, e li sarà solamente fornito, e dato in consegna il grosso legname necessario per fare ponti, quale sarà poi da loro restituito fatto, che sarà tutto il travaglio del Forte e li sarà anche concesso I’uso di uno, o due pontoni, conforme e stato pratticato fin’adesso. Con questo ultimo partito S.A. concede alli Partitarij la facoltà di vendere à loro profitto tutta la pietra inutile e che avanzera dalla scavatione de fossi, et altri luoghi doppo fatta scelta di quella della migliore qualità per le opere del Forte; siche d.i partitarij potranno solamente vendere à particolari la pietra, che sarebbe superflua per I’esecuzione delle d.e opere. La somma di d.i scudi venticinquemila accordata à d.i partitarij li sarà pagata à poco à poco da settimana, à proporzione del progresso delle opere, e della gente impiegata, con la condizione però di spendere almeno scudi trecento da settimana, e colla licenza di spendere di più, se sarà possibile, per accelerare maggiormente il travaglio, sarà pero trattenuta una somma di

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Excavation of pasde-souris

Excavation of tenaille

Excavation of countermines

Excavation of demi-caponiers

Construction of Governor’s quarters

Construction of traverses

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Excavation of sally-port

Excavation of caponier

Excavation of ditch to its full height

Construction and levelling of glacis all around the fort (this was still finally completed in 1733)

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Construction of echaugette (after 1780)


Construction of officers’ quarters

Author’s graphic 3D simulation of Fort Manoel under construction, showing the works which were undertaken in the second stage of the building works after 1727. (Image source: Author’s private collection) Construction of barrack block

Completion of church

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Construction of gunpowder magazine - barrel-vault and counterforts

Erection of monument to G. M. Vilhena in 1736

Completion and levelling of glacis with surplus debris from excavation of site

Excavation of boat pen

Construction of mur d’isolament

Construction of gunpowder magazine - barrel-vault and counterforts

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1733 Contract for finishing works

Notary Gaspare Domenico Chircop, 10 January 1733

ground which were to be ‘coperte con un colore di pietra, di maniera, che à d.e facciate non comparisca più l’unione delle filate.’ The terrazze, or roofs of the barracks, whether resting on barrel vaults or rib-arches, were covered with thick layers of chippings and lime, known as torba, and covered with a grayish-pink rendering made of lime and finely ground pottery called diffone or deffun. This had cementitious water-proofing properties that kept the interiors of buildings dry while at the same time did not crack when exposed to extreme temperatures.

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Apart from stone and earth, the other material to find some place in the construction of Fort Manoel was wood. This was reserved for secondary features such as the gates, doors, windows, and the drawbridge. Likewise made of wood, were the furniture and fittings of the barrack blocks – beds, chairs, bunks, cabinets, and tables – the skidding (shelving) and padding (infodera) inside powder magazines, the gabioni and racks for muskets in the armouries, the balconies of the soldiers barracks’75 and the palisades. The only original wooden elements to survive from the period, however, are the main gate, as already mentioned, and perhaps some of the balconies in the soldiers’ quarters.

Façade of one of the soldiers’ barracks, showing one of the wooden balconies that could date to the eighteenth century.(Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Transcript of third contract for the finishing of Fort Manoel: Contract between Mondion and contractors who decided to take on the job ‘di perfettionare detto Forte con fare l’opere da specificarsi’. 1. Fare un muro à secco, forte e solido vicino al mare dry stone dalla parte che riguarda Valletta, a destra e sinistra della walling scala principale, che conduce all Forte, e detto muro dovra revetment essere prolungato et inalzato tanto quanto sara’ di bisogno per appogiare, e portare tutti i materiali sparsi qua, e là in anzi a detto Forte, che riguarda la Città, di maniera che detti materiali siano tutti collocati performare un piano dietro il detto muro. 2 Secondamente, Che dovra fare un muro simile intorno al piccolo porto della barca del forte capace di regere i dry stone walling materiali, ed impedire che eglino non cadono in detto porto. revetment 3. Parallelmente alla Cortina del detto fronte sara fatto anche un piccolo muro alto tre in quattro filate per appoggiare il materiale, e formare due piani a piede della detta Cortina. 4. Dovra spianare la Rocca in detti piani, inanzi alli levelling of piedestalli, che formano il primo ingresso nel Forte. bedrock 5. Prima di trasportaer tutti detti materiali dovra levare la terra roccia, e messa in monte dal Partitario in luogo vicino e commodo. 6. Inanzi al fronte del Forte, che rigaurda à lazzaretto, levelling of il partitario dovra spianare e terminare li spalti secondo li glacis and regolatori ordinati dal Sig. Ingeniere, di maniera che dalle places-ofarms due faccie della piazza d’armi si possa vedere il piede dello Sperone più vicino, e l’estremità de Spalti; tagliando, e spianando la Rocca ove sarà troppo alta e portando materiali ne luoghi troppo bassi. 7. Inanzi al fronte, che riguarda la punta dell’Isolotto levelling of glacis and dovra parimente spianare la Rocca di parte e d’altra delle piazze d’armi destra e sinistra della mezzaluna, di maniera places-ofarms che dalle loro faccie siano vedute i piedi de Speroni, e spalti più vicini. 8. Inanzi al fronte che riguarda alla Punta di Dragut dovra ancora spianare la rocca a destra e sinistra della piazza d’armi, e spianati tutti i materiali, di maniera che dalle faccie di detta piazza d’armi si veduto il piede dello sperone più vicino, e de spalti contigui. clearance 9. Tutte le pietre di qualsivoglia qualità come of surplus anche quelle per la Saburra [Zavorra], e mazzacani dovra stone trasportarle, e raccoglierle insieme fuori delli fossi, strade coperte, e spalti di maniera che dett’opere restino libere, e nette di tutte sorte di pietre, e materiali inutili. 10. Nel passaggio delle due capponiere de due fronti cuvette laterali dovrà scavare due canali largi un palmo, e profondi da due palmi per l’acque lorde provenienti dalle caserne del Forte, con prolongarle fino al piede de Spalti di d/e Capponiere, e cp coperi da per tutto al piano del fosso. pointing 11. Il partitario farà incolmare, e riboccare tutti i fili


award of contract to Mro. Michallef

rates of payment

contractors and their representatives

Casal Zebbug, mro Carlo Mifsud del fu Fran.co di do. Casal Zebbug, mro Paolo Frigeri del fu Bartolomeo di Casal Zabbar, Rev.do Sig.re Sacerdote Don Simone Pullicino del fu Damiano di Casal Attard come uno degl’Eredi di detto Mario, per i quali promette de Rato giusta la forma del rito della Gran Corte Regia, Rev.do Sig.e Don Lorenzo Psayla del fu Pietro come Proc.re di Maria vedova del fu Giuseppe Caruana Tutrice, e pro tempore curatrice de sudi figli, e di d.o fu Giuseppe suo marito in virtu di procura stipolata inatti del Sig.r Tomaso Magri sotto il suo di, mro Giuseppe Bonavia del fu Clemente di Casal Luca abitante nella Città Vittoriosa come com.to degl’Eredi del fu Giovanni Bonavia suo fratello, per li quali promette de rato giusta la forma del rito della Gran Corte Regia à me Noto conosciuti pnti et accettanti proprij... E come si trovano assenti, mro Alberto Galdes, e Gio Maria Borg due degli Undici Partitarij, e però devono ratificare il pnte contratto, avendo gia dato il consenso...

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clearance of surplus stone

della rocca nelli fossi del forte, si dalla parte di bastion, che dalla parte della contrascarpa, facendo anche una incasciatura di buona fabrica in alcuni luoghi cavernosi della contrascarpa. 12. Il detto partitario dovra del più presto, che si potrà di sbarazzare le vicinanze del forte da tutte le pietre di fabrica, e di Saburra, facendoli trasportare à spese sue alle tre punte ò altrove. 13. Doppo subastamento fatto tra tutti li suditti Partitarij non fù niuno di loro, che offerisce a dempire i sudetti Capitoli per prezzo minore, che Mro Michele Michallef, quale promise, e s’obligo verso detti suoi compagni di perfettionare il Forte Manoel, e farvi le sud.te opere per il prezzo di scudi sei cento quaranta moneta di Malta (640 scudi) 14. La detta somma di scudi sei cento quaranta sarà pagata à detto Mro. Michele dalli altri dieci suoi compagni nell’ antico partito, ogni uno de quali dovra pagarli scudi sessanta quattro per una portione nel tempo di mesi sette da incominciarsi dal giorno d’oggi, cioè scudi dieci al mese nelli primi sei mesi, e scudi quattro nel settimo mese. 15. Sarà lecito ad ogn’uno delli detti dieci compagni [ ?] di pagare in una volta à detto Mro Michele la detta sua portione di scudi sessanta quatro. 16. Tutti li sudetti Compagni dell’ antico partito cedono e lasciano à detto Mro. Michallef tutta la pietra di fabrica, di savorra, e di qualsivoglia qualità restante attualmente nell’Isolotto proveniente dalla Scavatione già fatta, della quale pietra detto Mro Michele s’intende padrone per farne quello gli parerò e piacerà. 17 Detti Compagni cedono parimente à d.o Mro Michele tutta la pietra di qualsivoglia qualità, che s[ta]ta atualmente portata dal Forte alle tre ponte, e non ancora consignata, e contata per servitio della V.da Congregatione delle Fortifictioni. 18. Con il pnte. atto s’intende, che tutti i sudetti dieci Compagni Partitarij restino sciolti, e liberi dell’obligo di perfettionare il detto Forte Manoel, pagando però à detto Mro. Michele ogn’uno una somma di scudi sessanta quattro per portare alla perfettione tutte l’opere del med.o Forte Specificate nel pnte. atto. 19. La Compagnia però dell’Unidici primi partitarij resterà sempre legata, ed unita di Communità si nel guadagno, come nella perdita per tutte l’altre operationi della detta Compagnia fino à questo pnte. giorno, cioè imprestito di danari, pleggeria, interessi, e cambij da pagarsi, e per i conti da saldarsi con la Ven.a Cong,ne delle Fortificationi per le pietre consignate provienti dal Forte Manoel, e per il danaro ricevuto à conto di d.e pietre dalla d.a Ven.a Congregatione. Essendo stati letti da me Noto infro avanti detto Sig.re Cav. re Mondion Ingenniere, testij infri, li sudetti Capitoli all’infri, cioè à detto Mro Michele Michallef del fù Domenico di Casal Lia, Mro Giovanni Zammit del fu Giusppe abitante nella Burmola, Mro Domenico Saliba del fu Antonio di

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iii.iii

Detail from Treas. ‘A‘ Series Vol. 23, showing plan and elevation of one of the windmills built for the Manoel Foundation. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

Maintenance The Fondazione Manoel

Grand Master Vilhena did not only help finance the construction of the much needed fort but also went considerably out of his way to establish a special fund for its maintenance and provisioning. Known thereafter as the Fondazione Manoel (the Manoel Foundation), it was established out of the Grand Master’s Quint, that is, that part (1/5) of his personal property which he was permitted by the regulations and statutes of the Order to dispose off by will.210 This had an annual income of some 10,000 scudi and enabled, apart from many other things, the purchase of a new gun every three years.211 Frontispiece of the Manoel Foundation decree - Treas. Vol. 23, Series ‘A’ . (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta).

‘Considerando noi subito assonti al Magisterio da una parte essere inevitabile la fabbrica d’un Forte nell’Isolotto supposto necessarjssimo per la sicurezza magiore della Città Valletta da quanti Ingegnieri sono portati in questo convento, e trovando dall’altra la Religione molta esausta, ed in somme angustie deliberassimo di farlo fare a

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Engraving by Pietro Paolo Troisi of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena with a plan of Fort Manoel. (Images source: Author’s private collection)

nostre spese, con intenzione altresi de stabilire un rendita annoale, e sicura, che bassi a mantenere un competente Presidio.’ 212 A large part of the money which was used to buy the properties for the establishment of the Manoel Foundation appears to have come from a gift of 81,300 scudi which the Prior of Pisa, the knight Fra Tommaso del Breve, had donated to the Grand Master to be used for the benefit of the Order and its subjects.213 Of this sum, 12,000 scudi went towards the constructions of two hospices for women and the infirm, one in Malta and the other in Gozo, and the remaining balance of 69,300 scudi was spent on the procurement of landed property and buildings.214 To this end, the Grand Master ordered the construction of seven windmills, two in Gozo and the others in the ‘borgo della Citta Notabile, e ... ne’ casali Birchercara, Zorrico, Zeitun e Gargur’.215 To these was added the Grand Master’s ‘giardino vicino alla chiesa di S. Giuseppe’ at Sta. Venera.216 Other landed properties and buildings were eventually acquired in Valletta (including the Manoel Theatre), Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Bormola, as well as in the Maltese countryside. Capital was also invested in the Massa Fromentaria and in the Monte di Pietà.217 To administer the Fondazione, Grand Master Vilhena officially appointed a special committee of three knights, the Bailli F. Francesco di Sousa (president), Fra Paolo de Vion Gallion and Fra Fabrizio Francone.218 An economico, or accountant, kept the books and chased after the collection of the revenues and the rents due. The foundation also established various provisions designed to enable the day-to-day running of the fort. Amongst these were the allocation of the sum of 25 scudi a year set aside for the purchase of oil and candles and another of 20 scudi to pay for the services of a boatman to ensure three daily passages to and from the island via Marsamxett Gate.219 A small docking basin had been carved out of the bedrock to shelter a little ferry boat. A wooden loggia seems to have been set up at this landing place by the mid-1770s since the accounts of the Manoel Foundation mention ‘travi di castagno nella loggia per li soldati di guardia vicino lo scavo della barca’.220

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The Lazaretto and Fort Manoel as seen from across the harbour in Floriana. The proximity of the quarantine hospital to the glacis of the fort was seen to seriously compromise its defence. (Images source: Author’s private collection)

The records of the Manoel Foundation give a good account of the type and frequency of the ongoing maintenance works that a fort of its size entailed. On the whole, the fort appears to have been well built and required only minor interventions throughout the sixty years or so of its life under Hospitaller administration. Most of the maintenance expenses went into the repainting and replacement of wooden fixtures such as doors, windows, flag poles etc. One major intervention involved the replacement of the counterweight drawbridge of the main gate, as already mentioned earlier. The only known instance of a major structural intervention encountered by the present author,

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was one which necessitated the expert advice of an architect occurred in 1780. On 9 March of that year, Antonio Cachia, the Capo Mastro delle Opere was sent to Fort Manoel by the Congregation of Fortifications to examine and report upon a worrying fissure which had developedin one of the arches of the loggia of the soldiers barracks, ‘... la consentura del troglio della loggia che guarda levante’. Cachia’s recommendation dictated the removal of the ‘tre filate del mezzo’ and their replacement with other blocks, ‘ ... facendo le dentature nelle d.e filate, di maniera che volendo allargarsi, faranno da loro stessi un sostenimento, e per il quale lavoro necessitera’ fare l’ultima filata del mezzo, o sia’ l’entrados che fa la chiave [keystone] di pietra nuova.’ 220a


iii.iv

Perfect as the design of the fort might have been, the security of Fort Manoel was jeopardized by its proximity to two large buildings already standing prior to its construction. The first of these was a large magazine situated roughly in the centre of the Isolotto, which was already abandoned by 1734,221 and the second, the one which posed the greatest danger, was the Lazaretto, the quarantine hospital. By 1723, the Lazaretto had grown into a very large complex of buildings standing at the foot of the glacis on the fort’s left flank. In the event of a siege it would have provided excellent cover to enemy assaults or mining efforts, seriously compromising the defence of the fort. It was difficult, however, especially in the absence of any immediate threat of an attack, for the Order to justify the destruction and removal of this indispensable institution, despite the engineers’ persistent proddings.222 There was no dispute, however, about the abandoned magazine, which had been shortly considered for conversion into a redoubt back in 1715. All agreed that its ‘demolizione progettata come indispensabile sià dal tempo che si fabrica il Forte Manoel’ would only serve to deny any ‘comodo al nemico di avvicinarsi.’223 Indeed, apart from this building, there was very little else to shelter an enemy force of soldiers advancing on the fort from the mainland. The land outside fort and the Lazaretto consisted of a relatively low stretch of ground, sloping outwards towards the mainland in the manner of a natural glacis, criss-crossed by a number of fields enclosed by rubble walls, only a few of which appear to have been cultivated and farmed at the time. In 1756, this terrain was rented out (affittato) to Giovanni Grech del fu Giuseppe di Casal Birchircara who was allowed to sow the available fields (‘sia lecito seminare’) and obliged to undertake quelle riparazioni tanto di muraglia che d’altro.224

Earlier in 1744, the ‘gabella delleTerre dell’Isolotto’ was being rented out to Giuseppe Zammit for the annual sum of 142 scudi.225 Even so, various sums of money were occasionally paid out by the Foundation for the repair of the ‘mura delle terra dell Isolotto’226 The plans also show a small free-standing ‘stanza’ and a cistern close down by the sea on the Gzirafacing shore. Grech would probably have lived in the ‘ricetto’ (farmstead) which stood close to the abandoned magazine in the narrow neck of the islet, which consisted of two rustic buildings linked by a narrow country lane to a lean wooden bridge which connecting the Isolotto to the mainland. This ponte, which is shown in plan M27A, rested on 18 stone piers and had a wooden palisaded gate (rastello). This ‘porta del ponte dell’Isolotto di Marsamuscetto’ was in need of repair in 1794.227 The old guard tower, erected in the early 1660s, was apparently still standing. This was a very small structure which appears to have been located on the Ta’ Xbiex side of the Isolotto, between the first and second cemeteries, as shown on plan M27a.

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The Lazaretto a security concern

Detail from NLM Plan 27A, showing the long and narrow wooden bridge linking the Isolotto to the mainland, supported on 18 piers. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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NLM Plan M19 (738 x 670 mm) is a large schematic plan of the Isolotto, the Lazaretto and Fort Manoel. The drawing seems to have been created to highlight those structures in the vicinity of Fort Manoel, particularly at the Lazaretto, that could influence the defence of the fort. Fort Manoel is shown in a schematic form and is slightly inaccurate in some details. The gunpowder magazines, for example, are shown with six, instead of five, lateral counterforts and are not enclosed within their garde-de-feu. A. Sprone dell’Angolo saliente nel Glacis che guarda à Tramontana; elevato palmi 40. B. Sprone dell’Angolo saliente nel Glacis che guarda à Ponente; elevato palmi 22½. E’ degno di considerazione, che la superficie inferiore di questi due Sproni non puol essere dominata dall’artiglieria del Forte. C. Sprone dell’Angolo saliente nel Glacis, che guarda à Maestrale; elevato palmi 12. Tutti questi 3. Angoli stanno nella Fronte del Forte dalla parte di terra. D. Sprone dell’Angolo saliente nel Glacis, che guarda à Lazzaretto; elevato palmi 11½. E. Sprone dell’Angolo saliente nel Glacis, che guarda à Gregale;

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elevato palmi 7.½. F. Alloggiamento, e Magazzeni del Lazzaretto, nel quale vi sono delle muraglie d’una canna e mezza di larghezza; e tutti insieme formano un materiale immenso. G. Giardino del Lazzaret[to ...a]ltri Alloggiamenti, e Cimitero. H. Alloggiamenti per li C[...........] dia, che servono di custodia I. Un parco circondato [.............] di palmi 3. L. Magazzeno, le di cui mu[............]i palmi 7. in circa di larghezza; [................] dall’Angolo saliente dalla me[.............]anne. M. Razzetto, ove si raccogl[ie ...............]lla Fondazione. N. Ponte dell’Isoletta del Fe[.............................co] municazione coll’Isola; h[.............]za canne 30, in circa; E’ da perti[..............] fondo, e solo può passare una barca [......................]arcata quando il mare è un poco pi[............] Tutte le Fabriche marcate co[.............] G, H, I, L, M, si credono pregi[.........] alla buona difesa di questo For[te .........] Li numeri indicano [..............] del mare, che circonda l’Isolo[....] del Forte dalla parte di terra


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section iv

Armament

Defensive Ordnance & Munitions

& Garrison It is not known at what point in its final stages of construction Fort Manoel was considered ‘in stato di ricevere l’artiglieria’. From the Grand Master’s correspondence with Baron de Schade, it transpires that the fort was ‘perfettamente in sato di difesa’ by September 1728 but it still lacked a garrison, and its armament.228 The Cabreo states that the fort was in working order by 1734 and this can be taken to mean that it was sufficiently armed and manned to function as an integral part of the defensive network. What the Cabreo also states, however, is that the guns to be purchased through its funds were to be acquired gradually, one at a time, whenever the revenues from the fund permitted.

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As a rule of thumb, a six-bastioned fortress was generally considered to be reasonably well-armed if it possessed between 50 and 60 cannon and about 20 to 30 mortars.229 The eighteenth-century records of the Order show that the four-bastioned Fort Manoel was comparatively well armed with an average of around fifty guns. In 1761 it had 37 bronze guns and by 1785, these had risen to 38 bronze cannon, 12 iron cannon, 2 bronze mortars and 6 bronze petreros of which the highest calibre were four 24-pdrs and twenty-four 12-pdrs.230 This meant that Fort Manoel held the third largest concentration of ordnance on the island after Fort Ricasoli, which had 80 cannon (including forty-one 24-pdrs) and Fort St. Angelo with 60 guns (of which eleven were 24-pdrs and seventeen 18-pdrs).231 By the eighteenth century, however, the mainstay of the artillery defence of a fortress was considered to be the 18-pdr gun.232 It consumed far less gunpowder than the 24-pdr piece and its shot carried nearly as far, giving it sufficient power to wreck the parapets of enemy siege works.233 Fort Manoel had none of

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Below is a breakdown of the artillery inventory of Fort Manoel, as compiled by Chevalier de Saint Felix for Chev. de Fosieres on 3 September 1785:234 12 x 12-pdr iron guns, 598 x 24 -pdr round shot, 74 x24 -pdr grape shot 4 x 24-pdr bronze guns 12 x 12-pdr bronze guns, 69 x 12-pdr grape shot 8 x 8-pdr bronze guns, 307 x 8-pdr, 38 x 8-pdr grape shot 6 x 4-pdr bronze guns, 189 x 4-pdr, 32 x 4-pdr grape shot 4 x 3-pdr bronze guns, 130 b 3-pdr, 18 x 3-pdr grape shot 4 x 6 ozs. bronze guns, 22 x 6 ozs. rds. 16 x 6 ozs. grape shot 2 x 12-inch bronze mortars, 60 x 12-inch bombs 6 x 12-inch bronze petreroes 1,000 paper cartridges

The nearby Lembi Battery, considered to be an outer advance work of the fort, was itself armed with six 12 -pdr iron guns, 210 x 24 -pdr round shot, 90 x 24grape shot.235 In practice, therefore, especially when compared to other outlying works like Fort Ricasoli and Fort Tigné, Fort Manoel appears to have been slightly under-gunned given the important flanking role that it was excepted to perform. The four 24-pdrs, then effectively the largest calibre guns in widest use in the Order’s arsenal, were normally employed by the Knights for coastal defence work and were deployed in large numbers around the harbour fortifications, facing the seaward approaches and the entrances to the various anchorages in order to cope with any bombardment from enemy vessels trying to force their way into the harbours. It is not known how the heavy armament was deployed around the enceinte of Fort Manoel during the eighteenth century. The Bentham/Dickens Report of 1803236 shows a smaller armament of 24 guns, of

which ten were 24-pdrs, distributed among the four bastions and cavalier, while a plan of the fort drawn up by Col. Lewis around 1860237 shows most of the guns and mortars were then concentrated on the cavalier and land front curtain with only a handful of pieces deployed on the seaward facing-part of the enceinte, and absolutely none along the flanks.238

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these. Its heaviest pieces of ordnance were its four 24-pdrs followed by the much lighter 12-pdrs, 8-pdrs, and 4-pdrs which were generally deployed on the ravelins and outer detached works and covertways for close-in defence.

The prepartions for mobilization set in motion by the emergency of 1792, reveal that Fort Manoel had only four resident bombardiers at this time (‘artiglieri di residenza’) and these were to be augmented by 43 gunners (‘cannonieri da mandare’) and 300 ‘gente per artigliera’.239 The available records of the Manoel Foundation, which date from 1774 onwards, do not document any significant expenses in relation to the fort’s ordnance. One exception the transportation, by boat from Valletta, of 5 ceppi (gun carriages) and 2 ruote di cannoni in 1776.240 A good idea of the ordnance, artillery equipment, and munitions that would have been found at Fort Manoel during the last decades of the eighteenth century can be glimpsed from the Inventaire General des Objets d’Artillerie exístant dans les Batteries, et Magasíns particuliers de la Place de la Vallette et forts adjacents prepared by the French garrison on 1.re Vendemiaire an 8 (22 September 1799).241 Most of this equipment would undoubtedly have been Hospitaller stock inherited by the French soldiers on their takeover of the fort in June 1798:242 Canons de 24 en bronzes Canone de 12 en bronzes Canons de 8 en bronzes Canone de 4 en bronzes Canons de 5 en bronzes Vit de mulets en bronzes Canone de 24 en fer Mortiers de 12 po. Mortiers de 8 p. Pierrier de 15 p. Affuts de 24. de siege Affuts de 12. de siege Affuts de 8. da siege

1 11 6 6 6 4 9 3 1 6 1 4 4

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Affuts de 4. de siege Àffüts de 3. de siege Affuts de 24. marine Affuts de 8. marine Affuts de 4. Marine Affuts de 3. marine Chevalets pour le mulet

5 2 11 2 1 4 4

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Affuts de 12 po. pour mortiers 2 Affuts de 8 po. Pour mortiers 1 Affuts de pierrier 6 Boulets de 24 710 Boulets de 12 273 Boulets de 83 395 Boulets de 4. 147 Boulets de 3. 138 Mitrailles de 24. 233 Mitrailles de 12. 156 Mitrailles de 8. 99 Mitrailles de 4. 140 Mitrailles de 3 147 Bombes de 12 po. plaínes 24 Bombes de 12.po voides 8 Bombes de 8 p. plaines 214 Bombes de rampart 8 Obus 26 Grendes a main 150 Lanternes des cuivres 9 Ecouvillon et Refouloirs 59 Tíre-bourre 7 Leviers 134 d’ Egrugeoirs 54 Gargoussiers 33 Chapiteaux en plomb 54 Boute feu 20 Sac à etoupille 22 Porte Iance 3 Corne d’ amorce 20 Cussinet 41 Coines de mire 90 Curette 3 Spatule 3 Crochets 4

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Quarte cercles 2 Chasse-fusées 2 Maillet 2 Ecourvillon et Refouloir de Mortierse Leviers fererrées 7 Plateaux 16 Aplomb 1 Fusees 78 Sacs a terre Plateaux pour Pierreir 18 Panniers 16 Barils de Poudre de Guerre pleins 167 Barils de Poudre de Guerre voides 8 Gargousses pleines de calibres ci-dessus 677 Cartouche d’infanterie 18000 Pierres à feu 100 Fusees rolantes 12 Lances a feu 45 Etoupille 700 Boulets incendiairs 35 Tourtaux godronnêes 100 Niches 25 Mesures 9 Entonnoir 2 Calibres 6 Réchaud de rampart 7 Serpes pour les fusses 1 Tenaille 1 Rapel a bois 1 Marteaux 1 Fanaux pour le service 7 Seaux à puiser l’eau 5 Bouchons 1247 Bombes en pierres fissêes 9 Boites à feu 12 Bouchons pour boulets rouge 30 chausse-trape 50 Palles quarrées 7 Pioches 1 Caissons de campagne pur mun.es 1 Avant-train de champagne 1


Commanders of the Reggimento dei Cacciatori (left) and the Reggimento di Malta (right), by F. Zimelli (1795).

As these figures show, about half of the guns were mounted on field carriages and the other half on naval pattern truck carriages. There were also a significant number of spare wheels for the gun carriages stored in the fort’s magazines.

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Limoniere 1 Timon 1 Roue à rais de rechange 11 Roues massives 26 Palonniers 3 Roues 4 Charettes 10 Boulons d’affuts 2 Affuts de siege de rechange 9 Coffres a munitions sur les ramparts 10 Coffres a munitions en magazins 6 Triangles 16 Tampon pour les canons 10 Traverses pour maintenir les pieces de canons hors d’eau 30 Moulins a bras et a frine 2 Portes ou Barrieres en magazinś 8 Chevres completes 1 Diable 1 Rouleau en bois 2 Pinces en fer 1 Chevalets de manoeuvre 4 Palans garnis 14 Palans simples 5 Port de Palans 19 Pronlonges 2 Ralonges de prolonges 3 Forges a chauffer les boulets 1 Grille 1 Soufflet 1 Tenaille 2 Cueillieres 3? Curettes 2 Fourgons 2 Governor of Fort Manoel, with the fort shown in the background (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Fort Manoel also had its own sala d’armi, or armoury, which housed the muskets and other side weapons and equipment required to arm the garrison. This

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Parapet on left flank of St. John Bastion. Note, the base for the pyramid of cannon shot, dating from the British period (Images source: Author’s private collection).

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Col. Lewis’ plan of Fort Manoel showing the deployment of its cannon and mortars. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Mortar being loaded and fired. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Museum of Fine Arts)

‘sala maggiore per custodia delle Armi del Presidio’ was located on the piano nobile (the upper floor) of the main barrack block containing the Governor’s lodgings.243 It was then the common practice in Malta to store equipment on the first floor of buildings since these provided a drier environment for the storage of firearms which were prone to rusting in the relatively damp conditions of ground floor rooms.244 No inventories have turned up documenting the number and type of weapons held in this armoury. Some 8,000 cartridges are recorded as stored there on 23 September 1799. A resident armourer is known to have been employed at Fort Manoel, and he was equipped to repair weapons in his workshop. In August 1782, for example, he was paid 4 scudi to manufacture ‘due ceppi di fucili’; in September, he was paid another ‘2 scudi per aver fatto un ceppo nuovo di fucile’ and in April 1783, a further ‘4.2 scudi per accommodare diversi fucili di quella armeria’.245 The Manoel Foundation supplied the armourer of the fort with two scudi worth of ‘oglio che da alle armi di quell’ armeria’ every semester, the oil being considered ‘necessario per la pulitura, e mantenimento degli armi’. Detail of mortar platform. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Two mortar platforms on the right flanking curtain of Fort Manoel. (Image source: Author’s private collection)


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Façade of one of the soldiers’ barracks, showing the wooden balcony. The two windows flanking the doorway were a later British addition. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

The Garrison of the Fort & Qala Lembi Battery

Although built to house a garrison of some 500 men in the event of a siege, this was not the normal complement of troops which was ordinarily stationed at Fort Manoel. The statutes of the Manoel Foundation stipulated that the fort was to be garrisoned by three officers, a chaplain and a clerk, and fourteen soldiers, the latter to be increased in proportion to any increases in the revenues earned from the rents and profits accruing to the Foundation.246 In 1750, the garrison of the fort numbered 31 persons of which 18 were soldiers and 9 pensioners.247 In that same year, Grand Master Pinto decided to increase the garrison by a further five soldiers.247a This was possible as a result of an increase of some 654 scudi, accruing to revenue of the Foundation.

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During the emergency of 1760, the caretaker garrison was beefed up significantly when a squadron of soldiers from the Battaglione delle Galere were sent to augment the defence of the fort.248 By the late 1770s the garrison strength stood on average at around 85 officers and men, and cost around 526 scudi a month, namely:249 Commander of the fort (Governatore) 20 scudi Lieutenant 15 scudi Adjundant (Aiutante) 12.6 scudi Chaplain (Cappellano) 7 scudi Vice chaplain 5 scudi Sacristan 5 scudi Surgeon (Chirurgo) 5.6 scudi 3 Sergeants 28.6 scudi 6 Corporals 41 scudi Master Bombardier (C. Mr.o Bombardiere) 5 scudi 60 soldiers 330 scudi 2 Drummers (Tamburini) 11 scudi 4 Giubilati (pensioners) 20 scudi 2 Boatmen (barcatori) 12 scudi

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After 1777, the detachment of 87 men came from the Reggimento di Malta, a regular infantry regiment of about 1,203 men which was raised following the revolt of the Priest led by Don Mannarino. Linked to this conspiracy is an entry in the Order’s records which mentions the issue of a bonus of 205.6.0 scudi to the garrison of Fort Manoel ‘per mez[z]a paga di più data loro per ordine del Gran Maestro per aver rimasto tutti sull’armi in occassione della conspirazione di Preti’.250 This new regiment was partly funded to the tune of 5,248 scudi from the funds of Manoel Foundation and in compensation for this subsidy, the Reggimento was obliged to provide soldiers for the garrison of Fort Manoel.251


Extract from the Order’s records at the National Library in Valletta, showing a breakdown of the garrison of Fort Manoel in 1750. (Image source: Courtesy of the NLM)

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PLAN DU FORT MANOEL (NLM Plan M24), 395 x 537 mm - is a basic but detailed plan of Fort Manoel which appears to have been drawn by Maltese engineers on behalf of the British military authorities, either during the course of the blockade or some time early after the surrender of the French forces in 1800. This is implied by one of the two scales drawn at the bottom of the drawing, the lower one of which provides a measurement in Tese Inglesi. Eighteenth -century plans of the Order’s fortifications would have had their scales given in Maltese Canne or French Toise.The drawing seems to have been folded in the manner of a letter, perhaps to accompany a despatch. The key to the plan is in French. The plan contains no measurements and was probably copied from another plan. Unlike other drawings of Fort Manoel, M24 shows a continuous drop-ditch running all along the face of the curtain wall containing the main gate, even though this feature was never excavated.

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PLAN DU FORT MANOEL 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Bastion de S.t Jean Bastion de Nostre Dame Bastion de S.te Elene Bastion de S.t Antoine Cavaliers ou il y a des Souterrains a preuve Demie Lune Chemins couverts Porte Principale Petit Port pour les barques des passage Eglise du Fort Logemens d’officiers Cazermes a preuve Magazins a poudre

14. 15. 16.

Escalier pour monter au Fort Grandes Cisternes Fontaine Saillissante


Vaulted ceiling inside one of the rooms in the Governor’s quarters (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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On the occasion of the mobilization exercise set in motion by the allarme of 1792, following the appearance of a large French fleet in Maltese waters, the garrison the fort was temporarily increaesd further by 60 militia men.252 The first governor of Fort Manoel, the Knight Fra Antonio Sousa d’Almeida, was appointed by Grand Master Vilhena in 1736.253 The chaplains of the fort were also appointed by the Grand Master after being approved by the Council of the Order and they, too, formed an official part of the garrison, receiving monthly wages for their services. The chaplain was assisted in his duties by a vice chaplain and one of the soldiers of the fort doubled up as a sacristan for an extra monthly pay of 5 scudi. Holy Mass was celebrated twice daily at the church and on all major religious festive occasions. Every September, for example, on the ‘festivita della S.S. Nome di Maria’, a mass was held ‘nella Capella Sotteranea (the crypt).254 The garrison was quartered in spacious and aeriated quarters, fitted with all the necessities as already described. The soldiers even enjoyed the facilities of their own tavern, which was situated in one of the barrack rooms. In February 1774, this ‘bottegha, che serve p. taverna nel pred.to Forte Manoel’ was leased out to Vincenzo Idalgo, a Spanish ‘corporale del Forte Manoel’ for the sum of five scudi a month.

Ground-floor barrack room. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

Wall-mounted iron hooks for securing hammocks, dating from British period, still to be found inside the casemates in St. John Cavalier. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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The name ‘Ferdinando Lanson’ is inscribed in large letters on the lintel of one of the outhouses running along the rear of the left barrack block. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Reconstructed wooden catwalk which provided access to the roof of the soldiers’ barrack block from the Governor’s quarters (Image source: Author’s private collection)

One of the gabinetti inside the soldiers’ barrack blocks. (Image source: Author’s private collection).

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Detail from NLM plan M1, showing the layout of Qala Lembi Battery, sometimes described as Forte Lembi, or Torre Lembi. (Image source: Courtesy of the NLM)

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By the late 1770s, the Commander of Fort Manoel was also expected to provide armed pickets to guard both the nearby quarantine station and Qala Lembi Battery. The soldiers detailed to guard the Lazaretto were stationed in a ‘corpo di guardia stabilita in una punta del Fosso del Forte’, presumably close to the mouth of the ditch at the foot of St. Helen Bastion. This guardroom, however, must have been a temporary shelter, since none of the Hospitaller plans from the period up to 1798 show any buildings in this area. By 1781, the need to provide ‘un corpo di guiardia in perpetuo, per guarnire la batteria o sia Forte Lembi’ had also become one of the duties of the garrison of Fort Manoel, given that this coastal battery came to be envisaged as being ‘un opera esteriore del Forte’. The Fondazione also paid the wages of the Capo Mastro of the Forte Lembi (5 scudi) and its resident caretaker (5 scudi ).255 Work on this coastal battery appears to have begun around 1757 at Qala Lembi, a small cove situated on the northern seaward-side of the promontory across the bay from the fort, and some distance away from Dragut Point.256 It was meant both to thwart an invading army intent on bombarding the northern flank of the Fort Manoel and also to command the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour with its guns. The cost of construction of Qala Lembi Battery was eventually charged onto the account of the Manoel Foundation, and during the military exercises of 1761, the battery was garrisoned and provided with the necessary munitions at the expense of the same fund.257 There appear to have been some misgivings about this development, however, as the administrators of the Fondazione protested that the original scope of the fund established by Grand Master Vilhena was never envisaged to cater for the construction of new works of fortification but only to see to the maintenance of the Fort and the properties feeding the same fund. The issue, as a result, had to be settled by the Grand Master and the Council who ruled that ‘Il Forte Lembi’ was to be considered ‘come un’ Opera avanzata del Forte Manoel, [an advance work] and, as such, ‘molto prop[ri]o alla sua difesa’ , thereby justifying the decision taken by the Congregation of Fortification. This same argument

was to serve as a convenient precedent for Grand Master de Rohan who, when faced with the costs of the garrison of Fort Tigné, built in 1793-95, likewise debited the expense to the account of the Manoel Foundation since this new fort had been constructed to replace Qala Lembi Battery . In 1761, the French military mission headed by the Comte de Bourlamaque had proposed that Lembi Battery be connected by ‘une communicatione pour faciliter a la garrison de retirer au Fort Manoel, quan elle ne pourroit plus tenir.’258 Qala Lembi Battery, however, lost its importance after the construction of Fort Tigné, which likewise, came to be heavily dependent on the Manoel Foundation.259 By 1795, dismantled of its artillery, Lembi Battery began to be used as a summer sea-side residence by the knight Frà Amante de Fargues.260

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section v

Under fire Resistance & Surrender

v.i French Attack and Occupation 1798-1800

Fort Manoel saw very little military action, other than the routine garrison life, following its commissioning in 1732. The only incidents which caused some exceptional commotion and led to mobilization and military exercises was the alarm sparked off by the threat of Turkish attack in 1760-61261 and again in 1972,262 when the Knights were distressed by the appearance of a large French fleet returning from Corfu. The fort’s baptism of fire, however, came with Napoleon’s invasion of the Maltese islands in June 1798,263 where it played a heroic but inconsequential role in the dramatic events of those fateful days that were to see the surrender of Malta to the French and the expulsion of the Order from Malta after two and a half centuries of rule.

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At the time of the French invasion, the Order’s war council had deployed a garrison of 250 men from the Regiment of Cacciatori to Fort Manoel, among them some sailors to help man the guns. The fort was placed under the command of the Portuguese knight Gourgeau and his second in command, the French knight La Tour de Saint Quentin.264 The garrison of the fort was later joined by the remnants of Birchircara militia following their disorderly retreat from the regiment’s disastrous encounter with the French troops at St. Julian’s Bay, but these troops were refused entry into the fort as it was still dark and, as a result, were made to wait in the ditch.265 Shortly afterwards, French columns under Colonel Marmont began to converge on the fort and thrice attempted to seize it by assault, but each attack was repulsed by the Maltese defenders.266 Grand Master Hompesch, believing the fort was manned by 800 men, sent Marquis de la Tour du Pin to take 500 soldiers from the fort and conduct a sortie against the French troops. On arriving at Fort Manoel, however, the Marquis found that the commander of the fort could only spare 50 men. Still, not discouraged, he

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NLM Plan M23, PLAN DU FORT MANOEL Situé a’ l’ouest de la ville de MALTE Fait le 30 Floreal An 8.me de la REPUBLIC FRANCAI.SE (20 May 1800); 636 x 946 mm, prepared by French military engineers a few months before the surrender of the French garrison to British troops. It does not appear to show any French additions to the fort. The bottom section of the sheet once contained a detailed sectional elevation of the northern half of the fort. The sectional elevation has its own legend. LEGENDE Pour les Connoissances du Profil Logement ou commandant du fort Souterrains sous le cavalier qui conduit a la courtine ........ Escalier que dessend au fossé ............................................ Tenaille .............................................................................. Caponniere ................................ ........................................ Demi-lune .......................................................................... Place d’arme taillé dans le Roe, sous la ½ lune ................. Escalier de la demi lune ..................................................... Soupiral .............................................................................. Chemins couverts ............................................................... Glacis ................................................................................. Galeries des mines ............................................................. Rameaux des mines ........................................................... Fournaux des mines ...........................................................

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O

LEGENDE Pour les Connoissances du Plan Rampe d’Escalier sur la mer ............................................ 1 Bassin pour les barques à passage ................................ 2 Pavu ou demi lune ............................................................ 3 Poul levis .......................................................................... 4 Rampe d’Escalier pour monter a la place ………………... 5 Magasins a poudre ………………………………………..... 6 Guerites pour les factionnaires …………………………......7 Bastions S.t Antoine ……………………………………........8 Bastion S.t Jean ………………………………….……… 9 Bastion de la missida ………………………………….. 10 Bastion notre dame ……………………………………. 11 Cavalier ………………………………………………... 12 Escalier pour monter au cavalier ……………………… 13 Quartier pou la garnison ………………………………. 14 Chapel ............................................................................15 Prisons ………………………………………………… 16 Escalier qui dessende aux fossés ............................. 17 Fosset .............................................................................18 Tenailles ………………………………………………. 19 Caponniers ……………………………………………. 20 Demi lune …………………………………………….. 21

Place d’arme sous la demi-lune ........................... 22 Chemins couverts .............................................. 23 Traverse pour la deffense du chemin couvert....... 24 Glacis ................................................................... 25 Eperons pour soutenir les glacis ……………………... 26 Galleries des mines …………………………………... 27 Rameaux des mines ………………………………….. 28 Fourneaux ……………………………………………. 29 Pied de Stale de manouel ……………………………. 30 Grande citernes ……………………………………… 31 Enplacement des moulins a farine …………………... 32 Boulangerie ………………………………………….. 33 Chambre a four ……………………………………… 34 Magasins d’artillerie ………………………………… 35 Differents magasins d’approvisionnement ………….. 36

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NLM Plan V9, shows the fortifications of Marsamxett Harbour sometime after 1793, with the newly-built Fort Tigné guarding the harbour entrance. (Image source: Courtesy of the National Library of Malta)

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Detail showing the low-level flanking battery built to protect Manderaggio Curtain and the Marsamxett Gate as part of the defence measures recommended during the general emergency of 1722.

set out to attack the French positions with his small detachment of troops but, despite his bravery, was forced to beat a hasty retreat.267 As the day wore on, Napoleon landed some mortars and deployed them against both Fort Manoel and Fort Tigné but these few pieces were intended to force a negotiation rather than seriously threaten the solid defences of the forts.268 The French troops, nevertheless could not make any real impression against the Fort and its garrison only surrendered after the capitulation

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was signed on board the French flagship. Elizabeth Schermerhorn, in her book Malta of the Knights, states that the soldiers killed their officers and retired to Valletta but this claim seems to have no basis in fact.269 Rather, Fort Manoel and Fort Tigné, together with Fort Ricasoli, were the only forts to give a good account of themselves in their baptism of fire. It is impossible to know how Fort Manoel would have fared had the French been forced to lay siege to the place and bombarded it heavily with artillery.


The French garrison had little time to settle down, however, for in September, less than three months later, the Maltese population rose up in revolt against the French occupation, and the small French garrison, which only numbered a few hundred men in all, had no other option but to barricade itself behind the safety of the ramparts. On 17 September, the French garrison at Fort Manoel was joined by 60 men from the 6th Demi-Brigade after these had been evacuated from Fort Chambrai in Gozo. These men relieved the 75 gunners and crew of the men-of-war La Diana who had been detailed to work the guns of the fort.270 Fort Manoel came under light sporadic bombardment from the guns of a small battery set up by the Maltese insurgents on the heights of Għargħar overlooking the fort.271 An uncalculated sortie

by the garrison, meant to dislodge the Maltese insurgents form their positions, was met with a stiff and unexpected resistance and was forced to beat a hasty retreat. A few weeks later, on 26 September, Vaubois, the Commander of the French troops in Malta, sent a detachment of 230 men from the navy, together with a few Maltese artillerymen (who were kept under a watchful eye) to take over the fort, for together with Forts Tigné and Fort Ricasoli, it was now placed under the command of Counter Admiral Decres.272

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Once the surrender document was signed aboard Napoleon’s flagship, French troops were quickly disembarked and sent to take over the fortified positions around the harbour. The articles of the Arrangements decreed that Fort Manoel, together with Fort Tigné, Fort St. Angelo, Bormla, Cottonera, and Birgu were to be handed over to the French on 12 June 1798.

A second sortie against the Maltese advance positions was made on 5 October 1798 but this, too, met with no success, and thereafter the French garrison remained purely on the defensive. On the other hand, a bold assault by the Maltese rebels on the eve of Mnajra festivities of 1799, caught the French garrison off guard and managed to capture some advanced outposts on the landward side of the Isolotto before the attackers were forced to retire under a heavy hail of grapeshot and musketry fire delivered from the French guns on the land front of the fort.273 It seems some French sentinels had been posted near the wooden bridge connecting the Isolotto to the mainland, which is known to have had a palisaded gate, and as an added precaution, was strewn with a large number of ‘iron cuts’ which managed to wound many of the Maltese in their feet. This appears to have been Maltese battery at Għargħar, overlooking Fort Manoel and Marsamxett Harbour, built and manned during the AngloMaltese blockade of the French in 17981800. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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Two views of Fort Manoel from Valletta, taken around 1860, showing the fort with its outer works practically intact, as left by the Knights in 1798. The two salient echaugettes, however, had already been removed by the British military to enable the mounting of cannon. (Image source: Museums Department, 1995)

British period expense magazine on St. John Cavalier. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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the last noteworthy engagement of the blockade. A small detachment of soldiers, despatched from Fort Manoel, however, was instrumental in uncovering an unsuccessful insurgents’ plan to assault the Marsamxett Gate in Valletta, across the harbour.274 The sporadic bombardment from the surrounding Maltese batteries, nevertheless, continued, with particularly heavy barrages unleashed in September 1799 and, the last, in July 1800. On this last occasion, the French garrison replied with a massive counter bombardment. But by this point in time, with the garrison now on the brink of starvation, French resistance was nearing its end. The last significant role played by Fort Manoel was to host the negotiations between General Vaubois and his opponents, Sir Alexander Ball and the Marchesse di Nizza. In September, the French finally surrendered

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and Fort Manoel was taken over by a British force of 300 men and 30 gunners. From 1800 onwards, Fort Manoel was to enter a new and final phase of its history, serving out the rest of its useful service as British military, and later naval, outpost. This aspect of the fort’s story, however, is not the subject of this publication and deserves to be tackled in a separate study. What is of interest here to the historian of Hospitaller military architecture and fortification, however, is the corrosive effect that changing technology and defensive strategy were to have on the original structure and authentic features of the fort. A string of alterations and interventions inflicted by the military during the course of the British occupation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was to leave an indelible mark.275 The delicate echaugettes were the first to go,


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heralding a progression of increasingly destructive interventions made to accommodate ever-increasing modern guns and their magazines, such as the demolition of the polverista on St. Anthony Bastion, which was swept aside to enable the construction of a sequence of gun batteries; the clearance of parts of the covertway to enable the erection of concrete gun emplacements for a heavy anti-aircraft battery, and the blocking up of various gun embrasures. Parts of the strada coperta were also buried beneath a heavy mass of earth and debris intended to provide extra overhead cover to the underground service stations cut deep into the bedrock beneath the glacis. The fort was then subjected to a terrible punishment from aerial bombing during the Second World War, losing in the process most of the Church of St.

Anthony and a significant part of the casemated curtain cavalier to its rear, as well as the arcaded façade of the Governor’s block. The accumulated product of all this spoliation and decay was that the fort eventually lost that quality of symmetry and totality of design that had made it stand out as a sublime Baroque work of monumental splendour. Much of this damage, were it could be corrected, has been made good in the course of an extensive restoration programme funded by a private consortium of development firms, begun in the late 1990s. As a direct result of these restoration interventions, Fort Manoel has regained much of its dignity and original legibility, and has become, once again, one of the most impressive Hospitaller works of fortification to be seen in the Maltese islands.

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section vi

References

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sources & notes

Abbreviations ACM – Archives of the Cathedral Museum AM – Archivum Melitense AOM – Archives of the Order of St. John in Malta, Valletta Lib. Ms – Library Manuscript, National Library, Valletta MCM – Mdina Cathedral Museum MH – Melita Historica MS – Manuscript NAV – Notarial Archives, Valletta NLM – National Library of Malta PRO – Public Records Office, Kew (The National Archives) PWD – Records of the Public Works Department, Malta Treas. - Treasury documents, AOM UOM – University of Malta WO – War Office, PRO, Kew [...] – Editorial insertion (___) – Illegible / indecipherable text

Author’s note: full references and sources will be published in printed version of this online publication.

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1. Roger De Giorgio, A City by An Order (Malta, 1985), 123, and 143, f.n. 10; cited from Vatican Secret Archives, Misc. ARM, II Vol 88, ff402-418: other copies of this document can be found in Vatican Urb. Lat. 854 - 182/188R; at the Bodleian Library, MS 911, ff.352 et, and Tamner Vol.231 ff.94 et; and at the British Museum, Harleian MS 6, 974 ff1-12. 2. De Giorgio, op.cit, 125. 3. Roger Vella Bonavita, ‘A Sixteenth-century Proposal for a Fort on Manoel’ Island’, in Melita Historica 6 (1973) 2, 143. 4. Ibid. 5 Ibid.; Stripping the immediate terrain around a fortress of earth, soil, and vegetation was a common recommendation frequently suggested by military engineers as a necessary precaution intended to deny an attacking force, in the event of a siege, the opportunity of finding readily available materials for the construction of its siege works and trenches. In reality, such interventions were costly and were rarely resorted to, as it was often difficult to justify the expenses involved. Indeed, the fields on the Isolotto continued to be used for agricultural purposes even after Fort Manoel was built, despite laying very close to the fort and providing an abundant supply of material for any potential siege works. 6 V. Mallia-Milanese, ‘Scipione Campi’s Report’, Melita Historica, viii/ 4 (1983), 285-9. 7 Vella Bonavita, op.cit., , 146, as cited from C.A. Vianello ‘Relazione dell’Isola di Malta fatta alla S.tà di N.S. Papa Gregorio XIII dell’Anno 1582,’ in Archivio Storico di Malta Vol. VII (1936), 290-1. 8 B. Dal Pozzo, Historia della sacra religione militare di S. Giovanni Gerosolimitano, detta di Malta (Verona, 1703), Vol. II, 76. 9 This included four territories at Ġebel is-Salvatur, Għajn Pietru, Is-Saqwi and tal-Ħiten; see J. Constantino, Fort Manoel a historical survey (1723-1900), UOM Thesis, 1975, 24. 10 AOM 260, f.85 (9 9 1660) 11 J. Quentin Hughes, Guide to the Fortifications of Malta (Malta, 1992). 133. 12 AOM 6551, f.55v (1671) 13 PRO WO 55, 1555/1, p.241 14 AOM 6554, f.176, 193 15 Letter from Grand Master Vilhena to Bailli Dietrichstein in Vienna, see Constantino, op.cit. 16 AOM 6554, f.119. 17 This drawing has not yet been traced to date. 18 AOM 6551, f.57 19 Ibid. 20 This document, found at the National Library of Malta, Valletta (Catalogue Ref. F26), presents something of a problem as for some strange reason the plan contains the date 1762, which is very late for the information depicted in the plan. By this late date, the information contained in the design is very much outdated and of little relevance to any military engineer employed on the Cottonera scheme, which had developed and evolved considerably under direction of Brig. René Jacob de Tigné’s and his team of French military engineers. One likely explanation for


this discrepancy may be that it was a copy produced from the original plan accompanying Vernada’s report made in 1671. As a matter of fact, the plan is heavily pierced with needle holes (used to trace a drawing from another plan) and is incomplete, with parts of the enceinte, traced in pencil, lacking the sepia ink. However, the type of paper used, the nature of the calligraphy employed in the title caption and the style of drawing itself, all point to a seventeenth century plan, such as those usually found attached to written reports. Alison Hoppen believes that the plan is actually wrongly dated and should read 1671( Alison Hoppen, The Fortification of Malta by the Order of St. John (Edinburgh, 1979: 2nd revised edn. was issued in paperback by Minerva Publications (Malta 1999), 155, f.n. 150.). If this is the case, then this plan could have formed part of Vernada’s 1671 report. 21 Ibid. 22 AOM 1011, f.8. 23 AOM 6554, f.193 (1687). 24 It was on the basis of this geometric logic that Valperga’s hexagonal fort was found wanting by Blondel and Vernada, for it could not be compressed into the restricted area of the Isolotto without its bastions being reduced in size to render them practically useless. 25 Hoppen, (1979), 64-65; (199), 103-104. 26 Lib. MS. 1301, 165 (15.9.1715). 27 AOM 6556, ff. 2-9. 28 P. Truttman, Les Derniers Chateaux Forts; Les prolongements de la fortification médiévale en France (1634– 1914) (France, 1993), 71–85.

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Fort Manoel as seen from Spencer Bastion, Valleta. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

29 AOM 6552, f.49v. 30 AOM 6552, f.49v. Prof Denis de Lucca also states that Maigret was responsible for design of coastal forts (see D. De Lucca, ‘French Military Engineers in Malta during the 17th and 18th centuries’ , Melita Historica, viii/ 1 (1980), 23–33., and Mondion; The achievement of a French military engineer working in Malta in the early eighteenth century (Malta, 2003). 31 This report is bound in NLM Lib. MS 1301, entitled ‘Mémoire historique et discours général sur les fortifications de Malta’, 57-109; (f.104) ‘... II reste encore a parler des deux hauteurs qu’avoisinent la place et qui par leurs supériorité et leurs situation enfilent et battent de revers la plus par des ouvrages. (...) (f.105) L’autre hauteur et qui a mon sens est encore plus dangereuse, est celle de I’Isle de Marsamusietto, qui bat tout le flan droit des Florianes, enfille le chemin couvert de la Citte Valette, et voit jusqu’au pied le revêtement de la ville, qui peut d’autant plus aisément estre ruinée du canon de I’Ennemy, que le rocher se trouve plus bas dans cette partie et qu’on a este obligé d’y faire une plus grande quantite de masçonnerie. / II n’est donc pas moins indispensable d’occuper cette Isle par un où vrage à corne où un petit (f.106) fort à quatre bastions dont le front de 90. où 100 cannes de longueur, et paralelle à la Ville, occupera toute la hauteur, abaissant un peu la crête du Rocher où se trouvera la courtine pour que les deux bastions soient moins élevés et plus aizé à couvrir par un chemin couvert, les deux branches retourneront sur la Ville et en seront flanquées par plus de 100 cannes de chaque côte s’il en étoit besoin le reste se fera comme à I’ouvrage cy-dessus.’

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32 Ibid, 105. 33 Ibid, 153-162, Memoire sur l’etat present des fortifications de Malte, ce qu’il y auroit a faire pour les achever et les mettre en bonne deffance’ (15.09.1716). 34 Ibid, 169, 177. 35 Ibid, 169; A sum of 29,000 ecus (scudi) is given in the summary list on page 179 for the ‘Isle du Lazaret’. 36 NLM Lib MS 1301, entitled ‘Mémoire historique et discours général sur les fortifications de Malta, 181-187: ‘De la nécessité de construire un Fort sur I’Isle de Marsamuscietto , communément nomme Izoletto. Après avoir solidement examiné l’estat present des fortifications de Cité Valette, et des Florianes. Et après avoir bien considéré tous les moyens que I’Ennemy pourroit employer pour en faire le siége, comparant la force de tous les fronts de cette place les uns aux autres, et les divers obstacles que I’assiégeant trouveroit, suivant les différentes manières dont il pourroit les attaqquer, il a toujours paru que I’endroit le plus foible, et qui offre le moins de difficultés, est toute la partie du costé de Marsamuscietto, depuis le fort St.Elme jusqu’à la teste des Florianes vis-à-vis la Pietà, tout le reste estant pour ainsy dire inprenable quand on I’aura achevé. C’est pourquoy il ne faut pas croire les Turcs si dépourvus de jugement que de faire I’attaque des Florianes par la teste, où ils resteroient un temps infini, à prendre tant d’ouvrages les uns après les autres, ce ne sera pas non plus par I’autre costé depuis Cité Valette jusqu’aux Capucins, quoy qu’il puiste estre battu du Coradin, parce que les murailles qui ferment sont élevées sur un escarpement de rocher qui en rendra toujours les brèches inaccessibles. De sorte qu’il ne luy reste plus que le costé de Marsamuscieto, par lequel il sera forcé de former son attaque, établissant des batteries sur les hauteurs de la Pietà, de Tasbieg, et de I’Isolotto, d’où en peu de jours, vue la proximité, il pourroit metre en bréche la plupart des murailles qui ferment cette partie depuis Cité Valette, jusqu’au-delà de la polveriste les quelles sont toutes fort basses, mal flanquées et vues jusq’au pied n’ayant point de fossé devant elles, après quoy la difficulté de passer un trajet de mer de 100 où 120 cannes, et d’attaquer ces bréches, n’estant un obstacle qui doive arrêter un ennemy qui compte pour rien la perte des hommes, il n’y a que trop d’apparence qu’il réussiroit dans cette entreprise d’autant plus dangereuse, que le terrein derrière ces murailles estant un pente de costé de I’assaillant les troupes employées à leur deffense ne pourroient y rester sans estre veus jusq’aux pieds, des hauteurs dont on vient de parler, et sans etre par conséquent exposées, au feu du canon ennemy. Et même de la mousqueterie, ce qui luy assureroit vraysemblablement I’entrée dans Floriannes dont par cette attaque il pourroit se rendre maitre en fort peu de temps. La même manière d’attaquer peut encore estre employée à I’égard de Cité Valette : les batteries sur les hauteurs de I’Isolotto, et de Dragut pouvant metre en brèche toute la partie de cette place, depuis le bastion de France jusqu’au fort St.Elme où la Religion n’est fermée que par un simple muraille sans fosse, et vue encore jusqu’au pied, et cette attaque est d’autant

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plus à craindre qu’elle pourroit metre I’Ennemy dans St-Jean sans qu’il se fust amusé aux testes des Florianes ny de Cité Valette, sans perte de ses gens que pendant les assauts qu’il donneroit, et sans employer d’autre temps que luy nécessaire à faire ses batteries et les brèches, derrière lesquelles il ne faut pas compter que I’on puisse se retrancher. 1. parce que le terrein étant en pente du costé de I’Ennemy, tout ce qui y travailleroit seroit exposé au feu des batteries susdites comme aux Florianes. 2. parce que le terrein où I’on pouroit faire ses retranchements est occupé par des maisons bâties jusque sur le rampart, les quelles ils foidroit abatre à ce sujet. 3. parce que quand même ces difficultés ne se rencontreroient point, tout ce qu’on fait en matière de retranchemens pendant un siege, sous la gresle des pierres et sous le feu du canon et des bombes, ne peut qu’estre très imparfait et ne vaut jamais rien. II ne faut pas croire que pour I’attaque en question, I’Ennemy soit obligé de faire passer ses barques par l’entrée de Marsamuscieto, il les fera plus commodément transporter par terre jusques dans ce port, sur des chariots où à force d’hommes, et en pourra rassembler une asses grande quantité à couvert, derriere la hauteur de I’Isolotto, d’ou il partira pour donner des assauts, qu’il pourroit répéter tant de fois, et faire durer si long temps, que malgré toute la resistance imaginable les assiégés outrés de fatigue et lassés même à force de repousser leurs ennemis, pourroient peut-être, enfin, este constraits de leur céder. II y à beaucoup d’exemples anciens et modernes de places qui ont esté prises de la force, par ies parties de ieur enceintes, situées sur les bords de la mer, où de quelque rivière, où couvertes par des étangs, où marais, que I’on avoit négligé de fortifier autant que par des autres costés, ainsy que I’on à fait icy. Toutes ces réflexions doivent a semble faire ouvrir les yeux et engager à faire quelques efforts pour prévenir de si tristes événemens à I’egard d’une place qui passe pour la plus forte de I’Europe et qui n’estant rien moins que cela par les endroits que I’on vient de dire, ne devroit toute la résistance qu’à la seule valeur des ses deffenseurs. Le moyen d’oster à I’Ennemy la pensée d’attaquer Cité Valette par le costé de Marsamuscietto, sont de s’assurer de I’Isolotto, et de la pointe de Dragut. Mais comme ce seroit beaucoup entreprendre que de vouloir fortifier ces deux postes en mesmes temps, il faudra au moins commencer par le plus important, qui sans contredit est I’Isolotto, 1. parce que son terrein étant supérieur à celuy de deux hauteurs voisines de Tasbieg et de Dragut, I’Ennemy ne pourroit établir des batteries sur celles-cy, ayant à ésseyer de front, le feu de tout le costé de Cité Valette, et de Florianes, et en flanc celuy d’un fort qui seroit construit dans I’Isolotto, 2. un fort sur le point de Dragut ne feroit pas le même effet, et n’empêcheroit pas I’Ennemy de se poster sur I’Isolotto, et sur Tasbieg, où il pourroit n’en être point vue 3. la situation de Dragut et trop éloignée pour donner de la protection au costé des Florianes, depuis Cité Valette, puisques vis-àvis la Pietà, ce que fera parfaitement I’Isolotto, qui se trouvant précisément au milieu, protégera non seulement les Florianes, mais encore tout le costé de Cité jusques à St.Elme. 4. une raison essenciele qui doit faire préférer celuy­cy, c’est que se


Wall painting showing Fort Manoel as seen from Valleta, Verdala Palace, Buskett. (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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trouvant dans une îsle, il aura un excellent fossé naturel de 35 cannes de large au plus étroit, et presque par tout de plus de 100 cannes, ce qui n’auroit point un fort sur le Dragut, sur lequel fossé il faudra absolument que I’Ennemy fasse un point pour pourvoir se rendre maître de I’Isolotto. 5. celuy-cy aura encore I’avantage d’occuper un terrein d’où le canon ennemy pourroit enfiiler plusieurs vues de Cité Valette, ce qui seroit si incommode pendant un siège que quand I’Ennemy n’en feroit aucun autre usage, cette seule raison devroit suifir pour engager à la construction d’un fort sur cette isle, dont la nécessité est confirmée par le sentiment unanime des ingenieurs qui sont venus à Malte, lesquels ont tous marqué quelque projet en cet endroit, ainsy qu’il se voit par les plans qu’ils en ont laissé. Au reste cet ouvrage ne seroit pas d’une grande dépense, vue le peu d’espace du lieu qui ne permet pas de luy donner d’autre figure que celle d’un quarré, dont les fronts où poligones auront environ 100 can. de long, observant que les deux qui regardent le Dragut et le Tasbieg, étant proteges de Cité Valette et des Florianes, n’auront pas besoin d’être tant fortifiés que la teste, ny d’avoir un fossé si large, et que le front de derrière ne devra être qu’une simple muraille crénelée, pour assurer la communication de ce fort avec Cité Valette. / MONDION’ 37 The papers in this volume were copies of the original documents, brought together at a later stage. Consequently, it does not necessarily follow that this plan was produced by Mondion or even related to his report. 38 This plan was seen and photographed by the author in the archives of the Museum Department, in Valletta, in 1995. 39 Capt. Lendy, Treatise on Fortification (London, 1862), 82. 40 A ‘record plan’ shows the structure as existing at a point in time – it provides an official record of the fort. 41 The polygon of a work of fortification was often used to mean the ‘front of fortification’, which is the length between the two salients of adjacent bastions, see Guilliame Le Blond, Traite de La Defense des Places (Paris 1783 edition), 75, ‘FRONT de fortification, c’est une partie de l’enceinte d’une place de guerre composse d’un cortine & des deux demi-bastions qui la regardent; ou bien c’est la partie qui est comprise depuis l’angle flanqué du bastion qui lui est opposé. Un front de fortification est ce qu’on appelle le côté du polygone exterieur, le côté exterieur. ou simplement le polygone d’un fortification.’ 42 For a concise overview of Cormontaigne’s system see Lendy, op.cit., 304-314. The relatively low height of the cavaliers, and the ramparts’ low relief likewise attest to Cormontaigne’s influence, since he believed that the commands and reliefs were to be kept small, ‘... trusting, as he did ‘to the difficulty which the besieger would meet in ascertaining the prolongation of the faces’ but overlooking ‘the necessity of a commanding fire on the works of the attack’ behind which the besieger was less exposed when such commands were less. 43 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, NLM Treas 310B (Vol1), no foliation; ‘Forte Manoel fabricato nell’Isolotto Marsamucietto in una parte del terreno gia spettante alla Fondazione Lascaris. Questa fortezza, che porta il glorioso nome del Serenis.mo nostro regnante quale a sue intire spese

la fabricò, e per la dicui, riparatione, e mantenimento di presidio, furono dal med.o accomprati li fondi nel pnt cabreo deferiti, e designati, è di figura quadrata come infra. Sbarcando alla parte del d.o Isolotto, che guarda Sirocco, s’incontra una rampa in rocca viva quale indi si divide in due ambi coducenti ad un piano innanti al ponte levatojo qual dà l’accesso alla porta principa, le ornata di archiettura in petra Zoncol con busto di bronzo, armi del Fondatore, ed inserizzione di marmo indi proseguendo s’incontra un corpo di guardia a dritta, altro a sinistra dell’arcata con loggia, tutto a prova di bomba, inanti de quali, uno spazio piano con nicchia, ornata di una statua di Mose, quale colla sua verja da motivo di un scherza di acqua proveniente da due gran cisterne di capacità botti mille caduna, due scale in due branchi quali conducono alla Piaza del forte il dicui recinto composto di quattro cortine, ed altretanti bastioni, un de quali riguardante la Tramontana è dedicato a S. Gio. Battā altro a sinistra riguardante Ponente è dedicato a Nrā Sig.ra, ambi scavati nella viva rocca, indi altro riguardante il mezzo giorno dedicato a S.Elena, ed altro riguadante Levante dedicato a S. Antonio, ambi elevat’in fabrica. Li due bastioni di San Gio. e Nrā Sig.ra muniti caduno di cavaliere, che regn’altre so longo alla loro cortina, guarnito di cannoniere in tutta, la sua estenzione con ramparo, sostenuto da vuolte di cinque sotteranei, sotto ciaschedun cavaliere de bastioni, e di undici sotto quello della cortina, tutti e ventuno a prova di bomba con scala in due branchi per ogni lato per salire al sudetto cavaliere de bastioni e cortina in fronte della quale tramediente una strada sono posti due corpi di fabrica ambi con loggia coperta in due piani verso la Piazza, de qual’il piu vicino al Bast.e S. Gio contiene la cappella, sagrestia, ripostiglio, e garagollo per salire a due tribune, ed indi alle terrazze, e cuppola della cappella. A lato dellla cappella, vi è la casa del Cappellano,

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qual contiene al piano terrano due stanze, cortile, cucina, luogo commune, e due branchi di scala per salire al piano superiore in cui ha un vestibolo, sals, camera, e gambinetto verso il cortile. Al lato della sudetta, vi è la casa del luogotenente del forte simile alla sud.a. L’altro corpo di casa, cioè i più vicino al bastione di Nrā Sig[nor]a contiene la casa del Sig.re Governatore consistente in due stanze terrane, cortile, cucina, luogo commune, e due branchi di scala per salire al pian superiore in cui un vestibolo, sala, e tre camere successive, con altra sala maggiore per custodia delle Armi del Presidio. A lato di questa, vi è quella del Sotto Cappellano consistente in un stanza, terrana, cortile, cucina, luogo commune, e due branchi di scala per salire al piano superiore, in cui ha un vestibolo, saletta e due gabinetti. A lato destro e sinistro della Piazza e contro le due cortine riguardanti Lebeccio e Gregale, sono posto due corpi di cazerme a prova di bomba. Le caserme sono sette a dritta, e sette a sinistra, cad.a de quali contiene stanza, gabbinetto, cortile, cucina, luogo commune, e due branchi di scala per salire ad una camera super.a con loggia continuata alla lora facciata verso la Piazza. Ne Bastioni di S.Elena e S. Ant.o vi è un magazzeno a prova di bomba, uno per li viveri, altro per la polvere. Le opere esteriori del forte sono una tenaglia, e mezzaluna, scavata nella viva rocca, posta innanti il fronte principale, e di Lebeccio e Gregale, fosso piccolo innanti la mezzaluna per communicare alla quale vi è una porta secreta co due piccioli corpi di guardia in rocca, e capponiera sotto la mezzaluna, vi è un sotterraneo con due aperture lateralli per andare alle due mezze caponiere del fosso piccolo. Altre due porte segreti per andare alle capponiere delle corine di lebeccio e Gregale, alla strada coperta, quale regna innanti il fronte principale. ed inanti la meta delli altre due, quattro piazze d’armi in angolo rientrante speroni cinque per sostenere le terre del spalto e cinque gallerie principali oltre li altri rami per le mine fatte sotto lo spalto. In nanti la porta principale ha un fosso per ritinare le picciole barche la notte in tempo di buonaccia, ed a mezzo giorno a pie dello spalto vi è un luogo spianato in rocca, e guarnito di travi per tirare coll’argano le barche a secco, pendente il tempo di grosso mare. Tutto il sito del forte incluse il spalto per la larghezza di quindici canne e l’intervallo fino alla spiaggia, che riguarda la Valletta, è di superficie salme quattro, tummoli quattro, mondelli tre Tutte le siti del Lazaretto con sue dipendenze salma una tummuli quattro il terreno collivo salme nuove tummoli sette Si che la total superficie dell’Isolotto Marzamuscietto salme quattordeci tummuli qundici mondelli tre.’ 44 See plan M23, key 10. 45 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit., see endnote 43 supra. 46 This was probably drawn before the completion of the works. 47 S.C. Spiteri, The Art of Fortress building in Hospitaller Malta (Malta 2008), 218-219. 48 ibid, 219. 49 Ibid. 232; AOM 1012, f. 154 & f.182. 50 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit., see endnote

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43 supra. 51 Ibid. 52 C.J. Nolan, War in the Age of Louis XIV, 1650-1715 (Westport, 2008), 401-401. 53 Lendy, op.cit., 306. 54 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit. 55 Ibid. 56 Ibid. 57 Cited in Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 561, AOM 1016, f. 281. ‘… dare anche al’occhio la dovuta sua parte, col fare, per mezzo di questo supplimento di fortificazione nel recinto [ i.e the Carafa bastions] della Città Valletta, che à tutti, ma principalmente à i forestieri, nel approdare à Malta, ed à chiunque ne passa vicino, od in visita nel canale, ella comparisca si fattamente fortificata, che venga à sostenere la propria reputazione, e corrispondere à quello nobile e grande idea di cui ritrovansi per lo più prevenuti e pieni dalla publica fama, d’ Inespugnabile Fortezza, di Antemurale d’Italia, di Beluardo della Christianità.’ 58 AOM, 6557, f.62; AOM 6558, f.70 (18 October 1761). 59 Cited in D. Rollo, The Guns and Gunners of Malta (Malta, 1999), 447. 60 D. de Lucca, ‘The built environment in Gozo: a historical review’ in Gozo the Roots of an Island (Malta, 1990), 149; this form of arcading was used in Mondion’s earlier designs for the urban layout of Floriana, and the parade ground of Fort St. Elmo. 61 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 284-291; For a description of the barracks introduced by Vauban see ‘Memoire sur les batimens militaires par M. Belmas’ in , Bulletin des cience militaires, Vol. 12 (Paris 1825), 78., ‘... Les plus anciennes cásernes de France sent construites suivant le premier système, et sont généralement connues sous le nom de casernes à la Vauban. Les bâtimens, soit simples, soit doubles, sunt composés d’une suite d’escaIiers donnant entrée dans deux pelites chambhre: pouvant loguer chacune 10 óu I2 hommes. Dans ces bâtimens doubles les deux escaliers contigus, d’abord isolés, surent ensuite réunis par la suppression du mur de refend , ce qui les rendit plus commodes; et procura au rez-dechaussée une communication à travers le bâtiment. Plus tard on supprima encore dans les bâtimens doubles le mur de refend, parallêle aux mars de face, ce qui donna de grandes chambres avec un courant d’air d’un mur de face à l’autre. Enfin le dernier perfectionnement qu’on air fait à la caserne de Vauban est la réunion en un seul des deux escaliers d’un même groupe, ce qui permit d’établír une chanbre pour les sous-officiers.’ 62 Description taken from Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit.; See also 1727 contract on pages 160-165, reproduced from the acts of Notary Gaspare Domenico Chircop, 26 January 1727; A copy of this contract can be found in the Library of the Order of St. John, Clerkenwell; MS 01, Item 15, no pagination. 63 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit., see endnote 43 supra. 64 Treas. A 27, Vol 2, 1779-1784, p.13 (1780). ‘taverna del


89 See also 1727 contract reproduced on pages 160-165. 90 This is also confirmed by the absence of any mention to the main gate in the second (1727) contract. 91 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 250. 92 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit., see endnote 43 supra. 93 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol 1, 70. 94 AOM 1941, ff.8-10, the two keys of the donation box were kept by the Chaplain and a Procurator of the confraternity. 95 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit., see endnote 43 supra. 96 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 272-276, ‘... As its name rightfully implies, this was a French design introduced locally by the French military mission in 1715. Indeed, all gateways erected anew, or else rebuilt, by Mondion in the course of the following two decades, were constructed in this fashion. These included the gates of Fort Manoel, Birgu, St. Helen (Sta. Margherita Lines), Mdina (Sta. Maria Gate & Greeks Gate), and Floriana (Porta dei Cannoni). / The drawbridge à la Vauban consisted of a simple, counterbalanced platform, pivoted roughly in the middle, which when pulled up swung downwards inside the gateway’s passage and into an underground chamber, the socalled ‘cantina del ponte levatoio’. These rotating platforms did not prove to be very popular, for, when not properly secured, they had the tendency to sink into the pit under the weight of those passing over the bridge – one such comic incident, much to the chagrin of Grand Master Pinto, involved the grand master’s own carriage and occurred at the Porta dei Cannoni in 1744. As a result of this accident, the drawbridge was removed but was eventually reinstalled in July 1758. However, it appears that by the end of the eighteenth century, and certainly throughout the nineteenth century, most of the pits of these type of drawbridges had been roofed over with stone arches and then paved over. The drawbridge of the Birgu main gate is one such documented instance. After 16 years, its wooden platform had rotted away, making it quite dangerous to the heavy carriages passing over it. The chosen solution, rather than having it replaced, was to support it from beneath with a vaulted arch. The unpopularity of the Vauban-style drawbridge is best reflected by the fact that the last major bastioned fortress to be built in the Maltese islands, Fort Chambrai, begun in 1749, was fitted out with the more archaic, but more reliable, bascule a fleccie.’ 97 The archaeological excavation of the pit revealed that this chamber was filled in around the late 19th century, and then covered in a layer of concrete. 98 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol 1, 35, , ‘... travaglio nel nuovo ponte del forte... nel fermare le palisate e piantare li rastelli’; 99 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol 1, 36, ‘... nel colore dato al nuovo ponte, porta [sally-port] sotto di esso’. 100 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol 4, 9. ‘... Riparazione al ponte della Porta Maggiore del Forte .... 13.6.17 [scudi]’. 101 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 281; Clerkenwell MS 01, Item 20, no pagination, ‘si fortificano con rastelli raddopiati di palizate tutte le porte’. 102 S.C. Spiteri, Hospitaller Gunpowder Magazines; A

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Forte Manoel’ 65 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol 1, 1774-1779 , 80, (Aug 1778), ‘numerare di color rosso le porte delle camere de soldati di d. forte’: among the various painting materials mentioned one finds ‘bianchetto, minio ed altri colori’, Treas. A 27, Vol 2, (1781), 37. 66 AOM 1940, ff.135v-136. 67 Constantino, op.cit., 245. 68 Q. Hughes & K. Thake, D. Cilia (photography), Malta, The Baroque Island (Malta, 2003), 167. 69 M. Schembri, Restoration of the Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua, Fort Manoel, B.E.&A. (Hons) dissertation in the Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering, UOM (Malta, 2002), 18. 70 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol 4 (1796), 48 and 19. 71 Cited in J. Constantino, op.cit., 233. 72 ibid. 73 Treas. Series A, 32 , no. pagination. 74 Constantino, op.cit., 233, 75 ibid., 229. 76 Lib. MS 412, f.12. 77 G. Bonello, ‘Pietro Paolo Troisi, The quest for a gifted sculptor’ in Art in Malta: Discoveries and Recoveries (Malta, 1999), 112-124. 78 Joseph A. Briffa, Pietro Paolo Troisi (1686-1750); A Maltese Baroque Artist (Malta, 2009), 43-47. 79 Lib.MS. 412, f.1. 80 Ibid., f.12; It is not clear what ‘coll’importare della di lui opera’ actually signifies. Does this mean that the statue was not cast in Malta, or is this simply referring to the importation of bronze and other materials? 81 Chevalier de Sante Jay’s testimonial to this effect is signed 4 March 1745, see Lib. MS 412. 82 Treas. Series A, 27 vol1, 8 June, 1775, ‘... quali si sono dati p. ord[ine] di S. A. Em.a p. qualunque pretensione che la med.ma potrebbe avere sul credito della fattura e materiali soministrati dal def[unto] suo marito p la formazione della statua di bronzo eretta nel Fort Manoel.’ 83 See G.P. Badger, Description of Malta and Gozo (Malta, 1838) 193-194; ‘In the centre of the court stands a bronze statue of Grandmaster Vilhena, on a high square base, containing an elaborate eulogy, on its four sides, of the virtues and mighty deeds of the founder. The observation of Sign. D’ Avalos in regard to this monument is worthy of notice. He suggests that it should be transplanted over to some conspicuous place in Valletta, in order to embellish the city; as where it now stands, it is almost buried, and can neither be seen nor admired by the public.’ 84 These were identified by Klaus Lankheit, see K. Lankeit and J. Mantagu, The Twilight of the Medici (Italy, 1974), cited in Bonello, op.cit., 124. 85 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 238; AOM 1654, f. 23 (1603): ‘...la porta reale della città, detta di S. Giorgio’. 86 Ibid. 87 Spiteri, The Ar of Fortress Building..., 240. 88 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit., see endnote 43 supra.

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study of the Magasins à Poudre and other military storehouses built by the Knights of the Order of St. John in the Maltese islands throughout the course of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries, ARX Occasional Papers, Issue 2 (Malta, online journal 2014), 10-11, ‘... Gunpowder stores came to be known by various names. In the Order’s records they are frequently referred to as ‘polveriste’, ‘magazzino da polvere’ or ‘magasins à poudre’. In the military language of the time they were also referred to as polveriere (Italian - see G. Grassi, Dizionario Militare Italiana (Torino, 1833) - ‘POLVERIERA: Edificio nel quale si fabbrica or si conserva la polvere: quello nel quale si fabbrica la polvere chiamasi piu particolarmente Mulino; e quello destinato solamente a conservarla chiamasi Magazzino’); Almacen de pólvera (Spanish), and poudrieres (French); in the Maltese context, a gunpowder magazine was sometimes also referred to as a polverista, although strictly speaking, this is an Italian word which actually referred to the person who worked in a magazine or manufactured gunpowder - see Grassi, ‘POLVERISTA, Colui che fabbrica la polvere da Guerra’, what the French called a poudrier. 103 Spiteri, Hospitaller Gunpowder Magazines, Ibid. 104 Ibid. 105 Ibid. 106 Ibid., 10-11; a good description of a Vauban-style powder magazine is provided by John Muller in A Treatise containing the practical part of fortification (1755), based on Bernard Forest de Bélidor. 107 Spiteri, Hospitaller Gunpowder Magazines, 26-29 108 Ibid., 48-49 109 Ibid., 52-55 110 Ibid, 11; Encyclopédie Ou Dictionnaire Raisonné Des Sciences, Des Arts Et des Métiers, Vol.9 (Naufchastel, 1765), 845. 111 The word ‘sfiatatori’ is used in the 1727 contract, see page 158; Grassi, Dizionario Militare Italiano (1833), op.cit., 9495, gives it as ‘SFIATATOIO’ (pl. sfiatatoj). 112 Spiteri, Hospitaller Gunpowder Magazines, 11, 32, 333; see also P. Bergère, ‘Note sur les Magasins a poudre’ in Memorial de L’Officier du Genie (Paris, 1820). 113 This information is found written in pencil on NLM Plan M44. 114 Both terms apply to this feature but in the documents of the period the first form is the one more commonly encountered. 115 See 1727 contract reproduced on page 160. 116 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit., see endnote 43 supra. 117 Cited in Spiteri, Hospitaller Gunpowder Magazines,20. 118 AOM 6543, no pagination. 119 Ibid. 120 Treas Series A, 27, Vol 4, (Sept. 1797), 35 ‘... per i saluti dell’anno 1795 sino a pasqua del 1797’; a separate record or account seems to have been kept for the ‘Polvere per i Saluti’, which in 1795, appears to have required the scrutiny of a certain Goudrecourt [knight ?]. 121 See inventory of military equipment in AOM 6524, compiled during the brief French occupation of Malta by D’Hennezel, French commander of artillery and engineers, dated

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23 September 1799. 122 See 1727 contract reproduced on page 160. 123 Ibid. 124 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 4,(1794), 9, ‘... [8 scudi and 2 tari] paga delli Ribocc[atori] p. il travaglio di ribocc[are] al polversita piccola del Forte Manoel, il Corpo di Guardia del Cannone, ed il primo parato della scala della Barca’. 125 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1 (1774), 18. 126 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1 (1773), 8; Vol 2 (1781), 38. 127 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1 (1774), 17. 128 French military dictionaries of the 18th century usually use the word ‘guerite’ rather than ‘echaugette’, see G. le Blond, Manuel de l’Ingenieur et de l’Artilleur (Paris, 1783), 82. 129 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1 (1773), 9, ‘ ... il colore dato a quattro garite del forte manoel’. 130 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1, 53, ‘Spesa di legname p. una garita p. la sentinella della Sta. Barbara nel Forte Manoel’; 131 Treas. Series A, 27 Vol. 2, 10. 132 NLM Plan M44 entitled ‘Magazino da Polvere e Munizioni’; see page 121. 133 Treas. Series A, 27 Vol. 1 (1774),22, 7.6 scudi paid to ‘...Mro. Bandelaro, p. manifattura, corda, e filo in cucire tre bandiere nuove, le due p. il Forte Manoel, e l’altra p. la batt. Lembi’; an eighteenth-century oil painting of Valletta and its harbours at the National Museum of Fine Arts, in Valletta, shows a fairly accurate depiction of Fort Manoel with two flag poles flying the Order’s flag, mounted on the cavaliers on the land ward side of the fort. 134 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1, 1774, 22. 135 Ibid. ‘... per proporzionare e collocare l’ albero di bandiera’. 136 Ibid., 81, (Sep 1778), ‘... il color rosso all’ albero di bandiera del lembi’. 137 Zerafa held the post of Capomastro delle Opere until his death in 1758 and was also one of the capomastri of the Manoel Foundation, see L. Mahoney, 5,000 years of Architecture in Malta (Malta, 1996), 327. 138 On Carapecchia see D. De Lucca, Carapecchia, Master of Baroque Architecture in Early Eighteenth Century Malta (Malta, 1999), passim. 139 L. Mahoney, op.cit., 321. 140 Ibid., 327. 141 AOM 1054, f.19. 142 R. Vertot, The History of the Knights of Malta by the Abbe de Vertot (London, 1728), Vol II, Book XII. This is an English edition of Vertot’s Histoire des Chevaliers hospitaliers de S. Jean de Jérusalem, appellez depuis les Chevaliers de Rhodes, et aujourd’hui les Chevaliers de Malte first published in Paris in 1726; Lib. MS, 420 (v), 226, ‘... fu principiato [Fort Manoel] al mese di Giugno 1723 p. il Cav. de Tigné, nel terzo viaggio suo: l’esecuzione fu’ continuata p. il cav.re de Mondion ed e’ presentemente uno de piu belli pezzi di fortificazione di questo paese, ed in conseguenza di tutta l’Europa.’ 143 F. Brincat, The Military Engineer Fra Antoine Etienne de Tousard (1751-1813). A Loyal Hospitaller or Traitor? (UOM


of Mondion, some six years after his appointment as secondary engineer in January 1727; a short bibliography on Marandon’s career in Malta is given in Mahoney, op.cit., 321, where however, his year of appointment is given as 1733 and not 1734. 170 Marandon was trying to secure the same ‘intiero stipendio d’Ingegnere dato al suo antecessore’ by claiming an additional dieci scudi al mese.’ 171 Coulon is first encountered in contemporary records, in relation to Malta, in 1702, in the Order’s correspondence with its French contacts; He is introduced to the Order as ‘les S.r Coulon Ingenieur’; in the following year the Bailly de S. Mauris, the Order’s Ricevitore ‘fait l’Eloger de’ l’Ingenieur qui a passè a Lyon’ - this information was kindly given to the author by Arch. Claude Busuttil; it is not yet known when Coulon entered the Order’s service or was directly involved in its projects. 172 Mondion died on 25 December 1733; Marandon was promoted to his predecessor’s post in January 1734. 172a. This information was kindly provided by Prof. Keith Sciberras, and was first published in his book Roman Baroque Sculpture for the Knights of Malta (Malta, 2004), 127; the following description of Vilhena’s monument is reproduced form Prof. Sciberras’ book (page 127), ‘...The monument to Manuel De Vilhena, in the chapel of St. James of the Langue of Castille and Portugal, differs in its design structure but is obviously similar in style and in its virtuoso invention and quality of finish. Its individual parts are of a smaller scale and more akin to Soldani’s characteristic repertoire, but their complex arrangement fills the entire wall space and results in one of the finest displays of late Baroque decorative bronze. The bust length portrait, in gilt bronze, emerges from an elaborate wall medallion with putti, wreaths, and a pair of large wings set against a large concave bigio marble panel slab. The urn, in dark verde antico marble, rests on two seated bronze lions and is set on a high marble pedestal podium that displays the commemorative inscription on a black marble slab on its front.120 The front of the sarcophagus is enriched by a bronze panel with a high relief representation of an allegoric presentation of Fort Manoel to Grand Master Vilhena, inscribed SECURITAS VALLETTAE on its accompanying ribbons. The sarcophagus has a raised lid with white marble rib scrolls and supports another bronze invention. In its centre proudly rests Vilhena’s hat on a pillow, accompanied by four putti, two of which exhibit a long rapier with a magnificently worked hilt and a cap; the latter bestowed by Pope Benedict XIII. Above the cornice, as a termination piece, is a large arrangement of bronze work and marble drapery around a central representation of the polychromised coat-of-arms held by a putto and by Fame blowing its trumpet. The flanks of the monument are embellished with cascading bronze arms, a further development of the cascading motifs in the Zondadari monument. The invention is developed further in the lower section, with trophies and chains falling on the side panels of the pedestal dado. The marble structure does not possess the strong identity that it did in the Zondadari monument, but is entirely subordinate to the magnificent display of bronze. Apart from the bust, little of what

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dissertation, Malta 2014), 45, fn.132. 144 Lib. MS. 1301, 133 (13 Feb. 1716), certificate of Antoine le Prestre de Vauban, nephew of Sebastien, who was appointed Lt-General in 1714; Hoppen, op.cit., 2nd ed. 107. 145 Lib. MS. 1301, 141, letter of Marshal Claude Louis Hector de Villars was the French Secretary of State for War,. 146 Lib. MS. 1301, 135, Charles Guy de Valory was LtGeneral and director of fortifications in Flanders. 147 Also written Favard, (1659-1725); Favart was director of fortifications in Pays d’Autun, Ile de Re’, Ile de Oleron, Poitou, Blaye and Medoc. 148 Le Pelletier was the French minister of fortifications. His letters can be found at Lib. MS. 1301, 80 and 81. 149 Lib. MS. 1301, 119-120. 150 This project was approved by the Order’s Council in September 1722 (AOM 267, f.150) but no attempts were made to implement it and the scheme was officially postponed in 1724, AOM 267, f.234v. 151 See NLM plans N1, N2, N3. 152 Lib. MS. 1301, 133-135 (15 Feb. 1716); De Tigné also praised Mondion on his completion of the Floriana land front outer works, which he described as one of the most beautiful and feared in Europe, see De Lucca, Mondion, 7, Lib. MS 1301, 153-165. 153 Hoppen, op.cit., , 2nd ed, 286. 154 ACM, Vol. 99, f.13, cited in Constatntino, op.cit, 95. 155 AOM 1333, no pagination, cited in Constatntino, op.cit, 95. 156 Q. Hughes & K. Thake, Malta, The Baroque Island, 167. 157 Jo Tonna & Dennis De Lucca, Romano Carapecchia, Studies in Maltese Architecture:1, Royal University of Malta, Department of Architecture (Malta 1975), 38. 158 Tonna & De Lucca, op.cit., 7. 159 These drawings are held in the Conway Library Album, at Courtwald Gallery, London; see D. De Lucca, Carapecchia, 157. 161 De Lucca op.cit; the drawings are reproduced on pages 159 to 164. 162 Ibid, 157. 163 Lib. MS. 386, f.153, cited in De Lucca, Mondion..., 34. 164 Denis De Lucca, ‘The Contribution of François de Mondion in the Architectural Development of 18th Century Malta’ in Proceedings of History Week (1981), 75-80. 165 De Lucca, Mondion..., 14. 166 Ibid. 167 Ibid.; other works included the hospital and municipal palace in Gozo, the Calcara magazines in Floriana, and the upper storey of a convent in Bormola, ‘... il secondo piano di detto Monastero [sotto titolo di Gesù e Maria nella Burmola] nella conformità della pianta fatta dall’Illmo. Sig. Cav.re Carlo Mondion Ingenniere di da. Sacra Religione. Consistente in trentatre celle separate con un corritore, una sala con due stanze ....’ (12 Feb. 1732). 168 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 286-287. 169 Marandon was an Italian engineer from Turin, son of Agustino Marandon, ‘Illmo. Sig.re. Patrimoniale Generale e Consigliere di Sua Maesta Re di Sardegna’; he was appointed to the post of resident engineer early in 1734, following the death

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was originally gilt, (especially in the central arrangement) is still visible. The monument is signed MAXIMILIANUS SOLDANIS BENZISl PATRI US FLORENTINUS FECI 1729 on a ribbon band at lower right.’ 173 Although Marandon is here referring to a cabreo of the property of the Congregation of War, he may actually be referring to the Cabreo della Fondazione Manoel which was compiled around this time; the latter has been hitherto attributed to Mondion who may have largely been responsible only for supervising the compilation of the material. 174 Notary Gaspare Domenico Chircop, 26 June 1723; Contract reproduced on page 156-157. 175 Contract reproduced on page 162. 176 Contract reproduced on page 156. 177 Contract reproduced on page 160. 178 ACM, Cor.t.99, f.13, cited in Constantino, 101. 179 The Chirografo Magistrale, a kind of official memo issued by the Grand Master, referring to the establishment of the Fondazione Manoel on 31 August 1724, erroneously gives the date of the laying of the foundation stone as 24 September 1723 and not the 14th, ‘... e fu posta colle consuete sollennità la prima pietra sotto li 24 del mese di Settembre dell’anno passato’, Treas, 23 A, f.1. 180 A.O.M. 267; f.223; ‘Die xjv Mensis Septembris 1723 Nota come S. Em.za questa mattina si è portata personalmente all’Isolotto, ove è stato già dato principio alla costruzione del Forte Manoel, accompagnata da molti Ven.di Proceri della Gran Croce e da una grande comitiva di Cav.ri, affinche fosse in sua presenza collocata la prima pietra in detta fabbrica, com’e seguito dopo aver l’Em.za Sua lasciato ivi a futura memoria

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diverse monete.’ 181 On the ritual of depositing coins in foundations see M. Schraven, Out of sight yet still in place: On the use of Italian Renaissance portrait medals as building deposits, http://orbi. ulg.ac.be/bitstream/2268/101067/1/Schraven%20RES%2009. pdf, 183, ‘... During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it became standard practice to issue foundation medals at the start of prestigious building projects, such as cities, churches, palaces, bridges, or fortifications. At the high point of festively orchestrated ceremonies, the patron would deposit a small number of the medals inside the foundations, along with the first stone. At the same time, specimens of the foundation medal were distributed among those present at the ceremonies to remind them of the patron’s acts of munificence’; 191. ‘...To humanists, the deposition of coins and medals into foundations was clearly regarded as a ritual with classical overtones. In his biography of Paul II, the humanist Bartolommeo Platina classified the deposition practices of the pope as ‘more veterum’, or ‘following customs of the ancients’. Another biographer of the pope, Michele Canensi, also linked the deposition of portrait medals to classical models. He stated that the medals had been deposited within the buildings with ‘optimis auspitiis’, borrowing terminology of Roman divinatory practices. From him we also know that the deposition ceremonies at the Palazzo di S. Marco were performed along with a benediction and some kind of ceremony.’ 182 Contract reproduced on page 156. 183 The elevation of main gate of Fort Manoel, reproduced on page 109 courtesy of Dr. G. Bonello, is dated 1727. 184 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 112; Clerkenwell,


199 Ibid., letter from Vilhena to De Schade dated 8 September 1728; ‘la spedizione della grazia ... circa la Parrochia del nostro Forte Manoel’. 200 Contract reproduced on pages 156-157. 201 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 398-399; 202 Contract reproduced on pages 156-157. 203 Contract reproduced on page 154. 204 Stone was graded according to its hardness; it was priced accordingly and used in different parts of the works according to the local strength requirements. 205 Contract reproduced on pages 156-157; a report by the Picconiere Francesco Grech, drawn up some time after 1730, mentions three locations around St. Julian’s Bay which had good quantities of what he calls ‘Marmi’ (Italian for ‘marble’ but in the local context referring to hardstone), ‘... Vicino la Torre di S. Giuliano vi sono Marmi in tre luoghi dove si cava e si puo cavare buona quantità’. 206 Contract reproduced on page 162. 207 Ibid. 208 Contract reproduced on page 164. 209 Ibid. 210 Schermerhorn, Malta of the Knights (AMS edit. 1978, USA, first published Surrey, 1929), 259. 211 This is stated by Schermerhorn; the provisions of the Foundation, however, only state that the supply of cannon had to be made one at a time when funds allowed until the whole fort was fully equipped. The annual income of 10,000 scudi is reported for the 1780s, see W. H. Thorton, Memoir on the Finances of the Order (Malta, 1836), 16. 212 Chirographo magistrale, Treas 23 A, ff.1-2; this manuscript volume contains all the properties pertaining to the foundation; the text of the chirographo reads as follows: ‘Die xxxj Mensis Augusti 1724, Avendo L’Em.mo , e Rev.mo

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MS. O1, no pagination (22.10.1749). 185 Ibid, AOM 6546, passim. 186 S.C. Spiteri, In Defence of the Coast, Part 1: The Bastioned Towers, ARX Occasional Papers (Issue 3, 2014), 101-104. 187 See 1723 and 1727 contracts at pages 156 and 160 respectively. 188 The vaulted cavaliers were among the first large structures with internal spaces to be completed in 1724, and were secure enough to house a large quantity of slaves. 189 Constantino, op.cit., 101. 190 AOM 6546, passim. 191 Restoration Method Statement of Fort Manoel- Part A, Phase A, Manoel Island, October 2001, Manoel Island/ Tigné Point Development Project, Section 2.3 (Historical Notes), 12. 192 Personal notes compiled by the late Prof. Q. Hughes and given to the author, no pagination. 193 Ibid. 194 Constantino, op.cit., 95. 195 AOM 1336, no pagination; it is not known if this figure included the cost of the armament, munitions, and other furnishings and equipment. 196 ‘... che al contrario i materiali provenienti dalla scavazione, e spianatura di rocca non bastassero per formare li spalti, e terrapienare i bastioni verso della Valletta, sarànno obligati d.i partitarij di scavare maggiormente i fossi per avere la quantità de materiali mancanti alle perfezzione di d.i terrapieni.’ 197 Cabreo della Fondazzione Manoel, op.cit., see endnote 43 supra. 198 AOM 1489, letter from Vilhena to De Schade dated 31 January 1728.

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Sig.r Gran Maestro, fatto peggero nel Ven.ble Conseglio un Suo Magistral Chirografo, qual e del tenor seguente cioè Hosplis et / Magr Hierlem’ / Sct Sepulchri/ Considerando noi subito assonti al Magisterio da una parte essere inevitabile la fabbrica d’un Forte nell’Isolotto supposto necessarjssimo per la sicurezza magiore della Città Valletta da quanti Ingegnieri sono portati in questo convento, e trovando dall’altra la Religione molta esausta, ed in somme angustie deliberassimo di farlo fare a nostre spese, con intenzione altresi de stabilire un rendita annoale, e sicura, che bassi a mantenere un competente Presidio. / Diediesi de fatto principio al lavoro, quanto al Forte,e fu posta colle consuete sollennita la prima pietra sotto li 24 [sic] del mese di Settembre dell’anno passato, ed a suo tempo farenno fare, il pagamento del fondo, che si sara occupato, alla Fondazione Lascara, a cui appartiene./ Non casciassimo intanto di pensare alla rendita necessaria al mantenimento del Presidio; fecimo per cio gia fabricare sette molini, due nell’Isolo del Gozzo, uno de quali nella punta d’un territorio magistrale, un altro nel borgo della Citta Notabile, e quatro ne’ casali Birchercara, Zorrico, Zeitun e Gargur./ Destiniamo al med.mo effetto il nostro giardino vicino alla chiesa di Giuseppe, ed intendiamo fare altre fabriche sino a formare detta rendita. E perche per la perfezione di tutto questo vi vuole molto danaro, crediamo aver’ effetti sufficienti, e speramo veder presto insieramente effetuato il nostro disegno, quando pero il Sign.r Iddio voglia primera chiamarci, dichianami, che tutti i predetti effetti siano specialmente potecasi alle accenate fabbriche, in manera che debbano prima d’ogni altra cosa finissi, e perfezzionarsi, senza che la somma, che per quale bisognera, e della quale fin d’adesso a spropriamo, possa diputarsi per spoglio, ne ottener Picenza per dispozze di essa. Applichiamo dunque alla Fondazione per mantenim.to del mentovato Presidio, da essere governata nella forma, e maniera, che da noi a suo tempo saran prescritte, il predetto nostro giardino, i sette molini gia fabbricati, tutte le altre fabriche, che faremo, ed i fondi, i capitali, che tal volta acquistaremo, con questo, che ci sia dal V.ble Conseglio in virtù dello statuto xj de contratti, ed alienazioni conceduta la facolta di dispozze di tutto, o d’una parte di essi a favor di una, o qui personne per una vola vita./ Desideriamo pure per maggior accrescimento della Fondazione, che il med.mo V.ble Conseglio conceda in perpetuum al giardino predetto libera la facolta di valersi di due oncie d’acqua dalli acque detti vicini. E per fine, che voglia gradire questa nostra affettuosa dimostrazione, approvare il fatto, e darei a gl’accenati le facolta necessarie ed opportune. Manoel. / II che inteso il V.ble Conseglio rendute a S. Em.ma Le dovute grazie per un azzione di tanto beneficio, e progna del suo paterno, ed esemplar, ha unanimi voto approvato tutte le susdette dispozioni, e dato all’Em.ma Sua la facolta per esseguirle punctualmente nell’accenata forma. / Ex. Liber Concilior / (signed) Emmanuel Pinto’. 213 Constatntino, op.cit., 91. 214 Ibid. 215 Treas. Series A, 23, ff.1-2, reproduced at endnote 212 supra.

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216 Constatntino, op.cit., 91. 217 Ibid., 180. 218 Treas. Series A, 23, 29 (1 July 1731). 219. Constatntino, op.cit., 168, cited from Treas. Series A, 32, no pagination. 220 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1, (1778), 79. 220a Entrados is the inner (lower) side of a vault or arch, Treas. A. 32, 123. 221 See NLM plans M16, M20 and 27a. 222 On the Lazaretto see P. Cassar, ‘A tour of the Lazaretto buildings’ in Melita Historica 9 (1987), 4, 360-380. 223 AOM 6554, f.176v: See P. Cassar, ‘Malta’s Role in Maritime Health under the Auspices of the Order of St. John in the 18th century’ in Lombard Bank Ltd. Annual Report, 1989 (Malta, 1989). 224 The farmers were allowed to sow ‘in detti beni vettovaglie un anno dopo l’altro’. 225 Treas. Series A, 29 (1743), f.60. Notary Giuseppe Monreal Melini was then the notary of the Fondazione Manoel. 226 Treas Series A, 27, Vol 1, (1777), 63. 227 Treas Series A, 27, Vol 3, (1794), 82 228 AOM 1489, no. pagination, letter from Vilhena to De Schade dated 8 Sept. 1728; ‘ far la spedizione della nota Bolla per la Parrocchia del nostroa Forte Manoel’, 27 September 1728. 229 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building..., 476; C. Duffy, Fire and Stone, The science of fortress warfare, 1660–1860 (London, 1975), 102. 230 AOM 6549, no pagination (22 May 1761); AOM 1061 (3 Sep. 1785). 231 Ibid.; for a quick overview of this list see J.M. Wismayer, The History of the King’s Own Malta Regiment and the Armed Forces of the Order of St. John (Malta, 1989), 55-64. 232 Spiteri, The Art of Fortress Building, 476; Duffy, op.cit., 99-100. 233 Ibid. 234 AOM 1061 235 Ibid.; Qala Lembi Battery was considered an advance work of Fort Manoel, see AOM 1020, f.614, ‘Il Forte Lembi essendo stato considerato da V.A.E e suo Ve. Consiglio come un’ Opera avanzata del Forte Manoel, e molto prop.o alla sua difesa decretarono sotto il 12 Marzo 1762 che la Sud.a Fondaz. ne [Manoel] dovere incaricarsi del comando, custodia, e trattenimento del d.to Forte’; AOM 634, ‘...tutta la spesa erogate dall Ven.da Cong.ne nella fabbrica della nominata Batteria si passi in debito della sudetta Fond.ne Manoel’. 236 Rollo, op.cit., 447. 237 Ibid., Map 15. 238 In 1792 it had 44 guns; AOM 1015, 344-358. 239 AOM 1015, 373-374. 240 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol 1, (1776), 39. 241 AOM. 6524, 83-87 242 Ibid. 243 The armoury had two doors painted grey in 1776, ‘...le due porte dell’armeria nel Forte Manoel’, Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1, (1776), 41.


273 Ibid., 642. 274 Ibid., 476. 275 S.C. Spiteri, British Military Architecture in Malta (Malta, 1996), 197-214.

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244 S. C. Spiteri, Armoury of the Knights (Malta 2003), 188. 245 Ibid., 162. 246 Treas. Series A, 32, no pagination. 247 Ibid. 247a. Ibid., Chirografo dell’Em.mo Gr. Mro. Pinto p. l’aggiunta di cinque soldati nel Forte Manoel, anzi di quattro soldati. 248 This was one of the two marine battalions of the Order’s navy, the most battle-experienced soldiers in the Knights’ armed forces – the second battalion was that of the Vascelli (men-of-war); in 1798 the two marine battalions had a combined strength of 700 officers and men. 249 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1, (1778), 79. 250 Ibid. 35; on September 1st, 1775 a group of clergymen led by Don Gaetano Mannarino staged a rebellion against the Order, triggered off by a rise in the cost of imported wheat. They occupied Fort St. Elmo and St. James Cavalier in Valletta (which contained a large armoury holding all the muskets of the militia regiments) but the population failed to come out in support of the rebels and the revolt was suppressed after brief negotiations. Several of the rebel leaders, however, were arrested and tried, some executed or exiled, while Mannarino himself was sentenced to life imprisonment. 251 J.M. Wismayer, The History of the King’s Own Malta Regiment and the Armed Forces of the Order of St. John (Malta, 1989), 29-33. 252 AOM 1015, 373-74. 253 AOM 6430, f.149. 254 Ibid., 228. 255 Treas. Series A, 27, Vol. 1, (1778), 79. 256 AOM 6557, f.62 (1761). 257 AOM 1054, f.19. 258 AOM 6556, f.176. 259 The wages of the garrison of Fort Tigné were paid out of the funds of the Manoel Foundation to the tune of some 600 scudi a month. There are no entries, however, for the months of March, April, May, and June 1797. 260 AOM 1023, f. 571, 597 (1796), ‘Ridotta lembi … Desideresse fabricare in quella à canto del magazeno, e corpo di guardia qualche stanza per suo comodo’. 261 C. Testa, The Life and Times of Grand Master Pinto, 1741-1773 (Malta, 1989), 247-273. 262 F. Y. Ryan, The House of the Temple (London, 1930 facsimile ed. 1998), 265. 263 C. Testa, The French in Malta (Malta, 1997), 49. 264 Lib. MS. 1130, f.68. 265 Testa, The French in Malta, 45 266 Ibid., 49; Lib. MS 269, f.13v. 267 The Marquis was the brother of Commander de la Tour du Pin; See Lib MS. 1130, 85-86. 268 T. Freller and G. Von Trauchburg, The last Knight of Malta (Malta, 2010), 114-116. 269 Schermerhorn, op.cit., 301. 270 Testa, The French in Malta, 295. 271 S.C.Spiteri, ‘Maltese ‘Siege’ Batteries of the Blockade, 1798-1800’ in ARX, Online Journal of Military Architecture and Fortification, 6, 2008, 42-44 272 Testa, The French in Malta, 361.

Select bibliography D. de Lucca, ‘French Military Engineers in Malta during the 17th and 18th centuries’ , Melita Historica, viii/ 1 (1980), 23–33., and D. de Lucca, Mondion; The achievement of a French military engineer working in Malta in the early eighteenth century (Malta, 2003). D. de Lucca, ‘The built environment in Gozo: a historical review’ in Gozo the Roots of an Island (Malta, 1990). D. de Lucca, Carapecchia, Master of Baroque Architecture in Early Eighteenth Century Malta (Malta, 1999). F. Brincat, Bali de Tigné: Knight of Malta, Commissioner of Fortifications and Military Engineer (1716-1801), (Malta, 2012). A. Ganado, Valletta Città Nuova. A map history (1566-1600), Malta, 2003. R. Vella Bonavita, ‘A Sixteenth-century Proposal for a Fort on Manoel’ Island’, in Melita Historica 6 (1973) 2, 143. J. Constantino, Fort Manoel a historical survey (1723-1900), UOM Thesis, 1975. G. Bonello, ‘Pietro Paolo Troisi, The quest for a gifted sculptor’ in Art in Malta: Discoveries and Recoveries (Malta, 1999), 112-124. Joseph A. Briffa, Pietro Paolo Troisi (1686-1750); A Maltese Baroque Artist (Malta, 2009), 43-47. Alison Hoppen, The Fortification of Malta by the Order of St. John (Edinburgh, 1979): 2nd revised edn. was issued in paperback by Minerva Publications (Malta, 1999), E. Schermerhorn, Malta of the Knights (AMS edit. 1978, USA, first published Surrey, 1929), P. Cassar, ‘A tour of the Lazaretto buildings’ in Melita Historica 9 (1987), C. Testa, The French in Malta (Malta, 1997).

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Gilded bust of Grand Master Antoine Manoel de Vilhena, on the Grand Master’s sepulchral monument by Massimiliano Soldano-Benzi, in the chapel of St. James of the Langue of Castille and Portugal, at the Conventual Church of St. John, Valletta. See pages 127-128 and endnote 172a (Image source: Author’s private collection)

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The next issue in the series ARX OCCASIONAL PAPERS will be devoted to a detailed study of the fortifications of the Knights of St. John at the time of the GREAT SIEGE OF MALTA in 1565. This new publication is based on Dr. Stephen C. Spiteri’s new second edition of his book on the Great Siege (2005) which is currently under preparation.

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This is the latest publication in the online series of ARX Occasional Papers published by Military Architecture.com. In this 208-page study,...

ARX, Fort Manoel, Occasional Papers, 4, 2014  

This is the latest publication in the online series of ARX Occasional Papers published by Military Architecture.com. In this 208-page study,...

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