That sword again

Published: April 29, 2013 at 4:15pm

imago photographics -


I see we have yet more talk about the return to Malta of “La Valette’s sword”.

Well, it shouldn’t be given to Malta by France and it can’t be returned to Malta by France because it never belonged to Malta in the first place.

There are two pieces anyway – a sword and a dagger – and they were the personal property of Jean Parisot de/de la/la Valette. They then became the property of the Order of St John, which left them behind in Valletta (as many other goods, chattels and treasures were left behind) when fleeing as Napolean approached.

So if there is anyone at all who can make a claim on ownership it is the Order of St John, and certainly not ‘Malta’, which did not exist as a state, either when Napoleon arrived or when he departed.

De/de la/la Valette’s heirs might also have some kind of spurious case on the grounds that the Order of St John held those ceremonial weapons only on trust, but there must be thousands of them by now and their links lost in the mists of time and complex geneology.

But even if they had inherited them, the likelihood is that the weapons would have ended up in the Louvre anyway, because this is not divisible property, the sort of thing you would sell, or the kind of thing you’d keep in the bank.

The Louvre is their proper place. France, as the nation of the man for whom those weapons were made, is their proper home. We have no claim to those weapons, either moral or legal, so let’s stop the bitching and the false talk.

Photographs by Daniel Cilia/Flair magazine

41 Comments Comment

  1. ken il malti says:

    Why are the Maltese so hopped up about this gay-looking sword?

    Has it got special mythical powers on par with the Spear Of Longinus?

    With this sword Joseph Muscat can control destiny and ultimately the world, perhaps.

    I remember hearing about this sword as a child with the usual added outrage against the damn French and their thieving ways.

    • Observer says:

      Both the sword itself and the dagger look remarkably straight to me. Why dub them ‘gay-looking’?

      • ken il malti says:

        They are over-the-top fancy as befits a ceremonial sword and dagger. But they are not aesthetically pleasing, hence they look “gay” in the parlance of the day.

        No 16th-century fighting person would be caught dead with that much ostentatious ornamentation on their tools of the trade.

        Plus they also look kind of hideous in a kitsch sort of way.

        They would have looked the part behind the driver on the old yellow Maltese buses, along with the effigy of the Madonna and pictures of Elvis and lucky horseshoes.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        Kitsch is In Guardia and all that MTA anachronistic SCA rubbish which the Maltese, bless ’em, love so much.

  2. marie says:

    Or just maybe, since the new parliament building is going to be turned into a museum, they need an artefact.

  3. marie says:

    De Vallette’s fighting sword, not decorative sword, is still available for public viewing in the Vittoriosa Parish Museum.

    How many people have been there on a visit?

    So why the fuss?

  4. Lestrade says:

    Many commenting on suggested that we let the French send the sword/poignard on loan and then refuse to send them back.

    Typical Maltese wajs guys.

    • Catsrbest says:

      And do not be amazed if will try to do just that to please them. After all he doesn’t give a damn about decency and good behaviour.

  5. Kevin says:

    Arthur and Excalibur. Luke Skywalker and the Light Sabre. Joseph and La Valette’s Sword and Dagger.

  6. Michael Camilleri says:

    I’m wondering what happened to the knight’s armour, spears, shield, ceremonial gun and other items taken from the Armoury in Valletta around September of 1989 and which items made part of a permanent exhibition in the Malta stand at the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington London, after the closing down of the institute in 2002. Were these given back to us or are they in someone’s private collection now?

  7. H.P. Baxxter says:

    How many Maltese have visited the Louvre? How many have visited the Palace Armoury? How many even know what a sword is and does?

    I rest my case.

    No I don’t. I mean our national myth-building is so embarrassing. “Ix-xabla ta’ la Valette”. Just like il-bandiera tal-Konti Ruggieru or il-Malti lsien Puniku.

    Dejjem imjassrin, dejjem imbecilli. Mediterranean mongrel subhumans.

    • Mark Sciberras says:

      With that kind of comment , what does that make you – First World , pure , superhuman ?!

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        I’ve been saying I hate myself for being a genetic disaster for the best part of five years. But perhaps you are a newcomer here.

    • Adolf says:

      Dear H.P. Baxter,

      I do not know if you are a mongrel subhuman and imjassar but I know I am not.

    • TinaB says:

      As usual, you nailed it, H.P. Baxxter.

      You could not have used better words to describe the majority of our countrymen and women.

    • kev says:

      Li kieku kont mitluf go sqaq ftit li xejn kien ikun gara, ghax kont iddur lura u ssib tarf triqtek ma ddumx. Izda mitluf kif int f’dezert bla tama, jaghmel sens li ddur strurdut fi crieki wiesgha, flok iddawwar denbek lejn dak go fik li tant iqazzek.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        Int tqazzizni. U nies bhalek.

      • kev says:

        The best way to deal with frustration, Baxxter, is to blame all your woes on others.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        Learn to distinguish between blame and hatred. I’m not blaming you. But I do hate you. Very much.

      • kev says:

        Ii know, Baxxter. And very much aware of your suffering I use kids gloves with you. I also know who you happen to be, so calm down, prepare a hot brew and sip at it quietly.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        It’s kid gloves, officer, not kids. But you don’t have to use them with me, for I have nothing to lose. Go ahead and do your worst. You’re trained, and I don’t give a fuck.

    • something wicked says:

      Baxxter’s the perfect Dr Phil to Daphne’s Oprah.

    • Brian says:

      @ H.P.Baxxter

      I used to admire your wit Baxxter. However, your latest remark has given me second thoughts. Not that you, dear sir, are going to lose any sleep on this matter.

      “Dejjem imjassrin, dejjem imbecilli. Mediterranean mongrel subhumans.”

      … Straight out of Norman Lowell’s mouth.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        If Norman Lowell says the Earth is flat, should I contradict him? The Maltese really are genetic rejects. I am a living example.

        “Dejjem imjassrin” was a reference to the national historical myth that Malta was always colonised by the hated barrani. “Getting back our sword” is part of that lie.

  8. Dantes says:

    Again, another one. This time it’s about the sword and the dagger.

    So when the time comes some fool like the Privitera type will come round saying: “Eh mela, ix-xabla tawhilna lura il-Francizi bis-sahha tal-gvern laburista.’

    A note to the general public: The French Government and agreed that the dagger will be lent to us for V18 festivities. After V18’s display of this dagger, it shall be returned to the French Government and shall be placed in the Louvre’s museum once again.

  9. Valent says:

    They rushed in thousands to the Palace Armoury and other museums during the last open day at all Heritage Malta sites. Obviously free admittance otherwise it wouldn’t be worth.

    Paying for cultural visit is just a waste of money for many Maltese.

    • rjc says:

      Quite right, of course.

      But we have forgotten the days when all our heritage sites were open every Sunday free for all Maltese. All one had to do was to show one’s ID card at the door.

      We made it a point to take our daughter round to all the sites at an early age.

      Heritage Malta took over and, bang: culture became a business.

      [Daphne – That’s not quite right. You can’t allow Maltese in for free and charge non-Maltese. We’re in the EU now, remember. The sites cost an awful lot to maintain, and quite frankly, the entrance fee isn’t that steep and how many times do you go? If you are prepared to pay to visit a museum overseas, you should be prepared to pay to visit one at home. Think of it in terms of a donation to a good cause.]

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        It’s a question of economies of scale, Malta’s sempiternal problem. Yes, a ticket to the humungous Louvre costs only 12.10 Euros. It costs 10 Euros to visit the Palace Armoury, which occupies two halls.

        In relative terms, Malta’s sites are incredibly expensive. But when you factor in the tiny number of visitors, it makes sense. I do not begrudge Heritage Malta a single cent. Even with their mislabelled items, awful grammar, spelling mistakes and inarticulate guides. It’s not Xarabank, and that’s all that counts.

  10. Dandu says:

    Skuzani se nikteb bil-Malti,kien hemm ligi tal-gwerra li taghti dritt li min jerbah pajjiz ghandu dritt jiehu l-propjeta tieghu (u din baqet tghodd sa snien sebghinijiet) u ghalhekk din ix-xabla hijja propjeta ta’ Franza.

    Kieku nghoqodu nghatu lura l-affarijiet kieku inzarmaw il muzewijiet principali kollha Ewropej.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      Dandu, nixtieq naghmlek Gran Mastru tal-hsieb razzjonali.


      • Brian says:

        @ Dandu & Baxxter

        Mela mhux hekk – bravo, bravu – therefore dear Dandu or should I call you ‘Bravo’ according to Baxxter’s reasoning; The Nazi plunder and rape were all legit during the second world war. Bravi hafna.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        Oh for fuck’s sake, not this again. The Nazis were 70 years ago. Napoleon was two centuries ago.

        Do you really want me to take your stupid argument to its logical conclusion? Malta should pay war damage to Algeria and Tunisia for the bombardment of Algiers and Tunis, and to Turkey for having sunk or captured countless vessels in three centuries of privateering.

      • Brian says:

        @ H.P. Baxxter

        …Contradiction and consistency my dear Baxxter.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        So you want “our” fucking sword “back”? Go ahead and make your case at the International Criminal Court or UNESCO. Better still, write a personal letter to those twin twats Hollande and Muscat. You’d think the Maltese had more important matters to be getting on with.

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