16 November 2013

Malta’s Magna Carta gives us the right to rebel

Malta Independent 12/11/2013: Malta’s own Magna Carta is on display in the National Library in Valletta (Bibliotheca) but attracts hardly any visitors.

Many schoolchildren learnt all about England’s Magna Carta, given by King John to the nobles, but few know that even Malta has its Magna Carta, or the circumstances in which it was given.

It is on display in the National Library, together with other historical documents, as part of an exhibition in connection with the Second Colloquium on Maltese-Spanish history, organised by the Spanish Embassy, the National Library, the Malta Historical Society and the University of Malta.

Last Friday, at the National Library, former Speaker Michael Frendo gave a lecture on the Maltese Magna Carta and the circumstances of its creation.

Its actual title is Magna Carta Libertatis and it was given to Malta by King Alfonso V of Aragon on 20 June 1428, thus making it roughly 200 years younger than the English one.

In 1421, the King of Aragon gave Malta as a fiefdom to Don Antonio de Cardona, his Viceroy in Sicily, for 30,000 Aragonese gold florins but de Cardona soon sub-let it to Don Gonsalvo de Monroy. The fiefdom always came with a right to redemption and the king needed...read on.