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Norman Rule

Tradition has it the Maltese national flag is the legacy of the Norman Count Roger. In battle with the Arabs, he apparently tore his red and white chequered flag and gave half to the Maltese men at arms.

Most accounts of Maltese history skip lightly over the Middle Ages. Probably because once again, Malta played a secondary role in the plans of its rulers to its larger neighbour Sicily. But this period saw the rise of a Maltese nobility, who built their palaces in the walled Mdina. The city remained an enclave of the Maltese gentry for the centuries to come. You can see fine examples of Siculo (Sicilian)-Norman architecture in the city today.

For the rest of the population, the Middle Ages were time of poverty. There were frequent raids from the north African and Turkish barbary corsairs. The Maltese and especially the people of Gozo (Gozitans) were taken off for slavery. The Islands passed through the hands of numerous European royalty and nobility: German princes, French aristocrats and more: the fate of the Maltese Islands depended on marriages, treaties and alliances.

The marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile unified Spain in 1479. It was under their grandson, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, that the Islands became part of the Spanish Empire. It was Charles who granted the Islands to the Knights of the Order of St. John