In the same year when the ceremonial dagger of Grand Master de Valette was on display in Malta from the Louvre for the first time since 1798, Heritage Malta is also bringing together a number of items that belonged to the Grand Master.

The aim of the exhibition which opened last week, is to bring together for the first time in over 450 years a number of items belonging to De Valette (1557-68) and allegedly used during the epic siege of 1565. These comprise three pieces of armour, a hat and a fighting sword.

Hailing from the Palace Armoury at Valletta, these three pieces of armour (breastplate, backplate and the falling buffe) are datable to the early/mid-1550s.

They formed part of a full garniture of armour that could have totalled up to 15 pieces and which bears the armorial shield of one of the members of the de Valette family in the higher ranks of the order.

While various members of the de Valette family are known to have professed and served the Order of St John during the time, all available clues on the original ownership of this suit point convincingly towards the heroic Grand Master.

Most likely, this fine armour must have been commissioned by the same de Valette prior to his election to the magistracy and eventually worn by the same Grand Master during the Great Siege.

The hat and fighting sword are treasured at the chapel of Our Lady of Damascus within the Oratory of St Joseph at Vittoriosa.

Although not of a military origin, the fabric wide-brim hat must have offered effective protection to the Grand Master from the scorching sun while observing enemy manoeuvres and directing defensive strategies from Vittoriosa.

Of greater interest is a period sword which is historically held to be the Grand Master’s actual fighting sword used during the Great Siege.

De Valette’s Armour and Fighting Sword Reunited runs at Fort St Angelo, Vittoriosa, until October 15. The exhibition is open from 9am to 6pm, last admission at 5.30pm. Admission to the exhibition is included in the museum’s regular ticket price.

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