Francisco Balbi di Correggio

453 years ago...

At dawn, our watch at St Angelo, and also at Fort St Elmo discovered the Ottoman fleet thirty miles distant towards the south-east. As soon as the fleet was seen the prearranged signal was given for the peasantry to take shelter within the fortified places, and two guns were fired to warn the Old City (Mdina) and the island of Gozo.

At this signal the people of the island hastened to the Birgu, bringing with them their children, their cattle, and their goods. The Grand Master did not want all these refugees to enter the Birgu so he sent Commander Gabriel Gort to the Gate of Aragon to divert a portion into St Michael.

When the fleet had got nearer it was seen to be making for Marsaxlokk, which is a larger harbour five miles distant from the Birgu and safe in all winds except the Scirocco. In order to oppose a landing, the Grand Master sent the Marshal from the Birgu with more than one hundred knights, the company of Captain Medrano, and that of Colonel Mas with a section of the company of Captain La Motte. The cavalry also went out in good order under Captain Juan de Guaras. The whole force consisted of one thousand fighting men.

When the fleet was sufficiently near to the land to be able to see our men, seeing that they could not disembark without fighting and as the wind was fresh they took a southerly course along the coast…

When it was dark our force marched five miles to the City (Mdina) for rest and refreshment, after having posted guards at suitable places.

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