A lecture by Prof Victor Mallia Milanes.
The wide corsairing activity that marked the early modern Mediterranean, especially after the 'invasion' of the northern competitors of the Republic of Venice, was one major obstacle to the otherwise smooth running of legitimate trade. There was another scourge, a more lethal force that militated against the peaceful and regular movement of merchants and merchandise between one port-city and another in the Mediterranean, a phenomenon that relentlessly interrupted lines of communication. This was the fear of an outbreak and spread of plague and other endemic diseases, not infrequent visitors to the Mediterranean. The plague ravaged towns and villages, threatened and indeed disrupted the ordinary everyday rhythm of normal life, and decimated populations. The grandmasters were fully aware that if plague spread out in Malta uncontrolled, the island would have become in no time one massive graveyard. The Republic of Venice was not always in complete agreement with the Order's measures and traditional practices to prevent it.