As part of the events marking Malta’s 2017 EU Presidency, Heritage Malta will organise a much anticipated exhibition on Grand Master Jean de Valette’s dagger gifted to him by King Philip II of Spain in recognition of the Grand Master’s victory of the Great Siege. The poniard will be on loan from the Louvre Museum, Paris, thus returning to Malta for the first time since 1798.
The dagger was gifted to Grand Master de Valette together with a sword. Both eventually gathered a mysterious aura around them, having also great historical importance to both the Order of St John and the Maltese. In fact the dagger and the sword, kept at the Grand Master’s Palace, were shown to the public once a year in a procession held on 8 September, marking the day when the Great Siege (1565) was lifted.
This tradition was held till 1797, since a year later the Maltese islands had been taken over by the French General Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon was very fond of military leaders, including de Valette. His ambition was to furnish a museum with possessions from conquered states. But while the sword was sent to the museum in France along with other artefacts, Napoleon decided to keep the dagger to himself. In fact after Bonaparte’s death the dagger was put on exhibit together with the sword at the Louvre.
The exhibition de Valette’s Dagger will be held at the National Museum of Archaeology from Saturday 18th March till Sunday 9th July, 2017. de Valette’s dagger, which will be the main focus of the exhibition, will be accompanied by a selected number of other related exhibits from the national collection.
Opening hours: 09.00 – 18.00hrs (last admission at 17.30hrs).