Philippe Villiers de l'Isle-Adam: (1521) -1534
Pierino del Ponte: 1534 - 1535
Didier de Sainte-Jalle: (1535 - 1536)
Juan de Homedes: 1536 - 1553
Claude de la Sengle: 1553 - 1557
Jean Parisot de la Vallette: 1557 - 1568
Pietro del Monte: 1568 - (1572)
(years in brackets excluded)
The fortifications of Birgu still attest to that epoch, and besides visiting these, a lot can be learnt about society at the time and in later years leading up to the French occupation by visiting the Inquisitor's Palace.
The French Occupation and the subsequent British colonial period:
During the French occupation, Birgu, like all 'The Three Cities' and Valletta, remained in the hands of the French until they finally capitulated, although there were a number of skirmishes with the occupiers within the urban streets.
Even during peacetime Birgu was not spared the price of hosting the military. A massive explosion in the gunpowder magazine in 1806 caused terrible loss of life and damage which is discernible to this day.
The following image shows the Birgu seafront (onto Dockyard Creek) in about 1910. Note the warship - probably a cruiser in the middle of the creek and along the quay close to Fort St Angelo is a large vessel - possibly the depot ship HMS Egmont (afloat), or else a collier. Fort St Angelo housed the Headquarters of the Royal Navy's Mediterranean Fleet - early in the 20th century the Fort was called HMS Egmont (ashore) for a couple of decades, but later was more appropriately named HMS St Angelo.
The inhabitants were either evacuated from Birgu, and compulsorily rehoused generally to villages in the
southern half of Malta and/or they spent a great
deal of their time in air raid shelters, such as the one portrayed in
the 'Malta at War' museum.
One of the many notable, or rather notorious, blitzes was that associated with the bombing of the aircraft carrier Illustrious, as she was moored alongside Parlatorio wharf in January 1941. The association between HMS Illustrious and the Three Cities of Birgu (Vittoriosa), Isla (Senglea) and Bormla (Cospicua) continues to the present day.
Other air raids destroyed or severely damaged historic buildings, such as the clock tower in the main square, the Churches of the Annunciation and of St Lawrence, and the old armoury (armerija) of the Knights of the Order of St John.
alongside shows part of the wall of the Knights' armoury (which had also later
served as a military hospital) after it was repaired following German air raid
damage sustained at the hands of Luftwaffe bombers in April 1942.
It clearly shows old masonry side by
side with the new.
Fort Saint Angelo played a role mainly as a naval base. However anti-aircraft defences were sited there. Thus, as in the 'Great Siege' of four centuries earlier, the oldest sea fortress in Malta also engaged directly in action against the enemy
The image on the left shows acknowledgements by the War Damage Commission of receipt of notifications of war damage in various streets in Vittoriosa (Birgu).
A great deal of the post-war rebuilding was unfortunately aesthetically unsound. More recently greater care has tended to be invested (with some sad exceptions) in the conservation and development of Birgu.
Birgu is going through a resurgence. The Local Council is very active in promoting it.
A number of public and private regeneration initiatives (though not all of equal aesthetic value) are happening mainly along the waterfront.
Within Birgu itself, it is hoped that the rebuilding of the clock tower in Misrah ir-Rebha (VictorySquare) will become a reality rather than remain an aspiration.
As the reader will have noticed, this page is still very unfinished business - 'under construction'. More text, as well as original images, will follow when time permits.
For a comprehensive account of Birgu's history please refer to books which are reviewed on a separate page.
However for those who prefer an account online which is much longer than that on this page, probably the most detailed historical source can be found on the Birgu Local Council website.
Scholarly articles available online relating to Birgu's history:
Melita Historica is unavailable online at the time of writing.