Depiction of the female in a “French literature of Malta" of the eighteenth century
Between 1530 and 1798 Malta was ruled by a chivalric, monastic, hospitaller and military order which became known as the Order of Malta. The archives of the National Library of Malta preserve “an eighteenth century French literature of Malta” dealing with the religious duties of the Knights, the defence of the island against the Ottoman power, corsairing and projects and treatises written with the aim of improving the economic and political situation of the Order — these are subjects wherein women have no place. However, rare references to women are found in letters, diaries or memoirs that throw some light on Maltese society. Travel literature also accords some space to women. An interesting comedy in manuscript form, situated in eighteenth century Malta and written by a French knight, pokes fun at the femme fatale and portrays the Knight of Malta as both prey and victim. The intellectual woman, whether writer or reader, is totally absent.