Malta, 1775: The Twilight of the Knights
Floriana, where the nationalists have established their meeting place. Initially, the action seems to be successful: Sant’Elmo and San Giacomo are taken with minimal bloodshed and Bartolomeo, who observes the evolution of events together with Tereza from Floriana’s bell tower, is confident of the success of the rioters. At the same time, however, just when his relationship with Tereza has reached the point of maximum consonance, he decides to follow his chivalrous ethic and not his feelings and distances himself from the woman.
After some time, when the delegation of the rioters arrives at the Magistral Palace, the situation changes radically: the Grand Master refuses to meet the insurgents, and only Grand Marshal Rohan-Polduc listens to their conditions and refuses them, arresting the delegates. At this point, unfortunately, the leader of the ones barricaded in Forte San Giacomo, a merchant named Domenico Bonnici, observing the scene from the stands, decides to force the hand of the government and, with an impromptu initiative, gives order to point the cannons of the fort towards the Magistral Palace.
Bartolomeo, horrified by this unexpected turn of the situation, decides to intervene: he sends Tereza to Mdina to ask for the intervention of Monsignor Pellerano and, in the meantime, he rides to Sanglea, in whose port his ship, now placed under the command of his second, the Genoese knight fra’ Oberto Spinola, is anchored.
While Tereza, thanks to the intervention of baroness Attardo, is received by the Bishop who, informed of the situation, rushes to Valletta, Bartolomeo manages to convince Oberto, after some initial uncertainties, to carry out his commands: he has the “Levriero” moved in front of the walls of San Giacomo and orders to shell the fort. This action has the effect of disconcerting the besieged and creating a stalemate that allows Monsignor Pellerano to carry out a work of mediation between Rohan-Polduc, who has in fact already replaced Ximenez in the leadership of the Order and don Mannarino, at the head of the besieged of Forte Sant’Elmo. What the Bishop obtains is that the rioters are amnestied if they leave their posts: don Mannarino, in Sant’Elmo, accepts these conditions while Bonnici and the other besieged of San Giacomo initially refuse them, causing a short battle, and then end up, with the mediation of don Mannarino, to accept them. However, when the rioters of Forte San Giacomo surrender, contrary to what had happened in Sant’Elmo and despite the promises of the Grand Marshal, they are all arrested, and Don Mannarino is taken with them. Meanwhile, Bartolomeo, on the “Levriero”, seeing the end of the siege and realizing that after having attacked San Giacomo, he could no longer count on the complicity of the Maltese nationalists to hide on the island, decides to hand himself over to fra’ Oberto, who, although reluctantly, must entrust him to the port authorities of Sanglea.
Taken to the Magistral Palace, the Italian is immediately intercepted by his friend Henry, stationed at the headquarters of the knightly government. The Englishman, pretending to lead the prisoner to the Grand Master, proposes an escape plan to Bartolomeo and, when he accepts, leads him to a passage that takes directly to the stables from the corridor of the apartments of His Serene Highness. Having reached that narrow, half-hidden ladder, however, Henry points a gun at Bartolomeo and, at his request for explanations, outlines the real picture of the events that occurred in the previous years. De Compigny was, in reality, a