RUSSIA AND THE MALTESE ISSUE, 1800-1804
In the troubled atmosphere of the early 19th century, which was characterised as the period of Napoleonic wars, Malta became a region, where interests of European powers clashed. It posed as a gate to the Mediterranean Sea and consequently a chance to gain control over Egypt. Great Britain made her claim to Egypt and France desired to re-capture it. The situation became more complicated when, at the end of 1798, the Russian tsar Pavel I. got himself proclaimed grand-master of the Knights of Malta. At that time, the island grew into an intersection of the three greatest European powers' interests. Through analysing contemporary materials, the essay follows diplomatic negotiations between the mentioned countries and indicates to what extent the Maltese issue shaped relations between the powers in 1800-1804. The situation started to escalate and headed for a new war at an uncontrollable pace. In addition, Napoleon deliberately exaggerated the disputability of the Maltese issue and fuelled the disputes in order to bring the tsar to his side and subsequently use Malta as a pretext for unleashing another conflict against Great Britain. In spite of these efforts, Russia deepened its orientation to Great Britain. Bonaparte's unwillingness to compromise some of his European territorial ambitions contributed to this progress. Whether the efforts on all sides were real or just pretended, the indeterminate situation finally made the tsar enter a counter-French coalition in 1804 and, after a brief detente, a new war broke out again.
Kristina Jaskova, Filozoficka fakulta Masarykovy univerzity, Arna Novaka 1, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic
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