Category Archives: Siege of Gozo

THE SIEGE OF GOZO: Scenes 1-6

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Gozitans

Galaziano De Sesse – Governor of Gozo
Nicolli Casteletti – Bishop of Gozo
Don Lorenzo Apap – Parish Priest
Bartolomeo Bonavia – Augustine Friar
Paulo di Nas – Juror
Fredericus Mongebino
Ioanna Brunetto
Andreotto Brancato
Franciscus Frantino
Leonardus Bongibino
Angela Salibe
Barnardo D’Opua
Betta D’Opua
Sonia & Peruna D’Opua – Daughters

Peter Towneley – An English Knight

The Ottomans

Sultan Suleiman
The Grand Vizier
Sinan Pasha
Dragut
Salah Rais

The Knights of St John

Grandmaster D’Homedes
Francesco Lanfreducci
Jean Parisot de Valette
Claude de la Sengle



Scene 1: Qala

Fredericus approaches the window of his betrothed

Fredericus
Darling, dear darling, step outside
Your husband to be is there
To sing of your youthful beauty
Your qualities good & fair

I’d be a bird, fly to your bed
Watching curls & tresses comb
& with my wings would snuff the light
Give you kisses then fly home

Ioanna steps onto the balcony

Ioanna
Fredericus Mongebino!
Why come to my door tonight?

Fredericus
When moon is at its fullest beam
Beauty brightest in its light

Your face is like the fairest rose
Your fragrancies compel me
Were you stood in a flowerpot
Each morning I would smell thee

Ioanna
Tell me am I the only one
Or do you have maidens more
For I saw, passing through the street,
A woman stood at your door.

Fredericus
Be easy, my love, be easy,
People’s eyes see things untrue;
For noble Fredericus swears
She was selling rabbit stew

Tis you who fix an anchor fast
Inside my heart’s quick beating
Go get a knife, open it up
& see my love repeating

You are the only one for me
To fondle with embraces
Turn kisses into passageways
Plant flowers in love’s places

Ioanna
You are so lovely my true love
Who I long to marry so
But you must take me to the feasts
About the isle of Gozo

& we shall fill the carnivals
With dances, songs & laughter
When love shall bless our union
For now & everafter

Fredericus & Ioanna
For now & everafter, love,
Daily let our vows renew
Made sacred with our wedded kiss
I shall end my days with you


Scene 2: Topkapı Palace, Istanbul

Sultan Suleiman is holding court

Grand Vizier
Welcome, Pasha, to the sacred court
Of our majestic ruler, Suleiman
Whom loyal made Belgrade to the Sultan
Whom over Safavid successful fought
Who broke the Muhac hordes of Hungary
Who over swathes of Africa now reigns
Being our noblest lawgiver, ingrains
Our lives with perfect judgement, he shall see
Whatever you shall show him, & shall hear
Whate’er you wish to say, please speak it clear.

Sinan Pasha
Your majesty ! the Ottoman astounds
The world, as is the blessing of Allah,
But sire, whyso our European bounds
Stagnating in the swamps of Vienna
We must ascend a secondary front
Against the Holy League of Christendom
The Hospitalers pull a putrid stunt
Poisoning lips as we were kissing them
With spake words faking peace on leaving Rhodes
So much for Christus worship & its codes

Suleiman
Well spoken, Pasha, thy counsel’s reason
Enough to tilt the balance of my thoughts
Woe to the infernal Knights of Saint John
Who Malta turn’d a perfidious hive
Of galley hornets sallying with stings
Against the ships of golden Africa
Yes, it is settl’d, they must feel the force
Of Sultan Suleiman – Sinan Pasha
An expedition take in thy command
Drive vermin, drowning, from those lonely rocks

Sinan Pasha
You honour me, your majesty, & I
Accept with all the veins which flood my heart
With blood I hold for Allah, & for thee,
But Sultan, grant me one small wish, I plead,
Two Buccaneering warriors I’ll need;
Give me Dragut, the Drawn Sword of Islam,
An admiral at sea, a prince on land,
Give me Salah who fought Formentera
Whom all the ships of Spain could not withstand
Give me those men & triumph, sire, we must

Suleiman
Yes, of course, I shall summon both these men
To puff up your war party, but Pasha,
Remember well to please me when you weigh
Eventualities to decisions
When battle’s won I do not wish to hear
The names of those Grandmasters anymore
Nor bloody reports of losses at sea
Let palmleaf spikes from bare feet be removed
Let foolish flies be wash’d from blinking eyes –
To Arms ! To War! To Sea! To Victory !


Scene 3: Qala

After the wedding of Fredericus & Ioanna, the party emerge from the Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception, under a Baldakkin, preceeded by an Id-Dudi band. Their singer is a daqqaq call’d Franciscus Frantino.

Franciscus
The bride & groom are married now
Wide opens the chapel door
Fine food & wine awaits us all
At the Feast of Evermore

Because she loves him he loves her
Then she his love returneth
All Gozo gossips of their love
Eternally that burneth

Her mother made her marry young
& is weeping over there
Since she was born she’d always known
She would spend her life elsewhere

But what a man she’s marrying
As clear as I play guitar
The young girls of this neighbourhood
Sing of how lucky you are

As the wedding party carry on to the square – Franciscus breaks ranks to court Angela Salibe

Angela
My beloved has a guitar
It bears his name & surname
They told me that he was a rake
But behaves he without blame

Franciscus
Your lovely tresses, Angela,
Toss’d streaming over shoulders
Wheree’er you travel in this world
I’ll follow them like soldiers

Angela
My beloved is a bandsman
What a fine figure has he
Whene’er he plays he smiles my way
He’s a bad habit, simply

Franciscus
My heart has entered in your heart
Like a bean into its shell
No new or old sweethearts I’ll seek
For you, darling, I’ll foretell

Angela
My sweetheart sings & plays guitar
How I love to watch his hands
& kiss those lips that ghana sing
When the look of love commands

Franciscus
You beauty travel’d far & wide
I could not believe it true
Then I came to Qala & saw
Now I’m mad in love with you

Angela
And I would fall into your arms
But you hold your instrument
Pray put it down & use those lips
Like a lover’s mouth is meant

Franciscus & Angela embrace


Scene 4: Qala, the central piazza

The wedding party arrive in the main square – a pole has been erected about which the Kumitiva is danced – at the end of the dance Franciscus & Angela burst into the festivities

Franciscus
Stop ! stop your dancing, come & see
A hundred warships flying
The Crescent banner, man your posts
Our coast needs fortifying


Scene 5 : Fort Saint Angelo, Birgu

Grandmaster D’Homedes is in discussion with Francesco Lanfreducci & Jean Parisot de Valette

Lanfreducci
Let us praise the Lord for this salvation
Grave dangers pass, Grandmaster D’Homedes
At least for us in bastion Birgu
Tho’ Turks ten thousand mass’d under bulwarks
Not a singular infidel dared test
The defences of Fort Saint Angelo
But now it seems they march on Mdina
Leaving a guarded fleet at Marsamxett
Such evil time has drawn an ugly veil
Of fear & dark aboding, devil-forged.

Grandmaster D’Homedes
More anguish must ensue, I sense, & soon
The dreadful happenstances of these days
Have always blown a promise to endure
Hindsight is only useful to the seers
We holy Knights were vastly unprepared
To blunt the Crescent scimitar fierce drawn
Against the Holy League of Christendom
With Salan Pasha, Salah & Dragut
Flung like a Cerebus from Inferno
De Valette, you have met the latter, yes?

De Valette
Dragut is the spawn of Barbarosa
In temprament, tenacity & guile
Who deady vendetta has sworn on us
For slaying his brother upon Gozo
cSome sev’ral years ago, he never shirks
From promises like these, full well I know
For I was kept a slave on his galley
When Rahman Kust Aly defeated me
In battle on the seas, a peaceless year
Until the Order barter’d my release

Enter Claude de la Sengle

Claude de la Sengle
Grandmaster, there is word from Mdina
Commander Villeganion muster’d
All able-bodied peasants from the farms
& in their souls assembl’d Christ invoked
To stage a stout defence of rampart walls
With them forty knights & arquebusers
Meanwhile the heathen pillage villages
Burning & raping, devouring all –
The shadow of the Crescent falls on Malta
& Gozo too, their galleys scout its shores.

Grandmaster D’Homodes
We can give to Gozo nothing, alas,
But they possess a fine citadella
That well-equipp’d a long siege should defy
Until the hours help comes from Sicily
But we shold not stand idle, as befits
The warriors of Christ, let us sally
Against their galleys in a night attack
Come brothers all, come & ardently pray
For heavenly success in endeavors
& for Mdina – ‘Ave Marias.’

The Knights pray in Latin


Scene 6 : Marsamxett Harbour

A Parata is performed. The two sides are comprised of Turkish sailors & the Knights of St John. At the end of the battle several galley slaves escape including Andreotto Brancato.

(SOG): Scenes 7-12

Nicolli Casteletti
Being aware of the news from Malta
The sensation of our security
Replaced has been by one of urgent fear
But as Arch-Priest thy calmness I beseech
For as the hungry wolves seize straggle-lambs
A flock is always stronger together
In times of thorns & danger strength is all
When fortified by Jesus in Heaven
Better, standing firm, one corporeal
Member, bonded by singular spirit.

(SOG): Scenes 13-18

SCENE 13: The Turkish Camp

Sinan Pasha, Dragut & Salah Rais are watching Bartolomeo Bonavia being lowered in a basket form the Citadella.

Salah Rais
Who could fathom this comical moment
As in a basket conical descends
A man who represents their able minds
But seems as frighten’d a little mouse
Under the harvest blade, but we shall hear
His offers of surrender, as is due
Defenders of a siege in these rich days –
We are not savages, but men of God
That is of course our God, for theirs is false
Despite his cross, his crucifix, his hymns

Dragut
I recognize that man, his face has sear’d
Fierce imprints on my mind, he stood among
Those who saw me plead my brother’s body
Beslain by Giovanni Ximones
& gunfire underneath those tragic stones
After his body appropriated
I begg’d it back, but they laugh’d in my face
Stake-burnt upon the bastion behind
But I swore on the day I left Gozo
Such dastard derring shall their downfall bring

Enter Bartolomeo Bonavia

Bartolomeo Bonavia
Commanders of the Ottoman Enpire
I, Bartolomeo Bonavia
Of the Augustine Order on Gozo
Emissarize on our Noble’s behalf
Educated men, well-bred for wisdom,
& masters in the world of wealth acrued
Who state it might be better if they stay’d
Two hundred of them, organise ransoms
For all the others Gozitans enslaved

Sinan Pasha
You ask a lot considering your plight
The breach I’d say a day or two away
& not a whimper of help from your Knights
But there is something in the offer made
Alas, two hundred? too many… forty
Could serve the transactions so suggested
If this is found acceptable, the gates
Shall opened be with only one delay
That is the emptying of treasure vaults
Of gold & grain, of silver & of salt

Bartolomeo Bonavia
Your graciousness our consolation, sir
& on your kindness we can but concur
& of your temper none could criticise
Await the white flag rising on the skies
This is the signal that the citadel
Has opened its great gates, & has yielded
Before the forces of your awesome fleet
& forty nobles shall be there to meet
Yourselves on your victorious entrance
With all their treasures piled in riches there


Scene 14: The Citadella

Fredericus & Ioanna are alone on the battlements

Fredericus
O ! what a beautiful moonrise
For loved ones in the evening
My heart so glad I married thee
& to my wear my husband’s ring

Your eyes are luke ruby jewels
In silvery caskets lain
As sweet as raisins taste your lips
& your tongue like sugar cane

Ioanna
O ! what a beautiful evening
Calm ocean’s hugging the shore
Please never part from me either
For I love you even more

Fredericus
Your face is like a rose in bloom
Your lips like a juicy peach
Each night I sleep thinking of you
When I wake, for you I reach

Fredericus & Ioanna
Like twinking stars & winking moon
Paint the canvas of the night
O ! what a beautiful evening
When spirits as one unite

Enter Bongibino

Leonardus Bongibino
Ioanna, Fredericus, listen, please,
Our elders flap about like flightless birds
& some of us, about three hundred strong,
Unwilling to capitulate our lives,
Shall risk the ropes, the Citadel this side
Sees not one Turkish tent, Fredericus, help,
Secure the ropes, in fifteen forty-eight
I left the Hell on Earth that is a slave
Under the Ottomans – never again!

Enter Andreotto

Andreotto
Ioanna, Fredericus, my old friends
Let us go together into the night
& find a place to hide as we did once
When we were children, in the rubble walls
Scampering paths thro’ crevices & shrubs
There’ll be bushes to hide in, there’ll be shacks
Ten thousand Turks could never search them all
The most important moment of our lives
Has come; to stay is folly, to go life

Fredericus
But what is life, & moreso what’s the source
But family, closest of them the pair
Of lovemates your parental spirit join’d,
The day our human destinies met God,
& so I must remain beside the hearth
While they yet live there – they protected me
When I was but a stripling yelp of bones
& so I shall protect them both in turn
Such is the way of life, those who bore us
We shall bare back when infirm or afear’d

Ioanna
If Fredericus stays, than so stay I
A wife’s place is beside her husband fix’d
Cemented by the marital conjoin
For where such love is strong, no storm, no strain,
No spite nor spike could ever seperate
My love for Fredericus shines the same
& I intend to stay here come what may
To put myself first is most ignoble
For I am a true Gozitan woman
But wish you well, goodbye, old friend, farewell

Andreotto
Old friend ! Old friend ! we were much more than that
As well you know, the love we shar’d did seem
Imperil’d only by Apocalypse
But as I was born Gozitan also
We must respect all wishes lady-wrought
Tho’ fill’d with calamaties & sorrow
As if Death had come to haul me away –
Beloved, I am about to leave you
May God preserve you, but grant me one wish
Let me look upon your face… it… is… so…

Exit Barnardo via the rope over the battlement

Ioanna & Fredericus
Like twinking stars & winking moon
Paint the canvas of the night
O ! what a beautiful evening
Two spirits as one unite


Scene 15: The Citadella

De Sesse & Nicoletti are waiting with the nobles of Gozo / the gates to the citadella are opend / enter Sinan Pasha. Dragut & Salah Rais with guards

Galaziano
Sinan Pasha, Salah Rais, Dragut
On the day of this solemn surrender
Our ancient fortress to your forces falls
With all these heap’d up jewelries & chests
Fill’d with silver scudi & talents
& platters etch’d with Viking runerie,
I am Galaziano de Sesse
The Governor, with forty hope to go
With honour for to quantify our lands
& raise whatever ransoms you require

Sinan Pasha
I never stipulated who shall stay
Not you, or these, no, he’s not even grey
I meant forty elders most decrepit
Old men doddering who can barely perch
Up in bed, it is these who shall remain
The dribbling dregs of your island race
Their mourning time shall nature fizzle short
When all Gozitans shall be forgotten
Else for the shadow-walkers on the hills
Who’ll wail your names in hours of savage storms

Castelletti
What is this? We are Gozo’s noblest lords
Men of most ancient names & families
& each one of us at one time has been rank’d
Hakem & Juror, why let this happen?
This wealth you see a fraction we could get
If we were free… if worship Mahomet
& Holy Allah, thro’ our conversion
Is what you want, I will do it gladly
What are you doing, unhand me at once!!
Tis folly to enact so foul a deed

Salah Rais
Folly! it was but folly to resist
Chain him, & everyone, down to the ships
Make them carry all these treasures with them
Annhialate this island of its host
If it burns set alight, smash the churches
Trash the palaces, rage like a torrent
Devastates woodland thro’ wild floodwaters
Deplete the people of all possessions
Set every annal’d document ablaze
Of those destin’d to lie in nameless graves

Sinan Pasha
Brother Bonavia, as custom deigns
To those brave enough to negotiate
With armies victorious, your fair fate
Is to remain at perfect liberty
To remember in the name of Allah,
To the prophet Muhammad propitious,
Your conquerors remain’d magnaminous –
Now hoist the Crescent from teh highest point
So any ship that sails about these shores
Can celebrate our victory with song!


Scene 16: The House of Barnardo D’Opua

Enter Barnardo, wounded. His wife, Betta, & their two teenage daughters are in fear.

Betta
Darling, darling, you bleed, your wounds
Let me dress them, Peruna
A pan of water boil at once
Sonia prepare the dressing

Barnardo
There is no time, the Turks are here
& mean to turn enslaver
& you, my girls, I must protect
From deed that must not waiver

I will not see my darling ones
Before me violated
By such impious infidels
The heathen ever-hated

Your face a fate for worse than death
Of rapes in lightless prison
Far better now to end your lives
Slain by a painless poison

Come here my wife, my daughters too
Come bite a sprig of hemlock
You’ll meet again at Heaven’s gates
Where the holy angels flock

& I will join you soon enough
But while blood thro’ me will flow
I’ll kill an Ottoman or two
For Christendom & Gozo

Barnardo gives his family a sprig of hemlock each – which they take in solemn silence

Barnardo
Goodbye my darling princesses
Goodbye my beautiful wife
Farewell to happinessess sweet
Which enrich a married life

As his family lies dying Barnardo loads an iron crossbow and an arquebus / the Turks arrive at the door – Barnardo fires his weapons, slaying two – more enemy rush in & in the fighting Barnardo is killed


Scene 17: The Garigue of Gozo

The Gozitans are in chains, carrying treasures to the shore

Fredericus
Over garigue I go, Gozo
I love you so, with a wrench
Of breaking heart I must depart
By the tall cliffs of Ta Cenc

Farewell ye perfume-heavy trees
Goodbye Sicilian shrew
To all you rock roses abloom
Saddest farewells bidden too

Farewell to ruby tiger moths
To swallowtails & lizards
No more shall Gozo’s sorceries
Enchant us like wild wizards

To my olive-leaf germander,
My orchids, my narcissi
My spiderfly, my Maltese spurge
You are gorgeous, all, goodbye

& I shall miss you St John’s Bread
Asparagus, Bear’s Breeches
I’ll miss the Ceifa on these cliffs
The Petrels by the beaches

Goodbye, farewell, my darling Isle
Goodbye dear, darling Gozo
When shall I see your face again
Only God above does know


Scene 18: Mgarr Ix-Xini

Rowing boats are ferrying the Gozitans to the Turkish galleys at the ras in-Newwiela promontory.

Sinan Pasha
Children of Gozo, you are faceless now
This is the place of your handing over
In this increasing pile leave your riches
It is time to forget about your lives
Your families, your animals, your fields
This inlet puncture’d by Titan’s dagger
The place you’ll ever leave your past behind
You are to spend indefinite futures
In service to our Sultan, Sulamein,
Seraglios & galley-slaves you’ll go

Dragut
There is a satisfaction in this scene
My brother was a good man to his core
Who died in heat of battle with honour
But did this cursed people recognize
The cool integrities of martial death
The ancient rights of noble burials
Awarded to a warrior in arms?
No ! this they did not do,& for that day
All here shall suffer the retribution
I swore that day upon the Rock Of Vows

Salah Rais
Consider this the gateway to empire
& we torchbearers of resplendent beams
Think not this is your catastrophic fall
But more your soul salvation, you might see
Tripoli, Callipolis, Sofia,
Algiers, Odessa, Damietta,
Atranto, Sarajevo, Trebizond,
Pristina, Damascus, Ioaninna,
Jerusalem & Azov, & of course
For the luckiest, holiest Mecca

Franciscus Frantino
Goodbye my lovely island, til the day
I’ll sit again high over Ramla Bay
& on my jangling tanbur there compose
A tender ghana slender as a rose
Before it blooms, then to fair Angela
I’ll tie our sighing heartbeats together
By letting petals open on the notes
I’ll sing upon the pleasant breeze that floats
In from the seas, & hear her song reply
Of love bonded forever, she & I

Sinan Pasha
& so the Siege of Gozo is ending
We to our lands & families return
But unfinish’d business is portending
Still in our Sultan vengeant spirits burn
Tho’ Gozo has been render’d desolate
Depopulated, made a burning waste,
For to honour the brother of Dragut,
The isle of Malta’s as yet undefaced
Unwither’d yon that slither of water
When back we come it shall sink in slaughter…