THE LEGEND OF GHAJN KLIEB
"Ghajn Klieb" is the centre of an old legend about the Arabs. The Normans had allowed these to remain in Malta, and no one is sure when they left our islands.
About the year 1122, the Arabs refused to pay the tribute and plotted against the Maltese so as to regain possession of Malta, they lived near Bahrija, and there they had plotted that, on a certain day in Holy Week, they would surround the Maltese while these were in their churches, fall on them by surprise, and massacre as many of them as they could. By chance, a shepherd girl overheard them and told everything to her parents.
On the fixed day, many Maltese men hid near a fountain outside Rabat and laid a trap for the Arabs. Ignorant of
What was ready for them, the Arabs came near, but the Maltese left their hiding places and fell on them, shouting, 'Ghallkieb! Ghall klieb!' (At the dogs!). A fierce battle followed, blood was shed, and the locals followed the Muslims to 'Qalet il-Bahrija', where a regiment arrested a large number of the Arabs. After this incident, the Normans King Roger II ordered many Arabs to leave Malta, and punished the leaders of the plot with death
ROGER THE NORMAN
But the sands of Saracen rule were running out. Within fifty years, a nephew of William the Conqueror seized Malta and restored Christianity as the dominant religion in the islands. Roger de Hauteville, or Roger the Norman, as he was called, was one of a family of twelve brothers, sons of an impoverished Norman nobleman. These with other Norman adventurers had carved out kingdoms for themselves in southern Italy, at the expense of the Byzantines who, for six centuries, had ruled in those parts. Young Roger then led a crusading army into Sicily and, having subdued the Saracens, turned his attention to Malta, possession of which was necessary to prevent its being used as a base for the re-capture of the new Christian kingdom of Sicily. News of his intentions reached Malta long before he appeared and, such was his reputation as a fighter, that, when he arrived with a small force, the Hakim surrendered at discretion.
Roger, who believed in living and letting live, left the Hakim in possession, demanding only that he acknowledge himself to be his (Roger's) vassal. He stipulated that Christianity be restored as the dominant religion in the islands and insisted on the manumission of Christian slaves .He re-constituted the diocese and allotted the revenues of Lentini in Sicily for its maintenance. A bishop of Malta had already been appointed - subordinate to the Archbishop of Palermo.
KINGDOM OF SICILY
For the next three and a half centuries, Malta was part of the kingdom of Sicily, owing allegiance to successive Norman, German, Angevin and Spanish sovereigns Of the twenty five rulers who reigned during this time, only three ever set foot in Malta although they all owned extensive estates in the islands, producing cotton, cumin, horses, hawks and swine. Sometimes Malta was ruled by the king's officers, sometimes by a feudal lord with the title of Count or Marquis of Malta.
the earlier feudal lords were merchant princes who used Malta as a shipping base and entrepot. During the Crusades, Malta was an important port of call and recruiting centre for seamen. Later feudal lords were court favourites or royal relations, only interested in the fief as a source of pocket money