AFM History

In defence of our homeland

Since the earliest times, successive rulers of Malta relied mainly on the local fighting men for the protection of the Maltese Islands. In an emergency, the Islanders were often rallied for the defence of their homeland. These non-regular forces were in effect organised groups of trained and armed civilians, and came to be known as the Milizia during the rule of the Order of St John, earlier references to the name of this military set up also refer to them as Il-Mahras and Id-Dejma, and records from the 15th century list the names of some Maltese men who served within this organized local defence unit.


Upon taking over Malta as its operating base the Order of St John immediately realised the importance of maintaining this form of defence and further organized the Milizia into a highly effective force also training the Maltese in gunnery and military engineering.  Service in the Milizia was compulsory for all Maltese men between the ages of 16 and 60; those exempted from such a service were clergymen, invalids and those men who had three sons serving as militiamen.  Training was normally conducted on Sundays and feast days, the required weapons for use by the militia were held in a number of village armouries.


The Order had even setup both an urban and rural militia, with elements from the rural militia also organized into specific roles namely a Guardia Costa, tasked with patrolling the coast and a Guardia Torre, those responsible for manning the various towers located along the coastline.


History has proved that the Maltese fighting man definitely did not lack the courage and sported the qualities of a true warrior, especially when well led and properly trained, often fighting shoulder to shoulder with Europe's finest soldiers.



​Maltese Militia-man - 18th Century



​ Timeline of the AFM's Lineage
 
 
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