Gozo (independent state)
|The Gozitan Nation|
|La Nazione Gozitana (Italian)
In-Nazzjon Għawdxi (Maltese)
|De facto independent state|
Location of Gozo within the Maltese Islands
|-||1798–1801||Francesco Saverio Cassar|
|Historical era||French Revolutionary Wars|
|-||Revolt||3 September 1798|
|-||Established||28 October 1798|
|-||British protectorate established||4 September 1800|
|-||Disestablished||20 August 1801|
|-||1798||67 km² (26 sq mi)|
|Density||238.8 /km² (618.5 /sq mi)|
|Today part of||Malta|
The island of Gozo, which is part of Malta, was independent for nearly three years between 1798 and 1801 during the French Revolutionary Wars. This brief period is sometimes known as La Nazione Gozitana (the Gozitan Nation).
Until 10 June 1798, Malta and Gozo had been administered by the Order of Saint John. When Napoleon ousted the Knights from the islands in the Mediterranean campaign of 1798, the French established garrisons in various locations in Malta, as well as the Cittadella, the main fortification on Gozo.
On 2 September 1798, the Maltese rebelled against the French in Mdina. Word spread and the Gozitans revolted on 3 September. The archpriest and parish priest of the town of Rabat, Francesco Saverio Cassar, was chosen as the revolt's leader on 18 September. The rebel headquarters was established in the Banca Giuratale (which is now the seat of the Victoria Local Council). Cassar organized the dejma and collected money to pay the troops under his command. Pro-French partisans were arrested, including three canons.
The French garrison held out in the Cittadella, until they capitulated on 28 October after negotiations which were made with the help of Sir Alexander Ball. The 217 French soldiers there agreed to surrender without a fight and transferred the island, its fortifications, 24 cannons, a large quantity of ammunition, and 3,200 sacks of flour to the British.
A day later, the British transferred control of the Cittadella and the rest of the island to the Gozitans. The people declared Ferdinand II of Sicily as their monarch, and set up a provisional government led by Francesco Saverio Cassar who became governor-general. The provisional government included several British and Maltese representatives, and their first action was to distribute the captured food supplies to the island's 16,000 inhabitants. On 29 October, Cassar requested that Gozo becomes a separate diocese. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Gozo was eventually created on 22 September 1864, 65 years after Cassar's petition. During Cassar's rule of Gozo, he organized the administration, reopened the law courts and elected new jurists, and opened a customs house.
When the French garrison in Valletta surrendered in September 1800, Malta became a British Protectorate. Cassar continued to rule Gozo independently until 20 August 1801, when the British Civil Commissioner, Charles Cameron, removed him from the position. Emmanuel Vitale, another leader of the Maltese insurrection, became Governor, Superintendent and the Health Director of Gozo, a post which he held until his death fourteen months later.
Cassar died on 16 December 1805 at the age of 58.
- Vella, George (5 July 2005). "Outline History of the Circolo Gozitano". Circolo Gozitano. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- James, William. The Naval History of Great Britain, Volume 2, 1797–1799. Conway Maritime Press, 2002 , p 189. ISBN 0851779069
- Cahoon, Ben. "Malta". World Statesmen. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- Sciberras, Sandro. "Maltese History - F. The French Occupation" (PDF). St Benedict College. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- "Historical Note". Gozo Diocese. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- Schiavone, Michael J. (2009). Dictionary of Maltese Biographies A-F. Malta: Publikazzjonijiet Indipendenza. pp. 533–534. ISBN 9789993291329.