Hero. Patriot. Dun.
Not the typical 3-in-1 combo anyone would ever imagine stumbling upon in Malta, right?
Including Dun Mikiel in the Heroes of Malta series is not a mistake, nor is it a drunk typo – back in the day, Dun Mikiel Xerri had as much valour as half of Malta’s current population put together and multiplied by a 100.
Well, enough introductions, let’s start at the beginning.
Dun Mikiel Xerri was born in Zebbug way back in 1737, and in case you’re wondering, he was a Libra. Xerri was also a scholar, he studied at several universities across Europe and eventually became a lecturer at the University of Malta. But we’re not here for the boring bits, are we?
Dun Mikiel Xerri, hereunder referred to as ‘The Dun’, was involved in an unsuccessful coup against Napoleon Bonaparte at the time of the French Occupation (which I will definitely write about later on when I feel like it).
Unsuccessful? “Mela għala qed naħli l-ħin naqra fuq dan, man?” some of you may be asking themselves right now. Well, simple – The Dun made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, for Malta, and the country’s future.
Nsomma, basically even though the Maltese accepted their new French overlords – who took over from the Knights of St. John – they kind of started getting seriously vexed over the French’s attitude towards the country. The French pretty much removed local nobility rights and took a pretty “harsh” stand against the Church – by pillaging every chapel and church they laid eyes on. They also drained some serious cash from the islands’ savings, and as the famous saying goes, ‘Il Malti joghqod ghal kollox, basta ma tmisslux il-but’, and the rest is history.
On the 2nd of September, the local hoi polloi, and a handful of really fancy nobles rose against the French garrison in Mdina. Soon, all of Malta was in a full-blown state of rebellion and a National Assembly was formed – a bunch of petitions were signed and a blockade – led by The Dun himself – was put in motion. This all happened when The Dun was 61 years old. So go tell that to your dad next time he complains about some trivial garbage.
The Dun and his friends schemed an attack against the French in both Valletta and Cottonera, worthy of Lord Varys, Master of Whisperers. However, the French soon unbosomed the plot and captured 49 people over this act of treason – The Dun included. The 49 companions were imprisoned in Fort St. Elmo, and on the morning of 17th January 1799, they were marched off to the Palace Square in Valletta, where a platoon of extremely cheesed-off French soldiers was waiting for them.
As the huffing and puffing French soldiers were preparing to shoot the prisoners, The Dun shouted at the top of his lungs “Alla jkollu ħasra minna! Viva Malta”. In true French fashion, and with a hint of the exagéré (and after shooting every single rebel) the soldiers decided that it would be best to drag The Dun and his companions off to St. Roque’s’ Church in St. Ursula Street, where they were further shot a couple more times, just to prove a point.
To this day, The Dun is considered one of Malta’s most influential patriots due to the ultimate sacrifice he carried out for this country’s freedom.