Corridor with stairs where the incident took place
|Date||11 February 1823|
|Location||Valletta, British Malta|
The Carnival tragedy of 1823, also known as the Valletta stampede in 1823, was a human crush which occurred on 11 February 1823 at the Convent of the Minori Osservanti in Valletta, Crown Colony of Malta. About 110 boys who had gone to the convent to receive bread on the last day of carnival celebrations were killed after falling down a flight of steps while trying to get out of the convent.
The Franciscan Church of St Mary of Jesus is a church in Valletta, Malta, which is dedicated to St Mary of Jesus and is cared for by the religious order of Friars Minor. It came to be popularly known by the Maltese as Ta' Ġieżu. Ta' Ġieżu is a local corruption of Ta' Ġesù.
Valletta is the capital city of Malta. Located in the south east of the island, between Marsamxett Harbour to the west and the Grand Harbour to the east, its population in 2014 was 6,444, while the metropolitan area around it has a population of 393,938. Valletta is the southernmost capital of Europe, and at just 0.3 square miles, it is the European Union's smallest capital city.
The Crown Colony of the Island of Malta and its Dependencies was the British colony in the Maltese islands, today the modern Republic of Malta. It was established when the Malta Protectorate was transformed into a British Crown colony in 1813, and this was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris in 1814.
At the time of the tragedy, Malta was under British rule and experiencing a famine,and it had become a tradition to gather 8- to 15-year-old boys from the lower classes of Valletta and the Three Cities to participate in a procession during the last few days of carnival. After the procession, they would attend Mass, and they would be given some bread afterwards. This activity was arranged by ecclesiastical directors who taught catechism, and its main aim was to keep children out of the riots and confusion of carnival.
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, inflation, crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. In the 19th and 20th century, it was generally Southeast and South Asia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe that suffered the most deaths from famine. The numbers dying from famine began to fall sharply from the 2000s.
The Three Cities is a collective description of the three fortified cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua in Malta. The oldest of the Three Cities is Birgu, which has existed since the Middle Ages. The other two cities, Senglea and Cospicua, were both founded by the Order of Saint John in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Three Cities are enclosed by the Cottonera Lines, along with several other fortifications. The term Cottonera is synonymous with the Three Cities, although it is sometimes taken to also include the nearby town of Kalkara.
This activity was organized on 10 February 1823, when children attended mass at Floriana and then went to the Convent of the Minori Osservanti (now better known as ta' Ġieżu) in Valletta where they were given bread.Everything went as planned, and the same procedure was planned for the following day.
Floriana, also known by its title Borgo Vilhena, is a fortified town in the South Eastern Region area of Malta, just outside the capital city Valletta. It has a population of 2,205 as of March 2014. Floriana is the birthplace of many famous Maltese, amongst which the composer of the national anthem, 'L-Innu Malti', Robert Samut; former Bishop of Malta Dun Mauro Caruana, the poets Oliver Friggieri & Maria Grech Ganado, the writer and politician Herbert Ganado and Swedish Idol winner Kevin Borg.
The same procedure took place on 11 February 1823. Children were gathered and attended mass at Floriana, but the ceremony lasted an hour longer than usual.The children's procession to the convent in Valletta occurred at the same time as the carnival celebrations had ended, so they met with many people who were returning home. At this point, some adults and children from the crowd mixed in with the boys in order to receive some free bread.
The boys entered one of the convent's corridors from the vestry door in the church, and were to be let out through another door in St. Ursula Street. The bread was to be distributed at the latter door.Although the vestry door was usually locked to prevent boys from reentering to receive more bread, this time the door was left open since the boys were late. Due to this, more men and boys entered without anyone realizing.
A vestry was a committee for the local secular and ecclesiastical government for a parish in England and Wales, which originally met in the vestry or sacristy of the parish church, and consequently became known colloquially as the "vestry".
Those who had entered began to push the boys queuing in the corridor, who were shoved to the end of the corridor near a half-open door. At this point, a lamp went out leaving the corridor in darkness, and the people inside began to push forward even more. The boys at the front fell down a flight of steps, blocking the door in the process.
Those who were distributing the bread as well as some neighbours rushed to assist the children after they heard screams. They managed to open the doors, and many boys got out and were revived. However, a number of boys had already died due to suffocation or being trampled upon.
The exact number of casualties is not known. Records of the Sacra Infermeria show that 94 bodies of boys aged between 15 and 16 were brought to the hospital on 11 February, and they were buried the following day.However, contemporary records such as The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle reveal that "no less than 110 boys perished on this occasion".
An investigation led by the Lieutenant Governor took place after the disaster, and a report about the findings was published a few days after the incident.The investigation concluded that the stampede took place as a result of a succession of errors, and no one was accused for the deaths of the children.
António Manoel de Vilhena was a Portuguese nobleman who was the 66th Prince and Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem from 19 June 1722 to his death in 1736. Unlike a number of the other Grand Masters, he was benevolent and popular with the Maltese people. Vilhena is mostly remembered for the founding of Floriana, the construction of Fort Manoel and the Manoel Theatre, and the renovation of the city of Mdina.
The Tritons’ Fountain is a fountain located on the periphery of the City Gate of Valletta, Malta. It consists of three bronze Tritons holding up a large basin, balanced on a concentric base built out of concrete and clad in travertine slabs. The fountain is one of Malta's most important Modernist landmarks.
The Valletta Waterfront, is a promenade in Floriana, Malta, mainly featuring three prominent buildings: a church in the middle, the Pinto Stores or the Pinto Wharf on the left, and the Forni Stores or the Forni Shopping Complex on the right. The buildings were originally stores and warehouses, built in the 18th century, and the design is attributed to Andrea Belli.
The Grandmaster's Palace, officially known as The Palace, is a palace in Valletta, Malta. It was built between the 16th and 18th centuries as the palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, who ruled Malta, and was also known as the Magisterial Palace. It eventually became the Governor's Palace, and it currently houses the Office of the President of Malta. Parts of the building, namely the Palace State Rooms and the Palace Armoury, are open to the public as a museum run by Heritage Malta.
Carnival has had an important place on the Maltese cultural calendar for just under five centuries, having been introduced to the Islands by Grand Master Piero de Ponte in 1535.
The Castellania, also known as the Castellania Palace, is a former courthouse and prison in Valletta, Malta. It was built by the Order of St. John between 1757 and 1760, on the site of an earlier courthouse which had been built in 1572.
Republic Square is a piazza in Valletta, Malta. The square was originally called Piazza Tesoreria or Piazza dei Cavallieri, since the treasury of the Order of Saint John was located in the square. After a statue of Queen Victoria was installed in the square in the 19th century, it became known as Queen's Square or Piazza Regina. Today, although its official name being Republic Square, it is still commonly referred to as Piazza Regina.
Din l-Art Ħelwa is a non-governmental and non-profit, voluntary organisation founded in 1968, by Maltese Judge Maurice Caruana Carron, to safeguard Malta's cultural heritage and natural environment. Since its foundation, Din l-Art Ħelwa has restored numerous cultural sites of historic and environmental importance. The organisation promotes the preservation and protection of historic buildings and monuments, the character of Malta's towns and villages, and places of natural beauty. They stimulate the enforcement of existing laws and the enactment of new ones for the protection of Malta's natural and built heritage.
A stampede is uncontrolled concerted running as an act of mass impulse among herd animals or a crowd of people in which the group collectively begins running, often in an attempt to escape a perceived threat.
The Wignacourt Aqueduct is a 17th-century aqueduct in Malta, which was built by the Order of Saint John to carry water from springs in Dingli and Rabat to the newly-built capital city Valletta. The aqueduct was carried through underground pipes and over arched viaducts across depressions in the ground.
Girolamo Cassar was a Maltese architect and military engineer. He was the resident engineer of the Order of St. John, and was admitted into the Order in 1569. He was involved in the construction of Valletta, initially as an assistant to Francesco Laparelli, before taking over the project himself. He designed many public, religious and private buildings in the new capital city, including Saint John's Co-Cathedral, the Grandmaster's Palace and the auberges. He was the father of Vittorio Cassar, another architect and engineer.
Is-Suq tal-Belt, also known as the Covered Market, is a 19th-century market hall located in Valletta, Malta. It is notable for being the first building in Malta to be constructed mostly of iron. The building was severely damaged in World War II, and the rebuilding was insensitive to the original structure. Further alterations were made in later decades, and the market began to decline in the 1970s. An attempt to rebrand it as a shopping arcade known as Ixtri Malti in the 1980s was unsuccessful. The market continued to decline until it was renovated in 2016–17, and reopened as a food market in January 2018.
The Saint Publius Parish Church, also known as the Floriana Parish Church is a Roman Catholic parish church in Floriana, Malta, dedicated to Saint Publius. It was constructed at several stages between the 18th and 20th centuries.
The Forni della Signoria was a bakehouse, housing a number of bakeries, built during the Order of St John in Valletta, Malta. It was built in the late 16th century, and it produced bread for the inhabitants of Valletta and the surrounding area, as well as for the Order's garrison and navy.
Emanuele Luigi Galizia was a Maltese architect and civil engineer, who designed many public buildings and several churches. He is regarded as "the principal Maltese architect throughout the second half of the nineteenth century".
Gustavo Romeo Vincenti was a Maltese architect and developer. Born into a wealthy family in Valletta, he was able to purchase land and design and build buildings which he would then sell to clients. He was interested in architecture from a young age, and he graduated as an architect from the University of Malta in 1911, at the age of 23.