This Mediterranean archipelago has known many rulers, from Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines to Islamic Saracens and Norman kings of Sicily. Malta came to prominence during the Crusades as Christian troops passed through on their way to the Holy Land. The Ottomans failed to conquer Malta in 1565 but Napoleon succeeded in 1798. By 1800, Malta was under British control with formal annexation following in 1814. During the second World War, German and Italian air raids created great destruction to Malta. A grateful Britain awarded the entire population of Malta the George Cross for bravery after the war. While the constitutions of 1921 and 1939 provided for limited self-rule, it was not until 1964 that Malta gained its independence within the British Commonwealth and with Elizabeth II as its monarch. In 1971, Malta became fully independent, eliminating all ties to the British crown.. MORE HISTORY