Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX.

He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

What a ruined castle can teach you about business, war and people

1 min read

As the shell-shocked attendees of #Bos2010 will tell you, apart from kittens, my great passions are Douglas Adams and Military History. If you want a great story with lots of deceit, cunning and duplicity forget soap opera – look into the past. Why do you think William Shakespeare raided history for all his best storylines?



One of my favourite stories is the 1565 attack on the Castle of Mdina. It used to be the capital city of the Island of Malta and it’s chief claim to fame was that St. Paul visited it on his travels. In 1565 the island of Malta was invaded by a huge army from the Ottoman Empire and a force sent to take Mdina.

The castle was full of refugees, few soldiers and very little ammunition. But it did contain a large store of military uniforms and a very shrewd commander. As the enemy approached, he ordered all the refugees to put on uniforms and stand on the battlements. And he ordered his troops to start firing their canon before the enemy were even in range even though ammunition as very scare. The psychological effects were devastating!!!

What the attackers saw was a castle so full of soldiers that there were men on even the walls behind rock cliffs that could not be attacked. They clearly were spoiling for a fight and had so much ammunition to waste that they were firing the canons before anything was even in range. Morale collapsed and the enemy went home without even bothering to attack the castle.

It is a great story and a reminder that often it is not about resources but how we use them and how we interact and the messages we give out. It is a true in the age of Twitter as it was then. It always makes me smile and I can almost smell the gunpowder. Do you have a favourite story?

Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX.

He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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