Giovanni Paolo Lascaris

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Giovanni Paolo Lascaris
Giovanni Paolo Lascaris di Ventimiglia e Castellar.jpg
Grand Master of the Order of Saint John
In office
16 June 1636 14 August 1657
Monarch King Philip III
Preceded by Antoine de Paule
Succeeded by Martin de Redin
Personal details
Born28 June 1560
Died14 August 1657 (1657-08-15) (aged 97)
Resting place St. John's Co-Cathedral
ProfessionGrandmaster of the Knights of St. John
Military service
Allegiance Flag of the Order of St. John (various).svg Order of Saint John

Giovanni Paolo Lascaris di Ventimiglia e Castellar (28 June 1560 14 August 1657) was an Italian nobleman and Grand Master of the Knights of Malta.

Ventimiglia Comune in Liguria, Italy

Ventimiglia is a city, comune (municipality) and bishopric in Liguria, northern Italy, in the province of Imperia. It is located 130 km (81 mi) southwest of Genoa, and 7 km (4 mi) from the French-Italian border, on the Gulf of Genoa, having a small harbour at the mouth of the Roia River, which divides the town into two parts. Ventimiglia's urban area has a population of 55,000.

Castellar, Alpes-Maritimes Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Castellar is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France.


Early life

Lascaris was born on 28 June 1560, the second son of Giannetto Lascaris and his wife Franceschetta di Agostino Lascaris of the ancient family of the Counts of Ventimiglia, related to the Lascaris who were emperors of the Byzantine Nicaean Empire.

Count (Male), or Countess (Female), is a historical title of nobility in certain European countries, varying in relative status, generally of middling rank in the hierarchy of nobility. The etymologically related English term, "county" denoted the land owned by a count. Equivalents of the rank of count exist or have existed in the nobility structures of some non-European countries, such as hakushaku during the Japanese Imperial era.

An emperor is a monarch, and usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife, mother, or a woman who rules in her own right. Emperors are generally recognized to be of a higher honour and rank than kings. In Europe, the title of Emperor has been used since the Middle Ages, considered in those times equal or almost equal in dignity to that of Pope due to the latter's position as visible head of the Church and spiritual leader of the Catholic part of Western Europe. The Emperor of Japan is the only currently reigning monarch whose title is translated into English as Emperor.

Palais Palazzo Lascaris de Vintimille a Castellar Palazzo Palais Lascaris de Vintimille a Castellar.jpg
Palais Palazzo Lascaris de Vintimille à Castellar

In 1584, he entered the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. As a member of the order he lived for over thirty years in a priory and was responsible for a range of monastic functions. He was put in charge of the order's grain supplies and later, in 1615, the order's furnaces across the island. He comported himself well and was promoted to master of the "St Anthony" prison.

Priory religious house governed by a prior or prioress

A priory is a monastery of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or nuns, or monasteries of monks or nuns. Houses of canons regular and canonesses regular also use this term, the alternative being "canonry".

Grain small, hard, dry seed used as food; may be ground into flour

A grain is a small, hard, dry seed, with or without an attached hull or fruit layer, harvested for human or animal consumption. A grain crop is a grain-producing plant. The two main types of commercial grain crops are cereals and legumes.

Furnace device used for heating in industry

A furnace is a device used for high-temperature heating. The name derives from Latin word fornax, which means oven. The heat energy to fuel a furnace may be supplied directly by fuel combustion, by electricity such as the electric arc furnace, or through induction heating in induction furnaces.

In 1632 he was sent as ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain.

Ambassador diplomatic envoy

An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment. The word is also often used more liberally for persons who are known, without national appointment, to represent certain professions, activities and fields of endeavor such as sales.

Habsburg Spain reigning dynasty in Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries

Habsburg Spain refers to Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries (1516–1700), when it was ruled by kings from the House of Habsburg. The Habsburg rulers reached the zenith of their influence and power. They controlled territory that included the Americas, the East Indies, the Low Countries and territories now in France and Germany in Europe, the Portuguese Empire from 1580 to 1640, and various other territories such as small enclaves like Ceuta and Oran in North Africa. This period of Spanish history has also been referred to as the "Age of Expansion".

On the death of Grand Master Antoine de Paule, there were three candidates for election as Grand Master; Lascaris, Signorino Gattinara (about whom little is known) and Martin de Redin. Inquisitor Fabio Chigi (later Pope Alexander VII) attended as representative of Pope Urban VIII. Failing to secure enough votes for his own election, de Redin encouraged his supporters to instead side with Lascaris. On 16 June 1636, Lascaris was elected Grand Master of the Order of Malta, a position he held until his death.

Antoine de Paule Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller

Fra' Antoine de Paule was elected the 56th Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller on 10 March 1623. He died on Malta thirteen years later, on 9 June 1636, after a long illness and at the age of 85. His epitaph eulogizes him as a leader who both loved his subjects and was loved by them in return. He is said to have made more resources available to the Order, thus strengthening it. He also sought to fortify ramparts which the Order had erected for defense.

Martin de Redin Spanish general

Fra' Martin de Redin was a Spanish military and politician, and the 58th Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta. He became Grand Prior of the Order of Malta of Navarra in 1641, and Viceroy of Sicily in 1656.

Inquisitor official (usually with judicial or investigative functions) in an Inquisition

An inquisitor was an official in an Inquisition; an organization or program intended to eliminate heresy and other things contrary to the doctrine or teachings of the Catholic faith. Literally, an inquisitor is one who "searches out" or "inquires".

As Grand Master

Lascaris towers

Lippija Tower, the first of the Lascaris towers Malta - Mgarr - Ta' Lippija Tower 02 ies.jpg
Lippija Tower, the first of the Lascaris towers

The following year, Lascaris commissioned a series of towers as fortifications around the island of Malta, [1] now known as the Lascaris towers . The towers were designed and built by papal military architect, Vincenzo Maculani. [2] Lascaris Battery was named in his honor.

Fortification military constructions and buildings designed for defense in warfare and military bases

A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to solidify rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from the Latin fortis ("strong") and facere.

Malta island republic in Europe

Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2 (122 sq mi), Malta is the world's tenth smallest and fifth most densely populated country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km.2 The official languages are Maltese and English, with Maltese officially recognised as the national language and the only Semitic language in the European Union.

The Lascaris Towers are a series of mostly small coastal watchtowers built in Malta by the Order of Saint John between 1637 and 1652. The first seven towers were built around the coast of mainland Malta between 1637 and 1638. Between 1647 and 1652, a large tower was also built on mainland Malta, and two smaller ones were built on Gozo.

Martin de Redin, who succeeded Lascaris as Grand Master of the Order, commissioned further towers and the combined collection of fortifications is often referred to as the De Redin towers .

Lascaris' ban

In 1639, Lascaris implemented a ban on women wearing masks or attending masked balls during carnivale . The ban was unpopular and locals blamed Lascaris' Jesuit confessor, Father Cassia. They took to the streets to poke fun at the Jesuits and Lascaris had one of the instigators arrested. A Jesuit college was ransacked as retaliation and those responsible demanded that Lascaris banish the Jesuit order from Malta, which he did for a short time while tensions abated. The incident is still remembered today as Lascaris' ban . [3]

Wars of Castro

Giuseppe Caloriti's View of Valletta and the Three Cities with the galleon "Lascara" (named in honour of Lascaris) entering the harbour of Malta's capital, Valletta. Caloriti - View of Valletta and the Three Cities.jpg
Giuseppe Caloriti's View of Valletta and the Three Cities with the galleon "Lascara" (named in honour of Lascaris) entering the harbour of Malta's capital, Valletta.

Also in 1639, Pope Urban VIII asked Lascaris to intervene in the First War of Castro by sending naval forces owned by the order to assist papal troops against the Dukes of Parma; specifically galleons and other warships. But the Dukes of Parma, as well as the Duchy of Venice, the Duchy of Florence and Duchy of Modena (who were allied with them), appealed to Lascaris not to provide the pope with support. [4]

Lascaris played a dangerous double game; he sent warships to aid the pope while assuring the Dukes they were there only as a show of force and would not participate in the conflict. Sure enough, conflict was limited to on-land skirmishes and Lascaris' troops never fired a single shot.

Caribbean colonies

In 1651, the Knights, with Lascaris's approval, bought the island of Saint-Christophe, along with the dependent islands of Saint Croix, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint Martin, from the failing Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique. [5] The Knights' ambassador to the French court, Jacques de Souvré, signed the agreement. [6] The Order's proprietary rights were confirmed in a treaty with France two years later: while the king would remain sovereign, the Knights would have complete temporal and spiritual jurisdiction on their islands. The only limits to their rule were that they could only send French knights to govern the islands, and upon the accession of each new King of France they were to provide a gold crown worth 1,000 écus. [7] In 1665, after Lascaris's death, the Knights sold their islands back to France, ending their brief colonial project.

The Gozo monastery

In October 1652 Pope Innocent X closed a number of monasteries including one on Gozo. However, it was opened again after just four months thanks to intervention from Lascaris who was close to the monks of the order. A portrait of Lascaris still hangs in the monastery today.

See also

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  1. Gneja Tower Christian Formosa, "A Military History of Malta", University of Malta, Faculty of Education – Retrieved on 26 July 2007
  2. History of the popes; their church and state (Volume III) by Leopold von Ranke (2009, Wellesley College Library)
  3. Cassar Pullicino, Joseph. "The Order of St. John in Maltese Folk-Memory". Melitensia. p. 173.
  4. Biographical Dictionary of Italy: Lascaris, Giovanni Paolo (Volume 63, 2004)
  5. Dubé, Jean-Claude (2005). The Chevalier de Montmagny: First Governor of New France. Translated by Elizabeth Rapley. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. pp. 263–287. ISBN   0-7766-0559-3 . Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  6. Mifsud, A. (1914). Knights Hospitallers of the Venerable Tongue of England in Malta. Valletta, Malta. p. 246. ISBN   0-404-17009-9 . Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  7. Allen, David F. (1990). Web page by Malta Historical Society. "The Social and Religious World of a Knight of Malta in the Caribbean, c. 1632-1660". Libraries and Culture. 25 (2): 147–157. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
Preceded by
Antoine de Paule
Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller
Succeeded by
Martin de Redin