History – 1553 – 1557 Claude de la Sengle

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Claude de la Sengle, of the Langue of France and Grand Hospitaller, was in Rome at the time of his election as Grand Master, on the 11th September 1553. The first design of la Sengle on taking possession of his new dignity was to add to the security of the island, continually menaced by the Ottoman galleys. Fort St. Michael was enclosed by a line of bastions, and those at the Bourg, which were begun at the time of Omedes, were now completed. A town soon rose within the new ramparts, which up to the present day is called Senglea, after the name of its founder. A terrific cyclone played great havoc in Malta during the reign of this Grand Master. Both by sea and land the Order and the inhabitants suffered greatly. Galleys and sailing vessels which were in harbor were dashed against the shore and foundered. The munificence, however, of the Christian Princes soon supplied the Order with men, money and galleys, to make up for the severe losses that had been sustained.

Towards the beginning of 1556 six Ottoman galleys were seen approaching the island. On receiving this information the Grand Master, thinking that these vessels were but the vanguard of the armament of Soliman, ordered a general call to arms, and the defences of the island were manned. It was found out, however, that the galleys, the appearance of which had created such consternation, were a part of the fleet of Dragut, who was on his way to Tripoli to assume the reins of government with the title of King, in succession to Murat Aga, who had recently died.

At the age of sixty-three the Grand Master was taken suddenly ill, and he appointed the French Knight De La Vallette to the post of Lieutenant to the Mastership. On the 18th August 1557 De la Sengle died while at Notabile. His body was embalmed and conveyed to Fort St. Angelo, whence twelve years later it was transferred to the Conventual Church of the Order in Valletta. His heart was encased in an urn and deposited in the Carmelite Church at Notabile.

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