History – 1582 – 1595 Hugues de Loubens Verdalle

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It had always been the custom on the death of a Grand Master within the Papal territories for the Pope to appoint a successor to the magisterial office. Pope Gregory XIII., however, desirous of restoring harmony amongst the members of the Order, instead of availing himself of the prerogative of appointing a Grand Master, submitted to the sixteen electors of the Order the names of three candidates, one of whom was to be selected to fill the vacant dignity ; these were, Chabrillan, bailiff of Manosque, Verdalle, Grand Commander, and Panisse, Grand Prior of St. Giles. The Papal mandate was acted upon without the least opposition, and Hugues de Loubens Verdalle of the Langue of Provence was elected Grand Master on the 12th January 1582.

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The rule of Verdalle, like that of his predecessor, was disturbed by a spirit of dissension among the Knights of the Order. A man of gentle and peace loving disposition, he did his utmost to restore a spirit of concord within the Convent, but in spite of all his efforts he was unable to quell the rebellious spirit of his brethren. Harassed by the intrigues which were continually being set afoot against him, Verdalle proceeded to Rome and asked for the intervention of the Pope against his turbulent subjects. The reception of this Grand Master by Pope Aixtus V was marked by such magnificence and cordiality as to surpass the one accorded to la Cassiere. He was received in audience by the Pontiff in a public consistory in the presence of thirty eight cardinals, and the rooms in the Vatican formerly occupied by the Emperor Charles V. were placed at his disposal during his stay in Rome. In order to show the high regard in which he held Verdalle for his personal merits the Pope created him Cardinal of St. Mary in Portico, in the hope that this new dignity would secure some respect for the Grand Master from the disaffected Knights. These anticipations on the part of the Sovereign Pontiff were realized for a time. On the 10th February 1588 Cardinal Verdalle returned to Malta and resumed the active duties of his office until his death, which took place on the 4th May 1595, at the age of sixty-four years.

Many monuments still remain to attest the piety and munificence of this Grand Master. A convent for the Ursoline Nuns was erected in the Bourg, and in 1588 the Capuchin Fathers were presented with the beautiful convent in Floriana which Verdalle had erected for this purpose. The continual dread of a Turkish invasion induced the Grand Master to strengthen the defences of the island, and several fortifications were constructed in Gozo. A country residence which Verdalle built at Notabile, and which ever afterwards was used by his successors, still bears his name. Two very valuable works on the history of the Order were published in the reign of this Grand Master, and although somewhat verbose and overburdened with detail, are admitted to be reliable and trustworthy sources of information.

 

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