History – 1623 – 1636 Antoine de Paule

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De Paule was seventy-one years of age at the time of his election, and although a Knight of noble qualities who had always won for himself the esteem and admiration of the fraternity, it could hardly be expected that at that age he could efficiently carry out the many and arduous duties attached to his high office.

An event of great importance, the holding of one of the last General Chapters of the Order, marks the reign of this Grand Master. It was one of the rules of the Order that a General Chapter was to be held every five years for the revision of existing statutes and for the addition of new ones as circumstances required. These Chapters had become so unpopular, and the authority of the Grand Master on these occasions was so difficult to uphold, that De Paule’s successors, for a period of 150 years, abandoned the practice of convening an assembly over which their control was so limited. On the 11th May 1631 De Paule summoned a meeting of a General Chapter, which was the sixteenth held in the island and the ninth in the new city of Valletta. Pope Urban VIII. Strongly insisted that the Grand Inquisitor of Malta should from this date preside at each of these conclaves. De Paule and his Council implored the Court of Rome to alter the proceeding, which they thought to be in direct opposition to the fundamental principles of their Order, but nothing was gained. The Grand Master submitted to the pontifical decree without any further opposition, and in order to avoid any disturbance which might arise through the younger and more turbulent members of the fraternity, who had openly declared that they would resist the papal mandate, they were sent out of the island on a cruise, and the General Chapter took place during their absence. This was with one exception the last General Chapter held, as it was found impossible to convene others under similar circumstances.

During this reign several naval engagements of more or less importance took place, which swelled the treasury of the Order and tended to increase the commercial prosperity of the island.

After a severe illness, de Paule died on the 10th June 1636, at the advanced age of eighty-five, after a reign of thirteen years.

In order to replace the great quantity of deteriorated copper coins which were current at this time, the Grand Master, by an order of the 6th August 1628, caused 2,000 copper pieces, varying in value from the Carlino to the piccolo, to be struck and placed in circulation in the island.*

A decree of this Grand Master, of the 7th August 1631, ordained that all gold and silver coins of the value of one Scudo and over were to be weighed both by those paying and those receiving them, under penalty of confiscation of the coins. This order was caused by the discovery that, much of the gold and silver in circulation had been filed by unscrupulous persons for the sake of profit.

 

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