History – 1690 – 1697 Adrien de Wignacourt

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Adrien de Wignacourt, of the Langue of France and nephew of the former Grand Master of that name, was Grand Treasurer of the Order at the time of his election, which was on the 24th July 1690. His first act on assuming the reins of government was to establish a relief fund for the widows and orphans of those among the Maltese soldiery who had fallen in the wars which the Order had been waging for so many years against the Turks.

In 1693 a terrible earthquake that lasted at intervals for three days, causing considerable damage and distress in the island visited Malta. The cathedral church at Notabile was completely laid in ruins, and other buildings suffered most severely. The effects of this earthquake were still more serious in Sicily, and the town of Agosta was utterly destroyed. No sooner had this sad intelligence been conveyed to the Grand Master than he, at once despatched plentiful supplies, to which the wealthier Knights contributed munificently, thus alleviating the misery and destitution of the unfortunate inhabitants.

It was through the exertions of Wignacourt and the good offices of Pope Innocent XII that the dispute which since the days of Lascaris had raged between the Knights of Malta and the Republic of Genoa on the question of naval salutes was amicably settled, and as the result of this reconciliation the Genoese were once more admitted into the Order.

After a successful reign of seven years Adrian de Wignacourt died on the 4th February 1697, at the age of seventy-nine.

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