Ventimiglia e Castellar (28 June
1560 – 14 August 1657) was an Italian nobleman and Grand Master
of the Knights of Malta.
1 Early life
2 As Grand Master
2.2 Lascaris' ban
2.3 Wars of Castro
2.4 Caribbean colonies
3 See also
4 External links
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.
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.
In 1632 he was sent as ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain.
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.
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
Lascaris was elected Grand Master of the Order of Malta, a
position he held until his death.
As Grand Master
Lippija Tower, the first of the
The following year,
Lascaris commissioned a series of towers as
fortifications around the island of Malta, now known as the
Lascaris towers. The towers were designed and built by papal military
architect, Vincenzo Maculani.
Lascaris Battery was named in his
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.
Main article: Maltese Carnival
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
from Malta, which he did for a short time while tensions abated. The
incident is still remembered today as Lascaris' ban.
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.
Main article: Wars of Castro
Also in 1639,
Pope Urban VIII
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
Duchy of Florence
Duchy of Florence and
Duchy of Modena
Duchy of Modena (who were allied
with them), appealed to
Lascaris not to provide the pope with
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
Main article: Hospitaller colonization of the Americas
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. The Knights' ambassador to the French court,
Jacques de Souvré, signed the agreement. 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. In 1665, after
Lascaris's death, the Knights sold their islands back to France,
ending their brief colonial project.
In October 1652
Pope Innocent X
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
List of Grand Masters of the Knights Hospitaller
Coins of Grandmaster Jean-Paul Lascaris
^ Gneja Tower Christian Formosa, "A Military History of Malta",
University of Malta, Faculty of Education – Retrieved on 26 July
^ History of the popes; their church and state (Volume III) by Leopold
von Ranke (2009,
Wellesley College Library)
^ Cassar Pullicino, Joseph. "The Order of St. John in Maltese
Folk-Memory". Melitensia. p. 173.
^ Biographical Dictionary of Italy: Lascaris, Giovanni Paolo (Volume
^ 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.
^ 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.
^ 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