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A list of Ancient Privileges of the People of Malta and Gozo, granted by their sovereigns and suzerains 

Data may be incomplete (Note: There are many more diplomas, grants, privileges, provisions, letters, &c. respecting these matters; but this list is sufficient to show the liberties and franchises enjoyed by the Maltese in ancient times).

 

 

 

  1. King Louis, by his diploma of the 7th Oct. 1350, united perpetually these islands to the Royal dominions of Sicily, taking them under his special protection, declaring himself their Lord Suzerain; and that their inhabitants should enjoy all the privileges which were enjoyed by the other cities of the kingdom; and by a solemn act, declared and stipulated that the islands should not be ceded to any one whatever in feud, barony, or by other title.
  2. King Martin and Queen Mary renewed and confirmed the act of King Louis, on the 27 Nov. 1397, at Catania, giving to the Maltese and Gozitans full power to oppose by force any cession or separation of these islands from their union with Sicily. ' Manu forti, pro quo in nullutn crimen, delictum vel inobedientiam incurrere reputentur, et aliquatenus censeantur,' &c.
  3. At the instance of the noble Giovanni Vaccaro http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/vaccaro.html , ambassador of the Universita’ of Malta and Gozo, the Viceroy of Sicily granted the following concessions and privileges, dated the 6th April, 1419, viz.
    1. That the Universita’ shall build a tower in the Island of Comino,
    2. That for the expense of the building, and maintenance of the garrison, the Universita’ shall lay a duty or contribution of one florin on every cask of wine imported into the islands from Sicily, as well as other parts ; but that afterwards the duty shall be diminished to the annual sum necessary only to maintain the garrison.
    3. That the Castellano, or Governor of the said fort, shall always be a Maltese, but shall be elected by the King, to hold the office during pleasure only.
  4. King Alphonsus, on the 20th June, 1428, issued a diploma from Valenza, confirming the union of Malta and Gozo to the Royal dominions; and in recompense of the fidelity to the crown, shown by the Maltese by the payment of 30,000 florins of gold to purchase their own government from the noble Gonsalvo Monroy, he declared himself again their protector Suzerain ; and that the islands of Malta and Gozo should be considered as a part of the royal dominions, and as such enjoy all the privileges of his own subjects, reserving to them the whole internal government, civil and criminal.
  5. There were other concessions of King Alphonsus, dated 20 March, 1429, at the requisition of the noble Francesco Gatto http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/djarilbniet.html , and Simone Mazara http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/mazzara.html , ambassadors of the Universita, viz.
    1. That all officers of the island be Maltese.
    2. That no fiscal or commissary of any kind could be sent from Sicily.
    3. That the Maltese be exempt from the payment of the duty called mezza tratta, and of the customs in all the kingdom of Sicily.
    4. That the office of Secretia of Malta (collectorship of the revenue of Government property), be wholly independent of the Mastro Secreto of Sicily.
    5. That the Maltese be exempt from all imposts or taxes, or collections whatever ordered in the kingdom of Sicily, though the case should be most urgent.
  6. The same King Alphonsus, the 16 April, 1431, exempted the Maltese from all duties in Sicily.
  7. Other concessions from the same sovereign in that year to the aforenamed Francesco Gatto http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/djarilbniet.html —
    1. Confirmed the privilege of aggregation of the islands to the Royal domains by King Martin; and that the exemptions from duty, toll, or impost, shall be observed. 
    2. That the office of Capitano of the city shall be annual.
  8. The Viceroy of Sicily, at the solicitation of the noble Nicola la Rocca http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/Rocca.html , Ambassador from the Universita of Malta and Gozo, granted the following favours the 24th March, 1438, viz.
    1. That annual officers be elected, as heretofore, and not otherwise, solely by scrutinio, by a majority of votes of the citizens.
    2. That the jurats and other officers pro tempore, may with impunity resist and deny execution on any royal rescript, grant, or provision, if it be contrary to the privileges of the island; but in the time of four months they are to represent and to consult his royal Majesty or the Viceroy.
    3. That the Castellano of the maritime castle can have no jurisdiction, or any interference whatever, with the jurisdiction of the officers and ministers of the city and the Universita.
  9. The same King Alphonsus, by his letter dated the Gth June, 1441, thanks the Maltese and Gozitans for their donation of 60 ounces of gold (a considerable sum at that time), and confirms again all the privileges and grants of 1428, and every other.
  10. At the intercession of the noble Stefano Serrera, Ambassador, the 9th June, 1450, the following was granted:—
    1. That the Universita might import from Sicily all kinds of provisions for the subsistance of the two islands, without paying any duty.
    2. That the chief of the city (the Capitano), should not enter the council whenever it treated of affairs in which he has any concern.
  11. On the application of the noble P. G. de Mazara http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/mazzara.html and Ant. Falzon http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/falson.html , Ambassadors, King Alphonsus, the 22d Feb. 1458, granted,—
    1. That the Castellano (the King's officer) has .no jurisdiction out of the ancient limits, say Castel St. Angelo, under penalty of 1,000 florins.
    2. That the Jurats and the Capitano of the city shall be obliged to execute and obey all the resolutions of the deliberations of the council.
    3. That no office conferred by scrutinio can be held again until after two years, and not till after one year any other office, that there may be time to examine into their past conduct.
  12. On the application of the noble Giovanni de Mazara http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/mazzara.html, Ambassador, King John issued a diploma, dated from Barcelona, 2nd Jan. 1460, that all privileges granted and established by his sovereign predecessors were by him confirmed.
  13. Also, on the 17th Jan. 1466, on the application of the said Mazara http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/mazzara.html,—
    1. That no one can have two incompatible offices.
    2. That in Malta there shall be no other principal royal office than that of captain of the city, in whom shall be united the office of captain of arms.
    3. That notwithstanding all royal prohibitions to export provisions from Sicily, the Universita may for its use and need export them from any port or landing-place in the whole kingdom. 
  14. A letter of the Viceroy, dated 22nd March, 1475. That the Jurats have the right to put their accounts and the deliberations of the Council into execution, and punish delinquents.
  15. Other favours, ceded by the Viceroy of Sicily, at the solicitation of the noble Giovanni di Mazara http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/mazzara.html, the 6th July, 1475.
    1. The Ambassador demanded and obtained the recall of a Governor who had been appointed over Malta and Gozo, as contrary to the privilege of King Alphonsus in 1428 ; and a solemn promise was made never to send another governor, or anywise to act contrary to the tenor of the privileges granted by the sovereigns of Sicily, or the natural rights of the Maltese.
    2. That the offices of the Universita ought to be conferred in the usual forms by scrutinio, and by a majority of votes.
    3. That the Jurats and the Universita, or Council, shall be maintained in their right of electing procurators of the cathedral church, and examining accounts, with the admission of the bishop or his vicarius, according to most ancient custom and usage.
    4. That the council of the city ought to elect a sindacus for the causes moved, or to be moved, between the Universita and the bishop.
  16. Diploma of King Ferdinand, dated from Ocana, 26th December, 1499, by which he confirms all privileges, liberties, immunities, customs, and moral usages, of the Maltese people.
  17. Other grants by King Ferdinand, dated Naples, 22 May, 1507, at the prayer of the ambassador, the noble Manfredo Caxaro http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/caxaro.html , viz.
    1. That in all the kingdom the privilege shall be observed, which exempts the Maltese from all duties.
    2. That in Sicily corn should be-sold to the Maltese at the same price at which it was current on the day their vessels arrived to purchase and load corn.
  18. Grant of King Ferdinand, 3rd August, 1514, by the intercession of the noble Pietro Caruana http://www.maltagenealogy.com/libro%20d'Oro/caruana.html , ambassador of the Universita:
    1. That no Capitan d'armi, or other officer, shall be suffered to make proclamations, or insinuate any thing contrary to the privileges of the city.
    2. That in all Sicily the privileges of exemption from duty of the Maltese shall be punctually observed.
  19. Diploma of Queen Joan, and Charles, her son, 22nd Sept. 1516, confirming all privileges, jurisdictions, usages, and moral customs and stipulations, ceded and agreed to by all the preceding sovereigns.

 

Sources:- History of the British Colonies: Possessions in Europe By Robert Montgomery Martin