Late-Medieval Pirates from Malta


Extract from: “Trade, Piracy and Naval Warfare in the Central Mediterranean: The Maritime History and Archeology of Malta” (Doctoral Dissertation (Ph.D.) by Ayse Devrim Atauz Texas A&M University (approved 2004):


“In urgent need of money, Alfonso broke Martin’s charter and in 1420 pledged Malta to the viceroy of Sicily, Antonio Cardona for 30,000 gold florins. Subsequently, the islands were given to Gonsalvo di Monroy for the same sum in 1425.

This semi-autonomous status granted to the islands (just like Pantelleria) saved the King from paying for defensive expenses. The fact that the islands were not generating an income that would enable the new rulers to pay for such costs remained a constant problem. The lack of direct royal control led to an increased atmosphere of tolerance for unlawful behavior, and the new rulers could only afford to provide the funds necessary for defense from an alternative income source, piracy. For example, the galley assigned to protect the Castrum Maris was first financed by Francesco Gatt (1398), and was replaced by a ‘nova galea’ belonging to Ingarao Desguanesch in 1402. Archival documents indicate that Ingarao Desguanesch was the owner of a vessel involved in grain shipment between Sicily (Syracuse and Brucoli) and Malta. However, the names of Ingarao and Antoni Desguanesch appear on many documents related to piracy as owners of corsair ships. One of the Desguanesch ships (a fusta) was taken by Venetian corsairs in the eastern Mediterranean as a prize in 1443. Except for that one loss, it seems that the Desguanesch ships were very successful corsairs themselves, as there is documentation that a total of four fuste(s), three galiots and a bireme owned by either Antoni or Ingarao Desguanesch, and commanded by various captains, captured North African (Moorish), Sicilian and Ragusan ships and cargoes as prizes between the years 1443 and 1447.”



External Sources: 


(1) Ayse Devrim Atauz “Trade, Piracy and Naval Warfare in the Central Mediterranean: The Maritime History and Archeology of Malta

Doctoral Dissertation (Ph.D.) Texas A&M University (approved 2004)

(2) Charles Gauci "The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta VOLUME TWO " (Malta, 1992) ASIN: B0018V7SUA

(3) Anon “The Family of Inguanez” (Malta, 1888) - reprinted in 1979 to form part of Marcel DINGLI ATTARD, “The Family of Inguanez”(Malta, 1979) ASIN: B0000EEAZL





(1)         History of the Gatto family:'Oro/djarilbniet.html

(2)         History of the Inguanez family:'Oro/djarilbnietA.html