WAS NICHOLAS CILIA EVER THE ‘BARON OF BUDAQ”?
The fief of Budacho (Budaq) is situated in Malta rising uphill from Salini to Naxxar, and precisely near the beginning of the hill known as ‘Ta’ Alla u Ommu’. A title of “Baron of Budack” (Budaq) was created in 1716. However, other publications maintain that an earlier barony was created in the 17th century in favour of Nicolo’ Cilia. In this section, we examine the veracity of that claim.
In Gauci’s 1992 publication (page 65) we find this fief described as a Barony, viz “Baron of Budaq”. This is the description:-
Granted to: Dr. Niccolo’ Cilia, Protomedico; By: Grandmaster Jean Paul de Lascaris Castellar; On: 24th February 1644; Feudal Tribute: A bouquet of roses on Easter Sunday every year. Note: Niccolo’s father, Francesco Cilia, had purchased the fief of Budaq from Baron Antonio Inguanez on 16th May 1590. For some reason however neither father nor son ever paid homage to the grandmaster as an acknowledgment of fealty and were consequently never styled Baron. Niccolo’ was in danger of having his fief confiscated by the Order. However, he successfully petitioned the Grandmaster to be formally recognized as the Baron of Budaq. Cilia died on 29th August 1646 leaving no successor, whereupon the fief devolved to the Order to be regranted a few months later.”
This is by and large, a repetition of what is stated in Montalto’s 1978 book (page 106), which reads as follows:-
“The first protomedico to be ennobled was Nicolo Cilia, who in 1633 had been appointed to this office. He was probably also awarded the Croce d’Oro on his appointment. Cilia, however, had not been aware that he possessed feudal territory (fo which he had not paid homage), when he inherited the fief of Budach. His father Francesco, had bought the lands from Baron Antonio Inguanez for the sum of 2280 onze. The sale had been made on the 16 May 1590, and was registered in the acts of Notary Enrico Zarb. When the protomedico realized that he held feudal territory he wanted to be invested in order to acquire the title and to hold a legitimate claim for his fief. Grand Master Lascaris acceded to Cilia’s request and concluded a transaction with his protomedico, but only over a part of the fief. On the 18 February 1644, the Council of the Order had given the Grand Master permission for the said transaction. After eight days Cilia was created Baron of Budach, only two years before his death in 1646. There is no evidence that Cilia had been ennobled because of his service to the Order, but his appointment as protomedico probably had considerable influence in his investiture as Baron, since Lascaris could have reclaimed this fief in virtue of Cilia’s omission to pay homage.”
Both Gauci and Montalto refer to N.L.M. 1226, p. 435
On a closer reading, we notice a difference in the versions recounted by Gauci and Montalto. The former implies that Cilia was well aware of the nature of the ownership and ‘only’ suffered the minor inconvenience of not being styled Baron. On the other hand the latter says that it was only after the purchase that Cilia discovered he had bought a mere fief, not the full ownership, therefore standing to lose the property, because of non-compliance with the rule of investiture.
The marginal note reads “Oath and homage of the Magnificus Nicolaus Cilia in respect of the fief of Budacho”.
No title is mentioned.
Therefore, the claim that a barony was created in favour of Nicolaus (Nicolo) Cilia is not supported by the text of document 1226, p. 435.
We have also learnt that the grant of a simple fief did not give rise to a title of ‘Baron’.
So far, the only document showing that a title of “Baron of Budaq” was ever created is that dated 23 April 1716 in favor of Gio Pio De Piro. De Piro received only the title. The title of “Baron of Budaq” was separate from the lands of Budaq. We also know that the Depiro family never possessed those lands. One of the claimants to that title is on record for having stated that:
“Although the De Piro family enjoys the Barony of Budaq, there is not, however, any property attached to it in that neighbourhood.” http://multimedia.josephdepiro.com/DOCUMENTS/Biography%20English/IntroEngBiog.htm#Introduction
We find a similar circumstance in 1737 in the case of “Baron of Gomerino” when the holder of the property (Fabrizio Testaferrata, who was holding the property of Gomerino since 1713) was not holding the Barony which was being held by the possessor of an entail (Ercole Martino Testaferrata, who was holding the entail since 1734).
Thus, the holder (Cilia) of the property of Budaq was not the baron whilst a person who did not hold that property (De Piro) was entitled to the barony.
So when did the Cilia claim arise? In the 1878 Commissioners’ Report (para. 27) on the title of 1716 “Barone di Budack” we find the following observation:
“The fief ‘ta Budack which is of a very old erection, had been granted out to the Proto Medico Nicolo Cilia, by whose death it reverted to the Crown”
The 1878 Report is not saying that Cilia held the title of “Baron of Budaq”. All that it is saying is that he held the fief. Elsewhere, the Report (paras. 84-95) goes on to say that the tenure of a simple fief did not give rise to the title of a baron, observing that even the designation Magnificus in a grant did not give rise to a title. The Report allowed a simple fief to be regarded as a barony only if the Grand Master recognised this in a subsequent act.
Concluding, unless another document is produced, we cannot regard Nicolo Cilia as the “Baron of Budaq”even though he possessed those lands (or only part of them, as stated by Montalto).
- Correspondence and Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the claims and grievances of the Maltese Nobility, May 1878, presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty (C.-2033.)
- Charles Gauci "The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta VOLUME TWO " (PEG Publications, Malta, 1992) ASIN: B0018V7SUA
- Montalto, John, The nobles of Malta, 1530-1800 Midsea Books, Valletta, Malta : 1979 ASIN: B0000EE028
- Copy of 1226, f. 435 http://cilialacorte.com/CERTIFICATE-GIFS/baroncilia.gif (reproduced above)
- Alexander Bonnici O.F.M. Conv., “Giuseppe De Piro, 1877 (1933), Founder of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul”, Translated by Monica De Piro Nelson, Missionary Society of St. Paul, 1988 http://multimedia.josephdepiro.com/DOCUMENTS/Biography%20English/Introduction