The 1st Capitulation of 1798
Extract taken from: “MALTA’S TIMELINE A Handbook of Maltese Chronology” by Chev. Joseph Galea edited by Raymond M. Cassar (page 38)
The above extract is relevant in that it contradicts the view that Malta first capitulated on the 12th June 1798. It also shows that the Maltese were acknowledged by Napoleon as a people.
Here we find not members of the old (Bonnici, Manduca) Maltese Nobility and of the short-lived Rohanite nobility (Teuma, Barbaro) in their capacity of official Maltese officials (Capitano della Verga, Jurats) representative of the Maltese people surrendering to Napoleon. The Order of Saint John or its Grand Master was not party to this act of capitulation.
A second treaty was signed two days later when the Order of St. John capitulated to Napoleon. In that treaty we find six articles devoted to the surrender of the Order and the regulation of its properties. The seventh article regulates the rights and property of the inhabitants of the islands of Malta and Gozo, and the last article declares the validity of all civil acts passed during the government of the Order. https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/1887/4576/4/Thesis.pdf
Therefore in drawing up the terms of surrender, the Maltese had already distinguished between what was Maltese and what was of the Order. We have seen how in the events leading to the capitulation of 12 June, the Maltese assembly had formulated a petition to Grand Master Hompesch asking that he surrender to the French on behalf of the Order and the Maltese.