Titles of Count of Mont’ Alto
(Count of Mont’ Alto and Count Manduca)
The title Conte di Mont’ Alto forms part of the Nobility in Malta.
The title was granted in 1720 and extended in 1724 but became extinct in 1775. The second grant is dated 1776. In a 19th Century Report, the 1724 grant described as “Count of Mont’ Alto”, whilst the 1776 grant is referred to as “title of “Conte” namely one presumed to have been granted in 1776 to Salvatore Manduca by Ferdinand I, Duke of Parma”
Since 1975, titles of nobility are no longer recognized in the Republic of Malta by Act 29 of 1975 dated 17 October 1975.
Origin and Nature of title
The title of “Conte di Mont’Alto” in the Duchy of Parma http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_of_Parma_and_Piacenza was, together with the fief of Monte Alto, conferred at the grantee’s request, by Francis I http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Farnese%2C_Duke_of_Parma Duke of Parma, upon Bernardo Piscopo, by a Rescript given at Piacenza on the 8th July 1720. The fief enjoyed the power of the sword, and its merum and mixtum imperium..
The said Bernardo having no issue, later made a petition addressed to the Duke of Parma, represented that he was desirous of obtaining the power of disposing of the fief in favour of one of his collateral relatives. The Duke acceded to this request on the 19 October 1724. Bernardo proceeded to nominate his successor to his fiefdom in his will made in the acts of Notary Tommaso Vella, on the 9th March 1725. By means of the same will, Bernardo established an entail in Malta regulating other properties. The nominated successor’s own family eventually became extinct. Although the Maltese entail was succeeded by another of Bernardo’s relatives (Felice Manduca) a problem arose in regard to the title and fief of Mont’ Alto, because the 1724 permission could only be construed in regard to not more than the male issue of one nominated relative.
In 1878, a Royal Commission appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility found that the title granted in 1720, as subsequently extended in 1724 had become extinct on the 14th May 1775, by the death of Conte Felice Manduca, who had no male issue. After Felice’s death the entail was succeeded by Vincenzo Manduca who in turn was succeeded in the same entail by Monsignor Salvatore Manduca. However, succession of the mere entail could not revive the title.
In 1776 the title was renewed in favour of Salvatore Manduca, and of the grantee’s male issue, by means of a Rescript dated 28 December 1776. Salvatore was the brother of the Conte Felice.
Recognition by the Government of the Order of Saint John
As the title originated in the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, it could not be held to form part of the Maltese Nobility. However, on the 2 September 1721, Bernardo Picopo had this title registered in Malta.
The 1724 extension was likewise registered on the 14 July 1744. There was no legal requirement to register a foreign title in 1721. However by 1744, this had become mandatory as explained below.
In 1739, the then Grand Master Depuig enacted a law introducing the concept of extending a form of precedence to even holders of foreign titles. The relative law is reproduced hereunder:-
Hosplis Mgr et Hierlem Sti. Sepulchri. - Per togliere le differenze di precedenze tra le persone che saranno promosse alla giurazie dell’ Universita’ della Notabile e della Valletta, vogliamo, ordiniamo e comandiamo che tutte siano precedue dagli infrascritti, e che fra queti si regoli la precedena call’ ordine seguente cioe’: Primieramente, chi fu Capitano della Verga della Sudetta Citta’ Notabile e nostra Isola di Malta.; Secondo. Il Titolato che ha un titolo fondato sopra un feudo in realta’ esistente qui, benche’ non lo possegga.; Terzo. Il titolato che non ha un titolo fondato sopra fondo realmenteesistente nel nostro Dominio, registrato che sia il titolo nella Cancelleria nella nostra Religione e nella Gran Corte della nostra Castellania, e pagato per i rispettivi registramenti il diritto di scudi cento sedici di questa moneta, da dividersi per meta’ tra la Cancelleria e la Castellania sudetta.; Quarto. Il discendente per linea mascolina da chi fu Capitano della Verga, se vive colle proprie rendite, e se i di lui ascendente intermedie vissero pure colle proprie rendite.; Quinto. Il discendente per linea mascolina da un titolo con titolo fondato sopra un feudo qui realmente esistente, se vive colle proprierendite, e se i suoi ascendenti intermedie cosi vissero; Sesto. Chi fu primo Giurato della Notabile; Settimo. Chi fu primo Giurato della Valletta; Ottavo. Il piu’ anziani di Giurazia di quella Universita’ dellaquale sara’ creato giurato.; Nono. Chi fu Giudice d’Appello Criminale o Civile della Gran Corte della Castellania e della Corte Capitanale e Governatoriale; Diecimo. Il Dottore di Leggi ed il Dottore di Medicina.: - Dichiariamo che fra le persone d’un stesso grado si deve attendere l’anzianita’ del titolo primordiale e che chiunque fu Giurato, se sara’ fatto Console di Mare, fra i quali s’attendera l’anzianitad’ufficio. Dat. In Palatio, die xvi. Septembris 1739 (f. Despuig)
The latter enactment was amended in 1795 by the then Grand Master Rohan as follows:
Hosplis Magr. Hierlem. Sti. Sepulchri, et Ordinis Sti Antonii, Viennensis Essendo una massima universalmente ricevuto, che il maggior lustro della Nobilta’ principalmente dipende dalla sua maggiore antichita’, niente che il piu’ giusto e ragionevole che il piu’ antico Nobile preceda il piu’ moderno. Siamo pertanto venuti nella determinazione di Ordinare che nel regolarsi la precedenza tra le persone Nobile di questo nostro Dominio, cosi’ primogeniti che cadetti indistintamente, si abbioa ad avere unicamente riguardo alla maggiore o minore antichita’ del titolo che nobilito le loro famiglie, e cio tanto se il titolo sara’ stato concesso da Noi o Nostri predecessori, che se lo avessero ottenuto da Principi esteri, purche’ pero sara’ stato questo debitamente registrato nella Nostra Cancelleria e Gran Corte della Castellania; nel consorso pero’ di ugual data quello nella di cui persona concorreranno piu’ titoli dovra’ essere preferito, all’ altro che ne avesse meno, secondo la graduazione stabilita nel Chirografo Magisteriale del Nostro Predecessore Gran Maestro Despuig di Gl. Em. Del 16 Sept 1739, quale in quelle parti che non contradicono la questa nostra disposizione intendiamo di pienamente confermare.Datum in Palatio die xvii Martii 1795 (f.) Rohan
It follows therefore that on the basis of the aforesaid enactments, the title of Mont’ Alto as granted in 1720 should have enjoyed a precedence in Malta calculated from 1721, date of first registration. However, as seen above this title had become extinct by 1775.
The 1878 Commissioners reported that the 1776 grant in favour of Salvatore Manduca was never registered, nor was there any proof of this title ever being recognized by the Grand Masters of the Order of Malta.
THE ROYAL COMMISSION APPOINTED TO ENQUIRE INTO THE CLAIMS OF THE MALTESE NOBILITY
After the Capitulation of the Order of Saint John the new French Rulers formally abolished all titles of nobility. (General Napoleon Bonaparte issued two orders dated 13 and 16 June 1798 prohibiting the use of any title “ORDRE (1) QUARTIER GENERAL DE MALTE, LE 25 PRAIRAL, AN VI (13 JUIN 1798): Le General en Chef ordonne……(ARTICLE 2.)… Toutes les armoires seront abbatues dans l’ espace de 24 heures. Il est defendu de porter dest livrees, ni aucune marque et titre distinctif de noblesse. ORDRE (2) AU QUARTIER GENERAL DE MALTE, LE 28 PRAIRAL, AN VI (16 JUIN 1798): Bonaparte Membre de l’Istitut National, General-en-Chef ordonne…(ARTICLE CINQUIEME)….Dix jours apres la publication du present ordre, il est defendu d’avoir des armoires soit dans l’interieur, soit a l’exterieur des maisons, de cacheter des lettres avec des armoires, ou de prendre des titres feodaux. ……(ARTICLE DOUZIEME)….Tous les contrevenants aux articles cidessous, seront condamnes pour la premier fois, a une amende du tiers de leurs revenus; pour la seconde fois, a trois mois de prison; pour la troisieme fois a un an de prison; pour la quatrieme fois, a la deportation de l’ile de Malte, et a la confiscation de la moitie de leurs biens. Il devra toujours y avoir 10 jours d’intervalle entre la recidive.”
Another Order was issued by Bosredon Ransijat, President of the Commission du Gouvernement dated 18 Messidor Year 6 (6 July 1798), where it was enacted that all honorary titles should be burnt on the 14th of that month and that every holder of a title should carry his patent at the Arbre de la Liberté.
The French in turn lost Malta in 1800 to a contingent raised by Captain Ball and Admiral Nelson. Malta later became a British Protectorate after the Treaty of Paris of 1814.
In time, the use of nobiliary titles was resumed. However, it appears that this use was unregulated.
In 1870 the Marchese Giorgio Crispo Barbaro published a compendium of the “Maltese Nobility and the Maltese Gentry holding Foreign Titles”. In that publication Giorgio Crispo Barbaro describes the Canon Salvatore Manduca Piscopo Macedonia as a Maltese Gentleman holding the foreign title of “Count of Montoldo”. - See full text of the Crispo Barbaro’s book athttp://www.saidvassallo.com/SME/1870%20barbaro.pdf
Eventually, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies commissioned a report in 1876, on those titles alleged to have been conferred to Maltese families before the annexation of Malta to the British Dominions, namely 1800. The Commissioners’ Report and Supplemental Report were published in 1878 together with relative correspondence.
UNSUCCESSFUL CLAIM OF MONSIGNOR SALVATORE MANDUCA PISCOPO MACEDONIA TO THE TITLE CREATED IN 1720 AS EXTENDED IN 1724
In 1878, this title was claimed by Monsignor Salvatore Manduca Piscopo Macedonia who is described in the 1878 Report as son of Paolo Manduca and the grandson of Salvatore Manduca who was the brother of the said Felice Manduca who benefitted from the 1724 extension.
The Royal Commissioners held that after a careful consideration of all the circumstances, they were necessarily led to the conclusion that the title granted in 1720 was determined by the death of the Contte Felice Manduca who had no male issue.
Moreover, the Commissioners later remarked that as in 1776, the entail was possessed by Anna Manduca, it follows that Salvatore Manduca in requesting the renewal of the title effectively acknowledged that the original grant of 1720 had been extinguished by the death of Felice, and that the rules laid down in Berbardo’s will for the devolution of the entail were not applicable to the succession of the original title.
NO DECISION BY ROYAL COMMISSIONERS ON CLAIM OF MONSIGNOR SALVATORE MANDUCA PISCOPO MACEDONIA TO THE TITLE REVIVED IN 1776
The same Monsignor Salvatore Manduca Piscopo Macedonia claimed that title as renewed by a rescript of the 28th December 1776 in favour of Salvatore Manduca, his grand-father, and of the grantee’s male issue.
According to the Report, the terms of the relative investiture read as follows: (Translation form the Italian) “I, Salvatore Manduca Piscopo, feudatory of Mont’Alto situated in the Duchy of Parma, do swear unto God Almighty that from this time forward until the last day of my life I will always and at all times be a faithful and obedient subject, feudatory, and vassal of H.R.H. the Most Serene and Royal Infante of Spain, Don Ferdinando of the House of Bourbon, as Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Guastella.. And that I will not acknowledge as my lord any other person, whatever may be his capacity, rank, condition, and pre-eminence, but H.R.H. the said Most Serene Infante Ferdinando as Duke of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla, his heirs and successors as aforesaid.”
However, the Monsignor who was represented failed to provide the Commissioners with authenticated copies of the grant. Moreover, the representative also failed to provide proof of any recognition by the Grand Masters. In this regard, the same Commissioners said that in the absence of authenticated proof of that title they could give no importance to the circumstance where in 1797 during the Government of the Order, Salvatore Manduca was styled “Conte” in his appointment as a jurat.
Notwithstanding the above reservations, the Commissioners left the Monsignor an opportunity to present the required evidence at a future stage after the presentation of the Commission’s Report.
BRITISH SECRETARY OF STATE’S ERRONEOUS DESCRIPTION OF TITLE
The British Secretary of State agreed with the Commissioners’ suggestion. However he described the Monsignor’s claim as referring to the title of “Conte di Mont’Alto”, instead of the title granted in 1776.
LATER DEVELOPMENTS IMPLY PROVISION OF PROOF
It appears that Monsignor Manduca managed to substantiate his claim sometime between 1878 and 1883 because his name appears as one of the five titolati who were appointed to form a Committee in 1883. In that document, the Monsignor is noted as “Conte di Mont’ Alto”.
Although the title forms part of the Maltese Nobility, some argue that the title remained subject to the laws of the Duchy of Parma http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_of_Parma_and_Piacenza . This view is especially reinforced by the terms of the 1776 investiture reproduced above.
By the Treaty of Aranjuez the Duchy of Parma was in 1801 surrendered together with Piacenza and Guastalla http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/County_of_Guastalla to France in exchange for the short-lived Kingdom of Etruria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Etruria. In 1807, Napoleon dissolved this new Kingdom and integrated it into France. In 1815 the Duchy of Lucca was carved out of Tuscany as a temporary compensation for the Bourbons of Parma until in 1847 they could resume their rule over Parma. The Bourbons ruled until 1859, when they were driven out by a revolution following the Sardinian victory in their war against Austria.
The duchies of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla and the duchy of Lucca joined with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the duchy of Modena to form the United Provinces of Central Italy in December 1859, and were annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia in March of 1860. In 1861, the Kingdom of Sardinia became a founding state of the new Kingdom of Italy, and ceased to exist after that date. A uniform nobiliary law under the House of Savoy was enacted in 1926 by Royal Decree no. 1489 dated 16 August 1926 and again in 1943 by Royal Decree no. 651, dated 7 June 1943. The Lateran Treaty of 1929 acknowledged all Papal titles created before that date and undertook to give automatic recognition to titles conferred by the Holy See on Italian citizens in the future. In 1946 Italy was proclaimed arepublic.
The second controversy stems from the published contention that the title is attached or otherwise related to the entail established by Bernardo Piscopo. This has no basis in the 1878 Report which says that the 1776 revival proved that the rules laid down in Bernardo’s will for the devolution of the entail were not applicable to the succession of the original title.
The third controversy regarding this title is its precedence in Malta. IN the 1878 Report, the only recognition that is alluded in regard to the 1776 title is that in 1797 during the Government of the Order, Salvatore Manduca was styled “Conte” in his appointment as a “Jurat”. The implication, therefore, us that this title’s precedence in Malta should be calculated as being the year 1797, that is to say after the very last title which was granted by the Grand Masters in 1796.
According to the 1878 Report, this title was considered after the title of “Conte” conferred by Empress Maria Theresa on Salvatore Baldassare Sant on the 22 December 1770, and before the title of “Barone” di San Giovanni renewed by Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies on the 16 July 1777 in favour of Serafino Ciantar.
As from the year 1886, the holder of this title of Nobility became entitled to be styled “The Most Noble”.
The holder of this title was accorded a precedence in Malta The presumed successor of this title is by custom entitled to be styled Contino di Montalto.
Other descendants of the various holders of this title are by custom entitled to be styled dei Conti di Mont’ Alto.
Since 1975, titles of nobility are no longer recognized in the Republic of Malta by Act 29 of 1975 dated 17 October 1975.
The genealogy of the Counts of Mont’ Alto is as follows:
1st creation (1720, extended in 1724) (Count of Montalto)
· Bernardo Piscopo, 1st Count of Mont’ Alto
· Felice Manduca (Bernardo’s grand nephew), 2nd Count of Mont’ Alto
2nd creation (1776) (Count Manduca)
· Salvatore Manduca (Felice’s brother), 1st Count
· Paolo Manduca (son of Salvatore), 2nd Count
· Monsignor Salvatore Manduca Piscopo Macedonia, 3rd Count
PRIMARY REFERENCES (GRANT/S):
(1) Grant of title and fief of “Conte di Mont’Alto” in the Duchy of Parma conferred at the request of Bernardo Piscopo, by Francis I, Duke of Parma, upon Bernardo Piscopo, by a Rescript given at Piacenza on the 8th July 1720. The fief enjoyed the power of the sword, and its merum and mixtum imperium.(Official Archives of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza)
SECONDARY REFERENCES (HISTORY):
(1) Note of Registration dated 2 September 1721of title conferred in 1720 to Bernardo Piscopo. (Recorded in the Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Ref. AOM 525, f. 111r-112r)
(2) Note of Registration dated 14 July 1744 of an extension given in 1724 of a title conferred in 1720 to Bernardo Piscopo. (Recorded in the Archives of the Order, National Library, Malta Ref. AOM 548, f. 161v)
(3) 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.):
(4) REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF PRIVILEGES OF THE MALTESE NOBILITY ON THE CLAIMS OF CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THAT BODY WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S REPLY, AUGUST 1883, PRESENTED TO BOTH HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT BY COMMAND OF HER MAJESTY (C-3812)
(5) Copies or Extracts of Correspondence with reference to the Maltese Nobility (In continuation of C3812, August 1883), presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty May 1886 (C-4628a) (6) John Montalto, “The Nobles of Malta 1530-1800” (Midsea Books, Malta, 1980)
TERTIARY REFERENCES (PUBLISHED GENEALOGY):
(1) Crispo Barbaro "THE NOBLES OF MALTA, AND THE MALTESE GENTRY HOLDING FOREIGN TITLES AS AT PRESENT EXISTING BY GEO. G.C.’A. CRISPO BARBARO MARQUIS OF ST. GEORGE” MALTA:- A.D. MDCCCLXX (THE ANGLO-MALTESE PRESS, MALTA, 1870)"
(2) Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA" (GULF PUBLISHING, MALTA, 1981)"
(3) Charles Gauci A GUIDE TO THE MALTESE NOBILITY" (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 1986)
(4) Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA VOLUME TWO " (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 1992)
(5) Charles Gauci "THE GENEALOGY AND HERALDRY OF THE NOBLE FAMILIES OF MALTA VOLUME ONE " (PEG PUBLICATIONS, MALTA, 2002)