List of Grand Masters of the Knights Hospitaller

This is a list of Grand Masters of the Knights Hospitaller, including its continuation as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta after 1798. It also includes unrecognized "anti-Grand Masters" and lieutenants or stewards during vacancies.

The title "Grand Master" is applied retrospectively; the medieval heads of the order took the title of custos ("guardian") of the hospital. The title magister ("master") is used on coins minted in Rhodes, beginning with Foulques de Villaret. The first to use the title Grandis Magister ("Grand Master") was Jean de Lastic (r. 1437–1454); the title Grandis Magister is found on coins minted by Pierre d'Aubusson (r. 1476–1503).[1] Later Grand Masters in Rhodes used Magnus Magister. After the loss of Rhodes, Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam and his successors went back to using simple Magister, abbreviated M.H.H. for Magister Hospitalis Hierosolymae. Use of Magister Magnus is taken up again in the 17th century, under Antoine de Paule (r. 1623–1636).[2]

The title of Prince and Grand Master (Principe e Gran Maestro del Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta) is in use from 1880, when Franz Joseph I of Austria granted the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire to the Grand Masters.[3] The title has remained in use after the dissolution of the Austrian Empire in 1919.

Numbered lists of Grand Masters of the Order, with portraits and attributed arms, are published from the early 17th century, with updated editions appearing throughout the 18th century.[4] The numbering of Grand Masters in use by the Order by the early 18th century, published in the 1719 Statutes of the Order, lists the Blessed Gerard as founder without number, counting Raymond du Puy as first Master of the Hospital, Foulques de Villaret as 24th, Riccardo Caracciolo as 32nd, Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam as 43rd and the then incumbent Ramon Perellos y Roccaful as 63rd. [5]

Knights Hospitaller (Kingdom of Jerusalem)

Nr Title Picture Name Time in office Notes
/1 Founder and Rector of the Hospital Blessed Gerard 1099/1113–1118/20 Order established in 1099 and given papal recognition in 1113 by Paschal II
1/2 Custos[6] Raymond du Puy 1118/21/23–1160
2/3 Custos Auger de Balben 1160–1163
3/4 Arnaud de Comps 1162–1163 Historicity uncertain
4/5 Custos Gilbert d'Aissailly 1163–1169
5/6 Gastone de Murols c. 1169
6/7 Custos Jobert of Syria c. 1169/72–1177 Acted as regent for king Manuel I in 1172. In 1174 opposed Miles of Plancy in favour of Raymond III of Tripoli. Fought in the crusade of Philip I, Count of Flanders of 1176.
7/8 Custos Roger de Moulins 1177–1187
8/9 Provisor Armengol de Aspa (Ermengard d'Aps) 1187–1190 Loss of Jerusalem in 1187, headquarters moved to Acre. In the crisis following the loss of Jerusalem, Ermengard was not elected as custos and acted only ad interim. He was nevertheless included into the canonical list of Grand Masters compiled in the early modern period. After the capture of Acre and the consolidation of the order, Ermengard retired with the regular election of Garnier de Nablus as new master.
9/10 Custos Garnier de Nablus 1190–1192 Battle of Arsuf 1191
10/11 Custos Geoffroy de Donjon 1193–1202
11/12 Custos Afonso de Portugal 1202–1206 Fourth Crusade, resigned in 1206
12/13 Custos Geoffrey le Rat (Gothofredus Mus) 1206–1207 First structured the order by nationality, or langues.
13/14 Custos Guérin de Montaigu 1207–1228 Fifth Crusade, Siege of Damietta (1218–1219)
14/15 Custos Bertrand de Thercy 1228–1231 Re-conquest of Jerusalem in 1228/9
15/16 Custos Guerin Lebrun 1231–1236 Captured in battle, and died in captivity in Egypt
16/17 Custos Bertrand de Comps 1236–1240 Headquarters moved to Jerusalem
17/18 Custos Pierre de Vielle-Bride 1240–1242
18/19 Custos Guillaume de Chateauneuf 1242–1258 Fall of Jerusalem in 1244, headquarters at Acre, Krak des Chevaliers and Margat
19/20 Custos Hugues de Revel 1258–1277
20/21 Nicolas Lorgne 1277–1285 Loss of Margat 1285
21/22 Jean de Villiers 1285–1294 Siege of Acre (1291)
22/23 Odon de Pins 1294–1296 Headquarters moved to Limisso, Cyprus
23/24 Guillaume de Villaret 1296–1305

Knights of Rhodes

Nr Title Picture Name Time in office Notes
24/25 Magister Foulques de Villaret 1305–1319 Nephew of Guillaume de Villaret. Hospitaller conquest of Rhodes in 1308/9.
Anti-Grand Master Maurice de Pagnac
25/26 Magister Hélion de Villeneuve 1319–1346
26/27 Magister Dieudonné de Gozon 1346–1353
27/28 Magister Pierre de Corneillan 1353–1355
28/29 Magister Roger de Pins 1355–1365
29/30 Magister Raymond Berengar 1365–1374
20/31 Magister Robert de Juilly (de Juliac) 1374–1376
31/32 Magister Juan Fernández de Heredia 1376–1396
(32/33) Magister Riccardo Caracciolo 1383–1395 Rival Grand Master, recognized only by the Langues of Italy and England.[7]
33/34 Magister Philibert de Naillac 1396–1421
34/35 Magister Anton Flavian de Ripa 1421–1437
35/36 Grandis Magister Jean de Lastic 1437–1454 Siege of Rhodes (1444)
36/37 Grandis Magister Jacques de Milly 1454–1461
37/38 Grandis Magister Piero Raimondo Zacosta 1461–1467
38/39 Grandis Magister Giovanni Battista Orsini 1467–1476
39/40 Grandis Magister Pierre d'Aubusson 1476–1503 Siege of Rhodes (1480)
40/41 Magnus Magister Emery d'Amboise 1503–1512
41/42 Magnus Magister Guy de Blanchefort 1512–1513
42/43 Magnus Magister Fabrizio del Carretto 1513–1521

Knights of Malta

Nr Title Picture Name Time in office Notes
43/44 Magister Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam 1521–1534 Siege of Rhodes (1522), headquarters moved to Malta in 1530
44/45 Magister Piero de Ponte 1534–1535
45/46 Magister Didier de Saint-Jaille 1535–1536
46/47 Magister Juan de Homedes y Coscon 1536–1553 Malta was attacked by an Ottoman fleet in 1551. The attack was repelled, but the Ottomans captured the island of Gozo, and later also the order's stronghold in Tripoli. De Homedes began a program improve the fortifications at Malta
47/48 Magister Claude de la Sengle 1553–1557 Continued the improvement of fortifications, expanding Fort Saint Michael into a major bastion and completing Fort Saint Elmo.
48/49 Magister Jean Parisot de Valette 1557–1568 Valette became the Order's most illustrious leader, commanding the resistance against the Ottomans at the Great Siege of Malta in 1565.
49/50 Magister Pierre de Monte 1568–1572 Continued the construction of the new capital Valletta. Strengthened the order's fleet, and participated in the Battle of Lepanto of 7 October 1571.
50/51 Magister Jean de la Cassière 1572–1581 Crisis in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Expulsion of the Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg) in 1581.
Lieutenant Mathurin Romegas 1577–1581
Anti-Grand Master Mathurin Romegas 1581
51/52 Magister Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle 1581–1595
52/53 Magister Martin Garzez 1595–1601
53/54 Magister Alof de Wignacourt 1601–1622 Constructed the Wignacourt towers and the Wignacourt Aqueduct. Repelled the last serious Ottoman attempt at capturing Malta in 1614.
54/55 Magister Luís Mendes de Vasconcellos 1622–1623
55/56 Magister Magnus Antoine de Paule 1623–1636
56/57 Magister Magnus Giovanni Paolo Lascaris 1636–1657 Caribbean possessions
57/58 Magister Magnus Martin de Redin 1657–1660
58/59 Magister Magnus Annet de Clermont-Gessant 1660 Died less than four months after his election, on 2 June 1660.
59/60 Magister Magnus Raphael Cotoner 1660–1663 Commissioned the Italian Baroque artist Mattia Preti to start painting Saint John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta.
60/61 Magister Magnus Nicolas Cotoner 1663–1680 Siege of Candia + Mattia Preti's work at St John's Co-Cathedral completed.
61/62 Magister Magnus Gregorio Carafa 1680–1690 Renovation of Auberge d'Italie in the Baroque style, improvement of Fort Saint Angelo and Fort Saint Elmo. Ottoman attacks were still expected, but there were no longer any notable engagements.
62/63 Magister Magnus Adrien de Wignacourt 1690–1697 Instituted a widows pension for the widows of those fallen in the Ottoman wars.
63/64 Magister Magnus Ramon Perellos y Roccaful 1697–1720 Organised the Consulato del Mare (Consulate of the Sea). Established relations with imperial Russia. Fought corruption within the Order. Engagement against Ottoman pirates.
64/65 Magister Magnus Marc'Antonio Zondadari 1720–1722
65/66 Magister Magnus António Manoel de Vilhena 1722–1736 Restored the city Mdina, constructed Fort Manoel and significantly improved the fortifications of Malta in general. Built Casa Leoni and Palazzo Parisio, and renovated Verdala Palace. Manoel Theatre (1731). Conducted peace negotiations with the Ottomans, without result. Declared neutrality in the War of the Polish Succession.
66/67 Magister Magnus Ramon Despuig 1736–1741 Improved the fortifications of Mdina, modernised legislation, renovated the Co-Cathedral of St. John. Naval engagements with Ottoman Algeria.
67/68 Magister Magnus Manuel Pinto da Fonseca 1741–1773 Expelled the Jesuits from Malta. In 1753 proclaimed the sovereignty of the Order on Malta and a dispute started with the Kingdom of Sicily under King Charles V. Normal relations were resumed the next year, with the Order retaining de facto control over Malta as a sovereign state.[8]
68/69 Magister Magnus Francisco Ximenes de Texada 1773–1775 Rising of the Priests (1775), bankruptcy of the order.
69/70 Magister Magnus Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc 1775–1797 Instituted the Anglo-Bavarian langue and the Russian Grand Priory.
70/71 Magister Magnus Ferdinand von Hompesch
zu Bolheim
1797–1799 First German elected to the Office. Abdicated 6 July 1799 following the French invasion of Malta.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta

Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto
since 3 May 2018 (2018-05-03)
StyleHis Most Eminent Highness
First monarchGerard Thom
Giovanni Battista Ceschi a Santa Croce
Nr Title Picture Name Time in office Notes
72[9] Grand Master (partial recognition) Paul I of Russia 1798–1801 Elected by the Priory of St. Petersburg in September 1798 (before the abdication of von Hompesch). This election resulted in the establishment of the Russian tradition of the Knights Hospitaller. The pope did not recognise the election at the time. On Paul's death in 1801, his son Alexander I of Russia decided to end this irregular situation and refused to be Grand Master. The election of a new Grand Master was deferred to pope Pius VII.
Nikolay Saltykov 1801–1803 De facto Lieutenant in Saint Petersburg
73[9] Grand Master
Gran Maestro
Giovanni Battista Tommasi 1803–1805 Appointed by Pope Pius VII in 1803. Residence in Messina and Catania
Luogotenente Generale
Innico Maria Guevara-Suardo 1805–1814 Headquarters in Catania. Loss of territories and Protestant branches.
Luogotenente Generale
Andrea Di Giovanni y Centellés 1814–1821 Headquarters in Catania
Luogotenente Generale
Antoine Busca 1821–1834 Headquarters in Ferrara. SMOM recognized at the Congress of Verona (1822).
Luogotenente Generale
Carlo Candida 1834–1845 Headquarters moved to Palazzo Malta, Rome. Restoration of the grand priories of Lombardy-Venetia and of Sicily in 1839/41.
Luogotenente Generale
Filippo di Colloredo-Mels 1845–1864
Luogotenente Generale
Alessandro Borgia 1865–1871
Luogotenente Generale
Giovanni Battista Ceschi
a Santa Croce
74[9] Prince and Grand Master
Princeps et Magister Magnus
Giovanni Battista Ceschi
a Santa Croce
1879–1905 Restoration of the office of Grand Master after a 75-year interregnum, confirmed by Pope Leo XIII.
75[9] Prince and Grand Master
Princeps et Magister Magnus
Galeas von Thun und
76[9] Prince and Grand Master
Principe e Gran Maestro
Ludovico Chigi Albani
della Rovere
Luogotenente Generale
Antonio Hercolani Fava
Luogotenente Generale
Ernesto Paternò Castello
di Carcaci
77[9] Prince and Grand Master
Principe e Gran Maestro
Angelo de Mojana di Cologna 1962–1988
Lieutenant ad interim Jean Charles Pallavicini 1988
78[9] Prince and Grand Master
Principe e Gran Maestro
Andrew Bertie 1988–2008 Partial revision of the constitution (1997, promulgated 1961).[10][11]
Lieutenant ad interim Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto 2008
79[9] Prince and Grand Master
Principe e Gran Maestro
Matthew Festing 2008–2017 First Grand Master elected under the new constitution of 1997. Resigned in 2017 following a dispute with the Vatican.[12]
Lieutenant ad interim Ludwig Hoffmann-Rumerstein 2017
Luogotenente Generale
Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto 2017–2018
80[9] Prince and Grand Master
Principe e Gran Maestro
Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto 2018–present

See also


  1. Morris (1884), 1719.
  2. Morris (1884), p. 33.
  3. J. M. de Francisco Olmos in: Francisco Bueno Pimienta et al., La Orden de Malta en España (1113-2013) vol. 2 (2015), p. 851, fn. 123
  4. Bibliography: Friedrich von Hellwald, Bibliographie méthodique de l'Ordre souv de St. Jean de Jérusalem (1885), 137f. Examples: Abcontrafeiung aller Großmeister des ritterlichen Johanniter-Ordens, Frankfurt 1611. Chevillard, Jacques-Louis, Les noms, qualités, armes et blasons de leurs Eminences Messieurs les Grands-Maistres de l'Ordre de Saint Jean de Jérusalem, dits de Malte, depuis leur origine jusqu'à présent, — Paris (1697, updated 1741). François Clément, Chronologie historique des grands-maîtres de l'Ordre de St. Jean de Jérusalem in: L'art de vérifier les dates, Paris (1770). Cronologia de i Gran-Maestri dello Spedale del Santo Sepolcro, ec. detti di Malta, dedicated to the then-ruling Grand Master, Ramon Perellos y Roccaful, printed by Domenico de' Rossi in Rome (1709). An updated version of this work was re-published with English translation in 1962. Cronologia De I Gran Maestri Dello Spedale Della Sacra Religione Militare Di S Gio Gerosolimitano E Dell’Ordine Del Santo Sepolcro Oggi Detti Di Malta. (1099 -1962) Chronology of the Grand Masters of the Hospital of the Sacred Military Religion of St John of Jerusalem and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre now known as the Order of Malta. (1099-1962), translated by Fra John Edward Critien, photography and design by Daniel Cilia, published in collaboration with Heritage Malta (1962), reprinted in 2005, ISBN 9789993270676. Horquet, Karl, Chronologie der Grossmeister des Hospitalordens während der Kreuzzüge, Berlin (1880) The etched portraits used in the list below fictional (with attributed coats of arms) are from a French Histoire des Chevaliers Hospitaliers published in 1726: Monsignor l'Abbe de Vertot, Histoire des Chevaliers Hospitaliers de S. Jean de Jerusalem - appellez depuis les Chevaliers de Rhodes, et aujourd'hui les Chevaliers de Malthe (1726).
  5. Volume che contiene gli statuti della Sacra Religione Gerosolimitana, Orden de Malta, per Antonio Scionico, 1719,19 (manual continuation of the chronology to Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc as 69th).
  6. The Order's Great Seal, or leaden bulla, remained in use, with some modifications, from the 12th century until 1798. Until 1278, when Nicholas de Lorgne introduced a separate conventual bulla, there was no distinction between the seal of the Grand Master and that of the order. The general design of the seal featured, on the obverse, the Grand Master kneeling in prayer before the patriarchal cross. This image was usually accompanied with the sacred letters alpha and omega, which referenced the Second Coming of Christ. The central image was surrounded by a legend with the Master's name followed by the official designation CVSTOS. Barbara Packard, Seals of the Grand Masters, Museum of the Order of St John, 14 October 2015.
  7. Morris (1884), p. 61 does not count Caracciolo as numbered Grand Master, giving the number 33 to Philibert de Naillac. A page at (as of 2017), the official website of the SMOM, does count Caracciolo as 33rd Grand Master.
  8. Zammit, Vincent (1992). Il-Gran Mastri - Ġabra ta' Tagħrif dwar l-Istorja ta' Malta fi Żmienhom - It-Tieni Volum 1680-1798. Valletta, Malta: Valletta Publishing & Promotion Co. Ltd. pp. 405–406.
  9. Numbering according to the SMOM (website as of 2017) , implies the recognition of Riccardo Caracciolo as 33rd Grand Master, and of Paul I of Russia as 72nd Grand Master (r. 1798–1801).
  10. Constitutional Charter and Code of the SMOM (1997).
  11. The sovereign status of the SMOM had been in question as the previous constitution had implied dependence on the Holy See (which had itself been recognized as sovereign in 1922). Approval of the elected Grand Master by the Pope is no longer explicitly required. Bo J. Theutenberg, The Holy See, the Order of Malta and International Law (2003), ISBN 91-974235-6-4
  12. Pullella, Philip (23 June 2016). "Knights of Malta head resigns after dispute with Vatican". Reuters. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
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