Alof de Wignacourt

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Alof de Wignacourt
Alof de Wignancourt official portrait.jpg
Official portrait of Wignacourt
Grand Master of the Order of Saint John
In office
10 February 1601 – 14 September 1622
MonarchsKing Philip II
King Philip III
Preceded byMartin Garzez
Succeeded byLuís Mendes de Vasconcellos
Personal details
Died14 September 1622
Resting placeSt. John's Co-Cathedral
Military service
AllegianceSovereign Military Order of Malta Order of Saint John
Years of service1564–1622
RankGrand Master
Battles/warsGreat Siege of Malta
Raid of Żejtun
Coat of arms of Wignacourt on the reconstructed Wignacourt Arch

Fra Alof de Wignacourt (1547 – 14 September 1622) was a French nobleman who was the 54th Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem from 10 February 1601 to his death in 1622. Unlike a number of the other Grand Masters, he was popular with the Maltese people.[1] Wignacourt is mostly remembered for the construction of the Wignacourt Aqueduct as well as a series of coastal towers which also bear his name.

1601 Grano coin of Wignacourt

Wignacourt joined the Order in 1564, aged seventeen, and distinguished himself at the Great Siege of Malta a year later. He was elected Grand Master in 1601.

In order to ensure that the local population continued to celebrate the date of his accession, he declared the date of the shipwreck of St Paul in Malta to be the 10 of February; a date that is celebrated passionately until today.

He was patron of Caravaggio following the artist's arrival in Malta in 1607 until his arrest and subsequent expulsion from the Order in 1608.

His reign was notable for the construction of a number of coastal fortifications (the Wignacourt towers), and of the Wignacourt Aqueduct that brought water from the plateau above Rabat to Valletta. The Wignacourt Arch was built as a part of the aqueduct between Birkirkara and Santa Venera, and it had his coat of arms with three fleur-de-lys on it, giving it the name of the Fleur-de-Lys Gate. A settlement which developed around this area is now known as Fleur-de-Lys, and the three fleur-de-lys from the coat of arms also appear on the flag of Santa Venera.[2]

During his reign, in 1614 the Ottomans made their final attempt to conquer Malta. Six thousand men landed at Marsascala Bay and raided the village of Żejtun. The Order's cavalry and Maltese civilians, however, managed to overcome the Turks who retreated, without a single Christian dead.

His parade armour survives and is one of the treasures of the armoury of the Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta.

Alof de Wignacourt died of apoplexy while he was out shooting on 14 September 1622 at the age of 75.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alof de Wignacourt. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta in South Africa, 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  2. ^ Alof De Wignacourt : 1601–1622. Archived 2013-10-08 at the Wayback Machine San Andrea School, 1999. Retrieved 30 January 2014.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller
Succeeded by