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List of grand masters of the Knights Hospitaller

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Coat of arms of the Order of Saint John. The personal coat of arms of the Grand Master would be shown alongside the order's coat of arms in 14th to 15th centuries. Beginning in the mid-15th century, the Grand Master would quarter the order's coat of arms with his own.

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.

In lists of the heads of the Order, the title "Grand Master" is often applied retrospectively to the early heads of the Order. The medieval heads of the Order used 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 (reigned 1437–1454).[1] Later grand masters in Rhodes used Magnus Magister (Grand Master).

In 1607 the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II created the Grand Master a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire (Reichsfürst).[2] This grant was renewed by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II on July 16, 1620.[2][3] On March 20, 1607, Pope Paul V granted the Grand Master the style of His Eminence and precedence at the Court of Rome immediately after the cardinals.[2]

In 1880 the title of Fürst (Prince) was recognised in Austria by the Emperor Franz Joseph I.[4]

On February 2, 1929, the title of Principe (Prince) and the style of Altezza Eminentissima (Most Eminent Highness) were recognised in Italy by King Victor Emmanuel III.[5]

The style currently used by the Grand Master is:

English: Most Eminent Highness,[6]
Italian: Altezza Eminentissima,[7]
French: Altesse Eminentissime,[8]
German: Hoheit und Eminenz,[9]
Spanish: Alteza Eminentísima.[10]

Numbered lists of the heads of the Order were published beginning in the early 17th century, with updated editions appearing throughout the 18th century.[11] The numbering of Masters and Grand Masters published in the 1719 Statutes of the Order lists Blessed Gerard as founder without number, Raymond du Puy as 1st Master, and Ramón Perellós (the incumbent as of 1719) as 63rd Grand Master.[12] The numbering currently used by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta lists Blessed Gerard as 1st Master, Raymond du Puy as 2nd Master, Ramón Perellós y Rocafull as 64th Grand Master, and Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto as 80th Grand Master.[13]

Knights Hospitaller (Kingdom of Jerusalem)[edit]

No. 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 by Paschal II in his bull Pie postulatio voluntatis in 1113
1/2 Guardian Raymond du Puy 1118/21/23–1160 Succeeded Gerard after Pierre de Barcelona and Boyant Roger served in ad interim capacity. Began the use of the Hospitallers as a military force in the Holy Land and codified rules of conduct for the Order. Introduced the Order's Great Seal.[14]
2/3 Guardian Auger de Balben 1160–1162/3
3/4 Guardian Arnaud de Comps c. 1162–1163 Historicity uncertain. Arnaud de Comps is today considered by some as a master who never existed, his name having appeared in the chronological lists placed at the top of the statutes, but his rank is still maintained in the lists of the Grand Masters.
4/5 Guardian Gilbert of Assailly 1163–1169 Supported Amalric of Jerusalem in the Crusader invasions of Egypt
5/6 Guardian Gastone de Murols c. 1170–1172
6/7 Guardian Jobert of Syria c. 1169/72–1177 Acted as regent for king Amalric of Jerusalem in 1172. In 1174, opposed Miles of Plancy in favour of Raymond III of Tripoli.
7/8 Guardian Roger de Moulins 1177–1187 Killed at the Battle of Cresson. Commander William Borrel was appointed Grand Master ad interim, and he was killed at the Battle of Hattin, 3 months later.
8/9 Provisor Armengol de Aspa 1187–1190 Grand Master ad interim during the loss of Jerusalem in 1187, headquarters moved to Acre. Included in the canonical list of Grand Masters compiled in the early modern period. After the capture of Acre and the consolidation of the order, Armengol abdicated, and Garnier de Nablus elected as Grand Master.
9/10 Guardian Garnier de Nablus 1190–1192 Supported Richard I of England in the Third Crusade.
10/11 Guardian Geoffroy de Donjon 1193–1202 After his death, succeeded by Pierre de Mirmande as Grand Master ad interim.
11/12 Guardian Afonso de Portugal 1202–1206 Resigned in 1206
12/13 Guardian Geoffroy le Rat 1206–1207 First structured the Order by nationality, or Langues.
13/14 Guardian Guérin de Montaigu 1207–1228 Fifth Crusade.
14/15 Guardian Bertrand de Thessy 1228–1231 Sixth Crusade.
15/16 Guardian Guérin Lebrun 1231–1236 Conflict with Bohemond IV of Antioch.
16/17 Guardian Bertrand de Comps 1236–1240 Barons' Crusade, Headquarters moved to Jerusalem.
17/18 Guardian Pierre de Vieille-Brioude 1240–1242 Battle of Gaza, conflict with the Templars.
18/19 Guardian Guillaume de Chateauneuf 1242–1258 Fall of Jerusalem in 1244, headquarters at Acre, Krak des Chevaliers and Margat. Captured at La Forbie in 1244. Jean de Ronay served as Grand Master ad interim, dying in 1250 at Mansurah. De Chateauneuf was released by the Ayyubids on 17 October 1250.
19/20 Guardian Hugues de Revel 1258–1277 Loss of Krak des Chevaliers in 1271
20/21 Guardian Nicolas Lorgne 1277–1285 Loss of Margat in 1285. Upon his death, Grand Commander Jacques de Taxi served as Grand Master ad interim until his successor Jean de Villiers arrived in the Holy Land.
21/22 Guardian Jean de Villiers 1285–1294 Siege of Acre.
22/23 Guardian Odon de Pins 1294–1296 Headquarters moved to Limisso, Cyprus.
23/24 Guardian Guillaume de Villaret 1296–1305

Knights of Rhodes[edit]

No. Title Picture Name Time in office Notes
24/25 Master Foulques de Villaret 1305–1319 Nephew of Guillaume de Villaret. Resigned at request of Pope John XXII, 1319. Died 1327.
Anti-Master Maurice de Pagnac
25/26 Master Hélion de Villeneuve 1319–1346
26/27 Master Dieudonné de Gozon 1346–1353
27/28 Master Pierre de Corneillan 1353–1355
28/29 Master Roger de Pins 1355–1365
29/30 Master Raymond Berengar 1365–1374
30/31 Master Robert de Juilly (de Juliac) 1374–1376
31/32 Master Juan Fernández de Heredia 1376–1396 Appointed by Pope Gregory XI. Later supported Antipope Clement VII. Deposed by Pope Urban VI, 1382. Continued as Anti-Master at Rhodes until his death.
32/33 Master Riccardo Caracciolo 1383–1395 Appointed by Pope Urban VI, 1382.
33/34 Master Philibert de Naillac 1396–1421
34/35 Master Anton Flavian de Ripa 1421–1437
35/36 Grand Master Jean de Lastic 1437–1454 Siege of Rhodes (1444); first use of the title "Grand Master" (Grandis Magister)
36/37 Grand Master Jacques de Milly 1454–1461
37/38 Grand Master Piero Raimondo Zacosta 1461–1467
38/39 Grand Master Giovanni Battista Orsini 1467–1476
39/40 Grand Master Pierre d'Aubusson 1476–1503 Siege of Rhodes (1480)
40/41 Grand Master Emery d'Amboise 1503–1512
41/42 Grand Master Guy de Blanchefort 1512–1513
42/43 Grand Master Fabrizio del Carretto 1513–1521
43/44 Grand Master Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam 1521–1534 Siege of Rhodes (1522), headquarters moved to Malta in 1530

Knights of Malta[edit]

No. Title Picture Name Time in office Notes
43/44 Grand Master Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam 1521–1534 Headquarters moved from Rhodes in 1530
44/45 Grand Master Piero de Ponte 1534–1535
45/46 Grand Master Didier de Saint-Jaille 1535–1536
46/47 Grand Master Juan de Homedes 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 to improve the fortifications at Malta.
47/48 Grand Master 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 Grand Master 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 Grand Master 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 Grand Master 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 Grand Master Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle 1581–1595
52/53 Grand Master Martín Garzés 1595–1601
53/54 Prince and Grand Master 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 Prince and Grand Master Luís Mendes de Vasconcellos 1622–1623
55/56 Prince and Grand Master Antoine de Paule 1623–1636
56/57 Prince and Grand Master Giovanni Paolo Lascaris 1636–1657 Caribbean possessions
57/58 Prince and Grand Master Martin de Redin 1657–1660
58/59 Prince and Grand Master Annet de Clermont-Gessant 1660 Died less than four months after his election, on 2 June 1660.
59/60 Prince and Grand Master Rafael Cotoner 1660–1663 Commissioned the Italian Baroque artist Mattia Preti to start painting Saint John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta.
60/61 Prince and Grand Master Nicolás Cotoner 1663–1680 Siege of Candia + Mattia Preti's work at St John's Co-Cathedral completed.
61/62 Prince and Grand Master 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 Prince and Grand Master Adrien de Wignacourt 1690–1697 Instituted a widows pension for the widows of those fallen in the Ottoman wars.
63/64 Prince and Grand Master Ramón Perellós 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 Prince and Grand Master Marc'Antonio Zondadari 1720–1722
65/66 Prince and Grand Master 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 Prince and Grand Master Ramón Despuig 1736–1741 Improved the fortifications of Mdina, modernised legislation, renovated the Co-Cathedral of St. John. Naval engagements with Ottoman Algeria.
67/68 Prince and Grand Master 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.[15]
68/69 Prince and Grand Master Francisco Ximénez de Tejada 1773–1775 Rising of the Priests (1775), bankruptcy of the order.
69/70 Prince and Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc 1775–1797 Instituted the Anglo-Bavarian langue and the Russian Grand Priory.
70/71 Prince and Grand Master 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[edit]

Prince and Grand Master of Sovereign Military Order of Malta
John T. Dunlap
Prince and Grand Master

since 13 June 2022 (2022-06-13)
StyleHis Most Eminent Highness
First monarchBlessed Gerard
No. Title Picture Name Time in office Notes
72[16] Grand Master de facto Paul I of Russia 1798–1801 Elected by the Priory of St. Petersburg in September 1798 (before the abdication of von Hompesch). Election not confirmed by Pope Pius VII.
Nikolai Saltykov 1801–1803 De facto Lieutenant in Saint Petersburg.
73[16] Prince and Grand Master Giovanni Battista Tommasi 1803–1805 Appointed by Pope Pius VII. Residence in Messina and Catania.
Lieutenant Innico Maria Guevara-Suardo 1805–1814 Headquarters in Catania.
Lieutenant Andrea Di Giovanni y Centellés 1814–1821 Headquarters in Catania.
Lieutenant Antoine Busca 1821–1834 Headquarters in Ferrara.
Lieutenant Carlo Candida 1834–1845 Headquarters moved to Palazzo Malta, Rome.
Lieutenant Filippo di Colloredo-Mels 1845–1864
Lieutenant Alessandro Borgia 1865–1871
Lieutenant Giovanni Battista Ceschi
a Santa Croce
74[16] Prince and Grand Master 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[16] Prince and Grand Master Galeas von Thun und
76[16] Prince and Grand Master Ludovico Chigi Albani
della Rovere
Lieutenant Antonio Hercolani Fava
Lieutenant Ernesto Paternò Castello
di Carcaci
1955–1962 Constitutional Charter approved by Apostolic Letter of Pope John XXIII, June 24, 1961.
77[16] Prince and Grand Master Angelo de Mojana di Cologna 1962–1988
Lieutenant ad interim Jean Charles Pallavicini 1988
78[16] Prince and Grand Master Andrew Bertie 1988–2008 Constitutional Charter and Code revised by the Extraordinary Chapter General 28-30 April 1997.[17]
Lieutenant ad interim Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto 2008
79[16] Prince and Grand Master Matthew Festing 2008–2017 First Grand Master elected under the new constitution of 1997. Resigned in 2017.[18]
Lieutenant ad interim Ludwig Hoffmann-Rumerstein 2017
Lieutenant of the Grand Master Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto 2017–2018
80[16] Prince and Grand Master Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto 2018–2020
Lieutenant ad interim Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas 2020
Lieutenant of the Grand Master Marco Luzzago 2020–2022
Lieutenant ad interim Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas 2022
Lieutenant of the Grand Master John T. Dunlap 2022–2023 Appointed by Pope Francis.
81[16] Prince and Grand Master John T. Dunlap 2023–present First Grand Master following the 2022 revision of the Order's constitution.[19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Morris (1884), 17–19.
  2. ^ a b c Gothaisches Genealogisches Handbuch des Fürstlichen Häuser, Fürstliche Häuser Band 2 (Marburg: Verlag des Deutschen Adelsarchivs, 2018), 175.
  3. ^ "Del titolo di 'Altezza' del Gran Maestro dell'Ordine Gerosolimitano", Rivista del Collegio araldico anno I (1903): 271.
  4. ^ Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstlicher Häuser Band I (Glücksburg: C. A. Starke, 1951), 178.
  5. ^ "Regio Decreto 21 gennaio 1929, n. 61", articolo 51 Gazzetta Ufficiale del Regno d'Italia, Anno 70, Numero 28 (2 febbraio 1929), 526.
  6. ^ Constitutional Charter and Code, Title III, Article 12, Sovereign Order of Malta.
  7. ^ Carta Costituzionale e Codice, Titolo III, Articolo 12, Sovrano Ordine di Malta.
  8. ^ Charte constitutionelle et Code, Titre III, Art. 12, Ordre Souverain de Malte.
  9. ^ Verfassung und Codex, Kapitel III, Artikel 12, Souveräner Malteserorden.
  10. ^ Carta Constitucional y Código, Títolo III, Art. 12, Soberano Orden de Malta.
  11. ^ 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).
  12. ^ Volume che contiene gli statuti della Sacra Religione Gerosolimitana, Orden de Malta, per Antonio Scionico, 1719,1–9 (manual continuation of the chronology to Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc as 69th).
  13. ^ "The Grand Masters". orderofmalta.int. Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Numbering according to the SMOM (website orderofmalta.int 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).
  17. ^ Constitutional Charter and Code of the SMOM (1997).
  18. ^ Pullella, Philip (23 June 2016). "Knights of Malta head resigns after dispute with Vatican". Reuters. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  19. ^ Dunlap's election was made possible by the 2022 revisions to the Order's constitution ordered by Pope Francis, which removed the traditional requirement that the Grand Master be able to prove noble ancestry.
  20. ^ "The Order of Malta's new Constitution". orderofmalta.int. Sovereign Military Order of Malta. 2022-09-03. Retrieved 2023-05-03.

External links[edit]