Manuel Pinto da Fonseca
|Manuel Pinto da Fonseca|
Portrait by Pierre Bernard (1704-1777)
|Grand Master of the Order of Saint John|
18 January 1741 – 24 January 1773
|Monarch||King Charles V (until 1753)|
|Preceded by||Ramon Despuig|
|Succeeded by||Francisco Ximenes de Texada|
24 May 1681|
Lamego, Kingdom of Portugal
23 January 1773 (aged 91)|
|Resting place||St. John's Co-Cathedral|
|Children||José António Pinto da Fonseca e Vilhena|
Kingdom of Portugal|
Order of Saint John
Manuel Pinto da Fonseca (24 May 1681 – 23 January 1773) was the 68th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta from 1741 until his death. He was a Portuguese nobleman, the son of Miguel Álvaro Pinto da Fonseca, Alcaide-Mór de Ranhados, and his wife, Ana Pinto Teixeira.
Before his election as Prince and Grand Master on 18 January 1741, Pinto da Fonseca was a knight of the Langue of Portugal. He gave his name to the then town of Qormi and accorded it the status of a city as "Città Pinto".
In 1749, one of his bodyguards, Giuseppe Cohen, refused to join a plot led by Pasha Mustafa to stage a Muslim slave revolt; this refusal led to the exposure and suppression of the revolt, which afterward was celebrated each 29 June, the anniversary. He lived an envious life to noble families in Malta, which was greatly resented by some that even awaited his long reign to end by his death. He gained a bad reputation for creating large debts for the treasury of the Order, leading to bankruptcy. In 1756, he has built the first printing press in Malta at the magistral palace of the Grand Master, known as la stamperia del Palazzo. He had expelled the Jesuits from Malta, on 28 April 1768, in line with similar acts taken in his homeland Portugal and its Empire, in France, and the Spanish Empire.
After the expulsion of the Jesuit Order, Pinto appropriated all the revenue accruing from its property on the island with the aim of establishing a Pubblica Università di Studi Generali. The decree constituting the University, now the University of Malta was signed by Pinto on 22 November 1769, having been authorised to do so by the Papal brief, Sedula Romani Pontificis, received on 20 October 1769. By 22 November of that year, the Grandmaster signed a bando establishing the University.
As Grand Master, Pinto da Fonseca completed construction of the Auberge de Castille (still one of the most important buildings in the Maltese capital city, Valletta); his bust and arms adorn its façade. Today this building houses the Office of the Prime Minister.
During his reign, in 1764, Pinto da Fonseca negotiated with King Frederick II ("Frederick the Great") of Prussia a reunification of the Protestant Bailiwick of Brandenburg with the Order of Malta, but as Pope Clement XIII would not allow admission into a Roman Catholic organization of men he viewed as heretics the agreement came to naught. Pinto da Fonseca made substantial donations to the Conventual Church, and among the most notable mementoes are two large and heavy bells cast by the Master Founder of the Order of Saint John, Aloisio Bouchut, in 1747 and 1748; they still hang in the belfries of what is now the Co-Cathedral. These bells were made by melting two basilisks that were left by the Ottomans after the Great Siege of 1565.
Pinto built nineteen storehouses at the Marina, which still bear his name, and built several other buildings and structures. When he died, his body was laid in a neoclassic monument with his mosaic portrait.
The city of Qormi adopted these arms, with the tinctures reversed, for its own coat of arms and flag. He had an illegitimate son by one Rosenda Paulichi, daughter of Alberigo Paulichi and Patronilla Ramuzetta, named José António Pinto da Fonseca e Vilhena, who married his first cousin Maria Inácia Pinto da Fonseca de Sousa Teixeira e Vilhena, illegitimate daughter of Francisco Vaz Pinto (his father's brother) by one Clara Cerqueira.
Part of the façade of Auberge de Castille (1741–45), showing Pinto's bust and coat of arms
30 tarì coin minted in 1757
The Castellania (1757–60), built during Pinto's magistracy
Mistra Gate (1760), containing Pinto's coat of arms
Coat of arms of Pinto and the Order on Mistra Battery (c. 1761)
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- Bugeja, Joe (1 March 2015). Origins and history of Argotti Gardens. Times of Malta. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
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| Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller
Francisco Ximenes de Texada