Antoine De Paule, Grand Master of the Order of Malta, 1623 - 1636

  • De Paule built the San Anton Palace as a Knight of the Order, which now serves as the president of Malta’s residence.
  • After being elected, he immediately faced opposition from within the Order due to his rigorous character.
  • He was the first Grand Master to be addressed as "Most Eminent Highness", a title still used to address Grand Masters today.
  • He also founded the town of Paola to accommodate the growing population around the Three Cities.

Born in Gascogne around 1552, Antoine de Paule of the ancient house of Toulouse joined the Order in the Langue of Provence in 1572. He held several important positions within the Order, including Prior of St. Gilles and Grand Commander.

De Paule was described by his contemporaries as a man of great courage, valor, and justice, but at the same time severe when necessary.

After his election as Grand Master on March 10, 1623, de Paule immediately faced opposition within the Order. De Paule’s authoritarian personality may have caused some friction among the knights and other members of the Order, which led to members of the Order questioning his leadership.

During his magistracy, de Paule faced accusations of corruption and other charges as his rigorous character won him enemies, but he was exculpated without appearing in Rome.

De Paule’s magistry was marked by trouble with the Inquisitor and by difficult relations with the successor of Pope Gregory XV, Pope Urban VIII. The Pope adopted the policy of distributing the Order's commanderies in Italy to his own relatives, causing great ferment among the Italian knights.

Portrait of Pope Urban VIII by Pietro da Cortona, c. 1624–1627

During a Chapter General convened by de Paul, Pope Urban VIII insisted that an inquisitor be present. Despite resistance from the knights, Inquisitor Fabio Chigi, later Pope Alexander VII, was present during the entire Chapter General.

Despite this, Pope Urban VIII issued a papal bull in 1630 granting Antoine de Paule the title of "Most Eminent Highness", which is still the title by which the Grand Masters of the Order of Malta are addressed today.

During his reign, de Paule enlarged and embellished the Palace of San Anton, which he had built as a residence for himself while still a knight. Today, the San Anton Palace is the official residence of the president of Malta. The town of Paola was also founded by him to accommodate the growing population around the Three Cities.

Grand Master de Paule fell ill in March 1636 and died on June 10 at the age of 85. He was buried in the Chapel of Provence in the Conventual Church, Valletta. De Paule's legacy lives on in Malta today through several landmarks and institutions named after him, such as Paola and the San Anton Palace.

San Anton Palace today