Francisco Ximenes de Texada, Grand Master of the Order of Malta, 1773 - 1775

  • Grand Master Ximenes sparked widespread protests among the population after reducing salaries to combat a financial crisis.
  • After quelling a rebellion, Ximenes executed ringleaders, displaying their heads at St. James Cavalier.
  • He clashed with the clergy when the Bishop granted hunting exemptions to clergy-owned land.
  • He clashed with the clergy when the Bishop granted hunting exemptions to clergy-owned land.

Born in 1703, Fra’ Francisco Ximenes de Texada was a knight of the Langue of Aragon and held the titles of Grand Prior of Navarre and Seneschal under Grand Master Pinto.

His ascension to the Grand Magistry came on January 28, 1773, following the death of his predecessor.

Ximenes' tenure as Grand Master was rife with challenges that stemmed from both his own personality and unfortunate circumstances.

Ximenes was known for his stern and arrogant demeanor, which did not endear him to his Maltese subjects or fellow knights.

Ximenes sparked widespread protest after reducing government salaries.

Painting of Francisco Ximenes de Texada

His election came at a particularly difficult time, as Malta's finances had been depleted due to the extravagant reign of Pinto. Ximenes faced the unenviable task of replenishing the nation's coffers.

In an effort to generate revenue, he reduced government salaries, sparking widespread protests among the populace.

The Grand Master also attempted to address food shortages by implementing an economic policy that temporarily prohibited the hunting of wild rabbits. The goal was to allow the rabbit population to grow and provide an abundant source of affordable meat.

This decision, however, angered the local farmers who feared their crops would be consumed by rats.

Ximenes eventually agreed to exempt certain territories from the ban, but controversy arose when the Bishop of Malta, Giovanni Carmine Pellerano, extended the exemption to lands owned by the clergy.

This led to tensions between Ximenes and the clergy, resulting in some priests requesting the King of Naples to remove the Grand Master from power.

Ximenes executed the rebellion's ringleaders, displaying their heads at St. James Cavalier.

Before receiving a response, a rebellion erupted in Malta, known as the Rising of the Priests. This was led by Don Gaetano Mannarino and other members of the Maltese clergy who were dissatisfied with Ximenes's policies and governance.

On September 29, 1775, the rebels captured St. James Cavalier and Fort St. Elmo, prompting Ximenes to quickly dispatch soldiers to defend St. James Cavalier.

Fort St. James Cavalier

Fort St. Elmo

After the uprising broke out, Ximénes summoned the Council of State to address the situation. The Council sent the Vicar General to hear the demands of the rebels, who agreed to negotiate.

However, after further threats from the rebels, the Order decided to recapture St. Elmo, and St. James surrendered shortly afterwards.

Following these events, Ximenes pledged to uphold the privileges of the Maltese people. However, he felt it necessary to send a message to the populace.

He arrested and executed the rebellion's ringleaders, displaying their heads on spikes at St. James Cavalier. Mannarino was spared execution but was imprisoned for life, only to be later released by the French.

Grand Master Francisco Ximenes de Texada's turbulent reign ended with his death on November 11, 1775.

His legacy was marked by his harsh rule, and he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in the crypt of St. John's Conventual Church (St. John’s Co-Cathedral), largely forgotten by the people he once governed.

St. John’s Co-Cathedral (interior), where Ximenes’ remains were laid to rest