Marc'Antonio Zondadari, Grand Master of the Order of Malta, 1720 - 1722

  • Grand Master Zondadari expanded the Order's fleet, dominating the Mediterranean.
  • His uncle, Fabio Chigi, served as Inquisitor in Malta and later became Pope Alexander VII.
  • He emphasized maritime power and captured two significant Algerian vessels during his reign.
  • Under Zondadari, Valletta's Municipal Palace was commissioned during the Baroque period.

Marc'Antonio Zondadari, born in 1658, came from a prominent aristocratic family in Siena.

He was the nephew of Fabio Chigi, who served as Inquisitor in Malta from 1634 to 1639 and later became Pope Alexander VII. His brother, Antonfelice Zondadari, was a cardinal.

Zondadari started his service in the Order of Malta on the galleys in Naples. His courageous and resolute demeanor earned him important roles within the Order, including ambassador to the papal court in Rome.

He eventually became Bailiff Grand Cross and General of the Galleys in 1709.

Upon the death of Grand Master Ramón Perellós in 1720, Zondadari was elected as the 65th Grand Master of the Order of Malta.

Zondadari’s tenure saw unrivaled dominance in the Mediterranean.

Portrait of Marc'Antonio Zondadari

His main priority was to introduce disciplinary measures within the Order, and he published a booklet titled "Breve istruzione dell'Ordine Militare di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme" to outline the ideals that members should strive to uphold.

During Zondadari's brief two-year reign, the Order's naval activities were particularly active. He emphasized the importance of maritime power and worked diligently to enhance the strength and efficiency of the navy.

This period saw the capture of two significant Algerian vessels in 1720, and the Order enjoyed unrivaled dominance in the Mediterranean.

Zondadari commissioned the construction of two new vessels, the San Raimondo and the San Giorgio, to join the existing fleet of the San Giovanni, San Giacomo, and Santa Caterina.

He commissioned Valletta's Municipal Palace during the height of the Baroque period.

His tenure as Grand Master also coincided with the height of the Baroque period. He granted privileges to the University of Malta and commissioned Italian architect Romano Carapecchia to design a new Municipal Palace in Valletta, known today as the Banca Giuratale.

This palace replaced the old tenements owned by the Common Treasury and exemplified Zondadari's taste for grandeur.

In recognition of its formidable fortifications, Zondadari bestowed the name "Cospicua" upon the city of Bormla.

Municipal Palace in Valletta, known today as the Banca Giuratale

The city of Cospicua, formerly known as Bormla, today

Sadly, he fell ill in January 1722 and passed away on June 16 after six months of intense suffering. A magnificent bronze monument marks his grave, located to the left of the main entrance of the Conventual Church in Valletta (St. John’s Co-Cathedral). His heart was transported to his birthplace, Siena, as a tribute to his legacy.

Funerary monument of Zondadari in the nave of St. John's Co-Cathedral