- Martín Garzés was the first Grand Master to fortify Gozo, strengthening the defenses of the Maltese Islands.
- To combat the exploitative practice of usury, he founded the first “Monte di Pietà” institution which gave poor people access to loans at reasonable interest rates.
- He established the “Cumoli di Carità” charity fund which provided dowries for poor brides.
- Before he was elected Grand Master, Garzés was Castellan of Emposta.
From the Langue of Aragon, Martín Garzés was Castellan of Emposta before being elected Grand Master on June 9, 1595, at the age of 70.
Garzés’s five-year reign was essentially a peaceful and prosperous one, distinguished by a number of successful naval activities.
During the Turkish attacks on Hungary in 1597, Garzés called on the Knights of the Order to fight in support of the Hungarian resistance, declaring that any knight who aided Hungary would receive the same privileges as those who served on board the Order’s galleys or resided in the Convent.
Grand Master Garzés continued to strengthen the defenses of the Maltese islands by fortifying the island of Gozo. He successfully secured a grant of 40,000 scudi from Philip II of Spain to fund the building of a watch tower on the island.
Grand Master Garzés continued to strengthen the defenses of the Maltese islands by fortifying the island of Gozo.
Although he died before seeing his dream materialize, the tower was built a few years later and became known as “St Martin’s Tower” or “Garzés Tower” in his honor. Unfortunately, the tower was demolished by British forces in the 19th century.
Following the petition of Fra’ Manuel de Cours of the Priory of Portugal in 1598, Garzés established the “Monte di Pietà” to combat the exploitative practice of usury. This institution gave poor people access to loans with very reasonable interest rates. In addition, he founded the “Cumoli di Carità” funds for various charitable purposes, especially to provide dowries for poor brides.
Garzés established the “Monte di Pietà” to [...] give poor people access to loans with very reasonable interest rates.
In 1599, the Grand Master issued a decree in favor of the Swiss, allowing Swiss children of high-standing Roman Catholic descent to be received in the Priory of Germany.
In an attempt to keep the peace, the Grand Master failed to prevent the Inquisition’s interference in the jurisdiction of the Order. This led to Garzés’s authority being compromised towards the end of his reign.
Grand Master Garzés died at the age of 75 on February 7, 1601, and was laid to rest in the crypt of the Conventual Church.