Ramón Despuig y Martinez de Marcilla, Grand Master of the Order of Malta, 1736 - 1741

  • Grand Master Despuig's tenure was marked by peace and stability.
  • He focused on eliminating Turkish influence to secure Mediterranean commerce.
  • He oversaw the completion of St. Barbara’s Church and the new Augustinian Priory Church.
  • Despuig generously donated silver artifacts to the Conventual Church of St. John.

Born in 1670 to a noble Mallorcan family, Ramón Despuig y Martinez de Marcilla was a descendant of the esteemed Cotoner Grand Masters. His noble lineage was recognized at the tender age of three when his proof of nobility was submitted in the Priory of Catalunya.

Before his election as the Grand Master on December 16, 1736, Despuig served as Seneschal and Bailiff of Mallorca.

His five-year reign was characterized by peace, stability, and strategic decision-making. One of his first initiatives was to establish security in the Mediterranean by eliminating Turkish influence, thereby allowing commercial activity to flourish without fear of attack.

This led to unofficial peace and a period of decreased military activity with the Turks.

During Despuig's reign, a noteworthy naval expedition led by Captain Fra’ Bartolomeo Tommasi resulted in the capture of two Algerian ships off the coast of Spain.

In his quest to fortify Malta against potential attacks, Despuig commissioned Bailiff René Jacob de Tigné to construct Fort Tigné at Dragut Point, opposite Marsamxett. This strategic fortification was completed during the reign of Fra’ Emmanuel de Rohan.

Fort Tigné at Dragut Point today

Under Despuig, St. Barbara’s Church and the Augustinian Priory Church were completed.

As a deeply religious man, Despuig prioritized promoting devotion and piety among the knights, while also working to improve the Order's internal administration.

His magistry saw the completion of St. Barbara's Church in Valletta, designed by Romano Carapecchia, and the construction of the new Augustinian Priory Church in Rabat.

St. Barbara's Church in Valletta today

Augustinian Priory Church (also known as St. Mark’s Church) in Rabat today

Painting of Ramón Despuig y Martinez de Marcilla

Despuig's generosity extended to various benefactions, such as donating a set of silver Our Lady of Liesse statues and a silver-coated altar for the Chapel of St. George of the Langue of Aragon in the Conventual Church of St. John (St. John’s Co-Cathedral).

However, he abolished the Grand Master's public banquets, a decision later reversed by his successor, Fra’ Emanuel Pinto da Fonseca.

Grand Master Despuig passed away on January 15, 1741, at the age of 71. His remains were interred in the crypt of the Conventual Church. Despuig's legacy of piety, fortification, and devotion continues to be remembered and admired.

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