Maltese School: Flagship of Emmanuel de Rohan de Polduc (18th century)


Emmanuel de Rohan de Polduc (1725-1797) was the grandmaster of the Order of Saint John (aka the Order of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller or Sovereign Military Order of Malta) from 1775-1797. The order was founded in 1048 by merchants from Amalfi in Italy to build a hospital in Jerusalem to take care for pilgrims of any religious faith or race. In 1113 pope Paschal II recognized the foundation of the Hospital and the order became a lay-religious order under the protection of the Church. Because the order also provided travelling pilgrims with an armed escort, the order quickly became military. After the fall of the Holy Land, the order moved its base first to Rhodos in 1309 but when that was conquered by the Ottomans in 1522, the order again moved its base - now to Malta. On Malta they successfully defended the island against the Ottomans (especially during the epic siege 18 May – 11 September 1565). Because of their location on an island the order also build a large navy to patrol the Mediterranean. The end of the 18th century also saw the end of the order on Malta as the island was captured by Napoleon in 1798 during his expedition to Egypt. The order eventually settled definitively in Rome, were they still are today. The painting shows the flagship (a galley) of Emmanuel which is decorated with the flags of the Order of Saint John. Painting from the 18th century.