Welcome to the Maltese Islands
discover Cottonera
Fort St. Angelo Vittoriosa Senglea Cospicua Kalkara Cottonera Region Cottonera Today
From Hammuna to Borgo del Castello - Birgu
Città Nuova
Città Vittoriosa
The Inquisition
The Medieval Episcopal Inquisition
The Roman Inquistion
The Inquisitors
The Inquisitor's Palace
The Inquisition in Vittoriosa
The Collegiate Issue
Historical Sites - Collachio
Historical Sites - Marina Wharf
Historical Sites - Other

Vittoriosa Local Council,
Couvre Porte,
Vittoriosa, CSP 09
Tel: 2166 2166
E-mail: [email protected]
The Medieval Episcopal Inquisition
The Medieval Inquisition was Episcopal because it was left in the hands of bishops. Malta came under the direct jurisdiction of the Inquisitor General of Sicily (mostly Domenicans) until 1503, when its powers were transferred to the Spanish Inquisition. However, this never really affected Malta all that much as the local church was run by a Vicar General and its bishops, who were the Pro-Inquisitors, rarely hazarded a visit to the Islands between 1506 and 1540.

The situation changed however with the arrival of the Knights, when the security against corsair incursions afforded by their presence encouraged the bishops to start residing in Malta. In 1540 Bishop Domenico Cubelles (1540-66) set his seat in Vittoriosa where in 1542 he built his palace which included a prison. Bishop Cubelles was the de facto Pro-Inquisitor of the Medieval Inquisition between 1540 and 1561 and had to face three Grandmasters; D’Homedes, La Sengle and La Valette, who were not happy with the Bishop’s Inquisitorial role.

Emblem of the Inquisition

The Inquisitors

D’Homedes set up a commission to investigate the possibility of the Order setting up an inquisitional tribunal and in 1546 he imprisoned the French priest Francesco Gesualdo in St Angelo on grounds of heresy. But the Roman authorities contended that the Grandmaster was not authorised to proceed in cases of heresy and so Gesualdo was released into the Bishop’s hands where he was subsequently tried and found guilty.

In 1559 La Valette again expressed the Order’s wish to have an inquisitional tribunal in Vittoriosa. La Valette’s request was granted in 1561 but the Holy Office, stating that to their ‘great sorrow’ they had ‘been informed that the destructive poison of heresy has wormed its way into the City and Island of Malta even among the members of the Order of Jerusalem’, replaced the Medieval Inquisition with the Roman Inquisitor. Bishop Cubelles was appointed as its representative to be the first Inquisitor of this Tribunal.

The Inquisitor's Palace

Main Staircase

Wall with graffiti

Central Court Yard

discover Cottonera
discover Cottonera