Claude de la Sengle

Claude de la Sengle
Grand Master of the Order of Saint John
In office
11 September 1553  18 August 1557
Monarch King Charles II
King Philip I
Preceded by Juan de Homedes y Coscon
Succeeded by Jean Parisot de Valette
Personal details
Born 1494
Died 18 August 1557 (aged 6263)
Mdina, Malta
Resting place St. John's Co-Cathedral (originally buried at Fort St. Angelo)
Nationality French
Military service
Allegiance Sovereign Military Order of Malta Order of Saint John
Battles/wars Capture of Mehdia

Fra' Claude de la Sengle (1494 18 August 1557) was the 48th Grand Master of the Order of Malta, from 1553 his death. His successor was Fra' Jean Parisot de Valette.

A native Frenchman, de la Sengle, then Bailli of the French langue of the Order, was heavily involved in the battles of the Knights against the Turkish corsair and Ottoman admiral Turgut Reis in the Mediterranean and in North Africa, and particularly in the struggles for Djerba and Tripoli.

Coat of arms of Senglea, based on the personal arms of de la Sengle.

De la Sengle had considerable impact on the military strengthening of Malta, notably by initiating in 1554 the development of the city of Senglea, which was later named after him and bears his coat of arms.[1] He also expanded Fort Saint Michael into a major bastion and completed Fort Saint Elmo, which had been begun by his predecessor, Grand Master Juan de Homedes y Coscon.

Later on, Charles V wanted to grant Mehdia to the Order, but the commission that was set up decided that it would be too expensive to maintain. Therefore, Charles V ordered the Viceroy of Sicily, Juan de Vega, to destroy it to prevent Muslim occupation.[2] De Vega did burn Mehdia, but retaliated against Malta for not accepting the city, and prohibited exportation of wheat to the island. To combat this, Sengle brought the engineer Vincenzo Vogo to Malta to upgrade the mills so the population would not starve.

The Valletta tornado most likely occurred during Sengle's reign in 1555 or 1556, although some sources say that it occurred in 1551. According to some sources, four galleys named Santa Fè, San Michele, San Filippo and San Claudio, capsized in the tornado and help arrived from abroad for the Order to acquire new galleys to replace them. In 1557, Prior François De Lorena commanded five of the Order's galleys and they engaged a Muslim fleet off Rhodes. They were defeated and many lives were lost. The remaining galleys arrived at the Grand Harbour on 17 June, and de la Sengle and many others cried when hearing about the loss of loved ones.[3]

After this defeat, Sengle's health deteriorated and he retreated to Boschetto. He died on 18 August 1557 at Mdina and was buried in the Chapel of Saint Anne within Fort St. Angelo. His heart was buried in the Church of the Annunciation, outside Rabat.[4] His remains were later moved to the crypt of St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta later on in the 16th century.[5]


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Claude de la Sengle (GM 48).
  1. "Sovereign Military Order of Malta - Grandmaster Claude de la Sengle". Flags of the World. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  2. Houtsma, M. Th. (1993). E. J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam : 1913 – 1936. 5. Leiden: BRILL. p. 122. ISBN 9789004097919.
  3. Abela, Joe. "Claude de la Sengle (1494 - 1557)". Senglea Local Council. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  4. "Claude De La Sengle : 1553-1557". San Andrea School. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  5. Mallia-Milanes, Victor (2008). The Military Orders: History and heritage. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited. p. 62. ISBN 9780754662907. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
Preceded by
Juan de Homedes y Coscon
Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller
Succeeded by
Jean Parisot de Valette
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