Malta - Portugal Silver Replica Coin of Frei Vilhena - MALTA


From Malta

Beautiful Portugal Replica of the D. Frei Antonio Manoel De Vilhena (1722-1736) in Hallmarked Silver who received the order of Malta - SUPER RARE !

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The history of the relations between Portugal and Malta is intrinsically linked to the Order of St. John, also known as the Order of Malta, to whom the islands were ceded by the Emperor Charles V, with a view to ensuring the defence of the Western Mediterranean from the offensives of the Ottoman Empire and of the Muslim pirates who were often in alliance with or in the service of the Turks, and who endangered maritime commerce in the region.

The reign of Luis Mendez de Vasconcellos (1622-1623) as Grand Master of the Order was too short. It was only with the election of another Portuguese Grand Master, Antonio Manoel de Vilhena (1722-1736), that interest in Maltese affairs gained ground. 

Vilhena planted in the Maltese islands some of the most sumptuous and elegant buildings of the Order's legacy to Malta. The handsome palace at Mdina, the gem of a Court theatre in Valletta, the charming country house at Santa Venera, the Banca Giuratale in Gozo, testify to his zeal as a builder. His benevolence granted Malta a hospital for the incurables and a home for poor women. He laid out the residential suburb of Floriana and fortified the island in Marsamuscetto. In 1724 he codified for the first time the laws of Malta. He was the first Grand Master to receive from the Holy Father the high royal honour of the presentation of the Stoc and Pilier, a velvet casque and an ornamental sword. 

Vilhena's fame aroused a lot of attention in Portugal, bringing about the publication of the two first known Portuguese maps of Malta. One was drawn in 1736 by João de Abreu Gorjão, published in Lisbon in the Memorias of the Order by Fra Lucas de S. Catharina. The smaller one was published by Manoel Pimentel at about the same period. 

Only five years after Vilhena's death, another Portuguese was elected, Emmanuel Pinto de Fonseca, who reigned until 1773, when he was a nonagenarian. The magnificent Pinto, an absolutist ruler, encouraged the commercial connections that had long subsisted between Malta and Portugal. He greatly embellished the Palace of the Castellania (the Court of Law), he built the armorial ornamented gateway of the Monte di Redenzione at Mellieha, and the Auberge de Castille preserves intact the rich façade that dates back to his time. During his reign, a considerable number of chapbooks were published in Lisbon on Maltese naval engagements, and on the famoza Ilha de Malta. 

The end of the 18th Century brought about a close camaraderie between the Maltese and the Portuguese. On 19 September 1798, the Portuguese fleet came to the relief of Malta. It was under the command of Admiral Marquis de Niza, who blockaded the French invader and landed a contingent to help the Maltese insurgents. A Portuguese officer, Xavier Mattheus, was commended for his bravery in the field, while other Portuguese sailors died fighting in the harbour area, until 13 December, 1799, when two British regiments reached the island. De Niza's portrait is preserved in the Maritime Museum at Lisbon, together with a map showing where the fleet operated. 

Malta became a British colony. In 1964, the islands obtained Independence. Diplomatic relations between Malta and Portugal were established in 1968, these being handled by the Embassies of Portugal in Rome and of Malta in Paris respectively. The two countries have signed agreements in the fields of Aviation, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation and Double Taxation. Negotiations on Cooperation in the fight against Drug Trafficking, Organised Crime and Terrorism are at an advanced state. Following Malta's accession to the European Union (2004), the two countries decided to raise the level of their diplomatic relations and, in 2005, the first resident Portuguese Ambassador was nominated; in the following year, the first resident Maltese Ambassador in Lisbon formally took office.  

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