chapter  IX

Giliberto Abbate’s Report on Malta: Circa 1241

ByAnthony Luttrell

The Giliberto Abbate who governed Malta and Gozo has often been considered to have been an abbot, though it might seem unlikely that a religious would have been appointed to rule the islands. The terminology of Giliberto's text was basically Sicilian but, as the document itself explicitly emphasized, Maltese customs and institutions differed fom those of Sicily. Giliberto was, therefore, instructed to allow the islanders to live according to their own mores and constituciones as long as that appeared to be in the royal interest. The official report on Malta and Gozo made in about 1241 survives only in the form of a letter from Frederick II to Giliberto Abbate, his governor in Malta, in which the emperor's chancery recapitulated information sent to him by Giliberto. The situation on Malta may, in some ways at least, have been like that of Pantelleria where the tolerant arrangements introduced by the Normans continued into the fifteenth century.