Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/72605
Title: The Officio delle Case and the housing laws of the earlier Grand Masters 1531-1569
Authors: Borg Cardona, Stephen R.
Keywords: Malta -- History -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798
Price regulation -- Malta -- History
Public housing -- Malta -- History
Housing authorities -- Malta -- History
Rent control -- Malta -- History
Issue Date: 1951
Publisher: Malta Law Students' Society
Citation: Borg Cardona, S. R. (1951). The Officio delle Case and the housing laws of the earlier Grand Masters 1531-1569. The Law Journal, 3(1), 39-69.
Abstract: THE history of the Officium Comrnissariorutn Domorum, better known as the Officio delle Case, a tribunal whose main purpose was the fixing of a fair rent for both houses and shops, reflects, especially in the earlier part of this period which covers the reign of the first seven Grand Masters, the changes which were taking place in the districts around the Grand Harbour, where the four cities of Malta were to rise and eventually to drain the ancient inland city of Mdina (Notabile) both of its inhabitants and its importance. The first law relating to housing - and incidentally one of the very first laws to be enacted locally as previously to the coming of the Order (1530) Malta was a political appendage of Sicily and the laws enacted by the Sicilian rulers applied ipso facto also to Malta - was enacted by Grand Master Fra Filippo Villiers de l'Isle Adam late in the year 1531, and was necessitated by the fact that the demand for houses far exceeded the supply, even though the first concern of the Order on its arrival in the Island was the building of new houses and the repair of the old ones in Birgu, for which purpose many workmen were brought over from Sicily by the very first galleys of the Order to come to Malta. This state of affairs was brought about by the coming in the previous year of the Knights with their numerous retainers. not excluding the large number of Rhodian refugees and of soldiers of fortune who saw a golden opportunity in the establishment of the Knights Hospitallers on the Island, then in the ¬∑front line of Christendom. We can safely assume that the need for the regulation of the lease of houses had never before arisen, because of the stagnant state of affairs obtaining in the Island and also because of the very frequent incursions of the Barbary corsairs in search of slaves and booty, which not only helped to annul the effect of any nature increase in the population but also acted as an effective deterrent to immigration. Later on, with the building of Fort San Michele, on Mount St. Julian on the landward side of the peninsula of L-Isla , and the consequent growth of the city of Senglea, the pressure of the population began to be gradually eased until, with the building of the city of Valletta, towards the end of this period, we find that the main concern of the new legislation relating to houses lies with matters of aesthetics and sanitation rather than with the establishing of a fair rent and the finding of proper quarters for the Knights, and we meet with the institution of another commission, the Commissione della Fabbrica.
URI: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/72605
Appears in Collections:Volume 3, Issue 1, 1951
Volume 3, Issue 1, 1951

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