With over 7,000 documents dating back to the early 12th century, the archives of the Sovereign Order of Malta at the Bibliotheca of Malta, in Valletta, have been nominated for the Memory of the World List of UNESCO, the 1992 established international initiative aimed at safeguarding and preserving documentary heritage that have left an important impact on the history of the world.
The Order’s archives include the 1113 Papal Bull which set the legal base for the sovereignty and independence of the Order of Malta, and was thus a fundamental element for its development.
The dossier was presented in December by Ray Bondin, the chairman of the Malta National Commission to UNESCO, and Amb. Ugo Leone, the Order of Malta’s permanent observer to UNESCO. “The documents that make up this Archive constitute an abundant and unreplaceable source not only for the history of the Order, but also for the knowledge of the history of the countries in which the Order has exercised its sovereignty and its mission, and those with whom it has maintained relations” explained Ambassador Leone.
The documents contain in fact all the administrative, judicial, religious and management acts and regulations applied to the territories under the power of the Order, as well as important information on the daily life of society at the time.
“Finally – Leone adds – an important set of diplomatic dispatches, especially from the 14th century onwards, documents the immense international activity of the Order of Malta and its relations with the European courts”.
The nomination dossier has been in preparation for the past three years and was mainly curated by archivists of the Bibliotheca of Malta in Valletta and the National Commission for UNESCO. Experts and historians will now study the documents and present them to a special commission.
The Archives of the Order contains the administrative records of the Order of St John between 1107 and 1798 in almost 7000 volumes.