siderable sum of 600 scudi annually.
Cenni’s 70-page manuscript was laboriously and carefully transcribed and enriched by copious footnotes which attest to the depth of study which Pisani applied to his task. Indeed, his book can be enjoyed on three levels. On the first level there are highly interesting short essays on the Order’s historiography with biographical details and extensive analyses about its major historians, both published ones like Bosio and Dal Pozzo, and unpublished ones, like Salvatore Imbroll and Carlo Michallef, and, of course, Luca Cenni himself.
Then there is the transcription of Cenni’s account which has lain, known to but a few, in the archives of the Order at the National Library in Valletta.
On the third level there are the learned notes themselves which are full of interesting details, with the only complaint being that they are presented in a rather small point-size which makes them hard to read, especially since they are so exhaustive.
The present book is the outcome of research conducted for an MA in Mediterranean Historical Studies which Paul George Pisani, a well-known Public Notary from Gozo and the son of poet Ġorġ Pisani, obtained from the University of Malta. This research even took him to Italy in search of the full identity of the author of the manuscript which up till now has remained in the shadows of history.
Cenni’s detailed account is obviously built on much direct input by people who participated in the fighting and thus gives valuable insight especially, as Dal Pozzo had noted, there was a lack of information in the Order’s registers about Lepanto.
Pisani’s research has managed to tease a few biographical details about Cenni who was invited to Malta to continue the official history of the Order for an annual sum of 600 scudi. On 3 August 1668 the Council appointed him as the official historiographer of the Order. His two big volumes, with their over-70 pages of the account of Lepanto, were never published, but Mattia Preti – an Italian Baroque artist who was also a Knight of the Order – did two sketches for the frontispiece and dedication page; both are reproduced on the front and back of the dust jacket which enriches Pisani’s publication.
Designed by professional photographer Daniel Cilia, and printed and hard bound at Baroni and Gori S.R.L., of Prato, Italy, the book is lavishly illustrated with various depictions of the epic sea battle, portraits of many of the protagonists, maps, and sketches that show the development of the clash. All these are evidence of the vast pictorial research carried by Pisani himself and are an important contribution and merit to be analysed carefully.
There are also eight useful appendices relating to documents referring to the battle in the Archives of the Order in the National Library, Luca Cenni, the articles of the Holy League, the order of battle, Romegas’ eyewitness account, Imbroll-Michallef’s account, and the ‘Rime per la Vittoria’ – celebratory verses.
Paul George Pisani, The Battle of Lepanto. 7 October 1572. An unpublished Hospitaller account, Malta, 2015; ISBN: 978-99957-846-3-8. Published by The Salesians of Don Bosco.
The Battle of Lepanto
An overall plan of the Gulf of Patras showing fleet and stages of the Battle of Lepanto