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Enrico di Castello
Count of Malta

(-<1232)


Other names: Enrico de Castro,[3] Enrico Pescatore[3]

Titles

Lord of Crete, c. 1207[3]

Positions Held

Admiral of Sicily, 1221[3]

Biographical

He began as a pirate, for which he supposedly gained the nickname 'Pescatore', and was Count of Malta as a vassal of the crown of Sicily, although it is also said that he took Malta by force. He aided Alamanno da Costa in his assault of Syracuse in 1205 against the Pisans, and attacked and occupied Crete in 1206. He requested that he be recognised as king by Pope Innocent III, who initially agreed, but was dissuaded by the Venetians. Enrico then assumed the title of Lord of Crete. In 1211, his flotilla was destroyed by the Venetians whilst he was in Genoa, and he returned to Crete for preparations of the treaty between Venice and Genoa which began in 1212. Despite the treaty (concluded 1218), he continued his piracy against Venice and was eventually arrested, but released.[3]

Enrico continued to enjoy favour from the new Emperor Friedrich II and was granted permission to mint coins in Malta in 1212. In 1218, he was sent to Venice and Germany to take part in missions where he demonstrated his skills in diplomacy. He retained the Emperor's trust in 1220 when Genoese ambassadors withdrew from the imperial court after privileges to Genoese merchants were withdrawn. The Emperor appointed Enrico Admiral of Sicily the following year, and, as part of the Emperor's show of commitment to the Fifth Crusade, he sent Enrico to the siege of Damietta with Walter of Palear. The expedition failed, and the Emperor deprived Enrico of the county of Malta. He seems to have regained favour with the Emperor shortly afterwards, and he may have been restored as count, perhaps in name only.[3]

In 1225, he accompanied Isabelle de Brienne from Acri to Brindisi for her marriage to the Emperor. In 1227, he was part of the ambassadorial delegation sent to the Pope to explain the Emperor's delayed departure to the Crusade, but the Pope refused to receive them after he excommunicated the Emperor. Between 1229 and 1230, Enrico served the Emperor in attempts to put down rebellions around Italy. Nothing more is known about him after 1230, and as his son is referred to as Count of Malta in 1232, it is assumed that he was dead by then.[3]


 

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