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Allegedly, there was a buccaneer and former Knight of Malta, Vincenzo Alessandri (died 1657). He has a very brief Wikipedia entry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincenzo_Alessandri), but the only source available (Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece, edited by Nigel Guy Wilson) only mentions an unrelated 16th Century ambassador of the same name.

Are there any records of the pirate Vincenzo Alessandri available that even briefly give a historical account of him?

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  • Google provides this snippet: The Catholic Historical Review, Volume 46, 1961, p. 151: "Fra Vincenzo Alessandri who ended his days as a slave at Constantinople in 1657"
    – njuffa
    Jul 16, 2022 at 3:51
  • What did your own search engines leave unclear? Jul 16, 2022 at 21:45
  • @RobbieGoodwin With all due respect, I fail to see the relevance of your comment. Jul 18, 2022 at 22:25
  • @JessieKirk Sorry, that was a simple query, asking for at least part of the research you'd done before coming here with such a vague Question. For clarity, what did your own search engines leave unclear? Jul 18, 2022 at 22:27
  • @RobbieGoodwin Being unable to find much information about him and spending time checking sources I borrowed from the Internet Library, I decided to come on Stack Exchange History, a website that allows one to ask history questions, and ask a history question. I hope that answers your question. I'm sorry if you found my question vague; I disagree, I think it is rather clear. Jul 19, 2022 at 18:23

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In an Italian source we find some basic information on Vincenzo Alessandri, a Florentine nobleman and Knight of Malta, who set out in February of 1657 with his lieutenant Antonio Griffoni, also a Florentine nobleman, in a strong vessel to "prey on the barbarians". After a little more than a month they got into a fierce battle with a Turkish naval force of 40 galleys above (to the north of?) Rhodes. Despite putting up a brave fight — a characterization that was supposedly attested to by the Turks themselves — the mast of his ship was ultimately razed. The survivors were imprisoned as slaves in the Seven Towers of Constantinople, where he died.

Ottavio Maria Platrinieri, Elogio del nobile e pontifico Collegio Clementino di Roma. Rome: Antonio Fulgoni 1795, p. xxxix:

Fra Vincenzo Alessandri Fiorentino Cavalier di Malta, Convittore nell' anno 1647. Di lui così scrive il Cavalier dal Pozzo nell' Istoria della Religione di Malta all' anno 1657. Nel Mese di Febbraro si spiccò da questo porto un poderoso Vascello armato in corso da Fra Vinzenco Alessandri, montato da lui e da Fra Antonio Griffoni suo Luogotenente, ambidue Cavalieri Fiorentini; ma non passarono 40. giorni della loro uscita, che incontrata sopra Rodi l'armata Turchesca di 40. Galere, e da esse bersagliato furiosamente il vascello con avergli rasati gli alberi, dopo un fierissimo combattimento rimasero schiavi con lode di coraggiosi, espressa dagli stessi Turchi, e condotti in Costantiopoli finirono poi nelle sette Torri miseramento la Vita. Parla di lui più a lungo il Gamurrini nella Storia Genealogica delle famiglie Nobili Toscane ed Umbre, il quale aggiugne, che il Cavalier Alessandri aveva predato a que' barbari un Vascello.

Much of the above is quoted from Bartolomeo Dal Pozzo, Historia della sacre religione militare di S. Giovanni Gerosolimitano detta di Malta. Venice: Gerolamo Albrizzi 1715, p. 264. Platrinieri states that some more information is to be found in Eugenio Gamurrini, Istoria Genealogica delle famiglie Nobili Toscane et Umbre. Florence: Francesco Onofri 1668. Starting on page 346 and continuing onto page 347:

Ed in fine Vincenzio figliuolo di Franc e di Cammilla da Filicaia, datosi totalmente all'armi, e fattosi Caval. Gierosol. volle mettere in esecuzione quello, che avea promesso nel pigliare quel candidissimo abito, con impugnare la spada contro il fiero Trace, con la quale benchè giovane, fece vedere a' Cavalieri di Malta, che il suo petto era duro per esporlo alle freccie, alle moschettate, ed alle scimitarre del nimico commune, e fortificato da un zelo Cristiano, e da una fede constante comparse in tutti i riscontri di battagliare un novello Marte. Non basto a questo le solite caravane, perche effendo pieno di spiriti guerrieri, ardì armare a sue proprie spese un Vascello, per andare contro i nimici di Dio, e della Fede, per meritare, consecrando la sua propira vita, la gloria eterna. Diede le vele a' venti verso li stati di quei Barbari contro de' quali elmentandosi, gli riusci il depredargli un Vascello; onde incoraggito sempre piú contro di essi, si rispinse a quella volta; ma daro nell' armata Turchesca, non porè attorniato da essa, che combattere tino al fine, per spargere per Dio, e per la Fè il suo sangue; ma vedendosi prigione, diede fuoco a S. Barbara per incenerire il suo legno, con gettarsi est in mare, dopo di avere a Dio l' anima sua raccomonadata; ma quegli Infedeli accortisi del suo naufragio, non permessero, che un Capitano ardito, e valoroso perdesse così miserabilmente la vita; trattolo dunque dal suo volontario sepolcro, lo fecero prigione, conducendolo in Constantinopoli, dove in poco tempo morì in mano de Reiligiosi con sentimenti sì Santi, che un Padre Genovese di S. Maria Maggiore attestò quivi in Fiorenza di averlo veduto morire, e che teneva per certo effersene volato al Cielo con la palma del suo desiderato trionfo.

This states that Alessandri was an ardent defender of the faith who joined the Knights of Malta at a young age. He equipped and armed a ship at his own expense to fight the infidels. He initially was successful in plundering an enemy vessel. Later, when in a pitched battle with the enemy he found himself surrounded, he set fire to his own ship, and, commending his soul to God, jumped into the sea. However, the Turkish forces noticed what was going on, and would not allow the life of a daring and valiant captain to end in such a miserable manner. They rescued him and brought him to Constantinople, where he was imprisoned. There he died a short time later, as attested to by a priest from Genoa who saw him die.

According to a brief entry in the following book, Alessandri joined the Maltese Militia in 1628:

Giorgio Viviano, La galeria dell'onore, Part 1. Forlì: Marozzi 1735, p. 548:

e Vincenzio entro nella Milizia di Malta l' an 1628

Per a footnote, that bit of information originates from Lodovico Araldi, L'Italia nobile. Venice: Andrea Poletti 1722, p. 106.

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  • Thank you, I have flagged this as the accepted answer. I don't know where the idea that he was a buccaneer came from. Jul 16, 2022 at 12:38
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    @Jessie Kirk Possibly from Turkish sources? Wikipedia shouldn't call him a buccaneer unless he was allegedly a British, French, or Dutch anti-Spanish raider in the 17th century Caribbean, a member of "the Bretheren of the Coast" organization. Any pirate or privateer in other times and places was not a buccaneer.
    – MAGolding
    Jul 16, 2022 at 16:35
  • @MAGolding Agreed. Perhaps I should add some information to the talk page on him. Jul 19, 2022 at 18:25

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