I thank Victor Licari for his comments on the knight of Malta Fra Fabrizio Spinola and his connection with the first Spanish Armada of 1588 (The Sunday Times, July 12).

It is correct that no Fra Fabrizio Spinola features in the list of Italian knights published by Bartolomeo del Pozzo in 1738. But two remarks seem to be in order.

Del Pozzo's Rollo, though an eminently useful research tool, is anything but complete. It omits a substantial number of Italian knights mentioned in the archives of the Order.

Del Pozzo left out many names, some through genuine (though frequent) oversights, others deliberately: those he believed had brought discredit on the Order - his moral contribution to sanitising history. Del Pozzo's lists have to be handled with great caution.

Secondly, the Ulster Museum which houses the poignant Maltese Cross relic recovered from the Armada wreck by Stenuit, has it listed as belonging to the knight of Malta Fra Fabrizio Spinola. Before further research confirms or dismisses this, it seemed prudent to me to retain this attribution.

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