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Vittorio de Luca (Principia Moderni III Map Game)

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Vittorio de Luca
Timeline: Principia Moderni III (Map Game)

Caravaggio - Portrait of a Knight of Malta
Portrait of Vittorio de Luca

Knights Hospitaller Headmaster

Predecessor: Philibert de Naillac
Successor: Rodrigo Torrez
Born: 1403
Luca, Republic of Lucca
Died: 26 May, 1477, aged 74
Florence, Kingdom of Italy
Spouse: Helena Palaiologos of Constantinople
Religion: Roman Catholic
Profession: Soldier, Crusader, Knight, Count
 Vittorio de Luca was a prominent Italian member of the Knights Hospitaller who, after the death of the previous headmaster during the Cypriot Wars in 1426, became headmaster at the age of 22 and continued the expansion of the Knights into a powerful Christian military state in the eastern Mediterranean. However, his campaign of expansion was not without contraversy, as many targets were ruled by practicing Catholics as well as Muslim nations and the campaigns put a massive debt upon the Order, which was unable to pay off all of its financial burdens. 

Vittorio de Luca decided to resign as Headmaster of the Order in 1429 at just the age of 1429 in pursuit of marriage, making him the both the youngest headmaster of the order and the youngest upon resigning. He had fallen in love with Princess Helena of Constantinople, the daugher of Manuel II, Emperor of the Roman Empire , but as a member of a monastic military order, he was forbidden to marry unless he resigned. Leaving his friend Rodrigo Torrez to oversee the sale of the Order's terrestrial possessions in Rhodes, Achaea, and Cyprus, de Luca temporarily moved to Constantinople in order to marry Helena. This marriage enabled the Romans to gain the bulk of the Hospitaller's possessions in the Aegean, although Torrez did sell the island of Cyprus over to the Kingdom of Spain instead. By the year's end, the Knights Hospitaller ceased to exist as a landowning military organization. 

de Luca remained in the Roman Empire for a time, working as a military consultant and trainer for the Empire's recovering military forces. He would become a favorite of both Manuel II and his son and successor, John VIII the Great, and much of the Roman military's progress in rearming and pioneering use of firearms can be attributed to Venetian finance and de Luca's military expertise. In 1435, following a few years in Constantinople, de Luca and Helena, now with four children, moved to Florence, which had become part of the new Kingdom of Italy. de Luca had a mixed reputation with the people of Italy and in particular with the clergy for his role in battling Catholics and ceding Crusader land, but his reputation as a war hero and friend of the Romans enamored him with the Italian monarchs, who conferred upon him and his descendants the title of count. 

In 1447 Vittorio de Luca returned to the Roman Empire to aid his friend John VIII in his war against the Ottomans, and together the two were able to drive the Turks out of Europe and reclaim the eastern side of the continent for Christendom. Vittorio was only in his late forties at the end of the war, and returned to Italy shortly after its conclusion. Vittorio lived out the rest of his life there, dying in 1477 and being succeeded by his son Darius. 

Vittorio de Luca had a mixed reception during his lifetime and still does today. His battles against other Catholic states in the eastern Mediterranean and his abandonment of both the Order's lands and his celibacy were not popular with the Catholic establishment at the time and the Pope considered excommunicating him, but his association with the Romans and Italian nobility prevented this from happening. Nowadays, de Luca has a great legacy and is widely remembered in the Roman Empire as a champion of Christianity and a valiant warrior. Because of his reputation and (albeit distant) relation with the Imperial family, his descendants were chosen to rule the Kingdom of Italy when it was established as a Roman state in 1749 and they rule to this day. 

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