Cardenal Despuig by Damià Ramis Caubet

One of the most eminent families of nobility in Mallorca’s history has to be the Despuig family, counting amongst them the Condes de Montenegro and Condes de Montoro.

The most famous amongst them, Antoni Despuig Dameto, was born in Palma in 1740 as the ninth son of the counts of Montenegro and Montoro. The young aristocrat studied at the Colegio de San Martín de Palma, which belonged to the Jesuit society. Even though young Despuig had wanted to pursue a career in the military, he was ordained into priesthood in 1774, following the insistence of his father and the example set by his uncle Llorenç Despuig, the then bishop of Mallorca. Antoni Despuig Dameto was appointed in 1791 as bishop of Orihuela and in 1794, as archbishop of Valencia. In 1795, Antoni Despuig Dameto was also proclaimed as archbishop of Sevilla. He spent many years in Malta and later in Rome, where he acted as close advisor to Pope Pius VI. In 1800, Despuig participated in the conclave to nominate the successor to the pope who had died in 1799. The successor, Pope Pius VII, appointed Despuig as cardinal of San Calixto in 1803. That was the highest office that has ever been bestowed upon any Mallorcan person within the Catholic Church.

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