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History (Cont..)

The Universitas continued to function even after 1530, when Gozo with Malta, passed under the rule of the Knights of Saint John. From 1550 onwards, it was headed by a knight designated Governor of Gozo and its responsibilities differed from time to time. When in 1800 Gozo with Malta passed under British rule, the role of the Universitas was greatly reduced. Its functions were severely curtailed when the office of Governor of Gozo was suppressed by the first British Governor on 15 October 1814. Through Proclamation IX of 30 December 1918, the Universitas was dissolved as from 1 January 1819.  
 
These multiform activities of the Universitas resulted in the creation of a number of records from its very beginning. This fact is discernable from foreign sources as local records went lost in 1551. The earliest extant record in Gozo dates from 1560 and it is preserved in the most important section of the former Universitas archives: the registers Actorum et Negotiorum, acts and transactions of every sort and type. Other sections of its archives are described infra. 
 
These important archives were, alas, transferred from one place to another several times and a large number were damaged or destroyed during relocation. Initially, they were preserved in the old Universitas building within the Citadel. In 1661, they were transferred from there to the Banca Giuratale in the centre of Rabat. When the Banca was pulled down to make way for a new building, the documents were moved elsewhere. They were transferred to the rebuilt Banca in 1733. In 1819, these rich archives was taken over by the British and stored in the most inappropriate places within the Banca. Early in twentieth century, they were dumped inside a cellar in the Gozo’s Commissioners Office in the middle of Republic Street, Rabat. 
 
In December 1952, the volumes that survived were transferred to the Gozo Public Library, where they were catalogued for the first time. This cataloguing had to be done anew as it was found out that several volumes were not in their appropriate section. Only 265 volumes survived. 
 
The Universitas documents were transferred inside the premises of the Gozo Section of the National Archives on 1 August 1989. They form the core of these archives.  
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