The University is one of the oldest in Europe and was originally a Catholic university. Its origins dates back to 1592 when the Collegium Melitense was founded by the Bishop Garagallo and originally run by the Jesuits. After the Jesuits were expelled from the Maltese Islands in 1768 the assets of the Collegium Melitense were taken over and the University founded by Grandmaster Manuel Pinto da Fonseca in 1769. After Napoleon conquered the island in the 1798, the university was briefly abolished and transformed into a French educational institution. However, after the French were forced to leave in 1800, the islands became a British protectorate and the University was reestablished by Sir Alexander Ball. In 1938, King George VI gave it the title of The Royal University of Malta. The word "Royal" was subsequently removed from the name of the university, when Malta became a republic in 1974.