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Knights Hospitaller Timeline

Knights Hospitaller Timeline


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"Knights of the Caribbean" - Timeline where the Hospitaller's Caribbean colonies were much more successful.

In the mid 1650's, the French nobility and the Knights of Malta were both very closely intwined and on good relations. They were granted the smaller french islands of [Saint Christopher, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint Croix.] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospitaller_colonization_of_the_Americas)

At first, the Hospitaller colonies fared decently. Churches, roads, hospitals and fortifications were constructed on several islands. However, the colonies were treated as personal possessions of the governor and exploited as such. After a decade and a half, frustrations mounted that the colonies couldn't turn a profit, and thus were sold back to the French crown in 1665.

In this timeline, the Knights hold on to the colonies for a bit longer. By the turn of the century, Saint Croix is an agricultural powerhouse, unfortunately, built on the backs of French slaves. Knightly improvements in infrastructure, religion and explotation lead to closer relations with the French nobility. A deal in the mid 1620s allows the Knights to expand their colonial holdings from their original three islands to the inclusion of Guadaloupe, Dominica, Nouvelle Malte (Martinique) and Nouveau Rhodes (Montserrat). However, the deal includes some strings attached:

Knightly possessions must be kept in close cooperation with the french colonies. All colonists must be from metropolitan France, excluding Hospitaller administrators and citizens. Furthermore, it is an understanding that the colonies are being developed for the benefit of both the Knights of Malta and the Kingdom of France.

2) In accordance with the first point, law and order is based around French traditions. While the islands are distinctly to be under Knightly control, overall, French customs are applied. This includes, to the disdain of the Hospitallers, the continuance of slavery.

Over the next half a century the Golden Trio, as the three additional colonies are come to be known as, prove to be juggernauts for the Knights and the French. More and more slaves are brought to the islands as cotton, sugar and cocoa plantations reap large profits. Knightly administrators are more lax on the poor slaves than their French counterparts, instead trying to convert them to Christianity and teaching them Knightly Traditions. Overall, the island is in better shape than OTL, thanks to the major investments back into roads, schools, churches and general infrastructure.

In 1795, France comes into owning the entire island of Hispanola after the Treaty of Basel cedes Santo Domingo to the crown. Being a larger and more populous island, the freshly revolutionized French government asks the Maltese Knights to assist with governing the island. Haiti has been a thorn in the side of the colonists since the original French settlement in 1694. Reluctantly, the Knights agree. Overextension is a great concern of the regime, going from control of a few islands to a much larger possession is a large task to take. Not to mention, the lasting conditions from the enforcement of slavery have made an extremely hostile population.

By mid 1802, some improvements to the situation on Hispanola have occured. Some infrastructure has been built and outside of directly French controlled areas, slavery is relaxed in favor of religious teachings. But by now, the population is still up in arms. The lasting impact of the Revolution has taken root across the world. Toussaint Louverture is rousing the people for emancipation and independence. French and Knightly rule upon the island seem soon to be dashed.


The Great Siege of Malta

The possession of Malta, with its strategic location, helped the Sovereign Order keep the seas open between Malta, France, Spain, Italy and Palestine.

Grand Master Jean de Valette

In 1565, 600 knights and 6,000 men-at-arms, led by Grand Master Jean de la Valette, faced 40,000 Ottoman Turks, and despite great losses, drove off the enemy. This, and the defeat of the Turks in the naval Battle of Lepanto, which also involved the Sovereign Order, would stop the Ottomans from further expanding their empire in the Western Mediterranean and slowed their movement through Western Europe.

The Sovereign Order separated into smaller groups after being forced from Malta by Napoleon in 1798. Moving into Europe and the Americas, the modern day Sovereign Order is descended from Grand Master Tsar Paul I’s Russian Priories (organisation units) after the Fall of Malta.


HOUSE OF KNIGHTS HOSPITALLERS

18. THE PRECEPTORY OF DINGLEY

There was a preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers at Dingley as early as the reign of Stephen. William de Clopton, and his wife Emma, gave to this preceptory in the reign of Henry II. a messuage, with divers rents and 169 acres of land, all in Clopton. To the same preceptory William, earl Ferrars, and Letitia Ferrers gave much land in Passenham and Roger, earl of Hereford, a mill at Towcester. (fn. 1)

In 1296 Hugh de Dingley held one manor at Dingley, and the Knights Hospitallers another and smaller manor this division continued till the dissolution of the order. (fn. 2) The lords of the principal manor presented to the rectory of Dingley until 1448, when the prior of St. John of Jerusalem presented (fn. 3) the presentation remained in the knights' hands until their suppression.

The report of Prior Philip de Thame to the Grand Master Elyan de Villanova, for 1338, giving full particulars of all the English possessions of the order, is fortunately extant, and was well edited for the Camden Society in 1857 it shows for this commandery a total income of £79 4s., and a total expenditure of £37 0s. 4d., leaving the handsome balance of £42 3s. 8d. for the general treasury of the grand prior of England. This return also specifies that Sir William Waldechef was preceptor or commander, and that the two who held corrodies in the house were Hugh le Chaplain and Robert de Braibrock, 'scutifer.'

The order of St. John was divided under three separate heads—knights, chaplains, and serving brothers. The serving brothers were sub-divided into two classes, the one included those who entered this rank of the order with the hopes of winning their spurs under the White Cross banner, and afterwards advancing to the class of knights, whilst the other was formed of men of lower birth, who had no such expectation. To the former of these two divisions Robert of the Dingley preceptory must have belonged, for he is termed both 'armiger' and 'scutifer.' At a chapter-general, however, held in 1357, this sub-division was abolished, it being ruled that no serving brother should henceforth be eligible for knightly rank.

A court roll of the Hospitallers' manor of Dingley, dated 18 March, 1482, names Sir Henry Halley as preceptor. The chief finding of the jury on that occasion related to the ruinous condition of a spring (fons) called 'a horse-well,' used by the whole town it was ordered to be repaired before the next feast of Trinity, under pain of a fine of 6s. 8d. (fn. 4)

Sir Giles Russell was the last commander of Dingley he was also commander of the preceptory of Battisford, Suffolk. He was summoned on 16 February, 1530-1, by Sir William Weston, prior of St. John of Jerusalem, to attend the provincial chapter at Clerkenwell, on Thursday after Whit-Sunday, and to pay his dues to the common treasure. (fn. 5) Russell was evidently a man of considerable importance in the order, for two days after the summons was dispatched the prior's secretary writes to him saying that if he has any business of importance to bring before the chapter, and will let him know, such matter should be expedited. (fn. 6) A year later the prior wrote to Sir Giles in favor of John Launde, an old servant of the religion, who held by copy a tenement called Freres, in Russell's commandery, and received a speedy reply. (fn. 7)

In May, 1532, the prior wrote to Sir Giles, stating that a bull, under lead, had arrived from the council in Malta, ordering the payment of their responsions for 1532. He desires him to pay as soon as possible, 'for the religion has right great need.' (fn. 8)

In September of the same year Sir Giles, who was then in London, received a letter from Sir Ambrose Cave, commander of the preceptory of Stydd, Derbyshire, asking him whilst in town to arrange for a visitation of Stydd, and expressing a hope that he (Sir Giles) may be one of the visitors. He deprecated the visitors bringing a large company with them, for if they did so it meant dice and cards at the fireside for their servants. (fn. 9) Sir Robert Croftes, commander of Baddesley, Hants, wrote to Sir Giles in the following November, consulting him as to the non-payment of tithes on apples, pears, ducks, and walnuts. (fn. 10)

In a debtor and creditor account of the sums of money called 'responsions,' paid by the knights of St. John in England to the common treasury of the order for the year 1535, the name of Sir Giles Russell is entered as paying for Dingley preceptory. The Valor Ecclesiasticus of this year yields no information with regard to this preceptory. The Northamptonshire return states that the necessary information would be given under Battisford, Suffolk, as Sir Giles held both preceptories, but nothing is entered pertaining to Northamptonshire under that head.

In 1539 Sir Giles Russell was nominated lieutenant turcopolier. Turcopolier was a title peculiar to the head of the ancient langue or province of England, and was much valued. This officer was commander of the turcopoles or light cavalry, and had also the care of the coast defences of the island of Rhodes, and afterwards of that of Malta. There are two interesting letters extant from Sir Giles at Malta, one to Sir John Mablesteyn, sub-prior of the order in England, and the other to his brother, Lord Russell, both dated 27 October, 1539. (fn. 11) In the latter he refers to the stuff at his Dingley preceptory, stating that it was good and ought to be recovered, and added that he was writing to the parson of Dingley and his chaplain, Thomas Borow, on the same subject. The parson or rector of Dingley at that time was another brother of Sir Giles, Thomas Russell, who had been presented by him to the rectory in 1530. (fn. 12) Sir Giles Russell died in 1543 at his death it was decreed by the chapter-general at Malta that there should be no further nomination to the dignity of turcopolier until the (Roman) Catholic religion should be re-established in England.

It is infinitely to the credit of the knights of St. John that they refused the degrading terms offered them in 1538 by Henry VIII. to save their broad acres in England. In 1540 the whole of their property in this country was confiscated, and those who declined to yield spiritual obedience to the king were bitterly persecuted and imprisoned, whilst several suffered death on the scaffold. Those who yielded had pensions assigned them out of the confiscated property. Among these occurs the name of Sir Giles Russell, who is entered for a pension of £100. (fn. 13)

The priory manor of Dingley was granted by the crown in 1540 to Edward Hastings for twenty-one years the reversion of the manor and the advowson of the rectory were purchased of the crown in 1543 by Edward Griffin for £360 8s. 2d. The patent mentions the dovecote, garden, orchard called 'Paradyse,' and cemetery, as well as arable, pasture, and woodlands. (fn. 14)

On the accession of Queen Mary there was a brief revival of the order, by patent of 2 April, 1557. This revival was of special interest in Northamptonshire, for Sir Thomas Tresham, of Rushton, was appointed grand prior of St. John Angliæ.

There were 'cameræ' belonging to the order at Harrington, Blakesley, and Guilsborough, Brother Nicholas occurring as 'the master of the hospital' at the last-named place in 1285. (fn. 15)


Description

The Knights Of Saint John left a lot of history in Rhodes. Long since they were overrun by The Ottoman Empire, the island of Rhodes today still displays a massive insight into The Knights Order.

Read all about this powerful military order in this wonderful book by John Carr. Uncover the truth about the history of The Knights Hospitaller before, during and after their presence on Rhodes.

The Knights evolved during the crusades and remained extremely powerful in the Mediterranean until they were defeated by Napoleon in 1798. There is a lot to say here.

For anyone interested in Rhodes and the presence of The Knights Of Saint John, this is a must read!


Hospitallers

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Hospitallers, also spelled Hospitalers, also called Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, formally (since 1961) Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta, previously (1113–1309) Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, (1309–1522) Order of the Knights of Rhodes, (1530–1798) Sovereign and Military Order of the Knights of Malta, or (1834–1961) Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, a religious military order that was founded at Jerusalem in the 11th century and that, headquartered in Rome, continues its humanitarian tasks in most parts of the modern world under several slightly different names and jurisdictions.

The origin of the Hospitallers was an 11th-century hospital founded in Jerusalem by Italian merchants from Amalfi to care for sick and poor pilgrims. After the Christian conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, the hospital’s superior, a monk named Gerard, intensified his work in Jerusalem and founded hostels in Provençal and Italian cities on the route to the Holy Land. The order was formally named and recognized on February 15, 1113, in a papal bull issued by Pope Paschal II. Raymond de Puy, who succeeded Gerard in 1120, substituted the Augustinian rule for the Benedictine and began building the power of the organization. It acquired wealth and lands and combined the task of tending the sick with defending the Crusader kingdom. Along with the Templars, the Hospitallers became the most formidable military order in the Holy Land.

When the Muslims recaptured Jerusalem in 1187, the Hospitallers removed their headquarters first to Margat and then, in 1197, to Acre. When the Crusader principalities came to an end after the fall of Acre in 1291, the Hospitallers moved to Limassol in Cyprus. In 1309 they acquired Rhodes, which they came to rule as an independent state, with right of coinage and other attributes of sovereignty. Under the order’s rule, the master (grand master from c. 1430) was elected for life (subject to papal confirmation) and ruled a celibate brotherhood of knights, chaplains, and serving brothers. For more than two centuries these Knights of Rhodes were the scourge of Muslim shipping on the eastern Mediterranean. They constituted the last Christian outpost in the East.

By the 15th century the Turks had succeeded the Arabs as the protagonists of militant Islam, and in 1522 Süleyman the Magnificent laid final siege to Rhodes. After six months the Knights capitulated and on January 1, 1523, sailed away with as many of the citizens as chose to follow them. For seven years the wandering Knights were without a base, but in 1530 the Holy Roman emperor Charles V gave them the Maltese archipelago in return, among other things, for the annual presentation of a falcon to his viceroy of Sicily. The superb leadership of the grand master Jean Parisot de la Valette prevented Süleyman the Magnificent from dislodging the Knights from Malta in 1565 in one of the most famous sieges in history, which ended in a Turkish disaster. What was left of the Turkish navy was permanently crippled in 1571 at the Battle of Lepanto by the combined fleets of several European powers that included the Knights of Malta. The Knights then proceeded to build a new Maltese capital, Valletta, named after la Valette. In it they built great defense works and a hospital of grand dimensions that attracted many physically and mentally ill patients from outside Malta.

Thereafter the Knights continued as a territorial sovereign state in Malta but gradually gave up warfare and turned wholly to territorial administration and to medical care. In 1798, however, their reign in Malta came to an end, when Napoleon, on his way to Egypt, occupied the island. The order’s return to Malta was provided for in the Treaty of Amiens (1802) but eliminated by the Treaty of Paris (1814), which assigned Malta to Great Britain. In 1834 the Knights of Malta became permanently established in Rome. From 1805 they were ruled by lieutenants until Pope Leo XIII revived the office of grand master in 1879. A new constitution containing a more precise definition of both the religious and the sovereign status of the order was adopted in 1961, and a code was issued in 1966.

Although the order no longer exercises territorial rule, it issues passports, and its sovereign status is recognized by the Holy See and some other Roman Catholic states. Membership is confined to Roman Catholics, and the central organization is essentially aristocratic, being ruled chiefly by a primary class of “professed” knights of justice and chaplains who can prove the nobility of their four grandparents for two centuries.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.


The Knights Hospitaller of the English Langue 1460–1565

The history of the Hospitallers in the later-middle ages is still to be written, both in general terms and in many particular respects. Although there has been some recent research on specific aspects of these institutions, this has been mainly concerned with the previous centuries (1 ), while general surveys on the Hospitallers of the British Isles, like that of Edwin J. King, are generally outdated (2 ). We are, however, quite well informed about the central policies of the order on Rhodes in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (3 ), the order’s wars against the Mamluks and Ottomans, especially the sieges of Rhodes in 1480 and 1522 (4 ), and individual priories (a priory comprised the group of houses located in any one country), especially in France and Spain (5 ). But although there are some very good regional archives (for example for Spain, Southern France, and Bohemia), relatively little is known about the inner life and administration of the order, the interrelationships of the priories, their representation in the convent (the headquarters of the order, established on Rhodes from 1309 until 1522 and then, after 1530, on Malta), and their relationship with kings and princes. These areas are all discussed by Gregory O’Malley in this book, which is an extended version of his Cambridge PhD dissertation of 1999. This thesis was concerned with the English houses of the order in the crucial years between 1460 and 1565 that is before, during, and after the Reformation and the dissolution of the order in England. For this book, the houses in Ireland and the single house in Scotland (which formed a part of the English priory) have been added, so as to provide a complete picture for the British Isles. Although the archives of the priories are almost completely lost for the British Isles, there are many other sources—especially from the central archives now in the National Library of Malta, Valletta, and various royal and other documents from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland—that provide rich information for a study of this kind.

The introduction starts with a survey of the order’s history up to 1565, the date of the Turkish siege of Malta, which concentrates on the Rhodes (1460–1522) and Maltese (1530–1565) periods (insofar as they are covered by the span of the book). General remarks on the Hospitallers in the British Isles are followed by a survey of the relevant sources and a short discussion of the existing historiography. The main content of the book can be divided into two parts. The first section (comprising chapters two to six) deals mainly with England and Wales. The second part (chapters seven to nine) discusses the houses in Ireland and Scotland, the knights of the English langue (that is, the representatives from the priories of England and Ireland based in the convent on Rhodes and, later, Malta), and the situation that followed the dissolution of the order in England. This is followed by a short conclusion and by lists of priors, various other important officials, and the members of the langue for the period between c.1460 and 1565. These provide very useful biographical and prosopographical information on families and offices.

The second chapter is mainly devoted to the careers of the brethren. It discusses admission to the order, the recruitment of knights, their family relationships and status, life in the preceptories and convent, promotion to offices, and spirituality and literacy. Between 1460 and 1560 there were no admissions of sergeants, and, the church at Clerkenwell set aside, secular clergy, rather than ordained members of the order, served in most of the order’s churches. Thus the brother knights formed the dominant part of the order’s membership, most of whom came from noble or gentry families from the North or North Midlands, or at least from their cadet branches. Their chance to be promoted to office within the order was limited by the number of preceptories—there were just twenty of them. Administration and finance are the topics of the third chapter, which considers the changes in the management of the order’s estates after the inquest of 1338, the consequences of the Black Death, the income, the responsions (payments sent to the convent on Rhodes), and other payments to the common treasury, and the collection of these monies. In the period around 1500, more and more land was leased out, often for long terms, with the leases being granted by provincial chapters—although from the 1490s the income from leases remained stable. Other sources of income were confraternity payments and spiritualities (tithes, oblations, indulgences, burials, and so on). The yearly income from farms and rents alone still amounted to £3,000 in the sixteenth century, but the responsions—based on the priory’s income—paid to the convent in around 1500 amounted to just £945, which was only half of the sum sent in 1338. Nevertheless, the English brethren took their obligations to the convent seriously, and contributed more than £6,000 in 1522 when the Ottoman siege of Rhodes had begun. This is illustrated by the discussion in chapter four of the reception of the order in society, the influence of crusading ideas, the mentality of the brethren and their adherence to the original ideas, and their spiritual, commercial, and personal links to lay people. During the period covered by this book, the order still had some success in recruiting confratres, selling indulgences, and providing extra-parochial spiritual services. The brethren were integrated in their personal and family networks, but concessions were mainly made to non-members who were influential at the royal court.

The central chapters, chapters five to six, discuss extensively (and for the most part chronologically) the relationship of the Hospitallers with the English crown, first for the period covering the reigns from Edward III to Henry VII (1327–1509), and then for the reign of Henry VIII (1509–1547). The crown had a recurring tendency to limit both the payments to (ecclesiastical) authorities outside England, and the journeys, foreign activities, and obligations of Englishmen, including the provision of (ecclesiastical) offices. Nevertheless, even though responsions were at times stopped, the order was regularly allowed to send men and money to Rhodes, especially in the fifteenth century, when this was an effective English way to contribute to the defence against the Turks—something made manifest in the English tower at the order’s castle of St Peter (Bodrum). The price for this was a close relationship between kings and priors which sometimes led into conflict, as, for example, when Edward IV tried to influence two prioral elections—that of Langstrother in the period 1468–70, and that of Robert Multon, whose bid failed in the face of the convent’s hostility, in 1474–77—and when Prior John Kendal became involved in the Perkin Warbeck affair during the reign of Henry VII. The cooperation continued during the first fifteen years of Henry VIII’s reign, although for Prior Thomas Docwra this doomed him to spending more and more of his time working for the royal administration. But during the second Ottoman siege of Rhodes the king had no sympathy for sending men or money, and when Rhodes was lost relations deteriorated—at least after 1526. Thus, when Docwra died in April 1527, the sequestration of the priory followed, only to be lifted after his successor, William Weston, had paid a heavy fine—albeit that it was afterwards ‘generously’ handed over to the master when he came to England. In the meantime, some of the goods of the late prior and the priory had been alienated and now had to be recovered. Furthermore, the ambitions of Clement West, the turcopolier (the officer responsible for the mercenaries known as ‘turcopoles’) since 1531, caused problems both to the English langue at Malta and in England itself. Finally, after the king broke with Rome, the order was dissolved in England on 1 May 1540.

Chapter seven at first discusses the history of the Irish houses of the order. These mostly lay within the parts of Ireland dominated by the English, and the consequence of this was that many of the priors also served as royal officials. In the fifteenth century, the Irish priory became the object of quarrels between the leading Anglo-Irish families, while English brethren nominated as priors by the English langue or the convent at Rhodes mostly failed to establish themselves in the country. This was very different from the situation that pertained in Scotland, where the preceptory at Torphichen (and the other Scottish properties of the order) was subjected to, and dominated by, the English priory—something that was backed by a ‘grudging cooperation of the two crowns’ (p. 266), which was only ended by the Dissolution.

In the convent, which moved from Rhodes first to Italy and then to Malta, the English, Irish, and Scottish houses were represented by the English langue. Its role, and that of its members, in the convent is examined in chapter eight, which discusses the journey to the convent from Britain, the numbers of brethren who made up the langue, the maintenance of the auberge in which they lodged, commercial operations, problems of discipline, the contributions of the members of the langue to the defence of Rhodes, the caravana of the younger brethren, the office of turcopolier and the employment of turcopoles, and the members’ service on commissions and as officials. Finally, chapter nine deals with the fate of English brethren after the dissolution, while the conclusion stresses the relative importance of the English langue, and the commitment of its brethren, to the order’s tasks.

Based on an impressive bulk of materials, which becomes even denser for the sixteenth century, this book is the fundamental study on all aspects of the history of the Hospitallers in the British Isles in the later middle ages. The diligent and thorough approach of the author allows intensive insights in the structures and procedures of the British branch of the order. Even if the situation here was different from that in the other langues, the results of the study will form a good basis for comparison with other branches and regions. Additionally, the descriptions of the life of the knight brethren complement studies on the English nobility in the later middle ages, while the order’s relationship to king and government forms part of the political history of England around 1500. In sum, this book is an important study that contributes much to our understanding of late-medieval history.


The modern Sovereign Military Order of Malta

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, better known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta or SMOM, is a Catholic lay order and claims to be a sovereign entity and which has permanent observer status at the United Nations. SMOM is considered to be the most direct successor to the medieval Knights Hospitaller, also known as the Knights of Malta, and today operates as a largely charitable and ceremonial organization.

Name and motto

The full official name is Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta or Sovrano Militare Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme di Rodi e di Malta. They are now also known as the Order of Malta. The order has a large number of local chapters around the world but there also exist a number of organizations with similar-sounding names that are unrelated. The Order's motto is Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum (Defence of the faith and assistance to the suffering).

International status of the Order

The exact nature of the entity is somewhat nebulous and subject to controversy: it claims to be a traditional example of a sovereign entity other than a country. Its two headquarters in Rome, namely the Palazzo Malta in Via dei Condotti 68 (where the Grand Master resides and Government Bodies meet), and the Villa Malta on the Aventine (which hosts the Grand Priory of Rome, the Embassy of the Order to Holy See and the Embassy of the Order to Italy), are granted with extraterritoriality. However, unlike Vatican City, SMOM has no sovereign territory. The United Nations does not classify it as a "non-member state" but as one of the "entities and intergovernmental organizations having received a standing invitation to participate as observers." While the International Telecommunication Union has granted radio identification prefixes to such quasi-sovereign jurisdictions as the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority, SMOM has never received one. For awards purposes amateur radio operators consider SMOM to be a separate "country," but stations transmitting from there use an entirely unofficial callsign starting with the prefix "1A0 (http://www.arrl.org/awards/dxcc/list_1a0.html) ".

Although some scholars accept a claim to sovereign status, leading experts in international law, notably Dr. Ian Brownlie, Dr. Helmut Steinberger, and Dr. Wilhelm Wengler, do not take into account its ambassadorial status among many nations. The Holy See in 1953 proclaimed "in the Lord's name" that it [the Order of Malta] was only a "functional sovereignty" - due to the fact that it did not have all that pertained to true sovereignty.

SMOM has formal diplomatic relations with Holy See and 92 countries (http://www.orderofmalta.org/attdiplomatica.asp?idlingua=5) (many of which are non-Catholic), and has official relations with another 6 countries (http://www.orderofmalta.org/attdiplomatica.asp?idlingua=5) , non-state subjects of international law like European Union and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and a number of international organizations (http://www.orderofmalta.org/attdiplomatica.asp?idlingua=5) . Its international nature is useful in enabling it to pursue its humanitarian activities without being seen as an operative of any particular nation. Its claimed sovereignty is also expressed in the issuance of passports, licence plates (http://www.targheitaliane.it/smom/smom.html) , stamps (http://www.orderofmalta.org/filatelica.asp?idlingua=5) , and coins (http://www.orderofmalta.org/numismatica.asp?idlingua=5) . The latter are appreciated more for their subject matter rather than for use as postage or currency. Starting from 2005, SMOM issues stamps with Euro as the unit of postage, while Scudo (pl. Scudi) remains as the SMOM's official currency.

Government of the Order

The proceedings of the Order are governed by its Constitutional Charter and the Order's Code. It is divided internationally into various territorial Grand Priories, Priories, and Sub-Priories.

The supreme head of the Order is the Grand Master, who is elected for life by the Council Complete of State. Voters in the Council include the members of the Sovereign Council, other office-holders and representatives of the members of the Order. The Grand Master is aided by the Sovereign Council, which is elected by the Chapter General, the legislative body of the Order. The Chapter General meets every five years at each meeting, all seats of the Sovereign Council are up for election. The Sovereign Council includes six members and four High Officers: the Grand Commander, the Grand Chancellor, the Grand Hospitaller and the Receiver of the Common Treasure. The Grand Commander is the chief religious officer of the Order and serves as "Interim Lieutenant" during a vacancy in the office of Grand Master. The Grand Chancellor is responsible for the administration of the Order. The Grand Hospitaller coordinates the Order's humanitarian and charitable activities. Finally, the Receiver of the Common Treasure is the Order's financial officer.

The Order's finances are audited by a Board of Auditors, which includes a President and four Councillors, all elected by the Chapter General. The Order's judicial powers are exercised by a group of Magistral Courts, whose judges are appointed by the Grand Master and Sovereign Council.


Knights Hospitaller Timeline - History

Oxford and NY: Osprey, 2008, 224 pp.
$25.95 (hardcover)
Reviewed by Adrian Boas

Recently many publications have appeared describing the history and activities of the military orders of the Crusader era. Abundantly illustrated works aimed at a broad, nonacademic audience, and an increase in popular and one hopes accurate literature, is a positive development, following as it has, a wave of popular fiction based on the medieval period and in particular on the military orders. These fictional accounts often make little or no attempt to distinguish between facts and imagination.

In Knights of Jerusalem: The Crusading Order of the Hospitallers 1100–1565, David Nicolle addresses a broader audience and has produced a readable and attractively illustrated book that covers a wide range of information but contains little indepth discussion. Nicolle has dispensed with most of the scholarly apparatus there is, unfortunately, no use of notes or references. He has, however, included a chronological timeline, appendices (the usual list of Hospitaller masters with the dates of their appointments), a discussion of surviving documents and collections of arms and armor (rather brief to be of any real use), a helpful glossary and a reasonably broad bibliography, albeit somewhat overly reliant on the works of one or two authors (almost two of its eight pages are devoted to the publications of a single author, while a number of relevant recent publications have been left out).

The author deals with the history, administration, organization, recruitment, training, discipline and warfare of the order. Nicolle’s principal original contribution is, not surprisingly, in the field for which he is best known his descriptions of medieval weapons and armor. In a chapter titled “Dressing and Arming the Brethren,” Nicolle gives an informative discussion of the armor and arms used by the Hospitallers in the 12th to 16th centuries.

The many illustrations throughout this book depict not only weapons and armor but also castles. One might have expected in a book of this nature a broader discussion of the castles that played so prominent a role in Hospitaller life. Together with the Templars, the Hospitaller Order was responsible for most of the advances made in military architecture in the 12th and 13th centuries.


Adrian Boas is a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa’s departments of Archaeology and Land of Israel Studies. He has excavated and surveyed Crusader sites in Acre and Jerusalem and the castles of Vadum Jacob, Blanchegarde, Beth Shean and Montfort. His latest books are Archaeology of the Military Orders (Routledge, 2006) and Domestic Settings: Sources on Domestic Architecture and Day-to-Day Activities in the Crusader States (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010).

Originally appeared as “Medieval Weapons and Armor,” Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2011.


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