The Growth of the Knights Hospitaller
Many knights joined the organization, which soon proved to be very useful in defending the Holy Land. The Hospitallers orders built many castles in Syria, the remains of which still impress the beholder. They established numerous branches in Europe and, by presents and legacies, acquired vast wealth. These orders of religious knights, much like the Vatican today, ended up having their own states, the Hospitallers the island of Rhodes then later Malta. The Knights Templar order was disbanded in the fourteenth century, but the Hospitalers continued to fight valiantly against the Turks long after the close of the crusading movement but can be said to have come to an end following their ejection from Malta by Napoleon.
History of the Knights Hospitaller
The History of the Knights Hospitaller can be dated back 600AD when Abbot Probus was commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great to build a hospital in Jerusalem to treat and care for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. In 1005 Jerusalem was taken by the Turcomans, who came from the kingdom of ancient Persia. 3000 Christians were massacred and the remaining Christians were treated so badly that throughout Christendom people were stirred to fight in crusades. The hospital was destroyed during the battle for Jerusalem. In 1023, merchants from Italy were given permission by the Caliph Ali az-Zahir of Egypt to rebuild the hospital in Jerusalem. The new hospital was built and served by the monks of the Benedictine Order during the First Crusade. The monastic hospitaller order was founded following the First Crusade by the Blessed Gerard, Gerard acquired territory and revenues for his order throughout the Kingdom of Jerusalem and in Europe. His successor was Raymond du Puy de Provence who established a new Hospital near to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Duties of the Knights Hospitaller
The group initially cared for the pilgrims who had reached Jerusalem following a long and arduous journey. However the order was soon extended into providing an armed escort to pilgrims. The escort soon grew into a substantial force. The Order of Saint John the Hospitaller included both knights and monks. The members of the Knights of the Order of Saint John the Hospitaller were both monks and knights. These men of the new order took the monastic vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and they added a fourth vow, which bound them to protect pilgrims and fight the infidels.
Knights Hospitaller - The Island of Rhodes
The Knights Hospitaller were recognised by wearing a black surcoat with a white cross. After the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187 and when Acre was captured in 1291 the order of the Knights Hospitallers sought refuge in the Kingdom of Cyprus. The leader of the Knights Hospitaller, Fulkes de Villaret, devises a plan to capture the Island of Rhodes to use as the base for the order. On August 15, 1309 after two years of campaigning, the island of Rhodes surrendered to the Knights Hospitallers. In 1312 the Knights Templar order was and much of their property and many of their members joined the Knights Hospitallers.
The Knights Hospitaller - the Knights of Malta
In 1522 Suleiman's forces drove the Knights Hospitallers from Rhodes and they sought refuge in Sicily. The Knights Hospitallers were established on Malta in 1530 by the order of Pope Clement VIII and King Charles I of Spain. They took the name the Knights of Malta and fought pirates instead of the infidels. The French Revolutionary Government seized the assets of the Knights Hospitaller Order in France in 1792. Their stronghold of Malta was captured by Napoleon in 1798. The Emperor of Russia gave the Knights shelter in St. Petersburg. In 1834, the revived Order established a new headquarters in Rome. The revived organization is known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The order continues to the present day.