The History of Leith

November 13, 2006

Knights Hospitaller

The Knights Hospitaller (the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem or Knights of Malta or Knights of Rhodes) were a militant Christian monastic group founded in the 11th century. Based in the Holy Land, the order was charged with the care and defence of pilgrims.

Table of contents
1 Early History
2 Knights of Rhodes
3 Knights of Malta
4 Grand Masters
5 External links

Early History
In 1020, merchants from Amalfi and Salerno in Italy were given permission by the Caliph of Egypt to build a hospice in Jerusalem. The hospice, which was originally dedicated Saint John Almoner, and later to Saint John the Baptist, took in Christian pilgrims traveling to visit the birthplace of Christ.

The monastic order was founded following the First Crusade by Gerard, whose role as founder was confirmed by a Papal bull of Pope Paschal II in 1113. Gerard acquired territory and revenues for his order throughout the Kingdom of Jerusalem and beyond. His successor, Raymond of Provence, established the first significant Hospitaller infirmary near to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Initially the group just cared for those pilgrims who made it to Jerusalem but the order soon extended into providing an armed escort to pilgrims. The escort soon grew into a substantial force.

Together with the Knights Templar, they became one of the most powerful Christian groups in the area. The order came to distinguish itself in battles with the Muslims, its soldiers wearing a black surcoat with a white cross. By the mid-12th century, the order was clearly divided into military brothers and those who worked with the sick. It was still a religious order and had useful privileges granted by the Papacy, for example, the order was exempt from all authority save that of the Pope, and it paid no tithes and was allowed its own religious buildings. Many of the more substantial Christian fortifications in the Holy Land were the work of either the Templars or Hospitallers, at the height of the Kingdom of Jerusalem the Hospitallers held seven great forts and held 140 other estates in the area. The largest of these, their base of power in the Kingdom, was Krak des Chevaliers, near Tripoli.

For more information go to the link on the rhs

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