in the History of Western Civilisation:
HISTORY OF THE ORDER (General) --- WRITINGS
AND SYMBOLS OF THE ORDER ---
THE KNIGHTS AS PHYSICIANS ---
HISTORY OF THE ORDER (All Eras)
The Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem originated in the
Eleventh Century as a monastic brotherhood caring for the needs of Latin
pilgrims in the Holy Land. The Order's founder, Blessed Gérard,
was not an aristocrat, but after the first Crusade, which took place in
his lifetime, the Hospital staff began to include demobilised knights.
Inevitably, as the Crusader States found themselves in a condition of perpetual
war, the brethren of the Order were soon found serving as medics and then
as combatants, becoming (with their rivals the Knights Templar) the most
discilplined Christian military force in Outremer and the mediæval
equivalent of a multinational corporation.
But their history did not end with the failure of the Crusades, as
the Templars' did. Their military, commercial, and humanitarian activities
were relocated first to the Ægean and then to Malta; the "last Crusaders"
survived anachronistically into the era of the French Revolution. Even
after Napoleon captured their island stronghold, representatives of the
Sovereign Order continued to negotiate with the Pope, the Russian Czar,
and the monarchs of Europe for a return to power. It never came, and none
of the various organizations claiming with various degrees of plausibility
to be the Order's heir can be said to much resemble the Order in its days
of greatness. However, at least some of these organizations, including
the two largest, have rededicated themselves to the charitable work originally
intended for the Hospitallers by their founder.
On this page may be found general historical links about the Order;
for information on specific eras please consult the pages devoted specifically
to the Crusader
stay in the Greek isles, the
Maltese period, the
Napoleonic interlude, or the
of the Order of St. John, from the Bibljoteka Nazzjonali, Valletta (Malta
Study Center, Hill Monastic Library)
of the Hill Monastic Library Malta Study Center
of the Knights of St. John of the Hospital, by Lynn Nelson
Tonque and his "Everlasting Brotherhood", by Gérard T. Lagleder
Includes primary sources. (Brotherhood of Bl. Gérard).
of St. John of Jerusalem: (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913 Edition)
of the Order of Malta: From the SMOM Museum in Switzerland.
History of the Order of
Malta (Very impressive document, by Michael Mifsud.) (Gone?)
Sovereign Military Order of Saint-John (a.k.a. Malta) , by François
R. Velde (Includes a discussion of the Order's heraldry.)
The Knights of Saint
John in England, Scotland, and Ireland before the Reformation, by Guy
Stair Sainty (Venerable Order)
Turks in History, by Benan Basoglu
Writings and Symbols of the Orders:
The Knights as Physicians:
Medical Bibliography, by Robert A. Laures: (University of Kansas)
St John's Wort: This
herb has long been prominent in folk medicine and, as its name suggests,
was prized by the Hospitallers. In some countries, including England, it
was also used to decorate houses on St. John's Day. Recently, the Knights'
herb has increasingly begun attracting the attention of modern medical
researchers. Here is a bibliography of refereed technical papers on the
use of St. John's wort to treat depression. (Texas Medical Center)
Dwejra Area, by Caroline Gatt: Gozo, one of the Maltese Islands,
is notable as the site of the General's Rock, on which grew the Fungus
Gaulitanus. This "fungus" is actually a strange flowering plant, Cynomorium
coccineum, which possesses no chlorophyll. It was considered one of
the treasures of the Order, and was thought to have remarkable curative
properties. Indeed, the nearby Tower
of Dwejra is said to have been built partly to guard the Fungus Gaulitanus.
( Cynomorium, incidentally, is also used as an emergency survival
food by Middle Eastern nomads, and is mentioned as such in Job 30:4.) (San
Anton School, Malta)
The editor of this page welcomes further information.
Please contact Norman Hugh Redington, firstname.lastname@example.org