Officially the Order of the Hospital of St. John at Jerusalem, known as the "Hospitalers". Christian religious order founded to care for sick pilgrims, later a military order in the Crusades. Slick political maneuvering allowed them to scoop the worldly goods of the Knights Templar when the latter got themselves executed for heresy, devil worship and other naughty behavior.

The Knight Hospitaller is a member of a military religious order, formally the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, so called after the dedication of their headquarters in Jerusalem to St John the Baptist. From 1310 they were known as the Knights of Rhodes, from 1530 the Knights of Malta. They began in c.1070 with Muslim permission to run a hospital for sick pilgrims in Jerusalem, and were made a formal order when the city fell in 1099 to the First Crusade. They adopted a black habit bearing a white eight-pointed (Maltese) cross. Under the first Master their function became primarily military and spread to Western Europe.

They followed the Augustinian rule and were divided into three classes: knights, chaplains, and the serving brothers. When they were driven out by Saladin they went to Acre, only to be expelled a century later when Cyprus became their headquarters. In 1310 they captured the island of Rhodes and retained it till 1522. Given the island of Malta by Emperor Charles V they held it, having fought off the assaults of the Turks, until it finally fell to Napoleon I.
By this time the order had lost its former influence. Some members moved to Russia where Paul I was made Grand Master. His death in 1801 led to a period of confusion. The English branch of the order was revived in the 1830s and today cares for the sick.

The Order of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, founded by Blessed Gerald, who became the first Grand Master. After being driven from Jerusalem and Rhodes, the order was awarded Malta and Tripoli in 1530 by Charles V of Spain. Tripoli soon fell to the forces of Islam, and Malta was also invaded in 1551, the island held out but the entire population of the sister island Gozo was taken into slavery. The order in Malta became an important naval power and invested heavily in defending Malta and in developing the local corsairing trade. Maltese pirates became greatly feared amongst muslim ships in the Mediterranean. The capturing of an important ship by the order is rumoured to have prompted another invasion which came to be known as the Great Siege in 1565, in which the order, under the leadership of Grand Master La Vallette, emerged victorious despite seemingly impossible odds. The Order was divided into eight "langues" according to national origin. These were Provence, Auvergne, France, Aragon, Castille, Italy, Germany and England (the English langue was removed when England converted to Protestantism). The Order was removed from Malta by Napoleon, who on his way to Egypt was let into Malta by the cowardly Grand Master Hompesch. The remaining fragments of the order then fled to Rome and Russia, as Napoleon couldn't tolerate the aristocracy.
Full list of the Grand Masters in Malta (after 1530):
  • 1530 Phillipe Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (France)
  • 1534 Pietro del Ponte (Italy)
  • 1535 Didier de Saint-Jaille (France)
  • 1536 Juan d'Omedes (Aragon)
  • 1553 Claude de la Sengle (France)
  • 1557 Jean de la Valette-Parisot (Provence)
  • 1568 Pietro del Monte San Savino (Italy)
  • 1572 Jean l'Eveque de la Caissiere (Auvergne)
  • 1582 Hugues Loubenx de Verdala (Provence)
  • 1595 Martin Garzes (Aragon)
  • 1601 Alofe de Wignacourt (France)
  • 1622 Louis Mendez de Vasconcelles (Castille)
  • 1623 Antoine de Paule (Provence)
  • 1636 Jean-Paul de Lascaris-Castellar (Provence)
  • 1657 Martin de Redin (Aragon)
  • 1660 Annet de Clermont-Gessan (Auvergne)
  • 1660 Raphael Cotoner (Aragon)
  • 1663 Nicolas Cotoner (Aragon)
  • 1680 Gregoire Carafa (Italy)
  • 1690 Adrien de Wignacourt (France)
  • 1697 Ramon Perelles y Roccaful (Aragon)
  • 1720 Marc Antoine Zondadari (Italy)
  • 1722 Antoine Manoel de Vilhena (Castille)
  • 1736 Ramon Despuig (Aragon)
  • 1741 Manuel Pinto de Fonseca (Castille)
  • 1773 Francisco Ximenes de Texada (Aragon)
  • 1775 Emmanuel Marie de Rohan-Polduc (France)
  • 1797 Ferdinand von Hompesch (Germany).

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