Knights Hospitaller

The Knights Hospitaller were founded in Jerusalem in 1077, they pre-dated the first crusades and are the oldest of the three main military orders. In the beginning, they were known as the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. Over time the organization of the Hospitaller Knights would change names, they were known as Knights of Rhodes from 1309 to 1522, and then Knights of Malta since 1530.

Rise of the Hospitallers

The Hospitaller Knights originated as people dedicated to work in hospitals and to help the sick and injured pilgrims. The Hospitallers of Saint John built many hospitals across Jerusalem, where they could service the pilgrims of the First Crusade. Each hospital was designed to have at least 5 physicians and 3 surgeons. In the year 1150, they attended to over 2000 patients. They were eventually tasked with defending Jerusalem and it’s people, that is when they added Knights to the order. They were also rivals with the Templar Knights who also were tasked with defending the Holy Lands. At their height of power in Jerusalem during the time, the Hospitallers held seven strongholds and over 140 estates.

After the Kingdom of Jerusalem fell the Hospitaller Knights were able to survive due to the resources received from Europe, but the only possessions kept were the ones kept at the stronghold in the principality of Tripoli. The order left the Holy Lands to seek refuge in Cyprus under their grandmaster Jean de Villiers.


Moeller, Charles. “Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem.” Catholic Encyclopeadia Vol. 7 1910.

Le Roulx, Delaville. Les Hospitaliers En Terre Sainte et À Chypre, 1100-1310. Paris E. Leroux, 1904.

Lazaro, Enrico. “Archaeologists Find Impressive Building of Hospitaller Knights in Israel.” Science News, 2013. August 5.