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The Knights of St. John

Reader comment on item: Knights Templar Trial Records Made Public – After Seven Centuries

Submitted by DaveP (United Kingdom), Oct 16, 2007 at 11:35

Far more interesting are the Hospittaler Knights of St. John. These knights were founded by Fr Gerard to look after sick and needy pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem. Due to predatory attacks by Muslims, these knights took on the role of defending Christian pilgrims, and this soon became the dominant role of the order.

Their most significant role was in the defence of Rhodes against a huge Ottoman army under the personal command of Suleiman the magnifient. They eventually had to withdraw from Rhodes but then found refuge in Malta. It is in Malta that they distinguished thmselves, when a few hundred knights, supported by a largely peasant Maltese militia, defeated the invasion and siege of Malta. This was the first significant defeat of Emperor Suleiman, and gave heart to the rest of Europe that the Ottomans could be defeated.

If Malta had fallen, Italy and then the rest of Europe would have come under the Ottomans. In terms of historical significance, the Siege of Malta is on par with, or even greater then the subsequent and much later defeat of the Ottomans at Vienna. The Knights of St John still continue to this day, with St Johns ambulance brigade their most public manifestation. A classic book on the Knights of St John - The Great Siege by Ernle Bradford.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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