Here I would like to talk to you about the presence of The Knights of St John in Rhodes – also known as The Order Of The Knights Of St John.
It is well documented that during the times of the occupation of the Knights Of St John on the island of Rhodes, it was the best period. The island was thriving and was doing well back even in these times.
The Early Years
The order of the Knights had also been established as an alliance in Jerusalem before this time. This was brought about from merchants from Italy who were inhabitants of the holy land.
The holy lands are in Israel and are called this because it is the land that belongs to the people all relative to the birth and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The Order Of The Knights went under the jurisdiction and regulation of the church after 1099, the time of the Crusaders occupying Jerusalem. After this the order attained massive strength and took up the role of a militant authority.
Saladin, the first Sultan of Egypt went on to seize Jerusalem in 1187 and with this the Order Of The Knights relocated to Acre in northern Palestine and set up operations from there.
The Arrival in Rhodes
After this they landed in Cyprus. Handed over to them was the area of Limassol by King Henry, but their presence here was short-lived.
After 18 years in Limassol they went on to fight the inhabitants of Rhodes. In 1309 the Order Of The Knights Of St John established their force here on the island of Rhodes.
As I mentioned above, the presence of the Knights here on the island was a fruitful one and is deemed one of the best periods in the island’s and the Knights history.
The name of the order was changed from ‘The Order Of The Knights Of St John Of Jerusalem’ to ‘The Order Of The Knights Of Rhodes’ after the islands domination, and they went on control the other neighboring islands.
They also went on to control the area of Smyma, which was a powerful and strategical point in Anatolia at that time. This land today is called Izmir which is in Turkey!
The Surrender To Suleiman
The Knights remained on the island of Rhodes for over 200 years. On the 29th of December 1522 control was relinquished to the Sultan Suleiman.
This battle had ensued for over 6 months. The Knights were aided by the inhabitants on Rhodes and put up a fierce fight. The Sultan was too powerful though and finally the Knights were forced to surrender.
With this defeat the Knights were forced away and they went on to relocate in Malta. This was achieved with the help of the Pope and Charles V and from there they were renamed The Knights Of Malta. The Turkish went on to remain on the island of Rhodes for over 400 years until they were overridden by the Italians in the 1900s. This led to what is known today as the more modern times of Rhodes.
However, even when you visit the island even to this day, you can really see the impression that the Knights left behind on Rhodes.
The impenetrable walls and gates of the old city remain as do the palaces and huge
churches. To be standing in the same place as where all this happened truly is an insatiable feeling.
The Assembly Of The Knights
The order of the Knights were separated into three groups or classed of members.
- The Actual Knights – This category of Knights were never more than 600 members and had to come from a noble background. These were the Knights tasked with the military obligation.
- The Priests – These Knights were the Orders Chaplains and were responsible for undertaking religious activities. All religious business and affairs were handled by these Knights.
- The Serving Brothers – These Knights had the duties of caring for the injured or those with illness. They were also assisted with matters of war and were obliged to stand by the Noble Knights during battle.
The Priests and the Serving Brothers were not required to be of Noble Class like the Actual Knights were, however they were required to be born free. IE not born as slaves.
The Linguistic Groups
All the members of the order were from a Catholic background and were from all around Europe.
Because of this the order was divided into different groups reflecting the language or “Langues” as it was known then! There were 7 groups as below!
Spain was later divided into the following!
Each group had its own master and council and they were all required to stay in their own separate areas of the Order.
The Grand Master had overall control in the Order and was elected by the Order itself. The Master of each group was responsible for their own legal and disciplinary duties but were required to assist The Grand Master with government issues.
For the general operation of the Knights, French was used as the general language for communication purposes, but all documents and legal papers were written in Latin.
Did you know The Order Of The Knights Of Rhodes was made up by members of different countries? Did you know the Actual Knights had to be of noble standing?
Personally I find the history of The Knights my favorite and love reading about them.
Living in a place where they used to reside all them years ago also helps, and it really brings it to life for me.
The Knights are rich in history and even today The Palace Of The Grand Masters is one the most visited places on the island. To walk through The Medieval City inside the incredible walls really brings it to life and it is something everyone on the earth should be able to witness. Really magnificent.
I promise you there is more coming and I will talk further about The Knights when I cover The Grand Masters Palace itself.
If you have any questions or you have something to share I would love to hear from you. I always welcome your thoughts so feel free to leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!
Thanks for reading!