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5ccc-. 68!? 




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l^onlion : 


i ISrDicate 





A. Qr AJiTER of a jcenturj has passed away since the first edition 

ot this "book was published in the year 1858. Since that date 

l\ie^iaglish langue of the Order of St. John has grown from 

a -very slender and unimportant community to be the powerful 

body which it now is, embracing within its ranks numerous 

members, not only of our aristocracy, but also of the Royal 


This development has been achieved entirely by the energetic 
measures of public utility which it has set on foot. Its lusty 
bantling, the St. John Ambulance Association, is perhaps the 
institution which has most brought the langue into public notice, 
but other equally important, though not so generally well known, 
works of beneficence, have been, and are being, carried on in 
accordance with the principles which have governed the Order 
from its first foundation. 

Under these circumstances, I have been for some years past 
pressed to bring out a new edition of my history. Until 
recently, professional avocations have prevented my acceding to 
the request, feeling, as I did, that if a new edition were to be 
produced, it should be rather a new book than a simple revision 
of the old one. Now, however, that I have ample leisure, I 
gladly embrace the opportunity of doing what has been de- 
manded. In this edition I have re- written the entire work, and 
endeavoured to introduce aU that has been discovered relating 
to the subject. 

A criticism, and I must confess a just one, was made on my 
original book, viz., that it was written in too high-flown a style 
— ^that it partook too much of what the Americans call " high 

vi Preface. 

falutin." I have endeavoured to correct this fault, and if I 
have still strayed now and again into the old path, I woidd 
plead in excuse the heroic character of the subject. It is 
almost impossible to dwell upon the details of so many 
gallant deeds of war without being sometimes carried away by 
enthusiasm. I trust, however, that this tendency has been kept 
within proper control. 

One objection I would endeavour to answer in advance; it 
is, that I have not loaded my pages with references. This is a 
matter to which much consideration has been given. I do not 
claim for my book the character of scientific or critical history ; 
it is a simple narrative, I trust careful and impartial, of events 
which spread over a period of seven centuries. In its prepara- 
tion everything bearing on the subject, to which I could obtain 
access, has been minutely studied, and I have often had to 
decide between apparent contradictions. I have done my best 
to be just, and to record what I think are the true facts. To be 
perpetually quoting the authorities for those facts seems to me 
tedious, and, for the general reader, unnecessary. I may add 
that whenever recourse has been had to the works of a contem- 
porary writer, I have preferred, where possible, to quote his own 
words ; this seems to me the most honest way of utilizing his 

I would also observe that as the chronicles on which most of 
the earlier part of the narrative is based are written in either 
French or Italian, the proper names, as therein given, have been 
sometimes woefully distorted. More particularly is this the case 
where these are English. As far as possible, the attempt has 
been made to suggest the real names referred to, but in many 
instances this is practically impossible, and I have been com- 
pelled to retain the foreign nomenclature. 

In conclusion, I repeat the last paragraph of the preface to 
the original edition ; viz., that " I now leave the result of my 
labours in the hands of an intelligent public, trusting that 
the book may meet with clemency, if not with favour, and 
hoping that I may have supplied a link between the histories of 
Europe and Asia which will prove of interest to the general 




Ongin of chivalry — Condition of Palestine prior to the first Crusade- 
Erection of tlie Hospital of St. John— Peter the Hermit — Capture 
of Jerusalem — Foundation of the Order of St. John— Death of 
Gerard, and election of Raymond du Puj — Military constitution of 
the Order — Herniations for its estahlishment— Admission of candi- 
dates— Establisliment of commanderies— Begulatlons respecting 
dress — Defensive armour : Scale mail ; Chain mail ; Plate armour ; 
Helmet; Shield — Offensive armour: Lance; Sword; Battle-axe; 
Dagger — The deetrier> or war-horse 1 



Date of the establishment of the Military Order of St. John— Campaigns 
of Antioch and Edessa— Foundation of the Templars and Order of 
St. Lazarus— Embassy of Joubert and marriage of Raymond of 
Poitiers — Legacy of the King of Navarre — Loss of Edessa — Second 
Crusade — Sieg^e of Damascus — Advance of the Jarroquins— Their 
repulse and overthrow— Siege and capture of Ascalon-^ealousies 
of the clergy— Death of Raymond du Pny— Expedition into Egypt 
— Death of D'Ascali — Rise of Saladin - Death of Joubert — Dissen- 
sions in the kingdom of Jerusalem — Accession of Guy de Lusignan 
— Battle of Tiberias — Loss of Jerusalem— Its main causes . 27 

viii Contents. 



Description of the ruins of the Hospital at Jerusalem — Its establish- 
ment at Margat— Retirement of the ladies of the Order to Europe 
— The third Crusade— Siege and capture of Acre — Guy de Lusignan 
made king of Cyprus — Reforms of Alphonso of Fortugal-»-His 
resignation and death — Fourth Crusade — Capture of Constanti- 
nople by the Latins— Dissensions between the Templars and 
Hospitallers— Andrew, Idng of Hungrary, admitted into the Order 
— Fifth Crusade — Siege and capture of Damietta — Advance into 
Egypt— Fatal results of the ezi>edition — Marriage of the emperor 
Frederic with Violante— Treaty with the Saracens — Coronation of 
Frederic at Jerusalem — His return to Europe and persecution of 
the military Orders— Accusations brought against the knights of 
St. John 56 



Re-occupation of Jerusalem by the Christians — Their expulsion by the 
Eorasmins — Battle of Qaza— Death of Villebride, and election of 
Chateauneuf— Reforms in the Order — Crusades of St. Louis — 
Sanguinary combat between the Hospitallers and Templars — Siege 
of Margat — Siege and fall of Acre 80 


Establishment of the Order in Cyprus — Its first naval armaments— 
Death of John de Villiers, and election of Odon de Pins—His 
monastic seclusion— Dissatisfaction of the Order— His death, and 
accession of William de Villaret— Exi>edition into Palestine- 
Project for the capture of Rhodes — Preparations for that operation 

— Death of William de Villaret, and accession of Fulk de Villaret 

Capture of Rhodes — Destruction of the Order of the Temple . . 106 



Villaret establishes his Order at Rhodes— His arrogance— Plots against 
him— His flight to Lindos- Appeals to the Pope— His resignation 
—Appointment of Elyon de ViUanova— Division of the Order into 
langrttM -Deodato de Qozon and the Dragon of Rhodes— War 
against the Turks — Capture of Smyrna— Election of Deodato de 
Gozon — His resignation — Intrigues of Heredia the Castellan of 
Emposta— Election of ComiUan and Roger de Pins . . . .134 

Contents. ix 



DiTisioDB of clasB in the Order — Langues — Grand-Master, his position 
and power — Courts of fig^ard — Bailiffs— Their offices — Adaptation 
of the Order to change of circumstances— System of management 
in commonderies — ^Report on the grand-priory of England in 
1338 — Lists of commanderies and other estates in the grand- 
priory 157 



Election of Raymond Beranger— Expedition to Alexandria and capture 
of the town — Election of Heredia — His previous history — He escorts 
tiie Pope to Rome— Joins the expedition to Patras — Capture of 
the town — Heredia falls into the hands of the Turks— His ransom- 
Schism in the church — ^Heredia returns to Avignon — His death — 
Election of Philibert de NaiUac — Battle of Nioopolis— Purchase of 
the Morea — Its subsequent restoration — Timour the Tartar — ^His 
overthrow of Bajazet — ^Loss of Smyrna 184i 



Erection of the fortress of St. Peter at Budrum — ^Treaty with the 
sultan of Egypt — Conclusion of the papal schism, and reunion of 
the Order — Death of de KaiUac, and succession of Fluvian — 
Invasion of Cyprus— Death of Fluvian — Election of Lastic — 
Descent on Rhodes — Reforms in the Order — Fall of Con- 
stantinople—Election of James de Milly — Disputes in the 
fraternity- Succession of Raymond Zacosta — Formation of an 
eighth langut — Erection of Fort Nicholas — Departure of Zacosta 
for Rome — His death there — Succeeded by Orsini— Fall of 
Negropont — Preparations for defence at Rhodes— Death of Orsini, 
and nomination of Peter D'Aubusson 213 



Description of Rhodes— The three renegades— Arrival of the Turkish 
army at Rhodes — First attack on Fort St. Nicholas — Its failure — 
Breach opened in the Jews' quarter— Attempted assassination of 
the Grand-Master— Second attack on St. Nicholas and its failure — 
Second advance on the Jews' quarter— Execution of Maitre 
Georges— Last assault of the Turks and its repulse— Close of the 
siege, and embarkation of the Ottoman army 241 




Bestoration of the fortifications of Bhodes^ and recovery of the Grand- 
Master — Preparations by Mahomet for a new siege — His death, and 
the disputed succession to his empire — Defeat of Djem, and his 
flight to Rhodes — Departure for France — His residence there — His 
removal to Rome, and death — Last days of Peter D'Aubusson — 
His death and interment — History of the relic of the hand of St. 
John the Baptist 273 



Election of D'Amboise — Futile descent of Camalis — Captnre of 
Turkish galleys and of the "Queen of the Seas" — Defeat of the 
Turkish fleet in the Gulf of Ajaccio — Election and death of 
Blancheforc — Accession of Carretto — Usurpation of Selim — 
Conquest of Egypt by the sultan — Death of Selim and accession 
of Solyman — Death of Carretto — Description of Rhodes in 1521, 
and at present 290 


The career of a knight as a novice, professed knight, commander, and 
bailiff — ^The auberges — ^The chaplains — ^The chapter-general — ^The 
councils of the Order — The question of slavery .... 320 



Election of L'Isle Adam — Fall of Belgrade — Correspondence with 
Solyman — Preparations for defence — Detail of the Turkish forces — 
Arrival of the Ottoman army at Rhodes — Commencement of the 
siege — Plot by a female slave within the city — Detail of Turkish 
artillery — Construction of cavaliers — Mining operations — Assault 
on the tower of St. Mary — Repeated attacks and their repulse — 
Accusations against the chancellor D'Amaral — His trial and 
execution — Devotion of the Rhodian women — ^Negotiations for 
surrender — Terms offered by Solyman — ^Their acceptance, and close 
of the siege by the surrender of the island 339 

Contents. xi 



Sorrender of 'Rhodt^s, stud departure of the Order for Candia — Arrival 

at Measina — II>epax1:* for Oivita Vecchia — Project fcr bestowing 

Malt& on the Order — Hopes of regaining Bhodes — L'Isle Adam 

proceeds to M&drid — His negotiations — Visits Paris and London — 

Betums to Italy — Malta ceded to the Order- Antecedent history 

of that island — Tripoli — Its disadvantages and dangers — Descrip- 

tion of the hArl>our of Malta— Expedition to Modon — Disputed 

appointment to the bishopric of Malta — English Beformation — 

Insnrrection in the convent — Death of L'Isle Adam . . 375 



Election of Peter Dapont - Expedition r gainst Tunis — Didier de St. 
OHIO'S — John D'Omedes— Expedition against Algiers — Turkish 
descent on Malta— Loss of Tripoli — Destruction of the Order in 
England — Leo Strozzi — Attack on Zoara — Death of D'Omedes and 
election of La Sangle — Hurricane at Malta— Accession of La 
Valette — Expedition to Galves— Siege of Mers el Kebir by the 
Turks — Preparations by Solyman for an attack on Malta— Arrange- 
ments for defence 309 



Emuneration of the garrison of Malta— Description of its defences — 
The Turkish army and fleet— The janissaries — Disembarkation of 
the force — Siege of St. Elmo commenced — Arrival of Dragut — 
Repeated assaults — The fort cut off from succour — Its fall — 
Massacre of the garrison 424 


^ege of Malta oontinaed — Arrival of the first reinforcement — Invest- 
ment of the Bourg — Attack on Senglea- Repeated assaults on both 
3>oint8— Exhaustion of the garrison — ^Arrival of a succouring force 
from Sicily— Close of the siege 461 

xii Contents. 



General exultation at the successful defence of Malta — Bumours of a 
new Turkish expedition — Death of Solyman — Commencement of 
the city of Yaletta — Disturbances in the convent— Death of La 
y alette— Accession of de Monte— Transfer of the convent to 
Yaletta — Battle of Lepanto — Death of de Monte — Election of La 
Cassi^e — Seditions aroused ag^ainst him — His deposition and 
restoration — His death, and election of Yerdala — Arrival of the 
Jesuits — Death of Verdala— Close of the century .... 479 


Political position of the Grand-Master — His revenues — Ceremony of 
election and installation — Details of his household — Ceremonials of 
the table — Festivals — ^The lieutenant — The navy — The land forces 
— The chancery — ^The conservatory — The revenue — Details of the 
European property — ^The expenditure — ^The Hospital . . . 508 


The punishments of the fraternity — List of prohibitions— Criminal 
records— Local government of the Maltese — The bailiwick of 
Brandenburg 542 



Foundation at Clerkenwell — Introduction of the fraternity into Scot- 
land and Ireland — Destruction of priory at Clerkenwell by Wat 
Tyler — Restoration by Docwra — St. John's Gate — Lease of Hamp- 
ton to Wolsey — Suppression of the ianyue by Henry VIII. — Revival 
by Queen Mary — Ultimate suppression by Elizabeth — Subsequent 
fate of the Priory, Church, and Gate — Revival of the langue — Its 
objects and present state — Brief biographies of important members 
of the old langue 564 



Alof de Yignacourt — Ecclesiastical disputes — ^The Malta aqueduct — 
Anthony de Paule — Chapter-general — Election of Lascaris — Dis- 
putes with France and Spain — Battle of the Dardanelles — Expul- 
sion of the Jesuits — Commencement of the Floriana line — Acquisi- 
tion in the West Indies — Election of Redin — The brothers Cottoner 
— Siege and loss of Candia 595 

Contents. xiii 



Sir John NarbTOiig:li.'s visit to Malta — Construction of the Cottonera 
linea — ^Death of Cottoner — Gregory Cara£fa — Adrian de Vignacoort 
— ^Laymond Perrelos — ^Embassy from Russia — ^Mark Anthony 
^ndodari — ^Maii5el de Yilhena — ^Erection of Fort Mandel— Ray- 
mond I>eapTiig — Pinto de Fonseca — Plot of the slaves — His 
popularity — Condition of the navy — Francois Ximenes — Priestly 
insarrection — ^Emmanuel de Rohan — Chapter-general — ^Earthquake 
in Sicily — ^Erection of Fort Tign^ — ^The French revolution — Des- 
truction of the French langues — Death of de Rohan . . . 618 



Election of von Hompesch — Establishment of a Russian priory — 
Capture of Malta decreed — Arrival of the French fleet before Malta 
— Dispositions of Bonapcurte for the attack — State of the town — 
Inefficiency of von Hompesch — Surrender of the island — Depar- 
ture of the knights — Death of von Hompesch — The knights in St. 
Petersburg — ^Election of the emperor Paul as Grand-Master — Sub- 
sequent wanderings of the Order — Its present position at Rome . 647 


French decrees on assuming possession of the island — Insurrection of 
the Maltese — Blockade of the French within the fortress— Arrival 
of the joint British and Portuguese fleet — Details of the blockade — 
Capitulation of the French — The treaty of Amiens — Eventual 
transfer of the island to the British — Conclusion .... 669 

Skaub of thk Obdxb of St. John 694 


Chronological List of the Grand-Masters of the Order of St. John, 
distingaishing the various nations 695 


List of the first Members of the Order of St. John, cotemporaries with 
its Founder, Gerard, from 1099 to 1135. (From Paolo Antonio 
Paoli.) 697 


Original Donation of Godfrey of Bouillon to the Hospital of St. John. 
(Ex. Cod. papyrac. Biblioth. Vaticanse, N. 8136, page 19.) . . . 698 

xiv Contmts. 



Bull of Pope Paschal II., confirming the establishment of the Hospital 
of St. John. (Translated from the original Latin.) . 600 


Bull of Pope Boniface VIII., in the year 1300, recapitulating the 
original rule of Baymond du Puy, lost at the capture of Acre. 
(Translated from the original Latin.) 700 


Bull of Pope Alexander IV., dated in 1259, decreeing a distinctive dress 
for the Knights of Justice. (Translated from the original Latin.) . 7G5 


Letter of Peter D'Aubusson to the emperor of Germany, containing a 
narrative of the first siege of Ehodes. (Translated from the original 
Latin.) 706 


Letter of Sir Nicholas Boberts to the earl of Surrey, descriptive- of the 
second siege of Ehodes. (Ex Cotton MSS. Copied from Taafe's 
" Knights of St. John." This letter is much injured, and rendered 
illegible in many parts.) 711 

Deed of authorization to the Procurators of L'Isle Adam, including the 
act of donation of the island of Malta and its dependencies to the 
Order of St. John by Charles V. (Translated from the original 
Litin.) 713 


Translation from the original Latin of the letter of the Grand-Master 
La Valette to the grand-prior of Germany, narrating the siege oP 
Malta. (Taken from "Coelii Augustini Curionis Saracenicce His- 
toiisB libri tres, etc." Francofurdi, 1596.) 720 

List of the dignitaries of the langue of England 722 


Memorandum written by Oliver Starkey on the subject of a dispute as 
to precedence between the grand-priors of England and Messina. 
(Translated from the original, now in the Record Office at Malta.) . 736 


Articles of capitulation of the fortress of Malta by the French in the 
year 1800 738 

Article in the Treaty of Amiens relative to the Order of St. John . . 742 



PoRTRArr OF L.A VA.I.ETTE Frouti^tiece 

Gate of &r. Johk in the Mueistax, JEursALEM .... 61 


Map of Rhodes to rLLUSTEATE sieges of 1480 and 1522 . . 242 

Facsimh^e of ax old woodcut of Rhodes 278 

Portrait of L'Isle Adam making his entry into the Citta 

KoTABrLE 390 

Map of Malta to illustrate siege of 1565 426 

Coats of Arms on St. John's Gate, Cleekenwell; Tomb of 

Sir William Weston 571 

^lajos of THE Order of St. John, and of the Geand-Peioey 

of England . . 694 

"JS" _ — i a" 




Origin of ebiyahy — Condition of Palestine prior to the first Crusade — 
Erection of ^e Hospital of St. John — Peter the Hermit — Capture of 
Jenualexii — ^Foundation of the Order of St. John — Death of Qmid and 
eleetion of Baymond du Puy — ^Military constitution of the Order- 
Regulations for its establislunent — Admission of candidates — Estab- 
lishment of oommanderies — ^Regulations respecting dress — ^Defensive 
armour: Scale mail; Chain mail; Plate armour; Helmet; Shield — 
OffensiTe armour: Lance; Sword; Battle-axe; Dagger — ^The destrier, 
or war-horse. 

Thb Order of St. John of Jerusalem was one of the most 
important results which grew out of the spirit of chivalry 
prevalent throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, It 
is welly therefore, in tracing a history of that Order, to begin 
with a slight sketch of the causes which led to the awakening 
of the chivalric sentiment. 

The gradual extension by the Eomans of their empire had 
naturally brought about that system of colonization with which 
they habitually followed up the conquests of their generals. 
As soon afl a new country fell under their power an organized 
government was established, the miniature counterpart of that 
holding rule at the centre of the empire. A proconsul or 
governor was appointed, under whose direction, supported by 
l^ons of disciplined soldiery, peace and order were maintained, 
few changes being made in the occupation of the land. By 


2 A History of 

a gradual transition, facilitated materially by the advent of 
numerous official dignitaries bringing with them to their new 
homes all the refinements and many of the luxuries of their 
native city, the once rude land was converted into a smiling and 
prosperous province, where the civilization and improvements 
introduced by their new masters found a ready welcome. Under 
the influence of this power the military spirit of the inhabitants 
was not evoked. Some maintained her sway not by a local 
militia but by a standing army, and trusted for her victories 
rather to the well-trained movements of an organized soldiery 
than to the spontaneous efforts of an imdisciplined peasantry, 
hbwever martial their native spirit might be. The principle of 
centralization pervaded every act of their government, and the 
constant communication thus created with the capital went far 
to help on the progress of refinement. The conquered popula- 
tion, instead of being degraded into slavery, were raised to the 
dignity of Eoman citizens, and the judicious liberality with which 
they were treated made them yield the more readily to the 
softening and enervating influences of peace and civilization. 

The case was, however, widely different with the barbarians, 
the torrent of whose invasion subsequently overthrew the power 
of Rome. They had no central seat of empire from which to 
draft the rulers of their new acquisitions ; they sought, not a 
simple extension of an existing government, a new appanage 
of a monarchy already flourishing, but descending from their 
wild homes amid the bleak fastnesses of the North, they made 
for themselves a new settlement and a more genial dwelling- 
place in the luxuriant plains of the South. The original holders 
of the land were dispossessed and mostly exterminated, their 
places being filled by the intruders. The leader of the irrup- 
tion, secure in his power only in so feu* as he consulted the 
interests and by that means retained the affections of his 
followers, established his government upon a wholesale system 
of military colonization. There was no standing army distinct 
from the occupiers of the soil, but every man remained a 
soldier whilst becoming a landed proprietor in the country of 
his adoption. 

Hence arose the feudal system. The leader himself became 
a monarch, holding supreme sway within his newly-aoquired 

the Knights of Malta. 3 

kingdom. The oommanders of his foices gradually deyeloped 
into a nobility^ reoeiving as a reward for their servioes, and as a 
guarantee for their future attachment, large grants of land, 
hampered only with the conditions of military service whenever 
they were called upon by their chief. These nobles again sub- 
divided their estates amongst their inferiors under nearly similar 
oonditions, so that eventually the whole country was held 
under a tenure purely military in its requirements. It is not 
surprising that under these circumstances a martial spirit should 
pervade the new colonists. Military service was the only road 
to advancement ; it was hy such service alone that they held 
their possessions, and the power of the sword became paramount. 
Under such a system that spirit of chivalry was first developed, 
which in its more mature years gave birth to the monastic 
military orders of the East. 

Personal prowess being considered man's proudest ornament, 
and the pursuit of learning abandoned to the monk in his 
cloistered retreat, the profession of arms was the only occupa- 
tion open to the youth of high and noble estate. Taught from 
childhood to take delight in &e military exercises which formed 
the daily occupation of the retainers in every baronial castle, 
he imbibed at an early age that ardent craving for distinction 
which was one of the fundamental principles of chivalry. Lnhued 
with the religious veneration of the period — a veneration deeply 
tinged with superstition, he was led to consider as sacred the 
obligations imposed on him hy the chivalric code. To fight in 
defence of his religion was not only a sacred duty, it was also 
an inestimable privilege. ^ He had been taught that pardon for 
hiB sins was to he purchased by a display of martial zeal in 
hehalf of his faith, and that the shedding of his blood in the 
sacred cause would insure him an entry into the joys of Heaven. 
This doctrine appealed in the wannest and most direct manner 
to the preyailing sentiments of the time. What wonder then 
that it was eagerly accepted and gradually worked its way 
through all ranks of society. Whilst such was the bent of 
pubho feeling in Europe, there arose gradually in the East a 
state of things which, as it became known, aroused the martial 
ardour of the nations to a pitch of frenzy. 
The Byzantine empire had continued to maintain its rule 


4 A History of 

long after its western sister had fallen beneath the attacks of 
the northern barbarians. True, it was much reduced in extent ; 
still, at the beginning of the seventh century, the Euphrates 
remained the Asiatic boundary of the empire. Her rulers, 
however, either dreading the treachery of usurpers or being 
usurpers themselves, were less on the look-out to check the 
inroads of the surrounding wild tribes than to secure their own 
position on the tottering throne. Encompassed by enemies both 
within and without, that position was yetu-ly becoming one of 
increasing difficulty, and demanded on the part of the monarch, 
as the only possible means of maintaining its integrity, the 
highest administrative capacity coupled with supreme skill in 
the power of waging a defensive warfare. Unfortunately, how- 
ever, for the empire, her rulers evinced no such gifts. Instead 
of striving to make head against the constant encroax^hments of 
their neighbours, they plunged madly into all the voluptuous 
degeneracy of the times, and vainly sought to conceal their 
weakness and cowardice behind the idle pomp of a gorgeous 
magnificence. Under such circumstances the power which had 
at one time extended over the whole of the east of Europe, and 
had shared the empire of the world with its Boman sister, 
crumbled away by degrees, and became a mere phantom of its 
original greatness. 

One province of the empire, however, continued throughout 
its decadence to command the affectionate interest and sympathy 
of Europe; this was the province of Judea, within the limits of 
which stood the holy city of Jerusalem. Since the days of our 
Saviour the vicissitudes of fortune and the results of war had 
brought about many changes within its sacred precincts. The 
capture of the city by the Eomans under Titus led to the intro- 
duction of their idolatrous form of worship. The Jews were 
driven forth to be dispersed over the face of the earth. A pagan 
temple was reared on the site of that which had originally been 
dedicated to the Lord by Solomon, and the foul rites of a 
heathen worship desecrated the land hallowed by the footsteps 
of our Saviour when on earth. 

During the fourth century, however, Christianity won its way 
throughout the empire, and before long Ohristiem churches 
began to replace the temples of the heathen. Foremost 

the Knights of Malta. 5 

amongst these stood that of the Holy Sepulchre, erected by 
the Empress Heleoa, the mother of Constontine the Great. 
She had been baptized at the same time as her son, and 
with all the newly-awakened zeal of a convert, had made a 
pilgrimage to the Holy Land. To her is attributed the dis- 
eovCTy of the Holy Sepulchre, and upon that site she erected 
the magnificent pile which bears its name. Her example was 
followed by Constantino, and by degrees the numerous stately 
churches and convents which they founded formed the principal 
adormnent of the province. 

Jerusalem now became the favoured object of the world's 
devotion. Keligious curiosity had prompted Christians from 
the earliest times to visit the regions sanctified by their faith. 
This feeling, supported as it was by the influence of the 
priesthood, g7:ew in intensity, until at length it became a recog- 
nized principle that a pilgrimage to Jerusalem was the most 
efficacious act by which the penitent could hope to atone for 
his sins. Yast crowds flocked thither from every comer of 
Europe to utter a prayer over the tomb of their Saviour, and to 
gaze on that hallowed spot where He had breathed His last. 
The very dust of the land was considered sacred in their eyes, 
and the pious wanderer, on his return, hung his palm branch 
and pilgrim's staff over the altar of his parish church, where it 
remained, not only an emblem of his own devotion, but also an 
incentive to others to follow his example. 

Matters were on this footing when suddenly there arose from 
the obscurity of the East that wonderful man who was destined 
to cause a complete revolution, and to become the founder at 
the same time of a new empire and of a new religion. It will 
not come within the province of this work to enter into any 
detail with regard to the rise and progress of Mahomet, who, in 
the early part of the seventh century, established himself as the 
prophet of a new faith. Within a very short time from the com- 
mencement of his career he had brought the whole of Arabia 
under his dominion. A fundamental doctrine of his religion 
being the necessity for its propagation by the power of the 
sword, the lust of conquest lent its aid to the zeal of fanaticism, 
and the new creed spread with a rapidity imequalled in the 
aimals of religious propagandism. 

6 A History of 

After the death of Mahomet, his successors, who assumed the 
title of caliph, or vicar of the prophet, gradually overran the 
neighbouring provinces. Damascus, Antioch, and Syria having 
fallen to their arms, they penetrated into Palestine, seized 
upon Jerusalem, and passing from thence into Egjrpt, they 
annexed that country also to their empire ; Media, Korassan, 
and Mesopotamia shared the same fate ; and entering Africa 
they spread themselves over its whole northern coast. In 
Europe, after having successively captured the islands of 
Cyprus, Bhodes, Candia, Sicily, and Malta, they founded a 
new empire in the heart of Spain, whence they carried on for 
many years a desperate struggle with the Christians of the 
surrounding provinces. 

Of all these conquests, however, the one which caused the 
greatest dismay, and which in after times was fraught with the 
most eventful results, was that of the Holy Land and the 
city of Jerusalem. So long as the Christian emperors of the 
East maintained their rule over its sacred limits, the advent 
of pilgrims from all parts had been encouraged to the greatest 
possible extent. The government had early discovered that a 
large amount of money was by this means brought into the 
empire, and that its commerce was much extended by the vast 
concourse of ever-changing people collected together within the 
favoured district. Matters changed greatly for the worse when 
the province fell into the hands of the caliphs. Although they 
were far too keen-sighted and politic to prohibit altogether 
the influx of this stream of Christians into the sacred city, they 
nevertheless imposed such heavy taxes upon them as told 
materially upon ' the slender finances of the pilgrims, and 
became a source of considerable profit to their own treasury. 

The infidels were at that time much divided by serious 
discords among themselves. Shortly after Mahomet's death 
they had split up into sepcu'ate factions, each led by a chief 
who claimed for himself the right of empire, as being the 
nearest in descent from the prophet. There were at one time 
no less than five distinct pretenders to this position. The 
sovereignty of the Holy Land had been warmly contested 
between two of these rivals, the caliphs of Bagdad and of 
Egypt. In their struggles for supremacy the poor unoffending 

the Knights of Malta. 7 

pilgrims of the West were miserably harassed and plmidered, 
first by the one party and then by the other, and were not nnfre- 
qnently murdered. These dangers and impediments were not, 
however, suflioient to check the ardour of their religious zeal, nor 
did the fear of maltreatment deter a vast and annually increas- 
ing number of devotees from seeking the shores of Palestine. 

Many of these pilgrims combined the profits of commerce 
with their holier office, and those who were thus able to establish 
business relations with the rulers of the neighbouring provinces, 
had it often in their power to befriend their less fortunate 
brethren. Amongst the most distinguished of these were some 
merchants of Amalfi, a rich city in the kingdom of Naples, 
still existing, though greatly shorn of its old wealth and 
importance. These having in the course of their trading 
in Egypt ingratiated themselves with the Caliph Monstaser 
Billah, who at that time held the Holy Land in his power, 
obtained permission to establish a hospital within the city of 
Jerusalem, for the use of poor and sick Latin pilgrims. In 
obedience to the order of the caliph, the Mahometan governor 
of the city assigned to these pious men a site close to the 
Holy Sepulchre, on which they erected a church, dedicated to 
the Virgin, giving it the name of Sta. Maria ad Latinos, to 
distinguish it from those churches where the Ghreek ritual pre- 
vailed. This work was accomplished between the years 1014 — 
1023.* Its religious duties were carried on by Benedictine 
monks appointed for the purpose. Between that time and the 
capture of Jerusalem in 1099 the work was developed by the 
erection of two hospitals (one for either sex) for the reception 
of pilgrims, and in connection therewith two additional churches 
were founded. That for the females was dedicated to St. Mary 
Magdalene, and that for men to St. John Eleemon, or the 
Almoner. This latter dedication was, at some subsequent date, 
which is uncertain, changed from St. John the Almoner to St. 
John the Baptist. In the course of time many pilgrims who 

* The usual date given by historians for this establishment is 1048. 
There is, however, still extant a charter granted for the re-endowment of 
thu chureh and monastery by Melek Muzaffer in 1023. My authority for 
this statement is Captain C. Conder, R.E., whose name is so well known 
in eanneotioB with the Palestine Exploration Expedition. 

8 A History of 

had in this hospital received the assistance so liberally ex- 
tended to all wayfarers, abandoned the idea of returning to 
their homes, and formed themselves into a charitable body, who, 
without any regular religious profession, devoted themselves to 
its service and the care of its sick inmates. 

All the chief cities of Italy and the south of Europe sub- 
scribed liberally for the support of this admirable and much- 
wanted institution. The merchants of Amalfi who were its 
original founders acted as the stewards of their boimty ; and as 
its beneficial influence became more widely known throughout 
Europe, their revenues increased largely. Grateful pilgrims 
on their return home spread far and wide the reputation of the 
Jerusalem hospitals, so that contributions flowed in from every 
quarter, and their utility was greatly extended. Such was the 
original establishment from which the Order of St. John 
eventually sprang, and it was from this fraternity of charitable 
devotees that a body of men descended, who for centuries 
continued a terror to the infldel, and the main bulwark of 
Christendom in the East. 

Meanwhile a calamitous change befel the sacred city. Its 
'Mahometan masters, after four centuries of dominion, were in 
their turn overpowered by a fierce horde of barbarians, bearing 
the name of Turcomans, who, coming from the wild regions 
beyond the Caspian Sea, poured themselves gradually over all 
the coimtries bordering on the Euphrates. The Holy Land 
soon fell into their hands, and from that moment a new and 
most disastrous 88ra dawned upon the pilgrims of Europe. Their 
tribute was largely increased, and, more than this, they them- 
selves were plimdered, maltreated, and subjected to every kind 
of atrocity, in comparison with which their former hardships 
seemed light indeed. From this time the journey to, and 
sojourn in Jerusalem became an undertaking fraught with the 
greatest possible danger. A large number of the pilgrims who 
still endeavoured to make their way thither never returned, and 
those who were fortunate enough to do so, spread the evil 
tidings of what they had been called on to suffer, so that 
gradually a strong feeling of horror and indignation was 
evoked throughout Europe. 

In the year 1093, whilst these cruelties were at their height, 

the Knights of Malta. 9 

Peter the Hermit, a Latin monk, who had been so called on 
acooTint of the rigid austerities and seclusion of his life, returned 
from a pilgrimage which he, like so many others, had made to 
the Holy Land. He had witnessed the hardships and bar- 
barities to which the Christian sojourners in Jerusalem were 
subjected, and had doubtless undergone much himself. He 
determined, therefore, to devote his energies to the suppression 
of the evil, and applied to the Gfreek Patriarch Simeon for 
assistance in the good cause. The Greek empire was at this 
time in far too insecure and tottering a condition to admit the 
possibility of any armed intervention from that quarter, but 
Simeon warmly embraced the opportunity of rendering what 
help he could, and gave Peter a letter of recommendation to 
Urban H., who at that time occupied the chair of St. Peter. 
Fortified with this introduction, as well as with a second 
letter of similar tenor from Gerard, the rector of the Hospital 
of St. John at Jerusalem, the hermit proceeded to Borne and 
there pleaded his cause in person. 

The result of these efforts forms a prominent feature in the 
histoiy of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The religious 
enthusiasm of Europe was aroused to a pitch of frenzy, and vast 
armaments assembled from all quarters and poured eastward. 
After the miserable dispersion of the first undisciplined mobs, 
who, led by the fanatic Peter, rushed forward in tumultuous 
disarray, the armed chivalry of Europe gradually collected 
on the plains before Constantinople, where they mustered a 
strength of 600,000 foot and 100,000 cavalry. This enormous 
force was under the chief command of Bohemond, son of the 
Count of Calabria. Its advance was marked by the successive 
capture of the cities of Nicea, Antioch, Tarsus, and Edessa, and 
at length, on the 7th Jime, 1099, it made its appearance before 
the Holy City. The caliph of Egypt, taking advantage of the 
warfare which the Turcomans were then carrying on against 
the Crusaders, had succeeded in once more obtaining possession 
of Palestine, and was at this period in occupation of Jerusalem, 
which he had garrisoned with a force of 40,000 men. There 
were also in the city about 20,000 Mahometan inhabitants 
capable of bearing arms. The force of the besiegers, diminished 
as they had been by their previous struggles and the privations 

lo A History of 

they hfibd undergone, numbered barely 20,000 infantry with 
about 1,500 horse. 

The first step taken by the Mahometan governor, on the 
appearance of the enemy before the town, was the arrest of all 
the leading Christians in the pladid. Peter GFerard, the rector 
of the Hospital of St. John, was of the number who were thus 
cast into prison. He is generally supposed to have been a 
native of Florence, but the fact is very doubtful; neither his 
family nor even his country has been with any certainty 
ascertained. He had undertaken a pilgrimage to the East 
in accordance with the prevailing custom of the times, and 
having been an eye-witaeas of the many oharities administered 
by the hospital, he had abandoned all idea of returning to 
Europe, and devoted himself instead to the service of the 
institution. Here, by his energy and zeal aj3 well as by the 
general piety of his life, he gained so much influence that 
eventually he was appointed rector. At the same time a noble 
Boman lady called Agnes was at the head of the female 
branch of the hospital. Pilgrims of both sexes were admitted 
freely ; even the infidels were not excluded from its benefits, 
in consequence of which the rector became gradually looked 
up to with almost filial veneration by the poor of the city. 
It was the dread that this infiuence might be made of use in 
favour of the besiegers which induced the governor, as a mattor 
of precaution, to imprison Gherard. The old historians record 
a curious miracle in connection with this arrest, tending to show 
the sanctity in which he was held. It is said that being sadly 
distressed at the miserable condition to which the Crusaders 
were reduced by famine, he hcd moimted the ramparts with 
loaves of bread hidden under his cloak, intending to throw 
them over the walls for the use of the besiegers. Being 
detected in the act, he was taken before the govem,or, when 
on examination it was found that the loaves had been 
miraculously turned into stones. His life was consequently 
spared, although he was thrown into prison as being under 
suspicion of holding treasonable intercourse with the besiegers. 
The governor caused all the wells within a drcuit of five 
or six miles of the town to be filled up, and levelled every 
building in the suburbs, burning the wood of which they were 

the Knights of Malta. 1 1 

oomposed, bo that tlie besiegers when they arrived found nothing 
but an arid waste encircling the town. 

In spite of their nnmerical inferiority and the obstacles 
thrown in their way, the Crusaders at once proceeded to carry 
on the siege of the town*. On the fifth day a general assault 
was attempted, but owing to the want of proper military 
engines the effort proved futile, and the assailants were 
driven with great loss from the walls. To remedy this defect, 
Gh)dfrey de Bouillon and Eaymond of Toulouse had two large 
wooden towers buflt to assist the attacking party in surmount- 
ing them. A second assault was delivered on the 19th July. 
This proved entirely successful. Qx>dfrey, by means of his 
towers, penetrated within the walls, and then opening the gates 
of the city gave admission to the whole army. 

A scene of bloodshed and cruelty now took place which casts 
an indelible stain upon what would otherwise have ranked as a 
most glorious achievement. Not content with the slaught^ of 
those who were found with arms in their hands, the women 
and children indiscriminately fell victims to the ferocity of the 
conquerors. It is computed that no less than ten thousand 
persons were massacred within the limits of the Mosque of 
Omar alone. The carnage on this spot was so fearful that 
the dead bodies were floated by the stream of blood into the 
court, and the Christian knights rode through the place with 
blood up to their horses' knees. On the following day an 
occurrence still more disgraceful took place. Three hundred 
men, to whom Tancred had pledged his knightly word in 
token of protection, were murdered in cold blood, it having 
been decided by the assembled leaders that no quarter should 
on any pretence be given to the Saracens. 

At length the slaughter ceased, and satiated with bloodshed 
the commanders of the army, followed by the soldiery, bare- 
headed and with naked feet, proceeded to the Holy Sepulchre, 
there to offer up their prayers and to return thanks for the 
saccessfol issue of their sacred undertaking. Incongruous as 
this act may appear so shortly after the scenes just enacted, 
it was in strict accordance with the spirit of the age, when the 
piety of the Christian was closely allied to the intolerance of 
the fanatic. Their religious duties accomplished, they then 

12 A History of 

proceeded to organize a government for the newly-conquered 
territory. The majority of the sufirages were given in favour 
of Q-odfrey de Bouillon, a prince who was noted for his piety 
as much as for his valour, and he was at once elected to the 
post of ruler. Refusing the crown and title of king which 
were tendered to him, on the plea that he would never wear 
a crown of gold on the spot where his Saviour had worn a 
crown of thorns, he modestly determined to content himself 
with the title of Defender and Advocate of the Holy 
Sepulchre. He has, however, always ranked as the first king 
of Jerusalem. 

Thus, after the lapse of four centuries, we once more find 
the sacred city freed from the yoke of Islam, and reverting 
to its old faith. It is a curious and instructive study to trace 
the extraordinary changes which time had wrought within its 
hallowed precincts. The siege of which the successful termina- 
tion has just been recorded, was the tenth which Jerusalem, 
with varied fortunes, had undergone. It was first captured 
by David in the year B.C. 1051, when he drove out its 
Jebusite inhabitants and made it the capital of the Jewish 
kingdom. In the reign of Behoboam, the grandson of David, 
seventy-five years afterwards, it was besieged by Shishak, king 
of Egypt, who, having gained admission through the cowardice 
of Behoboam, pillaged the city and retained possession of 
it for a time. The next siege was that undertaken by Sen- 
nacherib, king of Assyria, in the time of Hezekiah, b.c. 715, 
when by miraculous interposition the besieging hosts were so 
suddenly smitten that they were compelled to retreat. On 
the fourth occasion the attack was made by Nebuchadnezzar, 
king of Babylon, to enforce the payment of tribute, which 
Zedekiah, trusting to his Egyptian alliance, had refused to 
continue. For eighteen months the inhabitants persisted in 
their defence, famine and pestilence causing more havoc than 
the sword of the enemy. At length they were forced to 
yield, and the conqueror made his triiunphal entry into the 
city. Such of the inhabitants as escaped with their lives 
were led away into slavery ; the temple was reduced to ashes, 
and the city completely destroyed. By permission of Cyrus, 
king of Persia, it was rebuilt by Zerubbabel, and once more 

the Knights of Malta* 13 

fortified by Nehemiah. In the year 63 b.c, the Jews having 
refoaed a jmssage to the Eoman army, whioh was on the 
march against AristobnlnB, Pompey the Ghreat attacked the 
town, and owing to the dissensions raging within its walls 
he soon made himself master of it. It is recorded that in 
this siege, which lasted less than three months, twelve 
thousand Jews lost their lives. On the same day, twenty- 
seven years after, it was again taken by Herod the Oreat, 
and on this occasion the slaughter was even greater than 
before, the obstinacy of the defence having exasperated the 
oonqnerors to such a degree that, on obtaining possession of 
the town, they immolated to their fury all who fell into 
their hands, qxdte regardless of age or sex. The seventh 
siege was that rendered memorable in history from its being 
the fulfilment of our Lord's denunciations whilst on earth. 
Titus made his appearance before the town with a vast 
Boman army a.d. 66. At that time Jerusalem, built on 
two very steep mountains, was divided into three parts, the 
upper city, the lower city, and the temple, each of which 
had its own separate fortifications. The inhabitants were thus 
enabled to protract their defence in an extraordinary degree. 
The steady perseverance of the besiegers eventually overcame 
all obstacles, and after a most desperate resistance, Titus 
succeeded in forcing his way into the place. In spite, however, 
of all his efforts he was unable to save it from destruction. 
The fiat had gone forth that not one stone should be left 
upon another, and no orders on the part of the conqueror 
avaQed to prevent the accomplishment of the Divine decree. 
The Emperor Adrian built another city on its site, which, 
in order that there might be nothing left of the ancient 
Jerusalem, not even a name, he called /Rlia. The city of 
David had become well-nigh forgotten when Constantine, 
the first Christian emperor of the East, restored its name, 
and calling together the faithful from all parts of Europe, 
formed it into a Christian colony. In the year a.d. 613, 
a host of Persian fire-worshippers poured over Palestine and 
again captured the city. During the sack which ensued most 
of the ohurohes, and the Holy Sepulchre itself, were destroyed 
by fixe, and the sacred cross, so long an object of veneration 

14 A History of 

to devoteeB, was oarried away by the invaders. It was 
attacked for the ninth time by the Saracens under Khaled, 
A.D. 635, when, after a siege of four months' duration, a 
capitulation was agreed on, in virtue of whi(5h the city fell 
into his hands. Whilst in the possession of the Saracens it 
changed masters several times, until at length it was wrested 
from them by the crusading army in the manner ab^eady told. 

One of the first steps taken by Godfrey after aesimiing 
the reins of government in the captured city, was to visit the 
Hospital of St. John. He here found a number of wounded 
men, members of the crusading army, who had been received 
into the hospital, and were being nursed with the most tender 
solicitude. In proof of the devotion and religious zeal which 
animated the brotherhood at this time it is recorded that whilst 
the funds of the institution were expended without stint in the 
provision of delicate and nutritious diet for the suflEerers so 
charitably entertained within its walls, the food of the brethren 
themselves was of the coarsest and most economical description. 
Godfrey was so much struck with the admirable manner in 
which the establishment was conducted by Gerard, and with the 
benefits which it had conferred upon his suffering army, that he 
at once endowed it with his manor of Montboise, in Brabant.* 
His example was followed by several of the other leaders of 
the army who had, either in their own persons or in those of 
their followers, experienced the kindness and hospitality of the 
Order. The main object for which the expedition had been 
formed having been attained, and the Holy City rescued from 
the hands of the infidel, the greater portion of the crusading 
army returned to Europe. The fame of the hospital was by their 
means spread abroad in every direction, and in consequence 
numerous additional benefactions accrued to it, until eventually 
there was scarcely a province in which the Hospitcd of St. John 
did not stand possessed of manorial rights. 

The ranks of the Hospitallers received at the same time a large 
augmentation by the secession of many of the Crusaders from 
their martial career, who, yielding themselves up entirely to a 
life of religion, joined the charitable fraternity. Under these 
oiroumstances, and actuated by a laudable desire to secure the 

* Vide Appendix No. 3. 

the Knights of Malta. 1 5 

benefits of the institution upon a broader.and more permanent 
basis, Gerard proposed that thej should organize themselves 
into a regularly-oonstituted religious body, taking upon them- 
selves the three monastic obligations of poverty, obedience, and 
ohastity, and that they should devote the remainder of their 
lives to the service of the poor and sick in the newly-established 
kingdom of Jerusalem. This proposition on the part of the 
rector, coming as it did at a time when religious enthusiasm 
had been greatly stimulated by the success of the Christian 
army, was hailed with acclamation, and at once acted on. The 
patnaroh of Jerusalem received from the candidates the three 
religious vows, and clothed them in the habit selected for the 
Order, which consisted of a plain black robe, bearing on the 
left breast a white cross with eight points. 

Pope Paschal 11. shortly afterwards formally sanctioned the 
establishment of the Order, by a bull published in the year 
1113.* By this instrument the hospital was exempted from 
the payment of tithes ; the endowments it had received were 
confirmed to it, and the privilege was conceded to its members 
of electing their own head, whenever a vacancy should occur, 
without any external interference, either secular or ecclesiastical. 
After the recovery of Jerusalem from the hands of the Saracens 
the nimiber of pilgrims rapidly increased, and Oerard, in his 
solicitude for their welfare, established branch hospitals in most 
of the maritime provinces of Europe. These were placed under 
the superintendence and management of members of the Order, 
as offshoots of the parent institution, and formed points of 
departure where pilgrims could find shelter and entertain^ 
ment whilst waiting for transport to the Holy Land. 

Gerard, who had already reached a green old age, did not 
long survive the establishment of his institution. He died in 
the year 1118, and the post of superior to the hospital became 
vacant. In accordance with the terms of the Papal bull already 
mentioned, the fraternity immediately proceeded to elect his 
suocessor. Their choice fell on Baymond du Puy, a member 
of a noble family in Dauphin^. At this time Baldwin IE. 
was seated on the throne of Jerusalem. Although so short 
a time had elapsed since the establisbment of the kingdom 

* ViM Appendix No. 4. 

i6 A History of 

there hcd already been two ohanges of rulers, Ghodfrey and his 
brother Baldwin I., who suooeeded him, haying both died. 
The kingdom at this period consisted only of certain isolated 
cities, with the districts in their immediate vicinity, the inter- 
vening country being still peopled and held by the Saracens. 
Intercourse was therefore very difficult, and communication was 
liable to constant interruption from the predatory attacks of 
the infidels. 

Raymond du Puy had no sooner assumed the reins of office 
than he began to devise a material alteration in the constitu- 
tion of the Order. His mind, naturally of a chivalric and 
warlike bent, was not prepared to rest satisfied with the peaceful 
functions undertaken by the fraternity. He therefore proposed 
that wlulst they still retained all the obligations imposed on 
them by their vows, they should add the further one of 
bearing arms in defence of their religion, and in support of 
the new kingdom. 

Although this proposition was diametrically opposed to the 
leading principles upon which the institution had been founded 
— ^which principles had but a few years before been accepted 
with the utmost enthusiasm and established by acclamation — 
it was nevertheless received on all sides with delight. This 
change of feeling is easily accounted for. When Grerard, who 
was himself a man of peaceful habits, and bred in an almost 
monastic seclusion, formed his Order on an entirely religious 
basis, rendering the abandonment of a warlike career a matter 
of course, he f oimd plenty of ready and willing followers from 
amongst the ranks of the crusading army. They had passed 
through a period of extreme peril and hardship, they had 
fought their way step by step at the point of the sword, untU 
sadly reduced in numbers and satiated with warfare they had 
at length achieved the main object for which they strove. 
Prostrate with the exhaustion consequent on so prolonged a 
struggle and eager for repose, filled too, at the moment, with 
all the veneration which the remembrance of the holy groimd 
on which they trod was calculated to inspire, it is not a matter 
for wonder that they embraced with eagerness the peaceful 
career thus presented for their adoption, combining as it did 
the gratification of their religious enthusiasm with the calm 

the Knights of Malta. 1 7 

and rest so grateful to their jaded senses. The lapse, how- 
ever, of a few years brought about a great change in their 
feelings. The quiet and seclusion of a monastic life soon lost 
the charms which it had at first possessed ; the habits of a 
life of excitement and warfare could not be thus suddenly 
suspended without gradually producing a sense of inertness 
and lassitude. When, therefore, their new superior, filled 
with the same restless cravings as themselves, sought to restore 
to their institution the active exercise of that profession which 
had been their delight, and which they had abandoned in a 
hasty fit of fanaticism, it is not surprising that his new pro- 
posal should have been hailed with eagerness. 

The suggestions of Eaymond du Puy met with the warmest 
approval from Baldwin. The constant warfare to which he 
was exposed on every side, the incessant depredations of the 
Saracens who surrounded him, and the necessity which con- 
sequently existed for supporting his position by the force of 
aims, led him to receive with the utmost favour so welcome a 
proposition. It would bring to the support of his cause a body 
of men highly trained in all the chivalric exercises of the age, 
inflamed with religious ardour, and unfettered by any of those 
social ties in Europe which had drawn from him so many of 
his followers. Thus upheld on every side, Raymond proceeded 
without delay to carry his design into execution ; the patriarch 
of Jerusalem was once more called in to give his consent, and 
the entire body took a fresh oath by which they bound them- 
selves to support the cause of Christianity against the infidel 
in the Holy Land to the last drop of their blood. They at 
the same time pledged themselves, on no pretence whatever, to 
bear arms for any other object than the defence of their faith. 

From this moment we may consider the Order of St. John 
of Jerusalem as permanently established on that military basis 
which it retained till its final dispersion from Malta. Although 
Oerard must be recognized as the original founder of the fra- 
ternity, it is to Raymond du Puy that the honour belongs of 
having been its first nulitaxy Master. When we look back on 
the glorious achievements which through so many centuries 
have adorned its annals, and mark the long list of names, 
ennobled by so many heroic deeds, which have been successively 


1 8 A History of 

enrolled beneath its banners, we must render all praise to the 
mind that first contemplated the establishment of a brotherhood 
eombiniDg within its obligations such apparently contradictory 
duties, and yet fulfilling its purposes with so much lasting bene- 
fit to Christianity, and imperishable renown to itself. 

It will be well, at this point, before proceeding with the 
history of the Order, to devote a short space to the considera- 
tion of its government and internal polity as first established 
under Raymond du Puy. Having been originally organized 
for charitable purposes only, the changes introduced by Gerard 
and llaymond du Puy successively, gave it a religious, repub- 
lican, military, and aristocratic character. It was religious, 
since every member took the three monastic vows of poverty, 
chastity, and obedience. It was republican, since its chief 
was always chosen by election of the members. It was mili- 
tary, since two of the three classes into which it was divided 
were constantly under arms, waging unceasing warfare with 
the Saracens; and it was aristocratic, since, as we shall pre- 
sently see, none but the first class had any share in the legislative 
or executive power. 

To regulate the new administration rendered necessary by the 
changes which he had introduced, llaymond called together the 
leading members of his Hospital, who bore the name of Master's 
assistants ; forming them into a chapter or council, he submitted 
for their revision the ordinances originally drawn up by Gerard. 
It was at this meeting that the first statutes for the governance 
of the Order under its new character were instituted, and these 
were laid before, and received the sanction of the Pope. It 
may here be recorded that the original rule was lost at the 
capture of the city of Acre in the year 1289. Eleven years 
afterwards Pope Boniface VIII., at the request of the then 
Grand-Master, presented the Hospital with a fresh bull, in which 
the contents of Raymond's rule were recapitulated with a few 
trivial alterations.* 

One of the first steps taken by this council was to divide the 
Order into three classes, according to their rank and functions 
the first class, which formed the aristocracy, were to be named 
knights of justice ; the second, which included the ecclesiastic 

• Vide Appendix No. 5. 

the Knights of Malta, 19 

branch., were called religious ohaplains ; and the third, or lower 

clajBS, aerving "brothers. It may here be observed, as regards the 

first class, tiiat no one oould be admitted thereto who had not 

already received the aooolade of knighthood at secular hands. 

There were also religious dames of the Order. These ladies had 

branch establishments in France, Italy, Spain, and England; the 

rules for their reception were similar to those for the knights 

of jostioe, with the addition that proofs of noble descent were 

demanded of them. It will be seen further on that similar 

proofs were afterwards called for from knights of justice ; but 

at the time of which we are now speaking nothing was required 

of them beyond the fact of their having been received into the 

ranks of secular knighthood. 

In addition to the above, who were regular members, there 
were other persons attached to the institution under the title 
of donats. These did not undertake the same obUgations, but 
were employed in different offices in the convent and Hospital. 
In token of their connection with the Order they wore what was 
called a demi cross (with three two-pointed arms instead of 
four). In after times this title was conferred on persons who 
had made oblations to the treasury. 

The powers of government were vested in the hands of a 
council presided over by the Master, and all questions connected 
with the well-being of the fraternity, as well as the collection 
and expenditure of their large and yearly increasing revenues, 
were submitted to its decision. 

The income of the Order at this period was derived from 
landed property in every part of Europe, the result of the 
benevolent donations that had been so unsparingly lavished 
upon the community. At first these estates were farmed out to 
individuals totally imconnected with it, and these tenants were 
supposed to remit their annual rent, based on the value of the 
lands they held, to the treasury at Jerusalem. This system was, 
however, soon found extremely faidty, and indeed well-nigh 
impracticable in the working. The difficidty of obtaining their 
due rights from persons who had no interest in the prosperity of 
the fraternity, and who on account of their distance from the 
seat of government found every facihty for evading their just 
obligations, soon caused the most alarming deficits to arise. In 


20 A History of 

order to remedy this evil and to insure the punctual transmission 
of the rents of their numerous manors, it was determined to 
place over each a trusty member, who should act as a stewafti 
of the funds committed to his control. Establishments (at 
first called preceptorias, but at a later date commanderies) wera 
formed on a scale varying with the value of the properties they 
were intended to supervise, there being in many cases several 
members of the Order congregated together. The superinten- 
dents were taken from among the seniors, but were not confined 
to knights of justice, a certain number of chaplains and serving 
brothers being also nominated to the dignity. In such cases it 
was not unusual to find knights of justice attached to the 
preceptories subordinate to them. 

The duties of these preceptories were not confined to the col- 
lection and transmission of revenue only. They at the same time 
became branch establishments, where postulants were professed 
and the various duties carried on in a precisely similar manner 
as in the parent convent at Jerusalem. Periodical drafts were 
collected, which were from time to time called to the East to 
recruit the ranks constantly being thinned by war and disease. 
When not required for this duty the knights were to be 
found rendering assistance in the warfare imceasingly waged 
against the Moors in Spain and in the south of Europe. 
Wherever the infidel- was to be encountered, thither it was the 
duty of every true knight of St. John to hasten. They were, 
however, strictly forbidden upon any pretence whatever to inter- 
fere in warfare between Christian princes. So long as these estab- 
lishments retained the title of preceptories, their chief was called 
preceptor ; when they changed their names into commanderies, 
he became the commander — hence the origin of the term knight 
commander, which has been introduced into so many Orders of 
chivalry. The council reserved to itself the power of recal- 
ling a commander from his post at any time, and replacing 
him by another, he being merely considered the steward of 
the property. This right gradually fell into abeyance, and 
eventually a nomination to a commandery came to be regarded 
practically as a permanent gift, subject only to the payment 
of. a fixed annual tribute to the public treasury under the title 
of responsions. 

the Knights of Malta. 2 1 

Strong prohibitions were issued against the use of any orna- 
ments or devices, in either the dress or arms of the brother- 
hood, beyond the eight-pointed cross, the symbol of the 
Ord^. This restriction was considered necessary in the eyes of 
their founder, owing to the increasing taste for splendour 
which was creeping into the habits of the epoch. When the 
first germs of the chivalric idea began to show them- 
selves, and to replace the barbarism which had overthrown 
the Roman empire, the simplicity of the age had limited 
the construction of axms strictly to the purposes for which they 
were required, and nothing in the form of ornament seems 
to have been suggested. As, however, time wore on and 
brought with it a steady advance in civilization and luxury, 
new ideas became prevalent. 

Whereas in the earlier ages duty to his religion and his 
country were the only obligations imposed upon a knight, by 
degrees another element was now introduced, and lady-love was 
ere long heard of as the noblest incentive to the chivalric mind. 
So inseparably did this feeling become connected with the after 
character of the system, that it may be looked upon as its 
mainspring. Every true knight considered that the most 
daring act of gaUantiy was amply rewarded by the. approving 
anule of his lady-love. Bearing upon his person the favoured 
colours of his mistress, he carried them wherever peril was to be 
braved or honour won. 

Under these circumstances it was but natural that the simpU- 
eity which characterized preceding times shoidd give way to the 
introduction of personal adornment. Armour came to be con- 
structed no longer merely with a view to its use, but ornamenta- 
tion, more or less elaborate, rapidly introduced itself. The 
inmgnia of heraldry date their origin from this new sentiment, 
and each succeeding generation outvied the preceding one in the 
splendour of its equipment. At the time the Order of St. John 
adopted a military basis, t>., the early part of the twelfth cen- 
tury, this innovation had not reached any great height ; it 
bad, however, so far made its way that Raymond du Puy 
thought it advisable to make a special regulation against its 
introduction into his fraternity. No decoration of any kind 
was permitted on any portion of the armour, with the sole 

22 A Histoiy of 

exception of the cross, and this was only to be borne on the 
pennon, the surcoat, and the shield. 

This allusion to the armour of the knights leads naturally to 
the question of what did their equipment consist ? Armour may 
be divided into two classes — offensive and defensive : the former 
including all weapons, and the latter tiie protecting covering of 
both man and horse. At the time of the first Crusade defen- 
sive armour consisted simply of a leathern tunic, on which were 
faistened rows of iron rings. The word cuirass, now used to 
denote a steel breastplate, took its origin from this leathern 
tunic. Gradually these rings gave way to small iron plates 
lapping over one another like the scales of a fish, whence came 
the name scale mail. The form of armour previously described 
was called simply mail, from macula, a net, the meshes of which 
it was supposed to resemble. The leathern tunic, on which 
these varieties of mail were borne, eventually took the name of 
hauberk. The lower Umbs were protected by chausses equiva- 
lent to the modem breeches. When the tunic and chausses 
were in one piece, the combination was called a haubergeon. 
The crown and back of the head were protected by a hood of 
mail, sometimes detached and sometimes forming part of the 
hauberk. In the latter case the wearer was enabled to throw 
it back upon his shoidders when he wished to relieve his head 
from its weight. This hood not only protected the back of the 
head, but coming round to the front covered also the mouth 
and chin. The hands were protected by a prolongation of the 
sleeves of the frock, which passed over the fingers ; the feet were 
in the same way protected by a continuation of the chausses. 

Various improvements in this system of mail armour 
gradually developed themselves, mostly borrowed from the 
Saracens. Instead of the rings of mail being sewn on the 
dress they were interlaced with one another, each ring having 
four others inserted into it, the garment being thus formed of 
the rings only without any leathern foundation. This was 
further improved by the introduction of double rings, rendering 
it impervious either to the cut of a sword or the thrust of a 
lance. It was also extremely portable ; a knight was no 
longer obliged to encumber himself with his armour when 
travelling; being compact and flexible, it could be rolled up 

the Knights of Malta. 23 

as a cloak, and was oarried by the esquire at the back of his 

Ghraduallj, however, the improvement of offeusive weapons 
led to tiie adoption of still further measures for protection. 
Plates of solid steel were attached to the breast and other parts 
of the body, where experience had taught the insufficiency of 
the metsd rings. New plates were continually added for the 
protection of fresh weak points, until eventually an entire 
double covering of plate and mail had to be borne. The 
weight of this was soon found so burdensome that the inner 
ooat of mail had to be abandoned, and the steel plates only 
retained, each of which received its name from the part of the 
body it was intended to protect. Thus, the pectoral covered 
the breast, the gorget the throat, the ailettes the shoulders, 
the brassets the arms, the cuisses the thighs, and the gauntlets 
the hand9. 

Over this armour was worn a dress called a surcoat or tabard : 
its form varied with the caprice of the wearer ; it had, however, 
one constant peculiarity, it was sleeveless. As this surcoat was 
worn over the armour upon grand occasions, it was here that the 
taste for ornamentation principally developed itself. Cloths of 
gold or silver, ermine, miniver, sables, or other rich furs, were 
adopted as materials. The arms of the wearer were borne upon 
this garment, whence the derivation of the term coat of arms. 
The knights of Si John were restricted to a plain surcoat, their 
whole harness being covered with a black mantle, both surcoat 
and mantle bearing the white cross, borne in the latter case on 
the left shoulder. 

Whilst the body covering was thus being developed, the head 
gear was undergoing similar changes. The maU hood being 
found an insufficient protection, an iron helmet was added, its 
shape varying from a conical to a cylindrical form. This helmet 
was not intended to supplant the use of the hood, but was worn 
over it. To protect the face a broad piece of iron was introduced, 
which connected the frontlet of the helmet with the mail over 
the mouth. This not being found sufficient, cheek pieces were 
subetitated, consisting of bars either horizontal or perpen- 
dioolar. The next improvement was the avantaile, or mask, which 
was attached to the helmet, and had apertures for the eyes and 

24 A History of 

mouth. It was so oonstructed that the wearer oould raise or 
drop the covering, it being pivoted from above — ^in this form 
it was called a visor. When similar, plates were raised from 
below they were called beavers, from the Italian bevere, access to 
the mouth being thereby obtained. The top of the hehnet was 
surmounted by the knight's armorial crest, which derived its 
name from this cause. Knights of St. John were not permitted 
to wear a crest. 

The shield, which was borne upon the left arm, completed the 
defensive armour. Its shape was either oblong or triangular. 
It was usually adorned with the armorial bearings of the wearer 
together with his motto, the latter being used as his war-cry in 
battle. Knights of St. John bore the cross on their shield, all 
other device being forbidden. 

The offensive arms in general use were four in number — ^the 
lance, the sword, the battle-axe, and the dagger. The lanoe 
was made of tough ash wood, with a pointed iron head ; its 
length varied with the height and strength of its bearer, there 
being no rule on this subject. Below the point was usually 
fixed a small flag or pennon carrying some heraldic device — ^in 
the case of the Hospitallers the white cross. When not in 
use the lance was slung to the saddle bow, the end of it resting 
on the rider's toe, whence he could seize it easily and couch it 
beneath his right arm. When thus levelled its point projected 
many feet beyond his horse's head. 

The usual weapon, when at close quarters, or in mSiee as it 
was called, was the sword. This was constructed of the finest 
steel, long, straight, broad, and double-edged. Spain has always 
been famed for the superior temper of its sword blades, the 
forging of Saragossa having been as celebrated in the twelfth 
century as that of Toledo is now. Nothing, however, equalled 
the work produced at Damascus, the sword blades of which ranked 
in the highest estimation of all. The chivalry of a family was 
represented by its sword, which descended as an heirloom from 
father to son. The cross hilt supplied on occasion the place of 
a crucifix, and its head was usually engraved to act as a seal. 
As few of the knights of that period had acquired the monkish 
talent of writing, this seal impressed on wax served as a 

the Knights of Malta. 25 

Although the sword was the prmoipal weapon insed in close 
oombat, there were many who preferred to wield more pon- 
derous instruments ; with these the martel and battle-axe were 
iayourites. The martel was a heavy steel or iron hammer 
caloulated to give a crashing blow, whilst the battle-axe, which 
was brought to a sharp edge, had more power of penetration. In 
those times, when the church was often, in a temporal as well as in 
a spiritual sense, the church militant, and when mitred abbots 
and other priestly dignitaries sometimes sank the churchman in 
the warrior, the martel and battle-axe were the only weapons 
they bore. The canons of the church had strictly forbidden her 
sons to use the sword, but they, desirous of following their own 
ambitious tastes, had chosen to read this restriction in a literal 
rather than in a general sense. They therefore saw, or affected to 
see, no disobedience in carrying with them to the field of battle 
the most unecclesiastical of weapons — aye, and in employing 
them, too, in a most unclerical manner, as many a broken pate 
and cloyen skull could testify. The axe, however, was never a 
favourite amongst the more refined of the knighthood ; possibly 
the &ot that it was the weapon mostly used by the Flemings, 
and therefore associated with ideas of trade, had something to 
do with its unpopularity. 

The fourth in the list of offensive arms was the dagger, 
rendered necessary by the extreme strength of the armour then 
worn, the body of an adversary being covered at every point 
with plates of steel on which the lance broke, the arrow glanced, 
and the sword was tinned. It became a difficult matter to 
reach him even after he had been imhorsed. A thin dagger 
was consequently used which would penetrate between the joints 
of the harness and administer the coup de grdce. 

Any account of knightly equipment would be incomplete 
without a reference to the horse, which formed so important a 
part of. it. Weighty as was the panoply of steel worn by his 
rider when fuUy accoutred, it was necessary that the horse 
should be an animal of great power. England had not in those 
days developed that superiority in the breeding of horses that 
die has since attained, and Spain was the country from whence 
the most powerful chargers were drawn. After the Crusades 
had thrown Europe into closer communication with the East, 

26 A History of tlie Knights of Malta. 

the powers of endurance of the. Arab horse became gradually 
known, and the admixture of this blood with that of the 
Spanish war-horse eventually produced an animal combining 
the good points of both races. 

The destrier, or war-horse, was protected with armour on very 
much the same principle as his rider — ^the head, chest, and flanks 
being completely covered. The taste for ornamentation found 
an ample field in his caparisons, the bridle being the special 
point of adornment. On this head, as on others, the rule of 
the Order was stringent, the regulation being that the horse 
furniture of the soldiers of Jestis Christ should be free from all 
golden or silver ornaments. 

In conclusion, it may be remembered that every part of a 
knight's armour had a symbolical meaning. Bis sword with its 
cross hilt was typical of the death of Christ, and reminded him 
that it was his duty to die for his faith ; his spear was the 
emblem of truth, from its unswerving straightness, its iron head 
denoting that strength which is its distinctive property ; the 
mace represented comrage, the helmet modesty, the hauberk 
that spiritual panoply which should cover the knight from the 
frailties of the flesh, and the shield represented his own duty as 
a protection to his ooimtry. 

There was much both great and noble in all connected with 
the laws of chivalry, and much also tending to soften and 
civilize the rude character of the times. Many an act of tyranny, 
aggression, or spoliation was checked by the feeling that injured 
innocence and oppressed weakness could claim a champion in 
every true knight, regardless of country or religion. In these 
days, when the laws give a ready redress for all injuries 
sustained, the intervention of the mailed knight becomes an 
absurdity ; but in the days of our forefathers the power of the 
law was but feeble, and he who was not prepared to hold his 
ground by the strength of his own right hand would have fared 
but badly had it not been for the generous intervention of the 
chivalric code. 



Bate Off the establiahment of the Militaiy Order of St. John — Campaigns of 
Antioch and ^Edessa — Foundation of the Templars and Order of St. 
Lazaroa — ^Embassy of Joubert and marriage of Raymond of Poitiers — 
Legacy of the King of Navarre — ^Loas of Edessa — Second Crusade — Siege 
of DamaacuB — ^Advance of the Jarroqoins — ^Their repnlse and overthrow 
— Siege and oaptore of Ascalon — Jealousies of the dei^ — Death of 
Raymond du Pay — Expedition into Egypt — ^Death of D'Ascali — Rise of 
Saladin — ^Death of Joubert — Dissensions in the kingdom of Jerusalem 
— Accession of Guy de Lusignan — ^Battle of Tiberias — Loss of Jerusalem 
— ^Its main causes. 

The predse date at which the ohanges related in the last chapter 
took place is more or less a matter of dispute, there being no 
record that can be positiyelj adduced on the subject. This is 
somewhat strange, considering the importance of the alterations 
effected, involving, as they did, the complete reconstruction of 
the institution. 

That time cannot, however, be very well fixed later than the 
first year of the accession of !Ba3anond du Puy to the office of 
Master, which is generally presumed to be the year 1118. The 
two leading historians of the Order differ but little in the date 
they assign for this event, the abb^ Yertot giving it as 1118, 
and the chevalier Boisgelin 1120. Other historians, however, 
amongst .whom may be mentioned Boissat, Baudoin, and the 
abbe Boux, place the accession of Baymond as late as 1131, 
accounting for the interval between Gerard's death in 1118 and 
that time by the insertion of a second rector named Boger. 
The authority for this interpolation is stated to be a deed of gift 
of certain lands from Atton, count of Abrussa, to Boger, the 
governor of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. The date of 
this deed is stated as 1120, but tliere is no record of it now 

28 A History of 

remamingy and the fact should be received with caution, as the 
name of Boger nowhere appears in the archives of the Order. 
The Italian historian Bosio, the most authentic writer of his 
time, alludes to this difference of opinion, but does not join 
either party. 

There exists a stronger motive than would at first sight 
appear for this mystification. In after years it became a subject 
of dispute between the Knights Templars and those of St. John 
which of the two bodies could claim priority of foundation. It 
seems clear enough that the Templars were not organized until 
between the years 1128 and 1130. If, therefore, it can be proved 
that Itaymond succeeded to the government of the Hospital on 
the death of Gerard in the year 1118, and at once proceeded to 
establish his brotherhood on a military basis, the Order of St. 
John claims by right the priority of formation ; if, however, a 
second rector did actually intervene, and Haymond only assumed 
office in 1131, the seniority might well be accorded to the 
Templars. There being no positive testimony on the point, it 
becomes necessary to argue by analogy. The weight of evi- 
dence seems to be in favour of the former date, since it can be 
proved that the Hospitallers took part in an engagement fought 
against the Saracens by Baldwin II. in the year 1119. As it 
was not probable they would have been present at that action 
until they had assxmied military obligations, we may fairly take 
that date as the latest at which the new system was inaugurated. 

At this time, in addition to the kingdom of Jerusalem, the 
Latins held sway over other detached principalities, which 
formed the outworks of that exposed and hararaed monarchy. 
Such were the counties of Edessa and Tripoli and the princi- 
pality of Antioch. These, though independent governments 
in themselves, were more or less under the influence of, and in 
alliance with the central kingdom. Indeed, situated as they 
were, surrounded by implacable enemies and liable to constant 
atta,ck on every side from vastly superior forces, they could not 
have existed for many months had there not been the strongest 
bond of union between them all. As, therefore, it was well 
understood that the support of each was absolutely necessary for 
the safety of all, an attack was no sooner menaced in any one 
quarter, than speedy help was at once despatched from the others. 

the Knights of Malta. 29 

The cause of the battle alluded to as having taken place in 
1119 was owing to a descent of one of the Turcoman tribes 
upon the principality of Antioch. The knights of St. John 
hastened to seize the opportunity afforded by the king of 
Jerusalem marching his troops to the assistance of the threat- 
ened city, to carry out their new military obligations, and they 
formed a very important element in his army. 

The Turcomans had so far met with complete success in 
their incursion. They had utterly routed the forces which 
the regent of Antioch h'ad brought against them, he himself 
having been killed in the battle. Confident, therefore, of suc- 
cess, and elate with victory, they hurried forward to meet 
the new enemy. Here they found that in spite of their 
superior numbers they were no match for their opponents. 
Biven in sunder by the torrent of steel which, with Eaymond 
at its head, poured upon their columns, and unable at any point 
to present a front which was not instantly shattered, they were, 
after a desperate resistance, forced to give way. Baymond 
followed up his victory, and the retreat was speedily turned into 
a rout, in which the slaughter of the flying multitudes became 
terrific. This triumph enabled the king for a time to free the 
entire I^atin territory, and on his return to Jerusalem to enjoy a 
brief period of quiet and repose. 

As his kingdom, in so exposed a situation, was never long 
destined to be at rest, we soon find Baldwin once again in the 
field with Baymond and his gallant Hospitallers at his back. 
This time Edessa was the point of attack, the Tiircomans being 
under the command of Balak, one of their most powerful chiefs. 
He had succeeded in surprising the coimt of Edessa, Jocelyn de 
Courtenay, had routed his forces, and had taken him prisoner. 
In order to rescue his friend and prevent the further advance 
of Balak into the Latin territory, the king hastened forward 
by rapid marches, accompanied by the Hospitallers and such 
other forces as on the spur of the moment he could gather 
together. Having most imprudently advanced upon a recon- 
noitring expedition with but a slender escort, he was in his 
turn surprised by the vigilant Balak, and became a fellow- 
prisoner with his friend Courtenay. His army, overwhelmed 
with panic at this untoward occurrence, retreated precipitately ; 

30 A History of 

the majority of them abandoned their colours, and the Hos- 
pitallers found that they were left almost alone. No longer able 
to keep the open field they threw themselves into the city of 
Edessa with the intention of holding it to the last. In this 
critical conjuncture Eustace Gamier, constable of Palestine, a 
man far advanced in years, but in spite of his age full of vigour, 
collected a body of seven thousand men, the principal force of 
the small lordship of Sidon. To these he joined such of the 
Hospitallers as had been left behind at Jerusalem, and with this 
slender reinforcement he marched upOn the Turcomans, routed 
them completely, and rescued both the prisoners who had fallen 
into the hands of Balak. 

This victory was followed at no distant date by two others, 
the details of which it is scarcely necessary here to relate. In- 
deed, the chronicles of those times are filled with little else than a 
succession of petty enterprises undertaken by the Latins either 
for the purpose of protecting from invasion some point of their 
exposed frontier, or, as was not unfrequently the case, to carry 
the war into the enemy's coimtry. In all these struggles the 
knights of St. John bore their share, as ia fully testified by the 
historians of the period. Indeed, but for their assistance the 
king of Jerusalem would have f oimd it impossible to maintain 
himself against the ever-increasing pressure from without. This 
was so fully recognized that Pope Innocent II., in the year 
1130, issued a buU in which he records in glowing terms the 
opinion entertained of their services throughout Europe. It is 
not to be wondered at, therefore, that a body of men who were 
rendering themselves so indispensable to the maintenance of 
Christianity in the East should receive every remimeration and 
the grant of every privilege which it was in the power of grateful 
Christendom to bestow. 

It was about this time that a fraternity very similar to 
that of St. John sprang into existence. The duties of the 
Hospitallers, though in many ways attractive to the chivalrio 
temper of the times, partook somewhat too much of the 
sedate occupations of the monk to be altogether pleasing. It 
must be remembered that though constantly engaged in war- 
fare all their spare time was still devoted to the nursing duties 
of their Hospital, which, indeed, even now practically remained 

the Knights of Malta. 3 1 

their most constant occupation. This portion of their work 
did not commend itself to many of the more youthful aspirants. 
To devote his life to the protection of the Holy Land, and 
whilst engaged in that saored duty to impose upon himself 
the vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity, was the desire of 
many a young and enthusiastic mind; but he did not feel 
equally disposed to undertake those Hospitaller duties which 
would fall to his lot were he to assume the white cross of 
St. John. 

Under the influence of these feelings a body of nine French 
knights, with Hugh de Payens at their head, joined them- 
selves together with the object of forming an escort to those 
numerous bands of pilgrims who were annually resorting to 
the shores of Palestine. They were at first under no religious 
restrictions, and had no distinct rules laid down for their 
guidance, their duties being self-imposed and voluntary; and 
so they continued to be for several years. The king of 
Jerusalem gave them as a residence a portion of his palace 
adjacent to the temple of Solomon : hence arose their name 
of knights of the Temple, or, as they were afterwards called, 
Knights Templar. 

Hugh de Payens having been sent by the king to solicit 
assistance from the Pope, in the form of a new Crusade, took 
that opportunity of presenting his companions. He explained 
the objects of their association, and requested the permission 
of his Holiness to establish a religious and military Order 
similar to that of the Hospital. The Pope referred them to the 
Coundl of Troyes, then in conclave, which, after due inquiry 
and investigation, gave its decided approval to the project in 
the year 1128. Fortified with this sanction, Hugh de Payens 
traversed the greater pa^, of Europe in search of candidates 
for his new Order, and eventually returned to Palestine with 
a body of three hundred young and ardent spirits selected 
from the flower of the chivalry of Europe. Here they received 
every assistance from Raymond and his Hospitallers. For a 
long time, and imtil donations began to pour iato their own 
coffers, they were almost entirely maintained by the latter, 
who took them completely under their protection. By degrees, 
however, the benefactions of the charitable and the increase 

32 A History of 

of their numbers placed them on a footing of complete equality 
with the elder institution. 

In giving his sanction to this fraternity, the Pope directed 
that they should wear a white robe with a red cross, in contra- 
distinction to the black robe and white cross of the Hospitallers. 
They were consequently known generally as the red cross 
knights and the white cross knights respectively. Although 
they did not undertake any charitable duties similar to those of 
the Order of St. John, their regulations for the maintenance 
of their monastic vows were, if anything, still more severe. In 
order to prevent the possibility of a transgression of the vow of 
chastity it was decreed that they were on no account even to 
look on the face of a fair woman ; and as a still further pre- 
caution they were forbidden to kiss even their own mothers. 

At about the same time another body, which in its original 
institution was of far greater antiquity than even the Hospital 
of St. John, also became military, and that was the Order of 
St. Lazarus. The old writers dated the origin of this associa- 
tion as far back as the first century ; but tJiis statement may be 
taken as a myth. The earliest period to which it can with any 
certainty be traced is the year 370. At that time a large 
hospital was established in the suburbs of Csesarea, under the 
auspices of St. Basil, for the reception and treatment of 
lepers. The laws and customs of the East bore with frightful 
severity on those who were afflicted with this loathsome disease. 
They were entirely cut off from all intercourse with their 
friends or the world at large ; the establishment, therefore, of 
a hospital for their reception was hailed as a general boon. 
The Emperor Valens, as recorded by Theodoret, enriched it 
with all the lands which he held in the province where it 
was founded. This charity proved of such great utility that 
similar institutions soon sprang up in various other parts of 
the East ; and as they all took St. Lazarus as their tutelary 
saint, they became generally known as Lazarets. One of these 
hospitals was in existence in Jerusalem at the time of its 
capture by Godfrey de Bouillon. In addition to its charitable 
organization it was also a religious Order, following the rule 
of St. Augustine. When, however, the conversion of the 
Hospitallers into a military fraternity, followed as it was by 

the Knights of Malta. 33 

the establifihrnent of the Templars on a similar footing, set the 
example of combining the warlike duties of the knight with 
the asoeticism of the monk, the members of the Order of St. 
Lazarus took the same step. For this purpose they divided 
themselyes into two separate bodies, viz., lepers and non-lepers, 
the former, amongst whom was their Grand-Master, who ex^ 
officio was required to be a leper, carried on the duties of the 
hospital. The others, being in a condition to bear arms, joined 
tiie general Christian forces in repelling the constant inroads 
of the infidels. Their precise habit has not been recorded, but 
they wore a green cross. 

Whilst these bulwarks were arising for the support of the 
kingdom the march of events had been producing other changes 
by whidi its fortimes were much affected. Baldwin had two 
daughters, of whom Alice (the yoimger) was married to 
Bohemond, prince of Antioch ; the elder was unmarried. At 
about this period Fulk, count of Anjou, having lost his wife, 
undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Whilst there he 
rendered good service to Baldwin in his wars, maintaining a 
company of a himdred knights at his own expense. The king, 
anxious to retain in his service a leader of such renown, offered 
to him the hand of his eldest daughter, Milicent, in marriage, 
at the same time engaging to name him as his successor to the 
throne. These terms were accepted by Fulk, and faithfully 
adhered to by Baldwin, the marriage being solemnized with 
great pomp. The death of the king took place in the year 
1131, much accelerated by the undutiful conduct of his yoimger 
daughter, Alice, who considered herself injured by the arrange- 
ment made, and Fulk of Anjou ascended the vacant throne. 

Before this, however, Bohemond, the husband of Alice, 
had been killed in battle, leaving as his sole heiress a young 
daughter. By the promptitude and decision of Baldwin 
atid Fulk the rights of this infant were preserved intact, in 
spite of the machinations of its mother on the one side, 
and her unde, Boger, duke of Apulia, on the other, both of 
whom were intriguing for the sovereignty of Antioch. Fulk, 
however, soon saw that if the rights of the yoimg princess 
were to be guarded against the plots hatching on all sides 
it would be advisable to bestow her in marriage, in spite of 


34 A History of 

her youth, on some prinoe of sufficient power to reBtrain the 
ambitious projects of her relatives. With this object he cast 
his eyes on Raymond of Poitiers, youngest son of William, 
duke of Aquitaine, then residing at the court of Henry I. of 
England. As negotiator in this delicate mission, he selected 
Joubert, a knight of St. John. Joubert had by this time 
gained much celebrity both as a soldier and statesman, and 
was rising rapidly to the highest dignities in the gift of his 
Order. He acquitted himself of the mission in a manner which 
quite justified his selection. Baymond accepted the hand thuB 
ofPered to him, and hastened to throw himself at the feet of 
his youthful fiancie^ then still a mere child. 

Boger of Apulia, to whom the idea of any such alliance waa 
very distasteful, tried to prevent Itaymond from landing in 
Syria. Joubert, however, who accompanied the gallant suitor, 
succeeded in evading the machinations of Eoger, and under the 
disguise of merchants they passed unsuspected into the terri- 
tories of Fulk, where they were warmly welcomed, and the 
marriage solemnized without delay. Thus, by the judicious 
services of a knight of St. John, the affairs of the principality 
of Antioch were once more brought into a satisfactory condition, 
and the danger of a civil embroilment, which at that moment 
would have been suicidal, was averted. 

A service of a somewhat similar nature, -but not so successful 
in its issue, was at the same time undertaken by Raymond du 
Puy himself. Alfonso I., king of Aragon and Navarre, had been 
so impressed with the gallantry and devotion displayed by the 
military Orders, who from their European commanderies were 
assisting him in his warfare against the Moors, that he actually 
nominated them joint heirs to his crown. Soon afterwards 
he met his death in battle. The grandees of his two kingdoms 
were, however, by no means prepared to carry into effect this 
disposition of the vacant thrones. Taking advantage of the 
absence of both the respective Masters in the East, and being at 
the same time at variance with each other, they selected separate 
successors for each of the two kingdoms, ignoring the claims of 
the Orders altogether. It was at once decided by both fraterni- 
ties that Baymond, accompanied by some of his knights and by 
deputies named to act on behalf of the Templars, should proceed 

the Knights of Malta. 35 

to Spain to enforce their just claims. It seems strange that 
fiucli an attempt should have been seriously contemplated, or 
that Haymond should have conceived it possible that this 
ei±raordinaiy arrangement would be permitted. Certain it is 
that he did make the effort, and, as might have been anticipated, 
met with very meagre success. From the king of Navarre he 
oonld obtain no redress whatever, that prince naturaUy ignoring 
the power of Alfonso to make any such disposition of his king- 
dom. From the king of Aragon he did receive some compen- 
sation in the form of certain manorial rights. With this 
compromise he and his brother deputies were forced to content 
themselves, and so they returned to the Holy Land. 

The first real blow received by the Christian power in the 
East at the hand of the Saracens was the loss of Edessa. This 
city was captured by 2ienghi, sultan of Mosul and Aleppo, at that 
time the most powerful of the Eastern potentates. The prince 
of Edessa was the son of Jocelyn de Courtenay, who, although 
inheriting his father's possessions, was utterly devoid of the war- 
like qualities with which that ruler had upheld his principaJity. 
Plunged into a course of reckless dissipation, and a mere tool in 
the hands of worthless favourites, he saw his capital torn from 
lus grasp without an effort to save it. Nothing but the death of 
Zenghi, who was at that critical moment assassinated in his tent, 
prevented the loss of the remainder of his dominions. 

Afi it was, the capture of the city of Edessa was a sad blow to 
the Latin power. l£ost of the gallant spirits who had contributed 
to the first establishment and subsequent extension of the king- 
doms of Palestine were no more, and their successors retained 
hut littie in common with them save their titles. The only 
exception to this degeneracy was Baldwin HI., king of Jerusa- 
lem, who, with the assistance of the two military Orders, was the 
main support of the tottering Latin power. That prince no 
sooner heard of the assassination of Zenghi, and the check 
thereby caused to his army, than he conceived the idea of once 
more recovering the lost city. He advanced rapidly at the head 
of such troops as he could collect, conspicuous amongst whom 
was a detachment of Hospitallers. On arriving before the walls 
of Edessa the Christian inhabitants of the town rose against 
the Saracen garrison, opened their gates and admitted Baldwin. 


36 A History of 

His triumph was, however, but of short duration. The Sara- 
cens retired into the citadel, where they withstood all his efforts 
to dislodge them. Meanwhile Noureddin, one of the sons of 
Zenghi, a young warrior destined to rival his father in abihty, 
advanced rapidly to prevent the accomplishment of Baldwin's 
enterprise. His army was so greatly superior to that of the 
king that the latter was compelled to retire with precipitation. 
The whole Christian population of Edessa accompanied him, 
dreading the vengeance of the Saracens. It required the most 
strenuous efforts and considerable skill on the part of Baldwin 
to prevent Noureddin, who hung upon the flanks of the retreat, 
from utterly destroying them. As it was, a large proportion 
had fallen victims before they reached Jerusalem, and the num- 
ber would have been still greater but for the sleepless vigilance 
of Raymond and his brethren.* To prevent the possibility of any 
further attempts of the like nature on the part of the Christians, 
Noureddin, as soon as he had regained possession of the city, 
levelled its fortifications and destroyed all its churches. In this 
way it was that Edessa passed for ever from the hands of the 

The loss of this important post caused the utmost dismay 
throughout Palestine. Standing on the extreme eastern 
frontier, on the very confines of the desert, it had served as a 
most valuable outwork, keeping the Saracens at a distance from 
the centre of the province and its chief city, Jerusalem. The 
greatest possible efforts were therefore made for its recovery. 

* The origin of the legend of Our Lady of Liesse, still held in high venera- 
tion in Ficardy, dates from this disaster. The story runs that three knights 
of the Hospital, brothers of a noble family in this province, were cut off 
from the main body of the army during their retreat and made prisoners. 
Being brought before the sultan at Cairo, he conceived the design of con- 
verting them, and for that purpose sent his daughter, a beautiful girl of 
eighteen, to hold religious discussions with them. Matters did not turn out 
as the sultan expected ; the knights were not only proof against the argu- 
ments of their fair antagonist, but, on the other hand, convinced her of 
the truth of the Christian religion. Ismeria, with the zeal of a convert, 
expressed an earnest wish to behold an image of the blessed Virgin. The 
brothers, in their perplexity, prayed for assistance, when suddenly they 
discovered that an image had been miraculously introduced into their 
prison, which exhaled a delicious fragrance. This miracle confirmed 
Ismeria in her desire to adopt the tenets of Christianity, and, carrying the 

tlie Knights of Malta. 37 

Ab the military strength of the state was evidently imequal to 
eope with Noureddin's forces unassisted, the patriarch of Pales- 
tine and the Tring of Jerosalem decided on sending an envoy 
to Europe for the purpose of securing, if possible, an armed 
intervention from the Christian powers of the West. The 
bishop of Zabulon was selected for this duty, and he at once 
proceeded to Rome to lay the matter brfore Pope Eugene III. 
That dignitary entered warmly into the project, and he directed 
Bernard, the abbot of Clairvaux, to preach a new Crusade 
throughout France and Qermany. Bernard was a man held in 
the highest veneration, from the rigid austerity of his life. He 
had succeeded in introducing much needful reform into the 
discipline of the clergy, which had hitherto been disgracefully 
lax, and his influence with all classes was unbounded. He 
seconded the wishes of the Pope with all the strength of his 
fiery eloquence. Travelrsing the land from end to end he called 
upon all faithful Christians to come forward at this hour of the 
church's need, to prevent the infidel from once more regaining 
those holy places which had been taken from them at the cost 
of 80 much blood. 

Liouis Yll., the king of France, having in one of his 
numerous wars committed barbarities of more than usual 
atrocity, resolved upon atoning for the same by heading the 
new crusade. As a modem infidel writer has expressed it, he 
^' proposed to slaughter some millions of Saracens as an expia- 
tion for the murder of four or five hundred Champagnoia." 

holy image into her cliamber, she prostrated herself in adoration before it. 
Whilst thns engaged she was favoured with a rision of the Virgin herself, 
who announced to her that she was appointed to release the knights from 
prison. At the same time she was directed to change her name and assume 
that of Mary. At break of day she proceeded to the prison, determined to 
obey the yision, when to her astonishment she found that the doors were all 
open. The knights followed her through the streets of Cairo without being 
discovered, and at length, after a weary day's journey, they all laid down 
to rest. On awakening the next morning they found to their amazement 
that during the night they had been miractdously transported to Picardy, 
Inneria still retaining possession of her image. Whilst on their further 
journey to their home the image fell from the hands of its bearer, and on 
this spot a church was afterwards built, dedicated to Our Lady of Liesse. 
Ismeria was baptized, receiving the name of Mary, and lived ever after with 
the mother of the knights. At her death her remains were deposited within 
the church which she had founded. 

38 A History of 

The Gf^ennan emperor, Conrad III., was in no suoh pious mood, 
and it needed all the persuasion of Bernard's eloquence to 
induoe him to join the enterprise. Bernard was, however, not 
to be denied, and at length Conrad consented to lead the 
crusaders of his empire. Before the end of the year 1147 an 
army of nearly 200,000 men, imder the joint leadership of 
Louis and himself, was on its way to the East. 

The usual delays, interruptions, and even treachery, awaited 
them at the hands of the Greek emperor, Manuel Comnenus, 
who viewed the incursion with great distaste. Although 
brother-in-law to Conrad he exerted all his powers of dis- 
simulation to accomplish the destruction of these unwidlcome 
visitors. It will not be necessary to enter into any detail 
as regards this ill-fated expedition. After having lost the 
greater part of their number in the mountain passes between 
Phrygia and Pisidia, the shattered remnants eventually reached 

It was here decided in council that it would prove more 
advantageous to the kingdom to capture Damascus than to re- 
gain the city of Edessa. That attempt was accordingly decided 
on, and after a short interval of time, devoted to recruiting their 
strength, the Christian army proceeded thither. A strong body 
of both Hospitallers and Templars accompanied the expedition, 
and, ranging themselves beneath the banner of Baldwin, nobly 
maintained their reputation for valour and discipline. They 
very nearly succeeded in taking the place, but all the ad- 
vantages they had gained were lost by the jealousies of the other 
leaders. Instead of supporting and following up the successes 
gained by Baldwin and the military Orders, they had begun to 
dispute as to the division of that spoil which was never destined 
to fall within their grasp. Noureddin took advantage of the 
disunion too fatally apparent in the beleaguering army to throw 
reinforcements into the city ; the opportunity for effecting its 
capture was lost, and at length the Christians were compelled 
to raise the siege, and to return discomfited to Jerusalem. 
Conrad and Louis shortly afterwards both left the Holy Land, 
and thus, in the year 1149, the unfortunate expedition was 
brought to a dose, the lives of 150,000 men having been sacri- 
ficed without the slightest benefit to the Christian cause. 

the Knights of Malta. 39 

Noixreddin, relieved of the fears which the presence of so 
large a f oroe had excited, and seeing he had nothing further to 
dread in the way of attack on his own territories, determined 
to carry the war onoe more into the enemy's country, and, with 
this view, threatened the principality of Antioch. Baldwin, 
therefore, found himself once again under the necessity of 
advancing in that direction for the protection of his frontier. 
This was in the year 1152. During his absence two Turkish 
princes, bearing the name of the Jairoquins, penetrated by way 
of Damascus to Jerusalem. They actually arrived in presence 
of the city, which, at the moment, was in an utterly defence- 
less condition, all the disposable forces of the kingdom having 
aooompanied Baldwin in his advance towards Antioch. The 
Turks pitched their camp for the night on the Mount of OUves, 
intending to force an entry into the place on the following 
morning. In this operation, nnder the peculiar circumstances 
of the case, they anticipated Uttle or no difBculty. 

A few HospitaQers had been left behind, who were to con- 
duct the ordinary duties of the institution whilst their comrades 
were with the king, and it was t6 the promptitude and decision 
with which these few gallant knights acted in the crisis that 
the safely of Jerusalem was due. GFathering together such of 
the citizens as were capable of bearing arms, they made a sortie 
under cover of the night, and penetrated into the enemy's camp. 
This they succeeded in setting on fire, and in the confusion 
which followed they completely overthrew the bewildered 
Turks. Yast numbers were put to the sword, and the remainder 
took to hasty flight. Baldwin, having received information of 
the danger which was threatening Jerusalem, was at the 
moment hurrying back to its rescue, and coming suddenly on 
the fugitives in the midst of their disorderly flight, he com- 
pleted the rout, cutting them in pieces, and following up the 
pursuit with such vigour that those who escaped the swords of 
bis army perished in the waters of Jordan. The king was 
not slow to recognize the great service thus rendered, and 
promptly admitted the daim of the Order of St. John to the 
merit of having saved the Holy City from falling into the hands 
of the enemy. 
This great and unlooked-for success occurred at a moment 

40 A History of 

when the reverses of the Christiaiis had caused a general 
discouragement. Baldwin therefore determined to avail him- 
self of its inspiriting effects on his own followers, and the 
consequent panic of the enemy, to assume the offensive. With 
this object he turned his eyes on the Saracen fortress of 
Ascalon. This city, which formed a standing menace to the 
kingdom of Jerusalem on the south, had been a constant source 
of anxiety from its first establishment. In order, in some 
degree, to coimterbalance the evil, and to keep in check the 
inroads of its inhabitants, MUicent, the mother of Baldwin, had, 
during the temporary absence of her husband, Fulk, rebuilt the 
defences of the town of Beersheba. This point, although within 
the limits of th^ Christian territory, was at no great distance 
from Ascalon. She had requested Raymond to imdertake the 
defence of the place with his knights, and this being a post of 
danger had been eagerly accepted by him. It had ever since 
been maintained by them, in spite of numerous attempts on 
the part of the Saracens, and had always acted as a point of 
assembly and place of refuge for the Christians of the district 
when menaced by the enemy. Baldwin had himself, some 
time after, restored the fortifications of the ancient Philistine 
town of Gaza, which was within twenty miles of Ascalon, and 
he wisely intrusted its preservation to the care of the Templars. 
A noble, generous, and friendly rivalry was consequently 
established between the two Orders in maintaining these exposed 
posts, and hitherto they had both been successful. 

Ascalon, which was considered by the Turks one of their 
most important fortresses, was situated on the eastern shore of 
the Mediterranean, in much the same latitude as Jerusalem. 
Its fortifications, consisting of a high rampart flanked at short 
intervals by lofty towers, formed a semicircle enclosing the 
town, the sea line completing the circuit. It had always 
been guarded most zealously by its possessors. All its male 
inhabitants were thoroughly trained in the exercises of war ; 
and that there might be no danger of treachery on their part, 
or any want of fidelity to the Saracen cause, the caliph had 
granted them numerous privileges and indulgences not enjoyed 
by the inhabitants of any other city in the East. Baldwin, 
however, was undeterred either by the strength of the place or 

the Knights of Malta. 41 

by the nnmber and discipline of the garrison, which may be said 
to have comprised the entire adult male population of the place. 
Having been reinforced by the accession of a large body of 
pilgrims from Europe, and by strong detachments from the 
military Orders, he sat down before the walls. Gerard, the 
Lord of Sidon, with fifteen small galleys, holding possession 
of the sea, was to intercept the passage of supplies to the 
beleaguered city. 

For five months the siege was carried on with the utmost 
vigour. The Christians, harassed by constant sorties on the part 
of the garrison, gained ground but slowly. Every step was pur- 
chased at the cost of a persistent struggle and a fearful expendi- 
ture of life, not an inch being yielded by the Saracens without 
a desperate resistance. At last, however, having overcome all 
the obstacles which the ingenuity of the defence had placed in 
their way, they reached the base of the rapipart. At this critical 
moment a powerful hostUe fleet, laden with reinforcements and 
provisions, hove in sight. G-erard had no alternative but to 
retire with his few ships in all haste, and the sovereignty of 
the seas was consequently left in undisputed possession of the 
enemy. This sudden and unlooked-for check spread the utmost 
dismay throughout the Christian camp. A council of w£ur 
was at once summoned, in which the propriety of raising the 
siege was advocated by the majority of those present. The 
leaders of the military Orders, supported by the patriarch of 
Jerusalem and some of the other clergy, took, however, a con- 
trary view. They urged strongly on the king the necessity of 
prosecuting the siege, assuring him that a retreat would have 
such a disastrous effect on his forces, and would so raise the 
spirit of the infidels, that he would be unable to resist a hostile 
advance, which would probably culminate in an attack on 

These arg^uments coincided with the views held by the king 
himself, so he decided, in spite of the adverse opinion of the 
majority, to continue the enterprise. He so aroused the spirit 
of all present by his bold counsel, that even those who had been 
most forward in advocating a retreat now became enthusiastic 
converts to his wishes. The Templars constructed a lofty 
tower on wheels, which they advanced close to the walls of the 

42 A History of 

town, from the top of which a drawbridge oould be lowered 
at will to span the intervening space. In the course of the 
night the Turks threw down a quantity of dry wood and other 
combustible matter, which they ignited with a view to the 
desfcruotion of the tower. A strong east wind, however, set in, 
and the flames were blown away from the Templar's tower and 
on to the wall of the town. This was so much calcined and 
destroyed by the action of the fire that in the morning it was 
easy to form a practicable breach. No time was lost. The 
Qxand-Master at once directed a body of his knights to deliver 
an assault, which was attended with complete success. The 
assfidlants had no sooner made their appearance within the 
ramparts than the garrison, conceiving that all was lost, fled 
precipitately. Meanwhile the Templars advanced into the very 
heart of the town, and had they been at once supported its fall 
must have ensued. Unfortunately the grasping disposition of 
their Grand-Master ruined the enterprise. Instead of sending 
for immediate reinforcements he actually mounted the breach 
with the rest of his knights, and there kept guard, to prevent 
any other troops from entering the town, trusting by these 
means to secure the entire pillage of the place for the benefit 
of his Order. The result was what might have been foreseen. 
The garrison, not being followed up, soon recovered from their 
panic. Perceiving the slender strength of the enemy, who 
had penetrated within the city, they returned to the attack, 
drove the Templars back to the point at which they had 
effected their entrance, and thence through the breach with 
great slaughter. Having cleared the place, they at once pro- 
ceeded to secure themselves from further assault, by retrench- 
ments and barricades. 

The anger of the king and his army at this conduct on the 
part of the Templars was unbounded. It was not the first 
time that they had shown a spirit of avarice and a greed for 
wealth most unsuited to the principles on which their Order was 
founded. That spirit was destined before long to draw down on 
them the antagonism, and eventually the vengeance of Europe. 

The garrison of Ascalon was so elated at the success with 
which this formidable attack had been repelled that, strengthened 
as they were by the reinforcements which had arrived with 

the Knights of Malta. 43 

Vbxkx fleet, ihey determined on a sortie in force. On the follow- 
ing morning they sallied forth in great strength, trasting to 
deliyer suoh a blow as should compel the Christians to raise 
tiie siege. The action lasted the entire day with varying 
Baooeas. The Templars, anxious to atone for their preyious 
miBoondact, threw themselves upon the enemy with the most 
reckless impetuosity, and were ably supported by Baldwin 
and the Hospitallers. At length the Saracens gave way, 
and being closely pressed the retreat was speedily converted 
into a total rout — a large proportion of the garrison fell, and 
only a very slender remnant regained the shelter of their walls. 
On the following day they offered terms of capitulation, which 
having been accepted, Baldwin entered the town on the 12th 
August, 1154. A strong garrison was placed therein, and the 
Moslem inhabitants were transported to Laris, a town on 
the borders of the desert. 

This conquest had a most beneficial effect on the position of 
the kingdom of Jerusalem. Instead of the constant alarms and 
incursions from which they had formerly suffered whilst Ascalon 
had been in the hands of the Turks, their frontier was now 
comparatively secure. Its new holders, supported as they were 
by the garrisons of Beersheba and Gaza, were able to drive back 
the Moslems into the heart of Egypt. The greatest joy was dis- 
played throughout Europe at this timely acquisition, the glory 
of which was by universal consent awarded to the Hospitallers 
and their chief Baymond, who, when all else were proposing to 
abandon the siege in despair, had succeeded in causing it to be 
prosecuted to a successful termination. Pope Anastasitis lY. 
was so strongly impressed in their favour on the occasion that 
he issued a new bull confirming and extending the privileges 
which his predecessors had already granted to them. 

The publication of this bull created the greatest jealousy 
amongst the regular clergy of Palestine, who could not brook 
the exemption from all external ecclesiastical supervision thus 
conceded. Numerous complaints of the arrogance and mal- 
practices of the fraternity, some of which were doubtless true 
enough, but many simply jealous fabrications, were forwarded to 
the papal chair by the clergy, with the patriarch of Jerusalem at 
their head. Amongst other grievances it was specified that the 

44 A History of 

church of St. John exceeded in splendour that of the Holy 
Sepulchre, to which it was in close proximity, and that the 
bells of the former were rung with violence whilst service was 
being conducted in the latter to the great annoyance and inter- 
ruption of the congregation. Other complaints of a similar 
character, and framed in the same spirit, were made. The Pope 
decided against the appellants, and confirmed the privileges of 
the Order, thus stigmatizing as vexatious the opposition that 
had been raised against them. This was the first time that any 
disputes had arisen between the Hospitallers and the regular 
clergy, but having once been started they soon became almost 
chronic, and the reader of the histories of those times has to 
wade through long dissertations on both sides, in which the 
most trivial matters are made to bear a malicious and 
invidious interpretation. 

Amongst the most bitter of the writers on the ecclesiastical 
side was William, archbishop of Tyre, who was himself an eye- 
witness of most of the events which he records. He does not 
hesitate to accuse the Pope of having been bribed to give his 
decision in favour of the Hospital, and in every possible way he 
garbles and distorts his narrative of the dispute. The animus 
with which he writes is palpable on every page. This discord 
embittered the last days of Raymond du Puy. He had lived long 
enough to see his Order settled on a permanent basis^ honoured 
and respected throughout Europe, wealthy and powerf td from 
the endowments it had received, and increasing annually in 
numbers. There was at this time scarcely a noble house in 
Europe which did not send one or more of its members to bear 
the white cross on his breast, and the aristocratic connections 
thus formed tended much to increase the high estimation in 
which the fraternity was held. 

At length, in the year 1160, Eaymond died. He had attained 
the age of eighty years, of which sixty had been spent in constant 
warfare. Nothing seemed to aJBEect his iron constitution, and he 
bore apparently a charmed life through innimierable scenes of 
danger. He breathed his last in the Hospital of St. John at 
Jerusalem, whither he had retired to meet his end in peace and 
repose. History has recorded nothing but good of his character. 
Even William of Tyre speaks of him in the most glowing terms. 

the Knights of Malta. 45 

A true type of the Christiaii, the soldier, and the gentleman, 
he lived to see his eyery ambition fulfilled, and the Order on 
which all his hopes had been centred take a leading place amidst 
the chivalry of Europe. 

It was at some time during his rule that the magnificent 
pile forming the new hospital and convent was erected. The 
precise date of the work is uncertain, but it was probably 
between the years 1130 and 1150. Details of this building, as 
well as of those which with it formed the establishment of the 
Order at Jerusalem, will be found in the next chapter. 

The rule of the two Masters who succeeded him were both 
brief and uneventful. During the short administration of Auger 
de Balben, Baldwin HI. was gathered to his fathers, universally 
regretted by his subjects, who could ill spare the guidance of 
his commanding genius. He was succeeded by his brother 
Almeric. That prince was much indebted to the good offices 
of Auger for his peaceable accession to the throne, his claims 
having been for a time the subject of mudi dispute. 
Amaud de Comps, a member of a noble family of Dauphin^, 
succeeded Auger de Balben in the year 1162. During his short 
government an expedition into Egypt was xmdertaken by 
Almeric, accompanied by the Hospitallers and Templars. A 
quarrel had arisen between the caliph of Egypt and Noureddin, 
the leader of the Turcomans. The latter had in consequence 
invaded Egypt, and the caliph appealed to Almeric for assist- 
anoe. This wajs granted, and in return Almeric succeeded in 
extorting an annual tribute from the caliph. 

This being the only result of the undertaking the expedition 
could scarcely be considered one of importance. There were, 
however, two noteworthy events connected with it. It was in 
this war that Saladin, whose career afterwards became so fatal 
to the Christian cause, made his first appearance on the field of 
battle, and showed the earUest gleams of that martial spirit 
which was destined eventually to make his name so renowned. 
Some of the older historians record that at the close of the siege 
of Alexandria, which was ended by the declaration of peace, 
Saladin, who had conducted the defence with great skill, 
demanded of the besiegers the honour of knighthood, which 
request, notwithstanding his religion, was complied with, as a 

46 A History of 

mark of appreciation of his gallantry. It is, howeyer, most 
probable that this statement must be ranked with the numerous 
myths with which the records of those times abound. The 
other event to which allusion has been made was the punish- 
ment of twelve knights of the Temple for cowardice in having 
yielded the cave or grotto of Tyre without sufficient resistance. 
For this offence Aim eric caused them all to be hanged, a 
sentence which threw a great slur on the general body at the 
time. Cowardice, however, was not one of the usual crimes of 
that fraternity. It is therefore not improbable that they were 
sacrificed to the wrath of the Christians for not having per- 
formed an impossibility. It is also quite possible that the state- 
ment itself was untrue, the records of it being only to be f oimd 
on the pages of historians by no means generally friendly to the 

Amaud de Comps died in the year 1168, and the un- 
fortunate Gfilbert d'Ascali was appointed to the vacant office. 
Soon afterwards Almeric suggested the advisability of a second 
expedition into Egypt. He had been so struck with the wealth 
and other attractions of the coimtry during his first incursion, 
that he was prompted both by ambition and avarice to desire 
its acquisition. In this project he was warmly seconded by the 
Greek emperor of Constantinople, who was naturally desirous of 
seeing as effectual a barrier as possible erected between his 
frontier and the infidels who surrounded him. With this view 
he contributed a large sum towards the expenses of the proposed 

The propriety of joining with the king in this enterprise was 
warmly debated amongst the knights of St. John. The caliph 
of Egypt had but lately entered into a treaty of peace with the 
Christians by which he had bound himself to pay them an 
annual tribute. This treaty had so far been scrupulously 
observed by him ; it was therefore argued by some of the more 
conscientious among them that they were not justified in 
waging war against him. Their Master, however, strenuously 
supported the undertaking, and his detractors assert that his 
object in so doing was to replenish by the spoils of Egypt 
the treasury of the Order, which he had much reduced by his 
extravagance. He was backed by the majority in the council. 

the Knights of Malta. 47 

They were tempted by the prospect of an easy conquest and a 
lai^ booty, as the Egyptians were very wealthy and not very 
warlike. They therefore authorized Gilbert to raise money 
by loans from the bankers of Genoa and Venice. With this 
assistance the Hospitallers enrolled a large auxiliary force of 
meroenarieSy and prepared to take the field with an array far 
more numerous than they had hitherto been able to muster. 

The Templars, when called on by Almeric to join his ranks, 
refused the request after a lengthened discussion, alleging the 
same reasons as had been urged by many of the Hospitallers 
when considering the question. There is no doubt that in their 
decision they were far more just and honest than the others. 
There are not wanting those who assert that this scrupulousness 
was in reality based on the fact that they were unable to take 
the field with so imposing a force as that which was to serve 
under Gilbert d'AscaU, and that in consequence their jealousy 
prompted them to hold aloof. Be this as it may, there is no 
doubt that they were entirely justified in their refusal, and 
the events which followed fully proved the wisdom of the 

Almeric, in no wise daunted by the defection of the Templars, 
led the way into Egypt with the Hospitallers in his train. 
Their first operation when there was the siege of Belbeis. This 
town was weU fortified and garrisoned, still Almeric decided 
upon attempting to carry it by assault. The slaughter was 
prodigious on both sides, but Almeric at length succeeded in 
forcing his way into the place, when a scene of carnage and 
licensed brutality ensued, such as was in those days the usual 
result of a successful assault. In this town Almeric captured 
the son and the nephew of the caliph, as well as a number of 
other prisoners of importance. 

It had formed one of the terms of the agreement entered into 
between Almeric and d'Ascali that upon the capture of Belbeia 
it should become the property of the Order of St. John, and the 
king, true to his word, lost no time in handing it over to them. 
P'Ascali left a large garrison composed of his own followers 
within its walls, he himself with the main body of his forces 
accompanying the king in the further prosecution of hia 

48 A History of 

Their next point of attack was Cairo, then, as now, the 
principal city of Egypt. Whilst in front of this place, Almeric 
received an embassy from the caliph sueing for peace, at the 
same time offering an enormous ransom for the freedom of his 
son and nephew. Almeric, whose besetting vice was avarice, 
was not proof against the temptation of two millions of crowns, 
the sum the envoys were instructed to offer. Having received 
an instalment of a hundred thousand crowns, he consented to an 
armistice whilst the Egyptians should collect the remainder of 
the ransom. This, however, was not the intention of the caliph. 
Whilst Almeric was delaying his progress in security, he, on 
the other hand, was sending a message to his former opponent, 
Noureddin, to implore aid against their common enemy. 
Noureddin was only too glad to fall into his views, and 
prepared at once to send a powerful army to the rescue. 

Meanwhile the arrangements for the treaty with Almeric 
were slowly progressing, and he was cajoled into a continuance 
of his inactivity by the belief that the caliph was busily 
engaged in fulfilling its terms. The artifice was completely 
successful. Almeric remained resting on his arms in front of 
Cairo, imtil at length he was startled by hearing that 
Noureddin was rapidly advancing against him. Aroused by 
this unwelcome intelligence, he lost no time in starting with all 
his forces, trusting to be able to overcome the Turks before 
they had effected a junction with the Egyptians. Siracon, 
Noureddin's general, however, having made a detour, succeeded 
in passing Almeric and in joining his forces to those of the 
caliph in his rear. Under these circumstances the king felt 
that all was over and that nothing was left but a rapid retreat. 
He therefore retired at once into his own dominions, and the 
Hospitallers were compelled to evacuate Belbeis, the garrison of 
which joined the king's army as he passed. 

Thus ended this ill-fated expedition, the success of which 
was prevented purely by the avarice of Almeric. That it 
was unprovoked in the outset, and consequently unjustifiable, 
cannot be denied, and that starting with a breach of faith 
it deserved no better fate is true. It would, however, had it 
been successful, have doubtless tended much to strengthen the 
feeble kingdom. As it was, the Christians gained nothing 

the Knights of Malta. 49 

but obloquy, and, as the sequel will show, brought down upon 
themaelYeB an enem j who eventually compassed their complete 

The friends of Almeric — ^for in spite of his errors he had 
many who were most warmly attached to his person and 
fortunes-— endeavoured to screen his misconduct by throwing 
the entire blame on the Master of St. John. This unfortunate 
knight, however, seems to have been more sinned against than 
sinning throughout the transaction. He had been induced 
by the ai^uments of the king, aided no doubt by his own 
ambition, to join in the conquest of Egypt. The attempt 
seemed Ukely to be successful, and in that case would have 
added a strong bulwark to the kingdom. Guided by these 
considerations, and not foreseeing that the avarice of Almeric 
would shipwreck the undertaking, he had entered heartily 
into it, and had pledged the credit of his Order to the utmost 
limits to provide funds for its successful prosecution. It is, 
however, very difficult to argue in the face of failure, ^d 
GHlbert, on his return to Jerusalem, found himself attacked 
on all sides. His proud spirit sank under the trial, and in 
a fit of despair he resigned his Mastership, and left the Holy 
Land. Shortly afterwards he was drowned whilst crossing 
from France to England, &om which fact it has been 
aasomed that he was an Englishman. This seems the more 
probable, as the name — D'Ascali or De Sailly — is distinctly of 
Norman origin, and might therefore well have been borne by 
an English knight at iliat period. 

On his resignation he was succeeded by Oastus, whose rule 
was very short, and who, to use the stereotyped expression of 
the chroniclers, has left no other record of himself than his 

Joubert, the sixth Master, was elected on the death of 
Gastns in the year 1169. Qreat changes were now taking 
place in the countries surrounding Judea. As has been 
already said, Noureddin, at the request of the caUph of Egypt 
had sent an army to his assistance, which he had placed under 
the oonmiand of Siracon. Saladin was nephew to Siracon, and 
accompanied his uncle to Egypt. Noureddin's design in this 
act was not simply to aid in expelling the Christians from 


50 A History of 

the ooimtry. He had given Siracon private instructions that, 
after he had carried out that object, he should take advantage 
of any opportunity which might offer to seize upon its 
government himself. These instructions were carried out. 
Siracon deposed the caliph, and seated himself on the throne. 
His triumph was, however, very brief, as he died almost 
immediately afterwards. His nephew, Saladin, in his turn, 
assiuned the reins of government, and to make himself secure 
strangled the late caliph. Noureddin having also died about 
the same time, Saladin married his widow and established 
himself not only as ruler of Egypt, but also of all the terri- 
tories formerly governed by him. 

Saladin's power now became so threatening that Almeric had 
good cause to rue the ambition which had called so potent an 
enemy into the field. In the hope of checking his successful 
career the king sought aid from the emperor of Constantinople. 
During his absence from Jerusalem he vested the government 
of his kingdom in the hands of the Masters of the Hospital 
and Temple. Prom the emperor he received most flattering 
promises of assistance, which, in the end, were but very 
partially realized. Compelled to be content with these he 
returned to Jerusalem, where his presence was required to 
meet a new enemy. 

This was none other than an apostate Templar named 
Melier, brother to Thoro, prince of Armenia. At the death 
of Thoro the crown had descended to the son of his sister. 
Melier, prompted by the desire of gaining a throne, had 
abandoned his profession, renounced Christianity, and with 
the a&d of Saladin had driven his nephew &om the country, 
and installed himself as prince of Armenia. He commenced 
a cruel war with his Christian neighbours, his atrocities sur* 
passing even those of his Mahometan allies. Towards the 
Hospitallers and Templars he displayed peculiar rancour; 
such of them as fell into his hands were either butchered 
at once or sold into slavery. Almeric was not a prince 
to suffer this thorn to remain in the side of his king- 
dom, and he was warmly supported by the military Orders, 
who burned to avenge themselves for the cruelties that 
had been inflicted on their brethren. Melier, finding himself 

the Knights of Malta, %i 

unable to cope with the foroes brought against him, fled fi'om 
his nsurped principality and took refuge with Saladin. 

Almeric died in the year 1174, and was succeeded by his 
son, Baldwin IV., who was afflicted with leprosy. In the 
following year that prince endeavoiu*ed to establish a frontier 
fortress on the banks of the Jordan within the limits of 
Saladin's dominion. Saladin at once advanced to oppose the 
Christians, and haying skilfully lured them into an ambush 
fell upon them whilst entangled in a defile and completely 
routed their army. In this disastrous aiffair the Hospitallers 
were nearly cut to pieces, their Master, Joubert, being covered 
with woimds, and only saving his life by swimming his horse 
across the Jordan. His end, which occurred in the year 1179, 
has been differently recorded. Some say that he died of grief 
owing to the troubles which year by year were falling with 
increased force upon the kingdom; the general opinion, 
however, is that he was murdered, having been starved to 
death in prison, after falling into the hands of one of 
Saladin's generals. 

The vacancy was filled by the election of Roger Desmouhns. 
On his accession he found the Christian territory threatened 
from without by a powerful enemy, and at the same time 
torn and divided by internal discord. A truce had been 
concluded with Saladin, but it was merely temporary, and 
it was clear that when war once more broke out the Christians 
would be quite unable to present a successful resistance to 
the infidels. They decided, therefore, upon sending an em- 
bassy to Europe to solicit the aid of a third Crusade, and for 
this purpose they selected Heraclius, patriarch of Jerusalem, 
and the Masters of the Hospital and Temple. Shortly after 
their arrival in Europe, the latter dignitary died, leaving 
Heraclius and Desmoulins to carry out the embassy un- 
aided. They visited the courts of Philip II. of France and 
Heniy H. of England, as well as that of Pope Lucius III., 
without much practical success. A Crusade was, indeed, 
preached, but with such lukewarmness that it proved futile, 
and the disappointed envoys were compelled to return to the 
East without having secured any efficient aid. 

Here they found that the disease with which Baldwin was 

52 A History of 

af&ioted had so fax overoome him that he had become incapable 
of oanying on the functions of government. He had, in 
consequence, associated with himself Ghiy de Lusignan, a 
French knight who had married his sister Sabilla, the widow 
of the marquis of Montferrat. This choice had proved most 
unpalatable to his nobles, who despised Gxiy as a man more 
fitted to shine in the court than the camp; and Baldwin 
eventually was compelled to withdraw the authority he had 
conferred on him. He then determined to abdicate, and 
named^ as his successor his nephew, Sabnia's son by the 
marquis of Montferrat, appointing Raymond, count of Tripoli, 
as regent during the minority. Not long after this change 
Baldwin died, and almost at the same time the infant prince 
also died, not without grave suspicions of foul play. The 
results in a great degree confirmed these doubts. Sabilla and 
Qny at once set to work to gain over a party to support their 
claim to the throne. They succeeded in this object, and were 
proclaimed king and queen of Jerusalem without opposition. 

Raymond retired in wrath to Tripoli, and Saladin took 
advantage of the ill-feeling which had been excited amongst 
the Christians to organize an invasion of the kingdom. He 
commenced operations by laying siege to Acre. A reinforce- 
ment of the military Orders had been thrown into the town, 
commanded by their respective Masters. Desmoulins, not 
wishing to be blockaded, collected his Hospitallers and, sup- 
ported by a body of the inhabitants, sallied forth under cover 
of night, leaving the Templars to hold the town. The 
Saracens, taken by surprise, at first gave way in a panic, and 
were slaughtered in large numbers. As day broke, however, 
Saladin was able to rally his forces, and a desperate battle 
ensued, ending without any decisive advantage on either side ; 
but as Saladin was in consequence compelled to abandon the 
siege, the victory may well be assigned to his opponents. This 
success was, however, dearly purchased. Chief amongst the 
killed was Eoger Desmoulins himself. 

The country being in a state of active warfare, the councU 
lost no time in electing his successor, their choice falling on 
Gamier de Napoli, who thus became the eighth Master of the 

the Knights of Malta. 53 

Salfldin, foiled in his attempt on Acre, had turned his arms 
against TiberiaB, a diy of which Kaymond, count of Tripoli, 
was lord in right of his wife. That piince had become reconciled 
to Guy, feeling that the dangers surrounding the kingdom were 
too grave to permit the indulgence of private animosity. On 
hearing of the attack on Tiberias, he magnanimously advised 
the king to leave the city to its fate, urging him to take up a 
strictly defensive line of action. He pointed out that the Sara- 
oen army could not long maintain itself in the district owing to 
the scarcity of water. Other and less sagacious counsels, how- 
ever, prevailed, and the king, collecting all his available forces, 
marched in the direction of Tiberias, determined to stake 
everything on the issue of a single battle. Evil and ill- 
judged advice was taken in connection with every step. A 
^ot was selected for encampment which the total absence of 
water soon rendered untenable. The army now began to feel 
the ill-effects of that drought which Baymond had prophesied 
would have overcome the Moslems had they been left to them- 
selves. Finding it impossible to remain where he was, Lusignan 
advanced into the plain of Tiberias to give battle to the enemy. 

The most powerful efforts were made by the ecclesiastics who 
aooompanied the army to arouse the enthusiasm of the soldiery. 
The piece of the true cross which had been so long preserved at 
Jerusalem for the veneration of the pious had been brought 
with them, and intrusted to the special guardianship of the 
military Orders. It was on this eventful occasion planted on an 
eminence, where throughout the day it served as a rallying 
point to the Christians. The main reason for which the king 
had decided on giving battle was the want of water, and so his 
first efforts were directed to supply the deficiency. The lake of 
Tiberiasy at a distance of two miles, lay glittering in the sunshine 
in rear of the Saracens, and between it and the Christians, 
now parched with thirst, were drawn up the dense masses 
with which Saladin was prepared to resist their advance. In 
the van of the anny stood the forces of the Hospital and Temple, 
ready at the appointed signal to rush at the foe and to hew a 
pathway to the much longed-for water. When the desired 
moment arrived on they dashed, and were at once lost to view 
in the mass of opponents by whom they were surrounded. 

54 -^ History of 

Whatever may have been their defects, or even vices, cowardice 
was certainly not often alleged against the brethren either of the 
Hospital or Temple. On this important field, with the fate of 
Christian dominion in the East depending on their success, they 
strove with generous rivalry to outvie each other. Side by side 
these mailed warriors of the Church hurled themselves at the 
infidel, and the fierce war-cry of the Temple, rising high above 
the din of battle, was mingled in gallant unison with that of 
the Hospital. 

All, however, was in vain. The numbers of the enemy were 
too vast for even their heroism to overcome, and, led as the 
Saracens were by a general of such ability as Saladin, those 
numbers were used to the greatest possible advantage. As the 
day wore on the impetuosity of the Christian attack abated, 
and the stubbornness of their resistance became less determined, 
until at length, exhausted, broken, and crushed, they gave way. 
Saladin pressed his victory to the uttermost, and allowing the 
retreating army no breathing time, he poured his forces on their 
shattered columns, and utterly completed their overthrow. 

This disastrous fight sealed the fate of the kingdom. Guy 
had staked everything upon the issue of a single field, and the 
cast of the die had gone against him. Saladin remained not 
only master of the day, but with the way to Jerusalem opened 
unopposed to his advance. The king, the Grand-Master of the 
Temple, and several other lords of note, fell prisoners into his 
hands, and Gamier, whose valour throughout the day was 
worthy of his exalted post, met the end of a true soldier of the 
cross, having been so desperately wounded that he only sur- 
vived to reach Ascalon, where he died. 

The loss of the Hospitallers was enormous. In addition 
to those who fell on the field, such as w^ere taken prisoners were 
massacred by order of ' Saladin, who gave them the option of 
apostasy or death ; they, like true Christian knights, selecting 
the latter alternative, and thus sealing their faith with their 
blood. The few remaining members of the Order, as soon as the 
news of the issue of the battle of Tiberias and the death of 
Gamier had reached them, assembled once again, with a feeling 
well-nigh of despair, to elect, as it seemed to them most probably 
their last Master. With some diflSculty they persuaded 

the Knights of Malta. 5 5 

Ermengard Daps, on whom their choice had fallen, to accept 
the onerous post. This duty accomplished, they prepared to 
meet their fate in the hopeless struggle which now seemed 

Saladin lost no time in securing the fruits of his victory. 
The Taiious fortresses on his route, denuded as they were of 
their ordinary garrisons, fell an easy prey, and no opposition 
being offered to his advance, it was not long before he appeared 
in front of Jerusalem itself. A resistance ensued which was 
prolonged for fourteen days by the despair of the defenders, 
ending, however, in the capitulation of the city in the month 
of October, 1187. Thus, after having been at great sacrifice 
rescued from the domination of the Turk, and having continued 
for a period of eighty-eight years to be the seat of government 
of a Christian kingdom, it once more fell into the hands of the 
Moslem, from whom no succeeding efforts were able perma- 
nently to wrest it. From that day to this the soil, hallowed by 
the passion of our blessed Saviour, has remained in the possession 
of the infidel. There are not, however, wanting symptoms 
that before very long it will once more fall from his enfeebled 
grasp, when it is devoutly to be hoped that it may revert 
permanently to Christianity. 


Description of the ruins of the Hospital at Jerusalem — ^Its establishment at 
Margat — ^Retirement of the ladies of the Order to Europe — ^The third 
Crusade — Siege and capture of Acre — ^Guy de Lusignan made king of 
Cyprus — Reforms of Alphonso of Portugal— His resignation and death — 
Fourth Crusade — Capture of Constantinople by the Latins — ^Dissensions 
between the Templars and Hospitallers — Andrew, king of Hungary, 
admitted into the Order — ^Fifth Crusade— Siege and capture of Damietta 
— ^Advance into Egypt — ^Fatal results of the expedition — ^Marriage of 
the emperor Frederic with Yiolante — Treaty with the Saracens — 
Coronation of Frederic at Jerusalem — His return to Europe and 
persecution of the military Orders— Accusations brought against the 
knights of St. John. 

Jerusalem had fallen, and was now in the possession of 8aladin. 
That chief, in the hour of his triumph, behaved with a generosity 
hardly to have been anticipated from his previous conduct. 
Instead of enacting scenes of carnage, such as those which had 
disgraced the entry of the Christians in the preceding century, 
he took every precaution that no license should be permitted. 
He allowed the military, the nobles, and all who had borne arms 
to proceed to Tyre, and he fixed the ransom of the civil popula- 
tion of the town at the rate of ten crowns per man, failing 
the payment of which they were to become slaves. In many 
instances, at the supplication of the queen, he was induced to 
forego the demand of this ransom, and the Hospitallers freely 
lavished what remained in their already nearly-exhausted 
treasury to purchase the liberty of others, so that the number 
of those who were eventually doomed to slavery was compara- 
tively small. He also permitted ten of the fraternity of the 
Hospital, in consideration, of their charitable functions, to re- 
main for a limited period within the city to complete the cure 

A History of the Knights of Malta. 5 7 

of those sick who were under their charge, and not in a state to 
nndei^ immediate removal.* 

Thus were the Christians forced to turn their hacks on the scene 
of so many struggles, hopes, and triumphs. The crescent again 
waved over the ramparts where the rival banners of the Hospital 
and Temple had for so long fanned the breeze, and the church of 
the Holy Sepulchre once more became a Mahometan mosque. 
Was it for this that Peter the Hermit had in the preceding 
century thundered forth his denunciations against the infidel P 
Was it for this that Europe had poured forth her coimtless 
hosts to whiten the shores of Palestine with their bones P Was 
it for this that generations of zealous devotees had consecrated 
their swords and their lives to the preservation of that precious 
conquest wrung at such cost from the Moslem P It was, alas, 

* Saladin appears to have greatly admired the Order. The contem- 
porary records relate an anecdote of him which, though bearing on its face 
the impress of invention, still shows in what high estimation he was sup- 
posed to have held his relentless foes of the Hospital. The fable relates 
that, having heard of the boundless liberality and care lavished b j the 
brethroL on all who sought their help, whether Christian or infidel, Saladin 
determined to test the truth of the report. He therefore disguised himself 
as a Syrian peasant, and in that character sought admission to the Hospital. 
He was reoeiyed at once, and his wants attended to. In pursuit of Ms 
design he refused all offers of food, alleging that he felt unable to eat. He 
continued this conduct so long that the brothers began to fear lest he 
should starve to death. At length, after having been pressed to name 
some article of food that might tempt his appetite, he, after much apparent 
hesitation, suggested that the only food he could fancy would be a piece of 
the leg of the Master's favourite horse, cut off in his presence. The 
brethren were struck with consternation at such an extravagant request, 
but the rules of the Hospital were most stringent on the point of yielding to 
the utmost possible extent to the fancies of tiieir patients. They therefore 
communicated the wish to the Master, who, much as he grieved at losing 
bis favourite charger, at once gave orders that he should be taken to the 
Hospital, there to undergo in the presence of the patient the amputation 
neoessaiy to gratify so inconvenient an appetite. Saladin thus saw that the 
fratemi^ in reality suffered nothing to interfere with what they considered 
the saered duties of hospitality, and at once declared that the desire to 
gratify his craying had so far cured him, that he could partake of ordinary 
food without the necessity for consummating the sacrifice. He left the 
Hospital disguised as he had entered it, ever after retaining the warmest 
regard for his antagonists. Some writers assert that he made several liberal 
dcmations to the institution, but this probably is as fabulous as the tale 

58 A Histoiy of 

too true. Europe had stood looking supinely on whilst the web 
of destruction was slowly but surely being woven round the 
sacred province, and now, when it was too late, when all was 
lost, a cry of indignation and vengeance arose on every side. 

It may be well to pause for a moment and analyse the causes 
which led to so speedy a decline and fall of the kingdom of 
Jerusalem. These were twofold : one, the increase and concen- 
tration of the power of the Moslem ; the other, the decadence 
and disunion of that of the Christians. When first the 
crusaders established themselves on the shores of Palestine, 
they found the enemy divided into factions, and combating as 
to certain disputed tenets of their faith with a rancour and 
animosity such as only religious warfare could excite. Either 
party was generally ready to coalesce with the new comers to 
ensure the overthrow of its rivals, and the Christians, in most 
of their earlier campaigns, were able to count for aid on one 
or other of the parties. As, however, the power of the Turco- 
mans gradually consolidated itself, and opposing pretensions 
were eventually concentrated in the person of a single leader, 
the position of the Latins became more and more precarious. 
The troops which the Saracens brought into the field had also 
greatly improved in their discipline during this period. The 
lessons taught by their European opponents were not thrown 
away on their commanders, and they eventually became 
but little inferior in prowess and skill, whilst always remaining 
vastly superior in numbers. 

On the side of the Christians may be traced much and ever 
increasing disunion. Instedd of that firm and steadfast alliance 
between the various principalities which constituted their only 
chance of safety, they were prepared, at every trivial quarrel 
and at every petty jealousy, to jeopardize the existence of the 
kingdom. We have already touched upon the disputes between 
the military Orders and the regular clergy. There is no doubt 
that these disputes originated in the greed of the latter, who 
were loth to see such wealthy communities exempted from the 
payment of tithes. In addition to this, jealousies had latterly 
sprung up between the Hospitallers and the Templars them- 
selves, which in time led to very serious results. Instead of 
confining their rivalry to a friendly emulation on the battle- 

the Knights of Malta. 59 

field, they often beoame more intent on thwarting and impeding 
each other than on opposing the Saracens. These were all so 
many contributing causes to the final catastrophe. 

That in these quarrels and jealousies the Order of St. John 
was always in the right it would be absurd to assert ; still, there 
is much to be said in their favour. In their disputes with the 
clergy they were clearly most unjustly attacked. They merely 
defended the privileges granted to them by the See of Rome, 
the ooimnon superior of themselves and of the clergy ; whilst as 
regards their dissensions with the Templars, the conduct of that 
Order during this eventful period seems to show that they were 
probably in the wrong. The weight of contemporary evidence 
certainly leans strongly in favour of the Hospitallers. In a 
letter which Conrad of Montf errat addressed to the archbishop 
of Canterbury whilst engaged in the defence of the city of 
Tyre, he says : — " All succour is denied me, and what is still 
worse, the Grand-Master of the Templars has carried off the 
money which the king of England had sent for me. As to the 
Hospitallers I have nothing but praise to record of them, and I 
call Grod and yourself to witness my gratitude towards them, 
for from the moment when they first took up arms in defence 
of this place they have never ceased to render the greatest 
possible service, and so far from imitating the Templars by 
retaining that portion of the subsidy from the king of England 
which they were boimd to furnish, they have in addition 
positively spent upwards of eight thousand crowns of their own 
money in the defence of Tyre." Another anecdote of the 
period also bears on the subject. Whilst King Kichard I. of 
England was in Normandy on his way to the East, the vicar of 
Neuilly addressed an exhortation to him, in which he said that 
the king should, before starting on his Crusade, lay aside those 
besetting sins which he called his three daughters, viz., pride, 
avarice, and luxury; to which Bichard replied, " If I am to part 
with these three daughters of mine, I do not think I can provide 
for them in a more suitable manner than by bestowing the first 
on the Templars, the second on the monastic Orders, and the third 
on the bishops of my reahn." It is difficult not to feel that the 
two Orders had by this time achieved very different reputations, 
and that the feelings of the powers of Christendom towards 

6o A History of 

them indicated which was in the wrong. Those feelings were 
not slow in finding a vent, as the difference of their respective 
fates was destined before long to show. 

The loss -of Jerusalem deprived the Order of St. John of that 
home which for upwards of a century had been a shelter not 
only for themselves, but for all whose misfortimes demanded 
their aid. The buildings which the merchants of Amalfi had 
originally appropriated to their kindly hospitality, and which 
had been greatly increased in extent since those times, once 
more reverted to the Moslem, in whose hands they remained 
imtil they fell into ruins. 

Becent explorations have largely cleared up the difficulties 
as regards position, which until of late rendered it almost 
impossible to define what were the actual dimensions and 
Umits of the establishment of the Order in Jerusalem. The 
following description may be taken as correct as far as sites are 
concerned, very few of the actual remains having been as yet 

To the south of the church of the Holy Sepulchre there is a 
plot of ground nearly square, about five hundred feet a side, 
which is bounded on the north by what was formerly the Street 
of Palmers, now known as the Via Dolorosa, on the west by 
Patriarch Street, now Christian Street, on the south by Temple 
Street, now David Street, and on the east by the Malquisinat or 
Bazaar. Within this area stood the later buildings of the 
Order. North of the Street of Palmers, and to the east of the 
church of the Holy Sepulchre stood the churches and hos- 
pitals of St. Mary ad Latinos and St. Mary Magdalene, also 
ad Latinos, the original establishments of the Amalfi merchants. 
No traces of these are now to be found. To the south of the 
Street of Palmers, in the western angle of the square, stood the 
church of St. John Eleemon and its hospice. 

Such was the institution as it existed prior to the formation 
of the kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099. Between that time and 
the middle of the twelfth century the Order, under Eaymond 
du Puy, had developed the church of St. John Eleemon into a 
fine building, the conventual church of St. John the Baptist.* 

* In the soutk-west comer of the site still stands an old Byzantine 
baailioa of St. John the Baptist, earlier than any other known building in 

the Knights of Malta. 6 1 

On tlie east of that thej had erected another large ohm-ch, 
called Sta. Maria Majora, with a monastic quadrangle to the 
south of it, and along the south of the whole square, look- 
ing towards Temple Street, ran the noble Hospital of St. John. 
When Jerusalem was captured by Saladin, the church of 
St John the Baptist was by the Saracens converted into 
a madhouse (in Turkish, Murist&n). Hence the whole space 
has since been known by that name. In the year 1869 
the eastern half, on which stood the church of Sta. Maria 
Majora, the monastic quadrangle, and a portion of the Hos- 
pital of St. John, was given by the sultan to the crown prince 
of Prussia. This part of the Murist^n has since then been 
excavated by the Germans, and the ruins of the old buildings 
laid bare. The most conspicuous and interesting feature in 
this space is the gateway of St. John. It consists of a large 
round arch comprising two smaller arches within it. A few 
remains only of the latter now exist. The spandril between 
the two was formerly adorned with sculpture, now nearly all 
gone. These arches rest at one side on a central pillar, and 
at the other on an entablature reaching from the small side 
columns of the portal. The main arch rests on a buttress 
adjoining the^ portal. Around this runs a broad sculptured 
frieze, representing the months. January, on the left, has 
disappeared. Then come ''Feb," a man pruning a tree; 
" Ma," very indistinct ; " Aprilis," a sitting figure ; " Majus," a 
man kneeling and cultivating the ground; ''nius" (Jimius), 
mutilated; " lius " (Julius), a reaper; '' Augustus," a 
thresher ; " eptem " (September), a grape gatherer ; " br " 
(October), a man with a cask, above whom there is apparently 
a scorpion. November is missing, as regards name, but has 
a woman standing with her hand in her apron, probably the 
symbol of repose. December missing. Above, in the centre, 
is the sun (with the superscription " Sol "), represented by 
a half figure holding a disc over its head. Near it is the 
moon (" Luna "), & female figure with a crescent. The 

the area. Captain Conder, B.E., suggests that possibly this was the origmal 
diiirch of St. John Eleemon, and that the conventual ohnroh of St. John 
the Baptist referred to above was not an enlargement of it but a separato 

62 A History of 

cornice above is adorned with medallions, representing leaves, 
griffins, etc.* 

Passing through this gateway the visitor would enter the 
north side of the church of Sta. Maria Majora, which con- 
sists of a nave and two aisles, terminating in three apses at the 
east. In its greatest length it is about 120 feet, and about 
65 feet in breadth. It is, of course, roofless, and only por- 
tions of the columns are to be seen. The aiales were sepa- 
rated from the nave by four arches, carried on three clustered 
colimins on each side. Behind the church oil the south is a 
vaulted quadrangle, evidently the monastic estabUshment, and 
on the south side of the quadrangle was the refectory now 
used as a German Lutheran chapel. South again of this the 
excavations have laid bare a number of piers and columns, which 
were no doubt a portion of the Hospital. • It was thus described 
by MandeviUe in 1322 : — " Before the church of the Sepulchre, 
200 paces to the south, is the great Hospital of St. John, of 
which the Hospitallers had their foundation. And within the 
palace of the sick men of that Hospital are 124 pillars of stone, 
and in the walls of the house, besides the number aforesaid, 
there are fifty-four pillars that support the house. From that 
Hospital, going towards the east, is a very fair church, which is 
called Our Lady the Gfxeat, and after it there is another church 
very near called Our Lady the Latin, and there stood Mary 
Cleophas and Mary Magdalene and tore their hair when our 
Lord was executed on the cross." 

Such is the present state of these most interesting ruins, and 
it is to be hoped that when the western half of the Murist&n 
(still in the possession of the Turks) is excavated many valuable 
remahis, both of the Hospital and conventual church, will be laid 

Thus rudely deprived of a home the Order, greatly dimin- 
ished in numbers, and with an exhausted treasury, betook 
themselves to Margat, a town which still remained in the 
possession of the Christians. Here they established their 
convent and hospital, and as far as their reduced exchequer 
permitted continued to carry on those charitable duties which, 

• This description of the gateway is taken from Baedeker's ** Palestine and 

s i 




s * 
s ^ 
i I 

the Knights of Malta ^ 63 

duriiig the most stiiring tunes of war, had never been permitted 
to suffer neglect. 

The ladies of the Order, unequal to cope with the hardships 
consequent on a further residence in the East, abandoned the 
Holy Land for ever, and divided themselves between their various 
branch establishments in Europe. Amongst other places they 
were possessed of a very extensive settlement at Bucklands, in 
Somersetshire, the gift of Henry II. to the Hospital in the year 
1180, and hither came a great number of the wandering sister- 
hood. The queen of Aragon had also shortly before erected a 
noble establishment for the ladies of St. John at the village of 
Sixenne near Saragossa. This also threw open its hospitable 
doors for the reception of all who sought its shelter. Here 
these pious devotees passed the remainder of their lives in the 
strictest seclusion, mourning the loss of their home, and 
bewailing the fate of those heroes who now lay mouldering 
beneath the sandy plains of Palestine. 

The history of the Order throughout its residence in the East 
was so closely connected with that of the kingdom of Jerusalem, 
that it would have been difficult to trace the progress of the one 
without entering into some detail with regard to the other. Now, 
however, that we have reached the point where a fatal blow had 
been dealt at the fortunes of that kingdom the narrative of what 
followed may be told more briefly. It must, however, be 
borne in mind that in all the struggles with which that period 
was rife, the Order bore a noble part, and contended with un- 
flagging zeal against ever-increasing obstacles. The incidents 
of the third Crusade are too well known to all students of history 
to call for more than a passing remark here. Boasting amongst 
its leaders no less than four crowned heads, the emperor of 
Germany, Richard of England, Philip Augustus of France, 
and Leopold of Austria, this expedition found Guy de Lusignan 
engaged in the siege of Acre. That city, the Ptolemais of the 
Romans, was the most important maritime post on the coast of 
Syria, and had opened its gates to the Saracen army without 
resistance after the disastrous conflict of Tiberias. For three 
years did the crusaders besiege the town, and the defence was, 
throughout that interval, maintained with the most unflinching 
obstinacy. During the latter part of the time the attack was 

64 A History of 

led on by Biohard of England himself, and eyentuallj his efforts 
were crowned with success, the place being forced to surrender. 

Hither, as soon as order was in some degree restored, the 
Hospitallers removed their convent from Margat, and it was in 
their new establishment in this city that Ermengard Daps died 
in the year 1192. The siege of Acre is notable for the formation 
of a fourth military Order, which, during its progress, was called 
into existence. This fraternity received the name of the Teutonic 
Order, and was composed exclusively of Germans. They wore 
a white mantle with a black cross embroidered in gold, and their 
rules were very similar to those of the Templars. 

The capture of Acre led to no further successes on the part 
of the crusaders. Dissensions, such as must ever arise in a 
force composed of so many differing elements, soon spmng 
up, and the length of time during which the siege had been 
protracted cooled the enthusiasm of the army. Some of its 
leaders, on various pretexts, had already returned to Europe, 
and the termination of the siege led to the departure of many 
of the remainder. In vain Bichard strove to keep together 
the rapidly dissolving fragments of the force; not even his 
energy and perseverance could overcome the reluctance with 
which further operations were contemplated. He was at length, 
much against his will, driven to conclude a truce with Saladin, 
and to abandon the cause which he had so much at heart, and 
in which he personally had reaped so much distinction. 

Ermengard Daps was succeeded by Godfrey de Duisson, 
whose lineage and nation are somewhat uncertain, though it is 
generally thought that he came from Picardy. Shortiy after 
his accession an event occurred which for a few years gave 
a little breathing time to the shattered relics of the Latin 
Hngdom. Saladin. the renowned enemy of the Christiane, 
who had so often routed their forces, and who had torn the 
sacred city from their grasp, died in the year 1193, leaving his 
empire to be divided among his eleven sons. As may readily 
be imagined, such a disposition of his power soon kindled the 
flames of civil commotion from end to end of the newly-con- 
solidated Saracen empire. Had this internecine warfare been 
permitted to continue for any length of time it is possible that 
the Latins might have succeeded in re-establishing themselves 

the Knights of Malta. 65 

with greater durability and more extended empire than be- 
fore. Unfortunately for the prospects of the Christian cause, 
Saffradin, the brother of the deceased chieftain, craftily taking 
advantage of his nephews' struggles with each other, over- 
powered them in detail, and re-organized the empire on a 
basis nearly as extensive as it had been during the reign of 

Whilst these events were occurring, the Latins had found 
time to take measures for securing their few remaining 
possessions in the Holy Land. Bichard of England, having 
touched at Cyprus on his road to the 'East to join the crusading 
army, had been refused permission by the king of the island 
to enter the harbour. Enraged at this wanton breach of hos- 
pitality, Hichard, being at the time supported by a considerable 
force, seized upon the island, and brought away the king and 
his daughter as prisoners in his train to Acre. Whilst, however, 
he was loading the father with chains of silver,* he was himself, 
if ancient scandal be creditecl, becoming entangled in the bonds 
of love by the daughter. Be this as it may, he eventually 
bestowed her hand, and with it the kingdom of Cyprus, on Ghiy 
de Lusignan, whose position had by this time become so dubious 
in its nature that he was not above wedding with the cast-off 
mistress of the king, endowed with a throne, even one of such 
limited extent as that of Cyprus. 

At Guy's death his brother Almeric succeeded to the crown, 
and was soon afterwards, through the good oiRces of the Master 
of the Hospital, united to Isabella, the widow, successively, of 
Conrad and of the count of Champagne, as well as the divorced 
wife of Humphrey of Thoron. As by Ghiy's death this princess 
became his undoubted successor to the crown of Jerusalem', 
Almeric, by his marriage, established his right to that dignity 
in addition to the throne of Cyprus. His presence being in 
consequence imperatively called for in Palestine, to hold together 
the few remaining possessit)ns which still acknowledged his rule, 
he suggested to the military Orders that they should undertake 

* The king of Cyprus murmured at being secured like a common 
prisoner in iron fetters. Biohard, with a bitter irony, directed chains of 
silver to be substituted ; and, strange to say, the vain and weak-minded 
prince was much gratified at the change. 


66 A History of 

the protection of Cyprufl on his behalf. This island, from its 
position, formed an excellent base of operations whence to 
support the isolated posts still held by the Christians in 
Palestine. Strong detachments were* therefore sent by both 
bodies to insure its safety from aggression. 

The chronology of these times is so very obscure that it 
is impossible to trace with accuracy the precise dates at which 
each change of Master took place. None of the fraternity 
at this early period seem to have undertaken the task of 
chronicling the deeds of themselves or of their companions 
in arms; we are therefore totally dependent on the writers 
who have treated generally of the fortunes of the kingdom of 
Jerusalem and of the numerous Crusades by which it was from 
time to time supported. The military Orders are only very 
cursorily mentioned, and the most confusing contradictions in 
names and dates constantly occur, rendering it difficult to 
determine which are the most probably correct. Godfrey de 
Duisson died somewhere about the yeax 1194, and was succeeded 
by Alfonso of Portugal. This knight claimed to belong to 
the royal family of that kingdom. The inscription on the 
tomb, which was erected by himself in his lifetime, ran thus : 
" Alfonso, Master of the Holy Hospital of Jerusalem, son of 
the King of Portugal, etc., etc.'* As, however, the history 
of Portugal makes no mention of such a scion of the royal 
family, it is probable that the honour was tainted by the bar 

The accession of Alfonso was the signal for a rigid reform in 
the discipline of the Order. The century which had elapsed 
since its first foundation had brought many changes in the 
habits and mode of Ufe of the period, luxuries having been 
gradually introduced which in earlier times were imknown. 
The Hospitallers had followed in the tide of progress, and many 
innovations had crept into the convent, by no means in accord- 
ance with the rigid code framed by the austere Baymond du 
Puy. Alfonso was one of those men, so common in all periods, 
who, without discernment sufficient to note the signs of the 
times, are determined to abide rigidly by the rules of their fore- 
fathers. He was unable to see how vain it was for him to 
attempt to oppose himself to the stream of progress^ and that 

i/ie Knights of Malta, 67 

nothing short of complete isolation from the world would have 
sufficed to keep the fraternity in the path laid down by theii 
chief. Bules, which in the days of Raymond merely engendered 
simplicity of life and an absence of ostentation, would, when 
carried out a century later, have involved a degree of austerity 
never contemplated by him. Impressed, however, with the 
necessity for a rigid observance of the oaths taken on his assimip- 
tion of office, Alfonso at once began to enforce the antiquated 

In this endeavour he met with the most vehement opposition 
from the council. So strenuously and pertinaciously were 
the objections of its members urged, that he lost his temper. 
Thundering forth the imperious mandate, " I will be obeyed, 
and that without reply," he sought to silence remonstrance 
by an appeal to authority. Language such as this had not 
of late been heard at the council board, and an immediate 
outcry proclaimed the resentment of those present. Open 
rebellion soon succeeded to remonstrance, and Alfonso was, 
before long, taught that the estimate he had formed of his 
magisterial power was greatly exaggerated. Disgusted at 
the failure of his attempt, and cowed by the storm of 
opposition he had evoked, he resigned his office, abandoned 
the Holy Land, and retired to Portugal, where he shortly 
afterwards fell in an engagement during one of the civil 
wars of that country. 

Numerous attempts were made by the powers of Western 
Europe to recover some of the lost ground in Palestine during 
the first half of the thirteenth centuiy. Had these efforts 
been properly directed, and not diverted to objects other than 
those for which they were organized, they woidd probably 
have proved successful. The history, of the times is, however, 
filled with the rancorous hatreds and petty jealousies which 
were constantly arisiog to thwart any vigorous or concerted 
movement. Wave after wave of attack surged on the shores 
of Palestine, only to recede again, rather through the ignorance 
and impatience of the leaders than the resisting power of the 
infidel. One of these expeditions had turned its arms against 
the city of Constantinople, and wresting it from the enfeebled 
grasp of the Byzantine dynasty, converted it for a short time 


68 A History of 

into a Ijatin kingdom, the crown of which was given to 
Baldwin, count of Flanders. 

Meanwhile Almeric had died, leaving vacant the two thrones 
of Jerusalem and Cyprus, the former of which was inherited 
by Mary, daughter of Isabella by her first husband. It was 
the unhappy lot of Palestine, at a time when she most needed 
a clear head to guide her councils and a firm hand to lead 
her armies, that the crown should be worn by either women 
or children. To obviate the evils likely to arise from female 
rule at such a critical time, a deputation was sent to Philip 
Augustus of Prance, requesting him to name some prince who 
might receive the hand of the new queen, and with it the 
crown of Jerusalem. Philip, in accordance with this wish, 
selected John of Brienne, coimt of Vienna, for the heritage, 
which was one more of danger than of glory. John at once 
set forth for the Holy Land, and on his arrival was unit^ 
to Mary and assumed the throne of the attenuated kingdom. 

Whilst these changes were going on, the dissensions between 
the Orders of the Hospital and Temple, which had long been 
smoiddering with ill-disguised virulence, burst forth into open 
hostility. There had for many years existed a deep feeling of 
jealousy between these fraternities, a jealousy rendered the 
more rancorous on the part of the Templars from a sense of 
inferiority in wealth and territorial possessions. Matthew 
Paris, a contemporary historian, estimates the property of the 
Hospital in the various states of Europe at the beginning of 
the thirteenth century at 19,000 manors, whilst that of the 
Temple at the same period was only 9,000. The term manor 
in those days was used to signify the extent of land that 
could be tilled by one yoke of oxen. This great difference 
in point of wealth, which marked the superior estimation 
in which the Hospitallers were held throughout Europe, 
naturally excited the jealousy of their rivals, and at last 
foimd vent in open warfare. 

In the neighbourhood of the town of Margat, where, as has 
already been said, the Hospitallers had established their convent 
after their expulsion from Jerusalem, stood a castle, the pro- 
perty of a knight named Robert de Maxgat. That knight 
held the pl£M)e as a vassal of the Hospitallers, and acknow- 

the Knights of Malta. 69 

ledged them as his feudal lords. To this castle the Templars 
laid claim, and, supporting their pretensions by force, 
seized the disputed property. Robert de Margat at once 
claimed the protection of the Hospitallers, whose vassal he 
considered himself to be. These latter, incensed at the 
unprovoked outrage committed by their rivals, mustered their 
forces, sallied forth from their establishment at Margat, and 
retook the castle by storm. From this moment open and 
systematic warfare broke out between the Orders, and several 
very sanguinary collisions ensued. Utterly oblivious of the 
vows they had taken at their profession, and of the obligations 
then imposed on them, they turned their swords, which had 
been consecrated to the cause of their faith, with fratricidal 
rage against each other, and throughout the length and 
breadth of the laad men' were dismayed at the sad spectacle 
thus afforded, and the new danger threatening the poor relics 
of the kingdom. 

Alarmed at the injury likely to accrue from this ill-timed 
antagonism on the part of those who had hitherto been the 
most powerful, as indeed sometimes they had been the only 
defenders of the kingdom, the patriarch and other ecclesiastics 
appealed to the Pope to interfere in the dispute. That prelate, 
having heard the statements of the deputies who had been 
despatched to B.ome by both Orders, decided that neither 
party was free from blame. The Hospitallers had acted 
unjustifiably and in opposition to their own rules in en* 
deavouring to redress by force of arms the wrong which 
had been done them ; and on the other hand he decided that 
the claim of the Templars to the castle in question was 
unfounded. Under these circumstances he decreed that the 
Hospitallers should, in the first place, retire from the disputed 
property, leaving it in the possession of the Templars, and that 
then the latter, in their turn, should restore it to Robert de 
Margat at the expiration of one month. Matters were thus 
at length amicably settled, and a temporary truce, since peace 
it could scarcely be called, was established between the rival 

John of Brienne, having failed in his efforts to carry with 
him to the Ea^t an army sufficiently powerful to establish 

70 A History of 

the rights he had acquired by his marriage, implored the 
Pope for asBistance at this critical juncture. Innocent III., 
who at the time occupied the papal chair, entered warmly 
into his views, and supported by Robert de Cour9on, an 
English priest, who partook largely of the enthusiasm and 
zeal of St. Bernard and Peter the Hermit, caused a new 
Crusade to be preached throughout western Christendom. 

The first results of these efforts showed themselves in the 
force which in the year 1216, with Andrew, king of Hungary, 
at its head, made its way to the East. At Cyprus, Andrew met 
the Master of the Hospital, with whom he had appointed a 
rendezvous, and escorted by his fleet of galleys they proceeded 
in company to Acre. Here he refused the palace which 
the king of Jerusalem had prepared for his reception, pre- 
ferring to take up his abode at the convent of St. John. Whilst 
residing there he was so impressed with the admirable manner 
in which the duties of the Hospital were conducted, not only 
at Acre but also at Margat, which place he visited as well, 
that he announced his desire of becoming a knight of the Order. 
Anomalous, as it undoubtedly was, for a monarch whilst retain- 
ing his crown to take upon himself the monastic obligations 
of poverty, obedience, and chastity, his desire was complied 
with, and he was enrolled amongst the ranks of the fraternity. 
Thus the king of Hungary became the first crowned head 
received as a knight of St. John, and he celebrated the event 
by a becoming act of dotation, settling upon the Order an 
annuity of seven hundred sQver marks, secured upon the salt 
mines of his country. 

His brief stay in Palestine was of no real benefit to the 
kingdom. His was a character far too unstable for any 
great enterprise, and before he had been three months 
at the head of his army he wearied of the undertaking. 
This impulse of restlessness was aggravated by grief at the 
assassination of his queen, the news of which had reached 
him whilst at Cyprus. The result was that he abandoned the 
Crusade, and in spite of the threats of excommimication fid- 
minated against him by the patriarch, returned to Europe. 

John of Brienne was not deterred by this defection from 
carrying on the struggle. Fresh bodies of crusaders having 

the Knights of Malta. 7 1 

arriyed, it was dedded to attack Damietta, then oonsidered 
the key to Egypt. Siege was accordingly laid to the town 
in the month of May, 1218, the military Orders as usual 
occupying a conspicuous position in the van of the army. 
The sultan of Egypt was apparently doubtful of the powers of 
resistance of this fortress, and dreading lest its fall should occa- 
sion the loss of his entire kingdom, he proposed a treaty to 
the Christians in virtue of which Jerusalem and the whole of 
Palestine, with two exceptions, were to revert to them, and all 
prisoners in the hands of the sultan to be released, provided 
the siege of Damietta were raised and the invasion of Egypt 
abcmdoned. John of Brienne and the Master of the Hospital were 
urgent that this very advantageous treaty should be accepted, 
but the papal legate, Pelagius, who had usurped almost un- 
limited authority in the allied ccunp, was of a different opinion, 
and in this he was joined by the Gfrand-Master of the Temple. 
Thus backed, his influence carried the point ; the offers of the 
sultan were disdainfully rejected, and the siege was pushed 
on with redoubled vigour. John of Brienne retired for a 
time in anger from an army in which, whilst he was the 
nominal head, the legate, in point of fact, ruled with absolute 

After a defence which lasted for upwards of a year, Damietta 
fell into the hands of the Christians, more on account of the 
exhaustion of the defenders than from any very active effort on 
the part of the assailants. Its population, which before the 
siege numbered upwards of 70,000 persons, barely at its close 
amounted to 3,000, and the victors, when they entered the 
place, found it one vast grave. 

Fresh divisions arose in the coimcils of the army on the 
capture of Damietta. The king, who had by this time returned 
to the command, the Hospitallers, and those of the other chiefs 
who had all along supported his views, urged strongly that they 
should at once advance on Jerusalem^ whilst the legate, the 
Templars, and their party, were equally strenuous in advising a 
penetration into the heart of Egypt and the complete overthrow 
of that monarchy. This tiiey considered would prove the most 
certain method of permanently securing the safety of the Latin 
kingdom. The latter, as on the first occasion, carried their 

72 A History of 

point; the army turned its back upon the sacred city and 
advanced into Egypt. The king, deeply though he resented the 
secondary position in which he found himself, could not bring 
himself to abandon a cause in which he had so much at stake, 
and which was promising so fairly, and for these reasons accom- 
panied the army. 

The Christians boldly pushed their way into the Delta of the 
Nile, the Egyptian forces retreating as they advanced. Here 
they found a new enemy before which they were power- 
less. The sultan broke down the banks of the Nile, flooded 
the whole intervening tract of country, and completely sur- 
roimded the Latin forces with an impassable lake. It was 
equally impracticable either to advance or retreat, whilst to 
remain where they were entailed certain starvation. In this 
unfortunate predicament the Christians were driven to treat 
with the enemy, and had at length to purchase their safety by 
the surrender of all their recent acquisitions. Damietta was 
restored to the sultan, the army retired to Acre, and thus, 
owing to the obstinacy and presumption of Pelagius, backed 
by the Templars, the campaign was brought to an ignominious 
close, although at one time it bid fair to lead to the complete 
restoration of the kingdom. 

The unfortunate result of this expedition did not, however, 
quell the high spirit of Europe, now once more aroused into its 
old crusading fervour. Further and still more energetic efforts 
were set on foot for the recovery of Jerusalem. Herman de 
Saltza, the head of the Teutonic Order, returned to Europe 
to solicit aid from the German emperor, Frederic. He proposed 
to him to marry Violante, the daughter and heiress of John of 
Brienne, who was at the time twelve years of age, and suggested 
that her father could probably be induced to resign his crown in 
favour of so distinguished a son-in-law. Flattered with this 
prospect, and tempted by the crown thus tendered for his 
acceptance, Frederic, with the sanction of the Pope, married 
Violante, and John of Brienne, weary of a throne which existed 
only in name, resigned in his favour. 

Delays of various kinds caused a period of five years to elapse 
before Frederic found himself on the shores of Syria, During 
this interval the ill-feeling which had been gradually growing 

the Knights of Malta. 73 

up between bim and the Pope culminated in open hostilities. A 
sentence of excommunication was launched against the emperor, 
ostensibly on account of the delays which had interfered with 
hifi Crusade, and he in his turn invaded and ravaged the papal 
dominiona Undeterred by these ecclesiastical thunders, and 
whilst still lying under the anathema of his Holiness, Frederic 
proceeded to Palestine in the year 1228, accompanied by a 
considerable force, and prepared to march into the interior 
of the country. 

A difficulty at first arose with the military Orders, who were 
unwilling to render aid to a prince who had been placed out- 
side the pale of the church, and to whom the Pope had forbidden 
that they should render any assistance whatever. Eventually, 
however, matters were amicably arranged, and the army pro- 
ceeded on its march to Jerusalem, meeting with no opposition on 
the part of the Saracens. Camel, the sultan of Egypt, dread- 
ing the ambition of his brother Coradinus, thought it advisable 
to make overtures of peace to the emperor, and thus, without strik- 
ing a blow, Frederic was enabled to conclude an advantageous 
treaty on behalf of the Christians. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, 
Nazareth, and Jaffa, were restored to the Latins, and pilgrims 
were to be permitted to traverse the land freely on their way to 
the Holy Sepulchre, the only proviso made being that the 
Mahometans were also to be allowed free access to the sacred 
spot -which they had converted into the mosque of Omar. 
Whilst at Jerusalem Frederic caused himself to be crowned in 
this church. Owing to the ecclesiastical ban imder which he 
lay none of the clerical dignitaries nor of the military Orders 
assisted at the ceremonial, with the exception of the Teutonic 
knights. These preferred their temporal to their ecclesiastical 
allegiance, and supported the emperor throughout, their Gfrand- 
Master pronouncing a laudatory oration at the close of the 
coronation ceremony. 

The latter Order, ever since its first formation during the 
siege of Acre, had rendered the most vital assistance to the 
feeble state. Acting, as it always did, in harmony with the other 
fraternities, it was justly entitled to share with them the glory 
of maintaining the defence of the relics of the kingdom. From 
the date, however, of Frederic's return to Europe, its assistance 

74 -^ History of 

was lost to Palestme. FoUowmg in the train of the emperor, 
these knights left the Holy Land, and their achievements, 
though frequently brilliant and well worthy of record, have 
no further place in these pages. It is true that a few of them 
declined thus to abandon the cause they had originally adopted. 
These remained in Palestine until the final expulsion of the 
Latins from its shores, and are mentioned as sharing in the 
defence of Acre ; but the main body, with their Gfreoid-Master, 
retired with Frederic. 

It is asserted by writers in the imperial interests that during 
Frederic's stay in Jerusalem a conspiracy was entered into 
between the Hospitallers and the Templars to betray him into 
the hands of the Saracens, and that in this disgraceful and 
treasonous plot they were instigated by the Pope, who was his 
most virulent enemy. This treachery was discovered through 
the magnanimity of the sultan of Egypt, who, with righteous 
indignation at the authors of so foul a scheme, lost no time in 
making the emperor acquainted with it. That there was some 
truth in the accusation seems, from collateral evidence, to be 
most probable, although writers in the Papal interest have not 
hesitated to assert that the story had its origin in the fertile 
brain of Frederic himseU, anxious to frame some plausible 
pretext for abandoning an enterprise into which he had been 
forced much against his own inclination. The discovery of 
such a conspiracy would in a great measure account for the 
animosity with which Frederic ever after regarded those Orders, 
and the persecutions and extortions to which he subjected them. 
The true facts of the case, and the due share of blame to be 
allotted to the various members of the plot, are very difficult 
to discover. AU the historians of the epoch are biassed by their 
own political views and inclinations, and their narratives must be 
received with great caution. Those who wrote in the imperial 
interest, whilst dwelling strongly on the treachery of the military 
fraternities, aver that in the treaty entered into with the Saracens 
by Frederic, the Christians were placed on as advantageous a 
footing as that which they had held before the ill-fated battle 
of Tiberias. On the other hand, the papal writers not only 
deny the existence of any plot, but assert that the much- vaunted 
treaty was useless. It contained, they said, a clause that the 

the Knights of Malta, 75 

fortifications of Jerusalem, which had been levelled by the 
Saracens during the siege of Damietta, should not be restored, 
thus rendering the possession of the city by the Christians an 
absolute nullity. This stipidation is alluded to by the Arabic 
writer, Abulf eda ; and the fact that no attempt was ever made 
to restore the walls of the place during its brief re-oocupation by 
the Latins seems to bear out the statement. 

As has been said, Frederic had no sooner formally established 
his claim to the throne by his coronation in the mosque of Omar, 
than he at once returned to Europe, where his presence was 
without doubt urgently required in his own domiuions. He, 
however, pledged himself to maintain a considerable force in 
Palestine for the protection of his kingdom there. Whilst these 
events were occurring, several changes Ihad taken place in the 
governance of the Order of St. John. At the resignation of 
Alfonso of Portugal in the year 1195, Geoffrey le Rat, a French 
knight, was elected in his place. This chief, by the mildness of 
his rule and the general urbanity of his conduct, soon restored 
that peace and unanimity in the councils of the Order which 
had been so rudely disturbed by the violent reforms of Alfonso. 
Geoffrey died in the year 1207, and was in his turn succeeded by 
GhiAin de Montaigu, a native of the province of Auvergne. It 
was during his Mastership that both the Crusades lately recorded 
took place, and he bore a very prominent and glorious part 
throughout them. He lived till the year 1230, thus enjoying his 
dignities for a period of twenty-three years, a longer rule than that 
of any Master since the death of the venerable Baymond du Puy . 

Bertrand de Texis succeeded Gu^rin at a time when the affairs 
of the unfortunate kingdom were in a state of confusion, even 
more lamentable than usual. The emperor Frederic had found, 
upon his return to Europe, that the constant warfare in which 
he was engaged against the Pope prevented him from sending 
those succours which on leaving Palestine he had fathfully 
promised to the council of the realm. His wife, Violante, had 
lately died in giving birth to a son, who was named Conrad, and 
who was, through her, heir to the crown of Jerusalem. In the 
absence of the infant prince and his father, rival claimants 
appeared to dispute the title. The scandalous injustice with 
winch the emperor was at this time treating the military Orders, 

76 A History of 

whose European property he waa seiang, piUaging, and con- 
fisoating wherever it was exposed to the violence of his animosity, 
would have made it only natural that they should avail them- 
selves of this opportunity for revenge. To their credit, however, 
it is recorded that in spite of the ill-usage which they were 
receiving at his hands, they nevertheless remained, under all 
provocations, true to him as their legitimate sovereign, and 
in spite of the seductive temptations held out to them by his 
rivals. The Pope felt so strongly oto the subject of these wanton 
aggressions of the emperor, that he addressed a special letter 
to him on the subject, exhorting him to make immediate 
restitution to the two Orders, on the ground of the good 
service which they were daily rendering for the protection of the 
tottering kingdom of Palestine. 

This letter is the more important in a historical point of 
view, because in it the Pope warmly extols the military Orders, 
and seems to consider their conduct worthy his highest appro- 
bation and sjinpathy. Only eight years afterwards, however, 
we find him writing in the most vehement strain to the then 
Master, Bertrand de Comps, and putting forward the gravest 
possible charges against the discipline of the fraternity. In 
this document he accuses them, on the faith, as he asserts, of 
undeniable authority, of harbouring within their convents 
women of loose character, of possessing individually private 
property in opposition to their vow of poverty, and further of 
assisting the enemies of the church with horses and arms, 
together with a long catalogue of other crimes, evidently col- 
lected together by their inveterate and implacable enemies, the 
ecclesiastics of Palestine. 

It is more than probable that some of these accusations were 
founded on truth. We have already seen how Alfonso of 
Portugal endeavoured to introduce reforms into the convent, 
and how he lost his magisterial dignity in consequence. We 
may also safely conclude that the haughty spirits which so 
vehemently resisted his energetic measures had not become 
curbed during the milder rule of his successors. Yet it seems 
impossible to review all the concurrent testimony which bears 
upon the question without feeling that the more important 
of the charges thus brought forward were in no way borne out 

the Knights of Malta. */7 

by the facts. Twenty years had barely elapsed since the king 
of Hungary, whilst residing at the convent, and having every 
opportunity of judging as to the regularity and decorum of their 
conduct, had expressed himself so highly edified by what he there 
witnessed, that he caused himself to be enrolled a member of 
the fraternity. Twelve years later again we find, as above 
stated, the Pope himself once more reiterating his approbation, 
and thereby ratifying the oft-expressed encomiums of his pre- 
decessors, an approbation not likely to have been extorted had 
such crying and barefaced irregularities existed. It is, moreover, 
scarcely probable that these vices, so scandalous in their nature, 
and requiring so much efErontery for their practice, could have 
gained a footing in the short space of eight years. We may 
therefore pretty safely conclude that whilst, on the one hand, 
such irregularities may have crept into the convent as would 
render reform highly advisable, on the other hand, the 
crimes detailed with such malevolent emphasis in the Pope's 
letter to Bertrand were for the most part the offspring of 

It may not be amiss, whilst on this topic, to draw attention to 
the many members of the Order who at this very time were 
earning for themselves, by the extreme sanctity of their lives and 
the rigid austerities which they practised, the high honour of 
canonization, an honour which in those days marked a life dis- 
tinguished by a resolute withdrawal from the lax morality of 
the age. Amongst these may be noted Ubaldesca, a sister of 
the Order, who passed her life in the convent of Carraja. Her 
sanctity was such that miracles had been frequently attributed 
to her during her life, and she was specially reputed to have on 
one occasion rivalled that performed by our Lord at the mar- 
riage in Cana. After her death, which occurred in the year 
1206, her body performed divers pilgrimages — a common fate 
for saints to whose mortal remains the piety of succeeding 
generations very frequently denied that rest which is the 
acknowledged privilege of the tomb, and which was enjoyed 
without distiurbance by the more humble and sinful section of 
humanity. Nearly 300 years later, during the Grand-Master- 
ship of Yerdala, the sacred remains of this pious lady were 
tnuisported to Malta, where they were deposited in the con- 

78 A History of 

ventual church of St. John. They have ever since heen an 
especial ohject of devotion to the faithful, certain indulgences 
having been, at Verdala's request, granted by the Pope to aU 
worshippers at her shrine. Here her bones stiU remain, and 
here it is to be hoped they will be permitted fx) rest in peace 
imtil the last trump shall once more summon her from her 
narrow bed. 

About the same time another sister of the Order, named 
Veronese, started into celebrity from her extraordinary devotion 
to the services of the Hospital. This lady's beauty was only 
to be equalled by her piety and modesty. Her virtues were 
indeed so pre-eminent that the legend which records her life 
ajsserts that three young men, dazzled by her charms, had on 
one occasion forgotten the respect due to her sex and profession, 
and were instantly struck dead at her feet. The tale concludes 
hy stating that they were restored to life by her earnest 
prayers, and were themselves in consequence led to adopt a life 
of piety. 

And lest it should be supposed that it was only amongst the 
ladies of the Order that this sanctity and devotion were to be 
found, history has also embalmed the memory of many members 
of the ruder sex, who, in addition to the chivalric exercise of 
their profession, rivalled in their religious zeal the piety of 
their fair sisters. Conspicuous on the roll were Hugh, head of 
the commandery of Genoa; Gerard Mecati, whose virtues are 
recorded by Paid Mimi in his treatise on the nobility of 
Florence; and Gerland of Poland, who was attached to the 
court of the emperor Frederic to represent the interests of his 
Order. Here he set such an edifying example to the dissolute 
courtiers of that prince that he established a very high reputa- 
tion for sanctity. It is, however, much to be feared that he 
failed to work any striking reformation amongst the gay 
libertines by whom he was surrounded, and who were content 
to hold him in the highest veneration without being induced to 
follow his example. 

It is difficult to conceive that whilst such shining lights as 
these were constantly emerging from the bosom of the frater- 
nity, and who considered themselves privileged in dwelling 
within the circle of its influence, there could be much radically 

the Knights of Malta. 79 

amiss in its cliaraGter. That most of the acousations brought 
against it, especially those of the worst kind, were engen- 
dered by the malicious jealousy of their opponents, appears to 
be the only rational solution of the difficulty. We are there- 
fore justified in considering that the Order of St. John was 
still maintaining its high reputation. Whilst we must admit 
that there had been, in the course of time, much deviation from 
the simple devotion of its founder, it still remained a pattern 
for the age, and an admirable school in which the youthful 
devotees amongst the chivalry of Europe were enabled to find 
a free vent for their religious enthusiasm without having to 
forego their martial ardour, at the same time beholding amongst 
their leading dignitaries a most praiseworthy exiample for pious 


Re-occupation of Jerusalem by the Christians — Their expulsion by the 
Eorasmins — Battle of Gaza — Death of Yillebride, and election of 
Chateauneuf— Reforms in the Order — Crusades of St. Louis — 
Sanguinary combat between the Hospitallers and Templars — Siege 
of Margat — Siege and fall of Acre. 

Bertrand de Texts, whose election in 1230 was recorded 
in the preceding chapter, died in the following year. Of 
the career of his successor, Ghi^rin or Ghiarin, nothing is known 
worthy of record. The traces of this Grand-Master's rule 
are very scanty. In a document dated October 26th, 1231, 
his name appears as the head of the Order. A leaden bulla or 
seal of his is also affixed to a document now in the Record Office 
of Malta, bearing date 1233. He further appears to have 
been alive in May, 1236, but must have died in that year. 
In the seal, Ghierin is seen kneeling before a cross ; the cross 
of the order is visible on his mantle. The inscription runs : — 
"Frater Oerinus Gustos Ospitalis Jherusalem." At his death 
in 1236, Bertrand de Gomps was elected as sixteenth Master, 
in which office he remained till the year 1241. 

In addition to the attack made by the Pope on the discipline 
and morals of the Order, with which the reader is already 
acquainted, and which took place under his rule, Bertrand 
also witnessed the third re-occupation of Jerusalem by the 
Latins. Their brief tenure of the city, which had been the 
result of the treaty of Frederic with the sultan of Egypt, 
was brought to a close on the termination of that treaty. 
The sultan rejected all proposals for a renewal of its pro- 
visions, and drove the defenceless Christians out of the place. 
In the year 1240, however, Richard of Cornwall, brother of 

A History of the Knights of Malta. 8 1 

Henry III. of England, made liis appearance at Acre accom- 
panied by a starong body of English crusaders. A council 
had been held at Spoletto, in the year 1234, which decreed 
that one more vigorous effort should be made to rescue the 
sacred province from infidel domination. Many causes had 
interfered to prevent the earlier arrival of this force, and on 
its landing at Acre the earl was surprised to learn that the 
count of Champagne, who had preceded him with the French 
crusaders, had been defeated in a battle with the sultan of 
Damascus, and had, in consequence, concluded a treaty so 
disadvantageous to the Christians, that none of their leaders, 
excepting the Templars, would consent to accept its provisions. 

Hichard had no sooner arrived at the scene of action than 
he at once prepared to take the field. From the well-known 
energy of his character, and the strength of the army which 
was under his command, the most sanguine hopes were enter- 
tained of his success. The sultan of Egypt, in whose posses- 
sion Jerusalem and its environs stiU remained, was at the 
moment engaged in war with the sultan of Damascus. He 
felt, therefore, that the time was most inopportune for resisting 
the invasion now- threatening him, and so, without waiting 
for any aggressive movements on the part of the earl, he 
offered at once to conclude a treaty by which he was to 
soixender Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Beritus, as 
well as Mount Thabor and a large portion of the Holy Land. 
This treaty was accepted by Kichard with the approbation 
of most of the chiefs and dignitaries of the kingdom, and 
its provisions were at once carried into effect, the cities men- 
tioned being given over to the Latins, and immediately 
re-occupied by them. Upon this occasion no restrictions were 
imposed as to the fortifying of Jerusalem, and as it was evidently 
impossible to hold the place in security without the adoption 
of prompt measures, the mo8[t strenuous exertions were made 
on all sides to restore its defences. The treasury of the 
Hospital was in consequence drained to the last farthing, 
and the power of the Order strained to the uttermost to 
further the work. 

The Templars, indignant that their previous treaty with 
the sultan of Damascus should have been repudiated, now 


82 A History of 

in their turn refused to join in that made with the sultan 
of Egypt. Thus the absurd and fatal anomaly was to be 
witnessed of the two Orders each remaining at war with a 
prinoe with whom the other was in alliance. To this un- 
fortunate division must be attributed much of the sad result 
of the next campaign, a result which Bertrand de Comps was 
not destined to witness, he having died, in the year 1241, of 
wounds received in an action against the Turcomans, who had 
made an irruption into the territories of the prince of Antioch. 
They were in this battle completely routed, and their defeat 
cast a halo of glory over the chivabic end of the gallant and 
aged Master. 

The short rule of his successor, Peter de Villebride, was 
marked by events most disastrous to the fortunes of the kingdom 
and of the Order, at the head of which the unanimous voice of 
the fraternity had placed him. A savage horde, known by the 
name of Korasmins, who dwelt near the shores of the Caspian 
Sea, having been driven from their homes by the Mogul 
Tartars, had spread themselves over the neighbouring coimtries. 
The leader of this irruption was called Barbacan, a general 
whose skill in war and intelligence in the art of government 
were such as to raise him in the scale of civilization far above 
his wild followers. The sultan of Egypt, dreading lest this 
inroad should take the direction of his territories, sought to 
divert the impetuosity of the current into another channel, 
and with a politic selfishness which the circumstances of the 
case might well excuse, determined on sacrificing his weaker 
neighbours to the safety of his own dominions. With this 
view he suggested to Barbacan that there would be no difficulty 
in seizing upon the Latin possessions in Syria ; and in order 
still further to induce him to turn his steps in that direction, 
offered to assist him with a subsidiary force. 

This proposition was just suited to a man in the position of 
Barbacan, who, having been expelled from his own mountain 
home, had the wide world before him. To him it was perfectly 
immaterial whether his enemy were Christian or Moslem. All 
he demanded was that he should be weaker than himself, and 
that the prospect of booty should be sufficient to render the 
enterprise lucrative. On, therefore, came the new foe, over- 

the Knights of Malta. 83 

running and ravaging the unfortunate province which had but 
just returned under the rule of the Latins, and which was still 
suffering most severely from the perpetual warfare of which it 
had been the victim. Every effort which the brief space of 
time permitted had been made to place the sacred city in a 
defensible position, and had a little longer breathing time 
been vouchsafed to the defenders, they would probably have 
succeeded in holding their own, whilst the undisciplined bands of 
the Korasmins would have thrown themselves in vain against 
the ramparts. As it was, only a few feeble earthworks 
had as yet risen, and behind these the military Orders felt 
that it would be madness to attempt a stand. They there- 
fore, after much sad and painful deliberation, determined once 
more to abandon to the infidel that consecrated soil, the centre 
of so many aspirations, and, alas ! the grave of so many hopes. 
Many of the inhabitants, however, having only lately estab- 
lished themselves in their new homes, were blinded by the 
fury of their zeal, and bmiiing to prevent a renewed desecra- 
tion of their Saviour's tomb, persisted in remaining behind 
with the full determination of opposing to the death the onward 
course of the invaders. Others followed in the rear of the 
military Orders, who, after having evacuated the city, pitched 
their camp sufficiently near to enable thttm to watch the course 
of events. 

As may be conceived, the Korasmins found an easy prey in 
the mob of undisciplined enthusiasts by whom they were con- 
fronted. Hurling themselves in resistless multitudes upon the 
feeble and unfinished entrenchments, they carried them at the 
first onslaught. Thence they poured into the city, where they 
renewed once again those scenes of carnage which had been so 
often before enacted on the self-same spot. It is needless to 
pause on the painful picture. Where savage and unbridled 
lust is let loose upon a defenceless people the result may be 
conceived. In the present instance the horrors perpetrated fully 
equalled anything which the most vivid imagination could dare 
to portray. With a cunning scarcely to be looked for in such 
savages, they had no sooner established themselves securely in 
the city than they raised upon its ramparts the standard of the 
Christians. Deceived by its appearance, and imagining in con- 

84 A History of 

sequenoe that the enemy must have been worsted in the 
assault, many of the fugitive Christians, who had accompanied 
the military Orders in their retreat, determined, in spite of 
the most earnest warnings, once more to return to their homes. 
There they found themselves entrapped by the ruthless foe, and 
doomed to share the miserable fate of their comrades. 

Meanwhile, the Templars having discovered that a detach- 
ment of Egyptians was acting in concert with the Korasmins, 
called upon their ally, the sultau of Damascus, to aid them 
in repelling his old antagonist. In reply to this appeal, the 
sultan despatched a body of 4,000 Damascene horsemen to 
join the Christian force. With this reinforcement the Orders 
stood their ground in the vicinity of Oaza with the intention of 
watching what further course the victorious Korasmins would 
take. These latter did not leave them long in suspense. 
Satiated with slaughter, and weary of inactivity after a few 
days spent in the wildest revels and the vilest debauchery 
within the now desolate city, they advanced in a tumultuous 
horde, flushed with victory and eager for the fray, determined 
to overwhelm the handful of Latins by whom they were 

In this conjuncture the councils of the Christians were much 
divided : the chiefs pf the military Orders advised a prompt 
retreat, feeling that the enormous disproportion of their 
numbers rendered the chances of a battle so imequal as to be 
desperately hazardous. As, however, on the occasion of the 
expedition into Egypt, the presimiption of one churchman, the 
legate Pelagius, had caused the miscarriage of the undertaking, 
so now, by the precipitation of another, was a still worse disaster 
brought about. The rash advice of the patriarch of Jerusalem 
overcame the prudent scruples of the other leaders, and it was, 
in deference to his views, decided that they should stand their 
ground and await the issue of a general engagement. It is one 
of the curious phenomena of those times that ecclesiastics were 
always to be found mixing themselves up with the most 
secular matters, and those especially with which they might 
be supposed to have hardly any concern, nay, still further, 
often, as in the instances here quoted, vehemently obtruding 
their opinions in questions of a purely military character, and in 

the Knights of Malta. 85 

oontemptuons opposition to the most experienced captains of the 

On this occasion the result did not long remain doubtful. 
The Talour of the Christian chivalry, though exerted to the 
uttermost, expended itself in vain against the almost countless 
swarms opposed to them. The Latin anny, when drawn up in 
its battle array, was divided into three corps. The Hospitallers, 
supported by the count of Jaffa, constituted the left wing ; the 
Templars, with the militia of the kingdom, were in the centre, 
and the auxiliary force of Turcoman cavalry formed the right 
wing. Upon this occasion those jealousies which had for so 
long divided the military Orders, and to a great extent 
neutralized all the efforts made for the restoration of 
the kingdom, were quelled in their zeal for the common 
cause, and the blood of both Hospitcdler and Templar flowed 
freely in a common stream, a worthy sacrifice to their country 
and religion. For two whole days was the struggle maintained, 
although at its very commencement the Damascenes, either from 
treachery or cowardice, turned their backs upon the foe and fled 
ignominiously from the field. This defection left the Koras- 
mins in a nimierical superiority of at least ten to one; still the 
Latins stood their groimd undismayed, and the scale of victory 
seemed for a long time almost equally balanced. It was not, 
however, within the power of human endurance to bear up 
against the interminable stream of new opponents unceasingly 
poured upon their exhausted ranks by the indefatigable 
Barbacan. ' At length, upon the evening of the second day, the 
Christian force, decimated and overpowered by the sheer weight 
of numbers, was compelled to give way. 

Signal as was their defeat it was unaccompanied by disgrace. 
Still struggling, though all was lost, the broken remnants of 
the army refused either to fly or to yield, and there, on the 
ground where they stood, now strewn with the mangled corpses 
of their comrades, they fell, one by one, faithful, even to the 
end, to that holy cause which they had espoused, and to which 
their lives and fortunes had been consecrated. In this fatal 
field the Masters, both of the Hospital and Temple, found a 
noble grave in company with almost the entire body of their 
respective Orders, only thirty-three of the Templars and sixteen 

86 A History of 

of the Hospitallers surviving the slaughter which marked the 
close of the struggle. With this disastrous defeat ended all 
hope of resisting the victorious advance of the Korasmins, and 
the slender relics of the Christian force sought the shelter of 
Acre. Here William de Chateauneuf was raised to the post 
of Master of the Hospital, vacant by the death of Peter de 
Vniebride on the field of Ghaza. Prior to his elevation he had 
been a preceptor in the Order, and it was from a letter of his, 
recording the fatal issue of that battle, that most of the 
details of the campaign have been preserved on the page of 

Chateaimeuf found himself at the head of his fraternity at 
a time when it was plunged into a state of the direst con- 
fusion and distress. Within the limits of the Holy Land there 
remained only a few members, mostly wounded, who, from 
behind the walls of Acre, were compelled to tolerate the ravage 
of that sacred soil which they were no longer in a position to 
defend. Spread like a flight of locusts over the province, the 
Korasmins destroyed far and wide everything which fell within 
their grasp. Wherever they turned their steps a heart-rending 
wail of distress and misery arose in their track. Had they 
remained imited amongst themselves it is certain that they must 
speedily have completed the destruction of the Christians, and 
there is every probability that they could even have established 
themselves in secure and permanent empire on the wreck of the 
two Saracen kingdoms of Egypt and Damascus. Most provi- 
dentially, however, the seeds of jealousy and mutual animosity 
soon sprang up in their midst. Commencing in trivial quarrels 
and unimportant skirmishes their disputes increased in virulence 
and intensity until eventually they had so far enfeebled them- 
selves as to be no longer an object of dread to the surrounding 
potentates. Hemmed in on all sides by bitter and now openly 
declared enemies, and harassed by the peasantry of the district, 
whose hatred they had aroused by their licentiousness and 
savage brutality, they gradually diminished in numbers until 
before long no trace remained of a power which had so lately 
been the terror of the East. 

Freed from the imminent peril which had at one time 
threatened complete annihilation, Chateauneuf took the most 

the Knights of Malta. 87 

energetic measures to recruit the ranks of his fraternity, and 
to restore some semblance of credit to its exhausted treasury. 
Every preoeptory in Europe was drained of its members, even 
novices being included in the conscription ; vast sums of money 
were also remitted from the same sources, so that before long 
we find that with the re-vivifying power bo peculiar to it, the 
Order was once more flourishing with as stately a grandeur as 
of old, still remaining, in conjunction with the Templacs, the 
principal, nay, almost the only support of the kingdom* 

Until this time it had been an invariable rule, in order 
to prevent a knight from yielding himself a prisoner, that no 
member so situated should, on any account, be ransomed by 
the public treasury. Now, however, when their numbers had 
become so suddenly and fearfully diminished, it was thought 
advisable to depart from a rigid adherence to this regulation. 
Chateauneuf therefore despatched an embassy to the sultan of 
Egypt, requesting permission to ransom all members of the fra- 
ternity then in his hands. The sultan, however, was sufficiently 
acute to see that if it were in the interest of the Hospitallers 
thus to purchase the freedom of their brethren, it must naturally 
be a wise policy on his part to refuse sanction to such a request. 
This he accordingly did, quoting to the envoys, in support of his 
decision, the regulation of their Order, which forbade any such 
traffic. The unfortunate captives were in consequence com- 
pelled to remain in slavery, whilst the envoys returned to Acre, 
mortified at the failure of their errand, on which much money 
had been uselessly spent in bribing the officers of the sultan's 
court, only to receive in the end an ignominious rebuflp. This 
refusal has been very generally attributed to the influence of 
the emperor Frederic, who was at the time in dose alliance 
with the sultan, and whose persevering antipathy to the 
military Orders has already been touched upon. 

Whilst thus striving to restore the fortunes and power of 
the institution, after the rude shock it had so lately received, 
Chateauneuf was not unmindful of its interior discipline. We 
may gather from several different facts that at this time the 
most rigid austerity was being once more enforced. In support 
of this statement we find a special license issuing from the 
Pope, in which permission is given to the brethren to enter into 

88 A History of 

conversation with any secular guest who may chance to be 
taking his meals in their refectory, otherwise they are 
enjoined to maintain a strict silence diuing such times. We 
also find the following incident recorded by Joinville, the 
historian of the Crusade of St. Louis. A dispute having arisen 
between some Hospitallers and French knights, who were 
together in that expedition, Chateauneuf, after investigation, 
considered his brethren to be in the wrong, and in conse- 
quence condemned them to take their meals on the ground. 
They were, moreover, expressly forbidden to drive away 
ci^y do? 0^ other animal which might choose to intrude 
upon their platters. This discipline was maintained unrelaxed 
until after the most urgent entreaties on the part of Joinville 
himself, on the occasion of a visit which he paid to their 

The Crusade of St. Louis of France was one of the results of 
the disaster of Gaza, and the consequent loss of the principal 
cities of the Holy Land. That monarch, of whom history has 
recorded every virtue that could adorn a hero, and whose piety 
was destined to earn for him the posthimious honours of 
canonization, was seized with an ardent desire to achieve what 
so many of his predecessors had in vain attempted. Whilst 
lying on a bed of sickness he had pledged himself to the 
undertaking even before he had heard of the fatal day of Gaza, 
and he now decided upon leading in person the chivalry of 
France to the rescue of their co-religionists in the East. 
Accompanied by his three brothers, the counts of Artois, 
Poictiers, and Anjou, and followed by an army of 60,000 well- 
appointed troops, he landed at Damietta in the summer of 
1249, having spent the previous winter in Cyprus. The resist- 
ance offered to his landing was but slight, and at the close of 
a short struggle he found himself master, not only of the shore, 
but of the city itself. The garrison of the fortress, struck 
with panic at the bold and daring advance of the French 
chivalry, and mindful of the scenes which had been enacted on 
the same spot on the occasion of its previous capture by John 
of Brienne. abandoned the citadel and took to jBiight, leaving 
everything open to the French. 

Whilst at Damietta, Louis was joined by the whole strength 

the Knights of 'Malta. 89 

of the military Orders, led by their respective chiefs in person, 
as well as by a small body of 200 English lances, under the 
command of WiUiam Longspee, who had already served with 
distinction in the former Crusade, under the Earl of Cornwall. 
An advance towards Cairo was decided on, and the army 
proceeded without interruption as far as Massoura, a fortified 
town situated near the confluence of the two branches of the 
Nile. Here they found the entire Egyptian force awaiting 
their arrival within an entrenched camp on the fax side of the 
river. For some time all their efforts to effect a passage by 
means of a temporary bridge were rendered futile by the 
opposition of the Egyptians. At length, however, a Bedouin 
Arab, tempted by the offer of a large bribe, consented to guide 
them to a practicable ford through which the crossing might be 
made. The king directed his brother, the count of Artois, to 
cross the ford at the head of a selected body of troops, consisting 
principally of the military Orders and the English knights 
under William Longspee. The Arab was true to his word ; the 
ford was reached, the river crossed, and the enemy, who had in 
vain sought to oppose the operation, was driven from the field. 
At this moment a strange panic seenois to have fallen on the 
Saracens. Abandoning their intrenchments under the idea that 
the whole French army was upon them, and even deserting 
Massoura in their terror, they fled, leaving the count of" Artois 
in undisputed possession of both camp and city. 

Had matters ended here, and had cool counsels been allowed 
to prevail, all would have been well, but it seems to have been 
the fate of these crusading expeditions that some rash and 
hot-headed zealot was invariably permitted to override the 
judgment of those who from their position and long acquaint- 
ance with the warfare of Palestine were best qualified to direct 
operations. The count of Artois, rejecting the prudent advice 
of Sonnac, the GJrand-Master of the Templars, supported though 
it was by Longspee and the other leaders, determined to push his 
advantage to the utmost, and heedless of the paucity of his 
numbers, dashed in hot pursuit after the retreating enemy. 
These soon recovered from their senseless panic, and perceiving 
the numerical inferiority of the Christians, rallied rapidly at the 
eall of Bendocdar, a valiant Mameluke chief, who had assumed 

90 A History of 

tlie oommand, after the death of Sacadeen, killed in the previous 
engagement. Turning fiercely on their pursuers, they soon 
threw them into confusion, and drove them in headlong flight 
back into Massoura. Here it was found that the inhabitants, 
recovering from their first consternation, had manned the walls 
of the place and were opposing the entrance of the fugitives. 
A street fight ensued, in which the superior discipline of the 
knights was of but little avail, and the detachment was prac- 
tically annihilated. The count of Artois, Longspee, and a 
large nimiber of knights were killed, whilst the Master of the 
Hospital, Chateauneuf, fell prisoner into the hands of the 

Louis beheld with the most lively grief and indignation this 
disastrous issue to a combat commenced under such glorious 
auspices. Crossing the ford with the remainder of his army he 
lost no time in advancing to the rescue. Here he was met by 
the Saracens, led on by Bendocdar, now completely rallied from 
their panic, flushed with their subsequent success, and burning 
to wipe out the remembrance of their ignominious flight. The 
fight was long and obstinate, and closed without any decided 
advantage to either side. StiU, unquestionably the moral 
victory was with the Saracens, who reaped all the beneficial 
results of the day. Hemmed in on the ground which he 
occupied, Louis found himself cut off from all supplies on the 
side of Damietta by a Saracen force despatched for that purpose 
by Bendocdar, and it was not long before the army fell into a 
very similar predicament to that of John of Brienne. Pestilence 
broke out in the camp and decimated his troops. Unable to 
retreat as long as a Saracen force interposed between himself 
and Damietta, Louis in this strait meditated a sudden attack 
in that quarter, trusting that by taking the enemy unawares he 
and his enfeebled army might be enabled to cut their way 
through. Before he could carry this intention into effect, 
he was himself attacked in his intrenchments by the whole 
Turkish army. Wasted with disease and enfeebled by starva- 
tion bis troops could offer but a very feeble resistance, nor was 
fljl the ohivalrio daring which on that day distinguished his own 
conduct able to avert the catastrophe. Disdaining to seek safety 
in fiight at the cost of abandoning his followers, he maintained 

the Knights of Malta. 9 1 

the struggle to the last, until he eventually fell a prisoner into 
the hands of Bendocdar, in company with his hrothers, the 
counts of Anjou and Foictiers. 

That chief hehaved towards his illustrious captives with a 
magnanimity and generosity rare in the annals of Moslem 
warfare ; indeed, he treated them with the utmost consideration 
and respect. A treaty of peace was at once set on foot, the 
terms of which were not likely to require much discussion when 
one of the negotiating parties found himself in such a helpless 
position. As a ransom for himself and his army, Louis cove- 
nanted to pay the sum of 800,000 hezants, and to restore to 
the Saracens possession of Damietta. In order to assist in 
providing the necessary amount, the Hospitallers freely placed 
their treasury at the king's disposal. The Templars, however, 
were not so complaisant, and urged that the rules of their Order 
forbade any such appropriation of their funds. Necessity, how- 
ever, knows no law, and the king felt that the crisis was of too 
grave and imminent a character to admit of any delicacy on his 
part. He lost no time, therefore, in laying forcible hands on 
their treasury, by the aid of which he completed the sum de- 
manded for his liberation. As soon as the terms of the treaty 
had been complied with on both sides, Louis and the relics of 
his army returned to Acre, utterly unable to attempt anything 
further for the good cause. Here he lingered for four years, 
principally owing to the entreaties of the military Orders, who 
considered his presence a great safeguard for the precarious 
renmant of the kingdom, but also partly because of his unwil- 
lingness to return to France whilst the disgrace of his reverse 
was still fresh in public memory. 

During his residence at Acre Louis received a message from 
the chief of the Hassassins, demanding the payment of black- 
mail as a protection agauist assassination, and averring that all 
the other Christian monarchs who had warred in the East had 
subscribed to the custom, and purchased safety by payment 
of the toll. This tribe dwelt in the mountainous country con- 
tiguous to Tripoli. They were a nimierous and fanatical body 
of men, whose chief was known by the name of the Old Man 
of the Mountain. They were regarded with terror throughout 
the East owing to the peculiarity of their tenets. Their religion. 

92 A History of 

if religion it can be called, consisted in a blind obedience to the 
will of their ruler, even when it led to certain death. Assassi- 
nation was held by them to be a cardinal virtue, and was 
blindly carried out whenever ordered by their chief. The 
monarch on his throne, in the midst of his court, and surrounded 
by the most faithful guard, was not secure from the dagger of 
one oi the Hassassins, who, being utterly regardless of his own 
life, rarely failed to accomplish his mission. The dread in 
which the tribe was held prompted all the Mahometan leaders 
of the East to cultivate friendly relations with them, and they 
were in the receipt of subsidies in the form of tribute from 
nations far more powerful in point of numbers than themselves. 
Their name was derived from the Persian word Hassasin, 
signifying a dagger, which was the only weapon worn by them, 
and the one with which they invariably carried out the behests 
of their chief. 

It is recorded that on one occasion the sultan of Damascus 
despatched an envoy to the Old Man of the Mountain demand- 
ing the payment of an annual tribute under threat of invasion. 
That potentate, in order to show the envoy the extent of his 
power over his subjects, directed one of them to cast himself 
headlong from the top of a tower, and another to plunge a dagger 
into his heart. Both commands were instantly obeyed. The 
prince then turning to the messenger informed him that he had 
60,000 subjects, every one of whom would perform his will with 
the same blind obedience. Nothing more was heard of the 
sultan's demand for tribute. 

The only rulers in the East who had steadily resisted the 
demand for blackmail on the part of the Hassassins, were the 
Masters of the Hospital and Temple. They had, at an early 
date, warned the Old Man that on the occasion of the first 
assassination the tribe should be at once exterminated, and it 
was well known that the threat was not an idle one. Chateau- 
neuf , therefore, no sooner heard of the audacious demand on 
Louis, than he instantly dismissed the embassy with the noti- 
fication that unless ample reparation were at once tendered for 
the insult, the tribe might rest assured they would receive 
a visit from the whole force of the Order, for the purpose of 
inflicting smnmary chastisement. Within the stipulated time 

the Knights of Malta, 93 

the enToys returned with the required amende ; a ring and a 
fihirt being tendered to Lonis, the first signifying that he 
should be encircled by the protection of the tribe, and the 
second that they would cling to him with attachment. 

Lotos left the Holy Land in 1254, and the next few years 
were spent by the military Orders in securing themselves 
within those posts which they still retained. During this lull 
in the political storm, the quarrels which had so often arisen 
between them, but which the urgency of their mutual peril had 
temporarily quelled, once again broke forth. Beginning in 
single combats or in struggles of small parties, the ill-feeling 
grew gradually so rancorous that eventually they rarely met 
without bloodshed, and not contented with isolated encounters 
it was not unusual for the warfare to be carried on by consider- 
able numbers on either side. The mutual exasperation at last 
became so envenomed, that in the year 1259, the whole force of 
the respective Orders met in a general engagement. Victory 
favoured the side of the Hospitallers, and the slaughter was 
such tihat scarce a Templar was left to survive the fatal 
day. It was long ere that fraternity rallied from the 
blow, and by the time that their ranks had been sufficiently 
recruited to enable them to show front against their rivals, the 
breaking out of renewed hostilities against the common enemy 
overcame the bitterness of civil discord. It was during this, the 
last year of Chateauneuf 's rule, that the Pope issued a bull 
decreeing a distinctive dress for the knight of justice. This 
bull ifl dated in August, 1259.* 

Shortly after the sanguinary contest above referred to, 
William de Chateauneuf died in the month of October, 1259, 
and Hugh de Bevel was elected to succeed him. This knight, 
the nineteenth Master of the Order, was the first who received 
from Pope Clement 11. the title of Ghrand-Master. The bull 
conveying this dignity was dated on the 18th November, 1267. 
The chiefa of the Temple had, from their first foundation, taken 
the rank of Chrand-Master, whilst those of the Hospital had, 
until this date, contented themselves with the simpler appella- 
tion of Master. 

Under the auspices of Hugh de Eevel some vital changes 

* Yide Appendix No. 6. 

94 A History of 

were made in the organization of the European posses- 
sions of the Hospital. The various precepf>ories had hitherto 
been in the habit of remitting the surplus of their revenues, 
after deducting the cost of their own subsistence, to the 
general treasury at head-quarters in the East. In many cases, 
however, sometimes owing to the extravagance or mismanage- 
ment of the administrators, and sometimes from causes over 
which they had no control, the customary balance was not 
forthcoming. As, however, it was absolutely necessary that a 
positive and considerable sum should be relied on with certainty 
to support the heavy expenditure of constant warfare, it was 
decided, in a general council held at Csesarea, that a definite 
payment should be demanded from each preceptory, based on 
the average receipts of a term of years, which simi they should be 
bound to remit to the general treasury under all circumstances, 
the balance of their respective revenues being retained for their 
own local expenses. This annual payment, which formed a 
species of rent-charge, was called a responsion, and was usually 
fixed at one-third of the gross receipts. The commission which 
was sent to each preceptor to announce the changes thus pro- 
posed to be introduced began with the word commandamus^ 
whence arose the word commander, by which title the preceptor 
eventually became known. Priories were at the same time 
established, formed of the union of several preceptories. At 
the head of these were placed dignitaries with the title of 
prior, or, as they were afterwards termed, grand-prior. The 
prior held supreme control over the preceptories which con- 
stituted his priory, and he was charged with the duty of 
collecting and remitting their several responsions. He was also 
called on to maintain strict discipline, and to act as a check 
upon the extravagance or other mal-practioes of the preceptors. 
He was instructed to make constant visits, so as to ascertain 
by personal observation that due economy and discipline were 

Whilst thus organizing improvements in the internal 
economy of his order, Hugh de Eevel was at the same time 
making the most strenuous efforts to maintain a bold front 
against the perpetual aggressions of the relentless enemy. These 
efforts were not, however, very successful. His means of defence 

the Knights of Malta. . 95 

were so limited, and the power against which he was called on 
to contend was growing gradually so overwhelming, that almost 
each year witnessed some new calamity. In the year 1263 
the sultan succeeded in ohtaining possession of the fortress of 
Azotufl. Ninety knights of the Hospital had been placed hy 
Bevel at this post in order to lead the garrison and conduct the 
defence. One by one these brave men fell beneath the scimitar 
of the enemy, and it was not until the last of their number had 
succumbed that Bendocdar was able to force his way into 
the town. The heroic and obstinate defence of Azotus adds 
yet another name to that long list enrolled in history to the 
honour of the Order. Never had the spirit of devotion which 
they displayed in the sacred cause of their adoption shone with 
brighter lustre than during this glorious though fatal struggle. 

In the succeeding year the Templars were in their turn forced 
to surrender the fortress of Saphoura, and these losses were soon 
followed by others of still greater import. Antioch, Laodicea, 
and Earac passed for ever from the Christians, and Acre itself 
was only saved for a short time by the report of anticipated 
succour from the king of Cyprus, which induced Bendocdar, in 
dread of another Crusade, to retrace his steps. 

The second Crusade of Louis, in which he met his death 
from the pestilence which annihilated his army, brought no relief 
to the suffering Latins of Syria. Its course had been diverted 
into Africa, and there, amidst the fever-breeding swamps of 
Tunis, it melted away. The efforts made in the year 1271 by 
Prince Edward of England, though conducted with energy, 
were equally fruitless, owing to the insufficiency of the force of 
which he was the leader. Having narrowly escaped death from 
the dagger of one of the band of Hassassins,* that prince returned 
to Europe, leaving the prospects of the Christians in Syria utterly 
hopeless. He had, however, succeeded more through the terror of 

• Immediately after the receipt of his wound, and whilst the result 
threatened to be fatal, Edward made his will. It was dated at Acre, 
June 18th, 1272, and the subscribing witnesses were Hugh de Revel, Grand- 
Master of the Hospital, and Thomas Berard, Qrand-Master of the 
Temple: — ''En testimoniaimce de la queu chose a ceo testament avons fet 
mettre nostre sel et avons pries les honurables Bers frere Hue Mestre de 
THospital et frere Thomas Berard Mestre du Temple ke a cest escrit meisent 
anal lur sens.*' — Acta Rymeri, tom. i., ad ann. 1272. 

96 A History of 

his name and lineage than from any other cause (the reputation 
of his ancestor, Biehard Coeur de Lion, being still a household 
word throughout the Saracen provinces of the East), in obtain- 
ing a truce for ten years, during which time a short breathing 
space was permitted to the harassed and dispirited Latins. 
During this peaceful lull Hugh de Revel died, in the year 
1278, and Nicholas de Lorgue was intrusted with the baton of 
Grand-Master in his stead. 

The death of Bendocdar in the year 1281 brought the treaty 
which he had made with Prince Edward to a premature close, 
aud the military Orders were once more aroused from their 
brief repose. The commencement of the new war was signalized 
by some important successes on the part of the Christians. One 
of the Saracen commanders, whilst on a plundering expedition, 
unwarily led his forces within reach of the fortress of Margat, 
still an important stronghold of the Hospitallers. The garrison 
sallied boldly forth, and charging down on the enemy whilst 
they were encumbered with pillage and in a state of disorder, 
easily routed them and annihilated the whole body. 

The sultan was so enraged at this disaster, that in the 
following year he despatched a force of 5,000 men for the 
siege and capture of Margat. Undismayed at the numbers of 
their opponents, the Hospitallers, feeling that they were too 
few to meet the enemy in open combat, determined to have 
recourse to stratagem. In furtherance of this object they posted 
a portion of their force in ambush outside the gates of the city, 
whilst the remainder advanced towards the enemy as though 
determined to give battle. After a brief struggle, and before 
they had become too much entangled in the fight, they pre- 
tended to yield, and fled towards the town as though struck 
with a sudden panic. Whilst thus hastily retiring, they took 
care to preserve their ranks with a precision that should have 
led the enemy to suspect a wile. Heedless of the warning, 
the Moslems, hurried away by the ardour of pursuit, dashed 
after the retiring foe with all the disorder of a rapid advance, 
and with the confidence of a victory already gained. They 
were, however, soon destined to discover that their anticipa- 
tions were not to be so ecisily realized. Once drawn into the 
defile where the ambuscade was placed, the flying Hospitallera 

tfu Knights of Malta. 97 

halted in their course and turned fiercely on their pursuers, 
and whilst the Saracens were preparing to re-form themselves 
into some semblance of order to receive this unlooked-for attack, 
they were dismayed by hearing the tumult of strife suddenly 
arise in their rear and on both flanks. Thrown into the wildest 
and most hopeless confusion by this sudden appearance of 
enemies on every side, little or no resistance was offered ; the 
struggle became a massacre, and the battle-field was strewn 
with the corpses of the slain, a very slender remnant of the 
whole force surviving to carry to the sultan of Egypt the news 
of this fresh and still more serious disaster to his arms. 

Aroused to a pitch of frenzy by the double defeat which he 
had sustained at the hands of the Order of St. John, the sultan 
vowed a dt3ep and bitter revenge against the Christians. From 
this purpose he never swerved, although for some years the 
internal disturbances of his kingdom were so numerous as to 
prevent his being able to accomplish the design. At length, 
taking advantage of an interval of repose, he advanced in 
person against Margat at the head of a formidable army in 
the year 1287. Fore-warned of his intention, de Lorgue had 
thrown a strong reinforcement into the fortress, the garrison of 
which calmly awaited the attack. The sultan, on arriving in 
front of the walls, commenced the siege in due form ; the place 
was invested, trenches were dug, battering rams, towers, and 
other military engines constructed, and all the usual routine 
strictly adhered to. On the part of the defenders every possible 
impediment was thrown in the way of the assailants, and their 
constant and energetic sorties created so many obstructions 
to the advance that the sultan seemed to gain little or no 

During the time this open warfare was being carried on so 
much apparently in favour of the besieged, a secret and insi- 
dious advance was in progress, by which their speedy downfall 
was to be compassed. The visible attack had been a mere blind 
on the part of the sultan, who, whilst thus diverting the atten- 
tion of the defenders, was quietly making his approaches below 
ground. In this manner he stealthily advanced, until he had 
at length succeeded in undermining the ramparts in every direc- 
tion, temporarily supporting the walls with huge beams of 


98 A History of 

wood. Having completely aooomplished his purpose, he sum- 
moned the garrison to surrender ; a message which was received 
with scorn by men who were huoying themselves up with the 
idea that they bad foiled his worst attempts. What was their 
dismay and consternation on being informed that the waUs 
behind which they deemed themselves so secure awaited but a 
signal to crumble beneath their feet. Two of their number 
were permitted to enter the enemy's lines in order to assure 
themselves of the correctness of the statement. These having 
received ocular demonstration of the fact, it was felt that 
further resistance was hopeless, and the town was given up to 
the sultan, the garrison being permitted to retire unmolested 
to Acre. Immediately on obtaining possession of this fortress, 
which had for so many years held them at defiance, the Sara- 
cens levelled its defences to the ground, and thus prevented its 
re-occupation by the Christians. 

The last sad scene of the bloody drama was now rapidly 
approaching. Plaice after place fell into the hands of the 
victorious sultan, until at length, throughout the land, the 
banner of the Cross waved no-where save on the ramparts of 
Acre. Nicholas de Lorgue was not, however, destined to 
witness the denouement of the tragedy. Having visited the 
Holy See for the. purpose of making a personal appeal to the 
Pope on behalf of the waning church in Syria, and having 
utterly failed in the attempt — ^for in truth Europe was weary 
of sending her beat soldiers and her hardly-earned treasures to 
be fruitlessly expended on the burning sands of Palestine — he 
returned in despair to Acre, where he died in the year 1289. 

John de Villiers, a French knight, was elected in his place. 
He was a man whose mind was caJm and far-seeing in the 
midst of danger, and the intrepidity of whose character was 
beyond the shadow of a doubt. It was to such a one that the 
fraternity felt they could best confide their fortunes in the 
perilous and desperate situation in which they were then placed. 
No dissentient voice was therefore raised against the nomina- 
tion, which was in truth advancement to a post rather of peril 
and honour than of personal advantage. 

After the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin, the city of Acre 
had become the metropolis of Christianity in the East. Its 

the Knights of Malta. 99 

favoiirable situation on the sea coast rendered it the mart of 
the vast commerce which annually flowed both eastward and 
westward in the mutual exchange of the treasures of Europe 
and Asia. Its fortifications consisted of a double enceinte of 
rampart, by which the city was entirely surrounded on the land 
side; numerous flanking towers in close proximity to each other 
effectually strengthened its walls, which were so broad and solid 
that two chariots could pass abreast on their summit. These 
defences had been developed by the accumulated additions of 
ages, all the most celebrated of the crusaders who had resided 
within the city having added something to the fortress. St. 
Louis of France, in particular, had incurred a very large outlay 
in his zeal to strengthen, as far as possible, this important 
stronghold, the last which the Christians possessed in the 
Holy Land. 

The grandeur of the town itself has been a fertile subject 
for the descriptive talents of contemporary historians. The 
streets, unlike those usually to be met with in the East, were 
vride and regular, the squares spacious, the public buildings 
imposing and grand, whilst the houses, which were built either of 
marble or of the finest cut stone, were constructed of equal height 
and with flat roofs, so that it was easy to pass from one end 
to the other without descending into the streets. They boasted, 
in every quarter of the town, of the luxury of glass windows, at 
that time still far from common in Europe, and they possessed 
the yet greater refinement of stained glass in the highest per- 
fection ; indeed, in this art they were far in advance of the 
nations of the West. Tradition revels in the picture which it 
draws of the splendour of all connected with this magnificent 
city. Silken canopies and awnings are said to have been 
stretched from side to side of the principal streets for protec- 
tion from the mid-day heat, shedding a rich and subdued 
light on all around. The wealth of the world seems to have 
oonoentrated itself on this highly-favoured spot, and to have 
drawn thither, in consequence, the representatives of almost 
every nation under the sim. 

Such a congregation of varied races, and such a constant 
stream of wealth flowing through its midst, naturally engendered 
a vicious mode of life, and we find the city in these, its last 


lOO A History of 

days of Chnstian dominion, a scene of reckless turbulenoe and 
unbridled debauohery. Drunkenness, prostitution, and other 
vices more Eastern in their character, and too odious to be 
particularized, stalked rampant through its streets, and the gaily- 
dressed and painted harlot of Acre was notorious throughout 
the neighbouring districts. It was thronged by the people of 
no less than seventeen countries, speaking different languages, 
and governed by different laws. Each race occupied a 
separate and distinct portion of the town, having no com- 
mimity of interests with one another, and rendering allegiance 
to no supreme head. Every species of vice and wickedness con- 
sequently flourished unchecked, and the general demoralization 
was such that the city had gradually become a perfect sink of 

Many acts of wanton outrage having been committed on the 
Moslems of the neighbourhood through the brigandage of some 
of its heterogeneous inhabitants, the sultan, Mansour, who was 
only waiting for a plausible excuse to complete the expidsion 
of the Christians from Syria, demanded instant reparation for 
these wrongs. The Grand-Masters of the military Orders both 
urged a prompt compliance with this request. It was, indeed, 
not only perfectly reasonable in itself, but also at the same time 
backed by the whole power of Egypt — a power which recent 
events had taught them they were utterly unable to resist. The 
advice was, however, rejected with scorn ; prudent counsels were 
stigmatized as cowardice ; an answer of defiance was returned, 
and ere long the inhabitants of Acre learned with dismay that 
the whole strength of the Egyptian empire was on its road to 
crush this, the last stronghold of Christianity. 

Mansour did not live to carry out the enterprise himself, 
having been poisoned by one of his generals whilst on the 
march to ^!cre. His son Khaled, however, stimulated by the 
last words of his father, who had directed that his body should 
not receive the rites of sepulture till after the capture of the city, 
determined to carry out the enterprise. He pushed forward his 
troops without delay, and ere long appeared before the walls 
with an army which the Arabian historians have computed 
at 160,000 foot and 60,000 horse. Undismayed by this enor- 
mous force, the military Orders, at the first sound of the infidel 

the Knights of Malta. i o i 

atabal, prepared to defend themBelves to the uttermost ; failing 
in which they were ready to follow the example of so many of 
their brethren, and perish in the effort. As the undisputed 
sovereignty of the seas was still theirs, they at once removed 
from the city and embarked for Cyprus the whole of the non- 
oombatant portion of the inhabitants, leaving as a garrison a 
strength of some 12,000 men, in addition to those who were 
serving under the banners of the Hospital and Temple. 

Heniy H., king of Cyprus, in whose person rested at this 
time the sovereignty of Jerusalem, on learning the straits 
to which this solitary remnant of his kingdom was reduced, 
landed at Acre with a reinforcement of 200 knights and 
500 men-at-arms. This was the sole auxiliary force upon which 
the garrison was enabled to rely in its resistance against 
the almost countless swarms by whom it was beleaguered. 
It was not a moment for ceremony in the choice of a leader. 
The daims of the king, whose reputation as a soldier was, to say 
the least, of a very doubtful character, were overlooked in favour 
of one whose experience in arms and military renown were of 
a far higher stamp, and William de Beaujeu, Grand-Master 
of the Temple, was unanimously selected for the onerous post. 
One of his first acts was to reject, with scornful indignation, 
the very munificent offers which were made to him by Khaled 
to tempt him to surrender the town. This magnanimity secured 
for him the perfect confidence of the garrison, who felt that 
whatever perils they might be called on to undergo from the 
scimitar of the foe, they had nothing to dread from treachery 
at home. 

The siege was pushed forward by the infidels with the 
greatest vigour, and the defence of the Christians was equally 
obstinate. Closer and closer were drawn the hostile trenches, 
and day after day saw their battalions encircling the city with a 
tighter grasp. The effusion of blood which marked the progress 
of the contest was fearful. Numerous sorties were made by the 
defenders, led on by the heroic Beaujeu, in which prodigies of 
valour were displayed, and the desperation with which they 
fought was marked by the piles of Saracen dead that lay 
strewn along the plain in the track of the Latin squadrons. In 
such an army, however, as that which fought under the banner 

102 A History of 

of Khaled, the slaughter of a few thousands, more or lees, could 
have but little efFect in cheeking his onset or averting his fell 
purpose. Steadily he pushed his approaches forward, step by 
step, until at length he was in a position to bring his battering 
rams into active play, whilst at the same time his miners were 
busily employed in burrowing beneath the towers by which the 
ramparts were danked. Successive crashes marked the downfall 
of one bulwark after another, yet still they struggled on with 
the most indomitable perseverance, and with a courage the 
heroism of which had in it something sublime. 

At last the Cursed Tower, one of the most important points in 
the defence of the fortress, shared the common fate, and opened 
a breach in the most vulnerable part of the ramparts. Henry 
of Cyprus, with his auxiliaries, had been stationed at this point, 
and he gallantly maintained the breach against every effort of 
the Moslem until night intervened to put a temporary stop to 
the strife. Then, however, perceiving that a renewal of the 
combat in the morning would place him in a desperate situation, 
and in all probability lead to his capture, if not death, he 
determined to abandon the defence and regain his ships. 
Desirous of concealing the step he was about to take, he alleged 
that the struggle of the day rendered a period of repose impera- 
tive to hifi force, and handed his post over to some Teutonic 
knights who were taking part in the siege, promising faithfully 
to relieve them in the morning. Instead of doing this he 
hurried with the remainder of his troops on board the fleet, 
which lay at anchor in the harbour, and under cover of the 
night set sail for Cyprus, abandoning the heroic remnant of the 
garrison to their fate. 

The next morning at daybreak the Saracens renewed the 
assault with greater determination than ever, but the Teutonic 
knights, who retained the post basely abandoned by Henry of 
Cyprus, presented an impassable barrier of steel to their onset. 
Throughout the day the combat raged fiercely around the 
deadly breach, until at length, towards evening, overborne by 
numbers and exhausted by their long protracted defence, the 
Grermans gave way, and the enemy, with loud shouts of exulta- 
tion, poured into the place. At this critical moment, when all 
appeared lost, Villiers, whose enthusiastic zeal always led him 

tJie Knights of Malta. 103 

nrhere the fight was thickest, comprehending at a glance the 
peril of the situation, directed his marshal to rush with the 
Hospitallers to the rescue. On they poured like a wave of 
steel, hurling itself with irresistihle force against the advancing 
Modems, who were streaming through the now defenceless 
breach. Never was the white cross of the Order displayed in 
deadlier fray; long and obstinate was the struggle, the one 
party striving to retain the advantage they had gained, the 
other equally eager to drive the foe back beyond the walls. 
At length the impetuous valour of the knights overcame every 
obstacle, and the Saracen, still struggling to the last, was once 
again hurled backward over the breach, and forced to retire 
discomfited to his intrenchments. 

This was the last transient gleam of success that illumined 
the Christian cause. Innumerable fresh battalions were still 
at the command of Ehaled, and these were poured in constant 
succession by their determined chief against the enfeebled 
and exhausted defenders of the town. Thrice on the following 
day was the city taken and as often regained by its daimtless 
garrison, yet the loss on each occasion was such as could ill be 
afforded, and it became more and more apparent that the place 
was doomed. Though each knightly warrior stood undismayed 
at his post, and trod the rampart firm in his resolve that the 
Moslem should cross it only over his lifeless body, it was 
evidently the energy of desperation, not that of hope. Beaujeu 
and the other leaders had no thought of surrender; still 
they felt that nothing short of a miracle could save them 
from destruction. What man could do to avert the blow they 
had done, and now there seemed to remain to them but one last 
duty, and that was to seal their devotion with their blood. 

At length the fatal morning dawned, the sun of which was 
to set upon the complete expulsion of the Latins from Syria, 
Early in the day the marshal of the Hospitallers, whose noble 
daring had more than once been the means of rescuing the 
city from impending capture, fell at the head of his knights 
whilst defending a breach which had been made practicable in 
the ramparts near the gate of St. Anthony. Dismayed at the 
loss of this gallant knight, Beaujeu turned to Villiers and 
requested him, as a last resource, to attempt a diversion by 

I04 A History of 

sallyiug out of the town and attacking the enemy's camp. 
He trusted in this manner to obtain a little respite, during 
which he might in some manner repair the ruin. There is no 
doubt that this order on his part was the means of saving the 
lives of Yilliers and those knights who accompanied him. At 
the moment, the service seemed one leading to certain death, and 
in that way it was regarded by those who nevertheless willingly 
undertook its performance. Hastily assembling a troop of 
white cross knights, and pointing out to them that the moment 
had arrived to sacrifice themselves for their religion, he sallied 
forth by a side gate, and made a circuit so as if possible to 
fall upon the flank of the enemy unperceived. Khaled 
was, however, too wary a general to allow himself to be thus 
taken by surprise. Yilliers found, on arrival at the intended 
point, that a strong force of cavalry was drawn up to 
receive him. All efforts to penetrate the serried mass in his 
front proved unavailing, and eventually he was driven back 
with the slender relics of his force, and compelled to try and 
re-enter the town. Meanwhile, the breach of St. Anthony 
had been ccuried, Beaujeu had been slain, and the town 
had fallen into the possession of the enemy. 

All was therefore lost, and nothing left but to endeavour 
to rescue such of his knights as had hitherto escaped the scimitar 
of the foe from the massacre, which was even now flooding the 
streets with blood. Betreating warily, he formed a rallying 
point for all those able to join him, and gradually reached the 
shore. Here he succeeded in embarking them on board the 
galleys which were lying at anchor in the roadstead. This 
was a very difficult operation, and was not carried out without 
severe loss. The enemy was held in check by the archers who, 
posted on the vessels' decks, kept up an incessant discharge 
of arrows upon the advancing squadrons. Under cover of 
these missiles the embarkation was at length completed, and 
thus the sad and slender relics of that proud fraternity, which 
had during so many years raised the white cross as a barrier 
impassable to the Moslem, were compelled to abandon the 
sacred soil of their adoption. 

Broken in spirit, and overpowered by an adverse destiny, they 
now, after two centuries of incessant warfare, found themselves 

the Knights of Malta. 105 

floating on tlie seas, a body of homeless wanderers, without an 
aim in view or a purpose to aooomplisL Sad fate was this for 
men who, in their own persons and in those of their predecessors, 
had done so much for their faith, and had gained such 
imperishable renown — ^a renown which the disastrous struggle 
now brought to such a fatal issue had done much to increase. 
Amidst the despairing shrieks of the captive inhabitants, and 
the ferocious shouts of exultation from the victorious Moslem, 
which were borne on the wings of the wind, they bade adieu to 
the land they had loved so well, and turning the prows of their 
galleys westward, they reluctantly wended their sorrowful way 
towards the island of Cyprus. 


Establishment of the Order in Cyprus — Its first naval armaments — Death 
of John de Yilliers and election of Odon de Pins — His monastic 
seclnsion Dissatisfaction of the Order — His death, and accession of 
"William de Villaret — Expedition into Palestine — Project for the 
capture of Rhodes — Preparations for that operation — Death of William 
de Villaret and accession of Fulk de Villaret — Capture of Rhodes — 
Destruction of the Order of the Temple. 

The slender and dispirited relics of the unfortunate garrison 
of Acjre found shelter in the island of Cyprus, where Henry de 
Lusignan, anxious to remove the stain cast upon his namlc) by 
his dastardly flight from the beleaguered city, welcomed them 
with open arms. The town of Limasol was accorded to them 
as a residence, and here the Hospitallers for the fourth time 
re-established their convent, and after a brief repose began 
making such arrangements for the re-orgadtzation of their 
body as the exigencies of the case seemed to require. 

An imperative order was at once issued for each grand-priory 
to despatch thither, without delay, all the. available members 
who might be residing within its limits. This injunction was 
obeyed with so much enthusiasm that before the expiration of 
many months the attenuated ranks of the fraternity at Limasol 
once more became augmented into something like their former 
numbers. Nor was it in men only that assistance poured in 
from Europe ; the ooflFers of every priory were drained to the 
utmost for the assistance of the general treasury, so that they 
were soon able once more to open their Hospital and to re-com- 
mence the exercise of those charitable duties which had been so 
rudely disturbed by the aggressions of the infidel. 

Although the Holy Land had now completely passed away 

A History of the Knights of Malta. 107 

from the power of the Christians, the number of pilgrims who 
still annually sought its shores remained undiminished; the 
duty, therefore, continued to devolve on the members of the 
Order of rendering such protection and escort on the road as 
lay within their means. For this purpose the galleys which 
had conveyed them from Acre were brought into requisition, 
and the brethren, driven from that sacred province to the 
protection of which they had so long devoted themselves, 
adopted a fresh career. On the new element which they had 
chofi^i, they soon succeeded in demonstrating to the Saracen 
foe that the flag of the Order was to be as much dreaded 
when waving over their galleys as it had been of yore in the 
van of their mailed squadrons. To the various ports of Italy 
and the Adriatic these new fleets wended their way in the 
months of March and August. They collected the grateful 
bands of wandering devotees at these various points of embark- 
ation, and escorted them safely through the perils of the Levant 
until they landed in Syria, whence, as soon as the cravings of 
their religious enthusiasm had been satisfied, the brethren 
accompanied them back to their respective destinations. 

Whilst thus employed, they not unfrequently encountered 
the hostile galleys of the infidel, which, scenting their prey 
from afar, were always to be found hovering round their 
would-be victims. These were not long in discovering that 
their old foe had lost none of his vigour, and was still as 
dauntless in enterprise as they had known him in past years. 
The numerous Turkish prizes which speedily graced the harbour 
of Cyprus were the first promising tokens of that maritime 
supremacy which was eventually to assert itself on the waters 
of the Mediterranean. Many of these captures proved to be 
extremely valuable, and in some cases individual knights had 
taken advantage of their position to secure for their own private 
use some of that wealth which should have found its way into 
the treasury of the Order. Discipline had, in truth, been rudely 
shaken by the disaster of Acre, and the sudden flash of prosperity 
which thus developed itself in this first commencement of a new 
career, seemed stiU further to loosen the bonds of due restraint. 
The very island in which the fraternity had established its 
convent bore amidst its balmy breezes the seeds of that 

io8 A History of 

voluptuousness whioli from the earliest ages had been its charao- 
teristic ; and the Hospitaller, returning from a suocessful cruise, 
and released from the restraint and privations of life on board 
his galley, sought to make amends for the toils he had under- 
gone by an outburst of luxurious dissipation. 

Two chapters-general were held by order of John de ViUiers, 
in which laws were passed to check this rising tendency to 
display and self-gratification. No knight was for the future 
to be allowed the possession of more than three horses, and 
all adornment of his equipments was once more strictly for- 
bidden. Stringent regulations were at the same time laid 
down respecting the debts left by a brother at his death, 
specifying the mode in which they were to be defrayed. From 
the fact that such a regulation as this was foimd necessary, 
it appears evident that there were numerous members of the 
fraternity, not content with spending the proceeds of their 
successful cruises in a manner little becoming those who had 
taken upon themselves the oaths of poverty and chastity, but 
who were also incurring the incubus of debts. It cannot be 
said that the rules framed on this subject by the council were 
well adapted to put an end to the practice, the regulation being 
that in case the household and personal properties of the knight 
were insufficient to liquidate his liabilities, the balance was to be 
defrayed out of the funds he had originally transferred to the 
Order on his admission. This decree must have pressed far more 
hardly on the treasury than on the individual. It must also 
have increased greatly the facilities for running into debt, as 
creditors would feel that they had undeniable security to fall 
back upon in case of a failure of the knight's assets. On the 
whole, however, the decrees passed by these two chapters had 
the desired effect of checking the excesses of the turbulent, and 
by degrees something approaching the old state of discipline 
and good order was once more established. 

During the remainder of the rule of John de Villiers, maritime 
expeditions continued without intermission, and the knights 
gradually curbed the power of the infidel in this branch of 
warfare to such an extent as to render the navigation of the 
Levant comparatively secure for the commerce of Europe. 
This was a boon which every nation could feel and appreciate, 

the Knights of Malta. 109 

more eepedallj those who, like the Venetians, owed their posi- 
tion in the scale of nations entirely to the extent of their 
trading transactions. Whilst the knights of St. John had been 
engaged in the defence of the Holy Land, their achievements, 
brilliant as they were, had been of but slender assistcmoe to the 
vast popxdations of Europe, and although religious enthusiasm 
had been much awakened by the tales of heroism and chivalry 
which were the theme of troubadour in hall and bower, still 
little permanent impression was left on the hearers' mind. 
Now, however, when in addition to the sacred cause of com* 
bating the infidel there was added the more tangible and 
personal benefit of protection to commerce, a cry of gratitude 
and warm admiration aioae on every side. 

The difference between the conduct of the Hospitaller and 
Templar was freely discussed, and paved the way for that over- 
throw of the latter Order which was even then dawning on the 
mind of Philip the Fair. They had both equally earned 
imperishable laurels by their gallant defence of Acre, and had 
both shared the same fate in their expidsion from Syria. But 
from the moment of turning their backs on that scene of 
strife, how different had been their conduct ! The Hospitaller, 
availing himself of the nearest point from which he could still 
carry on the objects so dear to him, had established himself 
almost within sight of those shores from which he had been 
driven. Unable any longer to compete with his foe on land, he 
had not hesitated to encounter him on a new element, and those 
Turkish rovers who had for so many years been the terror of 
the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, were taught to feel 
that the day had at length arrived when their supremacy 
diould be ended. Instead of the slave marts of Egypt being 
filled with captive Christian sailors, who had hitherto furnished 
the bulk of their supply, the tables were now suddenly turned, 
and the unfortunate Turk, tugging at his oar in one of the 
numerous galleys of the Hospital, had ample opportunities 
for reflecting upon the ill-chance which had brought these new 
and invincible foes across his path. 

The Templars, on the other hand, after a brief sojourn in 
Cyprus, instead of rendering the smallest assistance to their 
chivalric brethren in this new undertaking, hurried westward 

no A History of 

with unseemlj haste, where settling themselves in their 
various European preoeptories, they gave way to the most 
unbridled luxury. Their gross licentiousness, and the arro- 
gance of their bearing, soon drew down on them universal 
distrust and hatred, and there were not wanting those 
who possessed both power and will to accomplish their over- 
throw. These enemies only waited until public feeling had 
been sufficiently aroused to justify them in the steps they 
abeady contemplated taking. No doubt, during the last 
years of their existence, little can be said in favour of the 
Templars, and although the barbarous cruelty with which their 
extinction was accomplished has raised a feeling of compassion 
on their behalf, which to some extent effaces the memory 
of their misdeeds, it cannot be denied that they had of late 
years gravely deviated from the original design of their institu- 
tion. They seemed, therefore, to be no longer fit depositaries 
of that enormous wealth which had been bequeathed to them 
for purposes so different from those to which they had appro- 
priated it. 

In the year 1294, John de Villiers, who had greatly raised 
his Order in public estimation, died at his convent home in 
Cyprus. His place was filled by Odon de Pins, a knight of 
Provence of great age, more noted for piety of life than 
for military prowess. Had he been elected to the supremacy 
of a fraternity of monks, he would probably have proved 
a most edifying selection, but in the turbulent days in which 
his lot was cast, and with the fierce spirits under his charge, he 
proved a sad failure. Occupied in the peaceful duties of his 
convent and Hospital, he utterly neglected those other obliga- 
tions of his office which were more congenial to the tempera- 
ment of his subordinates, and which were absolutely necessary 
to keep in check the aggressive neighbours by whom he was 

Having lost their all at the abandonment of Acre, the 
fraternity was still burning to recruit its finances by a con- 
tinuation of those maritime forays which had been so success- 
fully commenced imder the auspices of Villiers. Whilst the 
galleys of the Turk, laden with the wealth of the East, were still 
to be found ploughing their way through the blue waters of the 

tJte Knights of Malta. 1 1 1 

Levant, and requiring but a few daring spirits to seize them for 
their own, it is not surprising that the inertness and monastio 
seclusion of Odon de Pins soon gave rise to murmurings on the 
part of the more active and restless members of the Order. 
Greater and greater became the dissatisfaction as time wore on, 
and the harbour of Cyprus no longer bore on its bosom those 
prizes which, in the time of his predecessor, had so often lain 
there in triumph. Utterly heedless of the increasing marks 
of discontent which showed themselves on all sides, Odon 
continued as regular as ever in his attendance on the religious 
duties of his profession, and as negligent as ever of its military 
obligations. At length, unable longer to submit to this 
enforced inactivity, the knights made a general appeal to the 
Pope for permission to depose their chief, enumerating the 
different causes for dissatisfaction to which they considered his 
conduct had justiy given rise. The Pope summoned Odon 
to appear before him in Rome, in order to decide in his 
presence as to the justice of the appeal. The Grand-Master, 
as an obedient son of the church, instantly prepared to obey 
the mandate, and set forth on his journey. He was never 
destined to accomplish his purpose, for having been seized with 
iUness on the road, he gradually sank under the disorder ; and 
death, whilst it put an end to his troubles, at the same time 
terminated all the disputes and disagreements of which he had 
been the cause. 

His successor was William de Yillaret, also a knight of 
Provence, who at the time of his election was grand-prior of 
St. GKlles, and at the moment residing in his priory. His 
brother Fulk was also a knight of St. John, and greatiy 
distinguished; so much so, that at the death of William, he 
was unanimously chosen to fill the vacancy; his sister Jour- 
dain was the superior of the convent of Hospitaller ladies at 
Queroy, so that « the family were destined, all of them, to 
attain the highest dignities possible in the fraternity. YiUaxet 
used no haste to quit France upon receiving the intel- 
ligence of his elevation, but availing himself of the autho- 
rity with which the appointment invested him, made a 
magisterial inspection of all the priories in that country, 
instituting the most searching reforms and eradicating many 

112 A History of 

pemioious abuses. Tliis done, he paid a flying visit to Eome 
to tender his respects to the Pope, after which he proceeded to 
Cyprus to assume the sway whidi had been delegated into his 

One of the earliest and most important acts of his rule was a 
descent upon Palestine, undertaken by the fraternity in alliance 
with Gtiyan, king of Persia. The accounts of this prince vary 
considerably, some writers having asserted that he was a 
Christian, others that he was a Mahometan, whilst there are not 
wanting those who state that he was a Pagan. Be this as it 
may, he was undoubtedly a. bitter enemy to the Saracens. He 
had therefore entered willingly into an alliance with the king 
of Cyprus, the Hospitallers, and the king of Armenia, with the 
view of securing the expulsion of his antagonists from the Holy 
Land. He was very desirous to restore the Christian kingdom 
of Jerusalem, which he considered would form an admirable 
barrier on the frontier of his dominions. The records of this 
expedition are few and very meagre, doubts having even been 
raised as to whether it ever really took place. Still sufficient 
testimony remains to show, not only that the Christians did 
actually once more make good their footing in the Holy Land, 
but that they even advanced as far as, and took possession of 
Jerusalem itself. The policy of the Saracens had, however, 
rendered this advance of no permanent avails They had taken 
the precaution of destroying the fortifications of every city 
within the limits of Palestine, the possession of which, there- 
fore, must eventually remain with the power which could 
maintain the strongest force in the field. Accordingly we find 
that the Hospitallers, having once more gladdened their eyes 
with the sight of those holy places so familiar to their memory, 
were obliged to retire in face of the superior force which the 
Saracens brought against them ; their ally, Gayan, having been 
suddenly called away in the midst of the campaign to quell a 
rebellion in his own dominions. 

Thus driven from Palestine, and yet eager to bestir himself 
in the interests of his Order, the mind of Villaret gradually 
became impressed with the desire to obtain for them a new and 
more permanent home than that which had been accorded to 
them in Cyprus. He looked for a settlement in a spot where 

the Knights of Malta. 1 1 3 

they should be enabled to consider themselyes as lords, and 
not merely tolerated as guests, somewhat unwelcome ones into 
the bargain, which was the position they had of late been com- 
pelled to accept. Yarious causes of discord had gradually arisen 
during their residence in Cyprus; oppressive taxes and other 
exactions had been imposed upon them, payment of which had 
been rigidly enforced, despite the earnest remonstrances of the 
Pope. It seemed, therefore, but natural that Villaret should 
desire to change their home to some more hospitable locality, 
and to obtain for his name a lasting renown by regaining for 
his Order a position of dignity more in accordance with that 
which hitherto it had always occupied. 

For this purpose he turned his eyes in the direction of 
Bhodes, a spot which appeared in every way adapted to the 
purpose he had at heart. This island had originally formed a 
dependence of the empire of Constantinople. At the time when 
that kingdom fell under the power of the Latin crusaders, it 
became the prey of the Genoese, in whose possession it continued 
until Vatiens, one of the most politic and gifted princes of his 
age, succeeded in expelling the intruders, and restoring it to 
the empire from which it had been torn. Qradually, however, 
its governors established themselves as independent princes in 
the island. In order to make good their pretensions against the 
emperor, they opened their ports to all the Turkish and Saracen 
merchants who chose to make it their home, and the corsairs 
who ravaged the Mediterranean were always sure of a hearty 
welcome and a safe shelter within its harbours. To repel this 
noxious swarm and to destroy their nest would of itself be an 
act reflecting great credit on Villaret; whilst to erect in its 
place a stronghold which should be a terror to the infidel and a 
support to the commerce of Europe, was an object worthy the 
chivalric mind which conceived it, and certain to evoke the 
deepest gratitude of Christendom. 

Impressed with these views, Villaret determined to carry out 
a secret but thorough reconnoissance of the island. He was 
making all the necessary arrangements for this duty when, in 
conjunction with the Grand- Master of the Temple, he received a 
summons to repair to Rome, ostensibly for the purpose of a con- 
ference as to the feasibility of a new Crusade. This, however, 


114 -^ History of 

was only a subterfuge on the part of the Pope to conceal the 
real designs he had in view, and of which more will be told 
further on. The Qxand-Master of the Templars obeyed the 
summons free of suspicion and without loss of time ; but 
Yillaret excused himself from the journey on the plea of the 
urgent business in which he was then engaged. He was, 
indeed, at that moment on the eve of starting from Cyprus, 
burning with anxiety to obtain the most accurate information 
on all points which could guide him in the prosecution of his 

He coasted cautiously roimd the island, marking well its 
various points of defence, as also those which seemed to him the 
most Tulnerable, the positions of the harbours, the sites of the 
towns, and as far as he could ascertain, the number of their 
respective inhabitants. By the time he had concluded his 
survey, it was made very clear to him that the undertaking was 
one of no ordinary magnitude, and that Eihodes possessed the 
most formidable means of defence if its inhabitants knew how to 
avail themselves skilfully of their advantages. Undeterred by 
the discovery of these difficulties, he returned to Cyprus, fully 
resolved on at once organizing an expedition for the seizure of 
the island. Unfortunately, however, in the midst of his pre- 
parations a sudden and violent illness carried him o£P, and post- 
poned for a while the execution of the project which he had 
had so much at heart. 

This event occurred in the year 1308, and was the source of 
the m»st lively regret on the part of the Order, by whom he 
was much beloved. They at once elected his brother Fulk in 
his place, conceiving, with great justice, that as the latter had 
always been in his confidence, he would prove the best-fitted 
person to carry out the grand design of William. The first 
act of Fulk, on assmning the reins of office, was to proceed to 
France, in order to procure an audience with Clement V. and 
Philip the Fair, from both of whom he hoped to obtain assist- 
ance in his project. He found the two potentates in dose and 
secret conclave at Poictiers, in company with James de Molay, 
the unfortunate Grand-Master of the Temple, who had arrived 
there during the preceding year, in profound ignorance of the 
cruel plot then forming against himself and his fraternity. 

the Knights of Malta. 1 1 5 

Villaret lost no time in submitting his scheme to both Pope 
and king, pointing out the many advantages which the 
acquisition of Ehodes by the Order of St. John would confer 
upon Europe. Clement, with a very natural ambition that 
his papacy should be marked by an event so important to 
Christendom, entered warmly into the scheme. Not content 
with contributing a large sum of money from his own private 
resources, he used his utmost influence to obtain for Villaret such 
assistance, both in men and money, as his papal authority 
could extract from the various nations which acknowledged 
his supremacy. 

In order to prevent the secret of the enterprise from trans- 
piring, a new Crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land 
was preached, backed by the promise of plenary indulgence 
to those who should either join the expedition or contribute 
funds for its support. To the Ghrand-Master he gave the 
right of nomination to the archbishopric of Ehodes, in the 
event of his success warranting the creation of such a dignity. 
Large numbers of enthusiasts responded eagerly to the appeal, 
and flocked to Brundusium, which had been selected as the 
rendezvous at which they were to embark. Villaret found 
that he had not means of transport for one-third of those 
who proposed to accompany him, most of whom were only a 
disorderly throng, more likely to prove an impediment than 
an assistance in his projected enterprise. Selecting, therefore, 
only the flower of this host of volunteers, he embarked them 
on board the galleys which had been furnished expressly for the 
expedition as the joint contribution of the king of Sicily and 
the republic of Genoa. 

Villaret was a man of very haughty and reserved character, 
and not one to submit with impunity to the cross-examination 
of his subordinates. In his control lay the chief command 
and direction of the expedition, and the known peculiarities 
of his disposition aided him materially in preserving within 
his own breast the secret of its destination. Passing Ehodes 
at some little distance, so as to avoid awakening the suspicions 
of its inhabitants, he proceeded to Cyprus, where he embarked 
such members of the Order as had remained there during his 
absence in Europe. He thence proceeded in a north-easterly 


ii6 A History of 

direction, and leaving Syria on his right, entered a port in 
Asia Minor. All were now eager to learn their destination, 
but Fulk continued impenetrable in his reserve. To the 
members of his own Order only did he imfold his design, 
with the strictest injunctions to secrecy, for from them he 
felt sure not only of cheerful, but enthusiastic support. To 
the remainder of his force he still maintained the fiction of 
a Crusade, with the prospect of which it was his intention to 
blind them until the proper moment had arrived for throwing 
off the mask. 

His immediate object in thus putting into port was the 
sending of an embassy to Constantinople, to demand from the 
emperor the sovereignty of Ehodes, as soon as he should have 
achieved its conquest, promising to furnish an annual con- 
tribution to the Gh:^ek empire both of men and money, 
should his request be granted. The authority of the emperor 
over Ehodes was at that tinie purely nominal, the reality 
having long since slipped from his grasp; still he decUned 
to accede to this proposal. It is not improbable that he 
thought he would retain a better prospect of regaining pos- 
session of the island whilst it remained in the hands of the 
Saracen pirates, than could possibly be the case were it 
once to become the stronghold of the Order of St. John. 
This refusal on the part of the emperor having been fully 
anticipated by Fulk, had but little weight in dissuading him 
from his task, on the prompt execution of which he was more 
than ever intent. Whilst awaiting the answer from Constan- 
tinople, he had despatched spies into Rhodes with the view of 
obtaining really accurate information with respect to the island. 
These spies had returned with such* glowing accoimts of its 
wealth and fertility, the beauty of its towns, the verdure of 
its fields, and the commodiousness of its harbours, that his im- 
patient spirit yearned to hold within his grasp the possession 
of so lovely a spot. 

Once more embarking his forces, he now at length revealed 
to them what he proposed as their real destination. The island 
was speedily sighted, and without allowing the inhabitants time 
to recover from the surprise and panic into which the sudden 
apparition of his fleet had thrown them, he made a descent 

the Knights of Malta. 1 1 7 

upon the ooast, and after a slender and desultoiy resistance 
on their part, effected his landing. By this prompt measure 
the open oountrj fell, to a great extent, into his hands. Still, as 
the town of Rhodes remained in the possession of the Saracens, 
this oocupation availed him but little, and it was easy to see 
that the most difficult part of his task remained undone so 
long as the banner of the crescent continued to wave over its 
ramparts. Hoping by a bold stroke to achieve a complete 
victory at once, he attempted to carry the town by storm, but 
in vain ; the nimiber and valour of the garrison, aided by the 
strength of the defences behind which they were fighting, more 
than counterbalanced the impetuous energy of the invaders, 
backed though they were by the veterans of the Hospital, and 
led on by the daring ViUaret himself. 

Many of the Saracens had, during the first moments of panic, 
embarked on board their galleys and put to sea. These, after a 
time, seeing that all was not lost, as they had at first imagined, 
returned to port and once again landed, thus aiding to swell the 
strength of the garrison. The emperor of Constantinople, also, 
as soon as he learnt that a descent on Bhodes had actually 
been effected, despatched an auxiliary force to assist in expel- 
ling the invaders. He entertained a hope that after he 
had defeated the intruders, he might probably succeed in 
regaining possession of the island for himself. Whilst these 
augmentations in the number of his foes were taking place, 
ViUaret was doomed to witness a rapid diminution in the 
strength of his own forces. Many of the gallant spirits who in 
a moment of. enthusiasm had joined the Crusade under the idea 
that its object was the expulsion of the Saracen from Palestine 
and the restoration of the kingdom of Jerusalem, found their 
ardour sensibly abating when they discovered that they were 
being called on to fight, not for the sacred object which had 
for centuries been an. incentive to the valour of Europe, but 
for the private advantage of an Order which, notwithstanding 
the numerous benefits it was daily conferring on Christendom, 
was by many regarded with jealousy and suspicion, if not 
with actual dislike. One by one these disappointed crusaders 
abandoned the enterprise, and stole away from the scene of a 
strife which was daily becoming more and more unpromising. 

1 1 8 A History of 

Eventually Villaret found himjself abandoned by all, except 
the members of his own fraternity, who, having staked every- 
thing on the cast, had determined to stand with him the hazard 
of the die. 

Under these adverse circumstances all further attempts at the 
capture of the city were for the moment out of the question, and 
it was not long before Villaret found himself surroimded by the 
enemy, and in a state of siege within the limits of his own camp. 
Aroused by the audacity of this league of Greeks and Saracens, 
Villaret assembled all that yet remained to him of the invading 
army, and, after a brief and spirited harangue, he led them 
forth to the assault. The position wcw certainly very desperate, 
and he determined either to clear the coimtry of the enemy, 
or sacrifice the slender remains of his force in the attempt. 
The struggle was long and obstinate, and the loss of the 
Hospitallers such as in their weakened state they could but ill 
afford. Desperation at length inclined the balance in their 
favour, and ere that evening's sun had set, Villaret had the 
satisfaction of standing undisputed master of the field, and of 
witnessing the complete dispersion of the numerous battalions 
by which he had been surroimded. 

The routed Greeks and Saracens, under cover of night, 
flimg themselves into their galleys, and crossing over to the 
mainland, spread throughout the province of Lycia the in- 
telligence of their utter defeat. Meanwhile Villaret, having 
re-assembled the proud relics of his force, returned once more 
to his attempts upon the city. Finding himself far too 
enfeebled to achieve its capture by assault, he changed his 
tactics, and converted his attack into a blockade, determining 
to await the arrival of reinforcements from Europe before 
proceeding to more active measures. His steady perseverance 
and indomitable energy carried him triumphantly through the 
difficulties of the crisis. He succeeded in obtaining a large siun 
of money by way of loan from the Florentine bankers upon the 
security of the revenues of his Order, which he had no hesita- 
tion in pledging for the purpose ; a security which at that time 
could hardly have been considered a very safe one, and which 
must have required no little financial talent on his part to render 
marketable. Provided thus with the sinews of war, he was not 

the Knights of Malta. 1 1 9 

long in assembling beneath his banner a considerable number of 
those mercenary troops whose services were always to be pur- 
chased by a good paymaster. 

Finding his strength now once more restored to a state that 
would warrant active measures, and trusting that the garrison, 
cooped up for so long within the walls of the town, would be 
disheartened by the wearisome blockade to which it had been 
subjected, he determined again to deliver an assault. This he 
did on the 6th of August, 1310, and with complete success. 
Before nightfall on that day the white cross banner of the 
Hospital was waving over the ramparts of Ehodes, and the 
remnant of the nest of pirates who escaped the exterminating 
sword of the invader, had fled in confusion to the shores of 

No authentic records of this struggle now exist or appear 
ever to have come to the aid of the historian of the epoch, 
the only accoimt of its incidents having been the somewhat 
apocryphal details to be gathered from a set of tapestry hang- 
ings commemorating the events of the siege, which for many 
years decorated the palace of the Grand-Master in the convent 
at Ehodes. Some of the older historians, in the dearth of more 
accurate records, have invented a fable which would infer that 
the town was captured by stratagem. Their story runs that on a 
dark and foggy day some of the knights covered themselves 
wiili sheep's skins, and joining a flock of sheep which was 
returning into the city, they entered in its midst unperceived. 
Once arrived at the principal gate they seized it and admitted 
their confreres. Without attaching any importance to this 
fable, which is repeated merely as an example of the inventive 
powers of some of the old historians, it is no doubt probable 
that some stratagem was successfully practised by which the city 
did fall into tlieir hands. Nothing, however, is really known, 
as all accurate details are wanting. It has been presumed, 
and probably with reason, that an extensive fire, which nearly 
destroyed the convent during the first century of the residence 
of the Order in the island, may have consumed such documentary 
details of the siege as were likely to have been retained amongst 
the public archives. 

The name of Bhodes is supposed to have been derived from 

I20 .A History of 

the roses, for which the island was famous. It had previously 
been called by the Ghreeks Orphieuse, or the island of serpents, 
owing to the number of venomous reptiles with which it was in 
those days infested. Possessing a mild and equable climate, 
which, while far removed from the scorching heat of the tropics, 
was at the same time free from the chilling blasts of more 
northern latitudes, with a soil of such fertility as to render the 
whole island one vast garden, broken into alternate masses of 
hill and dale, of which the rich and varied undulations were 
clothed with the most brilliant verdure, it was indeed a spot 
likely to attract the attention and excite the desires of a body of 
men who, like the Hospitallers, were in search of a permanent 
home. The following description of the ancient Rhodes is taken 
from Newton's " Travels in the Levant " : — 

" Founded b.c. 408, and laid out by the same great architect, 
Hippodanus, who built the Piraeus, Ehodes was probably one 
of the earliest of the Hellenic cities of which the plan was 
designed by one master mind. Hence that symmetry in the 
arrangement of the city which the rhetorician Aristides, writing 
in the second century a.d., describes in a well-known passage. 
Bhodes, he says, was built in the form of an amphitheatre; the 
temples and public buildings were grouped together so as to 
form one composition, of which the several parts balanced each 
other as in the design of a single edifice. The whole was 
encompassed by a wall, which, with its stately towers and battle- 
ments, he compares to a crown. Thetemples and other public 
buildings were adorned with celebrated works in painting and 
sculpture, and according to Pliny the city contained no less than 
3,000 statues, of which 100 were of colossal size. The maritime 
greatness of Rhodes was due not only to its geographical 
position, but also to the convenience of its harbours and to 
the perfect equipment of the dockyards and arsenal, which from 
Strabo's description occupied a large space in relation to the rest 
of the city, and like those of Carthage and Halicamassus were 
probably screened from observation by high walls and roofs. 
Any curious interloper found within these forbidden precincts 
at Rhodes or at Carthage was liable to the punishment of death. 
Aristides, in describing the harbours, specially praises their 
convenience in reference to the prevailing winds. They are so 

the Knights of Malta, 121 

xliBposed, he sajs, as if for the express purpose of receiving the 
ships of Ionia, Caria, Cyprus, and Egypt. Towering above these 
harbours stood the famous bronze Colossus, which from its 
position on the shore was probably intended to serve as a sea 
mark and a lighthouse. So vast a surface of polished metal 
reflecting the bright sky of Rhodes must have been visible from 
a great distance at sea, and must have been to the Brhodian 
mariner an object as familiar as the statue of Athene Fromachos 
was to those who sailed past the Attic Sunium/' 

During the ages of her early civilization the hardy population 
of Rhodes furnished a constant supply of seamen, who in the 
pursuit of commerce were to be met with at every point in the 
Mediterranean, and whose skill and energy raised the reputation 
of their island to a very high pitch amongst the commonwealths 
of Europe. When in later years Rhodes fell under the control 
of the effete empire of Constantinople, it gradually became, inocu- 
lated with the same vices and the same decay which were slowly 
but steadily effecting the overthrow of the mother country. At 
the time when the knights raised their banner in the island its 
inhabitants had lost all that energy and strength of character 
which of old distinguished them, and had bowed in abject sub- 
mission under the yoke of the Saracen pirates whom they had 
received within their ports. 

Villaret's first act, after having secured possession of the town 
was to embark on board the fleet, with a large portion of his 
forces, for the purpose of visiting the various small islands in 
the vicinity. By this means he speedily enforced submission 
to his authority in the islands of Nisyrus, Leros, Calamos, 
Episcopia or Telos, Calchos, Symia, and Cos, in none of which 
did he meet with any serious opposition. At Cos he deter- 
mined to establish as soon as possible a subsidiary fortress, 
perceiving its importance as a point of support. Having 
completed these precautionary measures for the protection of 
his new acquisition, Villaret returned to Rhodes in order to 
take the necessary steps to establish his convent there. 
From the time of the first landing of the Hospitallers 
until their final settlement in undisputed sovereignty over 
that and the neighbouring islands, a period of nearly four 
years had elapsed, the whole of which had been passed in 

122 A History of 

a oonstant succession of struggles. While these events were 
occupying the energies and engrossing the attention of the 
knights of St. John, changes of the most yital importance had 
been taking place in Europe, by which their future fortunes 
were greatly affected, and to which it will be necessary now 
to refer. 

At the death of Pope Benedict XI., the conclave of cardinals 
assembled to elect his successor f oimd themselves divided into 
two factions, which might be distinguished as French and 
Italian. Fortunately for the interests of Philip the Fair of 
France, the leader of the French party was Cardinal Dupr^, 
a consummate politician, and one well versed in the intrigues 
of a court. Perceiving that his party was not sufficiently 
numerous to carry the election of a French nominee, and trusting 
that he might meet the views of his monarch in a different 
way, he, on behalf of his French colleagues, suggested to the 
adverse faction that he would leave to them the nomination of 
three candidates for the post, provided they would consent to 
the election of whichever one of the three he might select. 
The Italians, perceiving that by putting forward three of their 
own side as candidates, they coidd insure the election, acceded 
at once to the proposal, and submitted the names of three 
rampant Ultramontanes for Dupre's choice. Amongst thece was 
Bertrand de Got, archbishop of Bordeaux, a man of imprineipled 
character, loose morality, and overweening ambition. Dupr^ 
conceived that Philip might, if he acted judiciously, find a 
willing tool in the person of this prelate, although at that 
moment he was an open and avowed enemy. He therefore 
despatched a secret messenger to the king, informing him 
of the decision at which the cardinals had arrived, and that 
the nomination of the archbishop of Bordeaux lay within the 
power of the French party. Philip at once wrote to Bertrand, 
appointing a secret rendezvous, with a view to his acceptance of 
certain most advantageous offers. The result of this clandestine 
interview was that the king undertook to procure his nomination 
to the chair of St. Peter, he, on his side, pledging himself to 
cany out the views of the former on all matters relating to church 
government in France. It is generally supposed that one of 
the clauses of this secret treaty related to the Order of the 

the Knights of Malta. 1 2 3 

Temple, and that by it the expectant Pope pledged himself to 
exercise the whole authority of his new position, to support the 
king in effecting the speedy and complete destruction of that 
fraternity. Between the Templars and Philip a bitter hatred 
had gradually been engendered, much fostered by the numerous 
acts of arrogance and insubordination of which its members 
had been so frequently guilty. 

In order to carry out this design, Bertrand, as soon as he had 
been elected to the Papacy, under the title of Clement V., 
prepared to take the first step towards their annihilation by 
securing the person of the Ghrand-Master, James de Molay. For 
this purpose he wrote, as we have already seen, to the chiefs of 
both Orders, requiring their immediate presence at Lyons, where 
his court was at that time established. The ostensible purpose 
for which the summons was issued was to deliberate as to the 
propriety of organizing a new Crusade. John de Villiers 
declined obeying the mandate, not from any suspicion of 
treachery or danger, but because he was at the moment deeply 
engaged in his designs upon Ehodes. James de Molay, who 
was really the person Clement desired to entrap, most unfor- 
tunately for himself and his Order, proved more obedient, and 
lost no time in repairing to France, where he arrived in the 
early part of the yeax 1307. He took with him a large accu- 
mulation of treasure, the property of the fraternity, which, for 
greater security, he lodged in the Temple at Paris. He was at 
first treated with every consideration by both king and pontiff. 
Yarious discussions took place between Clement and himself, 
both as to the advisability of a new Crusade and also as to a 
projected union of the two Orders. Indeed, Clement was so 
urgent on this latter point that it seems not unlikely he trusted 
by some such amalgamation, in which the Templars nught lose 
all individuality, and become merged in the Order of St. John, 
to avoid proceeding to those extremities against them which 
the ruthless Philip contemplated, and to the execution of which 
he stood pledged by his promises to that monarch. Be this as 
it may, Molay strenuously opposed the suggestion, and in a 
lengthy document which history has preserved, he adduced 
numerous arguments to support his antagonism to the measure. 
From this moment his fate was sealed. If the Pope made 

124 .A History of 

his proposal as a oompromise, whereby the lives and property of 
the Order were to be preserved, the refusal of Molay prevented 
its success, and thenceforward he determined to let matters take 
their course. 

The pear was now ripe. The moment had arrived for which 
Philip had so long and so steadily plotted, and the fatal blow 
was to be no longer delayed. Secret orders were issued to the 
judicial authorities in every province of France, directing them 
simultaneously to set on foot a complete and speedy survey of all 
the Temple preceptories within their respective districts. They 
were to make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the num- 
ber and persons of all knights resident therein, and on October 
13th these were to be all surprised and taken prisoners. An 
inquiry under the Inquisition was to be afterwards instituted, 
the application of torture being authorized in order to extort 
such confessions from the unfortunate captives as might justify 
the proceedings which were being taken against them. 

These instructions were faithfully carried into efPect. On 
the appointed day every Templar then within the limits of the 
French dominions was seized, and either cast into a dungeon or 
placed in close confinement within his own preceptory. The 
principal witnesses by whom the accusations brought against 
the Order were to be substantiated consisted of two reprobates, 
both under sentence of perpetual imprisonment ; one of them, 
Nosso de Florentin, an apostate Templar, and the other, Squire 
de Florian, a citizen of Beziers. Both of these worthies had 
been confined in the same dimgeon, where they had found 
ample time, during their hours of enforced idleness, to concoct 
their charges. These proved to be of so extravagant a nature 
that it required the full amount of ignorance prevalent in those 
days to render them credible. Absurd and maliciously false 
as they most palpably were, the inventors trusted to be enabled, 
by their means, to purchase liberation from the punishment 
which their own heinous crimes had justly brought down upon 

These charges, which were afterwards framed into a regular 
act of inquisition, embraced no less than seventy-seven different 
items. The first thirteen imputed to the fraternity a total dis- 
belief in God, our Saviour, the crucifixion, the blessed Virgin 

the Knights of Malta. 125 

and the other saints ; it was therein also alleged that they per- 
formed divers acts of sacrilege, such as spitting and trampling 
upon the cross and the image of our Saviour. Two articles 
accused them of worshipping a cat as a mark of contempt for 
the Christian religion. Then followed eight items accusing 
them of a repudiation of the sacraments of the church. Six 
more recorded their belief in the power of the superiors of the 
Order to grant absolution. Then followed six others, imputing 
to the fraternity a number of acts during the reception of 
novices which cannot be further alluded to. Three more 
made it a crime that the reception was performed in secrecy. 
Abominations, too disgusting to be named, were the subject of 
the next seven, after which came twenty-one more, accusing 
them of the worship of idols, and the remaining articles related 
to matters of heretical depravity. The idol alluded to as an 
object of worship was described as having two carbimcles for 
eyes, " bright as the brightness of heaven," and as being 
covered with an old skin embalmed, having the appearance of 
a piece of polished oil cloth. In their rites and ceremonies to 
this attractive object of worship they were supposed to roast 
infants, and to lubricate their idol with the fat. It was also 
said that they burned the bodies of their deceased brethren, and 
made the ashes into a powder, which they administered to 
the novices of the fraternity, to confirm them in their idolatry, 
together with other abominations too absurd and horrible to be 

On the 19th October, 1307, the Gh-and Inquisitor com- 
menced his examination of the knights confined within the 
Temple at Paris, whose nimiber amounted to 140. These im- 
fortimate men were, one after the other, subjected to the most 
fearful tortures under the practised hands of the Dominicans, 
at that time justly esteemed the most expert torturers of 
the age. 

Whilst these revolting barbarities were being perpetrated 
in Prance, Philip had written to Edward II., who had just 
ascended the throne of England, enumerating the various 
accusations then being brought against the Order, and urging 
upon that monarch the advisability of his following the 
same line of conduct. To this letter Edward sent a reply, 

126 A History of 

the tone of which shewed a strong disbeKef in the impu- 
tations cast upon the Templars. He distinctly refused to 
take any active measures in the matter without a strict pre- 
liminary inquiry. It may be assumed that the result of this 
investigation was favourable to the accused, since we find 
Edward writing to the kings of Aragon, Castile, Portugal, and 
Sicily, on the 4th of December in the same year, requesting 
them to pay no attention to the accusations then being brought 
against the fraternity. He at the same time wrote to the Pope, 
stating his conviction that these rumours of foul and discredit- 
able practices were utterly without foundation. UnfortTmately 
for the Templars, the Pope had just addressed a bull to Edward, 
dated the 22nd of November, which must have reached him 
within a few days after he had despatched his own letter. 
In this document his Holiness reiterated all the accusations 
that had been previously brought forward, and which, he 
asserted, were confirmed by the confessions extorted from the 
knights who were prisoners in France. He therefore directed 
Edward, in that tone of arrogant superiority with which the 
pontiffs in those days were wont to address the monarchs of 
Europe, to cause all the Templars in his dominions to be taken 
into immediate custody, and their property to be lodged in the 
hands of trustees, that it might be held in safety until he should 
send further instructions on the subject. 

Whether this bull had really the effect of convincing Edward 
of the justice of the accusations, or whether he felt himself 
unable to cope with his ecclesiastical superior, or, again, 
whether he foresaw, in the impending dissolution of the Order, 
a prospect of securing for himself or for some of his unworthy 
favourites a goodly slice of that fair patrimony which the 
Templars had so long enjoyed within his dominions, and whose 
broad acres seemed now likely to fall a prey to the strongest 
arm, whichever of these reasons influenced the king, it is very 
certain, that in obedience to the orders of the Pope, all the 
brethren in England, save such as were fortimate enough to 
elude the grasp of the law, were seized within their preceptories 
on the 8th of January, 1308. Kie number thus made prisoners 
amounted to 229. It will not be necessary to enter into any 
details of the proceedings which were carried on in the two 

the Knights of Malta, 127 

oountries, the accusatioiis b^mg practically the same, and the 
result not very dissiniilar. Whilst, however, the examinations 
of the prisoners were prosecuted in England with comparatively 
Kttle cruelty, those undergone by the unfortunate victims of 
Philip's malevolence were coupled with every species of torture 
which the diabolical ingenuity of the Dominicans could devise. 
A large number perished under the hands of the questioners, 
and many more sought a temporary relief from their agonies 
by confessions which admitted the justice of the accusations 
brought against them. 

There still remained steadfast an heroic band, whose powers 
of endurance had enabled them to survive the tortures under 
which their weaker brethren had succumbed, and the constancy 
of whose courage had carried them through even that fearful 
trial, and had given them the power manfully and firmly to 
maintain their innocence to the last. Of these noble examples 
of the true Christian soldier, fifty-four were burnt alive in 
Paris in a single day. They died, testifying to the last to the 
fair fame of their Order, and the fearful injustice of the 
persecution to which they had fallen victims. 

It was at length determined, between the Pope and the king, 
that matters should be brought to a close ; a solemn coimcil 
was therefore convoked in the winter of 1311, to decide upon 
the ultimate.f ate of the fraternity. The members of this council, 
ecclesiastics though they were, and antagonistic as they had 
so often proved themselves to the Templars, shrank, when the 
critical moment arrived, from the task of utterly annihilating 
an Order which for so many years had, by its noble deeds in the 
Christian cause, gained for itself the applause of every gallant 
spirit throughout Europe. Neither Philip nor Clement was to 
be turned from his fell purpose by the reluctance of a council 
of scrupulous ecclesiastics. The latter, in virtue of that plenary 
authority to which his position entitled him, decreed, on his own 
responsibility, and without even the form of sanction from the 
council, the utter and immediate suppression of the fraternity. 
After much discussion, and a variety of counter propositions, 
it was decided that all the estates of the Templars throughout 
Europe were to be transferred to the knights of St. John, the 
revenues arising therefrom to be consecrated to the defence of 

1^8 A History of 

the Holy Land, and of the pilgrims who still continued annually 
to seek its shores. 

The concluding act of the bloody drama remained yet to be 
performed. The Grand-Master and the three grand-priors of 
Normandy, France, and Aquitaine still languished within the 
dungeons of their persecutor. The extremity of the torture to 
which they had been subjected had elicited from each of these 
dignitaries a partial confession of some of the absurd accusations 
brought against them, and it was deemed advisable, in order to 
justify the atrocious cruelties and the scandalous spoliation of 
which the fraternity had been the victims, that these confessions 
should be reiterated with the utmost publicity by the unfor- 
timate knights. For this purpose a scaffold was erected in front 
of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, and on the 18th of 
March, 1313, the citizens were summoned to hear the confessions 
of these, the four principal officers of the Order, read aloud and 
confirmed by themselves. As soon as the prisoners had taken 
their places on the scaffold the bishop of Alba, after a violent 
harangue, in which he recapitulated the principal accusations 
that had been brought against the Templars, read aloud the 
contents of a document purporting to be an admission of their 
guUt on the part of the Grand-Master and his three confrhres. 
When called upon to confirm these confessions, the priors of 
France and Aquitaine admitted the truth of the statements, and 
by this act of cowardice on their part purchtised an ignominious 
reprieve of their doom. James de Molay, however, advancing 
to the edge of the scaffold, repudiated in a loud tone of voice 
his previous admissions. He announced to the assembled mul- 
titude that not only had they been originally extorted from him 
in a moment of weakness under the agony of torture, but further 
that they had been distorted and interpolated in a most scan- 
dalous and barefaced manner by the inquisitors before whom 
the examinations had been conducted, and who, he stated, 
deserved the death to which Saracens condemn those who have 
been convicted of lying and forgery. The prior of Normandy 
commenced to make a similar recantation, but the authorities 
hurriedly brought his address to a close, and the two recusants 
were taken back to their prison. The indignation of Philip waa 
unboimded at this unexpected result of a proceeding by which 

the Knights of Malta. 129 

he had oontempkLted a complete justification for the severity of 
his previous persecutions, and he determined to wreak a fearful 
vengeance on the authors of his disappointment. Without the 
delay of an hour the fiat for their instant execution was issued, 
and on that same evening James de Molay and his fellow- victim 
(juy, the prior of Normandy, were both burnt before a slow 
fire on a small island in the river Seine. The spot where this 
tragedy took place is now marked by the erection of the 
equestrian statue of Henry IV. 

The promulgation of the papal mandate announcing the 
extinction of the Order of the Temple had been followed by a 
bull carrying out the decision of the council, before mentioned, 
namely, that its property should be transferred to the knights 
of St. John. For a considerable time this mandate remained 
a complete nullity ; eventually a small portion of the forfeited 
revenues did find its way into the treasury of the Hospitallers. 
In CaLstile, Aragon, and Portugal the respective monarchs 
created new military Orders, taking for themselves the position 
of Grrand-Masters under the title of perpetual administrators. 
The ostensible purpose of these new establishments was the 
provision of a barrier to repel the inroads of the Moors, the real 
motive being that by this means they retained all the property of 
the defunct fraternity in their own hands. In France Philip laid 
claim to the sum of 200,000 livres as a reimbursement of the 
money which the prosecution of the Templars had cost him, and 
his son extorted a further sum of 60,000 livres before he could 
be brought to permit the transfer of the much-coveted lands to 
the Hospitallers. In England the overthrow of the brotherhood 
was followed by a general scramble for the good things thus left 
without an owner. Much was seized by Edward for himself ; 
more was transferred to favourites about the court, whilst in other 
cases claims were put in by the heirs of the original donors 
which were acceded to. The Pope, indignant at this secular 
appropriation of so much ecclesiastical property, wrote most 
urgently and menacingly upon the subject. Ultimately the 
dread of papal fulminations led to the enactment of a bill in 
parliament in the year 1324, by which the Hospitallers were 
put into legal possession of their rights. They found, however, 
to their cost, that in those troublous times there was a vast 


130 A History of 

difference between legal rights and actual posaeesion. The 
struggle between themselves and the many vultures who had 
settled upon the prey was continued £or a lengthened period, 
and rendered the addition to their property in England a 
matter far more nominal than real. 

Such was the sad end of the Order of the Temple, an insti- 
tution coeval with that of the Hospital, and which had stood side 
by side with it on many a well-fought field, and during many 
a protracted struggle. Now, whilst the one Order had by its 
recent conquest of Ehodes raised itself to a still higher position 
in the estimation of the world, the sun of its rival's glory had 
set in gloom, and was for ever quenched in blood. 

The accusations by which its overthrow had been achieved were 
in themselves so preposterous and ludicrous that they were 
evidently only a cloak behind which to conceal the actual motives 
which influenced its persecutors. At the present time it seems 
extraordinary that such childish and absurd fabrications should 
have entered the imaginations of men like Philip and his co* 
adjutors — ^men distinguished for the vigour of their judgment 
and the wisdom of their policy, imscrupulous though it too often 
was. The result, however, proved that they rightly gauged the 
intelligence of the age, and that their fables were suited to the 
capacity of those for whose benefit they had been concocted. 
No statement was too gross, no imputation too transparent for 
the vulgar prejudices and credulity of the fourteenth century. 
Under cover of popular ignorance, and beneath the mask of pious 
enthusiasm, a bitter vengeance was wreaked for many a bygone 
injury and many a forgotten insult ; forgotten, that is, by the 
haughty Templar in all the pride of his wealth and position, 
but not by those who were quietly biding their time, and by 
whom it was carefully nursed in silence and in secret until the 
fatal hour should arrive when it might be promptly and amply 

Still, although it cannot for one instant be denied that the 
pretences under cover of which the annihilation of the fraternity 
was accomplished, were utterly false and without a shadow of 
foundation, it does not therefore follow that the Order is to be 
acquitted of all evil, and to be surrounded by that halo of 
martyrdom which it has been the object of so many panegyrists 

tfie Knights of Malta. 1 3 1 

to spread over its later (lays. The motives ordinarily attri- 
buted to Philip, Clement, and the other authors of their over- 
throw, will not suffice entirely to account for the catastrophe, 
though doubtless they may have had much weight in the matter. 
If it were avarice alone that prompted the act, how came it that 
Clement, who was the principal agent in the transaction, never 
dreamt of appropriating their revenues to himself, or even to 
the ecclesiastics under his own immediate control ; but on the 
contrary, exerted his authority to the utmost to transfer them 
intact to the rival fraternity of the Hospital ? Again, how 
came it that that Order did not itself share the same fate? 
Had the amount of their worldly possessions been the only 
object by which the decision of the judges was influenced, the 
HospitaUers would have been their first victims. They were 
more nimierous and endowed with far larger revenues, if not 
in England, at all events in France, where the plot was first 
hatched ; they would therefore have afForded a far richer booty 
to the spoiler than could have been extorted from the Templars. 
Had this motive of avarice been the only incentive which 
prompted Philip, who was the original author of the scheme, he 
was not the person to have tamely submitted to be defrauded of 
any portion of his gains at the very moment when they had 
fallen within his grasp through an abject dread of the eccle- 
siastical fulminations which were the only weapons Clement 
could have wielded against him. The Pope was, moreover, a 
creature of his own, elected by his nomination and pledged to 
support him in all his undertakings. What then had he to fear, 
even though he had retained in his own possession every acre 
of land which throughout the breadth of his fair kingdom had 
once been lorded over by the red cross knights P 

We must needs look deeper than this for the motives which 
prompted the annihilation of one Order, whilst aggrandizing 
the other on its ruins. At this distance of time, and in the 
absence of any conclusive evidence on the subject, it would be 
unjust to assert positively what these motives may have been. 
That the Templars had of late years achieved for themselves a 
reputation far from enviable is an indisputable fact ; that disso- 
luteness, riot, and debauchery of every kind had for some time 
past been rampant 'wdthin their preceptories must be admitted by 


132 A History of 

every impartial student of history. To drink like a Templar 
had become a by-word throughout Europe. Nor were their 
vices confined to intemperance only ; they had become cankered 
and corrupted through the vitiating influences of inactivity and 
sloth. The objects for which they had been originally called 
together in the bands of brotherhood, and which had been their 
invigorating influence during two centuries, had been abandoned 
by them voluntarily and for ever. The Templar in his saddle 
traversing the sandy plains of Palestine was an institution of the 
country, and, as such, grew and flourished, the European precep- 
tories being only so many offshoots and nurseries from which 
the parent stem was nourished. Now that stately tree had been 
felled ;' Syria had been abandoned, and naught was left but its 
clinging roots, ramifying within the soil of every country in 
Europe, devoid of strength sufiicient to enable it to spring up 
afresh, and yet drawing from the impoverished land, in the midst 
of which it had been planted, that sustenance which could ill be 
spared. It was the universal feeling that the day of the Order 
was over. Philip and Clement were therefore only carrying out 
the popular verdict when they swept it away from the earth for 

Even at the present time there are not wanting those who, 
without accepting the outrageous and absurd accusations enu- 
merated above, still consider that there existed in the fraternity 
some tmholy compact which held them together by its secret 
spell. There was in their mode of reception, and in many of 
the other formulae of the Order, so much that was hidden from 
the vulgar gaze, and such strict secrecy practised, that it is not 
impossible, nay, it is not even imlikely, that this belief may 
have much truth in it. It is a curious fact that the Hospitallers, 
against whom no similar accusations were levelled, abjured all 
secrecy in their forms and ceremonies, and it is not easy to 
imagine the object of so much mystery if there were nothing 
which required concealment. Sir Walter Scott has, in his 
romance of " Ivanhoe," placed in the mouth of Brian de Bois 
Gxiilbert, a knight of the Temple, during his interview with 
Kebeoca the Jewess, a confession that within the secret con- 
clave of his Order difference of creed was held in derision ets 
a nursery tale, and that their wealth was dedicated to ends of 

the Knights of Malta. 133 

which their pious founders little dreamed, and which were con- 
cealed from all such as embraced their profession on the ancient 
principles of the Order. Sir Walter, who was undoubtedly a 
careful portrayer of character, and one thoroughly well versed 
in the traditions of the age of which he wrote, would never 
have ventured upon such a trait as this had he not been well 
assured of its probability. All the concurrent testimony of the 
time points in that one direction, and thereby accounts for the 
apparent anomaly which left the one fraternity intact whilst 
the other was destroyed. 

Nevertheless, whatever may have been their crimes, whatever 
their vices, it is impossible to study this last sad scene in their 
eventful career without a strong feeling of pity for their cruel 
fate. However they may have degenerated in their later years, 
they had for two centuries borne their part nobly in the struggles 
of the East, and had earned for themselves a reputation which 
should have saved them from so disastrous an end. Within these 
pages their name will not again appear ; from this time their 
brethren of the Hospital will be left to struggle on alone ; but 
the ill-disciplined gallantry and the impetuous valour of the 
Templar, now that he is no more, may well be pleaded in 
palliation of those crimes which so unfortunately darkened 
his fair fame. 


Villaret establishes his Order at Rhodes — His arrogance — Plots against him — 
His flight to Lindos — Appeals to the Pope — His resignation — Appoint- 
ment of Elyon de Villanova — Division of the Order into langues — 
Deodato de Gozon and the Dragon of Rhodes — War against the Turks 
— Capture of Smyrna — Election of Deodato de. Gozon — His resignation 
— Intrigues of Heredia the Castellan of Emposta — Election of Comillan 
and Roger de Pins. 

Villaret, by his reoent successes, found himself in undisputed 
possession of the island of Bhodes. He therefore lost no time 
in endeavouring to secure his position by restoring the ramparts 
of the town. He also made such arrangements with the islands 
surrounding his stronghold as their close proximity seemed to 
render advisable. 

The principal of these was Cos, afterwards called Lango, and 
now known by the name of Stanchio. This island was con- 
sidered so much more important than its neighbours, that 
Villaret determined to render it secure from a coup de main by 
the erection of a castle to be garrisoned by a body of knights. 
After the division of the Order into lungues, it was confided 
to the charge of the knights of Provence, and so remained until 
at the chapter-general held in the year 1356 at Avignon, this 
monopoly was abolished, and its government once again thrown 
open to the whole fraternity. Its possessors for the time being 
were boimd to supply a galley of twenty-six oars as their con- 
tribution to the general fleet of the Order. Of the other islands, 
Calamos and Leros were celebrated for their marble quarries, 
being otherwise very sterile ; their inhabitants subsisting entirely 
by their trade in marble and by general commerce. Symia was 
esteemed valuable oaring to its vineyards and the excellence of 

A History of the Knights of Malta. 1 3 5 

the wine which it produced. It also carried on an extensive 

trade in sponges, which were raised by divers. So much was 

this calling recognized as peculiar to the island, that by one of 

its municipal laws no youth was permitted to marry until he 

was able to penetrate to a certain depth of water, and to remain 

there during a specified length of time. Its shipwrights had 

also achieved a wide reputation, and their light craft were 

celebrated throughout the Mediterranean for excellence both 

under oar and sail. On the summit of its most considerable 

height in the island, the Qrand-Master erected a post of obser- 

yation, whence intelligence of any approaching danger might 

be conveyed to Bhodes, either by signal fires or by one of its 

swift boats. The smallest of the islands was assigned as the 

private domain of the Ghrand-Master, and although there is 

some doubt in the matter, the general opinion appears to be 

that it was the island of Patnios. Within a few miles of Cos 

was another island named Nisyrus, in which was a hot spring 

of medicinal water, and also an excellent harbour. It abounded 

in delicious fruit of every description, and its advantages as a 

residence were so apparent that it soon grew into a place of 

importance. A considerable town sprang up, ornamented vdth 

colimms and statues made of the porphyry with which it 

abounded. Eventually it rose to be a bishop's see, subordinate 

to the archbishop of Bhodes. 

Having, in consequence of this personal inspection, taken such 
steps as he deemed necessary for the security of his government, 
Villaret returned to Rhodes, trusting to enjoy a period of 
repose after the lengthened struggle in which he had been for 
so many years engaged. His hopes were not, however, as yet 
destined to be realized. The Saracens whom he had expelled 
from Bhodes had fled to the court of Osman, or Othman, a 
Turkish prince at that time the ruler of Bithynia in Cappa- 
doda, as also of much adjacent territory. This prince beheld 
with extreme jealousy the establishment of a foe so redoubtable 
as the Hospitallers had always proved themselves to his nation 
and religion, in such close proximity to his own dominions. It 
was not difficult, therefore, for the Bhodian fugitives to persuade 
him to attempt the task of expelling the white cross knights 
from their new home. 

136 A History of 

CoUeoting a considerable force, he made a descent on the island 
before Villaret had had time to restore the fortifications of his 
stronghold to anything like a state of security. The deter- 
mined valour of his knights proved sufficient to supply all 
deficiencies in the strength of his ramparts, and after several 
unsuccessful assaults, Othman foimd himself compelled to 
abandon the attack, and to retire crestfallen to his galleys. 
AmadeuB V., count of Savoy, rendered loyal assistance to the 
besieged Hospitallers during this incursion, which took place in 
the year 1316. In commemoration of the fact, his descendants 
have since that time always borne the white cross with the 
word "J%r^" as a device, that word being composed of the 
initial letters of the sentence, ^^ Fortitudo eju% Rhodum tenuit.^^* 
The failure of Othman's enterprise left Villaret a period of 
leisure in which to complete the establishment of his government. 
Under his able superintendence, and expedited by his energy 
and promptitude, the ramparts of Rhodes were rapidly placed 
in a state of security. The Saracen inhabitants of the town 
having either fled of their own accord or been expelled by 
the victors, Villaret found that it was necessary to create a 
new population by attracting to his capital a number of Chris- 
tian immigrants. Trade was encouraged in all possible ways, 
and merchants from every country in Europe were tempted to 
take up their abode in the island, by the freedom from restric- 
tions and taxation which commerce enjoyed under the rule of 
this politic chief. He made it, in fact, a free port, the result of 
which was that within a very few years its harbours were filled 
with rich argosies laden with all the most precious commodities 
of European traffic, from whence they bore back, on their return 
voyage, the no less valuable merchandise of the East. To protect 
this vast and annually increasing trade, the galleys of the Order, 
now developing into a considerable fleet, traversed the Levant 
in all directions, at one time conveying the homeward-bound 
merchantmen to their destination, and at another falling upon 
the Turkish corsair wherever he dared to show his flag. Rarely 
indeed did they return to port without some substantial tokens 
wherewith to remunerate themselves for the hardships and 
perils of their voyage. 

* This explanation of the word Fert has been disputed by many writers. 

tfie Knights of Malta. 137 

The wealth of the fraternity was now increasing with amaz- 
ing rapidity, and although the lately-acquired estates of the 
Templars as yet produced but little to their new lords, the 
prospect of their shortly developing into a source of revenue 
was such as to warrant a somewhat free expansion in their 
expenditure. The usual consequences of such a state of things 
soon manifested themselves. Luxury in every form gradually 
usurped the place of that simple mode of life which had satisfied 
their predeoessors. The renown which the capture of Rhodes 
reflected upon the knights had attracted into their ranks a large 
number of the younger members of the noblest houses in 
Europe — ^youths whose minds were filled with all the martial 
ardour incident to their age and station, but in whose hearts 
there was but little of that religious enthusiasm which, two 
centuries before, had recruit-ed the ranks of the institution with 
a body of men as austere in their private life as they were 
chivalric in their warlike zeal. The age had indeed changed, 
and with it the thoughts and feelings of the world at large. 
The sentiment of piety which, though rude in its development, 
had formed the main incentive to the deeds of daring hitherto 
recorded, was now giving way to the more material and 
worldly aspiration for glory. It was thought by these young 
candidates for knightly fame that, provided the Hospitaller were 
ever prepared to meet his foe either on the deck of the galley or 
behind the ramparts of his stronghold — ^provided he were at all 
times ready to shed the last drop of his blood in the defence of 
his Order and of his faith, it mattered but little what his private 
conduct might be. Whilst he could point to the deeds of daring 
which had rendered his name famous among his brethren, he 
deemed it quite imnecessary to practise those austerities which 
the rules of his profession had enjoined. 

Many, indeed, of the older knights beheld with dismay this 
rapid and complete demoralization which was undermining the 
first principles of their institution. They were loud and urgent 
in their remonstrances to the offenders, endeavouring to restrain 
some of the most notorious excesses, which they feared would 
bring them into public disrppute. They pointed to the fearful 
tragedy which had been so recently enacted against their brothers 
in arms, showing how the same weapons that had been em- 

138 A History of 

ployed in the destruction of one Order, might at any moment 
be made available against the other, should they by their conduct 
draw down upon themselves the odium of the powers that be. 
The revenues, moreover, of the Templars were,* as they remarked, 
more apparent than real, whilst, on the other hand, the pubUo 
treasury was encumbered with enormous liabilities on account 
of the loans raised by Yillaret from the bankers of Genoa and 
Florence for the purpose of achieving the conquest of Ehodes. 

What rendered all their exhortations utterly futile, was 
the fact that the Grand-Master himself, the man to whom 
every one naturally looked for example and support, was, in 
his own person, outvying his youthful con/rires in the extrava- 
gance of his luxury and the dissipation of his life. Surrounded 
by favourites, on whom he bestowed all the patronage of his 
office, he gradually assumed an overbearing arrogance of manner 
towards all who were not disposed to render him the most abso- 
lute homage. He seemed to consider that the acquisition of 
Bhodes through the force of his genius and the daimtless 
perseverance of his will had invested him with a sovereignty 
in the island far more absolute than that appertaining to his 
magisterial position. That supremacy, which others looked 
on as vested in the Order, and of which he was merely the 
chief administrator, was by him considered a personal matter, 
peculiar to himself alone. The murmurs which the arrogance 
of his conduct gradually engendered were at first low and 
suppressed. Men were loth to think hardly of the hero under 
whose guidance they had added so greatly to their renown. 
They were prepared to tolerate much in him which they would 
never have borne in another. Still, patience and forbearance 
have their limit*, and Villaret gradually found that the lustre 
even of his reputation was becoming insufficient to stifle the 
murmurs excited by his haughty bearing. 

Secret disaffection eventually developed into open complaint, 
which rose to such a pitch that Villaret was summoned before 
the coimcil to give an account of his government, and to answer 
the numerous charges preferred against him. These consisted 
not merely of allegations as to his intolerable pride and hauteur 
towards those with whom he was brought into contact, but, at 
the same time, of mis-appropriation of the public revenues, 

tlie Knights of Malta. 139 

which he was accused of having squandered, partly to support 
his own ostentatious display and luxurious mode of living, and 
partly by bestowing them with a lavish hand on the crowd of 
sycophantic favourites by whom he was surroimded. To this 
sommons Yillaret paid not the slightest heed, asserting that his 
position placed him completely above the jurisdiction of the 
council. As it would have been impossible to adjudicate upon 
his alleged delinquencies in his absence, the mal-contents were 
sorely puzzled to decide what should be their next step. At 
length a knight, named Maurice de Fagnac, possibly not with- 
out an eye to future contingencies, proposed that Villaret 
should be boldly seized within the precincts of his palace, and 
brought vi et armU before the coimciL 

The execution of such a measure was, it was felt, no easy 
matter, owing to the difficulty of approaching the person of 
the Grand-Master, who was iuvariably surroimded, not only 
by his own favourites among the fraternity, but also by a 
compact body-guard of mercenaries which he retained in his 
pay. The attempt was therefore deemed impossible by day, 
since the certain result of such a step must have been a 
sanguinary and probably a fruitless contest. The only feasible 
project was to make the seizure secretly by night, when the 
attendance on his person was naturally much reduced. One of 
his valets was bribed to undertake the conduct of the affair, 
and he guaranteed to admit a body of the conspirators into the 
sleeping apartment of the Gfrand-Master, where the capture 
might easily be effected. All being now satisfactorily arranged, 
nothing remained but to fix the moment for carrying the plot 
into e3:ecution. The conspirators, however, foimd that a traitor 
is a double-edged tool cutting both ways, and not more to be 
trusted by his new employers than by his original master. 
Whether the valet was over-bribed to reveal the conspiracy, or 
whether he was in reality, as has been alleged, so far attached 
to his lord as to have shrunk from carrying out the views 
of his enemies, it is very certain that he betrayed the plot, to 
Villaret, who was thus put on his guard. 

The promptitude and boldness of his chaActer stood him 
in good stead at this critical moment. He was, therefore, 
not long in forming a decision as to the line of conduct 

140 A History of 

it would be advisable to pursue. Under the pretence of a 
hunting party in the country he, with a chosen body of his 
adherents, left his palace on the morning of the day selected 
for his capture. He betook himself in all haste to the castle 
of Lindos, a fortified post about seven miles from Bhodes, 
protecting a small but convenient and well-sheltered harbour. 
Once safely lodged within the ramparts of this asylum, Villaret 
bid defiance to the wiles of his antagonists, and protested 
against any acts to which the council might resort during his 
absence. Enraged at the fedlure of their enterprise, and 
realizing that by this act of open defiance Villaret had 
completely compromised himself, the mal-contents once more 
assembled in solemn conclave at the council board. They now 
found themselves joined by many of the more moderate mem- 
bers, who had hitherto remained neutral, but who now threw 
the weight of their influence into the adverse balance. They 
were naturally indignant that their chief shoidd have so far 
outstepped the limits of his authority, as to seize upon and 
retain, in defiance of rules, a stronghold of which they were 
• the lords, and which he was, moreover, garrisoning with foreign 
mercenaries unconnected with the Order. 

Loud, long, and stormy was the debate, for even then Villaret 
was not without friends whose allegiance he had secured either 
by the brilliancy of his former reputation or by the mimificence 
of his later days. Their voices, however, were not sufficient to 
stay the progress of the decision. His last offence had boen 
too open and barefaced to admit of explanation, and a decree 
was therefore passed deposing him from his office.. The next 
step to be taken was to provide a successor, and here the politic 
wiles of Maurice de Pagnac reaped their expected fruit. He 
had from the very first been the leader and the mainstay of 
the insurrectionary movement. To him eveiy one had looked 
for guidance and support in the desperate crisis which was 
clearly drawing on. Now when a chief was required of suffi- 
cient energy to establish and retain a usurped authority, all 
eyes were naturally turned on him as the most fitting can- 
didate for such a difficult post. He was in consequence 
unanimously elected the new Grand-Master. A report of the 
whole proceedings, together with the announcement of the 

the K^iights of Malta. 141 

new nomination, were at onoe forwarded to the see of Rome 
for the decision and approval of the Pope. 

Villaret at the 'same time, from his stronghold at Lindos, also 
forwarded his version of the affair in an appeal to his ecclesiastical 
superior. Here then was a tempting opportunity presented to the 
pontiff for interfering in the affairs of the Order, and for ganging 
his inflaence and authority. Three several bulls were issued by 
him dated in the year 1317. In the first of these his Holiness thus 
addresses Villaret : — " We are sorry to learn that you have been 
assaulted and compelled by your own knights to fly from the 
city of Rhodes into a fortress in another part of that island. 
Although their conduct appears to have been highly incorrect, 
still you are accused of having excited it. We therefore cite 
both them and you to our presence in order that we may 
investigate the affair, and base our decision on correct 
information." The second bull was addressed to de Pagnac, 
citing him to appear likewise at Avignon. The third nomina- 
ted a vicar-general who should act as a locum tenem for the 
Grrand-Master during the absence of the two claimants to that 
dignity. The knight who was selected by the Pope for this 
office was Gerard de Pins, a personage of considerable note and 
of great influence amongst his brethren. During the disputes 
which had led to the deposition of Villaret and the election of a 
rival he had maintained a strict neutrality, supporting neither 
side, but lending the powerful influence of his example to those 
who were endeavouring to heal the schism thus unfortunately 
generated in their midst.* 

The nomination of the Pope was acquiesced in by all parties 
without dispute, and during a period of fifteen years which 
elapsed before a Gh*and- Master once more ruled in person at 
Rhodes, Gerard maintained the dignity and interests of the 
Order with the most exemplary firmness. 

The two claimants whose rival pretensions were about to 
become the object of papal decision, depcurted on their journey 
to Avignon. It was to this city that Clement had, on his 
election to the chair of Pt. Peter, transferred his seat of govern- 
ment, and his successor, John XXU., still resided there. During 

* The boUs here referred to are all in existence amongst the papal 
archives in Rome. 

142 A History of 

the oourse of his voyage, Pagnac had ample opportunities for 
discovering that the sympathies of Europe were strongly mani- 
fested in favour of his rival. Wherever thfey passed he saw 
that Villaret was received with all the honours due to the head 
of a powerful Order, who had in his own person achieved 
European renown by the conquest of Ehodes. He himself was, on 
the other hand, looked on simply as an insurrectionary firebrand, 
who from motives of ambition had stirred up a revolt amongst 
the knights against their legitimate lord. When they arrived 
at Avignon he did not find matters in any way improved. 
Whatever might be the feeling of John as regarded the conduct 
of Villaret, he was certainly by no means disposed to favour 
de Pagnac. That knight soon perceived that all chance of estab- 
lishing his claim to the dignity of Grand- Master, for which he 
had so long toiled and plotted, and to which he so ardently 
aspired, was for ever at an end. In the bitterness of his feel- 
ings he withdrew from the papal court to indulge in solitude 
the chagrin with which he was overwhelmed. The blow was, 
however, too great to be withstood, and before long he sank 
under his disappointment, and died of a broken heart. 

His death removed one great obstacle from the path of the 
Pope. That astute politician now saw his way clear to a 
solution of the difficulty in a manner which would enable him 
to place a creature of his own at the he€ui of the Order. With 
this object in view he reinstated Villaret in his office, having, 
however, previously exacted from him a pledge that he woidd 
resign it again immediately. In return for this step he was 
promised the appointment to a grand-prioiy, to which he might 
retire, and where he might enjoy the dignity of an exalted 
station and the extensive revenues of his new office, free from 
all interference on the part of the fraternity. Villaret carried 
out his engagement, and resigned his post. John thereupon 
summoned to Avignon all the members of the Order who were 
within reach of his influence. There, under his own surveillance 
and the pressure of his own immediate presence, he caused a 
successor to be nominated, in whose allegiance and ready 
obedience he felt sure that he could confide. Elyon de Villanova 
was the knight thus selected, and irregular as was the mode 
of his election the fraternity felt themselves unable to resist it. 

tlie Knights of Malta. 143 

He was therefore recognized by them as their new chief with- 
out cavil, and took his place on the rolls as the twenty-fifth 
Grand-Master in the year 1319. Villaret received his appoint- 
ment to the grand-priory which had been promised to him, and 
retired thither in bitterness of spirit, to end in disgrace and 
comparative solitude that life, the earlier portion of which had 
been so brilliant and prosperous. Sad fate for a man who had 
midoubtedly done great things, not only for his own Order, but 
for Christianity at large. The student of history cannot fail to 
sympathize with the noble and ambitious spirit thus untimely 
doomed to a life of inglorious inactivity, even though he had by 
his own faults of character been chiefly responsible for the evils 
which befel him. No records bearing upon the remainder of 
his life are now in existence. All that is known is that he died 
at Montpelier on the Ist September, 1 327, where, in the church 
of St. John, his monxmient still exists.* 

By this arrangement on the part of the Pope the interests of 
the Order suffered a double injury. In the first place they were 
compelled to receive as their chief a knight, not of their own 
selection, but a nominee of his, and one who soon gave evidence 
of the influences imder which he was acting, by bestowing some 
of the most valuable appointments at his disposal upon the needy 
relatives of his patron.t The other injury inflicted on the Order 
was the alienation from its jurisdiction, during the lifetime of 

* The inscriptioii on his monument runs thus: — '* Anno Domini vcccxxtii. 
die BaUoet ler Semptembris obiit nobilissimus Dominus Frater Folquetus 
de Villareto Magister magni Hospitaho Sacree Domus Sanoti Joannis 
Baptist® Hjerosolimitani Gujus anima requiesoat in paoe Amen. Die pro 
me pater et ave." 

t It is stated in many histories that Pope John XXII. was the son of a 
cobbler. Whether this be true or not it would be difficult now to determine. 
Certain it is that he sprang from a yery low origin. Aii amusing story is 
told of his election. It seems that he had earned a very high reputation 
for sanctity and humility, two virtues which were so pre-eminent in him 
that he received a cardinal's hat amid uniTcrsal approbation. This dignity 
did not appear iu the least to exalt the lowly churchman iu his own eyes, 
and when the election of a new Pope in place of Clement gave rise to much 
dispute he took no part therein. It was therefore proposed and unanimously 
agreed to between the rival candidates that the nomination should be left in 
his hands. To their amazement and consternation this humble priest in 
his mildest voice pronounced the words, **£go sum Papa," and thus 
appointed himself to the vacant dignity. 

144 ^ History of 

Villaret, of the priory to which he had been nominated. They thus 
learnt the lesson that by disagreement amongst themselves they 
were paving the way for the admission of a power which they 
would not easily be able to shake ofP, and which would be exer- 
cised without in any way consulting their interests or advantage. 

Villanova was in no hurry to exchange the luxury of the 
papal court for the comparative banishment entailed by a resi- 
dence at Rhodes, so, for a period of thirteen years, he, under 
one pretence or another, postponed his departure. During this 
interval a chapter-general was held by his mandate at Mont- 
pelier. It was on this occasion that the Order was, for the first 
time, divided into languages, or " langues^^ as they were termed. 
Many writers, in dealing with this subject, have dated back this 
division of the fraternity almost to its first establishment. There 
is certainly no trace whatever in any of the records now existing 
to warrant such a supposition. It is at this council that such a 
division appears for the first time. The Order, although origin- 
ally established on its charitable basis by Italian merchants, had 
rapidly become principally French in its composition, and this 
nationality had always preponderated. The fact that the 
chapter-general had assembled at Montpelier added still more 
to the influence of the French element. We find, therefore, 
that whilst the number of langues was fixed at seven, no less 
than three of those seven were French, viz., the Imigues of 
France, Provence, and Auvergne. The other four were Italy, 
Grermany, England, and Aragon. The dignities in the gift of 
the Order were at the same time attached in proper proportion 
to these new divisions, the leading posts, owing to the weight of 
French influence, being given to their three langves. The name 
of Sir John Builbruix appears at this chapter as the Turcopolier, 
or commander of the light cavalry. This dignity was from 
that time permanently allotted to the English langue. In 
addition to this grand-cross, three others were at the same time 
appropriated to England, viz., the bailiwick of the Eagle (an 
honorary distinction formerly belonging to the Templars) and 
the grand-priories of England and Ireland. 

Many needful reforms were introduced into the regulations at 
this chapter. These were not made before they were urgently 
required ; the discipline which had prevailed during the later 

tlie Knights of Malta. 145 

years of Villaret's rule having been most lax. The number of 
those who preferred an easy and luxurious residence in a Euro- 
pean commandery to the secluded life and constant warfare 
entailed by the necessities of the case at Bhodes was very great. 
The diflBlculty of overcoming this feeling, and of compelling the 
absentees to mckke their appearance at the convent had increased 
so rapidly that the subject was one of the first brought under 
the consideration of the chapter. It was ther^ decreed that a 
certain term of actual residence at Ehodes, and the performance 
of a definite number of caravans (as the voyages on board the 
gaUeys were called) should be an absolute requirement to qualify 
a knight for holding any official post or dignity whatsoever. 
Several other stringent reforms were at the same time proposed 
and agreed to, though not without considerable discussion, and 
many loud expressions of dissatisfaction. In fact, it soon 
became apparent that, owing to the chapter having been held 
in France, where the European dignitaries of the Order prepon- 
derated, they seemed more interested in the preservation of their 
local privileges than in strengthening the hands of the Gfrand- 
Master and the power of the central government. 

Notwithstanding the warning which they had received in the 
destruction of their brethren of the Temple, there were many 
members blind enough to raise their voices at the council board, 
urging the abandonment of Bhodes, and the retirement of the 
Order within its European commanderies. They attributed all 
the financial difficulties of the treasury to the lengthened struggle 
for the acquisition of that island, and the outlay necessary for 
its subsequent fortification and maintenance— difficulties which 
in spite of the recent acquisition of Templar property, were in 
some countries threatening to overwhelm them with insolvency.* 
They ui^ed also that the new system of naval warfare in which 

* This was especially the case in England, where in the early part of the 
fourteenth century the revenues of the Hospital had fallen into such an 
enoumbered and embarrassed condition under the superintendence of Thomas 
Larcher, the grand-prior of England, that utter insolvency seemed looming 
in the near distance. Fortunately, however, for the interests of the Order, 
the unthrifty Larcher either resigned or was deposed, and Leonard de 
Tybertis, the prior of Venice, nominated his successor. This knight, by hia 
mperior financial administration, succeeded in restoring the credit of his 
priory. We Und it under the governance of his successor, Philip de Thame, 


146 A History of 

they were engaging was at variance with the leading principles of 
the institution, and not befitting its knightly character. Having 
been compelled to abandon the Holy Land, they conceived that 
they were rendering little or no service to the cause of Christianity 
by the maintenance of a desultory and predatory warfare amidst 
the piratical islands of the Levant. As a cure for these evils 
they proposed the abandonment of their new stronghold. This 
was a remedy which would probably have proved most agreeable 
to themselves, but, at the same time, it must inevitably, if carried 
into effect, have soon brought about the complete annihilation of 
the Order. Fortunately, the views of these /atw^a»< knights did 
not find favour with the majority of the chapter. Instead of 
abandoning the island of Rhodes, measures for its more complete 
protection received the sanction of the assembly. 

This chapter-general was held in the year 1331, and in 1332, 
Villanova, after a delay of thirteen years from the date of his 
election, proceeded to Bhodes. Here he found that under the 
lieutenancy of Gerard de Pins the fortifications of the town had 
been considerably augmented and developed, and a spirit of 
discipline had been introduced into the convent, to which for 
many years it had been a stranger. 

Whilst strengthening his position at home, Gerard de Pins 
had, at the same time, been called on to resist the aggressions of 
a foreign foe. Orcan, the son and successor of Othman, deem- 
ing that the dissensions caused by the deposition of Yillaret 
had created a favourable opportunity for attack, decided on 
renewing the attempt on the island in which his father had so 
miserably failed. He assembled a large fleet upon the shores of 
the province of Caria, where he was joined by many of the 
former inhabitants of Ehodes, who had been expelled from the 
island by Villaret. Thus reinforced he set sail for his destina- 
tion. Gerard, who had received timely notice of the contem- 
plated descent, determined not to await the shock of the onset 
behind the walls of his fortress, but to meet the enemy boldly 
on that element where his knights had lately been so victorious. 
Manning such of his galleys as were then lying in the harbour, 
and being joined by six Genoese vessels which had assembled 

in the year 1338 (as wUl be referred to in the next chapter), returning a 
comparatively satisfactory revenue to the general treasury. 

the Knights of Malta. 147 

there, he put to soa, and encountered the enemy near the Kttle 
island of Episcopia. 

The infidel fleet was vastly superior in point of numbers, but 
laboured under the disadvantage of being inconveniently crowded 
with the troops intended for the attack on £>hodes. The Sea- 
manship of the Hospitallers, and the skill with which they 
availed themselves of their greater powers of manoeuvring more 
than coimterbalanced their numerical inferiority. The day 
ended in the complete destruction of Orcan's fleet, many of his 
galleys being sunk and others captured, so that but few escaped 
from the scene of strife. This disaster proved such a check on 
the Turkish power that Gerard was left during the remainder of 
his government to pursue' immolested the reforms he had com- 
menced. When, therefore, on the landing of Elyon de Villanova, 
he resigned the reins of office, he had the proud satisfaction of 
knowing that his lieutenancy had reflected glory on himself, 
and had been most beneficial to the interests of the fraternity. 

It was during the earlier years of Villanova's residence in 
Khodee that the legend is recorded qf the encounter of a Hos- 
pitaller with the famous dragon. The tale is so well known, 
and has been the subject of so much illustration (notably in the 
series of sketches by the G-erman artist Betsch), that it appears 
almost needless to repeat it in these pages; still, as it was one of 
the incidents held in the highest estimation amongst the Order 
in subsequent ages, occupying a prominent place in all their 
histories, it would be wrong to pass it over in silence. The story 
runs that a large monster had made its appearance in the island, 
where it committed the most fearful devastation, carrying off 
many of the inhabitants, especially women and children, and 
establishing itself as the terror and scourge of the locality. 
Numerous attempts had been made to accomplish its destruction, 
but in vain, many of the bravest knights having lost their lives 
in their gallant endeavours to rid the island of the pest. The 
Grand-Master, dismayed at the losses he had sustained in this 
novel warfare, forbade, under pain of the severest penalties, any 
further attempts at the destruction of the monster. 

One knight alone had the hardihood to dare disobedience to 
this mandate. Deodato de Gozon, a youth whose dauntless 
courage scorned to quail beneath this strange foe, and whose 


148 A History of 

heart was touched with the deepest emotion at the wail of grief 
extorted from the miserable inhabitants by the ever-recurring 
ravages of the dragon, felt that he could not refrain from one 
further attempt in behalf of these suffering peasants. Without 
confiding his design to any one, he retired, by permission, to 
France. There in his paternal castle he caused a facsimile of 
the monster to be constructed in wood, covered with scales, and 
exhibiting as nearly as possible the terrifying aspect of its living 
counterpart. Having procured two English bull dogs,* whose 
breed was even then famous throughout Europe, he trained them, 
as also his horse, to the attack of the fictitious monster, teaching 
them to fix their grip upon the belly, where the animal was un- 
protected with scales. Having thoroughly accustomed his four- 
footed assistants to the aspect of the foe, he returned to Rhodes, 
and at once proceeded to carry his project into execution. It is 
needless to enter into the details of the contest, though these are 
fondly dwelt on with the most elaborate minuteness by the 
recorders of the legend. Qt)zon, by the aid of his canine allies, 
achieved the destruction of his enemy, though not before he had 
well-nigh paid with his life the penalty of his temerity at the 
first onset of the brute. He was borne back in triumph to 
Ehodes, where the whole town received its deliverer with the 
loudest acclamations. This triumph was, however, at first, 
very short lived. The Grand-Master promptly summoned bim 
before the council to answer for his wilfid disobedience to the 
magisterial mandate. On his appearance before the board he 
was stripped of his habit as an unworthy and rebellious knight. 
Having by this display of severity duly marked his determina- 
tion to enforce obedience, Yillanova, at the unanimous request 
of the members of his council, was induced to relent. In con- 
sideration of the noble gallantry displayed in the action, he 
not only restored his habit to Deodato, but nominated him to 
one of the richest commanderies in his gift. 

How far this legend can be borne out by facts is a veiy 
disputed point, some writers throwing discredit over the entire 
story, whilst others are prepared to admit the probability of its 

* Ketsch's notion of English bull dogs, as shown in the sketches referred 
to, certainly proves that there is mnch ignorance on the subject of that breed, 
even amongst educated artists abroad. 

"-■ ^'-- ■- ■ - ■ '• - ■ ^gg^»» 

the Knights of Malta. 1 49 

having, at all events, some foundation. The opponents of the 
legend argue upon the gross improbability of the existence of 
any such monster, with the voracious propensities and extra- 
ordinary powers attributed to it. They further assert, that in 
the middle of the fourteenth century there could have been no 
difficulty in achieving its destruction, without having recourse 
to the chivabic but somewhat antiquated expedient of a combat 
on horseback. The use of Gh*eek fire had long been known, 
and gunpowder itself was gradually being adopted. "With the 
assistajice of these agents it could not have been necessary for 
the attacking party to have run any great danger in securing 
the extermination of the reptile. On the other hand, it seems 
strange that the story should have obtained such very general 
credence, and have been so universally upheld by succeeding 
generations. It is an indisputable fact, that the tomb of Gozon 
bore the following inscription : — " Ingenium superat vires. 
Deodatus de Gozon eques imanem serpentem inteif ecit. Ordi- 
nario perpetuo militise tribunatu et extra ordinem pro magisterio 
functus pmo. chissor pf ectus hox a sufiEragatorib : m. e. rare 
explo. designatus est communi cere Eq gallorum provincialim 
posit : An McccLxvi." 

Which may be thus rendered — 

" Skill, the conqueror of force. 

^' Deodato de Gozon, knight, slew an enormous serpent. Ap« 
pointed perpetual commander of the forces, and extraordinary 
lieutenant to the Master. First president of the ooimcil of 
election, he was by a rare example chosen Grand-Master by the 
electors. The French Knights of Provence erected this, An 


This monument being dated only thirteen years after Gozon's 
death, there does not seem to have been time for a legend to 
spring up, had it not contained an element of truth. 

It may be remarked that, at Coventry, there is still pre- 
served a statue in carved oak of a knight of St. John killing 
a dragon, which evidently dates back to the fifteenth, or 
at latest, the sixteenth century. Moreover, it must not be 
forgotten, that the island had, when under the Greeks, been 
called Orphieuse, or the isle of serpents, from the number of 
venomous reptiles swarming therein. That there was some 

150 A History of 

truth underlying the legend seems, on the whole, certain. 
Deodato de Gozon did undeniably destroy some noxious beast or 
reptile which had infested the island, after others had failed in 
the attempt. He thus gained for himseK a reputation that 
gradually swelled imtil it attained the monstrous proportions of 
the above recorded fable. In reference to this subject, Newton 
states : — " Over the Amboise gate " (he is speaking of Rhodes) 
" a head was formerly fixed, which has been thus described to 
me. It was flat on the top and pointed like the head of a 
serpent, and as large as the head of a lamb. This head was 
certainly on the gate as late as the year 1829, and seems to 
have been taken down some time previous to 1837. This is, 
perhaps, the same head which Thevenot saw in 1657, and which 
he thus describes : — * Elle ^tait beaucoup plus grosse et plus large 
que oeUe d'un cheval, la gueule f endue jusqu'aux oreilles, de 
grosses dents, les yeux gros, le trou des narines rond et la 
peau tirant sur le gris blanc' According to the tradition in 
Thevenot's time, and which has been preserved in Rhodes ever 
since, this was the head of the great serpent slain by Dieudonne 
de Gozon in the fourteenth century."* 

Madame Honorine Biliotti thus describes the head whidi she 
saw in 1829 : — 

"This skull, which was fastened over the inside of the 
Amboise Gate, the point of the jaw downwards, broad towards 
the top, and contracted near the point like the head of a serpent, 
seemed somewhat smaller than the skull of a horse ; the lower 
jaw and the front cartilages were missing, so that I was obliged 
in imagination to replace the portions destroyed by time. The 
sockets of the eyes were large and round, there was no trace of 
skin upon the bones, which were completely blanched. In short, 
this skull, such as I saw it, without lower jaw or the point of 
the muzzle, had more the appearance of a serpent's head than 
that of a crocodile." t 

Villanova had not long assumed the personal government of 
Rhodes, before he was called upon by the Pope to join in a 
league for checking the aggressive designs of the Turks. The 
other members of the alliance were to be the king of Cyprus, 

• "Newton's Travels and Discoveries in the Levant," vol. i., page 161. 
t " Biliotti L'ile de Rhodes," page 161. 


the Knights of Malta. 151 

the republic of Yenice, and the Pope himself. In his letter 
demanding their aid, the pontifE supports his request by bring- 
ing forward the most vehement aocusations against the members 
of the Order for their luxurious mode of life, general effeminacy, 
and gross laxity of discipline. It is more than probable that 
these complaints were not devoid of truth, still, the tone of the 
letter, concluding as it did with a proposal, or more properly 
speaking, a demand, that they should contribute six galleys 
to the allied fleet, clearly marks his object in making such 
reproaches. The assistance of the fraternity was most urgently 
required to' forward the political views of his Holiness. He 
consequently strove to make a refusal impossible, by coupling 
his request with an accusation of want of zeal for the cause of 
Christianity. His letter had the desired effect. The knights 
embiuced the opportumty thus afiorded of disproving the 
charges preferred against them ; they contributed their full 
quota to the allied armament, and throughout the war which 
took place, became the life and soul of the enterprise. The 
only result of any importance achieved by the league was the 
capture of the fortress of Smyrna, where the horde of pirates 
which infested the eastern shores of tbe Mediterranean had been 
accustomed to find a ready shelter. 

The leaciie lasted with fluctuating: success for several years, 
™til it«3aber8, having dropped out one by one, the Hospi: 
tallers found themselves without assistance to continue the 
further prosecution of the warfare. 

A war had broken out between the G-enoese and Venetians, 
which compelled the former republic to retire from the alliance. 
The Pope, before long, became eager to withdraw from a contest 
which was draining his treasury without much tangible result. 
The league, therefore, gradually died of inanition ; and without 
any positive treaty of peace having been ever made, active hosti- 
hties ceased, and matters settled down very much on their 
former footing. 

During the interval the Order had experienced a change 
of rulers, for in the year 1346 Villanova died, and Deodato 
de Gk)zon, the hero of the dragon, was nominated as his 
successor. Vertot relates that on the occasion of this elec- 
tion Gozon rose in his place at the coimcil board, and taking 

152 A History of 

Ixifl audienoe completely by surprifie, nominated himself, as 
the person best qualified to succeed to the vacant office. This 
tale is a vile fabrication, for amongst the documents recently 
discovered in the archives of the Vatican is a letter addressed 
to Gozon by Clement VI., dated in July, 1346, in which 
after congratulating him on his election to the magisterial 
dignity, the Pope goes on to allude to the fact of his having 
been prevailed upon with great reluctance to accept the post. 
This letter, coupled with the fact that he twice, during his rule, 
tendered his resignation, most completely exonerates his memory 
from the stigma of arrogance, which this anecdote of Vertot's 
is calculated to cast upon it. 

During his continuance in office, G-ozon was much troubled 
by the difficulty he experienced in obtaining payment of re- 
sponsions from the more remote commanderies. A circular is 
extant, addressed by him to the priors of Denmark, Norway, 
and Sweden, reproaching them for not having remitted any 
req)onBions since the fall of Acre. The war between the 
Genoese and Venetians created a new difficulty, against which 
Gt)zon had to contend. The fraternity contained within its ranks 
knights belonging to both those nations, and these naturally 
sympathized with their coimtrymen in the struggle they were 
respectively carrying on. When residing in their European 
commandmee they could not refrain from enrolling themselves 
amongst the belligerents on either side. By their rules no 
knight was permitted to draw his sword in support of any 
quarrel subsisting between Christian nations. The Pope, there- 
fore, called upon Gozon to put a stop to this infraction of the 
statutes, a mandate far easier given than obeyed. Deodato, 
in reply, pointed out to his Holiness that the Order in its 
corporate capacity had never sided with any European power 
when at war with a neighbour. It was, however, he said, 
impossible for him to prevent individual knights from giving 
such practical proofs of their sympathy, especially when their 
own native country chanced to be one of the belligerents. 
This response appears to have given but littie satisfaction at the 
papal court ; nor, it must be owned, was the argument by any 
means a sound one, or in accordance with the spirit of the 
regulations as originally framed. 

the Knights of Malta. 1 5 3 

This was not the only incident which occurred to disturb 
the serenity of Gozon's administration. The due governance 
of the dignitaries and principal officers of the institution, 
residing, as so many of them did, far away from his own 
immediate supervision, became a matter of ever-increasing 
difficulty. Possessed as they were of considerable patronage 
and with control over large sources of wealth, they were enabled 
to ingratiate themselves with the higher powers in the various 
countries where they were residing. Finding themselves, for 
this reason, protected and supported by the monarch, they were 
able to bid defiance to the authority of the Qrand-Master. Qozon 
became so discouraged and so deeply hurt at the position in 
which he foimd himself, that he twice petitioned the Pope to 
allow him to resign his office. On the first occasion he was 
induced by the pontiff, after much persuasion, to retain his 
dignity, but on the second application his request was complied 
with. Meanwhile, however, he had died of apoplexy in the 
latter part of the year 1353, and was succeeded by Peter de 
ComiUan, the grand-prior of St. Oilles. 

At this time there resided at the papal court of Avignon, as 
ambassador from Bhodes, a knight of the name of Heredia. 
This envoy had found means to ingratiate himself with the 
pontifE to such an extent that he became his principal confidant 
and coimcillor in all affairs of state. By the influence, if not 
by the direct nomination of the Pope, he had been appointed 
prior, both of Castile and St. Gilles, as well as castellan of 
Emposta, dignities which elevated him far above any of his 
confreres then resident in Europe. To be the recipient of such 
imblushing favouritism naturally rendered him very unpopular 
with the members of his Order, who felt that he was monopo- 
lizing patronage to which they were justly entitled. He was 
a man of a naturally ambitious turn of mind, and was much 
chagrined at feeling that the dislike of the fraternity was such 
as to prevent his ever reaching the object of his aspirations — 
the Grrand-Mastership at Ehodes. XTnder these circumstances 
the idea suggested itself to his scheming brain, that if he could 
procure the removal of the convent from that island he might 
himself be nominated, by his friend the Pope, to supreme rule 
therein under the title of Bailiff. He felt that were he once 

154 -^ History of 

invested with this authority he would be able to exercise it 
with but little submission to the control of his nominal chief. 
Under his advice, and acting in accordance with the suggestions 
put forward by him, the Pope despatched him, in company with 
Baymond de Beranger and Peter de Comillan (who was a rela- 
tive and namesake of the new Grand-Master), to £>hodes, to 
submit his views to a general council of the Order. 

He was instructed to inform the Ghrand-Master and coimcil, 
on the part of the Pope, that it was thought desirable the con- 
vent should be at once removed from Rhodes to the adjacent 
continent. There, in immediate contiguity to the Saracen, it 
would, by the terror of its name and the prowess of its mem- 
bers, check all further aggressions on the part of the infidel, 
and form an advanced post of Christianity in the very midst of 
its foes. It was with feelings of dismay that the new chief 
de Comillan listened to the treacherous and cunningly devised 
suggestions thus laid before him. On the one hand, he felt 
that natural reluctance, which became a faithful and obedient 
son of the church, to oppose himself to the desires of its 
supreme head. On the other, he could not but foresee that 
the probable result of any such movement woidd be to plimge 
the Order, defenceless and far from aid, into the hands of its 
relentless enemies, by whom its speedy and utter extermination 
would inevitably be accomplished. 

Under these conflicting circumstances he decided upon throw- 
ing as many obstacles as possible in the way of the project, 
without attempting any open opposition. With this view he 
explained to the envoys that although he was himself at all 
times ready to obey whatever mandates he might receive from 
his Holiness, yet this was a subject on which he personally could 
have no authority to decide. The proposed change of residence 
was a matter of so great importance to the future welfare of 
the fraternity that it would be absolutely necessary to assemble 
a chapter-general wherein the question might be debated and 
determined. It by no means accorded with the views of the 
Pope and his adviser Heredia that such a council should be 
held at Rhodes. Its distance from Avignon was so great as 
to prevent his being able to use that influence and pressure 
upon its members which would be necessary to secure their 

the Knights of Malta. 155 

acquiescence in Us new scheme. . A council held in Bhodes 
would be attended so largely by those whose attachments and 
interests would naturally dispose them to vote in favour of 
remaining in the island, that there would be but a slender 
prospect of carrying his point. He, on the other hand, 
trusted to find amongst the dignitaries of the Order resident in 
France a sufficient number more desirous of securing his favour 
than careful for the welfare of their own institution. He 
therefore summoned the chapter to assemble at Montpelier. 
Before the time of its meeting, however, had arrived, he deter- 
mined to bring it still closer within the sphere of his influence, 
and altered its venue to Avignon. 

The Pope had also changed his views as to the locality to 
which he contemplated transferring the convent. Instead of the 
shores of Asia Minor he now looked to the Morea as a more 
suitable and advantageous point of occupation. To this sugges- 
tion Heredia made no opposition. Provided the convent were 
removed from Rhodes, so that he might assimie the goveiimient 
of the island, it mattered little to him where they established 
it. He therefore supported the new proposition with the same 
eagerness as he had shown towards the former one. The title 
to the Morea was at this time in dispute between James of 
Savoy and the emperor of Constantinople, but the greater part 
of it was in the actual possession of the Turks, who were 
advancing step by step towards its complete acquisition. In 
compliance with the desires of the Pope, negotiations were 
entered into with James of Savoy on the part of the chapter to 
treat for the allocation of a suitable residence for the convent. 
These negotiations were intentionally prolonged by every pos- 
sible device, the project of a residence in the Morea being as 
little to the taste of the fraternity as that in Asia Minor. The 
knot was eventually cut by the death of James of Savoy, which 
took place before anything definite was decided on ; the design 
consequently fell to the ground, and became virtually abandoned. 

It has already been mentioned that Peter de Comillan, or 
Comeillan, a knight of Provence, and formerly grand-prior of 
St. Gilles, had been elected Grand-Master in place of Deodato 
de Gozon. This change had taken place in the year 1353, 
but Comillan did not long enjoy his dignity, having died in 

156 A History of the Knights of Malta. 

1355, before the chapter had had time to afisemble at Avignon. 
He was in his turn succeeded by Boger de Pins, also a 
knight of ProYence, whose rule lasted during a period of ten 
years. The only event of importance which occurred to mark 
this interval was an attempt made on the peurt of the Order to 
impeach Heredia before a grand council for having detained 
and misappropriated revenues intended for the general trea- 
sury. They soon perceived that he had established himself 
too firmly in the good graces of the pontiff to permit them to 
effect his overthrow, and the only result of the appeal was to 
confirm him in all his dignities, without affording any redress 
for the spoliations of which he had been undoubtedly guilty. 
At the same council it was decreed that in future no serving 
brother should be raised into the class of knights of justice. 
Q-eneral receivers were also appointed, to whom all responsions 
should be paid, and by whom they should be remitted direct to 
Bhodes. This step was taken to guard against any further 
misappropriation of revenue, such as that recently effected by 

Roger de Pins died in the year 1365, and was succeeded by 
Baymond Beranger, who, like his two immediate predecessors, 
was also a knight of Provence. A period of 260 years had now 
elapsed since first the Order was established as a militaiy body 
by Baymond du Puy. Since that time many changes had 
taken place, and the institution had developed into a very 
complex organization. It will be well, therefore, at this point, 
to make a pause in the historical narrative, and to furnish some 
detcdls of the power into which the fraternity had expanded, and 
of the mode in which their affairs were conducted. 


Divisions of Class in the Order — ^Langnes — Grand-Master, his position and 
power — Courts of £gard — Bailiffs — Their Offices — Adaptation of the 
Order to change of circumstances — System of management in Com- 
manderies — Report on the Grand-Priory of England in 1338 — ^Lists of 
Commanderies and other estates in the Grand-Priory. 

It has already been stated that at its first institution the Order 
of St. John was oomposed of three separate classes, ranked 
under the respective heads of Enights, Chaplains, and Serving 
Brothers. Of these the second class, namely, the Chaplains, 
gradually became subdivided into conventual chaplains and 
priests of obedience. The former were specially attached to the 
head-quarter convent, and performed all the ecclesiastical duties 
appertaining thereto ; whilst the latter carried on such parochial 
duties as were incident to their profession in the numerous 
European commanderies. The serving brothers were also soon 
divided into two classes, one comprising those who entered the 
Order in this rank with the hope of winning their spurs under 
the White Cross banner, and afterwards of obtaining admission 
into the class of EJoights; the other, composed of men who, 
owing to the want of advantages of birth were unable to enter 
in any other capacity.* 

* <* Fratrum nostromm triplex est differentia. Alii enim sunt miUtes, alii 
sacerdotes, alii servientes. Saoerdotum autem et servientium status rursus in 
duo dividitur ; Sacerdotum in sacerdotes conventualesetsacerdotes obedientia. 
Servientium in servientes armorum, videlicet in oonventio reoeptos, et 
servientes officii vel stagii. QrUi vero sub gradu militiae ad hoc idoneus et 
aptus pro f orm4 statutorum et consuetudinum ad prof essionem nostri ordinis 
admitti postulabit, priusquam habitum suscipiat et professionem faciat, 
cingulo militise deooretur neoesse est. Si autem ab aliquo principe Catholice, 

158 A History of 

At the chapter-general, held in 1357, under the Gband-Master- 
ship of Roger de Pins (referred to in the last chapter), the 
former of these two subdivisions was abolished, it being then 
decreed that no member of the class of serving brothers should 
be eligible for promotion into the rank of knights of justice. 

As time wore on, and the advantages of birth were more and 
more considered, the regulations for admission into the first 
class gradually increased in stringency. The insignia of the 
belted knight were no longer deemed a sufficient guarantee for 
the introduction of the wearer ; it was made necessary that he 
should adduce proofs of the nobility of his descent before he 
could claim admission as a knight of justice. These proofs 
were of four kinds — ^testimonial, literal, local, and secret. The 
proof testimonial was so called from its being the testimony 
of four witnesses, themselves gentlemen by birth, who guaran- 
teed the nobUity of the candidate ; the proof literal was gained 
from title-deeds or other legal documents; the local proof was 
obtained through commissioners who were appointed by the 
Order to proceed to the district where the candidate resided, and 
there to inform themselves as to his birth. The secret proof 
was a further investigation carried out by the same com- 
missioners without the knowledge of the postulant. In the 
various langues these proofs of nobility differed materially, four 
quarterings only being required in the English, Italian, Spanish, 
and Portuguese langues ; eight in the French ; whilst in the 
German no less than sixteen were called for. The stringency 
of these regulations was not relaxed until a later period of the 
Order's existence. Then an innovation gradually crept in, and 
knights of grace were appointed to meet the case of wealthy 
candidates whose parentage was not such as to bear the requisite 
test. The establishment of the princely mercantile families 
who formed the mainstay of the Venetian and Genoese republics 
led originally to this addition. 

Over and above this tripartite division we have already seen 

ant altero, facultatem militiam praDstandi habente militisB insignia non 
fuerit adeptus a fratre milite ordinis nostri suam prufessionem reoipiente, aut 
altero fratre milite militisd hujusmodi insignia, seoundnm conBuetudinem 
militiam prsestandi recipiat ; et demum ordine preefato ineat professionem." 
— CoMueiudo Ord. Sac. Mil, Sanct, Johan, Geros. 

the Knights of Malta. 159 

that during the Ghrand-Mastership of Elyon de Villanova, in 
the year 1331, the fraternity was separated into seven lungues^ 
viz., Provence, Auvergne, France, Italy, Germany, England, 
and Aragon. In the year 1461 an eighth langue was added by 
the division of that of Aragon into two parts, the new portion 
receiving the title of Castile and Portugal. 

The supreme head of this fraternity, which comprised amongst 
its members natives of almost every country in Europe, was the 
Qrand-Master. The position of this dignitary in the scale of 
potentates had varied with the fluctuations that took place in 
the fortunes of the institution. During their stay in Palestine 
he was possessed of a very powerful voice in the councils of 
that kingdom, sharing with the Grrand-Masters of the other 
two Orders almost the entire direction of affairs. His influence 
in Europe was at that time but slight. It is true that his 
fraternity possessed landed property to a considerable extent 
in every country, which property naturally gave hiTn a certain 
amount of influence in its vicinity. Still, residing as he did at 
a point so far remote from the centre of European politics, that 
influence could rarely be exercised in any great degree. When 
the expulsion of the Latins from Syria compelled the brotherhood 
to seek a new home, and led to their establishment ia the full 
sovereignty of the island of Bhodes, all this became changed. 
On the one hand their influence in the East gradually diminished 
as the prospect of re-establishing the Latia kingdom grew more 
and more hopeless. On the other hand, the barrier which they 
had set up in their new home against the encroachments of the 
Turk on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean led to the 
admission of the Order of Hhodes as a by no means unimpor- 
tant member of the body politic of Europe. The Gh:«nd-Master 
as its head, found in consequence, that the consideration with 
which he was treated rapidly increased. The subsequent transfer 
of the convent from Bhodes to Malta led to a still further 
augmentation of this influence, and we shall eventually find 
him not only arrogating to himself the rank and privileges of 
a sovereign prince, but actually in correspondence upon terms 
almost of equality with the principal potentates of Europe. 

It is curious to mark how, during these successive ages, 
the authority which the Pope exercised over the Order became 

i6o A History of 

gradually reduced. Constituted originally as a religious esta- 
blishment, it owed its earliest organization wholly to his fiat, 
and during the first two centuries of its existence appears never 
to have disputed his authority. Indeed, it was to the fostering 
approval of so many successive pontifb that it was indebted 
for the first development of that power into which it subse- 
quently expanded. As by the expression of his approval the 
successor of St. Peter gave to his prof ^gds a support which carried 
them triumphantly through all the difficulties of their position, so 
there is but little doubt that the exercise of the same power on 
his part in an antagonistic direction would have been equally 
successful in crushing them. Time, however, gradually brought 
great changes in their relative position. Many rude shocks dimin- 
ished the extent of the Pope's authority, whilst each succeeding 
generation augmented the influence of the military friars. Step 
by step they gradually shook ofE the dictatorial yoke of papal 
domination until eventually his sovereign authority became little 
more than nominal, and the Gfrand-Master ruled over the island 
in which his fraternity was domiciled with absolute power. 

The rules of the institution do not appear to have contem- 
plated the exercise of autocratic sway by its chief over the 
members of his Order ; being, on the contrary, framed so as 
to mark the extreme jealousy with which his authority was to be 
limited. Even after the possession of the island of Malta had 
established him in the rank of a sovereign prince, and entitled 
him to maintain envoys in all the principal courts of Europe, 
his power over the members of his own fraternity was so limited 
as to render his position often very difficult to support. The 
doctrine laid down in the rules appears to have been that 
the sovereignty was vested in the Order generally, and not in 
the Gband-Master personally ; in fact, he only ranked as the 
first amongst his equals, or, to quote the language used in the 
statutes, primus inter pares. The principle of the Habeas Corpus, 
so justly prized by Englishmen as the sheet anchor of their 
liberties, was carried out to its fullest extent in these statutes ; 
it being illegal for the Grand-Master to detain a member in 
custody for a "period of more than twenty-four hours without 
bringing him to trial. Nor did the vow of obedience taken by 
a candidate at his profession give his superior that power over 

the Knights of Malta. i6i 

his actions which might have been expected. He was permitted, 
in case he disapproved of any order, to appeal to the Court of 
Egard, and to persist in his disobedience until the sentence of 
that court should have been pronounced. 

This Court of Egard was originally established as a tribunal 
before which any dispute arising between members of the fra- 
ternity might be brought to trial or arbitration. It had its 
origin at a very early date in the annals of the institution, and 
although, as time wore on and wrought changes in the Order, 
certain alterations in the Egard were also introduced, still it 
always remained the same in principle. Even until the veiy 
last years of the knights' existence as a sovereign body, this 
court continued to be the principal, nay, the only tribunal of 
appeal before which they sought redress for their grievances. 

It was composed of one member from each langue^ whose 
appointment rested with the laTigues themselves. Over these a 
president was placed, named by the Ghtuid-Master. It will be 
seen that, by this arrangement, the iangue to which the president 
belonged would have two votes, whilst each of the others had but 
one. It was in this way, and in this way only, that the Ghrand- 
Master could exercise any influence in its decisions. On the 
assembly of the Egard, either of the disputants had the right of 
challenge, the person objected to being, in such case, replaced by 
another member of the same Iangue. The cause having been 
gone into, the depositions of the witnesses, which were verbal 
and never reduced to writing, were summed up. At this 
stage the disputants were directed to withdraw, the members of 
the Egard discussed the case with closed doors, and gave in their 
verdict by ballot. The parties were then called back into court, 
and, before the result of the ballot was made known, they were 
asked whether they were willing to abide by the award of the 
Egard. If they assented, the ballot-papers were examined, and 
the votes of the majority carried the cause. 

Should, however, either of the parties have refused to abide 
by the award, the votes were nevertheless examined and re- 
corded, and a new court was assembled to act as a court of 
appeal. This was called the renfort of the Egard, and its 
constitution was the same as the first, except that the number 
of members was doubled. From the decision of this court a 

1 62 A History of 

further appeal lay with a third, which was called the renfort of 
the renfort^ in which there were three members of each langue. 
Should either of the litigants still contiuue dissatisfied, a court of ' 
ultimate appeal was appointed, of which the decision was final. 
This was called the bailiffs' Egard, and was composed of the 
conventual bailiffs, or, in the absence of any of their number, of 
the lieutenants who were performing their duties. The Gband- 
Master selected whom he pleased from amongst their number 
to act as president. That functionary must have in no case 
presided in either of the three preceding courts. The decision 
of this tribunal being final, its sentence was carried into execu- 
tion immediately after its promulgation. 

It would be difficult to conceive a court of equity more admir- 
ably calculated to administer justice without partiality. The 
doctrine that every man should be tried by his peers was recog- 
nized and acted on. The decision resting upon the votes of the 
members gave it all the leading features of a trial by jury. 
The possibility of favouritism was obviated by the selection of 
members from every langue. The right of appeal was most 
amply provided for, the constitution of the tribunal assuming in 
each case a broader basis until there remained no possibility of 
a wrong verdict. The proof of the estimation in which these 
courts were held lies in the fact that, throughout the Order's 
existence, no important change was made in them. When the 
fraternity was expelled from Malta by the French, at the close 
of the eighteenth century, the courts of Egard were in principle 
what they had been four centuries earlier. 

Next in importance to the Gfrand-Master in the governance 
of the Order ranked the bailiffs, or grand-crosses. These 
dignitaries were of three kinds: the conventual bailiffs, the 
. capitular bailiffs, and the bailiffs ad honoreSy or honorary 
bailiffs. The first-named of these resided continuously at the 
convent, and were the immediate chiefs of their respective 
langues. There was consequently only one for each langue. 
His election lay, not with the Grand-Master, but with the 
members of the langue itself. The principle of seniority was 
generally recognized, but not universally applied in cases where 
great merit, or, as was sometimes the case, extreme popularity 
led to the selection of a junior knight. The capitular bailiffs 

the Knights of Malta. 163 

did not reside in the convent, their presence there being only 
required on the occasion of a chapter-general. They were, on 
the contrary, presumed to fix their abode within the European 
possessions of their langue^ of which they were the grand-priors. 
In the English langue there were two of these capitular 
bailiffs, or grand-crosses — ^the grand-prior of England and the 
grand-prior of Ireland. The bailiffs ad honorea were originally 
appointed either by a chapter-general, or, in its default, by 
the Ghrand-Master in council, acting under the sanction of a 
papal bull. This prerogative was gradually found to be highly 
inconvenient. The princes of Europe were perpetually urging 
the Gfrand-Master to its exercise ii;^ favour of their own friends, 
and had their requests been always complied with, the rank 
would have lost its value from the number of its holders. 
Eventually, therefore, the Gfrand-Masters surrendered the pri- 
vilege, whereupon the Pope assumed to himself the right thus 
yielded. Under papal auspices the appointments became so 
numerous, and such strong opposition was offered, that at length 
the privilege was almost entirely abolished, certain titular or 
honorary bailiffs being attached to each langue. There was one 
such in the English langue^ viz., the bailiwick of the Eagle ; 
thus giving to that langue four grand crosses: the conventual 
bailiff, two capitular bailiffs, and one bailiff ad honores. 

The conventual bailiffs each held ex-officio an important 
post in the active government of the fraternity. Thus the 
bailiff of Provence was the grand-commander. This office 
made him president of the treasury, comptroUer of the expen- 
diture, superintendent of stores, governor of the arsenal, and 
master of the ordnance. The bailiff of Auvergne was the 
grand-marshal. He was commander-in-chief of all the forces, 
both naval and military. In those days the services were not 
kept distinct as they are now, and the knights served indis- 
criminately either on land or sea. The grand standard of the 
Order, the famous White Cross banner, which had waved over 
so many a well-fought field, was intrusted to his charge. The 
bailiff of France was the grand-hospitaller, under whose control 
came, as the name imports, the supreme direction of the 
hospitals and infirmaries of the Order. The bailiff of Italy 
was the grand-admiral. He acted as second in command to the 


164 A History of 

grand-marshal. The bailiff of Aragon was the grand-con- 
servator, whose duties were somewhat analogous to those of a 
commissary-general in a modem army. The baili£F of Ger- 
many was grand bailifi of the Order, his jurisdiction being that 
of chief engineer. The bailiff of Castile and Portugal was 
grand-chancellor, and, as such, was supreme over the legal tri- 
bunals. The bailiff of England was the Turcopolier or chief 
of the light cavalry. 

It has been a matter of some dispute as to what was the 
real signification of the term Turcopolier. The most probable 
of the explanations seems to be that of Ducange, who states in 
Ms glossary that the word Turcopolier is derived from the Gtreek 
ttcdAos, a colt, and thence an offspring generally, signifying 
the child of a Turkish parent. They were in all probability 
the children of Christian fathers by Turkish mothers, who, 
having been brought up in their father's religion, were 
retained in the pay of the Order. '^ Being lightly armed, 
clothed in eastern fashion, inured to the climate, well ac- 
quainted with the country and with the Mussulman mode 
of warfare, they were foxmd extremely serviceable as light 
cavalry and skirmishers, and consequently always attached to 
the war battalions."* The earliest record now in existence 
where mention is made of an English Turcopolier is dated in 
1328, when an English knight was appointed to the office, and 
from that time until the year 1565, the post was invariably filled 
by an Englishman. 

It is difficult to account for the arbitrary attachment of a 
peculiar office to each different langue^ when it is remembered 
that most of these posts seem to have required much technical 
professional knowledge, and should, one would have thought, 
have been held by men chosen owing to their fitness for 
the appointment. It would certainly have appeared more 
sensible to have selected as chief engineer a man who had 
made the science of engineering, as then known and practised, 
his peculiar study, rather than to have given the appointment 
invariably to the bailifi of Ghermany, when that dignitajry may 
have been, and probably very generally was, ignorant of the 
simplest rudiments of the profession. The only solution of this 

• Addison's ** History of the Templars." 

the Knights of Malta. 1 65 

inoongruity seems to be that it was designed to prevent the 
jealousies and cabals which would inevitably have sprung up 
on the occasion of every vacancy. Agam, although the Ghrand- 
If aster did not actually possess the patronage of these offices, 
still he must have been enabled, from his position, to influence 
the selection, and as that influence would probably often be 
exercised in favour of his own countrymen, the result would 
have been to overthrow the balance of power between the 
various nationalities. As it was, the preponderance of the 
French element perpetually led to disagreement. It will be 
seen, later on, that it was the source of much difficulty at a 
critical juncture in the Order's fortunes. The regulation was, 
therefore, very probably made as a precaution against the 
monopoly of the all-powerful French langues. It certainly 
seems the simplest method by which that result could be 

Even, however, granting this reason, it still becomes difficult 
to account for the particular selection of the offices attached to 
each langue. The French element being so overpowering, it 
was natural that the three most important offices should be 
attached to the heads of their three langues^ but as regards the 
others, no such solution can be given. It may have been that 
the offices which chanced to have been held by the different 
langues at the time when their respective apportionment was 
decreed, were from that moment permanently attached to them. 
This surmise is somewhat strengthened by the fact that the 
office of Turcopolier was held by an English knight in the year 
1328, and in the year 1331 it was, at the general division of 
offices, definitively appropriated to that langue. This may have 
been the case with other nations. 

Lieutenants were nominated in the same manner as the 
bailiffs, whose duty was to act for them, and to occupy their 
position whenever they were absent from the convent, or 
when they were incapacitated by sickness from attending to 
their duties in person. 

The property held by the Order in the various countries of 
Europe was, for the convenience of superintendence, divided 
into estates of moderate extent, which were called commanderies. 
Several members of the fraternity were attached to each of these 

1 66 A History of 

estates in various capacities, and at it^ head was placed a brother, 
in whose hands was vested its supreme control, and who bore 
the title of commander. Although it was a post of importance 
and responsibility, it was not necessarily held by a knight of 
justice, a certain number of the commanderies in every priory 
having been reserved for the other two classes. It seems strange, 
but it is a fact, that in commanderies thus governed, there were 
nevertheless knights attached in the subordinate position of 
confratres. The commander was bound to exercise the most 
rigid supervision over the estate under his control, and to 
husband its resources with care. Grrand-priors were appointed, 
under whose surveillance a certain number of commanderies 
were placed (usually all those contained in a province or other 
territorial division). These officials received from the com- 
manderies all their surplus revenues, which were lodged in the 
treasury of the priory. 

The payment to be made by the grand-priory to the convent 
at Ehodes, under the title of responsions, was calculated at one- 
third of the gross receipts of the commanderies. An average 
was struck, and a fixed amount based thereon. As the com- 
manderies paid over to the treasury of the prior the actual 
balance remaining of their revenues after payment of expenses, 
the grand-priory was either a gainer or loser, according as 
those remittances were more or less than had been calculated 
on. The responsions were remitted to the treasury through 
the medium of receivers nominated to act in the capacity of 
bankers in most of the leading commercial cities of Europe. 
The grand-prior was bound to make a personal inspection of 
each commandery in his district at least once in every five 
years. He had full authority to correct abuses, and to order 
such renewals, alterations, and improvements as seemed to him 
necessary to develop the productive resources of the various 

It is an interesting study to observe how the system carried 
out by the Order of St. John adapted itself to the varied cir- 
cumstances of the localities where its property was situated. 
In Palestine there were pilgrims to be tended, and sick to be 
nursed; there was also constant warfare to be waged against 
the Moslem. "We find, therefore, that here the Hospitaller in 

the Knights of Malta. 167 

his barrack convent was half soldier, half monk. At one time 
clad in the black mantle of his profession, he might be. seen seated 
by the pallet of the humble and lonely wanderer, breathing 
into an ear that might perhaps be shortly deaf to all earthly 
sounds, the consolations of that faith which they both professed, 
and which had drawn them to that distant spot, so far from all 
the ties of home and kindred. At another time he might be 
seen mounted on his gallant steed, clad in burnished steel, 
hewing a pathway for himself and his brave companions in 
arms through the serried ranks of the foe. The spirit of the 
times was in accordance with such strange transformations, 
and the Order, in thus adapting itself to that spirit, laid the 
sure foundation of its future grandeur and eminence. 

In later years, when the fraternity had established itself 
in Bhodes, we find great changes rapidly made in their 
organization, habits, and duties. The hospitals were still 
maintcdned and tended, but they no longer constituted 
an important branch of the knights' duties. There were no 
weary and harassed pilgrims to sustain and support ; the sick 
had dwindled into the ordinary casualties incident to the popu- 
lation of a small island. The knight was no more to be seen 
forming one of that squadron who, under the white cross 
banner, had so often struck dismay into the hearts of the enemy. 
Having established himself in his new home, and expeditions for 
the recovery of the Holy Land having ceased to be practicable, 
he commenced to fortify his stronghold. Kampart and ditch 
grew and extended, and the skill of engineering science was 
exhausted to devise fresh defences, or to improve those abeady 
existing. The fortress of E.hodes, and, at a later date, that of 
Malta, remain imperishable records of the energy, the per- 
severance, and the skill with which he. carried on his work. 
Meanwhile he was busily engaged in developing the power 
of his Order on the sea. The flag of his adoption waved in 
every comer of the Mediterranean, the terror of the infidel 
and the bulwark of Christianity. On the waters of this, his 
new dominion, he trod the deck of his galley every inch a 
sailor. Few who saw him now would recognise in the hardy 
mariner of the Levant the warrior-monk of Palestine. 

Whilst these changes were taking place in the characteristics 

1 68 A History of 

of the fraternity, another sphere was at the same time opening 
for the display of their gift of adaptation to oircumstcmoes and 
place. Having been originally organized as a body, one of the 
leading features of which should be the poverty of its members, 
they had ended in anuwdng wealth almost fabulona in extent. 
True, the individual remained without possessions of his own, the 
acquisitions continually falling into the hands of the fraternity 
being common property. Under cover of this distinction they 
sheltered themselves against the apparent inoonsistency between 
their vows and their acts. Whilst, however, they thus disclaimed 
all personal interest in the benefits of their wealth, they were 
never^remiss in turning it to the best possible advantage. In 
addition to its privileges property has also its duties, the due 
performance of which requires special aptitude and training. 
"We find the knight of St. John in his European commandery 
abandoning the chivalric aspirations of the Syrian crusader and 
the reckless intrepidity of the island seaman, and appearing 
under a totally different aspect from either, as a genial lord of 
the manor and a wary steward of the property of his Order. 

Nor was the new duty thus imposed upon him by any means 
an easy task. The mere existence of these bands of warrior 
monks, acting under an organization of their own, free from 
external control, was a perpetual source of contention with the 
powers that be, in every land wherein they had gained a footing. 
Freed by the dicta of papal bulls from most of the restrictions 
imposed on the laity, and yet only partially acknowledging 
the authority of the church, they held extensive property in 
coimtries to the crown of which they paid no due alle^ance, 
and the revenues of which they transmitted for expenditure to a 
distant land and for foreign objects. At the same time they 
refused to the church those tithes which she gleaned from all 
her other votaries. They were dreaded by the monarch, who 
scarce knew whether to regard them as friends or foes, and 
they were hated by the genuine ecclesiastic, who looked upon 
them as unauthorized encroachers, despoiling the church of 
much property which the piety of her sons might otherwise have 
dedicated to her own special use. It was a difficult matter for 
the commander, placed in such a position, to steer a middle 
course, and undeterred by the threats of the monarch on the 

the Knights of Malta. 1 69 

one hand, or the mitred churchman on the other, to pursue the 
even tenor of his way, and with calm steadiness and perse- 
verance to carry on that process of extraction for which he had 
been appointed to his office. 

In different countries this system must of course have varied ; 
still the leading features of the operation were undoubtedly 
the same in all. We are fortunate in being able to form a 
very accurate notion of what this was from a report drawn 
up in the year 1338 by the then grand-prior of England, Philip 
de Thame, to the Grand-Master Elyon de Villanova.* The 
picture which this document affords of the stewardship of 
landed property in England in the fourteenth century is most 
valuable, and a careful study of its contents will give the reader 
an accurate representation of the position of agriculture in its 
various branches at that period. 

The document is practically a balance sheet of income and 
expenditure. Let us begin with the income side. In each 
manor the first item recorded is the mansion, with its kitchen 
garden and orchard. The house itself was not a source of actual 
revenue ; still, in so far as it obviated the necessity of any pay- 
ment of rent, it was valuable property. The garden and orchard 
appear in every instance to have produced somewhat more than 
was required for the consumption of the household. The amount 
realized for the excess varied from a few shillings up to nearly a 
pound, but rarely approaching the latter sum. A further source 
of profit was the columbarium^ or dovecote, which in some cases 
produced as much as thirty shillings, the usual average being 
from five shillings to half a mark.f 

Next on the list stands the rent received from arable, meadow, 
and pasture land. The first varied much in the different 
counties. In Lincoln and Kent it ran as high as two shillings 

* This report, which exists in MSS. in the Record Office at Malta, was 
printed hy the Camden Society in the year 1857, under the title of " The 
Hospitallers in England." The report was prefaced by a most admirable 
digest from the pen of the Rev. L. B. Larking, to whose essay the author is 
indebted for much of the matter contained in the remainder of this chapter. 
The original MS. is in perfect preservation, and although somewhat diffi- 
cult to decipher, from its crabbed and contracted Latin, still the writing is 
as distinct and clear as on the day when it was first penned. 

t The mark was thirteen shillings and fourpence. 

170 A History of 

an acre, whilst in Somerset and Norfolk it did not yield more 
than three halfpence. Meadow land seldom f eU bel(»w a rental 
of two shillings an acre, and in Oxfordshire it reached as much 
as three shillings. Pasture land was not calculated by the acre, 
but by the head of cattle ; the average receipt from that source 
may be taken at something like the following figures : — An ox 
or a horse, a shilling ; a cow, two shillings ; a sheep, a penny ; 
a calf, sixpence ; a goat, three farthings. 

Messuages, mills, and fisheries stand next on the list, and do 
not require any special explanation. The profit of stock afforded 
a very considerable source of revenue. This was the return 
produced by the cattle bred and fattened on the home farm. 
In more than one instance it is recorded that through the 
devastation of enemies, damage by inimdations, and other 
causes, the stock returned no appreciable profit. 

A fruitful source of income was that derived from churches 
and chapels appropriated to the Order, the funds of which were 
paid into the treasury, vicars and chaplains being provided by 
it. A glance at the figures given under this head will show 
that, as is the fact with many parishes in the present day, the 
lay impropriators swept off the lion's share of the substance 
originally dedicated to the support of the church. In the case 
of sixteen of these, the combined amount paid to the credit of 
the langue was no less than £241 6s. 8d., whilst the cost of pro- 
viding chaplains was only £34 10s. Certainly this anomaly, 
which has so many bitter opponents in the present day, can 
plead the excuse of long standing, since we find it flourishing 
even in the beginning of the fourteenth century. 

In those days the system of villainage, or compulsory service 
of bond tenants, was universal throughout Europe. We see it 
figuring largely on the credit side of our balance-sheet. These 
services were generally rendered either by payments in kind, 
such as poultry, eggs, com, &c., or by the giving of a certain 
amount of labour for the benefit of the lord of the manor. As 
these latter have almost invariably been entered in the aocoimts 
as money receipts, there can be little doubt that a fixed com- 
mutation had been concurred in between landlord and tenant. 
The former thus secured for himself a certain and settled reve- 
nue, whilst the latter was protected from the caprice of his lord. 

tlie Knights of Malta, 1 7 1 

who might otherwise have demanded his services at a time when 
his own crops required attention. From an entry which occurs 
in the manor of Shaldeford, the price at which this labour was 
commuted may be deduced, it being in that instance fixed at 
twopence a day, the total amount received imder this head 
throughout England being £184 16s. 8d. 

We next come to the rent paid by freeholders, the entry for 
which is placed imder the heading of redditiis assisu^. In only 
one instance is its nature specified. In the manor or bailiwick 
of Godsf eld in Hampshire it is distinctly stated to be rent for 
houses in the two towns of Portsmouth and Southampton. The 
profits arising from the fees and perquisites paid to the manor 
courts, constitute an entry in almost every bailiwick. In some 
cases they amounted to a considerable sum. An officer caUed 
the steward of the manor was appointed for the collection of 
these dues. 

There yet remains an item of income to be explained which 
was of a totally different character to the rest, and could only 
have arisen under an ecclesiastical regime. This is a voluntary 
contribution from the neighbourhood, and is entered imder the 
title of confraria. The mode of collection is not specified, but we 
may presume that by a system similar to that practised in the 
present day in many Boman Catholic countries, a house-to-house 
visitation was annually made for the purpose of extorting the 
charity of the pious. The amoimt thus scraped together by the 
wealthy mendicants of St. John from the overtaxed and harassed 
commons of England amounted in 1338 to nearly £900. It 
appears that even this large sum was less than what had pre- 
viously been obtained, as may be gathered from an entry where 
the smallness of the contributions under tjiis head is accounted 
for by the poverty of the country, and the heavy taxes payable 
to the king for the support of the navy.* 

* '' Item ibidem oollecta que semel fit per annum in diversis ecclesiis que 
vocatur confraria et ad voluntatem hominum si velint aliquid contribuere 
necne quia non possunt compelli ad contribuendum et solebat valere per 
anmim 27 marcas (£18) et aliquando plus et aliquando minus et nunc in 
present! propter paupertatem communitatis regni et propter diversas 
oppressiones ut in tallas (sic) contributionibus domino regi pro defensione 
maris et lanis quas dominus rex capit per totam terram non possunt levari 

172 A History of , 

Having thus glanoed at the various items standing on the 
credit side of the balance-sheet, we now come to the expenditure. 
The first and principal charge against the funds of the com- 
mandery was that for the maintenance of the household. In 
every manor there was a commander, in whose charge was 
vested the property, and attached to hJTn were other brethren 
termed confratrea. These, together with the chaplains, formed 
the first class in the establishment, and a separate table was 
provided for their use. There appear to have been three 
different tables, at which, according to their rank, the members 
of the establishment had their commons ; the first, that already 
mentioned, the second for the free servants of the Order, and the 
third for the labourers or garcionea kept in its employ. Most 
of the provisions consumed at these several tables were provided 
from the stock on the land, and consequently cost nothing. 
There appears, however, very generally an item imder the name 
of coquina, which embraced the supply of meat and fish beyond 
what was taken from the estate. Three different kinds of 
bread were supplied to the several tables, viz., white bread, 
ration bread, and black bread. There were also two kinds of 
beer, the melior and the aecunda. In addition to their keep the 
commander and his confratres had an annual allowance for their 
dress, and as this was the same in each commandery it may be 
assumed that it had been fixed by authority. It consisted of 
£1 for a robe, 6s. 8d. for a mantle, and 8s. for other articles of 
clothing. The members of the household had wages in addition 
to their keep, which not only varied greatly for the different 
classes, but also for the same service in different commanderies. 
The highest in rank was the armiger^ who in some cases received 
as much as £1 a year; the more usual stipend for him as. well 
as the clavigery the ballivua, the meaaor^ and the coquuay being 
a mark. The wages of the htrix or washerwoman seem to have 
been the smallest, in most cases amounting to Is. only. 

A very heavy charge is of frequent occurrence in these 
accounts imder the head of corrody. This term signified a claim 
to commons at the different tables of the establishment, and was 
probably originally granted either in repayment for money lent 

nuno nisi et vix 10 li (£10)." — ^Extract from revenue account of Orenham 
HospitaUera in England, 

the Knights of Malta. 1 73 

or as a return for some favour conferred on the Order. The 
table from whioh the oorrodary drew his commons, depended 
upon his rank. Those who were of gentle blood were accommo- 
dated at the higher table with the commander and his confratres; 
the others, according to their position in life, were quartered either 
on the liberi servient es or on the gar clones. In some eases these 
corrodaries were in the receipt of very luxurious rations. For 
instance, at ClerkenweU, William de Langford is entitled to his 
commons at the commander's table whenever he chooses to dine 
there, together with a place for one chamberlain at the second 
table, and for three inferior servants at the third. But on 
occasions when it was not convenient for him to be present he 
drew instead an allowance of four loaves of white bread, two of 
ration bread, and two of black bread, three flagons of best beer 
and two of the second quality, one whole dish from each of the 
three tables, together with, nightly, for his bedroom one flagon of 
best beer, and, during the winter season only, four candles and a 
faggot of firewood. For his stable he drew half a bushel of oats, 
hay, litter, and one shoe with nails daily. All these allowances 
were granted to him for the term of his life by charter from 
Thomas Larcher, who was at the time grand-prior of England. 
This worthy seems to have distributed pensions and corrodies 
right and left with the most reckless profusion ; so much 
so, that some years prior to the date of this report he was 
either superseded by, or resigned his post to, Leonard de 
Tybertis, grand-prior of Venice, under whose fostering care the 
revenues of the English langue underwent a rapid change for 
the better. 

The charge for repairs was infrequent and small in amoimt. 
We may infer from this that it had always been the practice to 
keep up the buildings in good substantial repair, and thus pre- 
vent large outlay at any particular time for restorations. It 
must be remembered that charges imder this head are only for 
materials other than the timber and stone f oimd on the estate, 
and would not include the labour which, in most cases, could be 
furnished from the staff of the establishment. 

In addition to the expenses incurred for the maintenance 
of the household and its corrodaries, there was in many 
commanderies a heavy item under the head of hospitality. The 

174 ^ History of 

rules of the Order were very strong as to the free exercise of 
this virtue, and it seems clear, on studying -the accounts, that 
they were always most rigidly and liberally complied with. In 
fact, the various conmianderies seem to have partaken very 
much of the character of houses of public entertainment, where 
both rich and poor might feel certain of a hospitable reception. 
Of course no charge was made for this service. It seems, how- 
ever, probable that the item of confraria^ which has been already 
alluded to, had its proportions considerably swelled by the 
donations of such among the better class of travellers as had 
experienced the hospitality of the fraternity. How far this 
claim to reception and maintenance on the part of the way- 
farer may have extended it is difficult to determine, but there 
must have been a limit somewhere, since, unless the fourteenth 
century differed widely from the present day, an unrestricted 
system of open housekeeping would have entailed the main- 
tenance of all the idle vagabonds in the country. The Anglo- 
Saxon law limited the claim in the case of monasteries to three 
days ; probably, therefore, the same restriction was made at the 
commanderies. It may also be assumed that in the case of the 
poorer class of wayfarers a good day's work on the farm was 
extorted in return for the day's keep, thus, in a measure, deter- 
ring the idler from seeking a shelter, the sweets of which could 
only be p\ux5hased by the sweat of his brow. 

This wholesale system of hospitality was not to be traced 
purely to a pious motive ; there were many sagacious reasons 
of policy which much encouraged the practice. It must be 
borne in mind that in those days newspapers did not exist, 
the majority of men travelled but Kttle, and information was 
slow in spreading from one point to another. We may readily 
conceive, therefore, what a vehicle for the collection and 
distribution of important inteUigence the table of the com- 
mander must have been. The grand-prior, in his head-quarters 
at Clerkenwell, might be regarded somewhat in the light of the 
editor of a metropolitan journal recei\ing constant despatches 
from his correspondents at their provincial commanderies. 
These would contain a digest of all the gossip, both local and 
general, which may have enlivened the meals of the preceding 
week. This information could, of course, be collated and 

the Knights of Malta, 175 

compared with that forwarded from other quarters, so that the 
earliest and most correct inteUigence would always reach the 
prior, and this he could at times turn to very valuable account. 
We may conceive him, on some occasions, in a position to give 
a friendly hint to the king, in council, of some projected 
political movement hatched in the fastnesses of the north or in 
the secluded glens of the west. For such information we may 
feel sure that an ample quul pro quo was expected, in the shape 
either of a direct donation or of exemption from some of the 
numerous burdens with which the less fortunate laity were 
oppressed. The knights were well aware of the advantages 
which their organization gave them on this head, and were not 
slow to avail themselves of it. The records exhibit carefully 
the expenses they incurred in hospitality to travellers, but 
they do not say anything of ' the results, pecuniary and other- 
wise, which were obtained by the practice. The intelligent 
reader may, however, perform that calculation for himself, and 
it is to be feared that on striking the balance but little would 
remain to be carried over to the credit of charity. 

There are, nevertheless, some entries which show that this 
exercise of hospitality was not always free from inconvenience. 
Although the fraternity did not grudge a heavy bill for the 
sustenance of their numerous provincial guests, provided the 
information forwarded by the commander was of a value com- 
mensurate with the expenditure, yet cases might, and con- 
stantly did occur, where the outlay was large and the results 
disproportionately small. A few items of local gossip or pro- 
vincial scandal would be dearly purchased at the expense of 
many a good quarter of wheat and malting barley. Under 
such circumstances it was but natural that an exculpatory note 
should accompany the obnoxious item to explain away its 
imwelcome appearance. It was frequently necessary for the 
commander, whose position gave him considerable standing in 
the county where he resided, to receive at his table those of the 
laity who considered themselves his equals, and who chanced to 
live near him. This has, in more than one case, been quoted as 
an excuse for the extent of the housekeeping accounts. Thus, 
for instance, we find at Hampton that the Duke of Cornwall 
is made to bear the blame of the heavy bread and beer bill 

176 A History of 

which the fraternity had oontraoted * and in the Welsh 00m- 
manderies the trampers became the scapegoat, who, to quote 
the expressive language of the accountant, ^' multum confluunt 
de die in diem et sunt magni devastatores et sunt imponderosi,^^ 
The accounts of Clerkenwell, the head-quarter station of the 
Order in England, show that its proximity to the court rendered 
it peculiarly liable to this expense. The king had the right, 
not only of dining at the prior's table whenever he might choose 
to honour that dignitary with a visit, but also of sending to the 
priory such members of his household and court as he might find 
it inconvenient to provide for elsewhere. It is not, therefore, 
surprising that we find among the housekeeping expenses of 
this establishment 430 quarters of wheat at 5s. a quarter, 413 
quarters of malting barley at 4s., 60 quarters of dragget malt 
at 3s., 225 quarters of oat malt lat 2s., 300 quarters of oats at 
Is. 6d., in addition to a lump sum, which we may call the 
kitchen bill, of £121 6s.^d., besides many minor items for meal, 
porridge, pease, candles, &c. It was, indeed, a long price that 
the community had to pay for the presence of th^ monarch and 
his satellites, yet, doubtless, they received such consideration for 
the same as enabled them to bear the burden without succumb- 
ing thereto. 

Of all the entries on the expense side of the account, that 
which seems the most strange is the outlay for law charges. 
Many of these entries reflect much disgrace upon the administra- 
tion of the law in the fourteenth century. Some of the items 
are innocent enough ; as, for instance, the salaries of the law 
officers of the Order, and the fees of counsel, which appear to 
have been usually 40s. a year with robes. In addition, however, 
to these, there are numerous others which prove the barefaced 
venality of our courts of justice, almost all the leading judges 
being in the pay of the fraternity. Thus, in the exchequer, we 
find the chief baron. Sir Eobert Sadyngton ; the barons William 
Everden and Robert Scarburg ; the engrosser, William Stoneve ; 
and the two remembrancers, Grervase Willesf ord and William 
Broklesby, each in the receipt of £2 a year. The opponitor, 
Roger Grildesburgh, figured for an annual salary of £5. In the 

* "Una cum sapei'venientibus quia dux Comubias joxta moratur." — 
Extract from reprise of Hampton manor. 

the Knights of Malta. i^j 

court of oommon bench, the chief justice, Sir William Herle, 
received £10 a year; judge William Shareshull, £5; judges 
Eichard Aldeburgh and John Shardelowe, £2 each. In the 
king s bench, the chief justice, GeofErey Scrope, received £2 
besides a couple of manors at Huntingdon and Penhull. His 
brother justice, Eichard Willoughby, figures on the list for 
£3 6s. 8d., and in the court of chancery four of the dorks 
pocketed an annual fee of 40s. each. All these entries are 
expressly stated to be payments made to the legal authorities to 
insure quiet possession of the lands which had been transferred 
from the recently suppressed Order o£ the Temple. 

Before leaving this valuable docimient it may be well to 
mention that the number of the fraternity at this time resident 
within the limits of the grand-priory of England was 119, 
in addition to three donats and eighty corrodaries. Of these, 
thirty-four were knights of justice, fourteen of that number 
being commajiders; forty-eight were serving brothers, of whom 
sixteen were commanders ; and thirty -four were chaplains, of 
whom seven were commanders. The rank of the remaining 
three is not specified in the document. It must be remembered 
that these numbers only include that portion of the English 
langue comprised in the grand-priory of England. The langue 
embraced as well the Scotch preceptories and the grand- 
priory of Ireland. The actual numbers in these are not 

In addition to the commanderies the Order held in England 
smaller estates called camercB, These were not of sufficient 
importance for the appointment of commanders. They were 
either administered by bailiffs or farmed out. Their proceeds 
went directly into the treasury of the grand-priory, none of 
the fraternity being maintained by them. The langue also 
stood possessed of sundry manors formerly the property of the 
Templars. Lists of the commanderies, camerse, and Templar 
lands are furnished at the end of this chapter, showing their 
respective gross incomes and local expenditure; the balance 
being available for the general treasury of the priory. 

The total amoimt thus credited to the grand-priory was 
£3,826 4s. 6d. The expenditure of the general treasury in 
pensions, bribes, &c., was £1,329 2s. 4d., leaving a balance for 


178 A History of 

the payment of responsions of £2,304 15s. 2d. The grand- 
priory of England was assessed at the amount of £2,280. 
It will be seen, therefore, that in the year in question the 
receipts reached a trifle over that sum; the balance came into 
the hands of the grand-prior. 

The income of this dignitary, as shown in the accounts, was 
£1 per diem. For a period of 121 days, this charge appears in 
the several commanderies, two or three days in each, imder the 
head of the grand-prior's visitation. For the remainder of the 
year it is charged in a lump sum as one of the expenses of 
the general treasury. He received, in addition, an allowance 
of £93 6s. 8d. for robes for himself and his household. 

The property which the Order possessed in Scotland does not 
appear to have realized anything in 1338, owing to the constant 
wars which were devastating the country. It was estimated to 
have yielded in former years the simi of £133 63. 8d.* 

The amoimts given in these lists appear small, but when 
taken in comparison with the cost of articles of food at the 
time, become important. The accounts do not give us sufficient 
data to obtain an average price for these ; but there is an assize 
of the year 1335 in London, which constitutes a fair guide, 
always remembering that country prices would be smaller. 
By this we find wheat priced at 28. per quarter, a fatted ox 
at 6s. 8d., a fat sheep 8d., pigeons 2d. per dozen, a fat 
goose 2d., and a chicken Id. At these prices a shilling 
would go very much further than a sovereign does at the 
present time. 

The list given of Templar lands shows that the Order had 
by the yefiu' 1338 received a considerable addition to its 
income from the transfer. It will also be seen that there 
were many estates held by tenants for life, either rent free 
or at a very low rate. This property may therefore be con- 
sidered as of a gradually improving character. It must not 
be assumed that the Hospitallers were equally fortimate with 
their Templar estates in other coimtries. Nowhere did that 

* '' Terre et tenementa, reddituB et servicia, ecclesie appropriate, etomnes 
possessiones hospitalis in Soocia sunt destructa combusta per fortem gnerram 
ibidem per mtdtos annos continnatam tmde nil hiis diebus potest levari. 
Solebat, tamen, tempore pacis, reddere per annum C marcas." 

the Knights of Malta. 1 79 

"body hold so much land as in England, nor was the transfer 
of their possessions by any means so honestly carried out 
in other countries. Even in England very extensive Templar 
estates fell into secular hands, and although twenty years had 
elapsed since their suppression, the accounts show that the 
grand-prior had not been able as yet to obtain their restoration. 
He enimierates them at the end of his report, giving the names 
of the spoilers who were still standing between the Hospital and 
its own. They ore as foUow : — 

The manor of Strode, value £50 j ^^^^ ^ ^^^ ^^_ 

„ „ „ Deneye, £66 ISs. 4d V ^^ ^j Pembroke. 

„ „ „ Hurst and -Neusom, £120 j 
„ yy „ Flaxflete cum Cane, £100, held by Eandolph 
A water null at York, £13 6s. 8d., held by the king. 
The manor of Carleton, £13 6s. 8d., held by Hugh le 

„ „ „ Normanton-in-the-Vale, £10, held by Lord 

de Koos. 
„ Lydleye, £66 13s. 4d., held by the earl of 

„ Penkeme, £20, held by the earl of Glou- 
„ Gntyng and Bradewell, £133 6s. 8d., held 

by Master Pancium. 
„ Bristelesham, £66 13s. 4d., held by the 

earl of Salisbury. 
„ Bulstrode, £50, held by the abbess of 

„ Sadelescombe, £66 138. 4d., held by earl 







Such was the mode of life carried on in the commanderies of 
the English langue during the first half of the fourteenth 
century. It will not be too much to assume that in other 
coimtries a very similar system was pursued. Certain difPer- 
ences must, of course, have been made to suit the habits and 
character of the people. Although the liberty of the English 
peasant in those days was but limited, it was far greater than 



A History of 

that enjoyed by his continental brother. Doubtless the com- 
mander in a French or Spanish manor ruled over his peasantry 
with an autocratic despotism, denied to him in England. 
We may also safely assume that in no other langue would 
there have been so large an expenditure in the item of beer, 
either melior or secunda. Certainly nowhere else would so noble 
a revenue have been extracted from the same extent of land. 
Still, allowing for these and other minor diGEerences, the report 
of the grand-prior, Philip de Thame, affords a very excellent 
clue to the general system of governance adopted by the Order 
of St. John in the management of its property. 





V Dorsetshire 







Gloucestershire . . 
Herefordshire .... 

Pembrokeshire . . 

North "Wales 






Northumberland .. 
Nottinghamshire .. 


Leicestershire .... 
Buckinghamshire . 


Gross Income. 

Grenham, including Shalde- 



Mayne, including Eyngeston 

and Waye 
Bothemesoomb, including 



Bucldands, including Halse . . 
Godesfield, including Badeslee 

and Runham 




Dynemoor, including Sutton, 

Rolston, and Wormebrigge 

Slebech ... 

Halstan, including Dongewal 




Mount St. John 






Dalby, including Beaumont 


Hoggesnawe ... 


£ s. d. 

76 13 6 


96 2 10 

50 11 


15 11 


20 10 


124 10 


83 9 


66 13 


30 3 


78 11 



60 13 


34 9 

179 8 


57 6 


182 7 


82 1 


307 1 


141 2 


157 5 


79 7 

78 15 


29 15 


95 6 

63 6 

56 5 


30 6 

58 8 


24 16 

83 17 


43 17 


23 18 


17 13 




77 7 

116 6 


50 6 


84 11 


79 5 

128 15 


66 8 


79 4 



74 14 


28 16 


106 2 


49 17 10 

£ 8. d. 

34 8 8 

39 18 8 

42 5 4 

22 3 2 

the Knights of Malta. 





Bedfordshire . . 











Hardwyck, including Clifton 

and relyng 
Shenegeye, including "Wen- 
deye, ^j*nyngton,aiiaCranden 



Batesford, including Coden- 

ham, and Melles 






Gross income. 

£ s. d. 

69 3 5 

187 12 8 

110 16 9 

192 2 4 

93 10 8 

77 16 8 

34 15 4 

82 4 4 





8. d. 

60 18 8 



16 6 

12 7 

3 10 

16 8 

18 4 

421 12 4 












Nottinghamshire . 

Lincolnshire .... 




Cambridgeshire . . 







Buckinghamshire . 


Bedfordshire .... 



Gross income. 

Chiltecomb, including Tolre. 


Swyneford, including Shade- 



Le Stede 

Coppegrave .■ 



Wynkeboume, including 

Horkestouwe and Botnesford 








StUbyng and Chauree 


Stallesf ed and Ore 

Heref eld 


Rutou on Donnesmor 




£ 8. d. 

24 5 4 

16 8 

27 2 6 

36 2 

13 6 8 

6 13 4 

13 6 8 

6 13 4 

6 7 8 

62 8 5 

• •■-■•• 


6 11 

6 8 

6 8 


12 4 
6 8 
6 8 

6 8 

13 4 
13 4 
13 4 


6 8 

13 10 


£ 8. d. 

4 5 4 

7 2 8 

12 15 4 

1 13 4 
22 8 5 



13 15 4' 
20 5 8 

4 13 4 









30 7 2 


A History of 

Propekty T&ansfehred from the Templars. 


Northumberland . 











Lincolnshire .... 









Ditto ........ 

Nottinghamshire . 


Rutlandshire .... 
Huntingdonshire . 
Buckinghamshire . 
Cambridgeshire . . 




Cambridgeshire . . 







Hertfordshire .... 










Rybstavn and Wederby .... 

W y thefee 


Ff oukebrigg 





Wilugnton, including Gay- 
nesburg, Golkesby, Calke- 
well, Thorp in Warectis, 
Ingham, Cabourne, Lym- 
berg, Saxeby, Mere, Wad- 
yngton, Estu*kele, Claxby, 
Temlby, Walcote 


Keteby and Bellewode 


Bruere, including Bouston 
and North Kirkeby 




Suth Wyme 












Cressing and Wytham 






Langef ord 







Gross revenae. 


£ 8. 


£ S. d. 

16 5 

7 5 

Not stated. 


83 6 


9 1 8 

167 11 


66 9 10 

13 6 



13 11 


Not stated. 

18 4 

7 6 8 

19 17 


1 13 4 

37 16 

6 6 8 





284 3 


82 10 8 

Not stated. 

Not stated. 


177 7 8 


122 11 10 


26 13 4 



4 13 4 


Not stated. 

6 13 4 

98 1 8 

16 11 

6 16 


16 13 4 

133 12 4 

16 13 4 

4 4 

13 4 

Not stated. 

16 13 4 

16 13 4 

25 6 8 


26 13 4 
Not stated. 




84 2 

bb 18 4 








32 17 
8 8 4 
15 11 


40 5 8 






Not stated. 






the Knights of Malta. 


Property Transferred from the Templars — continued. 





Leioestershire . . . 





Pembrokeshire . 
Somersetshire . . . 

Wiltshire .... 
Somersetshire . . 



Gloaoestershire . . 


Worcestershire . . 



Herefordshire .... 
Monmouthshire . . 

Shropshire . 






Melton Mowbray 


BaUessall, including Flecham- 
stede and CheUdoote 



Templecoumbe, including 
Wileton, Westcombeland, 
Lopene, - Lode^ Bristoll, 
Worle, Hidon, Templeton, 
and Cleyhaugre 

Roucle, including Lokerugge 


Saunford, with Templecoulee, 
Meriton, Sibf ord, Horspath, 
Orerhorspath, and Little- 


Werpesgrave cum Esjmdon . . 








(jarewy, including Hare- 
woode, Lamadock, Eeimeys, 
and Sanctus Wolstanus 

Staunton, with Prene 


Gross revenue. 

£ 8. d. 

16 13 4 
2 13 4 

17 17 6 
87 7 

6 13 4 

6 13 4 

127 2 6 

18 3 4 
6 3 3 

106 13 

20 7 7 

13 15 1 

141 5 4 

15 16 8 


6 13 4 




6 4 

44 4 8 

87 4 

32 7 1 
13 6 8 

£ 8. d. 

10 16 8 
20 13 8 


74 19 

12 6 8 

66 13 

7 7 7 


59 17 7 








15 12 
46 17 

8 9 10 
13 6 8 


Eleotion of Raymond Beranger — Expedition to Alexandria and capture of 
the town — Election of Heredia — His previous history — He escorts the 
Pope to Rome—Joins the expedition to Patras — Capture of the town — 
Heredia falls into the hands of the Turks — His ransom — Schism in the 
church — Heredia returns to Avignon — His death — Election of Philibert 
de Kaillac — Battle of Kicopolis — ^Purchase of the Morea — Its subsequent 
restoration — ^Timoor the Tartar — His overthrow of Bajazet — ^Loss of 

The vacancy caused by the death of Roger de Pins was, as 
recorded at the end of the sixth chapter, filled by Raymond 
Beranger, who, like his predecessor, was a knight of Provence. 
He inaugurated his accession by an expedition, undertaken in 
concert with the king of Cjrprus, against the infidel. The port of 
Alexandria had of late years become the principal rendezvous 
of the Turkish corsairs who infested the Levant. He deter- 
mined, therefore, in conjunction with his ally, to make a 
sudden and bold attempt against this powerful fortress. The 
armament assembled in Cyprus, and consisted of a fleet muster- 
ing nearly one himdred vessels of various sizes, carrying a large 
body of troops, most of whom were mercenaries serving under 
the banner of the Hospital. The sudden appearance of this 
expedition within the harbour of Alexandria took the garrison 
completely by surprise, and the Grand-Master, hoping to profit 
by their confusion, ordered an immediate assault. The defen- 
ders were, however, too numerous to allow the success of this 
attempt at a coup de main. The parapets were speedily lined 
on all sides, and wherever the Christians attempted to pene- 
trate, they were met by a most obstinate resistance. 

This was the first occasion upon which, within the lifetime 
of any of its members, the Order had taken part in a regular 
expedition against the Turks. The fraternity was therefore 


A History of ike Knights of Malta. 185 

nerved and excited by feelings of emulation to vie with the 
prowess of their ancestors. In vain the defenders poured the 
most murderous missiles upon their opponents. In spite of 
showers of arrows darkening the air in every direction, heedless 
of the Ghreek jBre and boiling oil which were streamed upon those 
who attempted to mount the ladders, or of the huge rocks 
beneath the weight of which they were crushed to the earth, 
they still persisted in the assault. Encouraged by the presence 
and example of their chief, they returned with redoubled 
ardour after each successive repulse, until at length, overcoming 
every obstacle, they forced their way into the town, and drove 
the enemy into the citadel. This fierce struggle cost the Order 
the lives of no less than one hundred knights, but its results 
were so important that the sacrifice was well warranted. The 
booty found in the town was enormous, and the shipping in the 
harbour so extensive that its destruction was a serious blow to 
the naval power of the Turk. 

This capture took place on the 10th October, 1365, and 
Baymond at once prepared to follow up his success by attacking 
the citadel. Before he was able to accomplish his design, he 
received intelligence that the sultan of Cairo was advancing to 
its relief with an army so considerable as to render a further 
contest hopeless. He therefore re- embarked his forces, and 
returned in triumph to Rhodes. Unfortunately before doing 
so, a disgraceful scene of murder and pillage took place, and 
Beranger left behind him only a town in flames, the bulk of 
the population massacred, and a wail of execration at the 
very name of Christian. A large number of Europeans who 
had been captured and made slaves were released and brought 
to Rhodes, many imfortunate Turks being also taken on 
board the galleys to imdergo in their turn a similar fate. 
Amongst the former was Pierre de Saint Georges, a nephew 
of the Pope. This auspicious release went far to ingratiate 
the fraternity with his Holiness, and rendered him more 
ready than he had hitherto been to support its interests. 

Two years after, the Order, in alliance with the republic 
of Genoa and the king of Cyprus, attacked and carried the 
fortresses of Tripoli, Tarsus, Laodicea, ^nd Bellinas. These 
successes so enraged the sultan Amurath I., that he commenced 

1 86 A History of 

preparations for an attaok on Bhodes. Beranger at onoe took 
all the necessary precautions to resist such an invasion. He 
purchased ample stores of provisions, ammunition, etc., for the 
town and other fortified points in the island, and called upon 
the various grand-priories to supply reinforcements of men, 
horses, and arms. 'The storm, however, passed away without 
bursting, and Beranger was left to end his days in peace. 
This event took place in the year 1374, when Robert Julliac, 
the grand-prior of France, was appointed to fill the vacancy. 
At the time of his election he was residing in his priory, 
and before making his journey to Rhodes, he proceeded to 
Avignon to pay his homage to the Pope. "Whilst there he 
received instructions from his Holiness that the knights shoidd 
in future take under their control the entire responsibility 
and direction of the defence of Smyrna. This was a post 
which, whilst most valuable to the interests of Christendom, was 
one of extreme danger and costliness to its immediate holders. 
Situated as it was at a considerable distance &om Rhodes, its 
garrison was completely isolated. Any energetic attempt, there- 
fore, upon the part of the enemy by whom it was surrounded 
would probably lead to its destruction before sufficient rein- 
forcements could arrive. The cost also of the maintenance 
of such a force as the place imperatively demanded was a 
terrible drain upon the already crippled resources of the treasury 
at Rhodes. As a partial alleviation of this burden, the Pope 
assigned for the special support of the defence of Smyrna 
the sum of one thousand livres annually, payable out of the 
tithes of the kingdom of Cyprus. 

Charged with these unwelcome instructions, Julliac proceeded 
to Rhodes, and there, before a general council, he announced 
to its members the mandate of the pontiff. The dismay upon 
receiving this intelligence was unbounded. It was felt that the 
post was one of almost certain destruction sooner or later, and 
that whoever might be selected to form one of its garrison would 
be proceeding to inevitable death. At the same time they saw 
plainly enough how difficult it would be for them to oppose 
the wishes of the Pope without incurring the imputation of 
cowardice, a charge from which they naturally shrank with 
chivalric horror. It was therefore decided to accept the trust, 

the Knights of Malta. 187 

and to rely on the spirit of the firatemity to furnish volunteers 
for the purpose. This oonfidenoe was not misplaced ; the neoes- 
saiy numbers came forward with alacrity, and were at once 
despatched to take over their new acquisition. 

The old and constantly recurring difficulties as to the non- 
payment of responsions from the various priories again came to 
the front during Julliac's rule. It was decided in council that 
any receiver who failed in remitting the due amounts to the 
general treasury, should be at once superseded and replaced 
by one who would make his payments with punctuality. The 
same regulation was to be enforced against commanders. The 
execution of this decree led to much ill-feeling on the part of 
the defaulters, who lead their remonstrances before the Pope. 
Julliac showed great tact in his manner of dealing with this 
appeal. He pointed out to his Holiness that it was impossible 
for the Qrand-Master and council to carry on the government 
of the Order if their decrees were to be constantly objected 
to and suspended from action until the matter had been 
decided. The Pope saw the justice of the complaint, and ruled 
that all regulations emanating from the council were to be at 
once carried into effect, any appeal therefrom notwithstanding. 
As regarded the immediate subject in dispute, he further 
decided that the fiat of the Gfrand-Master as to removals 
from office on account of non-payment of responsions should 
be final. 

This firmness and decision on the part of Jtdliac was attended 
with the happiest results. It was seen on all sides that he was 
a man not to be trifled with, at the same time that he was 
rigidly just and impartial in his decisions. Unfortunately 
he did not live long enough to carry out any permanent reform, 
as he died on the 29th July, 1377. He was buried in an antique 
Greek sarcophagus of white marble, which was utilized for the 
purpose. This sarcophagus, after the capture of Rhodes by the 
Turks in 1522, was emptied of its contents and turned into 
a basin for a public fountain. It remained converted to this 
ignoble use until quite recently, when it was purchased by the 
French government, and deposited in the museum of Cluny. The 
inscription placed on it at the time of Julliac's death still 
remains. It runs thus: — "Hie jacet in Christo religiosus et 

1 88 A History of 

pater Ordinis Prater Robertus de Julhiaco quondam Magister 
saorsB domus Hospitalis Sanoti Joannis Hierosolimitani qui 
obiit Die xxix Julii Anno Domini mccclxxvii Cujus anima 
requiescat in pace." "Here lies in Christ the holy brother 
and father of his Order, Brother Robert de Julliao, formerly 
Master of the sacred house of the Hospital of St. John of 
Jerusalem, who died on the 29th day of July in the year of our 
Lord 1377, may his soid rest in peace." 

Juan Ferdinand d'Heredia, the castellan of Emposta, grand- 
prior of Catalonia, Castile, and St. Qilles, the most extra- 
ordinary pluralist that had ever been known in the fraternity, 
was nominated as the new Grand-Master. The career of this 
man had been so strange, and his influence over the fortunes of 
the Order both for evil and for good so powerful, that he has 
with justice been looked on as one of the most conspicuous 
characters who have figured in its annals. Descended from a 
noble family in Aragon, he was the younger brother of the 
Grand Justiciary of that kingdom, a post of honour and im- 
portance second only to that of the crown. His brother, who 
had been for some years married without issue, was anxious to 
see the family perpetuated through him, and therefore caused 
him to marry at a very early age. The fruits of this union were 
only two girls, at the birth of the younger of whom Juan was left 
a widower. His brother, still eager for an heir, lost no time in 
securing for him a second alliance, selecting for the purpose a 
niece of his own wife. From this marriage a son was bom, 
who was regarded both by his father and uncle as the future 
inheritor of the vast wealth and high dignities of the family, 
Juan himself being destitute of fortune, and entirely dependent 
on his brother. His second wife died after giving birth to a 
daughter, leaving him again a widower with four children, 
three girls and a boy. Shortly afterwards, to his dismay, and 
to the complete overthrow of all his expectations, his brother's 
wife, who had for so many years been cliildless, gave birth to a 
son, whose advent was speedily followed by that of afiother. 
This disastrous incident left Juan, who was of a high spirit and 
haughty temperament, beggared in fortune, and without prospects 
for the future. Unable to rest quietly in his new position, and 
to remain through life an abject pensioner on his brother's 

the Knights of Malta. 1 89 

boTintj, he secretly took his departure for Rhodes, leaving his 
children under the protection of their uncle. There he was re- 
ceived with every demonstration of welcome by the Gfrand-Master, 
Elyou de Villanova, and at once professed as a knight. He 
soon ingratiated himself with the dignitaries of the fraternity, 
and his advancement became as rapid as his high birth and 
unquestionable merits warranted. He was promoted in succes- 
sion to the commandery of Alhambra, to that of Villet, then to 
the bailiwick of Capsa, and lastly to the castellany of Emposta, 
one of the most important posts possessed by the Order. 

The grand-priory of Catalonia having become vacant, the 
nomination of a successor to the dignity gave rise to a dispute 
between the Pope and the Grand-Master. The former had 
nominated a proUg4 of his own in defiance of the wishes of 
the council, and in utter disregard to the claims of seniority. 
They strongly resisted the nomination, and appointed a 
successor on their own account. In such a delicate matter 
the Grand-Master felt desirous that the dispute should, if 
possible, be decided amicably. He determined, therefore, upon 
sending an envoy to the court of Avignon, with plenary powers 
to treat with his Holiness upon the disputed question. This 
was an office of much delicacy, requiring a person of exti'eme 
tact, in whose judgment and good faith the coimcil could place 
implicit reliance. Heredia was unanimously selected for the 
duty, and, having received the most detailed instructions 
as to the line of conduct he should pursue towards the Pope, he 
set sail for France. 

After his arrival at Avignon he was not long in discovering 
that it would be impossible to induce Clement to revoke 
the nomination he had made to the vacant dignity. Heredia 
therefore directed his energies towards the bringing about of a 
compromise which should be amicable in its nature, and by 
which the dignity of neither party should be offended. After 
much negotiation with the rival claimants, in the course of 
which he displayed in an eminent degree that diplomatic address 
which was destined shortly to secure his own political advance- 
ment, he obtained their joint consent to an arrangement by 
which the revenues of the priory were to be divided between 
them, the Pope's nominee retaining the title. To this decision 

igo A History of 

the pontifE willingly gave his sanction, overjoyed to find the 
dispute brought to a close without the necessity for any retracta- 
tion on his part. The compromise was not equally gratify- 
ing to the council, and Heredia felt that his own position at 
Ehodes would probably be much affected thereby. He, more- 
over, was not slow in perceiving that he would be in a position 
to secure his own advancement far better by ingratiating himself 
with the Pope than by a weary residence at Bhodes with an 
offended chief and antagonistic council. Instead, therefore, of 
taking his departure after his mission had been brought to a 
conclusion, he lingered at Avignon until he had succeeded in 
obtaining from the pontiff the appointment of supervisor to the 
disputed priory, neither of its joint holders being competent, 
from their advanced age, to undertake the duty themselves. It 
was not long before they both died, and the appointment being 
thus again thrown open, Heredia, who had by this time com- 
pletely established himself in favour at Avignon, obtained 
from the complaisant pontiff his own nomination to the vacant 

The dismay of the council at Rhodes when the intelligence 
reached them of this new usurpation of authority on the part of 
Clement may be readily conceived. This was aggravated by the 
fact that the envoy from whose diplomatic address they had 
expected such great results had himself taken advantage of those 
abuses which they had commissioned him to oppose, and had 
secured a nomination to which, by the rights of seniority, he did 
not possess any claim. The new grand-prior felt that, after 
having taken this step, all idea of a return to Rhodes must be 
abandoned. He therefore exerted himself to the utmost to 
secure his position at the court of Avignon, and to ingratiate 
himself with his new patron. In this he was so successful that 
ere long he became the favoured minister and principal adviser 
of the Pope. 

About this time hostilities had broken out between the kings 
of England and France. An immediate collision being antici- 
pated, Clement, who was earnestly desirous of avoiding such a 
calamity, despatched Heredia in the capacity of a mediator to 
the hostile camps, trusting that his diplomatic skill might suflBce 
to bring about a suspension of arms. The envoy, who entertained 

the Knights of Malta, 1 9 1 

but slender hopes of being able to efPect such a result, secured 
the pontiff's permission to attach himself to whichever party 
was willing to accept his mediation should the opposing side 
decline his services. In the course of his negotiations he dis- 
covered that the king of France was desirous of ridding him- 
self, upon any terms, of the English invaders, and was therefore 
most willing to accept his good offices. On the other hand, 
when he visited the British camp, he found Edward in a very 
different mood. His offers of mediation were peremptorily 
refused, and he himself treated with the coolest disdain. Irri- 
tated at this behaviour on the part of the English monarch, he 
announced that, in pursuance of the permission he had received 
from the Pope, he should join the ranks of the French king in 
the struggle which he perceived to be impending. 

Within a few days the battle of Crecy was fought. Heredia, 
under the French banner, displayed the most conspicuous 
gallantry, and, towards the close of the engagement, was the 
means of saving the life of the French king. Philip had been 
unhorsed and surrounded, when the grand-prior cut his way 
into the midst, gave the king his own horse, and arrested his 
pursuers, thus enabling him to make his way to the Chateau de 
Broye. Heredia was desperately wounded in the effort, and 
lay for some time in a very dangerous condition. Before his 
recovery was complete it came to his ears that some of the 
chivalry of England in the hostile camp had expressed them- 
selves in no measured terms as to the impropriety of an envoy 
having taken an active part in the battle. Heedless of his 
own enfeebled condition, he at once despatched a herald to 
Edward, offering the gage of battle to any one who considered 
his conduct unbecoming the character of his office. This gage 
would undoubtedly have been accepted had not Edward at once 
published the declaration made to him by Heredia before the 
battle, and therefore honourably acquitted him of all impro- 
priety. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered from his 
wounds he once more resumed his office of negotiator. It is to 
his good services on that occasion that the truce, which was 
shortly afterwards concluded between the two monarchs, has 
been generally attributed. 

During the pontificate of Innocent YI., the successor of 

192 A History of 

Clement, the fortunes of Heredia reached their zenith. He 
had been the most intimate friend of the new pontiff prior to 
his elevation, and now became his sole confidant and adviser. 
He was appointed governor of Avignon, and the affairs of 
the papacy were entirely committed into his hands. Whilst 
occupying this exalted position he was courted on all 
sides. The princes of Europe and their ministers sought by the 
most lavish gifts to ingratiate themselves with a man in whom 
80 much power was vested. He consequently amassed a large 
amoimt of treasure, which he bestowed upon his children. These, 
now no longer dependent on their imcle, found themselves raised 
by their father to a position suited to the claims of their birth, 
and surrounded with all the pomp and luxury which wealth could 
bestow. Heredia was a man of no ordinary mind ; there was 
a magnificence in his ideas more suited to one bom to the 
inheritance of a princely revenue than to the cadet of a family, 
however noble. Thus we find him, in gratitude to his patron, 
surrounding Avignon with a fortified enceinte at his own sole 
cost, a work which must have entailed the expenditure of a vast 
sum. The Pope, equally prodigal in his gifts, though more 
crafty as to the source from whence he drew them, bestowed 
upon him in return the two grand-priories of CastUe and St. 
Gilles. As the cost of this gift fell exclusively upon the 
unfortunate Order, the council was naturally very indignant. 
The just claims of the senior knights were by the mere dictum 
of the Pope set aside, and the principal dignities which should 
have been in its gift were lavished upon a man who had 
proved himself a traitor to its interests. 

After the death of Innocent and during the sway of his 
successor. Urban V., Heredia perceived that his influence at the 
papal court w£is sensibly decKning. The death of Urban, and 
the election of Gregory XI., in 1370, caused it to become still 
further curtailed. He therefore came to the conclusion that it 
would be wise to provide himself an honourable retirement for 
his old age, far from the scene of political turmoil in the midst 
of which he had been for so many years plunged. With this 
view he cast his eyes upon the Grand-Mastership at Rhodes 
as a position precisely suited to his purpose. The death of 
Julliac presented him with an appropriate opportunity for 

the Knights of Malta. 193 

carrying his design into execution. Availing himself of the 
vast interest which his position had secured for him amongst 
the cardinals and others whose voices were likely to control 
the electors in their choice, he caused himself to be put in 
nomination. The council had so often felt the weight of his 
influence when exerted prejudicially to themselves, that they 
were not slow in realizing the policy of disarming such potent 
antagonism by linking his interests indissolubly with their own. 
It was universally admitted that he was at the time the most 
able man within the ranks of the fraternity, and had he not so 
often proved a bitter enemy to its interests, his election would 
have been unanimous ; as matters stood, it was not till after 
a long and acrimonious discussion that his partisans were able 
to carry their point. Eventually they were successful, and 
Heredia found himself duly elected to the post he coveted, 
and to which it had hitherto appeared so improbable that he 
could ever attain. 

It was at this time that Ghregory carried into execution the 
project he had long entertained of restoring the seat of the 
papacy to Bome. A period of seventy years had now elapsed 
since Clement V. had removed it to Avignon, and Gfxegory 
began to perceive that unless some such measure were speedily 
adopted, the allegiance of the City of the Seven Hills would 
in all probability be lost to the pontificate. The Pope was 
escorted on his voyage from Marseilles to Italy by the new 
Ghrand-Master, who had assembled a fleet of eight galleys for 
his own conveyance to Bhodes, and it is recorded that he 
steered with his own hands the galley in which his Holiness 
was embarked. In the Qrdf of lions they encountered a 
severe tempest, during which Heredia, in his novel capacity, 
displayed most excellent seamanship in extricating his vessel 
from peril. It is much to be doubted whether this statement 
can be credited. His career, although a varied and a notable 
one, had not led him much upon the sea; it is therefore 
more than probable that whatever skill may have been shown 
at this crisis was due to the presence of some humbler indi- 
vidual, whose nautical knowledge was at the service of the 

Having seen the Pope securely established in his new home, 


194 A History of 

Heredia ix)ok his leave, and proceeded on his way to Bhodes. 
Whilst off the coast of the Morea he fell in with a Venetian 
fleet, then on its way to Patras, a city which had belonged 
to the republic, during which time it had been famed for 
its commerce in silk. It had recently been captured by the 
Turks, and the object of the expedition was to attempt its 
recovery. The Venetian general was overjoyed at meeting 
with the Qrand-Master, and implored him to lend his valuable 
aid in the undertaking. Heredia felt that his presence was 
urgently required at Ehodes, and he had, moreover, attained 
an age when he might well have been excused from join- 
ing in any such enterprise. His, however, was a spirit 
in which the fire of chivaby burnt as brightly in his old 
age as in his youth. Casting aside all the dictates of 
prudence, he entered eagerly into the views of the Vene- 
tians, and joined his force to theirs against the common 

The allied fleets, having reached their destination, disem- 
barked their forces, who marched direct on Patras, situated 
about a mile from the shore. The town fell at the flrst 
assault, but the citadel, which was very strongly fortified, 
resisted all attempts at an escalade. It was soon seen that 
nothing short of a regular siege would suffice for its capture. 
This was therefore commenced in due form, and through the 
vigour of Heredia, pushed forward with extreme rapidity. 
A practicable breach was no sooner established than, weary 
with the delay that had taken place, and irritated at the 
losses his force had sustained, he at once directed an assault 
to be delivered. Impetuous as ever, in spite of his years, he 
was the first to plant a ladder on the point of attack, and 
thence surmounting the breach, he forced his way on to the 
rampart before he could be followed by any of his knights. 
The first person he encountered there was the Turkish 
commandant, whom he at once assailed. A desperate struggle 
ensued, which ended in the death of the Turk, Heredia 
cutting ofi his head and bearing it away in triumph. The 
losfl of their leader having disheartened the garrison, a very 
slender resistance was made, and the capture of Patras was 

the Knights of Malta. 195 

TTnf ortxmately for Heredia, he was induced by the Veneiianfl 
to extend his conquests still further in the Morea, and the city 
of Corinth was selected as the next point of attack. Whilst 
making a reoonnoissance before this place with a veiy slender 
escort, Heredia was surprised by an ambuscade of the enemy. 
After a most energetic but fruitless resistance, he was captured 
and carried ofi into the city. The chiefs of the expedition were 
so dismayed at this untoward event, that they offered the restora- 
tion of Patras as his ransom. This, however, the Turks refused, 
asserting that they should soon be in a position to re*-capture the 
town for themselves. Upon this the Christians supplemented 
their ofier by the further proposal to pay a large sum of money, 
and to leave the three grand-priors of England, St. Qilles, and 
Eome, all of whom were then with the army, as hostages for 
the payment. It is stated by almost all the historians who have 
nairated the event, that this ofFer having been accepted by the 
Turks, Heredia himself put his veto on it, stating that it was 
&r better that an old man like himself should perish in slavery 
than that three more youthful and valuable members should be 
lost to the Order, even for a time. He also declined the pay-, 
ment of any ransom out of the public treasury, asserting that he 
had sufficiently enriched his own family to enable them to come 
to his assistance in this his hour of need. No entreaties, they 
add, could change the indomitable resolution of the gallant old 
man, and his companions were reluctantly compelled to leave 
him in the hands of the enemy, where he remained for a period 
of three years, until, in 1381, he was ransomed by his family, 
and thus enabled to proceed to Ehodes. 

Such is the story as told by the leading historians, with, 
however, one notable exception. Bosio, the Italian writer, 
who is in many respects the most trustworthy chronicler of 
his epoch, asserts that Heredia was eventually induced to permit 
his ransom to be effected by the Order, pending the anival of 
the necessary funds from his family in Spedn; and that the three 
grand-priors were left as hostages until the money was sent from 
Bhodes. This certainly seems the most rational solution of the 
difficulty, and it is very probably the true record of what did 
actually take place. 

During this interval a schism had sprung up in the Church, 


196 A History of 

whicli WM destined to have a most pemiciouB effect upon the 
Order of St. John. At the death of Gregory, in 1378, the 
populace of Kome, fearful lest the cardinals, then assemhled 
for the election of his successor, should choose a pontiff who 
would restore the seat of government to Avignon, compelled 
them, by the most open and glaring intimidation, to nominate 
an Italian, the Neapolitan archbishop of Bara. This prelate 
ascended the papal throne under the title of Urban VI. In 
spite of the protests which poured in from all quarters against 
the validity of the election, he at once assumed the reins 
of government and the exercise of his office. The cardinals, 
on the other hand, had no sooner escaped from their thraldom 
at Rome than they reassembled in a secure spot from which 
they decreed their former appointment invalid, on the score 
of intimidation. They further proceeded to a new election, 
and nominated Robert, brother of the count of Geneva, to 
the pontificate under the title of Clement VII. The rival 
popes fulminated their ecclesiastical thunders, each against the 
adherents of his opponent, and the schism rapidly spread 
•throughout the whole of Europe. Heredia, upon his release 
from captivity, at once declared for Clement, in which he was 
supported by the convent at Rhodes and the langues of France, 
Provence, Auvergne, and Spain. The Italian, German, and 
English langueSf on the other hand, joined the party of Urban, 
and thus the dispute found its way into the heart of the 
Order. As a further complication. Pope Urban, in revenge for 
the Grand-Master's declaration in favour of his rival, formally 
deposed him, and on his own authority nominated Richard 
Carracciolo, grand-prior of Capua, as his successor. It haa 
been a disputed point how far Carracciolo can be considered 
a legitimate Grand-Master, some writers having recognized 
his claim to the dignity, whilst others ignore him altogether. 
As the deposition of Heredia and the election of Carracciolo 
never emanated from the council of the Order, nor were after- 
wards ratified by them, but were simply the arbitrary acts of 
a pontiff whose own title was not recognized by the majority 
of the fraternity, there can be but little doubt that the nomina- 
tion was invalid, and that Heredia still remained the legitimate 
Grand-Master. This view of the case is materially strengthened 


the Knights of Malta. 197 

by the fact that on the death of Carracciolo, which took place 
before that of Heredia, Boniface IX., who had replaced 
TJrban, refrained from nominating a new chief, and contented 
himself with making his own near relative, Boniface of Cara- 
mandra, lieutenant of the Order. He at the same time 
annulled all the appointments which had been conferred by 
Carracciolo, in order to remove, as far as practicable, any 
further cause for schism. 

During these disputes and disorders Heredia found it was im- 
possible to enforce due obedience to his authority from many of 
the European connnanders. Availing themselves of the doubt- 
ful nature of his position they neglected to pay their responsions ; 
and repudiating all submission to the decrees of the council, 
they assumed an independence most fatal to the interests of the 
fraternity. Under these circumstances Heredia was requested 
to return to Avignon, and to seek at the hands of Pope Clement 
the means of reducing the refractory commanders to submission. 
Mindful of the bad use which he had once previously made 
of his authority on a similar occasion, the council, prior to his 
departure, extracted from him a pledge that he would faithfully 
remit to the public treasury all the responsions which he might 
collect. So as to compel him to hasten his return to Ehodes 
they further decreed that during his absence from the convent 
the power should be withheld from him of nominating to any 
vacant dignities. They carried their precautions still further by 
selecting four knights, who were to accompany him, ostensibly 
as an escort, but in reality as a check on his movements. Their 
suspicions proved groundless. Heredia, as Grand-Master, was 
a very different person from the young and ambitious knight, 
with his fortune still before him and his way to push in the 
world. At his request the Pope summoned several chapters- 
general at Avignon, at all of which he presided, and in which 
many beneficial regulations were enacted. By precept and 
example he succeeded in recalling a great majority of the 
recusants to their duty, and obtained for the treasury the 
payment of many arrears in the responsions. 

As at this time Smyrna and Rhodes were threatened by the 
Turks, he despatched to both places, at his own cost, vessels 
laden with provisions and munitions of war. He also made 

1 98 A History of 

several foundations in favom* of his langtie in the kingdom of 

At length, in the year 1396, Heredia, bowed with years and 
with the cares of his office, sank into the grave, universally 
regretted and beloved by his fraternity. The virtues and 
good deeds of his old age had obliterated the reminiscences of 
what he had been during the earlier portion of his career. Men 
forebore to think on all the wrongs which he had wrought 
against them in former times when contemplating the advantages 
and the prosperity, which, during his rule of twenty years, he 
had been the means of promoting. He was, in truth, a strange 
compound of good and evil. Greedy of wealth he was, yet no 
miser ; he was ever prompt to scatter with a lavish hand, and 
with the most magnificent profusion, those treasures which he 
had toiled so incessantly to amass. Ambitious in the highest 
degree, he scrupled not at the means he employed to attain 
power ; yet, having gained the highest dignity which the Order 
could bestow, he used that power only for the public service, and 
for the most beneficent purposes. Indeed, both his rapa<)ity 
and his ambition seem to have sprung more from the desire to 
benefit his children than himself. Their position in life once 
fairly established, much of the eagerness with which he had 
pursued wealth and power seems to have subsided. He was 
left in his old age to earn for himself that high position which 
he undoubtedly occupies as one of the greatest and wisest of 
those who had as yet swayed the fortunes of the fraternity. 
Vertot well sums up his career by saying that it would have 
been good for the Order had he never entered it ; or, having 
once reached the goal, had he been permitted never to be taken 
away from it. He was buried in the monastery of N. D. de 
Caste, in Spain, of which he was the founder. 

The vacancy caused by his death occurred at a time when 
the convent was not only distracted by the papal schism still 
raging in Europe, but also threatened by a new and redoubt- 
able antagonist in the East. Under these circumstances it wsls 
necessary that it should be extremely cautious in the selection 
of a successor. Philibert de Naillac, a native of Berri, grand- 
prior of Aquitaine, was the knight who enlisted in his favour 
the majority of suffrages. Subsequent events fully bore out the 

the Knights of Malta. 199 

wisdom of the choice. He had no sooner assumed the duties 
of government than he was called upon to join in a general 
European Crusade against the foe already alluded to. 

Bajazet, or Bajazid, a descendant and successor of Othman, 
had overcome in succession most of the petty sovereigns by 
whom he was surrounded. His ambition increasing in propor- 
tion to his successes, he threatened an irruption into Hungary, 
Thence he openly boasted that he would push his way into Italy, 
where, after having planted his standard on the Capitol at 
Bome, he would convert the altar of St. Peter's into a manger 
for his horse. The Pope became terrified at these menaces, 
which the power of Bajazet's army and the feebleness of the 
eastern ^rtion of Europe rendered by no means impossible of 
execution. He therefore invoked the aid of Europe to crush 
the proud dream of the aspiring chieftain. In obedience to 
his call-f^ league was formed, comprising Charles VI., king of 
France, Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy, the republic of 
Venice, Michael Paleologus, the Greek emperor, the knights of 
B*hodes, and the chiefs of sundry other petty principalities in 
the East. 

This expedition, of which the greater part was composed of 
Frenchmen, marched through Germany, Bavaria, and Austria 
into Hungary, where they were joined by de NaiUac, with a large 
contingent of his fraternity. The count de Nevers, eldest son 
of the duke of Burgimdy, commanded the French contingent, 
whilst Sigismond, king of Himgary, attached the Hospitallers, 
with whose worth he was well acquainted, to his own forces. 
The €mny which had thus assembled was so powerful that 
throughout its ranks an overweening confidence and a fatal 
sense of security prevailed. It was deemed impossible that 
Bajazet, with his wild hordes, could for ona moment stand 
against the proud array advancing to overwhelm him. Their 
march, in consequence, resembled more a triumphal progress 
than a critical movement in the face of a bold and wary 

During this time Bajazet had been engaged in the blockade 
of Constantinople, a city which he was most anxious to subdue, 
but which at the moment he did not feel sufficiently strong 
to attack openly. He remained quietly with his troops, not 

200 A History of 

attempting to oppose any check to the advance of the Christians, 
but contenting himself with watching warily the general course 
of events, and studiously concealing all information as to his 
own movements. The allies having passed the Danube, entered 
Bulgaria 100,000 strong, of whom one-half were cavalry. 

Their first operation was to imdertake the siege of NicopoUs, 
a powerful fortress on the right bank of the Danube, a little 
below the confluence of the Aluta and Osma. This place was 
foimded by Trajan, and some remains of his waUs are still to 
be seen. The works occupied a height dominating over that 
part of the town which lay without the enceinte. It was a 
very strong post and well fortified, being one of considerable 
commercial importance. At this time it was commanded by 
one of Bajazet's most experienced leaders. The defence was 
conducted with the utmost skill and bravery, every inch of the 
ground being warmly contested. The Christians found the 
advance very slow and their successes unimportant, when taken 
into consideration with the losses they daily sustained. During 
all this time their camp was the scene of the most reckless 
debauchery, and the reins of discipline seem to have been 
utterly relaxed. No attempts were made to gather information 
as to what was going on beyond the immediate vicinity of the 
army, and all were lulled into a state of the most supine and 
fatal security. Meanwhile Bajazet, having collected his forces, 
was advancing with the utmost rapidity and the most profoimd 
secrecy to the relief of the beleaguered fortress. So admirably 
were his dispositions carried out that it was not until his army 
appeared in their front that the negligent and incautious be- 
siegers had the slightest intimation of his proximity. What 
ensued was a precise coimterpart of those scenes so often before 
enacted upon the soil of Palestine. Headstrong obstinacy and 
unthinking impetuosity were once more destined to bring about 
crushing and humiliating defeat. 

Sigismond was well acquainted with the practice then univer- 
sally prevalent amongst Eastern generals of placing in the van 
of their armies the most worthless of their levies. These were 
intended to bear the brunt of the first onset, whilst the better 
and more trustworthy troops were held in reserve for subsequent 
action, so soon as the vigour of the attack had exhausted itself. 

the Knights of Malta. 201 

He therefore proposed that a Bimilar measure should be adopted 
in their own army, and suggested that his raw militia would be 
the most suitable opponents for the undisciplined hordes of the 
enemy. The count de Nevers, however, with that blind ob- 
stinacy by which the bravest men so often mar their fortimes, 
would listen to no such proposition. He asserted that the van 
was the post of honour, and as such belonged of right to the 
chivalry of France. The attempt of Sigismond to substitute in 
their place his Hungarian forces arose, he considered, simply 
from a desire to secure for his own nation the chief glory 
of the day. Supported as he was by leaders as hot-headed 
and arrogant as himself, all remonstrances were imavailing. 
The king was therefore reluctantly compelled to witness the 
flower of the combined army wasting its energies and exhaust- 
ing its powers against the worthless rabble who were preceding 
the main body of Bajazet's army. 

Eagerly plcu)ing himself at the head of his gallant array, 
de Nevers, with an impetuosity which might have led to success 
had it been tempered with the smallest display of prudence, 
dashed furiously at the advancing foe. As might have been 
expected, the swarms opposed to him were scattered like chafF 
before the wind. Without offering any resistance worthy 
of the name, they either suffered themselves to be helplessly 
slaughtered, or endeavoured to purchase safety by a tumultuous 
and disorderly flight. The dispersion of this advanced body 
soon disclosed to de Nevers' view a spectacle which would 
have dismayed any but the strongest nerve. Directly in his 
front were drawn up, in dense and serried masses, a huge 
column of janissaries, then justly considered the flower of the 
Turkish infantry. Their vast and solid battalions presented a 
firm and apparently impassable barrier to his further progress. 
Without a moment's pause, however, the French dashed at their 
new assailants, and a desperate combat ensued, which lasted for 
a considerable time before success declared itself on either side. 
The impetuous onset of the Christians proved in the long 
run irresistible, and the proud janissaries, whose renown and 
unbroken career of success had up to this moment led them 
to consider themselves invincible, quailed beneath the vigour 
of de Nevers' attack. After a protracted though vain attempt 

'■r ■ "1 

202 A History of 

to maintain their ground, they at length gave way, broke 
their ranks, and sought shelter in flight. 

Bajazet had as yet brought into action only a portion of 
his forces. On perceiving the disaster which had befallen 
his janissaries, he advanced for their support a large body of 
cavaliy, in whose rear the flying infantry found cover from the 
fierce pursuit of the foe. The ardour of the French appeared 
to rise with each successive obstacle. Heedless of the vastly 
superior numbers opposed to them, and without waiting for 
support from the remainder of the army, they dashed at their 
new antagonists with so vigorous a charge that they carried all 
before them. This second barrier was swept away with the 
same facility as the first. 

Up to this point all had gone welL The main body of the 
army had apparently only to remain quiet spectators, whilst the 
chivalry of France were overcoming and dispersing in helpless 
confusion ten times their number of the choicest forces under the 
banner of BajcLzet. Had de Nevers halted there, and rallying 
his scattered forces permitted the rest of the army to advance 
and follow up the victory he had so gloriously achieved, that day 
must have witnessed the complete overthrow of Bajazet's power. 
Fate, however, had decreed it otherwise. Although his ruin 
was indeed close at hand, it was not by Christian might that 
his destruction was to be accomplished. He was, on the con- 
trary, permitted to enjoy yet one more brief hour of triumph 
ere his own day of retribution dawned. 

Hurried away by the ardour of pursuit, de Nevers did not for 
one moment stop to consider the exhausted state to which his 
troops had been reduced by their previous efforts. Fredsing 
forward, he permitted them to break their ranks, and to urge 
their jaded steeds after the flying foe in every direction. It 
was whilst they were in this disordered condition that, on 
crowning the brow of a hill, they were surprised to see on its far 
side a dense forest of spears, which had hitherto been concealed 
from their view. This was Bajazet's grand corps of reserve, 
with which he still trusted to redeem the fortunes of the day. 
Placing himself at its head, he prepared once more to 
renew the combat against his redoubtable antagonists, who had 
thiioe overcome all that had been opposed to them. Those very 

the Knights of Malta. 203 

Yictories, however, had only the more surely prepared for their 
present defeat. Men and horses were all exhausted ; their ranks 
were broken, and all organization lost in the late disorderly 
pursuit. What wonder, then, that this fresh array of troops, led 
by Bajazet in person, should gain an easy victory! Combat 
there was little or none, and only a very slender remnant of that 
gallant band succeeded in extricating itself from the fatal 

The scale of victory had now turned. The Hungarians, 
witnessing the complete destruction of their French allies, in 
whom they had placed their chief reliance, and being themselves 
principally raw imdisoiplined levies of militia, did not wait to 
encounter the shock of Bajazet's advance. They gave way at 
once, and fled ignominiously from the field. The Bavariajis, 
however, under Gara, the elector palatine, and the Styrians under 
Herman de Cilly, stood firm, and, supported by the knights of 
Rhodes, sustained with a resolute front the onset of the enemy. 
Being reinforced by such of the French cavalry as had escaped 
the previous meUe^ they resumed the offensive, and to the 
nimiber of about X2,000, hurled themselves anew on the Turk. 
At this moment it seemed as though the fate of the day might 
still be restored. The impetuous charge of those gallant spirits 
carried them through the serried ranks of the janissaries, who 
were totally unable to withstand the shock, whilst the sipahis 
who advanced to their support were thrown into the utmost 
disorder, and appeared as though they were once more about to 
quail before the chivalry of Europe. 

At this critical moment the Eral of Bervia, a faithful ally 
of Bajazet, rushed to the rescue with a fresh body of troops 
numbering 5,000. This reinforcement decided the victory in 
favour of the Turks. The heroic band which had struggled 
so long and so nobly to restore the f ortimes of the day, was 
crushed by the new foe, and the larger number perished 
gloriously around their banners. A few faithful knights, 
amongst whom was Philibert de Naillcu), gathered round 
Bigismond, and with the greatest difiiculty extricated him from 
the battle-field. Having gained the side of the Danube, they 
placed the king and the Archbishop of Grau in a little boat 
which was lying beneath the shelter of the bank, they them- 

204 A History of 

selves remaining on the shore to cover the retreat of the monarch. 
As soon OiS they had assured themselves that the stream had 
canned the boat beyond the reach of the enemy, de Naillac, 
accompanied by G-ara and Cilly, took possession of another boat, 
and made good their own escape in a similar manner. Most 
fortunately they very soon encountered the combined fleet of 
the Hospitallers and Venetians, by which they were promptly 
conveyed to Ehodes. Here, after a detention of a few days, 
during which de NaiUac entertained his royal guest mth great 
splendour, Sigismond passed on into Dalmatia. 

The results of this action, which took place in 1396, and 
has since been known as the battle of Nicopolis, were most 
disastrous to the Christians. The whole of the prisoners who 
fell into the hands of Bajazet, were ordered by him to be 
murdered in cold blood, to the number of upwards of 10,000. 
The carnage lasted from daybreak till four o'clock in the 
afternoon of the day following the battle. Only the count 
de Nevers, and twenty-four other knights, from whom Bajazet 
expected a large ransom, were rescued from the general 
slaughter. If, as has been recorded by contemporary historians, 
the French, prior to going into action, had massacred such 
Turkish prisoners as were then in their hands, this butchery 
may be considered in the light of a reprisal, and its dia- 
bolical atrocity somewhat mitigated. 

The overthrow of the allied army having left Bajazet com- 
pletely at liberty, he once more pursued his cherished schemes 
of conquest. The siege of Constantinople, which had hitherto 
assimied the form simply of a blockade, was converted into an 
active operation, and pushed forward with extreme vigour. At 
the same time he overran the whole of the Morea, and extended 
his advantages to so great a degree, that the ruler of the 
country, one of the porphyro-geniti, Theodore Paleologus, fled 
from his dominions. He took refuge at Ehodes, and whilst 
there offered to sell his rights over the district to the knights 
of St. John. This proposal having been accepted, and the 
price agreed on, which was paid partly in money and partly in 
jewels, the Order sent commissioners into the Morea to take 
formal possession of its new acquisition. The inhabitants of 
Corinth welcomed them with joy, feeling that they would be 

the Knights of Malta. 205 

&r more secure under the white cross banner than under 
the enfeebled swaj of the Paleologi. Bajazet had during 
this interval been compelled to withdraw his forces from their 
ravaging expeditions, and to concentrate them for the purpose 
of opposing a new enemy who had appeared in his rear. The 
city of Sparta, taking advantage of the temporary freedom 
gained by the absence of their dreaded foe, refused to admit 
the oommissioneTS within* their walls, or in any way to confirm 
the transfer which had taken place. Faleologus is suspected of 
having stimulated this opposition, as he already regretted the 
sale he had effected, now that the dread of Bajazet was less 
imminent. The Qrand-Master felt that he was in a difficult 
position. He and his council had been prepared to pay, and to 
pay liberally, for the sovereignty of the Morea ; but this was 
quite another matter from having to undertake the subjugation 
of the country. They were therefore compelled to consent to 
the rescinding of the contract. It was, nevertheless, with the 
utmost difficulty, and not till after the lapse of several years, 
that they eventually succeeded in rescuing from the grasp of 
Faleologus the treasure and jewels which had been handed over 
to him. 

In about the year 1400, as nearly as can be traced, de Naillac 
built the tower of St. Michael at the western extremity of the 
main harbour of Ehodes. This tower was square in plan, and 
three stories in height, the one at the bottom being much lower 
than the others. A machicolated parapet ran round the top. At 
each comer was a circular projecting turret, also machicolated. 
On the top of the tower was an octagon lantern with steps on 
the outside, giving access to the summit, whence an extensive 
look-out view could be obtained. The total height of the 
tower, including lantern, was 150 feet. It bore the escutcheon 
of de Naillac as weU as that of the Order. A cut-stone gateway 
connected the tower with a platform, armed on both sides with 
heavy guns, which swept the harbours. This tower was thrown 
down in the earthquake of 1863, and the ruins have been 

Up to this time the career of the ambitious Bajazet had 
been unchecked by any serious reverse. One by one he had 
overcome the petty sovereigns by whom he was surrounded^ and 

206 A History of 

establishing himself on the conquered temtory, had created a 
powerful and ever-enlarging kingdom. His recent success at 
the battle of Nicopolis seemed to open the way for further 
acquisitions, and to smooth for him the path of ambition he 
had determined to tread. The capture of Constantinople, and 
such feeble remnants of the Byzantine empire as were still 
retained by the Paleologi, had long been a day-dream with him. 
The moment seemed now to have aSrived when that project 
might be carried into execution. All dread of further opposi- 
tion from the countries of western Europe was at an end. A 
wail of lamentation had arisen throughout France when the 
news reached that country of the fearful slaughter of the battle 
of Nicopolis, and the inhuman butcheries which had followed it. 
The penalties of intervention had been too severe and universal 
to admit of the slightest prospect that any further opposition 
was to be feared from that quarter. Everything seemed to 
promise favourably for Bajazet, and consequently most disas- 
trously for the Gtreek emperor. Under these critical circum- 
stances the latter was at length driven to seek the aid of 
one whose interposition was in the long run likely to prove 
as fatal as that of Bajazet. 

In an evil hour for Christianity he applied for the assistance 
of Timour-Lenk, or Tamerlane, the redoubted Tartar chief, the 
fame of whose exploits was even then ringing throughout the 
Eastern world. Of the origin of Timour, different versions have 
been recorded. Some have asserted that he was of very mean 
parentage, his father having been a simple shepherd, and that 
he himself had been engaged during his early youth in super- 
intending the pasturage of his flocks. Others again endeavour 
to trace his descent from the great Djenghis Khan. Whichever 
may be the correct version, there is no doubt that he established 
his power entirely by the strength of his own right hand, and 
that from the most slender beginnings, he raised himself to a 
dominion over the countries of the East so extensive as to have 
excited within his breast the hope of some day aspiring to uni- 
versal empire. The character of Timour was one which marked 
him as a being destined to play no ordinary part on the stage of 
life. With all the qualities requisite for a great commander, he 
was at the same time endued with the keenest political sagacity, 

the Knights of Malta. 207 

a gift which enabled him to consolidate his conquests, so as to 
render their retention a matter of no difficulty. Naturally 
ferocious and bloodthirsty, he aimed at a rule of terror, which 
he considered the surest protection of a sovereign. The saying 
is attributed to him that the throne of a monarch could never 
be safe unless its base were floating in blood. The ambitious 
tone of his mind may be well gathered &om another of his 
favourite sayings, that as there was but one Q-od in heaven, so 
there should be but one ruler on earth. Indomitable in will, he 
never formed a resolution without persisting in its execution, in 
spite of every difficulty. Opposition appeared only to increase 
his determination, and he thus succeeded in overcoming obstacles 
before which a less dauntless mind might have been cowed. His 
person was as singular and conspicuous as his character. He was 
lame, the result of a fall from the rampart of a fortress which 
he was assaulting. Notwithstanding this infirmity, he had an 
upright gait and a proud commanding air. His head was 
large, his brow expansive, and his hair, which was snowy 
white, combined with the ruddiness of his complexion to give 
him a most remarkable appearance. The game of chess was a 
passion with him, and he had but few equals in the art. Deeply 
imbued with superstition, he held the priesthood in profound 
reverence; at the same time his own religion has been much 
disputed, and appears to have been selected to suit his policy 
rather than his faith and convictions. As the great majority 
of his subjects were Mahometans, he adopted their tenets, but 
he seems never to have practised them very rigidly, nor to 
have hesitated in any breach of their laws which might ad- 
vanoe his temporal prosperity. 

Such was the ally whose aid the emperor of Constantinople 
had invoked, thus bringing upon Europe the savage who had 
hitherto contented himself with sweeping the vast plains of 
Asia. Timour, who was not over-pleased at the prospect of so 
powerful a neighbour as Bajazet, entered willingly into the 
views of the Ghreeks. He therefore at once sent an envoy to 
the Ottoman prince requiring him to desist from the further 
prosecution of his designs against Constantinople. He also 
called upon Bajazet to restore to the neighbouring princes, 
many of whom had taken refuge at his own court, those 

2o8 A History of 

territories that had been torn from their sway. To this 
demand Bajazet returned a peremptory refusal, accom- 
panying his reply with the most insulting and offensive threats 
against his Tartar rival. The fiery nature of Timour was 
promptly aroused by the terms of Bajazet's message. He 
therefore resolved to wreak a bitter vengeance upon the prince 
who had dared thus to oppose his views and arouse his wrath. 
A call to arms throughout his extended dominions was speedily 
obeyed in all quarters, and a vast force, composed of the various 
nations which acknowledged his sway, was speedily collected 
beneath his banners. 

The first active operation of the war which then began, was 
the siege of Sebasta, now Sivas, a powerful fortress in Cappadocia, 
the defence of which was conducted by Ortogul, a favourite son 
of Bajazet. The extreme strength of the place, and the power- 
ful garrison within its walls, led that prince to consider that it 
would be an easy matter to detain Timour until his father 
should be in a position to advance to his support. Little, how- 
ever, did he know the audacity and overpowering daring of his 
opponent. Neglecting all the ordinary routine of a siege, Timour 
hurled his wild hordes, in endless succession, against the ramparts, 
and by the sheer force of numbers, succeeded, after an almost 
incredible amount of slaughter, in forcing his way into the town. 
The whole of the defenders were at once put to the sword in the 
fury of the moment, Ortog^ himself being one of the victims. 

The news of this, the first reverse which had fallen upon his 
arms, «u5Companied, as it was, by the loss of his favourite son, 
caused the most poignant grief and the liveliest anxiety to 
Bajazet. Hastily assembling his forces, he pushed rapidly for- 
ward to meet the enemy who had dealt him so cruel a blow. 
The hostile forces encountered each other near the town of 
Angora. The result of the desperate encounter that ensued 
was fatal to Bajazet; his army was cut to pieces and utterly 
annihilated, whilst he himself fell a prisoner into the hands 
of his foe. He remained in captivity, sufEering the most cruel 
indignities, until his death, which occurred a few months later, 
and which was undoubtedly brought on by the keenness of his 
disappointment at the utter overthrow of all his projects. 

The knights of lUiodes had now cause to lament the pre- 

the Knights of Malta. 209 

cipitancy with which the Greek Emperor had invoked the aid of 
80 dangerous an ally. After having, by rapid advances, and 
with the able assistance of his lieutenants, secured to himself 
the full results of the successes he had gained, Timour turned 
his eyes in the direction of those European conquests which had 
so often excited the ambition of Bajazet. His keen glance 
instantly perceived that the strongest bulwark of Christianity 
he would have to overcome was that island fortress, the heights 
of which were crowned with ramparts, and defended by those 
well-known warriors of the Cross, the fame of whose deeds had 
penetrated even to the remotest borders of Asia. Before he 
could attempt to crush the parent establishment, he saw that 
it would be necessary to deal with the offshoot at Smyrna, and 
he therefore led his forces in that direction. 

It is stated that his first sumimons merely required the form 
of planting his standard upon the citadel, and that William 
de Mine, the knight to whom the Grand-Master had confided 
the defence, rejected the offered compromise with scorn. 
Such a. proposal sounds, under the circumstances of the case, 
most improbable; nor was it at all in accordance with the 
character of Timour. The real demand, probably, was surrender. 
We have an account of the capture of Smyrna from the pen 
of the Persian historian Sefet-el-din, who was a contemporary 
writer. He states that Timour sent an embassy thither offering 
the following conditions: — That the garrison and inhabitants 
shoidd all embrace the Mahometan faith, in which case they 
were promised great advantages and good treatment ; or, if 
they refused to abjure Christianity, that they should pay a 
suitable ransom. In either case, of course, they were to sur- 
render the fortress. Failing the acceptance of one of these 
alternatives, they were all to be put to the sword. The 
historian records that, as they were predestined to perish, 
both promises and menaces were alike useless. 

De Naillac had foreseen that whatever might be the issue 
of the struggle between Bajazet and Tamerlane, the victor 
would be sure to turn his arms against Smyrna. He had 
therefore taken every precaution for its defence. He appointed 
William de Mine, the grand-hospitaller, as its governor; a 
knight in whose dauntless courage and intelligent zeal he felt 


2IO A History of 

he could confide. He had also poured in large reinforcements 
both of men and munitions of war. The Persian historian says, 
on this head, that " the princes of Europe had sent there many- 
brave Christian warriors ; or, to speak more plainly, a band of 
mad devils." Everything, therefore, had been done to render 
the place as secure as its exposed position would permit. 

Timour, finding his proposals rejected, gave instructions to his 
generals to commence the siege at once. Under their command, 
however, little or no progress was made. At length he himself 
arrived before the place on the 6th day of the month Dj^mazul- 
Evel, 805 (the 1st December, 1402). His first act was to simi- 
mon the garrison to a prompt surrender. In order to secure the 
immediate submission of the fortresses he attacked in person 
Timour had adopted a system from which he never deviated. 
On the first day a white flag was hoisted over his pavilion: 
this signified that if the town surrendered on that day, the lives 
of its people would be spared, and the place itself preserved 
from pillage. On the second day a red flag was substituted : 
the conditions then were, the death of the governor and of 
the leading inhabitants, but still with security to the masses. 
Should this day pass without submission, on the tliird morning 
a black flag was seen waving ; this was final, and from that 
moment the only hope of the garrison was a successful 
resistance, as the capture of the place was inevitably followed 
by the massacre of all the inhabitants, and the town itself 
delivered over to pillage. 

This last stage having been reached, the defenders of Smyrna 
knew their fate, and prepared manfully for resistance. Timour's 
first attempt at an assault was frustrated by the knights with 
great slaughter. Pouring upon the assailants every species of 
missile which the art of war had in those days developed, in- 
cluding Greek fire, boiling oil, seething pitch, and other similar 
devices, they at length succeeded in driving the Tartars back 
in confusion to their camp. The bitter experience of this 
failure shewed Timour that he was now confronted by men 
against whom the dashing and ofi-hand measures he had so 
often successfully adopted would be unavailing. Bold and 
determined though the onset might be, he was met by a foe 
who could die, but would not yield, and against that living 

tJie Knights of Malta. 2 1 1 

rampart of Christian warriors it was in vain that he hurled 
the choicest battalions in his vast army. Taught by this 
experience his fertile genius soon devised a means for meeting 
his opponents upon a different footing. 

He constructed nimierous round wooden towers on rollers and 
of such dimensions as to contain 200 men within each. They 
were divided into three compartments, of which the centre one 
was on a level with the ramparts. The top floor was to be 
crowded with archers who could look down on the defenders, 
and pour a destructive fire on them at the moment of assault. 
In the centre floor a drawbridge was attached which when 
lowered would enable the assailants to reach the rampart. 
The lower compartment was filled with miners who were 
enabled to burrow their way into the heart of the walls, 
completely secure from any missiles. He at the same time 
constructed huge rafts, a« described by the Persian historian, 
rising three feet above the level of the water. These were 
lashed together and projected from the shore on either side till 
they met in the centre, forming a roadway across the channel, 
and completely cutting off the fortress from all succour on the 
aide of the sea. When these various works were completed, 
which with the huge force at his disposal did not take long 
to accomplish, the imfortunate knights felt that their doom weis 

Everything being now ready, Timour gave the signal for the 
onset, and the ponderous towers moved slowly towards the 
ramparts. Although a storm of rain poured in incessant 
torrents throughout the day, nothing checked the ardour of the 
assault. Sefet states that throughout the siege the rain fell 
without ceasing, and it seemed as though a new deluge had 
broken over the land. He also records, with a candour most 
praiseworthy on the part of an opponent, the extreme bravery 
of the defence. These are his words — "If the attack was 
vigorous the defence was not less firm, and no one was 
permitted a moment of repose. Although the battering rams 
and other machines dashing against the walls breached them 
even to their foundations, the defenders remained none the less 
bravely at their posts, hurling without cessation upon the enemy 
pots of Ghreek fire and naphtha, fiery wheels and huge stones." 


2 12 A History of the Knights of Malta. 

Timour's precautions had been so well taken that there was no 
possibility of failure. Whilst the defenders were gallantly 
struggling to resist the assailants emerging from the central 
compartments of Timour's machines, those on the lower floor 
were able to prosecute their labours unrestrained. Ere long 
huge gaps appeared in the masonry of the ramparts, supported 
only by wooden props inserted for the purpose. These timbers 
were well saturated with naphtha, and then on a given signal 
ignited. As the flames devoured the wood the supports gave 
way, and a large mass of rampart fell with a crash to the 
ground. With shouts of exultation the enemy poured through 
the breach, and overcoming by their numbers every obstacle 
the defenders could put in their way, they succeeded in 
planting the banner of Islam over the conquered citadel. 

Timour did not on this occasion depart from the practice 
he invariably pursued after the display of his black flag. A 
universal massacre of garrison and town speedily followed the 
termination of the conflict. A few of the inhabitants succeeded 
in forcing their way to the shore, whence by swimming they 
reached a vessel then cruising in the offing, but with the 
exception of these all fell beneath the sword. The Order of St. 
John had on that day to mourn the loss of every one of those brave 
brethren to whom it had confided the defence of Smyrna. The 
heads of the slain when decapitated were, in accordance with 
Timour's usual custom, raised into a pyramid. On the day 
following the capture the fleet from Ehodes appeared in sight 
bearing reinforcements for the besieged. The Tartar caused 
his artillerists to hurl with their machines some of the heads of 
the slain at the advancing foe. They thus perceived that they 
had arrived too late, and were compelled to return to Rhodes, 
bearing the melancholy intelligence of the loss of Smyrna, 
and the massacre of its heroic garrison. 


Erection of the fortress of St. Peter at Budrum — Treaty with the sultan of 
Egypt— Conclusion of the papal schism and reunion of the Order — 
Death of de NaiUac and succession of Fluvian — Invasion of Cyprus — 
Death of Fluvian — Election of Lastic — Descent on Rhodes— Keforms 
in the Order — Fall of Constantinople — Election of James de Milly— 
Disputes in the fraternity — Succession of Raymond Zacosta— Forma- 
tion of an eighth langue — Erection of Fort Nicholas — Departure of 
Zacosta for Rome — His death there — Succeeded by Orsini — Fall of 
Negropont — Preparations for defence at Rhodes— Death of Orsini and 
nomination of Peter d'Aubusson. 

The success of Timour in the capture of Smyrna led him to 
contemplate the further prosecution of his ambitious views by 
an early attack upon Rhodes. He was, at the time, unprovided 
with a fleet sufficiently numerous for the operation, and his first 
efforts were therefore directed to the supply of this deficiency. 
Before, however, he had succeeded in collecting any considerable 
number of vessels within the harbour of the now utterly ruined 
town of Smyrna, intelligence reached him of an invasion of 
the eastern portion of his dominions by the king of India, who 
had taken advantage of his absence to assail the unprotected 
frontier. He was consequently compelled to retire from the 
scene of his recent successes, and to hasten eastward in order to 
grapple with his new enemy. Most fortimately for the peace 
of Europe, and more especially for the security of the Order 
at Ehodes, Timour did not live to return. Before he had 
succeeded in repelling the invasion and securing his eastern 
frontier, he died from the effects of the constant debauchery in 
which he was plunged. It is curious to note how, during these 
ages, men constantly sprang from obscurity in the East, and for 
a time threatened to attain almost universal dominion. Nothing, 

214 ^ History of 

however, which they founded seemed to survive them, all being 
due to their own power of generalship and administration. The 
guiding hand once withdrawn, the empire crumbled to pieces, 
and remained in a state of disintegration until some new ruler 
arose with power suflBcient to reimite the fragments. 

De Naillac seized the earliest opportimity which this suspen- 
sion of hostilities gave him to replace, as far as possible, the loss 
sustained by the destruction of Smyrna. The judgment which 
he displayed in the selection of a new point d*appui on the main- 
land was such that, so far from being weakened by its loss, the 
Order found itself in a far more commanding position than 
before. The point selected was a Turkish castle on the coast 
of Asia Minor, about twelve miles from the island of Lango. 
This stronghold had been built on the ruins of Halicamassus, 
celebrated as the site of the tomb of king Mausplus, and also 
as the birthplace of Herodotus. Not deeming this place suffi- 
ciently secure for his purpose, de Naillac caused a new work to 
be erected at the end of a peninsula which jutted out into the 
sea. This he called the Castle of St. Peter Liberated. It may 
be noted that the present Turkish name for the fortress, viz., 
Budrum, is derived from Bedros, signifying, like Peter, a rock. 

Nothing was spared which the art of fortification could devise 
to render this stronghold impregnable, and it remains at this 
day an imperishable record of the skill of the engineer at the 
beginning of the fifteenth century. It bore on its waUs this 
inscription, which is still to be seen : " Propter fidem Catholicam 
tenemua locum istum,^' Its present condition is thus described 
by Newton, the discoverer of the ruins of the Mausoleum of 
Halicamassus : — 

" On the site of the old Ghreek acropolis Philibert de Naillac 
built the stately castle which still stands a specimen of the 
military architecture of the knights, not less worthy of study 
than the fortress of Rhodes. The position of this castle is one 
of great natural strength a.s compared with the means of attack 
known in the fifteenth century. It is surrounded on three sides 
by the sea, while on the land side the rocky nature of the soil 
would have made mining impossible. The castle is entered 
from the isthmus by a ramp through the western comer of a 
glacis of unusual size, which forms the outer defence on the 

the Knights of Malta. 2 1 5 

north side. "Within this ramp is. a fosse which widens aa it 
approaches the sea, having a breadth of 150 feet in the part 
where the gateway from the ramp opens into it. This end of 
the fosse is protected by a casemated battery, to hinder the 
landing of troops within the glacis. This battery has a roof of 
solid masonry, gabled externally to prevent the lodgment of 
shells. The north side is further strengthened by two towers, 
connected by a curtain wall, and a smaller fosse running parallel 
to the larger fosse. On the western side, which faces the 
harbour, the castle is defended by a wide rampart, within which 
is a deep fosse. It is in the sea face of this rampart that the 
lions' heads from the Mausoleum are placed.* On the eastern 
and southern sides the external wall of defence is a curtain wall 
with a strong tower at the south-east comer. The opposite 
angle on the south-west is protected by a platform with em 
brasures for nine guns on the south and eight on the west. The 
entrance to the castle is through a series of seven gateways, up 
to the first of which the ramp in the northern glacis leads. 
After crossing the northern fosse the road passes through three 
more gateways into the sea rampart of the western fosse, and 
thence winding through three more gateways, finally enters the 
interior of the fortress at its south-western angle. The seventh 
and last of these gateways is protected by the platform already 
noticed. The object of so winding an approach was, of course, 
to guard against surprises. The area contained within these 
external defences is divided into an outer and inner bayle. In 
the inner bayle, which is the highest ground within the castle, 
are two lofty square towers, which form the keep. The outer 
bayle contains the chapel of the knights. The two central 
towers seem to be the earliest part of the fortress, which was 

* The knights aeem to have made free use of the material furnished hy the 
ruins of the Mausoleum in hiulding the castle of St. Peter. Twelve slabs 
from the frieze of that monument were removed from its walls and sent to 
the British Museum in 1846, as well as the lions here referred to. Newton 
gives an amusing account of the difficulties he encountered in securing these 
lions. The Turkish minister of war had directed the commandant to remove 
them from the walls and send them to ConstantiDople, hearing that Lord 
Stratford de EedclifPe was endeavouring to obtain a firman giving them to 
England. They were already on board a caique awaiting a favourable wind 
to start, when the welcome firman arrived, and they were secured for 

2i6 A History of 

probably built by instalments, the lines being gradually ex- 
tended till they embraced the whole of the rocky platform. 
It was constructed by Henry Sclilegelholt, a German knight, 
who found in the ruins of the Mausoleum an ample supply of 
building materials. The masonry throughout is in admirable 
preservation. Since the day when the castle was handed over to 
the Mussulman conqueror it has undergone very few changes. 
The long brass guna of the knights still arm the batteries, and 
their powder lies caked up in the magazines. The Turks change 
nothing in their fortresses. There is in this castle a magnificent 
cistern cut in the rock, full of water. A few years ago a soldier 
fell into it and was drowned. The Tul-ks, instead of troubling 
themselves to fish the body out, ceased to use the water of- the 
cistern, regarding it as polluted for ever. In the tower at the 
south-east comer is a room which was probably the refectory of 
the knights. Here, sitting in the wide bays of the windows, 
they beguiled the weariness of garrison life by carving their 
names and escutcheons on the walls. Many hundred valiant 
soldiers of the Cross, unmentioned in the glorious annals of the 
Order, have thus been preserved from utter oblivion, for the 
inscriptions are as fresh as if cut yesterday. This tower was 
probably erected by Englishmen, as the arms of Edward IV., 
and of the different branches of the Plantagenet family, together 
with many other English coats, are sculptured in a row over the 
door. Scattered about the castle are the arms of its successive 
captains, ranging from 1437 to 1522, when the garrison surren- 
dered to the Turks. Among these is the name of a well-known 
EngUsh knight, Sir Thomas Sheffield, with the date 1514. The 
arms of another Englishman, John Kendal, who was Tur- 
copolier 1477 — 1500, may be seen under the royal arms on the 
tower at the south-east angle. Here, as at Rhodes, the stem 
monotony of military masonry is constantly relieved by shields 
and inscriptions sculptured on white marble and let into the 
walls. Wherever architectural decoration occurs it is of the 
same flamboyant character as at Rhodes. In the chapel may 
still be seen a beautifully carved wood screen, now adapted to 
Mussulman worship." * 

In addition to the inscription already quoted, there was also 

•Newton's ** Travels and Discoveries in the Levant," vol. ii., page 59. 

tli£ Knights of Malta. 2 1 7 

on the walls one in Latin from the 127th Psalm — " Except the 
Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." As soon 
as the fortress was sufficiently advanced towards completion to be 
tenable de Naillac garrisoned it with a strong body of the Order. 
Every precaution was taken to insure its security from attack 
by the hostile neighbours. Recent events had rendered this 
a matter of comparative facility for a time. The power of 
Bajazet had been shattered by the battle of Angora, whilst 
Timour was dead and his army disbanded. No ruler had for 
the moment arisen in their place strong enough to impede the 
operations of the knights of Hhodes, and meanwhile the new 
stronghold was month by -month developing in extent. It 
gradually became a point of refuge for all who sought to escape 
from Mussulman tyranny, and the unfortunate Christian flying 
from slavery was sure to find within its hospitable walls a ready 
welcome and ample protection. As aids in the defence, a race 
of dogs was kept within the castle. These were so trained, and 
their natural instinct so developed, that they were rendered 
capable of performing, with great tact and sagacity, the part of 
outlying sentinels. By their aid and watchfulness the guard 
was ever sure of receiving early intimation of the approach of 
an enemy.* 

In the year 1403 de Naillac was enabled to render good 
service in a mediatorial capacity between the king of Cjrprus 
and the Genoese, a dissension having arisen which if not quelled 
would have had the most calamitous results for Christianity in 

* The extent to which this sagacity on the part of these canine allies 
was carried led to numerous legends in their honour, for the veracity of 
which the chroniclers of the times were ever ready to vouch. It was asserted 
that their sense of smell was so keen that they could invariably detect a 
Moslem from a Christian, allowing the latter to approach unquestioned, 
whilst the presence of the former was certain to elicit a prompt alarm. 
Bosio records a still stranger instance. A Christian captive, escaping from 
slavery, was so closely pursued that he was unable to reach the fortress. As 
a temporary measure he sought shelter in a dry weU, where owing to the 
vigilance of his pursuers he was compelled to remain for several days. In 
this predicament he would have starred had not one of the dogs dis- 
covered him and brought him daily a part of his own food. The keeper 
of the dog seeing that he was losing flesh watched him to ascertain the 
cause, and thus discovered the fugitive, who was rescued and brought into 
the castle. — ^Bosio, vol. ii. lib. iv. 

2i8 A History of 

the Ijevant. The Genoese republic had succeeded in obtaining 
possession of the town of Famagosta in C}T)rus. It was held by 
a garrison in their name, to the great dissatisfaction of the king, 
James de Lusignan, and the rest of the inhabitants. An attempt 
was consequently made by him to expel the intruders, and a 
regular siege was laid to the town. When the news of this act 
of hostility reached Genoa, which was then under the protection 
of France, an expedition was at once despatched, led by the 
marshal de Bourcicault, for the purpose of repelling the 
attack. This fleet put into the harbour of Khodes, where it 
was received with the most profuse hospitality. It consisted 
of seven large ships and nine Genoese galleys. Accompanying 
it was a Venetian squadron, under the command of the admiral 
Carlo Zeno. The latter was in reality watching the movements 
of the other fleet, the intentions of which roused the suspicions 
of the Venetians. It was not to be expected that under such 
circumstances there could be much cordiality between the com- 
manders. In fact disputes soon arose, and from day to day 
became so embittered, that at length de Naillac dreaded an 
open rupture within the very harbour of Ehodes. He succeeded 
at last in so far smoothing matters that he induced Carlo Zeno 
to leave the island and proceed to the Morea. This preliminary 
difficulty being overcome, his next step was directed towards 
preventing the outbreak of hostilities between the forces of 
Bourcicault and the Cypriotes. Not only did the knights hold 
large possessions in that island, but they had always regarded it 
as a barrier against Saracen attack. Being in close alliance 
with the king of Cyprus they had been enabled to flnd shelter 
in its capacious harbours during their cruises on the Syrian 
coasts. De Naillac succeeded in persuading Bourcicault to 
remain quietly at Rhodes whilst he himself imdertook a 
mediating embassy to Cyprus, hoping to induce the king 
to withdraw from his attempts on Famagosta. James 
acceded to his suggestions, the siege was raised, and the 
expeditionary force under Bourcicault rendered no longer 

The French commander was, however, unwilling to return 
without having struck a blow somewhere. He therefore joined 
the Gfrand-Master in a predatory expedition against the principal 

the Knights of Malta. 2 1 9 

Saracenic seaports in Ada Minor. Nothing of any permanent 
importance was effected, nor indeed was any intended. What 
they sought was booty, and this they obtained in amply suifident 
quantity to pay the costs of the expedition. 

On their return to Rhodes they were surprised to find a 
proposal from the sultan of Egypt, whose territories they had 
just been ravaging, to enter into an alliance with them. The 
fears which he entertained of the aggressive policy of his neigh- 
bours, the Ottoman Turks, led him to take this step, and de 
Naillac was sufficiently far-sighted to make the most of his 
opporttmities. The treaty which he concluded with the sultdn 
gave the Christians permission to enclose the holy sepulchre at 
Jerusalem with a wall. They were to be allowed to maintain 
six knights of St. John within the city, free from all tribute, 
who should carry on the hospitaller duties of their profession 
in favour of the pilgrims who still visited the spot. It was 
further agreed that Christian slaves might be redeemed either 
by purchase or exchange with Saracens, and that consulates 
should be established in Jerusalem and the other principal places 
in the Holy Land. For the benefits of this favourable treaty 
Christianity is indebted entirely to the ability of the Grand- 
Master at Ehodes. 

Unfortunately at this time there was but too great need for 
the exercise of diplomacy on his part. The schism which had 
for so many years torn the bosom of the Church and introduced 
the spirit of dissension within his own Order, was still raging 
furiously ; the rival popes, Benedict and Gregory, each claiming 
jurisdiction. A conclave was assembled at Pisa in 1409 to 
endeavour to heal the dispute, and its protection was intrusted 
to de Naillac and his fraternity. He left Ehodes for the 
purpose of assimiing the duties thus imposed on him, and 
remained in Europe till the year 1420. Alexander V. was 
elected Pope at this conclave, making a third pretender to the 
title. At the same time de Naillac was pronounced sole legiti- 
mate Grand-Master. In spite of this decree, the priories of 
England, Scotland, Aragon, Germany, Italy, Hungary, and 
Bohemia refused to recognize his title, and continued to 
withhold their responsions. At length a new council, held at 
Constance in 1415, terminated the difficulty by securing the 

220 A History of 

abdication of Pope John XXIII. and the election of Martin V., 
the validity of whose nomination was accepted on all sides 
without dispute. At this conclave also the protection of the 
electors was intrusted to de Naillac and his knights. It is 
most probable that it was again greatly by the influence and 
diplomatic ability of the Gfrand-Master that this favourable 
result was reached. The contumacious langues all promptly 
gave in their adhesion, and recognized the venerable Grand- 
Master as their chief. After having held a chapter-general 
at A^vignon, and another at Ancona, de Naillac returned 
to Rhodes, after an absence of eleven years. His reappear- 
ance there was greeted with the utmost enthusiasm, prayers 
having been repeatedly offered up in the churches of the 
island during his protracted absence, beseeching his speedy 

The last act of his long and useful life was presiding at a 
chapter-general, which he convoked at llhodes shortly after his 
arrival. In this council all the acts which led to the reunion of 
the Order were ratified, and a general feeling of joy pervaded 
the assembly that their differences were at length reconciled. 
To de Naillac this glad scene was one of intense gratification, 
and served to shed a gleam of comfort over his latest days. 
His end, indeed, was fast approaching, and in the following 
year he breathed his last, having swayed the fortunes of his 
Order for twenty-five years. He died comforted with the 
feeling that he left his fraternity at union with itself, at 
peace with its neighbours, and in a most flourishing state of 

The satisfactory condition into which de Naillac had brought 
his affairs must be attributed far more to his diplomatic and 
general political abilities than to his skill in war. Indeed, the 
martial exploits of the fraternity under his guidance were never 
productive of much beneficial result. In some cases, such as the 
battle of Nicopolis and the defence of Smyrna, they were 
disastrous in the last degree. Still, however strongly the for- 
tune of war might declare itself against him, he was invariably 
able, by his political sagacity, to restore the equilibriimi, and to 
maintain his fraternity in that proud position it had so long 
occupied before the face of Europe. 

the Knights of Malta. 2 2 1 

The following inscription was placed on his tomb in the 
church of St. John at Rhodes : — 

" Rhodiorum Deer : Avemi Eq. Posuenint. 

" Philiberto De Naillac, S. Nq. H.M.M.M. Quod Imitatlone 
Henrici Schlegmlhoit Equitis Germani Qui Timure Scytharum 
Rege Asiam Occupante In Continenti Cariee Se Munire Vallo 
Contra Barbaros Ausus Fuit Ex Mausolei Ruinis Arcem Et 
Propugnacula In Halicamasso Struxit. 

" Novam Cond : Urbem Justit-Que Dedit Gentes Froenare 

" By a decree of the Rhodians the Knights of Auvergne have 
erected this monument. 

" To Philibert de Naillac, Grand-Master of the Holy Militia 
of Jerusalem. After the design of Henry Schlegmlhoit, knight 
of the German langu^^, he dared to raise entrenchments, whilst 
Timour, the king of the Scythians, overran Asia. He built a 
citadel and fortress in Halicamassus from the ruins of the 

" He was able by his justice to build a new city and to restrain 
proud nations." 

The rule of his successor, Antonio Fluvian (or, as the name is 
sometimes given. La Riviere), although it extended over a period 
of sixteen years, was marked by but few events of political 
importance. Dangers, indeed, threatened on every side, but 
none developed into really active mischief. On tlie one side 
was the new emperor, Mourad II., who had recently ascended 
the throne of his father, Mohammed I., and had so consolidated 
the Ottoman power as to become a very formidable neighbour ; 
on the other was the Mamelouk sultan of Egypt, whose enmity 
was at that time even more threatening than that of Mourad. 

This prince invaded Cyprus in the year 1423. The Order of 
St. John rendered every assistance in its power to the king, 
James de Lusignan, but its efforts were unsuccessful. The 
combined forces of Rhodes and Cyprus were defeated in a 
decisive action by the Egyptian sultan, and Lusignan was taken 
prisoner. In spite of this defeat the knights continued the 
struggle. Their interest in the island was not, it must be 
admitted, purely disinterested. One of the richest commanderies 
in their possession was situated there, and they strained every 

22 2 A History of 

nerve to save it from destruction. In this they were ultimately 
successful, and peace was once more restored. The captive king 
was ransomed by a payment of 30,000 gold florins, the greater 
part of which was advemced by the treasury of Rhodes, and the 
sultan withdrew his forces from the island. 

Two chapters-general were held at the convent, one in the 
year 1428, the other in 1432. At the former the Grand-Master 
submitted an urgent appeal for funds. He pointed out the cost of 
the recent struggle in Cyprus, the armaments rendered necessary 
throughout the Order's possessions by the threatening attitude of 
the Ottoman emperor on the one side, and the Egyptian sultan 
on the other ; the devastation caused in the French priories 
by the war with England ; the very precarious position of 
the priories of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland, the 
former owing to the disorders caused by the Hussites, and the 
latter to the hostile attitude of the Teutonic knights. He con- 
cluded by appealing to all the members for contributions in 
aid, he himself heading the list with a donation of 12,000 
florins. The request was very generally responded to. Each 
priory was called on to send to Rhodes twenty-five knights and 
as many servants-at-arms. A large quantity of arms, ammuni- 
tion, and provisions was contributed, and money poured in to 
the treasury from all quarters. 

At the second chapter it was decreed that all novices should 
be appointed to some commandery within their langue^ where 
they were to be maintained and trained in the religious and 
knightly duties of their profession. Hitherto much scandal had 
been brought upon the Order by the irregular life led by many 
of these novices, who, looking upon their profession merely as a 
distinction flattering to their vanity, totally neglected the duties 
inculcated by their vows. To check this demoralizing irregu- 
larity, the chapter wisely determined to plsice them under the 
charge of commanders, who from their age and position 
would be enabled to enforce a wholesome discipline. Members 
were also forbidden to establish themselves at the court of 
Rome. The pernicious example of Heredia had been so fre- 
quently followed as to render a restriction of this nature highly 
necessary. Indeed, for some time past it had become apparent 
that if the fraternity were to maintain its independence, a rigid 

the Knights of Malta, 223 

check would have to be imposed upon the encroachments of 
the court of Rome. The time had passed when the support of 
the pontiff was necessary for its well-being. It was now 
a sovereign power, well able to hold its own, and but little 
prepared quietly to brook interference even from its ecclesias- 
tical superior. From this time forward we shall find that the 
annals teem with disputes between the knights and the popes 
of Some, all owing to autocratic attempts upon the part of 
the latter sternly resisted by the former. 

The last act of Fluvian's life was to rebuild the great hospital 
of the island and to add to its endowments.* He died on the 
26th October, 1437, leaving by his will the sum of 200,000 
ducats as a gift to the public treasury. A monument was 
erected to his memory in the following year by the knights of 
the langue of Spain, which bore the following inscription, partly 
in Greek and partly in Latin : — 

pore Pace Parcemonia Equites Citerioris Hispaniae Antonio 
Fluviano Mag: Svo: S. Nq. M. H. Pacis Et Frugalitatis 
Artibus Omatissimo Longeevo Seni Adhuc Viventi De Comuni 
CofdKo Rhodii Sententia Anno MCCCCXXXVin. Cum Magno 
Populi Plausu Erexere. 

"Nothing can be done without money. In time of peace 

" The Knights of nearer Spain have erected this monument 
to Antonio Fluvian, Ghrand-Master of the holy and noble 
militia of Jerusalem, skilled in the arts of peace and economy, 
still full of vigour when advanced in age, with the consent of 
the council of Rhodes, in the year 14-38, with the great applause 
of the people.'' 

John de Lastio was raised to the magisterial seat vacated by 
the death of Fluvian. This knight, who was bom in Auvergne 
in 1371, had at an early age taken part in the war with 
England, having been made prisoner by that power in 1394. 
In the following year he arrived at Rhodes, where he was 
professed as a knight. He was appointed commander of Mont- 
calm, and afterwards grand-prior of Auvergne, which post he 
held at the time of his election. It was the custom in those 

* A description of this hospital will be found in chap. xiv. , as given bj Newton. 

224 A History of 

days for a Grand-Master, on being elected to, pay the siun of 
three crowns to every knight to defray the cost of mourning for 
his defunct predecessor. It is recorded that Lastic had to raise 
a loan of 12,000 gold florins to meet this charge. Hence it may 
be seen that the ranks of the fraternity were well filled. 

The Ottoman emperor was at this time fully occupied with 
the war in Hungary and the revolt in Epirus ; but the sultan 
of Egypt, whose hands were free, was evidently meditating 
hostilities against the knights. Up to this time the Ottoman 
emperor had generally acted as a check upon the Egyptians, 
the jealousy raging between the two Moslem powers being even 
stronger than their animosity against their Christian neighbours. 
On the present occasion, however, Mourad declined to offer any 
opposition to the Egyptian enterprise, even if he did not, as 
is very probable, secretly support it. After vain attempts at 
negotiation with both sultans, de Lastic perceived that the 
issue must be decided by arms. He therefore strengthened liis 
position by every possible means, and then quietly awaited the 
coming of the enemy. At length, in the month of September, 
1440, the Egyptian fleet, to the number of eighteen galleys, 
accompanied by many smaller craft, appeared before Rhodes. 
The intrepid conduct of the inhabitants prevented the Moslems 
from attempting an immediate disembarkation. Before they 
had decided upon their line of conduct the fleet of the Order, 
led by their grand-marshal, left the harbour and advanced to 
the attack. The Egyptians declined the action, and under 
cover of night beat a retreat. The marshal, suspecting their 
object, pushed rapidly after them, and so completely out-sailed 
them that when they appeared before the castle of Lango they 
found him already there awaiting their arrival. Seeing that their 
design was thus rendered fruitless they proceeded to the main- 
land, where they took shelter under the guns of a Turkish fort. 
The marshal, who spumed the thought of returning to E/hodes 
without having made any attempt on his enemy, dashed at the 
hostile fleet as it lay at anchor, and a sanguinary engage- 
ment ensued without any very decisive result. The Order lost 
sixty men, which, in their small force, was a serious blow. Their 
antagonists, on the other hand, lost 700 men, and had several of 
their galleys seriously injured. Taking these figures in con- 


the Knights of Malta. 225 

junction with the fact that the Egyptian fleet retired without 
attempting any further hostile operations, the pahn of victory 
must be awarded to the Order. 

The sultan, indignant at the failure of this expedition, lost 
no time in commencing the fitting out of another on a larger 
and more formidable scale. De Lastic was, on his side, by no 
means idle ; and when, in the month of August, 1444, the 
enemy landed a force of 18,000 men, besides cavahy, they 
found the white cross banner floating proudly on the waUs, and 
every prepc^ation made for their reception. The siege lasted 
for forty days, and during that time was prosecuted with the 
utmost energy. Unf ortimately, no record has been left of the 
details of this defence. All that is known is that several assaults 
were delivered in vain, and that the siege terminated with a 
sortie on the part of the knights, who inflicted fearful losses on 
the besiegers, and drove them in panic-flight to their ships. 

The efforts which had been made to resist the aggres- 
sion of the Egyptians had necessitated a large expenditure, 
whereby not only was the treasury exhausted, but its credit 
strained to the utmost. To meet this difficulty the amount 
of responsions payable by each commandery was, by decree 
of a chapter-general held at Ehodes in 1445, increased for 
a period of five years, in order that funds might be provided 
to pay off the liabilities that had been incurred. Several of the 
commanders, living in indolence and luxury in Europe, were 
unwilling to contribute even in purse to the maintenance of 
their flag in Ehodes. They therefore appealed to the Pope 
against the decree. Nicholas V., who had just ascended the 
chair of St. Peter, being instructed only on one side of the 
question, wrote a strong letter of remonstrance to the (irand- 
Master. De Lastic returned a reply counter-signed by the whole 
council, in which he maintained his point with much dignity, 
though the missive was couched in temperate and respect- 
ful terms. The Pope was quite satisfied with the reply, and 
withdrew all support from the recusant commanders. They 
still continued obstinate, and peremptorily refused payment. 
The council, in this dilenmia, decided on a measure for which 
there was no precedent in the annals of the institution. They 
vested in the hands of the Qrand-Master dictatorial powers, 


226 A History of 

resigning in his favour all their own authority. Thus armed, de 
Lastic made but short work of the recusants. He pursued with 
the utmost rigour those who persisted in disobedience, and even 
went the length of stripping them' of their habit and expelling 
them from the Order. At the end of three years he was enabled 
to resign his extraordinary powers, having enforced complete 
submission and restored perfect unanimity and obedience 
throughout the fraternity. Well was it for them that at 
this crisis they were governed by one in whom they could 
venture to vest such autocratic powers, and who knew so well 
how to wield that authority to their advantage. 

The failure of the attack on Ehodes in the preceding year, 
had led the sultan of Egypt to abandon for the time further 
hostile operations, and the chapter-general already alluded to 
had directed that every effort should be made to secure a perma- 
nent peace. The agent in this affair was James Cceur, a French 
merchant, who became afterwards treasurer to Charles VII. He 
succeeded in negotiating matters so favourably that he was 
able to summon an envoy from Rhodes to conclude the treaty. 
This envoy, on his return from Alexandria, after having signed 
the terms of peace, brought back with him a nimiber of Chris- 
tian slaves, whom the sultan had released in honour of the 
occasion. Among the records is a decree dated on the 8th 
February, 1446, directing Baymond d'Arpajon, grand-prior 
of St. GKlles, to repay to James Coeur the expenses he 
had incurred in the transaction. 

It was pointed out at the commencement of this chapter that 
on the death of Timour his empire fell into a state of disin- 
tegration. The four sons of Bajazet took advantage of the 
difficulties caused by the disputed succession amongst the 
children of Timour. By degrees they each succeeded in 
wresting some portion of their late father's empire from the 
hands of the Tartars. The three elder, after short and dis- 
turbed reigns, fell victims to their internecine warfare, and 
Mahomet I., the youngest, found himself upon the death 
of the last, whom he himself had murdered, in undisputed 
possession of his father's territories. After a reign of eight 
years he was succeeded (1421) by his son Mourad II., under 
whose sway the Ottoman power became even more extended 

the Knights of Malta, 227 

than in the days of Bajazet. Had it not been for the 
patriotism and gallantry of Hunyad and Scanderbeg, who, 
from their mountain fastnesses, msantained an incessant and 
often suocessful warfare against his aggressions, he would have 
carried his conquests still further. Doubtless, but for them, he 
would have accomplished the dream of his life by effecting the 
capture of Constantinople, and thus have completed the over- 
throw of the last relic of the once proud and powerful Byzan- 
tine empire. This, however, he was not fated to accomplish, as 
he died in the year 1452. 

His son Mahomet II., at that time twenty-two years of 
age, was proclaimed emperor in his place. All the Christian 
powers of the east of Europe, including the Order of St. John, 
sent ambassadors to the court of the young prince to congratu- 
late him on his accession. Contrary to the usual custom of 
Moslem princes, he received these envoys with the utmost 
courtesy, and promptly renewed all the treaties that had been 
signed by his father. This complaisance proved to be but 
dissimulation. Before the year was out he repudiated all his 
engagements and took steps to carry out his father's designs 
of conquest. On the 29th May, 1453, Constantinople fell, 
and the banner of Islam waved over the ramparts of the 
degenerate city. 

The scenes which were enacted upon this occasion, when the 
last of the Paleologi fell beneath the scimitar of the Otto- 
man, form a dark page in Eastern history. The speech of 
Mahomet, " Constantinople first and then Rhodes," was now 
remembered, and the knights perceived that their turn would 
shortly come. Still further to accentuate this warning, 
Mahomet sent an embassy summoning them to become 
vassals to his throne, and to pay a yearly tribute of 2,000 
ducats. The answer of de Lastic was worthy of the man and of 
his profession. '' God grant that I may not leave as vassals and 
slaves that Order which I found free and glorious. If the 
sultan desires to conquer Ehodes he must first pass over my 
corpse and those of all my knights." Thoroughly on his guard 
by what had taken place, de Lastic lost no time in making all 
necessary preparations for defence. We find him, therefore, in 
that same year writing a circular to every European comman- 


228 A History of 

dery, sununoning the members to hasten instantlj to the defence 
of Ehodes. In this document he says : " After weeping over the 
miserable downfall of the illustrious Constantinople, as we have 
recorded in previous letters, this is to command you to come 
hither instantly where the want of your aaeistanoe is most 
urgent, for not a day elapses without our hearing of some new 
slaughter of Christians by the Qrand Turk, and of his inhimian 
cruelties, not from* idle rumour, but from our own confidential 
emissaries, who record only what they have seen with their own 
eyes, so that it is a certain fact that the most fearful horrors 
have been already perpetrated. Wait for no further letters or 
exhortations from us, but the instant you receive these lines set 
out at once for Rhodes." 

At the same time de Lastic sent the commander, D'Aubusson, 
to the various courts of Europe to endeavour to procure 
such aid, either in men or money, as the almost exhausted 
enthusiasm of the monarchs of Christendom might still induce 
them to contribute for the defence of their advanced post in the 
Levant. It was in this embassy that D'Aubusson, whose name 
was destined eventually to shed such lustre over his Order, 
displayed the first germs of that ability by which he was after- 
wards so distinguished. Although he was everywhere met by 
the most disheartening lukewarmness and chilling neglect, he 
succeeded, by dint of perseverance, in extorting considerable 
sums of money from both Charles VII. of France, and Philip 
of Burgundy. Part of this he expended in the purchase of 
arms, ammunition, and stores, the remainder he forwarded to 
Rhodes to be laid out in such manner as the Grand-Master 
might deem expedient. 

Meanwhile the most energetic measures were being taken to 
increase the strength of the fortifications. Ditches were deepened 
and widened, ramparts were heightened and strengthened. No 
point was omitted which, in the opinion of the engineers of the 
day, could tend to insure the safety of the place. Whilst in the 
midst of this occupation de Lastic fell sick, and after a short 
illness died on the 19th of May, 1454. Although, as has 
been already recorded, the title of Grand-Master was first 
awarded to Hugh de Revel, and was continued to most of 
his successors, still Bosio and Sebastian Paoli both assert 

the Knights of Malta. 229 

that de Lastio was the first head of the fraternity who 
definitely and officially was recognized as having a claini to 
that title. 

James de MiUy, grand-prior of Auvergne, was nominated 
the thirty-fifth Grand-Master upon the death of de Lastio. 
The danger of an invasion from the Ottoman emperor being 
imminent, de Milly, who was at the time of his election 
resident in his priory, lost no time in reaching Rhodes, where 
the presence of the supreme head was felt to be indispensable. 
The storm which had been so long gathering was, however, 
not yet ready to burst. A powerful coalition of the principal 
Christian nations interested in the politics of the East had in- 
duced Mahomet to postpone for a while his hostile intentions 
against Ehodes. Fortunately for the knights, the Hungarian 
campaign of 1456 had been very disastrous to him, and had 
ended in a serious defeat inflicted upon his army by Hunyad. 
De Milly followed up this check to the Ottoman arms by 
ravaging their coasts with his galleys, and utterly ruining 
the commerce of the infidel. Mahomet, in spite of the check 
he had received, was not the monarch to submit tamely to 
these aggressions on the part of men whose destruction he 
had already vowed. He therefore rapidly equipped a fleet, with 
which he proposed to carry the war into the enemy's coimtry. 
He placed 18,000 men on board his galleys, and directed 
their first operations against the fortress of Lango. The 
knights who garrisoned the castle were happily able to 
repel the attack, and succeeded in driving the invaders back 
to their ships. A similar attempt upon the island of Sjrmia 
met with no better fate. The news of these successful repulses 
reached the fraternity at Bhodes, and lulled it into a feeling 
of security. It was not thought possible that the Turks, having 
failed upon two imimportant points, would dare to harass their 
head-quarters. Such was not the view taken by the Turkish 
leader. Coasting by night along the shores of Bhodes, he 
effected a landing in the bay of Malona. From thence he 
succeeded in ravaging a large district of the island, and 
securing a certain amount of booty, before the knights were 
in a position to repel his attack. Thence the fleet sailed to Con- 
stantinople, laden with its pillage, which, although considerable, 

230 A History of 

bore but a very slender proportion to the cost incurred in 
fitting out the expedition. 

From the fact that no effort was made on the part of the 
Bhodian navy to prevent this incursion, or to attack the Turkish 
fleet, it may be assumed that they were at the time cruising 
elsewhere. This seems the more probable, because inmie- 
diately afterwards, the ooimcil made a decree that a galley, 
fully manned and armed, and with forty knights always ready 
to embark in her, should be held constantly in readiness in 
the harbour of Bhodes, to oppose any sudden and unforeseen 
invasion. At the same time another fort was built on the 
southern extremity of the bay of Malona, to add to the pro- 
tection already afforded on the north side by the castle of 

It had been a leading principle in the diplomacy of the frater- 
nity to maintain, as far as possible, peaceable relations with one 
of its Moslem neighbours when prosecuting war with the other. 
They were now dismayed to find that at the time when a 
fierce attack might at any moment be looked for &om Mahomet 
and the Ottoman army, a cause of quarrel was springing up with 
the sultan of Egypt, with whom they were most anxious to keep 
on friendly terms. This dissension arose from a disputed suc- 
cession to the crown of Cyprus, which John III. had, at his 
death, left to his daughter Charlotte, widow of John of 
Portugal, and afterwards married to Louis of Savoy, He had 
also an illegitimate son called James, whose ambitious spirit led 
him to endeavour to wrest the throne from his sister Charlotte. 
Louis of Savoy, however, who was ruling over the island in 
his wife's name, drove the pretender away, and James thereupon 
took refuge with the sultan of Egypt. The king of Cyprus 
had of late years always paid an annual tribute to this potentate, 
and James, in order to enlist the interests of the sultan on his 
side, promised to double the amount if he were placed on his 
sister's throne. Charlotte, on the other hand, threw herself 
on the protection of the knights of Bhodes, amongst whom 
the justice of her cause, and, as some say, the beauty of her 
person, raised for her many warm partisans. An embassy was 
despatched to the sultan of Egypt on the subject of James's 
pretensions. That ruler, who was at the moment unwilling 

tlu Knights of Malta. 231 

to quarrel with his redoubtable neighbours, would, in all 
probability, have thrown over the hapless James, but for the 
fact that Mahomet sent him a message promising to support 
him in maintaining the cause of the bastard against the knights. 
A descent was consequently made on Cyprus, and in spite of the 
most gallant efforts of the Hospitallers, the Egyptians overran 
and pillaged the whole island. It was in the course of this 
war that the galleys of Rhodes captured &om out of someYene- 
tian vessels a quantity of Saracen merchandise, which, together 
with its owners, they bore off in triumph. The haughty 
Queen of the Adriatic, insisting upon the principle that the flag 
covered the cargo, at once commenced a war of reprisals. This 
anger on their part was all the greater, that they were at the 
time on the look-out for a pretext to act against the Order 
from another cause. The bastard James had married a Yenetian 
lady of high rank called Catherine Comaro. The republic 
was, in consequence, desirous of pressing his claims to the crown 
of Cyprus, and felt much ill-will at the support given by the 
Hospitallers to the pretensions of Charlotte. These causes 
combined to make them take active measures, and a fleet 
under the conmiand of Morosini, appeared off Rhodes with 
hostile intent. He entered the bay of Halki, and disembarked 
his forces for the purpose of pillaging the district. A number 
of the inhabitants had sought shelter in a cave at AmighdaU. 
Morosini caused the entrance to be blocked with a quantity of 
brushwood, which he set on flre, and suffocated them all. To 
this day the bones of these unfortunate victims are to be seen 
within the cave, and the name of Morosini is still held in horror 
throughout the island. This cruel and vindictive action was 
repudiated by the Yenetians ; but their protest did not prevent 
their immediately ending a second and much larger fleet to the 
island, insisting upon the restitution of the Eg}7>tians and 
merchandise which had been taken &om the Yenetian galleys. 
The more youthful amongst the knights were in favour of 
opposing the Yenetian demands, being justly indignant at the 
brutality of Morosini ; but de MiUy was of a different opinion. 
He knew that he had already more enemies to contend with than 
he was able to meet, and he therefore checked the rash suggestion. 
}}y a prompt restitution of the disputed prize, he mollified the 

232 A History of 

inoensed republic, and had the gratification of seeing the fleet 
depart peaceably from his shores. It is probable that he also 
engaged to abandon the claims of Charlotte. Certain it is that 
nQ more serious efforts were made on her behalf, and that her 
brother James became undisputed king of Cyprus. 

At this most inauspicious moment another trouble befell de 
MiUy. A dispute broke out in the midst of the fraternity itself, 
which at one time threatened to aid materially the enemy, who 
was compassing its overthrow from without. From the earliest 
days the French element had always greatly preponderated 
in its ranks. Of the seven langnes into which it had been 
divided, three belonged to that nation; the consequence was 
that most of the leading dignities fell to the lot of the French 
knights. The langues of Spain, Italy, England, and Germany 
complained bitterly of this preference. They asserted that in a 
body composed of the nobility of all Europe, the highest posts 
should be given, irrespective of nation, to the senior knights. 
On the other hand, the French argued that as the Order was 
originally esta.blished by them, and the other nations only 
admitted by adoption, they were fairly entitled to maintain 
within their own ranks the chief offices of state, and that as 
one of the most important dignities had been attached to each 
of the other langues^ there was no just cause of complaint. The 
principal source of dissatisfaction arose from the post of grand- 
marshal, an office which was permanently attached to the 
knights of Auvergne. This dignity carried with it the power 
of captain-general over the island of Bhodes, and a direct con- 
trol over aU the other offices of state, and therefore invested 
its holder with powers second only to those of the Grand- 
Master himself. 

De Milly, with the view of arranging the dispute which was 
attaining dangerous proportions, summoned a chapter-general, 
to assemble on the 1st October, 1459. The malcontents laid 
their case before this council, and a most embittered and 
virulent debate ensued. The bailiff of Aragon so far forgot 
himself as to cast down before the Gh:und-Master an appeal 
to the Pope, and thereupon to leave the chapter hall. Many 
knights of the four complaining lapgues followed his example, 
and the chapter broke up in confusion. De Milly was urged 

tfie Knights of Malta. 233 

to take active measures against the culprits, which he ^dsely 
refused to do, preferring to cast oil on the troubled waters. In 
this he was at length successful, and his statesmanlike and far- 
seeing views prevailed. The consequence was that by degrees 
the recusants began to perceive the danger and folly of their 
oonduct, and in the end made ample submission to the Grand- 
Master and chapter. 

De Milly died of an attack of gout on the 17th August, 
1461. His remains were placed in a sarcophagus, bearing an 
inscription, with his name, titles, and date of death. Three years 
afterwards a member of the House of Savoy, who was prince 
of Antioch, died at Bhodes, and was buried in the same sar- 
cophagus, his body being placed over that of the Grand-Master, 
and a second inscription added recording the fact. This sar- 
cophagus is now in the museum of Cluny at Paris, and the two 
inscriptions are legible thereon. 

Eaymond 2jaoo8ta, castellan of Emposta, was elected to the 
vacant government. The nomination of a Spanish knight to 
the supreme dignity after the rule of so many successive French- 
men at a time when the disputes between the nations had been 
running so high, proves that the majority were opposed to the 
pretensions of the French langues. The first act decreed by the 
council under their new chief also marks the same feeling, and 
clearly demonstrates the influence of a Ghrand-Master in its 
decisions. This was the subdivision of the langue of Aragon, 
removing from it the kingdom of Portugal, together with the 
provinces of Castile and Leon, which were formed into an eighth 
langue^ to which the dignity of grand-chancellor was thence- 
forth attached. This compromise appears to have thoroughly 
healed the smouldering feud. The knights, no longer at dis- 
cord within themselves, commenced once again to prepare for 
the attack which was still threatening them. 

E>aymond availed himself of their restored xmanimity to carry 
out the erection of a fort on a rock which jutted out into the 
sea, at the extremity of the ancient Greek mole, forming one 
side of the entrance to the harbour of Bhodes. The importance 
of this spot had long been recognized, but hitherto the want of 
means and the pressing demands of other parts of the fortress 
had prevented steps being taken for its occupation. Now, how- 

234 ^ History of 

ever, Pliilip, duke of Burgundy, having made a gift of 12,000 
gold crowns for the strengthening of the defences of the island, 
the Grand-Master determined to lose no further time in 
securing this salient point. It received the name of Fort 
Nicholas, from the fact that a small chapel dedicated to that 
saint* stood there, and was included in the enceinte of the work. 
In the eventful sieges to which the course of events will shortly 
bring the history of the Order, this new stronghold became the 
centre of the desperate struggles which then took place, and 
was one of the main causes contributing to the success of the 
defence. The arms of the duke of Burgundy were in gratitude 
placed over the principal fa9ade. Newton says of this fort: 
" At the extremity stands the castle of St. Nicholas, built by 
the Ghrand-Master Baymond Zacosta. Within this fort are 
casemates, magazines, and the remains of a chapel. Above 
these is a platform, on which are many brass guns of the time 
of the knights, some of which bear the date 1482 (shortly after 
the first siege), others 1507, with the arms of France and Eng- 
land. This part of the fort seems much in the state in which 
the knights left it." 

Whilst on this subject it may be well to insert what Newton 
says of the site of the Colossus : " The mole, at the extremity of 
which stands the tower of St Nicholas, has been an Hellenic 
work. The lowest courses of the original masonry remain in 
several places undisturbed on the native rock, which has been 
cut in horizontal beds to receive them. At the end of the mole 
enormous blocks from the ancient breakwater lie scattered about. 
Two of these are still in position, one above the other. As 
the celebrated bronze Colossus was doubtless a conspicuous sea 
mark, if not actually used as a Pharos, my first impression on 
seeing these immense blocks was that they were the remains of its 
pedestal, and that it stood where the fort of St. Nicholas now 
stands. This opinion, suggested originally to my mind by the 
aspect of the site itself, is corroborated by the testimony of 
Caoursin, the Vice-Chancellor of the Order, whose contemporary 
history of the first siege was printed at Ulm as early as 1496. 
When describing the building of Fort St. Nicholas, he states 
that it was placed in " molis vertice Septentrionem spectante — 

* St. Nicholas was bishop of Myra and patron saint of sailors. 

tJie Knights of Malta. 235 

ubi priscis temporibus collosus ille ingens Ebodi (unmn de septem 
miraculis mundi) positus erat." On tbe other hand, it may be 
objected that from Pliny's account of the overthrow of the 
C0I0B8UB, we may infer that it fell on the earth, whereas, if 
thrown down from the extremity of the mole, it could hardly 
fail to have fallen into the sea. It may, however, have 
been split open by the earthquake, and afterwards hauled 
down so as to fall along the mole. The notion that its legs 
bestrid the entrance to either harbour, as is commonly believed, 
is not based on any ancient authority."* 

Zacosta felt how important it was that the work should be 
promptly completed, and at the same time knew that the con- 
tribution of the duke of Burgundy, liberal though it was, 
would not nearly suffice for the purpose. He therefore took a 
step in order to provide funds, which the exigencies of the case 
seemed to warrant, but which at the time gave great dissatisfac- 
tion. It has been already stated that when he was elected 
to the Grand-Mastership he was holding the post of castellan 
of Emposta. Under, ordinary circumstances he should, upon 
attaining the higher dignity, have at once resigned the 
lesser office. This he resolved not to do, but still retaining the 
castellany in his own hands, to devote its revenues entirely to 
the completion of the new fort. 

Baymond at the same time divided the whole line of de- 
fences around the city in such a manner that a specific portion 
of it should be appropriated to each langue^ to be maintained 
and guarded by them, and to receive their name. It is worthy 
of record that in the emulation and keen competition which 
such an arrangement naturally elicited, the portion of the line 
set apart for the langue of England, became celebrated for the 
perfect manner in which it was kept up, and for the beauty 
of the decorations with which it was embellished. 

The siege and capture of Lesbos, which took place in the year 
1465, in the defence of which a body of Hospitallers had taken 
part and lost their lives, became a new warning to the fra- 
ternity to maintain its vigilance against its relentless and 
ever-advancing foe. Zacosta, who was determined not only 
to do his own duty, but also to compel those under him to be 

• Newton's ** Travels and Discoveries in the Levant," vol. i. page 176. 

236 A History of 

equally ready in the discharge of theirs, sent a special citation 
to the various receivers of the Order to press for the payment 
of all responsions that were due. These officials were becoming 
weary of the constant demandfi made on them to faciUtate pre- 
parations against an attack which was always impending, but 
which seemed never to take place. They therefore appealed to 
the Pope against these new requisitions of their chief. Paul II., 
upon receipt of their complaint, directed that the chapter-general, 
which had been convoked to meet at Bhodes, should assemble 
at Bome instead, and that the Qrand-Master should appear 
there in person. Although Zacosta might easily, had he chosen, 
have pleaded the necessity of his remaining in the convent at 
that most troublous epoch, he preferred to obey the mandate, 
being anxious to confront his enemies and calumniators. His 
success at Eome was so complete, and the explanations which 
he gave so satisfactory, that his enemies were clothed with 
shame, and the Pope hastened to make an earnest though tardy 
reparation for the wrongs which his suspicions had inflicted. 
Zacosta was laden with honours and distinctions, and enabled 
to compel the refractory commanders, now no longer supported 
by papal authority, to remit their just tribute to the treasury. 

Whilst still at Eome, Zacosta was seized with pleurisy, which 
ended in his death on the 21 st February, 1467. The Pope- 
decreed that his remains should be honoured with a burial in 
St. Peter's, and in that cathedral his funeral obsequies were 
performed with great magnificence. His tomb lay on the left 
side of the chapel of St. Gregory. There it remained xmtil, on 
the occasion of some repairs, it was transferred to the foot of 
the confessional of St. Peter. The monumental slab was at the 
same time placed in the crypt of the church, where it still 

The opportunity thus offered to the Pope by the death of a 
Grand-Master, and the consequent necessity for a new election, 
within the limits of his own immediate jurisdiction, was not 
thrown away by Paul. He at once convoked the required 
assembly from amongst such members of the chapter-general 
as were still in the city, and there, xmder his dictation, the 
prior of Rome, John Orsini, was raised to the vacant dignity. 
In spite, however, of the papal influence, the election was keenly 

the Knights of Malta. 237 

contested, and the prior of St. Gilles, Baymond Bicoard, was 
defeated by only a single vote, he having obtained eight against 
the nine recorded in favour of Orsini. Had the election been 
held anywhere but in Rome there is little doubt that he would 
have been the new Grand-Master. 

The general summons to Rhodes which followed on the 
elevation of Orsini was responded to with enthusiasm. Large 
numbers of knights and others interested in the welfare of the 
convent, flocked thither to greet their new chief, and to assist 
him in his projects of defence. Foremost amongst these was the 
commander, D'Aubusson, whose name has been already men- 
tioned. Eminently talented as an engineer, and well read in 
aU the most modem and improved details of the art of fortifi- 
cation, he was felt to be a man to whom, in the approaching 
crisis, all could look for advice and assistance. He was 
appointed captain-general and inspector of the island. Under 
his direction the ditches were enlarged and deepened where 
practicable, and a wall was built on the sea front of the town, 
about 600 feet in length and twenty in height. The cost 
of this work was defrayed out of the private purse of the 
Grand-Master, in spite of which the wall bears the arms of 
D'Aubusson, surmounted with the cardinal's hat. It must 
therefore have been fixed there after the siege, whilst D'Aubus- 
son was Grand-Master. 

At this time actual war had not been declared between 
Mahomet and the Order, but, on the contrary, more than 
one treacherous and badly kept truce had been concluded. 
Constant skirmishes were, however, taking place between the 
rival powers, and it was evident that before long open hostilities 
must break forth. In the year 1470 the spies who were main- 
tained by \h!^ Hospitallers at the Ottoman court, and if report 
speaks truly, even within the walls of the harem, gave timely 
notice that a gigantic armament was being prepared, the 
ultimate destination of which was as yet a secret. Whilst it 
remained uncertain whether Rhodes or the Venetian island of 
Negropont was to be the point of attack, an attempt was made 
by the republic of the Adriatic to enter into a close alliance with 
the knights. Had this offer been made in good faith, it would, 
imder the circumstances, have been highly advantageous to both 

238 A History of 

parties, but when the terms came to be discussed, it was 
plain that the Venetians designed, under cover of an alliance, 
to render the fraternity entirely subservient to themselves. 
Their offers were consequently declined ; still, when the storm 
actually burst on Negropont, the knights hastened to despatch to 
its assistance a squadron, under the command of D'Aubusson 
and Cardonne. Any benefit which might have accrued from 
the aid thus sent was rendered futile through the cowardice of 
the Venetian admiral, Canalis. That officer, at a critical moment, 
when the combined squadron of which he was the leader might 
have saved the town, carried off the Venetian fleet, and left 
the island to fall a prey to the Turkish arms. 

The loss of Negropont would imdoubtedly have been followed 
without delay by an attack on Rhodes but for the fact that at 
this critical juncture the shah of Persia declared war against 
the Ottoman empire. The shah, who had ajs good reason to 
dread that power on its eastern borders as the knights had on 
the west, entered into a league with the Pope, the kings of 
Naples and Aragon, the republics of Venice and Florence, and 
the Order of St. John. By virtue of this treaty he was to 
be furnished with men and money, and more especially with 
artillery, to aid him in carrying on hostilities against his 
formidable neighbour. The result was that for some years 
Mahomet foimd himself so much occupied on his eastern 
frontier that he was compelled for the time to postpone his 
ambitious projects in the Levant. 

During this lull Orsini died in the year 1476, at so great an 
age that for a long period his rule over the fraternity had been 
little more than nominal; D'Aubusson, who had been raised 
to the rank of grand-prior of Auvergne, having been in reality 
the supreme director of the government. A curious incident 
preceded the death of Orsini. A few months before that event 
actually took place he was struck with an attack of syncope 
or catalepsy which his attendants mistook for death. Every 
preparation was consequently made for his funeral obsequies, 
and he would undoubtedly have been buried alive had he not 
fortunately recovered from the seizure in time to prevent such a 
catastrophe. His resuscitation lasted but for a short period, 
and an attack of dropsy carried him off in reality two months 

the Knights of Malta. 239 

During the years of his lieutenancy D'Aubusson had not 
been idle in adding to the defences of the city of Rhodes. 
Three new towers were constructed in the enceinte, and a huge 
chain was placed at the entrance of the harbour by which its 
ingress might be blocked at will. This chain was coiled in 
the basement of St. Michael's tower, and the opening is still 
visible in the ruins through which it was drawn out when in 
use. After the Turks captured the island they stored it in ihe 
vaults of the Hospital. To provide for the large expenditure 
entailed by these works, the treasury of Rhodes was driven to 
have recourse to every possible shift. Amongst other measures 
the coimcil appropriated a quantity of old plate belonging to 
the cathedral of St. John, which bore the arms of Elyon de 
Villanova, by whom it had been presented to the church. It 
was promised that when the crisis was past this plate should 
be restored, and that in the meantime it should be pledged as 
security for a loan. 

The election of a successor to Orsini was little more than 
a matter of form. This was not a time when either petty 
jealousies or local interests could be permitted to interfere in the 
nomination of a chief, under whose guidance it seemed certain 
that the knights would be called upon to withstand the powerful 
attack that had been so long preparing. On the skill and 
judgment of that leader it would mainly depend whether they 
would be able to ride out the tempest unscathed, or be for 
ever overwhelmed by its furious onset. There waa one name 
on every tongue. It was that of a man who had already shown 
himself weU worthy of the confidence placed in his powers, so 
that when the coimcil announced to the expectcmt fraternity 
the name of Peter D'Aubusson as its new chief, the decision 
was greeted with acclamations which showed how fully that 
selection had met with public approval. 

Peter D'Aubusson, grand-prior of Auvergne, was descended 
from the family of the viscoimts de la Marche, the name 
dating back to the ninth century. The ramifications of this 
family have included a connection both with the dukes of 
Normandy and also with the Saxon kings of England, so that, 
although D'Aubusson was French both by birth and education, 
there must ever exist a sympathy for his high name and gallant 

240 A History of the Knights of Malta, 

achievements on this side of the channel. He was bom in 
the year 1423, in the chateau of M onteil-le-Vicomte, his father 
being Eenaud D'Aubusson, and his mother Marguerite de 
Cambom, a member of a very aristocratic French family. 
He had served with much distinction in his earlier days in the 
war between Sigismond and the Ottomans under the leadership 
of Albert, duke of Austria, at the close of which he spent some 
time at the court of Himgary. On the death of Sigismond 
he returned to France, where he was received with much dis- 
tinction by Charles VII. Whilst there he took part in the war 
against the English. He particularly distinguished himself 
at the assault on Montereau Faut-yone, so much so that when, 
shortly afterwards, Charles YII. made his entry into Paris, he 
gave D'Aubusson a conspicuous position in the pageant. 

After peace, had been concluded with England, the young 
knight perceived that all further chance of distinction in that 
quarter was at an end. He therefore determined to enrol 
himself a member of the Order of St. John, and proceeded to 
Bihodes for the purpose. At that time his uncle was a distin- 
guished knight of the Order, and was commander of Charroux. 
It has already been shown that the yoxmg aspirant was not 
long in making his name known amongst the fraternity, and in 
assisting, both with his sword and his powers of diplomacy, to 
forward its interests. Long before he was raised to the supreme 
dignity, D'Aubusson had rendered himself indispensable, and 
the public confidence in him was so unbounded that all were 
ready to yield him the blindest obedience. His character, even 
at an early age, had been well imderstood by Charles VII., 
who said that he had never seen in so yoxmg a man such fiery 
courage coupled with such wisdom and sagacity. 



Description of Rhodes — The three renegades — Arrival of the Turkiflh army 
at Rhodes— First attack on Fort St. Nicholas— Its failure— Breach 
opened in the Jews' quarter — Attempted assassination of the Grand- 
Master— Second attack on St. Nicholas and its failure — Second advance 
on the Jews' quarter — Execution of Ma!tre Oeorges — Last assault of 
the Turks and its repulse — Close of the siege, and embarkation of the 
Ottoman army. 

The city of Ehodes, at the time of the accession of Peter 
D'Aubusson, was a very difPerent place from what it had been 
when first torn from the hands of the infidel in the beginning 
of the fourteenth century. At that period all the grandeur of 
former ages had been lost, and the half-ruined town presented 
every appearance of squalor and poverty. Now all this was 
changed. From the moment when Fulk de Villaret first 
established his convent there, the knights of St. John had 
lavished their treasures partly in the construction of works of 
defence as perfect as the engineering science of those days 
could devise, and partly in the architectural decoration of their 
town, replete as it was with natural beauties. The splendid 
buildings which still exist testify to its grandeur and magnifi- 
cence in the days of the Order of St. John, and to the enormous 
expenditure which had been lavished on its defences. 

It was situated on the sea-shore at the north-eastern ex- 
tremity of the island, and embraced within its circuit the two 
harbours known as the inner and the outer port, the latter 
sometimes called the port of the galleys. The outer port was 
formed by a long strip of land running in a direction nearly 
due north, and jutting out into the sea so as to enclose between 
it and the shore line an anchorage, very commodious and 


242 A History of 

sheltered from all but northerly winds. On the rock at the 
extremity of this neck of land stood the tower of St. Nicholas, 
the erection of which, by Zacosta, has already been mentioned. 
This tower, which was the first object that greeted the pilot on 
nearing the shores of E>hodes, was considered the most impor- 
tant point in the defences of the town, next to the Grand- 
Master's palace, which was the citadel. Its position, surrounded 
abnost entirely by the sea, rendered it difficult of attack at 
all times, and from sudden surprise or coup de main it was 
practically quite secure. The inner port was enclosed by two 
moles, running respectively in a northerly and easterly direction, 
so as to embrace within their shelter an expanse of water par- 
taking somewhat of the geometric form of a sector. At the 
extremities of these moles stood the two towers of St. Michael 
and St. John (the one now called Arab's tower, and the other 
Windmill tower). These two works, together with that of 
St. Nicholas, may be said to have constituted the principal 
strength of the place on its sea front. 

It has been a matter of much dispute where the famous 
Colossus of Ehodes stood. Tradition has generally pointed to 
the two rocks on which stand the towers of St. Michael and St. 
John, affirming that the statue was reared with one foot on 
each of these points, and that vessels entering the harbour were 
enabled to pass in full sail between its legs. Newton's opinion 
has already been quoted that the tower of St. Nicholas probably 
stands on the site of the old statue, and this opinion is shared by 
most persons best qualified to judge in the matter. If , as is 
very likely, the statue had been erected as a mark of guidance 
to vessels approaching the harbour, the rock of St. Nicholas 
would be the most natural and suitable site. The dimensions 
of the figure on that spot might well have raised it to the 
dignity of a wonder of the world without claiming for it a 
stride of fifty fathoms. 

The land defences of the city consisted of a rampart and 
ditch, the former in some parts doubled by a species of f ausse- 
braye. The terreplein was 40 feet wide, and the ditch varied 
in depth from 40 to 60 feet, and in width from 90 to 140 feet. 
This was sunk in the natural rock, which being a free-stone, easily 
worked, doubtless supplied the material for all the masonry of 



to illiztftratfl Hw Si«ge« of 1460 and 1522 . 

1 Omnd Master^ HtLsuX'. 

2 Church of Sf^ohn. 

5 BospitaZ of Sf^Johrv. 

4 Stnet afthfSni^hta. 

5 jhrtboise OaJt» . 

6 SfOearqe* Oate^. 

7 Spcmish Tower. 

8 Sf^McuykTowsr. 

9 S^John^aGetU. 
20 lUjiHajrvTo^er. 
n S^Johna Tower. 

J2 SPMichetds Tower. 

15 Fort SP Nicholas . 

M Church, of SP^nthxnt^ 

JS 5? St^herutEia. - 


17 Sf CatharruA OaJbt . 

the Knights of Malta. 243 

the enceinte, and probably for much of that required for the 
town itself. Many of the old guns used by the knights in the 
two sieges about to be recorded still stand in situ. Their vents 
are protected by old cuirasses taken from the armoury. They 
are, of course, practically useless, and were they to be fired, 
would oertiujily prove a greater source of danger to the gunners 
than to the enemy. The rampart was flanked by numerous 
square towers at intervals. In addition to these, there were five 
more important projecting points covered with outworks, which 
partook somewhat of the character of bastions. Commencing 
at the south-west or Jews' quarter, there were respectively the 
towers of Italy, St. John, St. Mary, Spain, and St. George. 
The line from this latter post ran northward, till it reached the 
Gfrand-Master's palace. Thence it turned at right angles east- 
ward up to the foot of the mole of St. Nicholas. The sea-face 
constituting the inner line of the harbour was also protected by 
a rampart, but without any ditch. The town thus encircled 
partook very much of the form of a crescent. An inner line 
ran due east and west, cutting off the northern horn of this 
crescent. Within this retrenchment dwelt the aristocracy of 
Ehodes. Here were the various auhergen of the langueSy the 
Hospital of the Order, the conventual church of St. John, and 
the Ghrand-Master's palace. This latter was enclosed in a 
further line of retrenchment, and with its gardens and 
grounds occupied a very large space at the north-west comer 
of the town, and constituted the citadel of the fortress. 
Everything which the science of the age could suggest, or the 
lavish expenditure of money could accomplish, had been done 
to develop its strength. It was entered by a separate gate, 
and dominated the whole of its surroundings. 

The houses of the lower part were built of stone, and had 
flat roofs after the custom of most Eastern cities. At 
frequent intervals the streets, which were very narrow, were 
crossed overhead by broad arches. This was probably done to 
facilitate communication between the various points, and also, 
perhaps, to afford shelter from the fire of the enemy during a 
siege. Two gates led into the lower town from the land side, 
called respectively the gates of St. George and St. John. 
Before the second siege the latter was built up. As is the 

244 ^ History of 

case in so many cities, the Jews dwelt in a quarter set apart 
for them in the south-eastern comer, where they were covered 
by the ramparts of the langue of Italy. 

From the time of Zacosta the defence of the line of works 
had been allotted amongst the different langues as follows : — 
From the foot of the mole of St. Nicholas to the Ghrand-Master's 
palace was in charge of France; thence to the gate of St. George 
was held by Germany ; Auvergne was posted between that gate 
and the Spanish tower; England between the Spanish tower 
and that of St. Mary, of which they only defended the lower 
story, the upper part being held by Aragon, as well as the line 
up to the gate of St. John; from that gate to the tower of 
Italy was held by Provence, the sea-face closing the circuit 
being in charge, one half of Italy and the other half of Castile. 
The palace itself was held by a force composed of members of 
all the langues, it being naturally considered the post of honour. 

The amazing fertility and luxuriant vegetation of the island 
had converted the country outside the waUs into one vast garden. 
Far as the eye could reach there appeared on every side fields, 
groves, and orchards, clothed in all the brilliancy of summer 
verdure, whilst from the summit of St. Stephen's Hill, an 
eminence which overlooked the town a short distance ofE on 
the western side, the land stretched away in a gradual descent 
towards the foot of the ramparts. This slope was broken by 
hillocks and undulations, which in their pleasing variety gave 
life and animation to the landscape. Here and there on every 
side the ground was dotted with chapels, summer-houses, and 
other rustic buildings, very picturesque in appearance, but, 
imfortunately, highly detrimental to the defence of the place. 
D'Aubusson had, it is true, exerted his power with no sparing 
hand to sweep away the most dangerous of these buildings, and, 
to a certain extent, with success. Nothing but a stem sense of 
the urgency of the ca^e, and a blind confidence in his unerring 
judgment, would have permitted the destruction of so much 
that was prized by the inhabitants. Still much remained intact 
to afford cover to an advancing enemy. To quote the quaint 
language of Merry Dupuis, a member of the Order, who, 
although not actually present at the siege, arrived in Ehodes 
almost immediately afterwards, and wrote a histoiy of it from 

the Knights of Malta. 245 

the statementB of the principal aotoro, '^ around the dty of 
Bhodes lay the most admirable country in the world for carrying 
on a siege ; for all around the said town were numerous gardens 
filled with little churches and Greek chapels, with old walls and 
stones and rocks, behind which cover could always be found 
against the garrison, to such an extent that if all the artillery 
in the world had been inside the town, it could do no harm 
to those that were without, provided they did not approach 
too close." 

There has been much criticism on the defensive arrangements 
of D'Aubusson because he did not occupy the dominant hiU of 
St. Stephen with an outwork. It must, however, be borne in 
mind that the use of artillery had been of too recent introduc- 
tion, and was as yet in too crude a state, for the disadvantages 
of this point to have been as apparent then as they are now. 
Moreover, the policy of isolating a portion of the garrison 
and stationing them where they would, in all probability, 
have been cut off by the vastly superior forces of the besiegers, 
seems somewhat doubtful. At all events, it is dear that 
contemporary criticism did not take this line, since even 
after the experience of the first siege no attempt was made 
during the forty-two years which elapsed between that and 
the second to remedy the supposed defect. We may there- 
fore rest assured, that had this hill presented the disadvan- 
tages which to the modem engineer seem so apparent, the 
keen eye and commanding genius of D'Aubusson would not 
have neglected its defence. As a matter of fact, the hiU never 
was used by the Turks for battering purposes, but only as a 
camping ground. 

Such were the town and island, which, after being kept for 
a space of nearly forty years in a state of perturbation and 
alarm, were destined to vritness at length the storm of 
invasion break over them. Once again did D'Aubusson pen 
a circular to his grand-priors, urging upon them the imme- 
diate transmission of reinforcements and supplies. A copy of 
this document is still in existence among the papal archives, 
and there is something very thrilling and exciting in the 
plain manly language in which his demand is couched. 
Without any straining after effect, or the slightest attempt 

246 A History of 

at oratorical display, he appealed with such earnest simplicity 
to the chivalry still existing in every knightly bosom, that 
it is not surprising to read that his call was responded to 
from every priory in Europe. Not only members of the 
Order, but numbers of others, knights and simple soldiers, 
crowded to the scene of the coming struggle. Although 
they were to serve under a banner to which they owed no 
allegiance, other than in so far as it was the emblem of 
Christian warfare against the infidel, they came, hoping to 
win renown for themselves and to aid in the defeat of the 
common enemy. The gallant heart of D'Aubusson was 
gladdened at the constant arrival of these welcome additions 
to his strength, comprising, as they did, some of the noblest 
names in Europe. Foremost amongst them was his eldest 
brother, the viscount de Monteuil, who, at the head of a con- 
siderable body of retainers, volunteered his services at this 
crisis. He was, by the unanimous voice of the council, elected 
to the post of captain-general, which he promptly accepted, 
and in which he did knightly service imder the supreme 
command of his younger brother. 

Whilst the knights were thus preparing themselves at all 
points to meet their enemy, Mahomet, disappointed at per- 
ceiving that his designs had been fathomed, determined, if> 
possible, to blind the fraternity to the inmiinence of its 
danger. With this idea he directed his son, Djem or 2iizim, in 
conjunction with his nephew, Tch^Ai, to submit to the Grand- 
Master proposals for a peace. In this project the sultan had 
two objects in view. On the one hand, he hoped to lure the 
knights into a false sense of security ; and on the other 
he trusted, by the selection of a fitting agent, to combine the 
services of a spy with those of an envoy. Under his direction 
the princes chose for the purpose a renegade Ghreek, who, 
on the capture of his native island of Eubeea, by the Turks, 
had embraced Islamism in the hope of bettering his fortunes. 
This man, whose name was Demetrius Sophiano, possessed 
all the cunning and aptitude for intrigue which have ever 
been the characteristics of his race. He had often proved 
himself a most valuable tool in the hands of his new em- 
ployer. In matters of diplomacy, however, Mahomet had in 

the Knights of Malta. 247 

D'Aubtisson to deal with a man who was fully his equal in 
the art, and whose extensive system of espial had rendered 
him weU acquainted with the real motives by which the 
Ottoman sultan was actuated. Perceiving that a short truce 
would give time for such reinforcements to arrive as were 
still lingering on the way, he yielded a ready assent to the 
proposals of Demetrius, merely taMng objection to the question 
of tribute, as to which he averred that he was not authorized 
to treat without special reference to the Pope. In order, 
therefore, to allow time for this reference to be made, he 
suggested that a temporary truce should be established, during 
the continuance of which the commerce of both parties should 
be free from aggression. This proposal was accepted by 
Mahomet, who flattered himself that he had succeeded in 
throwing the enemy quite off his guard. He was only im- 
deceived when he discovered that D'Aubusson was taking 
advantage of the temporary lull to render yet more complete 
his preparations for defence. 

Demetrius was not the only tool that Mahomet found ready 
to his hand at this crisis. In fact, a man who, like the Ottoman 
sultan, ruled over an empire to which, through the lust of con- 
quest, fresh additions were constantly being made, must have 
found frequent occasion for the services of traitors; and as 
ample remuneration and rapid advancement awaited the suc- 
cessful informer, there were never wanting about his court men 
who had that to sell which it was his interest to buy. His 
intention of attacking the island of Bhodes upon the first 
favoturable opportunity had become so widely known, that 
accurate information as to the defences of the town was under- 
stood to be a highly marketable commodity. All persons, 
therefore, who were in possession of such, hurried, naturally, to 
Constantinople, in the hope of realizing a good price for the 
article. Demetrius, during his visits to Bhodes, had made him- 
self as well acquainted with the general outline of the works 
as his positicn admitted, and doubtless received ample reward 
for his vigilance. There were also two other men who at 
this time came forward to contest with him the palm of 
rascality, and to share its disgraceful fruits. One of these was 
Antonio Meligala, a Ehodian, who, having dissipated his patri- 

248 A History of 

mony in debauchery, sought to restore his ruined fortunes by 
abandoning Christianity and taking service with the Turk. 
Some writers assert that he had formerly been a knight of St. 
John and was stripped of his habit for gross misconduct, but 
there is no authentic record of the fact. It is very dear that 
he had resided for a time at Bhodes, and that he carried away 
with him to Constantinople an accurate plan of the fortress. 
Whatever reward he may have received for this act of treachery 
he did not live long to enjoy, as he died of a loathsome disease 
on board a galley whilst accompanying the Turkish army to the 
scene of attack. 

Another and far more gifted traitor presented himself in the 
person of Georges Frapant, commonly called Maitre Georges. 
This man was by birth a German, and had been trained as an 
engineer, in which science he attained great skill. He has 
been described, by friends and enemies alike, as being en- 
dowed with marvellous genius. In fact, the historians of the 
Order, even whilst heaping the most unmeasured, though weU- 
deserved, abuse upon his imf ortunate head, cannot refrain from 
drawing attention to his briUiant talents. Caoursin calls him 
a man of the most subtle ingenuity, whilst the honest soldier, 
Merry Dupuis, after recording of him that he was a most 
excellent director of artillery, proceeds to dilate on his personal* 
advantages as '^ a fine fellow, weU-formed in all his Umbs, and 
of a lofty stature, with great gifts of language, being both 
willing and entertaining." These opinions are endorsed by 
Bosio, Naberat, and Vertot, subsequent historians whose views 
were probably formed from what had been written by the above 
quoted authors.* It is very evident that Maitre Georges was 
no ordinary man, and the admirer of genius must regret the 
misapplied powers and perverted energies of this gifted rene- 

The plans and projects which this trio of traitors submitted 
to Mahomet were accompanied by such tempting descriptions of 

* Whilst on the sabject of Historians, it may be well to note that the 
incidents of the siege about to be recorded are mostly derived from three 
contemporary writers, viz., the above-named Caoursin and Merry Dupuis, 
and the Turkish writer Ehodgia Effendi. All the later historians have 
taken their narratives from these three writers. 

the Knights of Malta. ' 249 

the unprepared state of the island, the decay of the fortifica- 
tions, which they asserted were old and crumbling, and the 
paucity of its garrison, that he at length decided to carry out his 
long-cherished design. The chief command of the forces des- 
tined for the operation was intrusted to a fourth renegade, a 
Greek of the imperial house of Paleologus, named Messih, 
who held the rank of Capoudan Pasha. This man had been 
present at the capture of Constantinople. To save his life he 
had forsworn his religion and taken service under Mahomet. 
With his new master he rapidly gained honour and advance- 
ment, like all renegades, he showed the utmost zeal in perse- 
cuting those of his former faith, and the knights of Ehodes had 
in particular been distinguished by his bitterest animosity. 
The sultan therefore deemed that he would be a veiy fit agent 
to accomplish their destruction. This appointment was by no 
means distasteful to the Capoudan Pasha, as, owing to the 
seductive and glowiQg accounts which his fellow-renegades had 
given of the facilities of the enterprise, he was most anxious 
to Becure the opportunity for distinction, and for raising him- 
self yet higher in his new profession. 

Whilst preparations were thus going on at Constantinople, the 
knights were, on their side, taking every measure to insure the 
success of their defence. At this critical juncture they were glad- 
dened by a proposal from the sultan of Egypt to enter into an 
alliance with them. That prince beheld with a jealous eye the 
impending attack by his powerful eastern neighbour on the fort- 
ress of Rhodes. It did not accord with his policy that the island 
should fall into the hands of one already too mighty for the 
safety of his own empire. A treaty was speedily concluded, 
whereby the knights were not only secured from any aggression 
on the side of Egypt during their struggle with the Turks, but 
were able to draw large supplies of provisions from their new 
friends. One measure was still considered necessary to render 
their security more complete, and that was to remove temporarily 
from the powers of D'Aubusson those checks and restrictions 
with which the jealousy of preceding ages had fettered the 
Gfrand-Mastership. Now that they were led by one in whom 
they had such imbounded confidence, and when the crisis 
required that he should be able to act with a promptitude and 

250 A History of 

energy unattainable under such a rSgimey they unanimously 
agreed to free birn from its yoke, and to grant him the un- 
limited authority of a dictator until the troublous hour had 
passed away. Once before, it will be remembered, the same step 
had been taken, and then with the happiest results. It was, 
therefore, with the more readiness that they again resorted to 
the measure, having already experienced its successful opera- 
tion. D'Aubusson was at first unwilling to accept the un- 
divided responsibility thus imposed upon him, but his reluctance 
was speedily overcome, and when the council broke up it was 
announced to the citizens that from that moment he was their 
sole and autocratic chief. Never was authority vested in hands 
more capable of exercising it wisely, and the confidence which 
D'Aubusson felt in himself he was able at that critical juncture 
to impart to his friends. 

The plans by which Mahomet proposed to carry out his 
invasion were these. As a preliminary step a fleet was to be 
equipped under the command of Paleologus, which should make 
a descent on the island and commit such ravages as would 
haxass and terrify the inhabitants, and in some degree exhaust 
the strength of the defence before the main struggle com- 
menced. Early in the ensuing spring the bulk of the army was 
to march across Asia Minor to the port of Phineka, a com- 
modious harbour about forty miles to the eastward of Bhodes. 
The artillery and heavy stores were to proceed to the same spot 
from Constantinople by sea. The pasha, after having harried 
the Christians to the best of his ability, was directed to be at the 
place of rendezvous at the appointed time, when, picking up the 
force there assembled, he was to make his grand descent upon 
the point of attack. 

In accordance with these instructions, Paleologus sailed with 
a considerable squadron in the winter of 1479, and at once 
made a bold dash at the island of Bhodes itself. D'Aubusson 
had taken every precaution to prevent any disastrous effects 
from descents of this kind. He had caused a number of 
fortified posts to be constructed in addition to those already 
existing, and behind these the inhabitants of the open country 
were in cases of alarm to seek shelter. The pa^a therefore 
gained but little by his move. His troops effected their landing 

the Knights of Malta. 251 

unopposed, but found the country deserted, everything carried 
away, and the inhabitants whom he would have seized as slaves 
secure from his grasp. Whilst his troops were scattered in dis- 
organized bands engaged in a fruitless search for plimder, a 
sudden descent was made on them by a body of knights. They 
were taken completely by surprise, numbers were killed, and 
the remainder driven back in confusion to their ships. 

The pasha, disgusted at this humiliating repulse, sheered off 
from Khodes and steered for the island of Telos, where was 
a fort garrisoned by a body of Hospitallers. This, after a few 
days' battering, he attempted to carry by storm, but once 
more met with a bloody repulse. The fort was evidently not 
to be taken by a coup de mainy and the Capoudan Pasha, 
crestfallen and defeated, was fain to retire to Phineka, there 
to await the arrival of his aomy. A bad beginning this 
to so great an enterprise, and an evil omen for its ultimate 

One morning, towards the latter end of April, in the 
year 1480, the sentinel posted on the top of St. Stephen's 
hill, descried the hostile fleet passing within view of the 
island. The alarm was at once given, and the Grand-Master, 
with his principal officers, assembled on the spot to watch its 
onward progress. The eventful hour was not yet come, and 
the fleet, which was bearing the artillery and other stores 
from Constantinople, made for Phineka, the pre-arranged port 
of rendezvous.' Having there been joined by the remainder 
of the force, the army was embarked, and the expedition, 
which numbered 70,000 men (some accounts say 100,000) 
with 160 lajge vessels, exclusive of small craft, arrived within 
sight of Rhodes on the 23rd of May, 1480. The warnings 
which had been giv^ on so many previous occasions had 
enabled the knights to make every preparation for this 
critical moment. The inhabitanta had all taken refuge with- 
in the town, whither their property had also been conveyed. 
Nothing capable of removal was left to become the spoil of the 
invaders ; even the unripe com was cut and carried away. An 
attempt was made to impede the landing, without producing 
much effect, the magnitude of his force and the numerical 
strength of his fleet enabling the pasha to effect a disembark- 

252 A History of 

ation without difficulty in the bay of Trianda, on the north- 
west side of the island. 

He encamped his forces on the slope of St. Stephen's hill, 
and pitched his own tent on the summit,* and on the following 
day despatched a herald to summon the town to surrender. 
He knew weU that the demand would be rejected with scorn 
by the knights, but he had worded his message craftily, with 
the hope of seducing the Gh:'eek inhabitants, to whom he 
promised a general amnesty and an increase of privileges 
under the Turks. His cunning design was frustrated by the 
staunch courage of the Ehodians, who preferred staking their 
all on the f ortimes of the Order, to accepting the tempting but 
dangerous offers of Paleologus. When it is remembered that 
the population of Bhodes mostly professed the Ghreek faith, it is 
somewhat surprising that they should have remained so loyal 
to the sway of a Boman Catholic body. Either the differences 
and jealousies between the rival creeds must in those days have 
been less embittered than of late, or the fraternity must have 
learnt a lesson in religious toleration very unusual to the 
professors of their faith. There are facts which show that both 
these causes must have operated to produce such laudable 
results. As a proof that the differences between the two 
religions were then by no means so marked as at present, 
may be mentioned the fact that a miraculous picture of the 
Virgin, held in the highest esteem by the knights, was during 
the siege lodged in a Ghreek chapel, where it received the joint 
adoration of both sects. This painting had been brought from 
Acre by the knights on their expulsion from that city. After 
their arrival in Ehodes it had been deposited in a chapel, built 
for the purpose on an eminence about a mile to the west of the 
town. This hill was called Mount Philermo, and the image 
bore the name of Our Lady of Philermo, When the approach 
of the Turks rendered this chapel no longer a place of security, 
the picture was brought within the fortress, nor was any objec- 
tion made to its being lodged in a Greek chapel. No surer 

* This hill has been called Sir Sidney Smith's hill, and a house at its 
top still bears his name. It was here that he took up his abode in 
1802, in order that he might keep a vigilant look-out for the French fleet 
during the expedition to Egypt. 

the Knights of Malta. 253 

token could have been given of the unanimity and good fellow- 
ship whioh at that time existed between the professors of the 
two creeds. 

As soon as the Turks had established themselves in their 
camp, they began to push forward reconnoissanees in front 
of the walls. It suited neither the poKcy of D'Aubusson nor 
the temper of his troops to permit these approaches to be 
continued unchecked. A sortie was consequently made with a 
chosen body of cavalry, led by the viscount de Monteuil in 
person, in which, after a slight combat — ^little more indeed 
than a skirmish — ^the Turks were driven back to their camp. 
In this affair Demetrius Sophiano, another of the three traitors 
who had hoped to reap such a golden harvest from the results 
of their villainy, met his death. His horse having been killed, 
he was unable to disengage himself from the fallen animal, and 
the advancing squadrons of the enemy, charging over his 
prostrate body, trampled him to death in the mtUe. The 
knights in this struggle lost one of their own number, a 
member of the langue of Auvergne, named Murat, who, having 
pushed too far in front in the ardour of the moment, was 
surrounded by spahis. He was speedily put to death, and his 
head borne away in triumph on a spear. 

Meanwhile the pasha had been in close consultation with 
Maitre G-eorges as to the point he should select for the attack. 
That worthy, whose keen eye instantly grasped the importance 
of the post of St. Nicholas, suggested that the whole weight of 
the besieging force should be thrown against that fort. To this 
Paleologus, who had every confidence in the opinion of the 
German, readily assented. A battery was at once commenced 
within the gardens of the church of St. Anthony, a convenient 
spot whence the powerful battering train which had been brought 
from Constantinople might vomit its ponderous missiles against 
the rampart of St. Nicholas, from a distance of about 300 
yards. The knights, on their side, anxious to impede the con- 
struction of so dangerous a work, opened fire on the rising 
battery from some guns which they placed on a platform on the 
north side of the Grand-Master's palace, from which spot they 
were able to enfilade it. In spite of all obstructions, and in 
the face of a large loss in men, the work continued to advance, 

254 -^ History of 

gabions, timber, and other appKanoes being brought into use to 
expedite its completion. At length, all being ready, three of 
the pasha's great basilisks were seen to peep portentously 
through the embrasures. These basilisks, of which sixteen had 
been brought from the arsenal of Constantinople, had been 
cast under the direction of that most useful of men Maitre 
Georges. They were of such stupendous dimensions, that their 
very appearance might well spread dismay amongst the ranks 
of the garrison. They were eighteen feet in length, and were 
designed to carry projectiles of from eight to nine palms in 
diameter.* In those early days of artillery the calibre of the 
guns was very large and the projectiles generally of stone. 
Only a Kttle powder was used, the range was therefore extremely 
limited. Artillerists trusted more to the weight of the missile 
than to the impetus with which it was projected for the 
desired effect to be produced. It must certainly have been 
by no means a reassuring incident to the defenders of Fort St. 
Nicholas to be battered incessantly with such gigantic artillery. 
The result speedily manifested itself. Although the walls 
had been well built and were very solid, they were not capable 
of withstanding for any time the huge projectiles which Maitre 
Georges had caused to be hurled against them, and ere long, a 
gaping breach on the west face marked the successful practice 
of the gunners. 

Whilst this battering was proceeding, another incident had 
taken place which materially affected the fortunes of the wily 
German. In pursuance of a plan laid down between himself 
and Paleologus, the dauntless scoundrel — for with all his crimes 
it is impossible to deny him the virtue of the most daring 
courage — presented himself before the walls one morning and 
besought admission into the town as a deserter from the 
Turkish camp. Taken before D'Aubusson, Mattre Georges had 
a plausible tale ready to accoimt for his appearance. Entirely 
ignoring for the moment the awkward fact of his apostasy to 

* Some doubt exists as to what the palm here referred to really was. 
It could not have been the Italian palm, which was 8f inches. Possibly 
the old Roman palm was intended, of which four went to the pe», or foot of 
11*62 inches. In this case the palm would have been 2*9 inches, and the 
calibre of the basilisks from 23 to 26 inches. The English palm is 3 inches. 

the Knights of Malta* 255 

Islamism, he averred with the most captivating ingenuotusness, 
that although he had been for many years in the service of the 
sultan, his conscience would not permit him to assist further in 
the designs of that monarch against the fraternity. Finding 
himself unable in any other manner to escape from the dis- 
tasteful and painful service, he had resolved to take the 
hazardous step of deserting into the fortress. D'Aubusson had 
had too many dealings with rascals as wily and plausible as 
Maitre Georges to give a ready credence to this tale of remorse. 
He knew too well that the day was past when men made such 
sacrifices for their religion. He also knew what a fearful risk 
Maitre Georges would be running if he were really a deserter 
in the event of the capture of the town, and of his falling once 
more into the hands of his former employers. This was a risk 
which he gravely doubted Maitre Georges' newly-awakened 
zeal for the Christian faith would prompt him to run. The pro- 
babilities seemed to him, therefore, that the pretended deserter 
was acting in collusion with the foe without. Treachery, 
however, if treachery there were, was, under the circum- 
stances, to be best encountered by dissimulation. The Qrand- 
Master determined that he would glean what information he 
could from the German, without trusting him in any way that 
might be made available for the use of the pasha. Maitre 
Georges was welcomed as cordially as though no suspicions had 
been aroused ; but he soon discovered that there were those in 
his tndn whose sole duty appeared to be to watch his every 
movement and to mark his every word. One or two abortive 
attempts to search out the weak points in the defence soon 
taught him that any further effort in that, direction would 
inevitably lead to destruction. In fact, D'Aubusson completely 
foiled his designs, and if he did not prove of much use to the 
defenders, he was at aU events prevented in any way assisting 
the besiegers. 

On cross-examination as to the force under the command of 
the pasha, he dilated with the most alarming unction on its 
magnitude and perfect equipment. Their artillery, he said, was 
of gigantic calibre, such as had never before been brought into 
the field, and on this point he certainly was able to speak with 
some authority, having founded the cannon himself. The army 

256 A History of 

was numerous, well disoiplined, and amply supplied with stores 
and provisions of every kind, and was, moreover, animated with 
the most fanatical zeal to overthrow this great bulwark of 
Christianity. Cheering intelligence that, to be brought by a 
deserter into a besieged town. The question naturally arose, 
how came so long-headed a man voluntarily to place himself 
in a position of such imminent danger? To this, Maitre 
GFeorges, with sanctimonious earnestness, pleaded the pangs of 
an awakened conscience with such apparent conviction that 
many were led to believe him sincere. 

Meanwhile the battery in St. Anthony's garden had been 
doing its duty. The confused mass of rubbish daily increasing 
at the foot of St. Nicholas' tower, and the gaping breach in its 
walls, rapidly enlarging in dimensions, showed D'Aubusson 
that unless speedy precautions were taken, the post would be 
lost. He therefore concentrated on the spot as large a reinforce- 
ment as could be contained within the enceinte of the work. 
At the same time he prepared every obstacle his ingenuity 
could devise to impede the operation of an assault. Taking 
advantage of the mass of ruined masonry which had been dis- 
lodged by the pasha's basQisks, he with it cast up a new defence 
across the mole. Small batteries were established wherever they 
could sweep the approaches to the breach, and in the shallow 
water of the harbour itself he sank numerous planks, studded 
with sharp-pointed nails, to impede the enemy were they to 
attempt wading across. Having thus done everything which 
his foresight could suggest, he calmly awaited the onset. 

On the morning of the 9th June, as soon as day broke, the 
alarm was given, and a large fleet of the enemy's lighter craft, 
laden with soldiers, was seen bearing down in a compact mass on 
the devoted fort. They were landed — some on the mole, some on 
the rocks, and the rest plunged overboard into the shallow water. 
With loud shouts they rushed at the breach, and endeavoured 
to carry the work by a coup de main. Conspicuous on the 
summit stood D'Aubusson, arrayed in all the panoply of his 
rank, and around him was gathered the flower of that chivalry 
from which the Turk had so often before been compelled to recoil. 
Anxiously was the struggle watched by both friend and foe on 
the mainland. The battlements overlooking the harbour were 

the Knights of Malta. 257 

crowded with citizens, eager to mark the progress of the fray ; 
whilst on the brow of St. Stephen's hill stood Paleologus himself, 
filled with the keen excitement natural in one to whom success 
would be everything, and failure perdition. Amid the clouds of 
smoke and dust but little was to be seen. Ever and anon, as 
a passing gust of wind raised the dark veil for a moment, might 
be distinguished that noble band, thinned in nmnbers and faint 
with toil, but still standing unsubdued, and in proud defiance, on 
their shattered bulwarks, whilst the ruins were covered with the 
corpses of those who had fallen in the struggle. That same 
glimpse would also show the Moslem, undaunted by the opposi- 
tion he was encountering, still swarming up the blood-stained 
pathway, striving by the sheer weight of nimibers to surmount 
the obstacle which had already proved fatal to so many of his 

Throughout this eventful day, D'Aubusson retained his post 
with the defenders of the fort. Utterly regardless of his own 
life he was to be found wherever the fray was thickest, or support 
most needed. His exposure of himself was, indeed, so reckless 
as to call forth the earnest remonstrances of his friends. On one 
occasion, having been struck on the head by a large fragment 
of stone which destroyed his helmet, he coolly selected another 
from the head of a fallen soldier ; and when remonstrated with 
by the commander, Fabricius Caretto (who was the governor 
of the fort), he replied, with a smile, " If I am killed there will 
be more cause of hope for you than of fear for me." It is sup- 
posed that he desired in this speech to indicate his opinion that 
that knight would be his fittest successor in case of his own death. 
At last, whilst the fate of the day seemed still to hang uncertain 
in the balance, the garrison brought some fireships to bear upon 
the galleys of the enemy. The attempt was successful ; several 
caught fire, and the remainder, to avoid a similar fate, were 
compelled promptly to retire. At the same moment the defenders 
of St. Nicholas made a vigorous and united dash at the breach ; 
the ladders were overturned, and such of the enemy as had made 
good their footing on the summit were once more hurled head- 
long to its foot. The flanking batteries were all this time pouring 
a destructive fire on the confused and disordered mass which stood 
huddled at its base. Many of the leaders had fallen, their 


258 A History of 

fleet had abandoned them, and they themselves were being mowed 
down by the deadly fire from the ramparts. Is it surprising that 
imder such an accumulation of obstacles they should at length 
give way? The mass of slain with which the bre€U)h was 
covered bore ample testimony to the obstinacy and determina- 
tion of the assault, but the resistance of the defenders had proved 
too powerful for them, and at length they sought safety in 
flight. The terror of the fireships had been so great that but 
few of thoir boats were left to carry off the discomfited survivors. 
Many were drowned in the attempt to cross over to the mainland, 
and the remainder were borne away crestfallen and humiliated 
from the scene of action. 

The feelings of the pasha, as from the summit of St. 
Stephen's hill he witnessed the tmtoward conclusion of the 
fray, were far from enviable. His troops had been taught 
to consider themselves invincible, and the foe had not hitherto 
been foimd who could withstand the shock of their onset. 
They trusted that as it had been with the turbaned warrior 
of the East, so would it also prove with their Christian 
antagonists ; but they now learnt their error at a grievous cost 
to themselves. That crumbling breach which, if guarded by a 
Moslem garrison, would have offered but a slender resistance, 
had, when crowned by the warriors of the Cross, rendered 
futile their boldest efforts, and hurled them back discomfited 
to their camp. Seven hundred corpses lay stretched upon the 
mole and breach. The pasha obtained a short truce to enable 
him to remove and bury them. A long trench was dug near 
the garden of St. Anthony, along the western shore of the 
port, in which they were all deposited. This trench, according 
to Biliotti, has recently been discovered, and the bones still 
found there removed into the adjoining cemetery of Mourad- 

Paleologus was not the man to despair at a first failure; 
he was* therefore speedily at work devising a new attack in 
another quarter. Conceiving that the knights were probably 
exhausting their utmost resources in the defence of St. 
Nicholas, he determined to break ground on a fresh point, 
where he might find a less obstinate resistance. Whilst 
D'Aubusson was returning thanks for the glorious success 

tJie Knights of Malta. 259 

of the preceding day, by a triumphal procession to the miracu- 
lous picture of Our Lady of Philermo, the pasha was moving 
his heavy batteriug train to the southern side of the city. 
The Jews' quarter was selected as the new object of attack. 
The ramparts at this point were of extreme thickness, but 
were also of great age, and therefore but ill suited to resist 
any very severe battering. Wishing to distract the garrison, 
he did not confine his efPorts to a single place, but at the 
same time opened fire on the tower of St. Mary on the one 
side, and on that of Italy on the other. He also commenced 
a general bombardment. From the huge mortars which 
formed part of his siege train, he hurled into the town 
gigantic fragments of rock and other destructive missiles, 
trusting thereby so to annoy the inhabitants that they would 
be unable to protract the defence with energy. Light balls 
and other combustible ingredients were also made use of, in the 
hope of causing a conflagration. Against all these dangers 
D'Aubusson's ready genius was able to find a remedy. He 
created a temporary shelter for such of the inhabitants as were 
not required for the defence by the erection of large sheds with 
sloping sides, built against the interior of the ramparts, on 
such sites as were best protected from the fire of the besiegers. 
Others found shelter in the vaults of the churches and similar 
places of security, so that the pasha gained but little by his 
vast expenditure of ammunition. True it is, as Merry Dupuis 
records, that one shot struck the roof of the Grand-Master's 
palace, and descending through the floor into the cellar, de- 
stroyed a hogshead of wine. The waste of the good liquor seems 
to have impressed the simple-minded Dupuis more than the 
damage to the building ; but if the casualties were confined to 
such losses as these, the pasha might as well have economized 
his powder. The danger of fire in a city built almost entirely 
of stone was not great, but even that was guarded against. 
A band was organized whose sole duty it was to watch the 
flaming projectiles in their descent, and quench them imme- 
diately. The roar of this bombardment was so loud that it 
could be heard in the island of Lango on the one side, and in 
that of Chateau Boux on the other. 

The state of the rampart in front of the Jews' quarter soon 


26o A History of 

became such as to render prompt measures necessary for the 
security of that point. D'Aubusson therefore commenced the 
construction of a retrenchment. For this purpose he levelled 
the houses in rear of the breach, sank a deep dit<3h in a semi- 
circular direction, and behind this new obstacle built a brick 
wall supported by an earthen rampart and of sufficient thick- 
ness and solidity to resist the battering power of the enemy. 
The work was pushed forward with almost incredible rapidity. 
The Grrand-Master himself set the example, not only by giving 
directions on the spot, but even by taking his turn at the manual 
labour. Whilst thus employed he handled the pick and shovel 
with the same vigour which he imparted to every duty that 
he imdertook. The effect of this good example was soon 
seen. Not only did the knights and upper classes amongst the 
Rhodians assist vigorously in the work, but also the women and 
children ; nay, even the secluded inmates of the religious houses 
joined in the universal enthusiasm, and performed the tasks of 
ordinary workmen. The residt shewed itself in the rapid 
elevation of a new banier, which the pasha on completing the 
demolition of the Jews' rampart, foimd encircling its rear, 
rendering futile all the efforts he had made and the vast 
quantities of ammunition he had expended. 

Up to this time Paleologus had pushed his advances towards 
the capture of the place in an open and legitimate manner. 
Now, however, finding himself foiled by the determined 
bravery of the besieged, he fell back on a weapon common 
enough in the warfare of the East, but repugnant to every 
feeling of true chivalry. Considering justly enough that the 
resistance he was encountering was greatly due to the personal 
energy of D'Aubusson, he bethought himself of putting an end 
to that incentive by the dagger of the assassin. He trusted by 
this means to remove the principal obstacle to his success, and 
to carry out this nefarious project he employed two deserters, 
the one a Dalmatian, and the other an Albanian, who had joined 
his army since the commencement of the siege. Whilst he was 
developing his infamous scheme with these wretches a despatch 
arrived from Constantinople, brought by Ali pasha, in which he 
was informed that the sultan himself was about to proceed to 
the scene of war, with a reinforcement of 1 00,000 men and a 

the Knights of Malta. 261 

new park of artillery. It is more than probable that this 
intelligence was completely false, still it attained its object in 
raising the enthusiasm of the besiegers. The two deserters, 
in furtherance of their project, presented themselves at one of 
the gates of the city, with a plausible tale of having been 
captured during a sortie, and of having just succeeded in 
making their escape. This story met with ready credence, and 
they were welcomed back into the town with the warmest 
congratulations. Their first step was to spread the intelligence 
of the expected arrival of the sultan with overwhelming 
reinforcements, a piece of news which, according to their 
intention, created the utmost dismay amongst the defenders. 
Certain knights of the Italian and Spanish Ungues carried 
their terror so far as to form a plot for the purpose of 
compelling the Ghrand-Master to surrender before the arrival of 
Mahomet. With this view they secured the co-operation of one 
of his secretaries, an Italian, named Filelf o, who undertook to be 
their mouthpiece. D'Aubusson, upon hearing from his secretary 
what was passing, summoned the malcontent-s into his presence. 
With cutting sarcasm he informed them that since they were in 
such terror of the Moslem sultan they had his permission to 
leave the town, and that he himself would secure their safe 
departure. " But," added he, " if you remain with us speak no 
more of surrender, and rest assured that if you continue your 
cabals you shall meet with the fate you so justly merit." This 
combination of raillery and sternness had the desired effect, the 
recusants threw themselves at his feet and implored him to give 
them an early opportunity of effacing the memory of their 
cowardice in the blood of the infidel. FileKo soon discovered 
that his master's confidence had been withdrawn from him 
owing to his participation in the affair, and he was much dis- 
tressed in consequence. The Albanian deserter, who had some 
acquaintance with him, imagined that he was probably now in a 
mood when he might be rendered subservient to their scheme. 
Gradually and cautiously he endeavoured to excite and 
stimulate the Italian's resentment at the neglect he was 
suffering. Finding, as he thought, that he was succeeding in 
his object he at length imfolded the entire plot, making the 
most brilliant offers to Filelf o, in guarantee for which he shewed 

262 A History of 

him letters from the pasha. The secretary, who was warmly 
attached to D'Aubusson, and who felt that his present disgrace 
had been richly deserved, pretended to fall in with the views 
of the deserters. This was merely to enable him to discover 
everything, having succeeded in which he at once revealed 
the whole conspiracy to his master. The immediate arrest of 
the would-be assassins followed the disclosure, and after trial 
they were both sentenced to death. The excitement of the 
populace upon learning this intended trea^chery was such that 
they rushed upon the criminals and, forestalling the just 
sentence of the law, tore them in pieces in the fury of the 

Foiled in his cowardly attempt at a cold-blooded assassina- 
tion, Paleologus had once more recourse to open warfare. 
Disheartened at the ill-success of his efforts against the 
Jews' quarter he returned to his original point of attack, the 
tower of St. Nicholas. To facilitate the approach of his assault- 
ing columns he constructed a large floating bridge, which 
was to stretch from the point in front of the church of St. 
Anthony to the rocks at the base of the fort, and wide enough to 
admit of six men advancing abreast. Under cover of the dark- 
ness a Turk succeeded in fixing an anchor at the extremity of 
the mole beneath the surface, to the ring of which he secured 
a rope, intending by its means to warp the bridge across the 
water. This operation, however, had not been carried out as 
secretly as the Turk imagined. An English sailor, called 
Roger Gervase (or more probably Jervis), saw what was being 
done. Watching for the departure of the Turk, he as soon 
as the coast was clear detached the rope, removed the anchor, 
and carried it in triumph to the Grand-Master. D'Aubusson 
was so pleased with the promptitude and decision of the gallant 
tar as he stood dripping but radiant before him, with his 
ponderous trophy stiQ in his grasp, that he rewarded him with 
a present of 200 gold crowns. 

The Turks having completed the construction of their bridge 
made arrangements for an immediate assault. The former 
attack, the failure of which still rankled in their bosoms, had 
been imdertaken in broad daylight ; they determined, therefore, 
on this occasion to try the effect of a night surprise. 

the Knights of Malta. 263 

The 19th of June was selected for the attempt, and at about 
midnight the various detachments were set in motion. It had 
been ordered that whilst the bridge was being haided into 
its position a large body of troops, shipped for the purpose on 
board some of their smaller craft, should approach the mole, 
and make a sudden dash at the battered tower. They thought 
that perhaps in the darkness of the night they might take the 
garrison unawares. The incident of the anchor, however, fore- 
warned D'Aubusson that the moment of assault was close at 
hand. Every step that prudence could suggest, or engineering 
skill could devise, had been taken to meet the impending shock. 
Through the darkness of the night there were keen eyes peering 
in silent watchfulness on the crest of the breach, whose vigilance 
it was vain for the Turk to attempt eluding. The first strain 
upon the rope with which the pasha had hoped to warp hLs 
bridge across shewed that his device had been discovered, and 
the besiegers were consequently brought to a standstill at their 
very earliest step. UnwiUing to waste all the preparations he 
had made, Paleologus decided, in spite of this failure, to proceed 
with his attack. He therefore ordered the head of the bridge to 
be towed to its destination, and whilst this operation was being 
carried out with laborious slowness he gave the signal for the 
advance of the troops embarked in the boats. Their approach 
was at once discovered by the garrison, the alarm was quickly 
given, and a desperate fire was opened on them from all sides. 
Secrecy being at an end, the boats dashed forward, and on 
reaching the rocks the troops they carried rushed at the breach. 

The struggle was carried on by both parties with equal obsti- 
nacy and determination, but in the darkness of the night little 
could be distinguished of the desperate combat which was raging 
round the devoted tower. The scene was lit up by the constant 
flashes of the artillery, which poured its destructive fire upon 
the crowded masses of the besieger's battalions, whilst the lurid 
glare shed around by the Greek fire which was poured on the 
assailants, added yet another terror to the picture. Amid the 
roar of the guns, the clashing of arms, the shouts of the combat- 
ants, and the cries of the wounded, the strife continued with 
imabated violence, presenting a spectacle to those who were 
looking on, at once awful in its grandeur and terrible in its 

264 A History of 

excitement. As though to add to the horrors of the scene, the 
fireships of the besieged were once more let loose on the enemy's 
fleet, towards which they drifted in a column of flame, bearing 
panic and confusion in their course. The early light of a 
Bimmier's dawn broke upon this scene of strife before success had 
declared itself for either side. Gruided, however, by the gradu- 
ally increasing light, D'Aubusson's gunners were able to direct 
their fire with greater precision, and speedily destroyed the 
bridge, which had been most useful in enabling the Turkish 
supports to be brought up. They also succeeded in sinking 
four of the galleys which, in spite of the fireships, continued 
to hover around the point of assault, whilst others bore testimony 
to their contact with their flaming antagonists by the sheets of 
fire in which they were enveloped. 

Throughout the night the principal leader of the Turkish 
forces had been a young prince named Ibrahim, closely related 
to the sultan, with whom he was a great favourite. The daring 
and hardihood displayed by this youthful warrior had done 
much to keep up the vigour of the assailants, and although he 
had received several wounds he still maintained his post in the 
front of the attack. At this critical juncture, when his followers 
were beginning to quail beneath the deadly fire^oured upon them, 
he was killed by a shot. This loss decided the fortunes of the 
day ; the breach was abandoned, and the sea was once more 
covered with drowning men, the routed relics of the pasha's 
force who foimd a watery grave the only alternative to the 
avenging swords of the knights. 

The loss of the Turks upon this occasion was between 2,000 
and 3,000, amongst whom were some of the best ofiicers in their 
army. The impression made upon the survivors by this second 
failure was so dispiriting as to render the pasha's hopes of ultimate 
success highly problematical. He was himself so dismayed by 
the untoward events of the night that he confined himself to 
his tent for three days, refusing to see any one. D'Aubusson 
availed himseK of this respite to clear the mole of the mass of 
slain with which it was crowded. Bare pillage was there for 
his troops amidst that heap of Moslems, whose costly apparel, 
jewels, and ornaments of gold and silver, were a lordly recom- 
pense to the hardy warriors who had stood their ground so well. 

the Knights of Malta. 265 

After three days' seclusion Paleologus recovered his equani- 
mity, and roused to a pitch of fury at the losses his army had 
sustained, he decided upon a still more vigorous prosecution of 
the siege. Eetuming once again to the southern side of the city, 
and abandoning in disgust all further attempts upon the tower of 
St. Nicholas, he commenced the construction of a battery on the 
edge of the counterscarp opposite the retrenchment in the Jews' 
quarter. Here was an opportimity for the disgraced knights of 
Italy and Spain to recover their fair fame. By means of a 
postern they entered the ditch in the dead of night, and thence 
silently ascended the coimterscarp with ladders and rushed 
impetuously into the as yet unfinished battery. The Turks, 
taken completely by surprise, offered little or no resistance ; the 
struggle, which was rather a massacre than a fight, lasted only 
for a few minutes, and the victorious assailants remained masters 
of the battery. The gabions and other woodwork were set on 
fire, the battery completely destroyed, and the gallant little 
band returned triumphantly into the town, bearing upon their 
lances' points the heads of their slain antagonists. This brilliant 
episode deservedly restored the actors in it to the good graces 
of D'Aubusson, who felt that from men capable of such dashing 
exploits he need have no further fear on the score of pusillanimity. 

The pasha was taught by this incident that in conducting an 
attack against such vigorous and experienced foes as the 
defenders of Rhodes, he could not with impunity neglect any of 
the orthodox precautions of advance, tedious though they might 
be. Opening his approaches, therefore, on a more methodical 
and scientific system, he gradually regained the point from 
which he had been so rudely ejected. He drove galleries 
undergroimd through the coimterscarp, and from these he 
poured dihriB into the ditch, so as graduaUy to fill up the greater 
part of it, and form a road across to the rampart. 

The resources of D'Aubusson were taxed to the uttermost to 
devise means for resisting this new and most threatening method 
of approach. In the dilemma he bethought him of Maitre 
Georges. Mysterious billets had more than once been shot 
into the town on arrows, warning the knights to beware of 
the German. Opinions were divided as to the object of these 
missives, some regarding them as dictated by irritation at the 

266 A History of 

deserter's having abandoned the cause of the invader, and as 
being intended in consequence to sow discord between him and 
the inhabitants. Others, among whom was D'Aubusson, looked 
upon them as a deep-laid piece of cimning on the part of the 
pasha, that this apparent display of animosity might cause him 
to be looked on with greater favour. 

Whatever was his private opinion, D'Aubusson determined 
on the present occasion to avail himself, if possible, of the 
engineering skill of Maitre Georges. He was unsuccessful 
in eliciting anything. The German was very reticent and 
desponding, his suggestions were few, and those manifestly 
useless. He recommended, indeed, the construction of a battery 
on a site selected by himself, but this proved such an egregious 
failure that general irritation was aroused against him. His 
obvious reluctance to aid the defence strengthened the suspicions 
which were afloat, and rendered a fresh scrutiny into his 
conduct advisable. Summoned before the council, he pre- 
varicated, hesitated, and eventually contradicted himself in so 
many important particulars that he was subjected to torture. 
Under this pressure a confession was extorted from him that he 
had entered the town with the traitorous intent of rendering 
assistance to the pasha. Although a certain cloud of mystery 
does undoubtedly hang over the conduct of Maitre Georges — a 
confession extracted by the application of torture not being a 
very convincing proof — still, there was that in his general 
history and previous conduct which renders it more than 
probable that he really was the guilty wretch he confessed 
himself to be. On the following day he was hung in the 
public square, in sight of an applauding multitude, and so, 
by an act of righteous retribution, he died in the very city 
the destruction of which he had plotted. Thus perished the 
last of the trio of renegades by whom Mahomet had been 
invited to carry out his sinister designs against the Order of 
St. John. The pasha had throughout trusted much to the 
crafty partisan he had introduced into the town. Great was his 
disappointment, therefore, when he learnt the fate of his friend, 
of which fact D'Aubusson took care that he should speedily be 
made acquainted. 

The hanging of the traitor coidd be no protection against 

the Knights of Malta. 267 

the cannon which was thundering at the ramparts, or the 
assault which was threatening at the breach. To harass the 
enemy behind their trenches D'Aubusson constructed a large 
wooden catapult, which threw huge pieces of rock into the 
covered ways and batteries. These fragments were so heavy 
that they crashed in the temporary blindages which the Turks 
had arranged for shelter, and as Dupuis has recorded, *' some 
Turk or other always remained dead imder the weight," This 
weapon was facetiously termed the tribute, the rocks which it 
hurled, and which so seriously incommoded* the besiegers, being 
the only tribute the knights were prepared to offer to the 

Whilst this effective machine was working its will upon the 
assailants, the defenders were carrying on a little subterranean 
strategy on their own side. Driving galleries beneath the 
breach, they made openings into the ditch, through which they 
gradually conveyed away much of the stone with which it was 
being filled. This material they banked up against their 
retrenchment, thus greatly adding to its solidity. The work 
was carried on so briskly under cover of the night, that the 
amount of the fiUing which the Turks had with immense labour 
deposited in the ditch began to shrink perceptibly. For some 
days they were puzzled to account for this strange phenomenon ; 
after a time, however, the robbery became so palpable that the 
pasha divined what was going on. He foresaw, therefore, that 
unless he took measures to deliver a speedy assault the road by 
which he hoped to cross into the town would be carried away 
in masse. 

Prior to making his great attempt, which recent experience 
had taught him must, even if successful, cost him the lives 
of many of his bravest troops, he thought it advisable to 
try and secure a capitulation. A parley was demanded in 
his name, to which the Grand-Master readily consented, not 
vdih any idea of surrender, but merely that he might gain 
further time for the strengthening of his retrenchments. The 
following day was appointed for the interview, and at the hour 
named the Turkish envoy, Soliman Bey, made his appearance 
on the counterscarp, at a point directly opposite the breach. 
D'Aubusson had appointed Anthony Gaultier, the castellan of 

268 A History of 

Rhodes, to be his representative on the occasion, and as the breadth 
of the ditch separated the negotiators, the conference was audible 
to every one. It was opened by the Turk, who, after having paid 
a just tribute to the gallantry of the defence, urged upon the 
knights the propriety of an immediate surrender. " You have," 
said he, " done all that lay within the power of mortal men to 
avert the catastrophe now impending over you ; you have im- 
mortalized your names by a defence imparalleled in history, 
but do not carry that resistance too far ; let not the madness of 
despair prompt you to protract your efforts after they have 
become manifestly hopeless. The breach in your wall is gaping 
wide and invites our attacking colimms ; forty thousand of the 
best troops in the empire are eagerly awaiting the moment 
which is to give you over into their power; do not by your 
prolonged obstinacy bring down upon your city the calamities 
inevitably incident to an assault. Yield yourselves to the 
clemency of our sovereign; become his allies and your lives 
shall be spared, your property protected, and you yourselves 
permitted to retain the government of the island in the strict 
bonds of friendship with us. If you refuse this offer your lives 
will be forfeited, your wives aiid daughters dishonoured, and 
your children sold into slavery, your city will be utterly de- 
stroyed, and the memory of it swept from the face of the 
earth. Such is the inevitable fate of those who persist in 
opposing the mighty Mahomet. Choose, therefore, whether 
you will be his friends or his victims." 

To this speech, so well calcidated to excite both the hopes and 
the fears of the population, Graultier responded in terms of proud 
disdain. He assured the envoy that he was mistaken in supposing 
the town incapable of further resistance ; it was true the ramparts 
were breached, but retrenchments had been constructed behind 
the ruins, before which the assailants should meet the same 
fate that had befallen those who had twice vainly attempted the 
capture of St. Nicholas. As regarded the offers of capitulation, 
the treachery of the Turkish army in moments of triumph had 
been too frequently displayed to enable the besieged to place 
any reliance on their pledges. As to the alleged desire of 
Mahomet to be a friend and ally to the Order, he was employ- 
ing a most unusual method to attain that object. If he were 

the Knights of Malta. 269 

really desirous of entering into an alliance with them, let him 
draw off his forces from the hostile attitude in which they stood 
on the shores of Ehodes, and then let them negotiate a treaty on 
terms of equality. If, on the other hand, they were resolved to 
take possession of the island, let them make their boasted assault 
without further parleying ; they would find the garrison ready 
to receive them, trusting in the power of God to defend the 

This bold reply taught Paleologus that he had nothing to 
gain by negotiation. The audacity of the challenge with which 
it concluded aroused feelings of the most lively indignation and 
animosity throughout his army. The Christians had invited an 
attack, the place should therefore be carried at all hazards, 
regardless of cost. In order to stimulate his soldiers he promised 
them the entire booty of the town, and the success of the assault 
became so assured that sacks were made with which to carry off 
the anticipated pillage. Stakes were prepared and sharpened 
on which the knights were to be impaled, and each soldier 
carried at his waist a bundle of cords with which to secure his 
prisoners. Everything being thus prepared, the signal for the 
onset was awaited with the utmost impatience. Before taking 
this step, the pasha opened a tremendous fire from every gun 
which could be brought to bear on the breach and adjacent 
ramparts. This bombardment was continued without inter- 
mission throughout the day and night preceding that on which 
the assault was to take place, and its effect was so destructive 
that the defenders f oimd it impossible to remain upon the ram- 
part. During the night the troops who were to commence the 
attack were silently moved into their positions, the roar of 
artillery continuing with unabated virulence. The garrison, 
having been withdrawn from the rampart, were not aware of 
what was taking place; no extra precautions, therefore, were 
taken to resist the impending storm. 

About an hour after sunrise, on the morning of the 27th July^ 
the signal was given by the firing of a mortar. The attempt waa 
made upon several points of the enceinte at the same moment, but 
the main efforts were concentrated upon the breach in the Jews' 
quarter, the others being merely feints to distract the defence. 
The severity of the fire which the pasha had kept up so 

270 A History of 

unremittingly for the preceding twenty-fonr hours had had the 
effect which he designed. Quailing beneath the pitiless storm 
of iron and stone, all who were on the ramparts had been 
gradually driven to seek shelter. "When, therefore, the assailants 
rushed through the breach they found no opponents to resist 
their onset. In a few minutes, and before the alarm had been 
given in the town, the standard of the Moslem was waving on 
the crest of the parapet, and the Turks were pouring in a count- 
less throng through the defenceless gap. 

This was indeed a critical moment for the fortimes of the 
Order. Hitherto they had maintained the defence with mar- 
vellous success. Though many a hard-fought stniggle had 
chequered the history of the preceding two months, though 
tliere had been moments when the obstinacv and determination 
of the attack had made the fate of the city quiver in the 
balance, still the dauntless front of the indomitable defenders 
had successfully withstood the tempest. Now, alas ! in an 
ill-fated moment, those defenders were no longer at their post in 
the hour of need ; those ramparts which had hitherto been pro- 
tected from the tread of the Moslem were now swarming with 
their hosts, and the banner of Islam was waving triumphantly 
over the already half-conquered fortress. In this disastrous 
conjuncture a helpless panic seemed to have overtaken every one. 
Men ran to and fro in their dismay, scarce knowing where to 
bend their steps or how to resist the storm which had thus burst 
on them. A few moments more of this perilous confusion and all 
must have been lost. Providentially D'Aubusson, ever watch- 
ful and ever at hand, rushed promptly to the scene of contest. 
His presence instantly reanimated his followers, and restored 
order and decision where but a moment before all had quailed 
with dismay. With the speed of lightning he dashed at the 
rampart; its summit could only be reached from within by 
ladders, and the first to ascend, sword in hand, was the Grand- 
Master himself. 

Now might be seen the unusual spectacle of the besieged 
converted into assailants, and endeavouring to recover by esca- 
lade the rampart which had been secured by the enemy. Twice 
did D'Aubusson attempt the ascent and twice was he hurled 
from the ladder, each time severely wounded. Once again did 

the Knights of Malta. 2 7 1 

he renew the effort. Hie knights, he felt, must recover the lost 
ground or all was over; better to die on the breach than to 
survive the loss of his stronghold. The third time he succeeded 
in mounting the wall, where, being speedily joined by numerous 
comrades, the fight became more equal. The mere numbers of 
the Turks acted prejudicially to them ; they were so crowded on 
the narrow rampart that they were imable to act with vigour. 
Swaying to and fro before the fierce attack of the knights, they 
were gradually driven backward with resistless force over the 

The pasha was not prepared tamely to surrender the 
advantage he had secured. A body of veteran janissaries 
was despatched to support the yielding assailants, and once 
more to secure possession of the breach. D'Aubusson, in 
his gallant array, was easily recognizable in the throng, and 
Paleologus, who knew that he was the life and soid of the 
defence, told off a certain nimiber of chosen men, who were 
to forego all meaner prey, and to devote themselves to a 
combined attack upon the hero so conspicuous at the head 
of his heroic band. Dashing upon the defenders with an 
impetus which had so oft^n before led to victory, and clearing 
for themselves a passage through the mass of combatants, 
they succeeded in reaching the spot where D'Aubusson stood. 
Hemmed in though he was by these new foes, he yielded not 
a step, but maintained the unequal combat with imdaunted 
energy. His desperate situation was soon seen by his brothers- 
in-arms, and a rush made to the rescue. The janissaries were 
driven back in confusion, and D'Aubusson extricated from his 
most perilous position. Unfortunately, however, before this aid 
arrived he had received three new and most grievous wounds. 

Ere he was borne from the field he had the consolation 
of seeing the enemy driven over the blood-stained breach, 
and his victorious knights pursuing them at the edge 
of the sword. This, in fact, was the turning point of the 
struggle. The panic once established spread amongst the 
infidels with a rapidity which their disorganized and over- 
crowded condition rendered fatal. Flying from the avenging 
wrath of their pursuers, they found all egress blocked by the 
tumultuous masses assembled on the spot. In this perilous 

272 A History of the Knights of Malta. 

predicament friend fared 843 ill as foe, and the most eager 
of the fugitives hewed for themselves a pathway to safety 
by the indiscriminate slaughter of their fellow-soldiers. 
Numbers who were imable thus to escape were hurled from 
the ramparts into the town, a fall of twenty feet, where 
they were instantly massacred by the infuriated inhabitants. 
Meanwhile a deadly fire had been kept up from every avail- 
able point upon the dense crowd congregated on the breach, 
and as at that short distance every shot told, the slaughter 
became terrific. The struggle had now degenerated into a 
massacre. Chased by their excited and victorious enemy, 
they were mown down without the slightest attempt at re- 
sistance. Safety was not to be found even within the limits 
of their own camp. They were driven from thence in head- 
long confusion; the great banner of Paleologus, which was 
planted in front of his pavilion, falling into the hands of 
the victors. 

The demoralization of the besieging army was now complete. 
After a succession of repidses, in each of which the slaughter 
of his troops had been terrific, Paleologus had concentrated 
all his power on one last effort. His plans had succeeded 
beyond his expectation; the besieged had been taken by 
surprise; the rampart had been gained without a struggle, 
and yet the golden opportunity had been lost. His battalions 
had recoiled from the onset of the defenders, and a com- 
parative handful of Christians had driven back the flower 
of his army. In spite of numbers, the effort had proved a 
complete failure; the ditches were choked with the bodies 
of the slain, and the panic-stricken survivors were flying 
from the scene. It was felt on both sides that the victory 
was decisive, and that the siege was at an end. 

Rhodes was saved. The troops of the pasha were embarking 
in tumultuous haste on board their galleys. The liberated 
townspeople were celebrating with enthusiastic joy the triumph 
of the defence. Meanwhile, Peter D'Aubusson, the saviour of 
his city and the hero of his age, lay in his magisterial palace 
unconscious of his well-earned triumph, prostrated by five 
different wounds, one of which the physicians had pronounced 



Restoration of the fortificatioiis of Rhodes and reoovery of the Grand- 
Master — Preparations by Mahomet for a new siege — His death, and 
the disputed succession to his empire — ^Defeat of Djem and his flight 
to Rhodes — ^Departure for France — His residence there —His removal 
to Rome and death — ^Last days of Peter D'Aubusson — His death and 
interment — ^History of the relic of the hand of St. John the Baptist, 

The embarkation of the pasha and his discomfited army was 
witnessed by the worn-out garrison of Rhodes with f eeUngs 
of the most lively satisfaction. The inhabitants, after having 
been cooped up in the town for two months, were naturally 
overjoyed at finding themselves once more free to return to 
the homes from which they had been driven by the approach 
of the enemy. This satisfaction was somewhat damped 
by the dreary aspect which the surrounding district pre- 
sented. The devastations conunitted by the Ottoman army 
had created a scene of desolation amongst the once happy 
homes of the Bhodian peasantry most distressing for them 
to contemplate. The danger from which they had just 
escaped had, however, been so imminent that their joy at 
the happy termination of the siege soon overpowered all 
feeUngs of grief at the destruction of their property. 

Vast numbers of dead bad been left strewn upon the plain 
by the retreating Moslems, and the first step necessary for 
the health of the island was to remove these ghastly relics 
of the late warfare. The corpses were gathei-ed together in 
huge piles and burnt; the labour of burying them, owing to 
their number, being too heavy for the inhabitants to under- 
take. Dupuis records that on this occasion the women of 


2 74 ^ History of 

Rhodes indulged in a little pardonable jocosity. Wliilst 
•witnessing the process of broiling to which the corpses were 
being subjected, they observed that the Turks were like the 
" beccafichi/' or ortolans, and derived their plumpness 
from the quantity of figs they had devoured. The general 
joy was much increased when it became known that the 
Qrand-Master, whose wounds had originally been pronounced 
mortal, was likely to recover ; and when, after the lapse of 
a few weeks, he had so far advanced towards convalescence 
as to be present in person at the laying of the first stone 
of a church to celebrate the defence, their satisfaction was 
complete. This diuroh was built at the extreme eastern horn 
of the crescent formed by the town, and was therefore nearly 
due north of, and not far from, the Jews' quarter. It was 
dedicated to Notre Dame de la Victoire, and still exists. 

It is curious to observe the different reasons assigned by 
the historians on both sides for the imlooked-for result of 
this extraordinary siege. The Turkish writer Klodgia, who 
has given a very detailed and vivid account of it, coloured, 
naturally, by a strong partiality for his own nation, asserts 
that the sole cause of their failure was the avarice of Paleologus. 
He states that the pasha, after having excited the cupidity of 
his troops by promistug to abandon the town to indiscrimi- 
nate pillage, recalled that promise at the last moment, when 
they had established themselves on the Jews' rampart, and 
proclaimed that the wealth of the city was to be reserved for 
the use of the sultan. From this moment, says Khodgia, 
the energy of the assailants declined visibly. Feeling them- 
selves cheated of their promised prey at the very moment 
when its acquisition seemed secure, they were no longer in a 
frame of mind to withstand firmly the impetuous onset made 
by D'Aubusson and his knights. To this cause he attributes 
the panic, and consequent failure of the enterprise. Turkish 
historians have never scrupled to invent reasons for the non- 
success of their armies, and a little consideration will show 
the improbability of this story. It had been the invari- 
able practice of Ottoman emperors and of their pashas to give 
over to pillage all towns taken by assault, as indeed has been 
the recognized custom of war amongst even Christian nations. 

tJie Knights of Malta. 275 

It seems very unlikely that Paleologus, who was a man of 
naturally grand ideas, and who had used every device to 
make himself master of the town, should suddenly have 
taken a step so alien to his character and so menacing to his 

The Christian historians, on their side, are equally at a loss 
to account for their success by the ordinary accidents of war. 
They therefore, as was common in those times and in their 
religion, sought to accoimt for the happy issue of the struggle 
by the agency of a miraculous interposition. They record 
that at the most critical moment, when the Grand-Master 
was surrounded and well-nigh overcome by his assailants, 
there appeared in the heavens a cross of refulgent gold, by 
the side of which stood a beautiful woman clothed in dazzling 
white garments, a lance in her hand and a buckler on her 
arm ; she was accompanied by a man clothed in goat skins, 
and followed by a band of heavenly warriors axmed with 
flaming swords. They assert that this vision was seen not 
by the Christians but by the Turks, several of whom had 
been captured on the occasion of the last assault, and they 
base the statement on the narrative of these prisoners, who 
added that the panic caused by the extraordinary vision had 
been so great that many Moslems fell dead without a wound. 
Such a vision as this may well have terrified the barbarous 
hosts by whom it is supposed to have been witnessed, and 
as in matters religious, a ready credence was obtained in those 
times for the most marvellous tales, the statement was at once 
accepted. It soon became established as an acknowledged 
fact, that the safety of Bhodes was due to the personal and 
visible interposition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John 
the Baptist, the patron saint of the Order, supported by a 
chosen band of the celestial host. 

To modem readers neither of these explanations seems 
satisfactory. It was to D'Aubusson, and to him alone, that 
must be attributed the success, not only of that day but also 
of the whole defence from the hour when the atabal of the 
infidel first soimded on the shores of Bhodes. His was the 
master spirit that had guided every effort ; his was the eagle 
eye that had ever comprehended at a glance the exigencies 


276 . A History of 

of the situation in the most critical moments; his was the 
fertile brain whence issued those schemes and devices by 
which the designs of the enemy were frustrated and their 
insidious plote checkmated. He had throughout been the 
life and soul of the garrison. At one moment directing the 
construction of some new defence, at another wielding his 
sword in the thickest of the fight; now providing for the 
security of the feeble and defenceless inhabitants, whose safety 
was committed to his charge; and then again terrifying and 
overawing the wavering and disaffected; to each and every 
one he was the guide and support. Well was it for all that 
not until he had struck the death-blow of the army which 
was besieging them had he himself succumbed to the weapon 
of the enemy. 

Ferdinand, king of Naples, had despatched two galleys, 
freighted with succours, which arrived before the island at the 
very time when the pasha was embarking his forces. Paleologus 
perceived that if he could only capture these galleys the dis- 
grace of his failure would not seem so complete. He therefore 
opened fire on them with some pieces of artillery which had not 
yet been shipped, and succeeded in dismasting one of them. The 
wind being contrary, they were unable to enter the harbour, and 
were forced to anchor outside, in which situation they were 
assailed by some of the ships of the Turkish squadron. These 
galleys had on board a number of knights of the Spanish and 
Italian Utngues who headed the defence, which was successfully 
made, to prevent their capture by boarding. No doubt the 
attack was made without much heartiness. The Turks were 
thoroughly weary of the struggle, and desired nothing more 
than to be permitted to retire from the island unmolested. The 
result was that Paleologus failed even in this his latest attempt 
to achieve something to cover his main disaster, and he more- 
over lost the services of his general of the galleys, who was 
killed at the head of the force. 

With the exception of Ferdinand, no potentate had raised a 
hand to give any help to the beleaguered city. Now, however, 
when D'Aubusson had, with the aid of his gallant fraternity, 
hurled the discomfited Moslem with disgrace from his shores, a 
shout of exultation rang throughout Europe. The imminence 

the Knights of Malta. 277 

of the danger once past, people began to realize its extent. Had 
the Ottoman emperor succeeded in planting his standard on the 
ramparts of Ehodes, the way to Italy would have been open to 
his advance, and his threat that it should wave over the Capitol 
at Rome might probably have been carried into effect. The 
energetic and successful resistance of D'Aubusson had thwarted 
that project, and Bome, rescued from her peril, was loud in her 
expressions of gratitude towards her deliverer, to whom she gave 
the high sounding title of " Buckler of Christianity." 

His first care, upon recovery from his wounds, was to restore 
the fortifications, which the constant battering had reduced to a 
state of complete ruin. He also distributed rewards and pro- 
motions to the knights who had so bravely supported him in 
the struggle. In one instance a justly merited degradation 
was infiicted. James Hetting (or Keating), the grand-prior of 
Ireland, had not only refused to join the ranks of his- fraternity 
at Ehodes at the hour of its peril, but had even neglected to 
forward the amount of responsions for which his priory was 
liable. D'Aubusson, therefore, now that he had leisure to deal 
with the question, deprived him of hia office ; and Marmaduke 
Lumley, an English knight, who had been desperately wounded 
in the siege, was nominated in his place. To the inhabitants of 
the island generally he gave free access to the public granaries, 
in consideration of the losses they had sustained by the ravages 
of the enemy. He also exempted them from all taxation for 
several years. 

Until this time the people of Bhodes had been looked upon 
by the knights as an inferior race. Now that they had shown 
themselves not only staunch and faithful to their rulers, but also 
brave and devoted, even during the most trying and critical 
moments, a feeling sprang up that they should be treated on 
terms somewhat more of equality. The first Bhodian nominated 
to a post of any importance in the government of the island was 
William Caoursin, who, although not a knight, was appointed 
vice-chancellor, and ambassador of the Order at the papal court. 
This dignitary has left to the world two documents, written in 
the most pompous and pedantic Latin, but which, nevertheless, 
form a very valuable and important addition to the history of 
his time. One is an account of the siege, collected from official 

278 A History of 

sources, although, as he himself says, '^ The public acts were not 
recorded during the siege, but after the victory was gained its 
history was compiled by William Oaoursin, vice-chancellor of 
the Order, which acooimt has been divulged by the press all over 
the world, previous to which nothing had been recorded." The 
other document is a history of the events which took place 
during the years immediately subsequent, including the romantic 
episode of the unfortunate prince Djem, or Ziidm, of whom 
there will be occasion to speak shortly.* 

The Ghpand-Master himself also wrote a brief account of the 
siege, which he forwarded for the information of the emperor 
of Germany. This docimient, in its perspicuity, conciseness, 
and modesty will bear a favourable comparison with almost any 
despatch of later days.t It is much to be regretted that no 
record has been kept of the strength of the garrison during the 
siege, or of the names or even the number of the killed. The 
archives only record those who held official positions, a very 
small number out of the total who were present. The list 
framed from this data consists of ninety-two French com- 
manders, thirty-five Spanish and Portuguese, thirty-five 
Italians, eight German, and five English, together with 
eighteen chaplains and servants-at-arms of the various langtiea 
holding the same dignity. Subsequent researches have raised 
the English list to fourteen, and even that number is supposed 
to fall far short of the reality. The names thus rescued from 
oblivion are as follow : — 

John Vaquelin, commander of Carbouch, killed. 
Marmaduke Lumley, dangerously wounded, made prior 

of Ireland, vice James Hettmg deposed. 
Thomas Bem, bailiff of the Eagle, killed. 
Henry Haler, commander of Badsfort, killed. 
Thomas Ploniton, killed. 
Adam Tedbond, killed. 

* These treatises are illustrated by a series of woodcuts, thirty in number, 
some explanatory of the siege itself, and the others of the adventures of 
Prince Djem. They are dated in 1496, and are excellent specimens of 
the woodcutting of the time. The author has selected the one which gives 
the best idea of the city of Rhodes, of which a fac-simile is here given. 

t Vide Appendix No. 7. 

the Knights of Malta. 2 79 

Henry Batasbi, killed. 

Henry Anulai or D'Avalos, killed. 

John Kendall, Tnroopolier. 

Thomas Doeray, afterwards grand-prior of England. 

Leonard de Tybertis. 

Walter Viselberg. 

John Ruoht. 

John Besoell, or Boswell.* 

The losses of the Turks have been very variously stated, the 
most probable estimate being about 9,000 killed and 30,000 
wounded. The great bulk of this fearful list of oasualties 
occurred after the last repulse, when in their flight from the 
breach to the camp they were mown down by thousands 
without offering the slightest resistance. Faleolog^ pasha, 
after his humiliating discomfiture, could expect but a very 
imwelcome reception from his disappointed master. Indeed, 
in the first transport of his rage, the sultan ordered him to be 
bowstrung, together with several of the other principal leaders 
of the army. This stem decree was eventually mitigated into 
banishment in Gallipoli, where he remained in disgrace until 
the death of the emperor. 

Mahomet consoled himself for the imfortunate issue of the 
enterprise with the idea that his own presence was necessary in 
order to insure the success of his arms. He immediately com- 
menced preparations for the assembly of another and much 
larger army, with which he proposed to renew in person his 
attack upon the island. The news of the mighty equipment 
he was organizing for this purpose filled the minds of the fra- 
temity with dismay. The ramparte behind which the knighte 
had made so stubborn a resistance were in ruins, their treasury 
was exhausted, and their ranks thinned to a lamentable extent. 
They felt, therefore, that a new siege, if pressed upon* them 
before they had time to recruit themselves, must end fatally to 
their cause. 
At this critical juncture, as though to add to the calamities of 

* It may here be noted that as all the records of the fraternity are in 
foreign languages — either French, Italian, or Latin — the spelling of the 
English names is very obscure, and often misleading. 

28o A History of 

their situation, Bhodes was visited by a succession of the most 
terrifio earthquakes, accompanied by an inundation of the sea or 
tidal wave. The result of this convulsion of nature was the 
overthrow of several of the principal buildings in the town 
and of large portions of the ramparts, which had already been 
shaken and rendei*ed insecure by the battering they had imder- 
gone. Many of the inhabitants called to mind the popular 
tradition, that the island had originally sprung suddenly from 
the sea during one of the volcanic upheavals so common in the 
Levant, and they began to fear that these earthquakes were but 
the precursors of an equally sudden disappearance. Such a 
complication of disasters might surely have dismayed the 
stoutest heart ; it required all the fortitude which even the 
heroic D'Aubusson could simimon to his aid to bear him 
through the dreadful crisis. 

Desperate as the situation seemed to be, and hopeless as 
was the prospect of a successful resistance to the gigantic force 
which Mahomet was preparing, the Grand-Master nevertheless 
continued to press forward such restorations as his limited 
means and the shortness of time permitted. Had the sultan 
lived to carry his project into execution, he would have been 
met as boldly and resisted as firmly as his lieutenant was in 
the previous year. That such resistance could have been for 
the second time successful was, imder the circumstances, hope- 
less, but he would have entered a city in ruins only over the 
lifeless body of the last of its defenders. Providentially for 
the knights, this sad catastrophe was averts. In his march 
across Asia Minor at the head of his forces Mahomet was 
taken suddenly ill of a colic, and died in the village of 
Nicomedia, on the 3rd of May, 1481. Great as had been his 
successes, and numerous his conquests, the haughty emperor 
scorned to enumerate their catalogue upon his tomb. Looking 
rather to the grand conceptions which were teeming within 
his ambitious brain than to the acquisitions he had actually 
made, he directed the following simple epitaph to be placed 
over his grave, "My intention was to have captured Bhodes 
and to have subjugated Italy." 

The death of the sultan was hailed with joy throughout 
Europe, and nowhere more so or with greater reason than at 

the Knights of Malta. 281 

Bhodes. A sense of relief pervaded every bosom. Now that 
their potent and implacable enemy was no more, they felt 
that the crisis of their danger had passed away. From that 
moment, therefore, they prosecuted their labours of restoration 
with an energy much stimulated by the auspicious occurrence. 
Public thanksgivings were offered up in the conventual church 
for the death of the most formidable foe £igainst whom the 
Order of St. John had ever been called on to combat. It was 
on that occasion recorded, with feelings of very natural 
exultation, that in spite of all his power and all his efforts 
this conqueror of so many provinces had never, during 
the whole course of his reign, succeeded in wresting one 
single island or even fort from the possession of the 

Mahomet's sudden death brought with it the result so 
common in newly-organized empires, a disputed succession. 
He had originally been the father of three sons, Mustapha, 
Bajazset, and Djem, Zaim, or Zizim, for by all three of these 
names has the youngest been called. His eldest son, Mus- 
tapha, had been strangled for having violated the wife of his 
favourite minister, Achmet pasha, thus leaving Bajazet and 
Djem to dispute the empire between them. Bajazet, the 
elder of the two, had been bom prior to his father's 
elevation to the imperial dignity. He was of quiet and 
sedate demeanour, mild in character, and gentle in disposition. 
For him the excitement of the camp and the tumult of war had 
no charms. Although sufficiently ambitious to be desirous of 
ascending lus father's throne, which he justly considered his 
birthright, his was not the mind to have contemplated any further 
extension of empire. Djem, on the contrary, young, ardent 
and ambitious, bred in a camp and delighting in war, sought to 
usurp his father's sceptre, more that he might make it the 
instrument for further conquests than for the quiet enjoyment of 
its actual dignities. Although a Mahometan he was by no 
means bigoted, and having during his youth been thrown in 
contact with the knights of Rhodes whilst arranging a truce on 
behalf of his father, he had conceived a warm admiration for the 
fraternity, and more especially for its Grand-Master, D' Aubusson. 
As he was bom after Mahomet's assumption of the imperial 

282 A History of 

orown he considered himself the legitimate heir, as being 
porphyrogenitua^ or bom in the purple. He was consequently 
prepared to dispute the sucoession with his elder brother. The 
career of this unfortunate prince is so interwoven with the later 
years of D'Aubusson's rule that it will be necessary to enter 
into some detail concerning him, the more so since his fate has 
cast a most undeserved slur upon the fair fame of that Qrand- 

The rivaby which had sprung up between the brothers caused 
a division amongst the magnates of the empire at Constanti- 
nople, where the relative claims of the two princes were warmly 
contested. Neither of the candidates was in the city at the 
time, but Bajazet's faction succeeded in overruling the pre- 
tensions of the partisans of Djem, and crowned one of the 
sons of the former, a child named Coracut, as locum tenena for his 
absent father. Bajazet, who, immediately upon hearing of the 
death of Mahomet had hurried to the scene of action, speedily 
arrived at Oonstantinople, where he assumed in person the 
imperial dignity, and his claim was peaceably admitted by the 

The news of this event reached Djem whilst he was journey- 
ing from the seat of his government in Asia Minor towards 
Constantinople. Hastily collecting such troops as favoured his 
cause, he pushed forward to the town of Broussa, trusting by 
the force of arms to overthrow the government of his brother. 
Unfortunately for him the principal supporter of Bajazet's 
claims was the renowned chieftain Achmet pasha, a man whose 
successful career and brilliant achievements had made him the 
idol of the army. He had during the lifetime of Mahomet 
captured the city of Otranto, where he placed a garrison 
capable, as he considered, of holding the place against all oppo- 
nents. The Neapolitans, terrified at this advanced post of 
Islamism so near to Home, were engaged in its siege at the time 
of the emperor's death. Achmet was pushing forward to relieve 
the town with an army of 25,000 men, when the defenders, dis- 
mayed at the death of their sultan and ignorant of the approach 
of the pasha, surrendered to the duke of Calabria. Achmet 
was consequently compelled to retrace his steps and return to 
Constantinople. When he arrived the cabals of the rival 

the Knights of Malta. 283 

factions were at their height. The weight of his influence, 
backed by a force of 25,000 men, thrown into the scale in 
favour of Bajazet, at once determined the result. 

When the new sultan heard that his brother had raised the 
standard of revolt at Broussa he despatched Aohmet with a 
strong force to oppose him. The first conflict terminated in 
favour of Djem, and he thereupon caused himself to be pro- 
claimed as the new Ottoman ruler. On this, Bajazet arousing 
himself to meet the exigencies of the case, advanced in person 
against him. His forces being far superior both in num- 
bers and discipline, completely overthrew Djem's army, and 
the young prince himself was compelled to seek safety in 
flight. Accompanied by a very slender escort, he extricated 
himself from the field of battle and made good his escape 
into Egypt. There he was received with every demonstration 
of respect and hospitality. Encouraged by these friendly 
sentiments, he used his utmost exertions to induce the sultan 
Kaitbai to embrace his cause. In this he was imsuccessful, 
the sultan not being willing to assist him in any other capacity 
than as a mediator with his brother. 

Whilst fruitless negotiations were being carried on, Djem 
received an offer from Easim Bey, the chief of Caramania, who 
had been despoiled of much territory by Mahomet, to assist 
him in securing the Ottoman throne provided that Djem 
would on his side pledge himself to restore to the Bey the 
captured provinces. The prince eagerly accepted these t^rms, 
and joining Easim Bey, again strove to make headway against 
his brother. Achmet, however, advanced a second time against 
him, and the new levies melted away at the approach of the 
Ottoman army, Djem himself taking refuge amongst the 
moimtain passes of the district. Feeling his cause hopeless in 
his own country, he despatched an embassy to Bhodes seeking 
to place himseU imder the protection of the fraternity, and 
demanding for that purpose a safe conduct from the Grand- 
Master. The propriety of acceding to this request was warmly 
debated in council at Bhodes, but the permission was eventu- 
ally granted, and a safe conduct despatched to Djem by the 
hands of the grand-prior of Castile, Don Alvares de Zimiga. 
This envoy met the prince at Corycus, on the borders of Cilicia, 

284 A History of 

and haying given him the required guarantee, they returned 
together to Rhodes.* 

Every preparation had there been made to receive the illus- 
trious fugitive with due respect and honour. A bridge, eighteen 
feet in length, covered with rich tapestry, was thrown out into 
the harbour opposite St. Catherine's gate, to enable him to land 
from his vessel on horseback. Upon the mole he met the 
Gband-Master mounted on his charger, accompanied by the 
bailiffs and other leading knights. Escorted by this chief in 
person he proceeded through the town to the auberge of the 
langue of France, which had been prepared for his reception. 
The streets through which he passed were decorated with 
banners, flowers, and myrtle. Ladies in their gayest attire 
appeared in the balconies overlooking his route, and their beauty 
drew from the gallant Ottoman the observation that " it was 
with great justice that the Khodians were considered the loveliest 
women in Asia." The personal appearance of Djem was not 
prepossessing, if we may judge by the description of him given 
by Matthew Bosso, who was an eye-witness. He says he was a 
little over middle height, thickly built, broad shoxddered, with 
very protuberant stomach, long and powerful arms, large head, 
his eyes squinting, the nose aquiline and much bent, his thick 
lips hidden by a large moustache, his general appearance giving 
the eflPect of barbarity and ferocity. 

However unattractive his personal appearance may have been, 
it was a great triumph for the knights that within so short a 
time after their destruction had been decreed by the powerful 
sultan, they should be receiving Ids son as a helpless wanderer 
and a pensioner on their bounty. They were, however, far too 
ohivalric to allow a trace of such feelings to appear in their 
behaviour towards the young prince. Djem found himself 
treated with the same deferential hospitality as though he had 
been a powerful monaix5h instead of a destitute fugitive. Every 

* The story recounted by all the older historians of the Order of the 
letter which Djem wrote on this occasion to his brother is quite apocryphal* 
It is by them stated that he attached the letter to an arrow, which he shot 
into the midst of the spahis who were in pursuit of him. In this document 
he is supposed to have reproached his brother in such touching terms as to 
draw tears from that prince. No mention is made of such a missive by 
any of the Oriental historians of the period. 

the KnigJUs of Malta. 285 

effort was made to render his stay agreeable to him. Tourneys, 
hunting parties, spectacles, and feasts followed one another in 
rapid succession ; nothing was omitted which could serve to 
distract him from the gloomy thoughts natural to his position. 

It was in vain, however, that they strove to divert his 
mind from the danger with which he felt he was surrounded 
even in the hospitable city of Rhodes. From the fraternity 
he knew well he had nothing to fear. Indeed, on the first day 
of his arrival the custom in European courts was carried out, of 
having every dish tasted before it was set on his table. He, as 
an Eastern, was not acquainted with the regulation, and was 
scandalized at the suspicion which the act implied ; so much so 
that he insisted on partajdng only of such dishes as had not 
been previously tasted. Still he felt that in spite of all the 
precautions D'Aubusson might take, he was surrounded by 
a population many of whom would not scruple at any act 
of treachery against Ids person. He was well aware that 
his brother Bajazet was only too ready to make use of any 
such tool as might present itself for the purpose, and that 
playing as he did for so magnificent a stake he would not 
grudge ample recompense to any one who could remove the 
fugitive from his path. Filled with dread of some such result, 
Djem suggested to the Gfrand-Master that he might receive 
permission to retire to France, putting forward the reasons which 
had led him to prefer the request. 

D'Aubusson could not but recognize the justice of the plea ; 
indeed he was himself' tormented with a constant dread lest 
some calamity should befal the prince whilst imder Ids pro- 
tection. At the same time the proposed change of residence 
was a matter of so great moment that he did not feel justified 
in giving his permission without the sanction of the coimcil. 
Here a very warm debate arose on the question. Those who 
regarded the presence of Djem merely in the light of a political 
weapon to be turned to the best advantage, strongly urged his 
retention in the island. They argued that as long as he re- 
mained within their power Bajazet would be kept in such a state 
of dread and imeasiness that he would never dare to undertake 
any operation to their prejudice, so that in their hands the 
young prince would prove a most valuable ally. Those, on the 

286 A History of 

other hand, who were more dismterested, and who felt that the 
interests of their Order could never be permanently benefited 
by a breach of faith, were equally urgent that he should be 
permitted to follow his own inclinations. The danger which he 
hourly ran from the attempts of an assassin whilst at Bhodes 
was so imminent, and at the same time so difficult to guard 
against, that they thought it most important he should be re- 
moved as soon as possible from the chance of such a contin- 
gency. This argument was warmly supported by D'Aubusson, 
and ultimately prevailed in the council. Sanction was given to 
Djem to retire to France, and a suitable escort was appointed, 
imder the command of two knights of high rank to act 
as a guard to himself and his retinue in the new home of his 

At this juncture ambassadors from Constantinople, despatched 
by Achmet pasha on behalf of Bajazet, arrived at Bhodes with 
pacific overtures, and with a request that plenipotentiaries might 
be sent by the Ghrand-Master to arrange with the sultan the terms 
of a durable peace. There can be no doubt that the presence 
of Djem at Bhodes had much disquieted his brother. Bajazet 
felt that unless he could secure a treaty of peace with the fra- 
ternity he would be constantly liable to the risk of the rival 
claim which, supported by its arms, the prince might be tempted 
again to put forward. This embassy, so contrary to Mussulman 
pride, proved to Djem that his brother would leave no means 
imtried to secure himself against aggression ; he became, there- 
fore, more than ever anxious to quit a spot in which he was 
surrounded by so many dangers. 

On the 1st of September, 1482, he embarked with his retinue 
and escort on board one of the largest galleys in the fleet of the 
Order, and set sail for France. Before leaving, he placed in 
the hands of the Qrand-Master three documents, the contents 
of which form an ample refutation to the calumnious assertion 
that Djem was sent to France as a prisoner in furtherance 
of the political views of the fraternity. In the first paper 
he gave full authority to the Ghrand-Master to treat with his 
brother in his behalf, and to secure for him such appanage 
as could be extorted from the Ottoman emperor. During his 
residence at Bhodes the expense of his entertainment had 

tfie Knights of Malta. 287 

fallen entirely on the public treasury. His residence in France 
would also become chargeable to the same source, unless an 
allowance suited to his dignity could be obtained from his 
brother. The second document was a declaration, drawn up by 
himself, that his departure from the island and retirement to 
France were steps taken at his own express desire. The third 
contained the terms of a treaty of alliance between himself and 
the knights, which was to take effect should he ever ascend the 
Ottoman throne. By this he bound himself to pay them an 
annual contribution of 150,000 gold crowns, to throw open the 
ports of his empire to their trade, and to release annually 300 
Christian slaves, who were to be transferred to Rhodes. 

The scene between Djem and D'Aubusson at the moment 
of parting was touching in the extreme. Casting aside for the 
moment the proud reserve with which he had hitherto veiled his 
feeUngs, he fell at D'Aubusson's feet in a paroxysm of grief, 
and bathed them with tears. The Gfrand-Master was not proof 
against this ebullition of tenderness and sorrow on the part 
of the young prince. Whether his keen and politic eye could 
trace in the dim future some foreshadowing of the miserable fate 
to which the unfortunate Djem was doomed, or whether his 
emotion arose merely from a feeUng of sympathy with the 
distress of his guest, certain it is, as an eye-witness has recorded, 
that D'Aubusson — ^the calm, fearless, intrepid D'Aubusson — 
wept upon his neck tears of paternal affection. Was this the 
parting between a prisoner and his jailor ? Was this a scene 
likely to have been enacted had Djem been leaving Rhodes on 
a compulsory journey to France, and had D'Aubusson been the 
traitor who was driving him to that step with a view of making 
for himself political capital with Bajazet P The whole scene has 
been depicted with such minuteness and detail by Caoursin as 
to leave no rational doubt on the mind of the unprejudiced 
reader as to the terms upon which the Ottoman prince and the 
Grand-Master bade their last adieu to one another. 

The departure of Djem in no way affected the treaty of 
peace which was being arranged between Bajazet and the 
fraternity. D'Aubusson succeeded in securing for his protig4 
a revenue of 35,000 gold ducats (about £15,000 of English 
money). Bajazet further covenanted to pay the .knights an 

288 A History of 

anniial sum of 10,000 ducats in compensation for the extra- 
ordinary expenses which they had incurred during the war with 
his father. Upon these terms, so highly favourable for the fra- 
ternity, peace was concluded. It has been alleged, as a reproach 
to D'Aubusson, that the allowance nominally made to Djem 
was in reality paid to the Order as an annual bribe for his 
safe custody. This was, however, not the case. The whole 
amount was regularly remitted to Djem, and expended by him 
partly in the maintenance of his household and partly in sup- 
port of the envoys whom he was continually despatching to the 
various courts of Europe. Indeed, that the amount paid was 
noi sufficient to meet his expenditure is clear from the fact that 
in the chapter-general held at Bhodes on the 10th September, 
1489, it was decreed that D'Aubusson should be repaid out of 
the treasury the sum of 60,749 gold crowns which he had 
advanced to Djem over and above the annual income allowed 
him by his brother. There is but little doubt that the yearly 
payment of 10,000 ducats to the Order, although nominally 
supposed to be a repayment of expenses caused by Mahomet's 
warlike operations, was in reality a tribute to prevent any 
hostile action being taken in support of Djem. 

The young prince's first intention on landing in France was 
to proceed at once to the court of the French king, and en- 
deavoiu: to enlist the sympathies of that monarch in his behalf. 
Charles VIII. was at the time about to undertake an expedition 
to Naples, and therefore felt very indisposed to embroil himself 
imnecessarily with the Ottoman sultan. The envoys whom 
Djem had despatched to him were received with the most 
studied coldness, a personal interview with the young prince 
was declined, and the king contented himself with vague 
offers of assistance, coupled with the impossible condition that 
Djem should embrace the Christian religion. Disheartened at 
the ill-success of his envoys the prince proceeded to the com- 
mandery of Bourgneuf, situated on the confines of Poitou 
and La Marche, the official residence of the grand-prior of 
Auvergne. Here he endeavoured to while away the time in 
such rural sports and amusements as the locality afforded. 

He was, however, a personage of too much importance to the 
political interests of Europe to remain even there undisturbed. 

the Knights of Malta. 289 

All the princes of Christendom gradually began to covet the 
possession of one whose name would prove such a powerful 
auxiliary in a war against the Turks. Plots were therefore 
set on foot in various quarters to withdraw him from the 
protection of the knights of St. John. At the same time 
designs of a baser nature were skilfully concocted, at the 
instigation of Bajazet, to deprive the young prince of his life. 
Vigilant indeed was the watch which his escort were compelled 
to maintain to protect their charge from the attempts both of 
friend and foe ; and this precaution has been distorted into an 
accusation that Djem was all the time a prisoner. That he was 
carefully guarded is no doubt a fact ; but that this was against 
his own wishes is at variance with aU trustworthy contemporary 
endence. In a letter which he wrote to the Ghrand-Master 
from Bome on the 27th October, 1494, when he was no longer 
under the control of the fraternity, and when he could have 
had no object in disguising his sentiments towards it, he thus 
expresses himself on the subject of the protection afforded to 
him whilst at Bourgneuf : — " Most kindly and faithfully have 
I been served by the said knights, without being able to testify 
my gratitude in the slightest degree by remimerating them 
in the manner which I should most ardently have desired. 
With the warmest and most aflfectionate cordiality I beg of 
your very reverend lordship kindly to' look upon them all as 
persons peculiarly commended to you by your love for me. 
I will think every favour and benefit which you bestow upon 
them as conferred, through your condescension, on myself 

During D Jem's residence at Rhodes the Grand-Master had 
written a letter to the Pope, in which he defined very clearly 
the conditions imder which the Order had consented to grant 
its protection to the prince. The safe conduct stipulated for 
by him was TutuB aditu% exitmque^ a safe entry into Rhodes, 
and an equally safe departure therefrom. D'Aubusson pro- 
ceeds to say: — "We have brilliant expectations, and are de- 
termined to do all that is in our power. If we succeed, well 
and good ; but if not, we must consult the interests of our 
island, taking care to preserve our public faith, since this must 
be kept inviolably even towards our deadliest enemy, whatever 


290 A History of 

may be his unbelief." This was the line of conduct pursued 
by the fraternity throughout the trying period of Djem's resi- 
dence in Europe. He heid been promised safe entry into, and 
departure £rom Rhodes, and this pledge heid been redeemed. 
He left Bhodes voluntarily, and the risk incurred by the 
measure feU on his own responsibility. The knights, scorning 
to adhere to the bare letter of their guarantee, had continued 
their protection to the hapless prince for many years, without 
which it is not too much to say that he would soon have fallen 
a victim to either the open or secret attacks of his enemies. 
That this duty was performed in a manner honourable to 
themselves and beneficial to the prince is proved by the letter 
already quoted, which was written after his abandonment of 
the Order's protection, and his removal to the papal court. 

That event took place in the year 148§. The Pope had 
long been very urgent that Djem should be transferred into 
his own hands, inasmuch as he was organizing an expedition 
against Bajazet. He was aware of the support which the 
presence of the prince would aflford him, and so tempted him 
to exchange the protection of the knights for his own by 
the offer of placing him on the Ottoman throne. D'Aubusson 
knew that it would have been safer for Djem to remain 
the guest of the fraternity; still he felt it was impossible for 
him to thwart the wishes of his ecclesiastical superior, when 
supported by the urgent desire of Djem himself. The transfer 
was effected with great splendour in the month of March, 
1488, the king of France being a consenting party. It has 
been cwlduced as a proof of dishonourable dealing on the part 
of the Order, that the possession of the person of Djem was 
purchased by the Pope at the expense of numerous important 
concessions. Such concessions were undoubtedly made, but 
they appear to have been the result of the Pope's gratitude 
to the fraternity for compliance with his wishes, tardy and 
reluctant though that consent had been. Moreover, a glance 
at the benefits conferred will show that they were only such 
as the knights had a right to claim as an act of justice, 
and not as a favour, being merely the abandonment of pre- 
tensions which haji been usurped by the pontiff's predecessoi's. 
He now pledged himself never again to interfere in the 

the Knights of Malta. 291 

nomination to commanderies, even when vacated in his own 
dominions. He also merged the two effete Orders of St. 
Sepulchre and St. Lazarus into that of St. John. How far 
this union could be considered a boon to the latter is not 
very apparent, inasmuch as both in wealth and public estima- 
tion it was immeasurably superior to the two fraternities now 
incorporated with it. 

It has also been stated that a cardinal's hat was conferred 
on D'Aubusson as a mark of personal favour on the occasion. 
The fact is, that D*Aubusson was made a cardinal in 1485, three 
years before Djem waa transferred to the court of Eome. That 
appointment was moreover an honour of a very questionable 
kind. The position which the Grand-Master enjoyed as the 
head of the Order of St. John and supreme ruler at Rhodes 
was not in any way enhanced by the acquisition of the red 
hat. It would, indeed, have been better for his reputation 
could the historian have recorded that he had rejected the 
bauble. The real reason for his investiture was that the 
Pope had need of his great diplomatic talents in dealing 
with the nations of the East. The cardinal's hat was coupled 
with the title of papal legate, a post which insured for 
the service of Innocent one of the most efficient agents 
possible for the delicate task of intercourse with the Turkish 

Before the Pope had matured any of those projects for 
the reconquest of the East which were teeming within his 
ambitious brain he died, and his place was filled by the in- 
famous Alexander VI. During his sway the position of the 
unfortimate Djem was very different from what it had been 
in the lifetime of Innocent. The knights who had been 
permitted to reside with him at the papal court were sum- 
marily dismissed, and he was confined as a close prisoner 
in the castle of St. Angelo. The last vestige of control 
over the fate of the miserable prince was thus taken away 
from the fraternity, and it can in no way be held responsible 
for what followed. Alexander, feeling himself secure in the 
possession of his prize, at once opened up communications 
with Bajazet, who made an ofEer either to continue to the 
Pope the payment of the allowance hitherto made to Djem 


292 A History of 

on condition of his keeping the prince in close confinement, 
or else to pay down the sum of 300,000 crowns if he would 
once for aU make away with his prisoner. 

Alexander's notoriety as a poisoner was already spread over 
Europe; Bajazet, therefore, did not hesitate to propose in 
plain terms to the head of the Christian church the cold- 
blooded murder of a defenceless refugee. The Pope would 
rather have retained Djem aUve aiid a prisoner, preferring the 
annual payment to the sum offered for the murder; but the 
option did not long remain open. The steps which Alexander 
had taken caused the most lively indignation not only to 
D'Aubusson, who was powerless to interfere in the matter, 
but also to the king of France, who was in a very different 
position. It had never entered into his calculations that the 
Pope should retain the Turkish prince a close prisoner merely 
for his own pecuniary benefit. Advancing, therefore, at the 
head of a considerable force which he hfiwl assembled for the 
purpose of an attack on the kingdom of Naples, he appeared 
at the gates of Home before Alexander had been able to 
make any preparations to resist him. 

The iniquities of the Pope's career had become a public 
scandal, and everywhere his deposition was ardently desired ; 
at this moment those wishes seemed certain to be gratified, 
and his doom appeared inevitable. Alexander, however, was 
a very expert politician. By means of lavish bribes he bought 
over the most trusted advisers of the yoimg king, and a 
treaty was concluded which secured him in his pontificate. 
One of the clauses of this treaty bound him to surrender 
Djem into the hands of Charles. Vainly did he resist the 
insertion of this condition, but the kiag was inexorable. The 
presence of the Turkish prince was necessary for the pro- 
secution of his enterprise, and provided he carried that 
point he cared but little for the other iniquities of which 
Alexander had been guilty. The annual stipend paid by 
Bajazet was now clearly lost to the Pope for ever. The 
time had therefore arrived to earn the 300,000 crowns for 
the murder of Djem. The age in which Borgia lived was 
notorious for the perfection to which the art of poisoning 
had been brought, and that pontiff had earned for himself 

the Knights of Malta. 293 

the reputation of being a most skilful adept in the practice. 
In the present case his talents were brought to bear with 
his usual cunning upon the person of the unfortunate pri- 
soner. Djem, at the moment when he was handed over to 
Charles, bore within his frame the venom which was slowly 
but surely compassing his end. 80 skilfully had the potion 
been administered, that it was not until the king had 
arrived with his proUgi at Terracina that the crisis de- 
veloped itself. Every finger at once pointed to the murderer, 
nor has any serious attempt ever been made to refute the 

A sad fate, indeed, was that for which the unfortunate prince 
had been reserved. After a sojourn of thirteen yeara in strange 
lands, far away from his native country, and at the very 
moment when his prospects appeared to brighten, he was smit- 
ten by the hand of the secret poisoner, from whose fell grasp 
he had just been torn. In subsequent years we find his son 
Amurath, who had been left in Egypt as an infant, residing 
at Rhodes under the protection of the fraternity, and receiving 
from its treasury a pension of 36,000 fiorins a year. This 
young prince had abandoned the faith of his father and 
become a Christian, for which reason he was held in great 
esteem by the Older. 

The miserable end of Djem caused the most poignant anguish 
to D'Aubusson, to whom he had endeared himself through 
man7 years of kindly feeling and affectionate correspondence. 
The disgrace which this foul murder had cast upon Christianity 
affected the Grand-Master deeply, and his utter inability to 
avenge the dastardly act added weight to his grief. Age, too, 
had been creeping upon him, and was rendering him less able 
to bear up against his sorrow. It is from this time that we 
may date the commencement of that decline which ere long 
brought the noble old man to his grave. Throughout the 
remaining years of his life his position was one much to be 
envied. Universally admitted to be the greatest soldier and 
first statesman of his age, he bore a part in the politics of 
Europe far more influential than his rank would have appa- 
rently warranted. When Alexander, anxious to remove the 
stigma cast upon him by the murder of Djem, had organized 

294 ^ History of 

a league against the Turks, composed of all the leading powers 
of Europe, D'Aubusson was unanimously selected for the chief 
command of the combined forces. The league, it is true, eflfected 
nothing ; the numerous conflicting interests of its members, the 
inertness of some and the obstinacy of others, all combined to 
render barren an enterprise which might have had the most 
vital consequences for Europe. Doubtless, had it been per- 
severed in, it would at least have saved the island of Rhodes 
from the sad fate which was impending. Still, the nomination 
of D'Aubusson as its chief marks the high estimation in which 
he was held; nor can its futile termination be in any way 
attributed to him. Indeed, before accepting the command, he 
had foretold, with that keen sagacity for which he was famed, 
that it would prove utterly useless. 

In the year 1499 an envoy was sent to Rhodes from Henry 
VII., king of England, with a very flattering letter to the 
Grand-Master, accompanied by a present of horses of a breed 
much prized for their pure blood and extreme docility. They 
were stated in the letter to have been reared in the island of 
Ireland, and to have been called Eburi. The king at the same 
time sent several pieces of artillery for the defence of Rhodes, 
which he requested might be given into the charge of the 
English knights, to be placed on that part of the fortress which 
was in their guardianship. 

In these later years no less than five chapters-general had 
been convoked, in which many enactmentfl highly beneficial to 
the discipline of the convent were passed. Reforms of the most 
searching kind were introduced, and the island was weeded of 
numerous unworthy characters from amidst the Ghreek population 
with which it had previously swarmed. The only drawback to the 
peaceful end which D'Aubusson felt approaching arose from the 
conduct of the Pope, who, heedless of the pledge of his pre- 
decessor, bestowed on members of his own family all the 
more important offices of the Order as they fell vacant. 
Remonstrances were utterly disregarded, and D'Aubusson was 
powerless for any more effectual action. In the midst of the 
acrimonious correspondence engendered by these illegal acts, he 
breathed his last on the 30th June, 1503, at the ripe age of 
eighty years. 

the Knights of Malta. 295 

His loss was keenly felt by the members of the fraternity, nor 
was he less regretted by the inhabitants of Rhodes generally, to 
whom he hed endeared himself by the undeviating justice of his 
rule and the liberal policy he invariably maintained towards 
them. He had held the baton of Gh-and-Master for a period 
of twenty-seven years, and this lengthened rule was marked by 
the magnanimity, piety, and heroic deeds with which it was 
adorned. Beloved by his Order ; revered by all the princes of 
Europe ; respected and dreaded by the enemies whom he heid 
either worsted in the field or baffled in the council chamber ; 
munificent in his public acts, as the numerous buildings, founda- 
tions, and other charities which he established amply prove; 
affable and gracious in his demeanour towards those with whom 
he was brought in contact ; he was a man who had no enemies 
save those whose misdeeds heid merited his chastisement, or 
in whose jaundiced eyes the mere existence of such virtues was 
in itself an offence. 

The day of his funeral was one of general mourning. His 
body lay in state in the council hall, beneath a canopy covered 
with doth of gold. It was dressed in the robes of his office, 
with gloves of silk and shoes of golden cloth. On his breast lay 
a crucifix of gold ; at his right hand were the emblems of his 
cardinal's rank; on the left were his armour, lance, and sword, the 
latter the same he had used on the occasion of the last Turkish 
assault on the Jews' quarter, and which was still covered with 
the Moslem blood in which it hcwl been bathed on that memor- 
able day. Around the body stood seven knights dressed in deep 
mourning, one of whom bore his cardinal's hat, another his 
legate's cross, a third the standard of the league of which he 
had been appointed generalissimo, whilst the others carried 
banners on which were emblazoned the arms of his family,* 
quartered with those of the Order. 

When the hour of interment arrived, the whole population 
followed their late prince to the tomb. First in the pro- 
cession came the religious fraternities of Bhodes, next the 
Ghreek patriarch with his clergy, then the Latin clerics of the 
convent followed by 200 of the principal citizens of Hhodes, 

* It is somewhat curious that his arms bore an eight-pointed cross, 
in form not xmlike that of the Order, but blazoned gules on a field or. 

296 A History of 

dressed in black and carrying lighted torches ; after these the 
knights bearing his banners, which they now trailed upon the 
ground ; then came the bier with the corpse, borne on the 
shoulders of grand-crosses, none others being allowed tliat 
privilege. Immediately following the body came the members 
t)f the Order generally, whose extended files completed the 
melancholy procession. As the revered remains were lowered 
into their last resting place, the baton of his office and the 
gold spurs of his knighthood were broken over the grave 
by the officers appointed for that purpose. After a long 
look at all that now remained of one who had gained the. 
love of so many hearts, and achieved so much for the welfare 
of his brethren, the grave was slowly and sadly closed, and 
the touching ceremonial brought to an end. He was gone 
out of their sight, and another would shortly occupy the 
place he had so worthily filled, but his memory was to remain 
green and unfading. Wherever the annals of the Order 
are recorded there will ever be foimd, high amongst those 
who even in that fraternity of chivalry and renown had 
raised themselves above their fellows, the name of Peter 

It was during his rule that the relic so highly prized by 
the knights was first brought to Ehodea After D'Aubusson 
had succeeded in arranging the treaty with Bajazet, that 
monarch, anxious to testify liis gratitude, presented the Qrand- 
Master with the right hand of St. John the Baptist, which 
had fallen into the possession of his father at the capture of 
Constantinople. This relic, which was enclosed in a magnificent 
casket of Cyprus wood lined with crimson velvet and richly 
studded with precious stones, was addressed to D'Aubusson in 
the following terms : — " Bajazet, king of Asia and emperor of 
emperors, to the very wise and illustrious Grand-Master of 
Rhodes, Peter D'Aubusson, most generous prince and father 
of a very glorious empire." 

Few of the relics which during the middle ages were 
scattered throughout Europe can have their authenticity traced 
with such minuteness of detail as the one thus presented to 
the GFrand-Master. Its history runs as follows : — The body of 
St. John the Baptist had been buried in the town of Sebasta 

the Knights of Malta. 297 

after his execution by Herod. St. Luke the Evangelist is 
stated to have been very desirous of removing the holy corpse. 
Joining with some of the other disciples of St. John, they 
together opened the grave under cover of night, but dreading 
the risk of discovery should they attempt, the removal of the 
whole body, they severed the right hand, which they considered 
the most sacred portion, as having been employed in the 
baptism of our Lord. St. Luke carried the hand to Antioch, 
and when he left that city to preach the gospel in Bithynia, 
he placed the precious relic in charge of the church he had 
established there. The hand remained at Antioch until the 
reign of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who, as a devout catholic, 
was extremely desirous of transferring it to the city of Con- 
stantinople. Any open attempt on his part would have been 
in vain, for the people of Antioch prized their treasure highly, 
and guarded it most carefully. Constantine, in his religious 
zeal, had no delicate scruples as to the means he employed 
for the attainment of his purpose. He bribed a deacon of the 
church of Antioch to steal the hand and to bring it to Constan- 
tinople, where as soon as it arrived it was placed in the church 
of St. John. It remained there imtil the capture of the city by 
Mahomet, when, owing to the value of its casket, it was placed 
in the imperial treasury, whence it was withdrawn by fiajazet 
for presentation to D'Aubusson. 

The following account has been given by an old chronicler 
of the ceremony of translation of this precious relic to the 
cathedral of St. John : — " On the 25th May, 1484, the anniver- 
sary of the disembarkation of the Turks at Ehodes, the clergy, 
the monks, and the people started in procession from the church 
of St. John to the chapel of the palace, where the Ghrand-Master 
awaited them with the dignitaries of the Order. D'Aubusson 
presented the precious hand to the prior of the church, and 
from there they marched in solemn procession to the square, 
where a platform had been erected covered "v^dth a dais, in the 
form of a throne or altar, upon which the holy reKc was 
deposited, enclosed in a casket of ivory enriched with precious 
stones and placed under glass, through which the hand of the 
saint was visible. An Augustine monk delivered a sermon 
on the occasion, after which the prior of the church took the 

298 A History of the Knights of Malta. 

hand and elevated it for the adoration of the people. It was 
then carried with the same ceremony to the church of St. 
John, where, after it had been kissed by the Grand-Master, 
the knights, and others, the prior deposited it on the grand 
altar, chanting psalms to the accompaniment of musical 


Election of D*Amboise — Futile descent of Camalis — Capture of Turkish 
galleys and of the ** Queen of the Seas "—Defeat of the Turkish fleet in 
the Gulf of Ajaccio — Election and death of Blanchefort — ^Accession of 
Carretto — Usurpation of Selim — Conquest of Egypt by the sultan — 
Death of Selim and accession of Solyman — Death of Carretto— 
Description of Rhodes in 1521, and at present. 

The death of D'Atibusson was speedily followed by that* of the 
Pope, to the inexpressible relief of the whole Christian world, 
the scandalous iniquities which had disgraced his pontificate 
having excited the abhorrence of every one. Nowhere was the 
event hailed with greater joy than at Rhodes. The Pope had in 
his grasping rapacity seized upon aU the appointments and emo- 
luments in the possession of the fraternity as they successively 
became vacant, and either bestowed them on members of his own 
family or openly sold them to the highest bidder. Eemon- 
strances had proved utterly unavailing, and nothing seemed 
left to the Order but either tamely to submit to this wanton 
infraction of all their rights and privileges, or else to cast ofP 
their allegiance to the pontiff, who, vile though his personal 
character might be, was nevertheless recognized as the head 
of the church and their own immediate ecclesiastical superior. 
Happily the death of Alexander obviated the necessity for such 
an alternative, and the knights were permitted to continue their 
maritime Warfare against the Moslem under their new chief 
without further hindrance from the court of Rome.* 

* The date quoted in the last chapter for the death of D'Aubusson as 
having taken place in 1503 is that given by aU the older historians of the 
Order, but it has lately been disputed. Colonel Rottiers, who has carefully 

300 A History of 

This Ghrand-Master was Almeric D'Amboise, grand-prior of 
Fraaoe. He was the younger brother of George D'Araboise, 
archbishop of Eouen, cardinal legate of the Holy See, and 
prime minister to the French monarch. At the time of his 
nomination Almeric was at the court, where in his position of 
grand-prior he was an honoured adviser of the king. Indeed, so 
much were his services appreciated that on his departure to 
assume the reins of government at Rhodes, Charles presented 
him with the sword which his ancestor St. Louis had carried at 
Damietta, together with a piece of the true cross. The nine years 
during which his sway extended were marked by a series of 
naval combats, in which the Order reaped much distinction. 
The death of Djem having freed Bajazet from all necessity 
to remain on good terms with the fraternity, he at once entered 
into a treaty with the sultan of Egypt, the object of which 
was the attack of Rhodes and the annihilation of the naval 
supremacy of the knights in the Levant. In pursuance of 
this treaty, he despatched a celebrated Turkish corsair named 
Kemal, or Camalis, with a powerful fleet to ravage the islands 
of the religion. This expedition proved a complete failure. 
Driven successively from Rhodes, Symia, Telos, Nisyrus, and 
Lango, he at length directed his efforts against Leros, an 

studied the remains of the knights in Rhodes, places it at 1505, and his 
opinion is shared by Biliotti. The argument upon which this change of 
date is based is as follows : — The tower of St. Paul, in which stands one 
of the gateways leading into the town of Rhodes from the harbour, was 
unquestionably built by D'Aubusson, and bears a Latin inscription stating 
that fact. Over the gateway in this tower is a shield bearing the arms of 
D'Aubusson, and by its side another with those of Pope Julius II. As this 
latter is surmounted by the keys and tiara, it is clear that it was not fixed 
there until after its bearer had become Pope. That event did not take 
place until the year 1504, and it is argued that some time must have elapsed 
after his elevation to the Papacy before he could have done anything in 
favour of the Order sufficient to merit the distinction of having his arms 
coupled with those of D'Aubusson over the gateway of St. Paul. They 
therefore fix 1505 as the earliest date when D'Aubusson's death could have 
taken place. This argument seems very weak when brought against the 
general agreement of all the older historians in fixing the earlier date. 
The gate, though undoubtedly built by D'Aubusson, might not have been 
completed at the time of his death, or the armorial bearings might have 
been a subsequent insertion. I cannot accept the argument as sufficient 
by itself to warrant an alteration in the year. 

the Knights of Malta. 301 

insignificant post which had been hut feebly fortified and 
slenderly ganisoned. At the moment of attack there was but 
one knight in the fort, a youth named Paul Simeonis, a 
member of the Italian langue^ by birth a Piedmontese. His 
gallantry and presence of mind saved even this petty station 
from the aggression of the Turk. Dressing up all the in- 
habitants of the place, women as well as men, in the robes of 
knights of St. John, with red surcoat and white cross, 
he caused them to line the ramparts in every direction. The 
corsair, perceiving, as he thought, a large body of the fraternity 
awaiting his attack, was under the impression that a strong 
reinforcement had been thrown into the place. He therefore 
declined the attempt, and returned to Constantinople without a 
single trophy to mark the prowess of his arms. 

The knights shortly after obtained several other advantages 
over the enemy. Upon one occasion a Turkish fleet of seven 
vessels, well-armed and fully equipped, having been de- 
spatched to the attack of Lango, fell into their hands by 
a stratagem. Two of these vessels had been sent in advance 
by the commander of the expedition for the purpose of re- 
connoitring the island, and had approached so near as to be 
discovered by the inhabitants. There were at the time only 
two galleys in the harbour, but these were at once sent out 
with instructions to intercept the advancing enemy, if pos- 
sible. They succeeded in creeping out of the harbour un- 
perceived, and contrived to cut o£E the retreat of the Turks 
so effectually that these were compelled to nm their vessels 
ashore and seek refuge within the woods of the island. The 
knights promptly floated their new acquisitions, and having 
embarked a sufficient crew from amongst the ranks of the 
garrison, they set sail to the encounter of the remainder of 
the Turkish fleet, followed at some distance by their own two 
galleys. The Turks, perceiving their vessels returning, and 
having no suspicion of what had occurred, advanced to meet 
them in perfect security and confidence. Gbeat was their 
dismay when the first broadside from their insidious opponents 
revealed the calamity that had befallen them. Ere they had 
well recovered from their surprise, and prepared for a hos- 
tile encounter, the two Ehodian galleys were descried bearing 

302 A History of 

rapidly down upon the scene of strife. With this reinforcement 
the victory wajs speedily accomplished, and the remaining five 
ships carried in triumph into port. The crews, including those 
who had already landed in the island, were sold into slavery. 

This advantage was followed shortly afterwards by another, 
involving the capture of a carrack which trafficked annually 
between the ports of Egypt and the north coast of Africa. 
This vessel, which was called the Mograbiney or " Queen of 
the Seas," was of so great a size that it was said six men 
could scarcely embrace her mainmast. She had no less than 
seven decks, and carried 100 guns, with a crew of 1,000 men. 
Ghistineau, commander of limoges, undertook to attempt 
the capture of this leviathan, freighted as she was with an 
enormous quantity of costly merchandise. Having succeeded 
in running his galley close alongside of the carrack under 
cover of a parley, he suddenly opened a murderous discharge 
upon her crowded decks. The effect was tremendous, the captain 
of the carrack being amongst the killed. Whilst the Turks 
were in a state of panic at this unlooked-for assault, and 
without a leader, Gastineau, followed by his crew, dashed on 
board and secured the prize, which he carried safely into 
Bhodes. The proceeds of this capture were very large. Not 
only did the rich merchandise afEord an ample plunder, but 
the ransoms which the sultan of Egypt was compelled to pay 
for the release of the captured merchants brought a most 
welcome addition to the funds of the treasury. 

Three years later a still more important advantage attested 
the naval superiority of the knights of Ehodes. The sultan 
of Egypt had, with the sanction of the Ottoman emperor, 
despatched into the gulf of Ajaocio a colony of shipbuilders 
under the protection of a fleet of twenty-five vessels, com- 
missioned to construct ships to be employed against the 
galleys of Ehodes. The Grand-Master at once fitted out 
an expedition against this colony. The conduct of the enter- 
prise was confided to a Portuguese knight called Andrew 
d'Amaral, whose name subsequently attained a melancholy 
notoriety during the second siege of Ehodes. Associated in 
the command with him was another knight named Villiers 
de L'Isle Adam, who was destined to achieve a very different 

the Knights of Malta. 303 

reputation during the same struggle. The attack upon the 
Egyptian colony and its protecting ships was eventually com- 
pletely successful, although the issue of the day hung for a long 
time in the balance. The fleet was utterly destroyed, many 
of the vessels being sunk, and the remainder captured, whilst 
their crews and the shipbuilders who were seized on land were 
brought as slaves into the harbour of Bhodes. 

It was during the rule of D' Amboise that the gate which bears 
his name was completed. Newton thus speaks of this structure : 
" The casteUo is entered from the west by a noble gateway 
commenced by the Grand-Master D'Aubusson after a great 
earthquake, and finished by his successor D'Amboise, from 
whom this gate takes its name. Over the door within an 
ogee frame is a slab of white marble, on which is sculptured 
in relief an angel holding the escutcheon of D'Amboise, with 
the inscription Amboyse mdxii." 

The completion of this gateway must have been the last 
important act in the career of the Gfrand-Master, as he died on 
the 8th November, 1512, at the age of seventy-eight years, 
much honoured and regretted. 

Guy de Blanchefort, nephew of Peter D'Aubusson, and grand- 
prior of Auvergne, became the forty-first Grand-Master, a post 
for which he was highly qualified, and to which his numerous 
important services had justly entitled him. It was to his 
care that Djem had been intrusted during the lengthened 
residence of that prince in France. He had subsequently been 
nominated to the office of lieutenant to the Grand-Master, in 
which position he had rendered much important assistance both 
to D'Aubusson and to D'Amboise. The high reputation which 
his talents had gained for him raised a general expectation 
that his tenure of office would be a distinguished one. He was 
not, however, fated to realize these flattering aspirations, his 
career having been cut short by death within a few months of 
his accession. 

He was at the time of his nomination residing in his 
grand-priory, and the Turks took advantage of the absence of a 
Ghrand-Master from Rhodes to develop a plot amongst some of 
the Greek inhabitants and Turkish slaves. They had made 
preparations by which, on a given signal, one of the gates of 

304 A History of 

the town should be seized, and handed over to a Turkish force 
to be secretly landed on the island. Fortunately the plot was 
discovered, but owing to the determination of those who were 
arrested not to betray their accomplices, very few were brought 
to justice. The news of this attempt made Blanchefort hurry 
his departure from France, although he was at the time in a 
very feeble state of health. As the voyage progressed his illness 
became more £md more pronounced, and when off the coast of 
Sicily he was so evidently in a dying state that the knights who 
accompanied him urged him to land there. The heroism of 
Blanchefort supported him in this trying hour. At all times 
ready to maintain the interests of the Order, even at the risk 
of his own life, he was now prepared to forego the comfort of 
spending his last moments on shore, fearing that by so doing 
he might cause an injury to the fraternity of which he was the 
chief. He felt that were he to die so close to the court of Kome 
the Pope would be sure to avail himself of that event to secure 
the nomination of a creature of his own, without reference 
to the council at Rhodes. He persisted, therefore, in holding 
on his course, and when he felt his last hour approaching, he 
directed that the swiftest galley in the fleet which accompanied 
him should be held in readiness to push on for Rhodes the 
instant that life had become extinct, so that the earliest 
intelligence of the event might be received there. 

His decease occurred off the island of Zante, and in ac- 
cordance with the instructions he had given, the sad intelligence 
was at once sent on to Rhodes, where it became known on the 
night of the 13th of October, 1513. The kuights immediately 
assembled for the election of a new chief, and we find it recorded 
that upon this occasion there were present in the island the 
following numbers:— Of the langue of France, 100; Provence, 
90 ; Auvergne, 84 ; Castile and Portugal, 88 ; Aragon, 66 ; 
Italy, 60; England, 38, and Germany, 5, making a total of 
631 knights, without counting chaplains or serving brothers. 
Fabricius Carretto, the conventual bailifE of the langue of Italy, 
and consequently grand-admiral of the Order, a knight who 
had greatly distinguished himself in the late siege of Rhodes by 
his defence of Fort St. Nicholas, was nominated to the vacant 

the Knights of Malta. 305 

Very important changes had of late years been taMng place 
in the East, which threatened the island of Bhodes with a 
renewed attack from the Ottoman power. The emperor Bajazet 
was the father of three sons, of whom the two elder partook 
greatly of his own inert and peaceable disposition. The 
youngest, whose name was Selim, inherited all the ambition 
and warlike aspirations of those ancestors who had raised the 
Turkish empire to its existing state of grandeur. Being as 
politic as he was warlike, Selim, the sole dream of whose life 
was to ascend the throne to which by birth he had no daim, 
exerted all his powers to ingratiate himself with the janissaries 
of his father's army. In this attempt he succeeded so well that 
wth their aid he contrived to depose his aged parent. He 
followed up this step by murdering him, as well as his two elder 
bi-others, and the youthful parricide, having thus deaxed the 
way, mounted the throne without fear of rivalry. 

The accession of this fierce and warlike prince caused the 
utmost dismay amongst the neighbouring nations. With just 
reason they dreaded that before long they would become the 
victims of the same aggressive policy which had seated him on 
the throne of his father. In this fear the knights of Ehodes 
warmly participated, and they consequently at once cemented a 
treaty of alliance with the king of Persia and the sultan of Egypt. 
The storm burst, in the first instance, over the latter kingdom, 
and despite the efforts of the allies carried everything before 
it. The power of Selim, assisted by the treachery of the two 
Mamelouk governors, to whom had been confided the defence of 
the frontier, enabled him in the course of four years to overrun 
the whole of that country, and to add it to his own dominions. 
The traitorous Mamelouk chiefs were invested, one with the 
government of Egypt, the other with that of Syria, and the 
conquest being thus completed, Selim turned his attention 
towards Rhodes, for the reduction of which he commenced 
immediate and formidable preparations. Whilst thus occu- 
pied he died suddenly of malignant cancer, and so afforded 
another respite to the fraternity, of which the members were 
not slow in availing themselves for the still further protection 
of their island. 

His only son, Solyman, ascended the throne precisely at the 


3o6 A History of 

Bame time that Charles V. was crowned emperor of Germany 
at Aix-la-Chapelle, and he was destined, during the course of 
his long reign, to become the most illustrious of that race of 
conquerors from whom he sprang, and to earn for himself the 
title of Solyman the Magnificent. 

He had not long enjoyed his sovereignty when he was com- 
pelled to advance against the newly-appointed governor of Syria. 
Gazelles, the Mamelouk traitor, who had been placed over the 
province by Selim, conceived that as that redoubtable chieftain 
was dead, the opportunity was favourable for a revolt against 
his youthful successor, and for his own establishment in in- 
dependent power. In aid of this project he besought the 
alliance of Carretto, who, overjoyed at the prospect of a dis- 
sension which might divert the menacing attitude of the 
Ottoman emperor, assisted him with both men and materiel. 
The power of Solyman proved too great for Gazelles to with- 
stand ; in the very first engagement which ensued his forces 
were routed, and he himself killed on the field of battle. 

This was the closing political incident in the life of Fabricius 
Carretto, and he breathed his last in the month of January, 
1521. His tomb was placed beneath one of the windows in 
the nave of the church of St. John. It is thus described by 
Newton : — " In the pavement of the nave are the remains of 
the tomb of the Grand-Master Fabricio del Carretto. His 
effigy, which must have been sculptured in low relief on a flat 
slab, has been destroyed, but the border still remains (1853) 
with an inscription at the foot recording his name, titles, and 
services, with the date 1520* (this should be 1521). At 
the head of the slab was his escutcheon. Carretto was the 
last Grand-Master buried at Bhodes." 

The knights had now been resident in the island for a period of 
upwards of 200 years, and the hour was close at hand when they 
were to be driven from its shores. It seems, therefore, a suitable 
time to enter into some detailed description of its state in this 
the last year of their dominion. A general account of the 
town and fortifications has already been given as they stood at 

* The actual inscription ran thus : — " R. et HI. D. F. Fabricius De 
Carretto Magnus Rhodi Magister Urbis Instaurator et ad Publicam Utilita- 
tem per Septennium Hector Hie Jacet Anno mdxxi.'* 

tJu Knights of Malta. 307 

tliG time of the first siege. Since then many additions and 
developments had been carried out. The English archseologist 
Newton, and the Freuch writer Biliotti, a native of Rhodes, 
have both given graphic descriptions of the present state of the 
city and island, the latter writer in very considerable detail. 
The bulk of what follows is gathered from these sources. 
Newton thus portrays the Castello, that part of the town 
which, forming the upper horn of the crescent made by the 
line of ramparts, was the residence of the knights. After 
describing the entrance by the Amboise gate already quoted, 
he continues as follows: — "A drawbridge connects this gate- 
way vrith a stone bridge which here spans the fosse with 
three arches. Passing through this gate, a vaulted passage 
leads through the counterscarp over a second and third 
fosse, which defend the palace of the Gfrand-Master on the 
west. After crossing the third fosse the road enters the Castello 
between the church of St. John and the palace of the Grand- 
Master, opposite to the upper end of the street of the knights. 
This street, which runs east £md west, divides the Castello 
into two nearly equal parts. On the south is the church of 
St. John the Baptist, which seems to have been enlarged and 
altered by successive Grand-Masters, and was probably founded 
by Foulkes de Villaret on the first establishment of the knights 
at Ehodes. The outside has no architectural feature. Its plan is 
a regular basilica, containing a nave and two aisles with a clock 
tower, the upper part of which was destroyed in the siege (the 
second siege is here alluded to) . The interior dimensions are 1 50 
feet in length by 52 feet in breadth. The columns dividing the 
aisles from the nave are chiefly of granite, and are probably 
taken from several ancient bmldings. The roof is of wood ; the 
beams and ceiling blue, spangled with gold stars." 

This church replaced a Byzantine chapel, which, in its turn, 
had been raised on the ruins of an ancient Greek temple. The 
simplicity of the exterior was in striking contrast with the rich- 
ness of the interior fittings. Nimierous valuable pictures, gold 
and silver ornaments of all kinds, and rich ecclesiastical vest- 
ments were to be found therein. There were fifteen of these 
pictures, gorgeously framed and each adorned with the cross of 
the Order in solid gold, statues of the twelve apostles in silver 


3o8 A History of 

gilt, a lamb in gold, statues of the Virgin Mary and of St. John 
the Baptist also in gold, a golden chalice valued at 320 crowns, 
superb missals and rich reliquaries, chief amongst which was 
the magnificent ivory casket containing the hand of St. John. 
The windows were filled with stained glass, adorned with the 
escutcheons of the most celebrated knights; in many cases, 
probably, the arms were those of the donors of the windows. 
This church was, unfortunately, completely destroyed at the 
end of the year 1856 by an explosion of powder stored in the 
vaults beneath the building. This powder is supposed to have 
been left there by the knights at the close of the siege in 
1522, and it is asserted that its existence was unknown to the 
Turkish authorities until the explosion took place. It seems 
somewhat doubtful whether gunpowder would retain its ex- 
plosive qualities for a period of 334 years, the more so as in 
those early days it was probably of a rough and inferior manu- 
facture. Be this as it may, an explosion did undoubtedly take 
place on the date named. The descriptions, therefore, of the 
building given to us by Newton and Biliotti are all the more 
interesting and valuable. 

The clock tower referred to by the former was, in reality, a 
campanile, quite distinct from the church. It was used as a 
military observatory in both sieges. It wiU be seen further on 
that it was on this account subjected to such heavy fire in the 
siege of 1522, that it was nearly destroyed. It bore the 
escutcheons of several Ghrand -Masters who had at different 
times restored and adorned it. 

Newton continues his description with the following account of 
the present condition of the Grand-Master's palace : — ^^ Opposite 
the church of St. John is the entrance to the palace of the 
Grand-Master, through a gateway flanked by two towers facing 
the south. On entering under this gateway we come to an open 
space covered with cisterns, in which the Turks keep stores of 
grain.* In front is a confused mass of numerous buildings, of 
which the plan can no longer be made out. On the left are 

* These cisterns are probably the same in character as the fosses used 
in Malta for a similar parpose, which are excavations in the soft stone rock 
and cemented. Their shape is usually the frustrum of a cone. They 
contain about fifty quarters of wheat. 

the Knights of Malta. 309 

strong square towers defending the citadel on the west. On the 
right a staircase leads to an open gallery oommimicating with 
many small rooms. In these the garrison probably dwelt. On 
the north the palace is defended by a tower overlooking a broad 
and lofty platform, which is raised by solid masonry out of the 
depth of the fosse. It was from artillery planted on this plat- 
form that the Turks suffered so much during the first siege 
in their attack on Fort St. Nicholas, from the church of St. 
Antonio, now a smaU mosque near the Lazaretto. Returning 
from the Grrand-Master's palace, we look down the long and 
narrow street, which is well known to travellers by the name of 
Strada dei Cavalieri, or street of the knights. In no European 
city, perhaps, can be found a street so little changed since the 
fifteenth century. No Vandal hand has disturbed the perfect 
repose and keeping of the scene by demolition or repairs ; the 
very pavement has a mediaeval look, as if it had known no 
thoroughfare since its broad marbles were trodden by Christian 
warriors three centuries ago. No sound of near or distant 
traffic breaks in on the congenial stillness. We might almost 
suppose the houses to be without inhabitants were it not for the 
rude Turkish jalousies which project on either side, flinging long 
slanting shadows across the richly-sculptured f a9ades, and lending 
mystery to a solitude only disturbed when from the gloom of 
some deep archway a veiled form glides by with averted face, 
scared at the unwelcome presence of the Frank traveller.*' 

Starting from St. John's Church, the street of the knights 
slopes towards the church of St. Catherine, and contains through- 
out a long series of most interesting monumental records. 
The first object to meet the view is the ruin of the arccuies 
which originally supported the great chapter hall. This 
building had been gradually falling into decay, and was 
completely destroyed by the explosion before referred to, but 
there was enough left prior to that event to give a very 
good idea of the grandeur and elegance of the original 
structure. On the foundation can be traced an old Greek 
inscription, showing that it had been erected on the ruins of 
a temple to Jupiter Sotirus. The first of the auhergea or inns 
of the various langiies was that of Spain, which occupies an 
angle in the street. This building was covered with armorial 

3IO A History of 

eficutcheons, most of which have been lately removed by a 
Turkish officer, supposed to have been an aide-de-camp of 
the sultan, and by him taken to Constantinople. Imme- 
diately beyond the aubcrge, a narrow staircase leads to a stone 
pulpit, from which the decrees of the council were promul- 
gated. Most probably it was from this pulpit that the 
Ghreek archbishop called the inhabitants to arms during the 
siege of 1522, when the Turkish forces were driven from the 
bastions which they had carried. 

Towards the middle of the street, the most striking object 
is the auberge of France, which is a very highly ornamented 
structure. Over the principal entrance are escutcheons bearing 
on one side the arms of the Order, and on the other those of 
the Grand-Master Amboise. On the first floor are the arms of 
France side by side with those of D'Aubiisson. Over the former 
is the motto Montjoie Sainct Dents, and over the latter the 
cardinal's hat. Beneath these escutcheons runs the legend 
Voluntas Dei Est, 1495. The arms of L'Isle Adam appear 
twice, dated 1511, whilst he was grand-prior of France. The 
arms of the celebrated engineer, Peter Clouet, whose talents 
had been so much in request at Rhodes, also appear in two 
separate places. The cornices, window-labels, and architraves 
are most elaborately ornate. The coping is battlemented, the 
line being broken by corbelled turrets, and by gargoyles in 
the form of fantastic dragons. 

A little farther on, hidden at the end of a gloomy court, 
stood a sombre-looking building, bearing the quotation from 
the 74th Psalm, Exiirge Domine judica causam tuam. This 
was the court of justice of the convent. It has recently been 
destroyed by fire. 

The avberges of Italy and England stood, the one by 
the side of the church of St. Catherine, the other opposite 
the Hospital. The auberge of Italy bore the arms of the 
Grand-Master Carretto, with the date 1519, but they have 
been removed by some unknown despoiler. The English 
auberge was also adorned with the arms of the kingdom and 
with those of several distinguished knights of the langve. 
These have all been removed of late years. 

Newton describes the decorations of the auberges thus ; — 

the Knights of Malta. 3 1 1 

"The style of architecture throughout the street is an in- 
teresting modification of the modem Gothic. The escutcheons 
are generally set in a richly-scidptured ogee arch. Most of 
the windows are square-headed, with labels and upright 
mullions, while the pointed arch is constantly employed in 
the doorways. In the rich and fantastic ornaments we 
recognize the Flamboyant style so generally prevalent in 
Europe in the fifteenth century, but these ornaments are 
but sparingly introduced, so as not to disturb the noble 
simplicity of the general design. In all the edifices built by 
the knights at Bhodes we see the same tendency to temper 
the stem and naked ruggedness of military masonry, as far as 
possible, with rich ornaments, such as we generally find asso- 
ciated with ecclesiastical architecture. No fitter symbol could 
have been adopted than this mixed style, to express the 
character of an Order at once military and religious. The 
last building on the south side of the street is the hospital of 
the knights. This is a large square edifice, with a very 
simple external facade. The entrance is under a kind of 
vestibule facing the eajst. The original doors, which were of 
Cyprus wood, richly carved, were given to the prince de 
Joinville on the occasion of his visit to Ehodes. On either 
side are large vaults, now used as warehouses. The inside is 
a quadrangle, supported on vaults, above which are open 
arcades, formed of round arches resting on pillars. Adjoin- 
ing the arcades are four long rooms, corresponding with the 
four sides of the quadrangle. These saloons and the open 
galleries are covered with a roof of Cyprus wood, in very 
fine condition. The four rooms were evidently for the sick, 
and the open galleries for the convalescent to walk in. In 
one of the vaulted magazines in the basement the chain which 
served to close the entrance to the harbour was formerly kept, 
and was seen by Boss in his visit in 1843. He describes it 
as 760 feet in length, each link being \\ foot long. Since his 
visit it has been removed to Constantinople. The hospital was 
commenced by Villeneuve, and completed by the Grand-Master 
Fluvian, and seems to have been well planned for its purpose." 
Such were the leculing features of the Castello, so far as 
they can be judged from what still exists. We will now 

312 A History of 


take a general survey of the town, considered as a fortress. 
First in importance was the fort of St. Nicholas, built, as has 
already been mentioned, by Raymond Zacosta. This work 
was so placed as to command both the inner and outer ports. 
The exterior trace is polygonal; a drawbridge leads under a 
low archway into the interior, where two ramps give access to 
the platform. Beneath this are the magazines, stores, tanks, 
&c., all arched. In the middle of the platform rises a round 
tower, two stories in height, on the summit of which is 
another platform, which, like the lower one, was armed with 
artillery. The tower and fort were seriously injured by 
Paleologus pasha, in the siege of 1480, and still more by the 
eaaiihquakes in 1481. They were subsequently restored, and 
were in perfect repair before the siege of 1522 took place. 
There are still guns mounted in this work, some bearing the 
date of 1482, and others of 1607, as also the arms of the 
various langues. The fort was connected with the north- 
eastern comer of the Castello by a mole and covered way 
leading to the gate of St. Paul. Next in importance was 
the tower of St. Michael, built by the Q-rand-Master de 
Naillac, which has already been described. This tower is 
now in ruins, only the foimdations and a portion of the 
arcade by which it was joined to the gate of St. Paul are left. 
The tower of St. John, on the opposite side of the inner 
port, was not a strong work, being merely a battery, not 
capable of much defence, but well swept by the guns of the 
other works. These two last-named towers were connected 
with the enceinte by long moles, which were themselves armed 
with guns, and made into covered ways. The ports were thus 
well protected, and the defences sufficient to render an attack 
by water impracticable. 

Starting from the gateway of St. Paul, the enceinte took a 
semi-circular sweep. From that point to the Gfrand-Master's 
palace was the post of Auvergne, in a tower of which is still 
to be found a small magazine of powder. After passing the 
ramparts of the palace itself, the line sweeps southward, forming 
the post of Q-ermany, in which stands the gateway of Amboise 
already described. This post reached as far as the gate of 
St. George, where that of France began. The gate of St. 

the Knights of Malta, 3 1 3 

Q-eorge was walled up by the knights between the first and 
second sieges. The post of France terminated at the Spanish 
tower, from whence the line was occupied by the kingue of 
Spain as far as the tower of St. Mary. The English post 
was from the tower of St. Mary to that of St. John. In this 
line still appears a memorial to the English knight, Thomas 
Newport, with his escutcheon enclosed in a wreath, beneath 
which is the inscription " Hie Jacet F. Thomas Newport 
Podatus Aglie Miles Qi Obiit, 1502, xxii. Die Mesis, 
Septembris Cuius Anima Eequiescat in Pace. Amen, 1502." 
Below the inscription is a death's head and crossbones. This 
monument is somewhat important, as it clearly shows that 
there were 'about this time two dignitaries of the English 
langue bearing those names. It has been always imagined that 
there was but one, who being Turcopolier was transferred to the 
bailiwick of Aqmla in the year 1502, and was drowned in 
1522, off the coast of Spain whilst en route for Rhodes. It is 
quite clear that no such transfer took place, but that the 
Turcopolier Thomas Newport died in 1502, whilst in the 
same year another Thomas Newport was appointed bailiff 
of Aquila, who was drowned as aforesaid.* 

By the side of St. John's tower is the gateway of that name, 
forming the principal entrance into the town from the south. 
It was through this gate that the emperor Solyman made his 
triumphal entry after the capture of the fortress in 1522. A 
tablet in the entrance bears a Turkish inscription recording 
this fact. Over the gateway is a bas-relief of St. John the 
Baptist above the arms of the Order, by the side of which are 
the arms of D'Aubusson, who appears to have delighted in 
affixing his escutcheon at every available point. It must be 
admitted that this was an act of pardonable vanity on the part 
of a Q-rand-Master who had done so much in the way of 
additions and restorations to the fortifications. From St. John's 
gate to the tower of Italy was the post of Provence, and from 
the latter point the post of Italy extended, making two bends 
until it reached the gate of St. Catherine. 

This gateway has two entrances — one into the Castello, the 
other into the lower town. It is flanked by two large towers 

* See List of Turcopoliers and Bailiffs of Aquila, in Appendix No. 11. 

314 A History of 

oontaming on each floor spacious halls which are now in- 
accessible, the stairs leading to them being destroyed. On the 
outside of the gate are the arms of the Order, and also those of 
Peter Clouet, the engineer, above which is a bas-relief of St, 
Catherine with the wheel and knife, St. Peter with the keys, 
and St. John with the lamb. The latter has been much defaced. 
These figures are protected by a canopy. There is the following 
inscription on the gate : — " Reverendus D. F. Petrus Daubus- 
sonis Bhodi Magnus Magister Hanc Portam et Turres Condidit 
Magisterii Anno Primo." From the gate of St. Catherine to 
that of St. Paul was the post of Castile. 

Such was the city of Rhodes at the commencement of 
the sixteenth century, and it is strange how little injury has 
been done to the decorations by the Turks, who have been its 
inhabitants for upwards of 300 years. The escutcheons have 
nowhere been wilfully damaged; even the crosses have been 
left intact. The only wanton destruction of which they 
appear to have been guilty has been in the bas-reliefs and 
tombs of the Gtrand-Masters and other dignitaries. Most of 
these have either disappeared, or have been so defaced as 
to be quite undecipherable. 

Next to the fortress of Rhodes the most important post in the 
island was the castle of lindos, where it will be remembered 
that Fulk de Villaret retired when he set at defiance the decrees 
of the council. Biliotti thus describes it : — " The fort built by 
^'^ knights stands on the same site as the old acropolis, in a 
position almost impregnable. It is in truth an eagles' nest 
perched upon the summit of a crag. A steep path leads to the 
fort, thence a wide flight of steps leads to the outer enceinte and 
enters by a gate opening on to a platform of 120 paces in length 
by 80 in breadth. This platform is surroxmded by a thick 
battlemented wall. After surmounting long flights of steps and 
numerous galleries, perpetually intercepted with machioolated 
gateways, we reach one leading to the second platform, the site 
of the old temple of Minerva. This temple had been succeeded 
by a Grreek acropolis, so that the eye can now dwell on three 
different epochs of structure. The residence of the present 
governor and some small houses for the garrison are the work 
of the architects of the Order. The materials of the older 

tlie Knights of Malta. 315 

btdldings have been largely used in their construction, and in 
m£tny places precious fragments of old marbles occupy the 
position of humble masonry. The original palace of the Order 
at present only exists in shell, and it would be very difficult to 
trace its internal construction. The ceilings have fallen in, the 
pavements are torn up, the partition walls thrown down; but 
patches of fresco still remain, from which can be guessed some 
of the subjects which adorned the walls. The chisel contributed 
as well as the brush to the severe type of ornamentation which 
accords faithfully with the ideas of those times. Mouldings of 
a sober elegance surrounded the escutcheons of the Order and 
of D'Amboise which are still existing. Over the mantlepiece 
of a fireplace, of which the ample dimensions mark the great 
dining hall, may be seen the fleur de lys of France." 

Connected with the palace are the ruins of a chapel dedicated 
to St. John. This building consisted of three naves terminating 
with an apse, the length eighty feet and the width fifty feet. 
The population of lindos in the time of the knights amounted 
to 2,500 souls, which number is now reduced to 650. 

The village of Castellos, on the western side of the ialand, 
took its name from the fortress erected there by the knights 
as a look-out station. It is now in a state of ruin ; still, enough 
remains to trace its construction. The castie is square ; on one 
side it is flanked with two round and on the opposite angle by 
one square tower. On the wall at the eastern side are the arms 
of D' Amboise and of Carretto side by side. The angle between 
the east and south has been cut away for flanking purposes, and 
on the plane thus formed stand the arms of Carretto alone. 
Those of the Order on two escutcheons appear on an internal 
wall. The work was on two levels, and from the upper tower a 
view was obtained over a wide extent of sea. It was so con- 
structed as to be capable of a lengthened defence, and was quite 
secure against a coup de main. 

The village of Cremasti is so called from having been the 
summer residence of the Grrand-Masters, the corruption of 
the Turkish name from Orand-Maktrie being evident. The 
palace was erected by Carretto, whose arms appear in several 
directions. It was square in form and not intended to 
resist any serious attack. In addition to these posts there 

3i6 A History of 

were many forts of a minor character placed in advantageous 
positions all over the island. These were garrisoned by a few 
soldiers only, and trusted for their defence principally to the 
peasants, who flocked thither for shelter upon the alarm being 
given of an enemy's approach. 

The chapel of Our Lady of Philermo was undoubtedly 
the most important and interesting * building left by the 
fraternity outside the city of Bhodes. It was built to contain 
a picture of the Virgin Mary, which they held in especial rever- 
ence, and supposed to have been from the brush of the evangelist 
St. Luke. In an arched crypt about twenty feet long and eight 
wide are the remains of a large number of frescoes, the work of a 
member of the Order who had been a pupil of Cimabue. Two 
represented the Annunciation and the angel appearing to Joseph. 
Separated from these by mosaics came others in which were 
Elyon de Villanova, Fulk de Villaret, Roger de Pins, and 
Antonio Fluvian, all kneeling on cushions fully armed and 
accoutred, supported by St. Michael, St. Catherine, the Virgin 
Mazy, and an apostle. They are gazing at a representation at 
the end of the crypt of Our Saviour seated on a throne showing 
his five wounds, having on his right hand St. Peter and St. Paul, 
and on his left the Blessed Virgin, who is laying her hand on 
the head of a kneeling knight, and by her side St. Mary 
Magdalene. Under this picture are two others of St. Michael 
and St. George, each in the act of overcoming his adversary, and 
between them the cross of the Order. * 

Other frescoes have as subjects — Our Lady with the seven 
swords ; our Saviour on the cross, with the Virgin Mary and 
St. John (over this picture are two knights of St. John in 
prayer) ; the Passion is represented in seven pictures ; the 
agony in the garden ; the taking of our Lord by torchlight; the 
scene in the pra3torium ; the scourging ; the crowning with 

* The presence of this cross, which is eight-pointed and precisely similar 
to that known as the Maltese Cross, and a corresponding one on the shoidder 
of the knight referred to in the fresco as kneeling, with the hand of the 
Virgin Mary on his head, sets at rest a question which Biliotti has 
mooted, whether the Order bore the eight-pointed cross, as now known, 
whilst they were at Rhodes. He asserts that nowhere in the armorial 
bearings and other remains at Ehodes could he find that cross. He 
has quite overlooked these frescoes. 

the Knights of Malta. 3 1 7 

thorns ; St. Veronica and the handkerchief ; and lastly, the 
crucifixion. To the east of this crypt stood the church 
itself, of which only the ruins of a portion remain, but from 
these it may be seen that the building was grand and 
important, being probably richly sculptured and ornamented. 
It consisted of two long naves separated by a row of fluted 
columns whose capitals carried the vaulted roof, which was 
groined. Behind the nave, and connected with it by "a small 
door, are the remains of the sacristy, also divided in two. 
From traces still to be seen it may be gathered that 
the building was constructed so as to serve for purposes of 

During the two centuries in which the knights were settled 
in Ehodes, the manufacture of faience was much encouraged. 
This pottery is still greatly sought after, and is known as 
Lindos ware. It partakes somewhat of the character of 
Majolica. It is supposed that it was introduced into the 
island by Persian prisoners, who were employed at this work 
instead of being chained to the oar of a galley. One of 
these dishes of Lindos ware bears the inscription in Persian, 
" God, how long shall we remain in this land of exile P " 
which seems to corroborate the supposition. Cotton stuffs, 
embroidered in silk, were also a staple trade of the island. 
The cotton and silk were both produced there, and the em- 
broidered material in the form of curtains, cushions, and other 
furniture was much prized. It was supposed that the silk- 
worms were fed on brilliantly - coloured flowers, thereby 
imparting to the silk natural dyes, which resisted the fading 
influences of light. 

It is impossible now to trace the principles of government 
adopted towards the native population. It can only be sur- 
mised that since no tradition remains of dislike to the memory 
of the knights, their rule was probably fairly lenient. It 
must, of course, be assumed that, living as they did in a condition 
of constant warfare, the island was more or less in a permanent 
state of siege. Still the people apparently flourished imder a 
government which, if rigid, was at all events tolerably just. 
In the absence of any more direct testimony, we may argue 
favourably from the fact of the extraordinary fidelity of the 

3i8 A History of 

peasantry during the two long and perilous sieges, when their 
privations and snfEerings were very great. The enormous 
increase in the population of the island during the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries may also be taken in proof of the 
beneficence of the government. The tradition remains of one 
admirable regulation made by the fraternity. A certain portion 
of the grain harvest was taken from each farmer, and stored in 
the granaries of the fortress. Should a siege take place, this 
amount of grain sufficed to feed the population who fiocked into 
the town. Should the year pass without such misfortune, it 
was returned intact to the owner, and a corresponding portion 
of the new crop taken in its stead. The farmer, therefore, 
under ordinary circumstances, might consider that he merely 
stored a portion of his harvest in the public granaries for 
a twelvemonth, at the expiration of which time he received 
it back uninjured. By this simple means the fortress was 
kept permanently provisioned. There can be no question of 
the religious tolerance of the knights. Living as they did 
in the midst of a population mostly professing the Gfreek 
faith, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for 
them to have kept the inhabitants loyal, had they not in 
every way remained on good terms with the Greek priest- 
hood. It is one of the few cases in which members of the 
Eioman and Greek faith were cooped up within such narrow 
limits, and yet maintained such great friendship. 

The Order coined its own money from the earliest time of 
its settlement in Rhodes. It is impossible now to compile 
a complete list of the various coins thus issued. Enough, 
however, remain to illustrate the subject. The silver coins 
consisted of crowns, ducats, and florins. The earlier ones 
carried on one side a cross, on the other a kneeling knight. 
Later on they bore the arms of the GFrand-Master. Thus we 
find coins of Elyon de Villanova representing him kneeling 
before a cross ; on the others side a ^^fleitr de lisee^* cross. On 
one side the legend Fr. Elton De Vila nova M.R.j on the other 
Ospital 8. Ion leros : Rodi, Coins struck by D'Amboise 
bore on the one side the arms of that Grand-Master with the 
legend F. Etnericus Damhoise Magn, Mag. JK., and on the 
other the lamb of St. John, with the words Agn. Dei Qui 

tJie Knights of Malta. 319 

ToUu Pecca Man Mm No. Those issued by L'Isle Adam 
bore his head with the words F. Phus De Lik-Adaniy M. 
Sosplis Hieri M. ; on the reverse his arms, with the motto 
Da Mihi Virtutem Contra Hosteit Tuos. 

The measures of length, capacity, and weight were probably 
the same as were at the time used throughout the Levant, 
and these were Greek. 

Such was the state of the island of £>hodes during the last 
years of the Order's sway. From that time its decadence has 
been steady and continued. Its natural beauties still remain, 
but all that depended on the energy of man has gradually fallen 
into decay* Khodes has partaken of the blight which seems to 
fall on everything subjected to Ottoman rule, and lives on now 
in the memory of the past. 


The career of a knight as a noyice, professed knight, commander, and 
bailifp — The auberges — The chaplains — The chapter-general — The 
councils of the Order — The question of slavery. 

From the period when the Order of St. John was first divided 
into languesj and the leading dignities in the gift of the fra- 
ternity were apportioned to those langueSy no confusion or inter- 
mixture was ever permitted between them. A postulant for 
admission preferred his request either at the chef-lifu in the 
convent to the head of the langue of which he was a native, or 
at one of the grand-priories in his own country. If he sought 
admission into the ranks of the knights of justice, the necessary 
proofs of nobility were required from him, which proofs varied 
in the difEerent langues, and have been already described. When 
it had been satisfactorily ascertained that his descent was 
sufficiently aristocratic to entitle him to admission, he was, if 
old enough, admitted at once as a novice. After the expiration 
of a year spent in probation he was duly received into the body 
of the Order as a professed knight. 

The age at which a postulant was accepted as a novice was 
sixteen. He was thus enabled to be a professed knight at 
seventeen, but he was not required to begin his residence at the 
convent until he was twenty years of age, and in many cases he 
received a dispensation postponing still later the necessity for 
that step. The pages of the Ghrand-Master were, however, 
entitled to the exceptional privilege of admission when only 
twelve years old, and their service in that capacity counted 
towards the term of residence which every knight was bound to 
complete at the convent before he was qualified for nomination 
to a commandery. In times later on than those of which we 
are now writing, knights were received "in minority " even in 

A History of the Knights of Malta. 321 

their cradles, a far larger amount of entrance money, termed 
" passage," being in such cases paid. This was, however, a 
modem innovation on the established rule, and only introduced 
to raise additional funds for the assistance of the treasury. 

A knight having become professed, was bound to proceed to 
the chef-lieu^ as soon as he had reached the age of twenty years, 
and to reside there for a certain term. During this time he 
performed such military and naval duties as were required of 
him. Each complete year of this service constitute what was 
called a " caravan," and the number required for qualification 
as a commander was three. In later years that number was 
raised to four. In addition to these three years of what may 
be termed active service he was bound to reside for two 
more years at the convent before he could be made a com- 
mander, so that the earliest age at which he could attain to that 
office was twenty-five. Before a knight could be elected a 
bailiff, either conventual or capitular, he must have been pro- 
fessed for fifteen years, of which ten had to be in residence 
at the convent. It was very rarely, however, that these digni- 
ties were conferred on a knight until he had attained far riper 
years than were laid down for his qualification. During his 
residence he was attached to the auberge of his langue, where 
he lived at the table furnished by the conventual bailiff, as will 
be more fuUy detailed presently. After he had completed his 
term of service he was eligible for promotion to a commandery, 
and sooner or later received that appointment. The principle 
recognized in these nominations was a system of seniority 
modified by selection. No doubt in those days, as at present, 
interest carried great weight, and the young aspirant whose 
advancement was looked after by influential friends received the 
coveted appointment to a commandery somewhat sooner than 
his more friendless conjrire. This promotion transferred him 
back again to his native province, where he resided upon the 
estate intrusted to his charge. He there fell under the direct 
supervision of the grand-prior within whose district his com- 
mandery was situated. In many cases, however, knights who 
were qualified to become commanders received appointments at 
the chef-lieUy either in the Grand-Master's household or in some 
other official capacity, which necessitated a continued residence 


322 A History of 

in the island, and which was considered as an equivalent. After 
having presided over one of the inferior commanderies for a 
period of five years the holder was eligible for translation to 
a post of superior value, provided he had administered that 
originally entrusted to his charge with due prudence and 
care. He thus continued rising in dignity and emoluments 
imtil he had attained such seniority as rendered him qualified 
for the oflSce of conventual bailiff, upon nomination to which he 
was called upon to resign his commandery and return to the 
convent to assume the duties of his new station. 

The conventual bailiffs were, as has been said, eight in 
number, and ranked in precedence immediately next to the 
Grand-Master. Their duties are thus defined in the statutes : — 
" In order that the Gfrand-Master may be enabled to watch over 
the governance of our Order with greater prudence and modera- 
tion our predecessors have appointed as assistants in his senate 
men of worth and good repute, who shall each be invested with 
a separate office. For this purpose have been established the 
several councillors of our Order, such as the grand-conmiander, 
the marshal, the hospitaller, the admiral, the gitmd-conservator, 
the Turcopolier, the grand-bailiff, and the grand-chancellor, who 
are all called conventual bailiffs, because each is the president 
of his languey 

These dignitaries each resided in the palace or auherge appro- 
priated to his langxie, which were large and stately edifices 
erected for that purpose out of the public funds. The treasury 
issued an allowance to every bailiff for the expenses of his 
office, and it also granted a fixed daily ration for every person 
entitled to a seat at the tables which he was obliged to main- 
tain for their use in the auberge. Every member of the langue 
resident at the convent, whether knight, chaplain, or serving 
brother, had this right, excepting only a conmiander, who, 
being a knight, held a benefice of £200 a-year, or a chaplain 
or serving brother holding one of £100. In such oases they 
were considered provided for, and therefore excluded from the 
table of their auherge. 

The allowance issued by the treasury waa by no means 
sufficient to cover the expense of these tables; a large proportion 
fell consequently upon the private resources of the bailiffs. 

the Knights of Malta. 323 

Burdensome as this charge undoubtedly was, the post of con- 
yentual bailiff was nevertheless eagerly sought after. Not 
only did it confer upon its holder a very high position, second 
only to that of the Grand-Master himself, but it was also, 
invariably, and as a matter of right, the stepping-stone to the 
most lucrative dignities in the gift of the langue. If either of its 
grand-priories or bailiwicks fell vacant the conventual baiKfE 
had the option of claiming the post ; or if he preferred waiting 
for one of greater value he might retain his position and allow 
the vacant nomination to pass to those junior to himself, until 
one fell in of sufficient value to meet his expectations. Not 
unfrequently the selection of a Grrand-Master was made from 
amongst the conventual bailiffs, who, by being present at the 
chef'lieu at the time of the election, had many advantages in 
the way of canvassing, and otherwise making themselves 
popular and acceptable to the electors. 

The amount of the allowance given to the bailiffs to support 
their tables whilst the Order was at Rhodes is not recorded. It 
may, however, be aseimied to have been not very different from 
that which was fixed for them a few years later, when they 
were settled in Malta. It then consisted of sixty gold crowns 
a month in money, and the ration in kind was, for each person, 
one rotolo* of fresh meat, either beef, mutton, or kid, or two- 
thirds of that amount of salt meat ; and on fast days, in lieu of 
the above, a due portion of fish, or four eggs, together with six 
loaves of bread and a quartuccio* of wine. Members were 
entitled to three meals a day, viz., breakfast, dinner, and supper. 
They were permitted to absent themselves from dinner three 
times a week, and in such case to draw an allowance in its 
stead. Should they be absent from either the breakfast or 
supper meal no compensation was given. The bailiff was sup- 
posed to provide for his guests only simple meals, such as the 
above-quoted rations would have afforded, but it rarely hap- 
pened that he restricted himself within those limits. The 
sumptuousness and prodigality of the tables actually maintained 
depended on his disposition and private means. If he were 
a generous and wealthy man, and anxious to gain popularity, 

• The rotolo weighed 1 J lb. avoirdupois, and the quartnccio was about 
three pints. 


324 A History of 

he knew that the surest way to attain this end was by a liberal 
entertainment of those who were dependent on him for their 
daily sustenance. A spirit of rivalry was thus engendered 
between the various languesy and he who could obtain a reputa- 
tion for maintaining his auberge on the most open handed scale 
generally found his account in the popularity which he thereby 
gained. It is somewhat difficult to estimate the numbers 
accommodated in each auberge. It varied much, not only in 
the several langueSy but also in the same langue according to 
circumstances. It may, however, fairly be assumed to have 
usually lain between 100 and 150. Amongst the regulations 
laid down in the statutes for the maintenance of order at the 
auberges was one prohibiting the introduction of dogs, under 
the plea that they consumed too much food. Another strictly 
forbade the members, under severe penalties, from striking the 
servants. These latter were most probably slaves captured during 
their numerous cruises. Doubtless the post of servant at an 
auberge was a far less repulsive lot than that of a galley-slave 
chained to an oar, and was consequently sought after by 
such captives as were of gentle birth. Hence, probably, the 
stringency of the regulation as to their treatment. 

The title of " pilier " was given to the conventual bailiffs, 
symbolical of their being pillars of the Order, and it was by 
this name that they were designated in all official records. 
They were bound to reside at the convent as long as they 
held the post, and were compelled to make their first 
appearance there within a period of two years from the 
date of their election. Failing in this, the Qrand-Master 
in council waa entitled to proceed to a fresh election, annul- 
ling that which had been thus rendered useless. Three out 
of the eight were permitted to obtain leave of absence at 
the same time. This was granted by the Grand-Master 
in council upon good cause being shown, but could not be 
demanded as a right. Five were bound under all circum- 
stances to be present, and those who had obtained leave were 
called on to nominate lieutenants to act for them during their 
absence, and to supply their places at the council. 

The nominations to all commanderies were made by the 
Orand-Master in council, the principle of seniority, as has been 

the Knights of Malta. 325 

already said, being usually adhered to. There were, however, 
the following exceptions : — In every grand-priory there was 
one commandery, the revenues of which belonged to the 
Grand-Master, and the nomination to this rested exclusively 
with himself. He had also the privilege of nominating to a 
vacancy in every priory once in each five years. This privi- 
lege was also held by the grand-prior. The exercise of the 
patronage was fixed in the following manner. The first com- 
mandery which fell vacant during the quinquennial period 
was in the gift of the Grand-Master, the second in that of the 
council, the third in that of the grand-prior, and all succeeding 
vacancies till the close of the period in that of the council. 
Should there not be three vewjancies during the five years, 
the grand-prior lost his patronage ; but this rarely happened, 
as translations and promotions were of very frequent occur- 
rence, and the commanderies grouped in each grand-priory 
niunerous. A commander appointed to a bailiwick or grand- 
priory at once surrendered his office to take possession of the 
new dignity, unless he were the holder of a magisterial com- 
mandery. This he was permitted to retain in connection with 
his new appointment. 

The chaplains of the Order of St. John were received without 
any of those restrictions as to birth placed on the admission of 
the first class, or knights of justice. It was sufficient to prove 
that they were of respectable origin, and that their parents had 
been united in lawful wedlock. They were accepted at the age 
of sixteen years as clerks, and were ordained as sub-deacons two 
years afterwards. They could not attain to the rank of deacon 
imtil they had reached the age of two-and-twenty, or to that of 
chaplain earlier than twenty-five. They were then available 
for all the religious offices of the convent. They performed 
divine service in the conventual church of St. John, or were 
attached either to the household of the Grand-Master, the 
auberge of their langue^ or to the Hospital; or else they performed 
their caravans on board the galleys to which they were posted 
during a cruise. It was from this class that the prior of the 
church of St. John and the archbishop of Ehodes (or later on 
the bishop of Malta) were selected, the former by the Grand- 
Master in council, the latter by the Pope. 

326 A History of 

With regard to the election of the prior of the church, the 
statutes are thus drawn up: — "The more closely a dignity 
approaches to spiritual matters, with the more care and con- 
sideration should the selection of its holder be made. Bearing 
this in mind, we decree that whenever the priory of our church 
becomes vacant, the Grand-Master and the ordinary council 
shall assemble and proceed to a new election with calm and 
serious deliberation. Having with this object carefully exa- 
mined into the manners, life, doctrine, and qualifications of 
our chaplains in every langue^ they shall elect and nominate 
as prior a chaplain of upright life and of approved conduct, 
learned and well-versed in the practice of things ecclesiastical. 
It is essential that after this election he should reside con- 
tinuously at the convent, and if on account of any urgent 
necessity he should ever be sent therefrom, the Grand-Master 
and ordinary council must fix a definite period for his return." 

In addition to the conventual chaplains thus appointed, the 
Order received into the second or ecclesiastical division of its 
fraternity another class termed priests of obedience, who were 
not called upon to reside at the chef-lieu^ but performed the 
duties of their office in the various continental grand-priories 
and commanderies. These priests received the emoluments 
of their several benefices like other clergy, and where such 
revenues were too small for their due and honourable main- 
tenance, they were entitled to a further provision from 
the local treasury. They were ineligible for either of 
the great offices which were appropriated to the conventual 
chaplains, and they were never appointed to the position of 
commander, as the latter were. They were usually natives 
of the province in which they i>erformed their duties, and 
to the hngue of which they were attached. After the Order 
had become settled in the island of Malta, its conventual 
chaplains were mainly recruited from the inhabitants of that 
island, and the posts of bishop and prior, both of which ranked 
with the conventual bailifPs, were constantly held by Maltese. 
This, however, was not the case at Rhodes. There the natives, 
belonging almost all to the Greek Church, were unable to 
enter the ranks of the fraternity, and although there was 
much toleration and even cordiality between the members 

the Knights of Malta. 327 

of the two churches, the Order was compelled to seek else- 
where for Eoman Catholic priests to fill the ranks of its 
conventual chaplains. ^ 

It has already been mentioned that all legislative powers were 
exclusively vested in the chapter-general, whilst the executive 
functions were intrusted to the Grrand-Master in coimcil. It 
will be well now to enter into some detail as to the composition 
both of the chapter and of the different classes of council. 
The chapter-general, the great parliament of the Order, was, 
during the earlier years of its existence, held regularly every 
five years, and in cases of emergency was often convened even 
between those periods. GrraduaUy a longer time was allowed 
to elapse. The interval between them extended first to ten 
years, and later on still longer, until they were eventually 
almost entirely discontinued, one only having been held 
throughout the eighteenth century. 

Many reasons may be alleged for the abandonment of this 
ancient council. The great expense attending its convocation ; 
the extreme inconvenience and detriment to the interests of 
the commimity necessarily arising from the calling away 
of so many of its provincial chiefs from the seats of their 
respective governments; the turbulence which often charac- 
terized thd sessions ; and the difficulty which the Grand- 
Master invariably experienced in carrying out his views and 
policy in an assembly where his influence predominated but 
slightly ; all of these were causes to check their frequent con- 
vocation. In the absence of a chapter-general the Grand- 
Master conducted the government with the aid and intervention 
of a council only, and in this assembly he was enabled to 
exercise a far greater influence, and to obtain a more complete 
subservience to his wishes than he could ever expect from 
the chapter. 

The summoning of a chapter-general lay entirely with the 
Grand-Master or Pope. We have adduced reasons to show why 
the former should, as far as possible, neglect to assemble them. 
Similar views, to a great extent, actuated the pontiff, since, in 
the absence of a chapter-general, all legislative powers were 
vested in himself in the same way as the executive were 
in the Grand-Master and council. The court of Eome has 


A History of 

never been backward in asstuning Buoh powers to their fullest 
extent whenever it has been in a position so to do. 

The following is a list of the dignitaries who held a seat in 
the chapter-general in the order of their precedence. The 
Grand-Master, either in person or by a lieutenant nominated by 
himself, presided. The others were as follows : — 

1. The Archbishop of Rhodes. 

2. The Prior of the Church. 

3. The Bailiff of Provence. 

4. The Bailiff of Auvergne. 

5. The Bailiff of France. 

6. The Bailiff of Italy. 

7. The Bailiff of Aragon (Spain). 

8. The iJailiff of England. 

9. The BaiUff of Germany. 

10. The Bailiff of CastUe (Portugal). 

11. The Grand-Prior of St. Gilles. 

12. The Grand-Prior of Auvergne. 

13. The Grand-Prior of France. 

14. The Grand-Prior of Aquitaine. 

15. The Grand-Prior of Champagne. 

16. The Grand-Prior of Toulouse. 

17. The Grand-Prior of Rome. 

18. The Grand-Prior of Lombardy. 

19. The Grand-Prior of Venice. 

20. The Grand-Prior of Pisa. 

21. The Grand-Prior of Burletta. 

22. The Grand-Prior of England. 

23. The Grand-Prior of Capua. 

24. The Castellan of Emposta. 

25. The Grand-Prior of Portugal. 

26. The Grand-Prior of Messina. 

27. The Grand-Prior of Navarre. 

28. The Grand-Prior of Germany. 

29. The Grand-Prior of Ireland. 

30. The Qrand-Prior of Bohemia. 

31. The Grand-Prior of Hungary. 

32. The Bailiff of St. Euphemia. 

33. The Grand-Prior of Catalonia. 

34. The Bailiff of Negropont. 

35. The BaiUff of the Morea. 

36. The Bailiff of Yenusia. 

37. The Bailiff of St St^hen. 

38. The Bailiff of Majorca. 

39. The Bailiff of St. John of 

40. The Bailiff of Lyons. 

41. The Bailiff of Manosque. 

42. The Bailiff of Brandenburg. 

43. The Bailiff of Caspa. 

44. The Bailiff of Lora. 

45. The Bailiff of the Eagle. 

46. The Bailiff of Lango. 

47. The Bailiff of St. Sepulchre. 

48. The Bailiff of Cremona. 

49. The Grand-Treasurer. 

50. The Bailiff of Neuvillas. 

51. The Bailiff of Acre. 

52. The Bailiff of La Rocella. 

53. The Bailiff of Armenia. 

54. The Bailiff of Carlostad. 

55. The Bailiff of St. Sebastian. 

Such of the above as were not able to attend in person were 
bound to send thither proxies to act in their stead. All com- 
manders had seats in the chapter below the above dignitaries, 
and in order of seniority. The time and place of meeting were 
fixed by the GFrand-Master, and after having been approved by 
the Pope, were duly notified to the various members whose rank 
entitled them to a seat in the coimcil. The first step taken 
after divine service had been performed was the nomination of a 
committee of three commanders of different langues to verify the 

the Knights of Malta, 329 

proxies and to guarantee their validity. That ceremony having 
been gone through, every one took his place in accordance 
with the foregoing list, and the chapter-general was declared 
duly open. In token of homage to its sovereign authority, each 
member tendered as tribute a purse containing five pieces of 
silver. The marshal brought into the council hall the grand 
standard of the Order, which he surrendered into the keeping of 
the chapter, and the other dignitaries in succession also de- 
livered up the symbols of their various offices. These were not 
returned until the assembly had passed a fresh grant for that 
purpose. Another committee of three members, each of a 
separate langue^ was also nominated to receive petitions, and to 
organize the questions to be brought before the chapter. * 

In order to expedite the business, for the despatch of which 
they had been convened, a committee of sixteen commanders 
was selected, two from each langue. It was felt that in so large 
an assembly discussion would have been most inconveniently 
protracted. To this committee, therefore, the real working 
powers were entirely delegated. They were sworn to legislate 
honestly and fearlessly for the public weal, and the remain- 
ing members, induding the Ghrand-Master, also took an oath 
binding themselves to abide by the decisions and decrees of the 
committee. The vice-chancellor, the secretary of the treasury, 
and the Grand-Master's legal adviser, all took part in its 
meetings and debates, but had no vote, that privilege being 
reserved exclusively to the sixteen members nominated by the 

The statutes laid down what should be the general order of 
the business to be transacted by the committee. They were, 
first, to examine into the incidence and pressure of the various 
imposts decreed by previous chapters, and to make such 
alterations and revisions as the state of the revenue and the 
exigencies of the treasury might render possible or advisable. 
They were afterwards to look strictly into the management 
of the treasury, and satisfy themselves of the correctness 
of its administration. The records were then to be passed 
in review, after which they were to proceed to reform any 
abuses that had crept in, and to pass such new laws as they 
might consider necessary, abrogating all existing statutes which 

330 A History of 

appeared to them to be no longer suitable to the organization of 
the fraternity. In conclusion, they were to deal with any ques- 
tions of a special nature which might be brought before them, 
but which did not come under any of the preceding heads. 

The matters having all been debated and decided on by a 
majority of votes taken by ballot, the chapter was once more 
assembled, and the decrees of its committee ratified and pro- 
mulgated. The business then closed with divine service, when 
the following prayers were offered in succession — ^for peace, 
for plenty, for the Pope, for the cardinals and prelates, for all 
Christian kings and princes, for the Grand-Master, for the 
bailiffs and priors, for the brethren of the Hospital, for the 
sick and captives, for sinners, for benefactors to the Hos- 
pital, and lastly for the confrmHa and all connected with the 

The duration of a chapter-general was very wisely limited 
to sixteen days, so as to check any spirit of opposition or 
factious debate by means of which it might otherwise have 
been indefinitely prolonged. If, at the conclusion of that time, 
any business remained unsettled it was disposed of by a ooimcil 
of reservation elected by the chapter prior to its dissolution. 
The chapter-general was the ultimate court of appeal from the 
decisions of the various councils, and in its absence that appeal 
lay with the court of Rome. 

Provincial chapters, were held in every grand-priory, presided 
over by the grand-prior or his lieutenant, at which all 
commanders attached thereto t^ere bound to attend either in 
person or by proxy. The local interests of the fraternity were 
brought under discussion at these assemblies, and such matters 
were there disposed of as did not concern the Order at large, 
but only that branch of it embraced within the district. 
The appeal from these courts lay with the council at the 

The code of laws known as the statutes of the Order were 
the result of the decrees of a succession of chapters-general, no 
additions to, alterations in, or omissions from this code having 
been permitted by any authority short of that which originally 
called it into existence. The duty of the Grand-Master as head 
of the fraternity consisted merely in enforcing obedience to the 

the Knights of Malta. 331 

laws thus laid down, and even in tliis comparatively subordi- 
nate duty he was not permitted to act alone, but was associated 
with a council. Without the concurrence and sanction of that 
body none of his decrees had any legal effect, and he himself 
was rendered practically powerless. 

The councils of the Order in its chef-lieu were of four 
kinds, viz., the complete, the ordinary, the secret, and the 
criminal. The latter was sometimes also called the council 
of state. The composition of the complete council differed 
from that of the other three, which were similar to one 

The complete council consisted of the Gband-Master or his 
lieutenant, the archbishop of Bhodes, the prior of the church 
of St. John, the eight conventual bailiffs or their lieutenants 
acting for them, the grand-treasurer or his lieutenant, and any 
grand-cross who might chance to be present at the convent 
on the occasion. To these were added two members from each 
langue^ who were boimd to be knights of justice and resi- 
dent in Bhodes for at least eight years. The seniors of each 
langue below the rank of grand-cross were usually elected to 
this office, the nomination resting with the langues themselves. 
The time for the assembly of the court lay at the discretion of 
the Ghrand-Master, but the place of meeting was invariably 
in the coimcil-chamber of the magisterial palace. In this it 
differed from the other three councils, which might be convened 
wherever the Grand-Master thought fit. Before the complete 
council were brought all appeals against the decisioQS and 
sentences of the ordinary and criminal councils, the ultimate 
appeal being with the chapter-general or in its absence with 
the papal court. 

The following was the order of procedure on the occasion. 
The Grand-Master having fixed the hour at which the council 
was to meet, his master of the horse gave due notice to that 
effect to all the members authorized to be present. The great 
bell of St. John's church toUed for the half -hour previous to the 
appointed time, during which interval the coimcillors assembled 
within their hall. When the beU ceased the Grand-Master 
took his seat imder the canopy which marked his place as 
president, and the business of the council commenced. Should 

332 A History of 

any of the oonventual bailiffs be absent and his lieutenant as 
well) the master of the horse announced the fact and called for 

the senior member for the langue of , the commander 

, whereupon the knight so named took his seat with the 

other councillors. 

The court being duly organized, the vice-chancellor 
announced the various matters to be brought under discus- 
sion, which usually consisted of appeals from the decisions of 
the inferior courts. In any case requiring pleading the rival 
parties were bound to appear in person unless they could show 
a good and suflBcient reason for employing a deputy. The 
following exceptions were made to this general rule. Members 
of the English and German langues were permitted to employ 
advocates, as they would not have been able to make themselves 
intelligible in their own tongue. Ejiights who were unavoid- 
ably absent from the convent at the time when their cases came 
on for hearing might provide duly authorized substitutes to 
appear on their behalf. The same privilege was accorded to all 
knights of the grand-cross, who were never called on to plead 
in person. It appears to have been a main object in framing 
the regulations to throw as many obstacles as possible in the 
way of needless Utigation amongst the fraternity. The " cus- 
tom " or preamble which is attached to the statutes relating to 
these councils marks this principle very distinctly. It says — 
"In order that our brethren may study hospitality and the 
noble exercise of arms rather than embroil themselves in 
litigation and legal discussions, our predecessors have handed 
down the following very laudable custom — ^whenever differences 
shall arise between our brethren they shall be decided in council 
summarily — that is to say, there shall be no writings upon the 
subject in dispute, the parties shall plead their cause in person 
and state their cases simply, after which, judgment shall be 
passed. Writings which have been previously made and which 
have not been prepared expressly for the purpose may be 
produced in evidence, as also such witnesses as may be required, 
and, if necessary, the depositions of these latter may be reduced 
to writing." 

The case under consideration having been pleaded and 
responded to, the court was cleared for deliberation, and after 

the Knights of Malta. 333 

the members had debated the matter under the seal of seorecj, 
a ballot was taken, the result of which decided the case. The 
court was reopened and the sentence announced by the vice- 
chancellor who recorded it in the archives. 

The other three councils were composed of grand-crosses only, 
the two senior members of each langue below the rank of grand- 
cross being omitted. The ordinary council was considered to 
have a quorum provided the eight conventual bailiffs or their 
lieutenants were present, the attendance of the other grand- 
crosses being optional. It was in this council that all nomina- 
tions to vacant oihces were made, all disputes arising therefrom 
decided, and the ordinary business connected with the govern- 
ment of the island transacted. This was the council usually 
employed by the GFrand-Master, who might assemble it at any 
time and in any place he thought proper. No subject could be 
introduced without his sanction and approval, and as all grand- 
crosses had a voice in the council he was enabled, by the crea- 
tion of a fresh batch of honorary grand-crosses, to carry any 
measure which he had at heart, but upon which opinions were 
divided in the convent. The secret council was similarly con- 
stituted, and took cognizance of such matters of internal and 
foreign policy as were not considered fit subjects for publicity, 
its proceedings were therefore never made known. The criminal 
council, also composed of the same members, received and 
adjudicated upon all complaints lodged against individuals con- 
nected with the fraternity. The accused persons were arraigned 
before the court ; evidence was taken openly, and sentence was 
passed in accordance therewith. 

The institution of slavery flourished in the Order from the 
earliest days of its existence until the close of the eighteenth 
century. During the residence of the knights in Palestine 
it had been their invariable rule, in accordance with the 
usages of eastern warfare, to reduce to a state of slavery all 
prisoners taken in action. This system had been in full opera- 
tion long before the crusaders had introduced a European 
element into the warfare of Asia. It was only natural that a 
spirit of retaliation should have led to the adoption of the same 
practice. After their establishment in the island of Ehodes 
the knights continued to enforce the penalty which long custom 

334 A History of 

had legalized in their eyes. Both in that island, and afterwards 
at Malta, their galleys were invariably propelled by gangs of 
Turkish captives told off for that purpose, and driven to constant 
laboiur by the dread of punishment. A gangway ran along the 
centre of the vessel on which paced an official armed with a 
cruel whip, which he mercilessly applied to the back of any one 
of the unfortunate victims whom he considered was not putting 
forth his full strength. During the cruise the slave was never 
released from his seat at the oar, but as several men were 
attached to each, they took it in turns to obtain what rest and 
repose was possible under such miserable conditions. When 
not required on board the galleys, they were housed in a 
prison on shore established for the purpose. They were then 
employed either in the dockyard or on the fortifications. No 
one can have examined the stupendous and elaborate defences 
either of Rhodes or Malta, without perceiving that such works 
could have only been created under conditions of labour very 
different from those of the present day. The extraordinary 
width and depth of the ditches, so far beyond what seem actually 
necessary for purposes of defence, show that in their construc- 
tion labour was a drug. It is true that in both instances these 
ditches were the quarries from which most of the stone used in 
the building of the respective towns was taken ; still, but for 
the fact that there was a constant and never-failing supply of 
the cheapest manual power, the work would never have been 
carried to such vast depths. 

There can be no doubt that great cruelty was often practised 
against these unfortunate captives, and the treatment which they 
received at the hands of their Christian masters was, as a rule, 
disgracefully barbarous. Their lives were held as of little 
or no value, and the records teem with accounts of the very 
thoughtless and cruel manner in which they were sacrificed 
to the whims and caprices of those who held control over their 
lives and persons. During the first siege of Rhodes a gang of 
these miserable beings was returning from the perilous labour 
of repairing the breaches made in the ramparts by the enemy^s 
artillery when a party of young knights chanced to meet them, 
and began to amuse themselves at their expense. A slight scuffle 
ensued, the wretched slaves endeavouring to shield themselves 

the Knights of Malta. 335 

from their tormentors. The noise thus caused attracted the 
attention of a body of the garrison, who were patrolling near 
the spot, and these, imagining that the slaves were rising in 
revolt, fell on them, and without pausing for a moment to 
ascertain the truth of their suspicions, slew upwards of 
150 of the poor defenceless creatures before discovering their 
error. So also we find it recorded at a period somewhat later 
than that at which we have arrived, viz., during the siege of 
Malta, that some hesitation having been shown by the slaves 
in exposing themselves during their pioneering labours to a fire 
more than ordinarily deadly, the Ghrand-Master directed some to 
be hanged, and others to have their ears cut off.* We also find 
an English knight, named Massinberg, brought before the 
council in the year 1534 for having without cause drawn his 
sword and killed four galley slaves. Upon being called on 
for his defence, this turbulent Briton replied — " In killing the 
four slaves I did well, but in not having at the same time killed 
our old and imbecile Grand-Master, I confess I did badly." The 
Qrand-Master referred to was Peter Du Pont, and the defence 
was not considered satisfactory ; we find, therefore, that Massin- 
berg was deprived of his commandery, and stripped of his habit 
for a period of two days. That such a crime should have been 
dealt with in this manner shows that the insolence towards the 
Grand-Master was more thought of than the murder of the 
four slaves. 

Having touched upon the question of slavery as it existed 
amoxLgst the fraternity up to the time of which we are speaking, 
it may be well to complete the subject, although what remains 
refers to a later period of histoiy. By degrees a system sprang 
up of not simply retaining the slaves for the service of the Order, 
but also of selling any number that might be demanded. The 
truth was, that eventually the convent of St. John became 
neither more nor less than a vast slave mart. The evil began 
at Ehodes ; but it did not reach its full development until after 

* The contemporary chroniolers record this as having been done "pour 
encourager lea autrea,'^ The writer has more than once seen a claim made 
as to the original authorship of this phrase at a far later date than that now 
alluded to, which was in the latter part of the sixteenth century. Doubt- 
less the quaint expression was even then no novelty. 

336 A History of 

the establishment of the knights at Malta. There the mise- 
rable trade flourished without a check. When the demand 
was brisk, and the supply of slaves within the bagnio scaroOy 
the galleys of Malta scoured the seas, and woe betide the 
unfortunate Moslem who came within their grasp. The 
war which they unceasingly waged against the Ottoman 
maritime power was not maintained purely for the glory of 
the struggle, or from religious conviction as to its necessity; 
they found other attractions in the strife. In thus gratifying 
their privateering propensities, they were swelling at one and 
the same time their own private fortunes and the cofiers of 
their Order. Honour there was none; religion there was 
none; it had degenerated into a pure mercenary speculation, 
and the only excuse which could be offered for this degradation 
of warfare, lay in the fact that it was an act of reprisal. The 
northern coast of Africa was one vast nest of pirates, who 
scoured every comer of the Mediterranean, and whose detested 
flag always brought with it the horrors of bloodshed, rapine, 
and slavery. With such a foe as this, it was but natural that 
there should be but scant courtesy shown. Had the fraternity 
confined its efforts to the exteimination of this noxious 
swarm, the historian need not have been very severe in his 
criticisms on its treatment of its captives. It is, unfortu- 
nately, a matter of fact that in their anxiety to keep their slave 
mart at Malta well supplied, the knights of St. John were 
by no means careful to discriminate between the piratical 
corsair and the peaceful eastern merchant, and that the latter 
too often had to endure the fate which should have been 
reserved for the former only. 

There exists in the Record Office of Malta a letter from the 
English king Charles II. to Nicholas Cottoner, at that time 
Qrand-Master, which bears upon this question, and clearly 
proves the traffic in human flesh then subsisting, and by 
which it appears that the knights were purveyors of slaves, 
not only to the king of England, but also to the monarchs 
of France and Spain: — 

" Charles the Second by the grace of God of Great Britain 
France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c. To the 
most illustrious and most high prince the Lord Nicholas 

the Knights of Malta. 337 

Cottoner Grand-Master of the Order of Malta our well beloved 
cousin and friend, greeting. 

" It having appeared to us a matter of interest not only to 
ourselves but likewise to the whole Christian world that we 
should keep in the Mediteiranean Sea a certain number of 
galleys ready to afford prompt aid to our neighbours and allies 
against the frequent insults of the barbarians and Turks ; we 
lately caused to be constructed two galleys, one in Genoa and 
the other in the port of Leghorn. In order to man these we 
directed a person well acquainted with such affairs to be sent, as 
to other parts, so also to the island of Malta subject to the rule 
of your highness in order to huy slaves and procure other neces- 
saries. He having purchased same slaves it has been reported 
to us that your highness's collector of customs demanded five 
pieces of gold of Malta money before they could be permitted 
to embark, under the title of toll at which proceeding we were 
certainly not a little astonished, it appearing to us a novel 
arrangement and one contrary to the usual custom, especially 
since it is well known to us that our neighbours and aUies the 
kings of France and Spain are never accustomed to pay any- 
thing under the title of toU for the slaves whom they cause yearly 
to be transported from your island. We therefore beg your 
highness by the good and long friendship existing between us 
to grant to us the same privilege in regard to this kind of 
commerce within the territories of your highness as is enjoyed 
by both our said neighbours and allies which, although it ought 
to be conceded to us simply on account of our mutual friendship 
and our affection towards your highness and the illustrious 
Order of Malta, still we shall receive it so gratefully that if at 
any time we can do anything to please your highness we shall 
be always ready to do it with all attention and most willingly. 
In the mean time we heartily recommend your highness and all 
the members of the illustrious Order of Malta as well as all 
your affairs to the Divine keeping. 

" GKven from our palace at "Westminster on the 12th day of 
February in the year of our Lord 1673 and of our reign the 
twenty-fifth. Your highness's good cousin and &iend Charles 

From the terms of this letter it is clear that the deportation 


338 A History of tfie Knights of Malta. 

of Blavee for the use of the kings of Franoe and Spain was of 
annual oocurrenoe, and that the merry monarch of England 
craved to be admitted to the same privilege. The results of 
this traffic must have been most profitable, not only from the 
proceeds of such as were sold, but also from the labour of those 
who were retained in the island. It has already been said that 
the fortresses of Ehodes and Malta show marked signs of the 
abundance and cheapness of labour. The numerous gangs 
of slaves who were awaiting the requirements of the wealthy 
potentates of Europe were, in the meantime, amply repaying 
the slender cost of their maintenance in the bagnio, by toiling 
at the vast defensive works for which the Order became so 
celebrated. Those ramparts have been reared by the drudgery 
and amidst the anguish of countless thousands, who, torn from 
their homes and their country, were condemned to drag out 
the remainder of their miserable life as mere beasts of burden. 
No existence can be conceived more utterly cheerless or more 
hopelessly wretched than that of the Moslem captive, whose 
only prospect of change from daily slavery on the public 
works was to be chained to the oar of a galley. Sometimes, 
however, it did happen that the f ortime of war favoured these 
poor victims, and that the enslaved crew of a galley encountering 
a friendly antagonist were recaptured and liberated from their 
thraldom. In such a case piquancy was added to their joy by 
the fact that the haughty masters who had so long made them 
toil, were, in their turn, condemned to the same retributive 
misery and an equally hopeless degradation. 


Election of L'Isle Adam — ^Fall of Belgrade — Gorreapondenoe with Solyman 
— ^Preparations for defence — Detail of the Turkish forces — ^Arrival of the 
Ottoman army at Rhodes — Commencement of the siege — ^Plot hy a 
female slave within the city — Detail of Turkish artillery — Construction 
of cavaliers — ^Mining operations — Assault on the tower of St. Mary — 
Repeated attacks and their repulse — Accusations against the chancellor 
D'Amaral — His trial and execution — ^Devotion of the Rhodian women — 
Negotiations for surrender — ^Terms offered hy Solyman — Their accept- 
ance, and close of the siege hy the surrender of the island. 

On the death of Carretto, as recorded in Chapter XII., 
a warm contest ensued for the election of his successor, the 
names of three candidates having been brought forward by their 
respective partisans. One of these was Andrew D'Amaral, or, as 
he was sometimes called, Del Miral, who was at the time the 
chancellor of the Order. His arrogance and haughty temper 
had, however, created him too many enemies to render his 
success in the slightest degree probable. The weight of the 
struggle lay, therefore, between the other two candidates, Thomas 
Docwra, or Dooray, the grand-prior of England, and Philip 
Villiers de L'Isle Adam, grand-prior of France. Dooray was a 
man whose experience in diplomacy had rendered his name 
celebrated amongst the fraternity. He was, moreover, in the 
possession of a magnificent private fortune, a fact which added 
greatly to the weight of his claims; but as the whole of 
the French interest was centred in L'Isle Adam, and as that 
interest was overpoweringly great, the vote was decided against 
Docray, and L'Isle Adam was proclaimed the forty-second 

Docray was among the first to offer his warm congratula- 
tions to his successful rival, all the more sincere possibly, as the 


340 A History of 

post was at the moment one of the most serious responsibility 
and difficulty. D'Amaral, on the other hand, felt so keenly 
the slight which he considered his rejection had cast on him, 
that he gave way to the most unwarrantable bitterness of 
temi)er. Whilst in this mood he is reported to have uttered 
a speech which was subsequently quoted against him, and 
which materiaUy aaaiflted in bringing him to the scaffold. 
He was supposed to have remarked, upon hearing of the 
election of L'Isle Adam, that he would be the last Gband- 
Master of Ehodes. 

L'Isle Adam was residing in his priory at the time of his 
election, but sensible of the importance o£ the crisis, and the 
imminence of the danger which threatened the convent, he set 
sail at once for Ehodes in the great carrack which had been 
despatched to Marseilles for his conveyance. A succession of 
disasters overtook the little squadron during the voyage. On 
one occasion the carrack caught fire, and was only saved by the 
Btrenaons exertione of the crew. Immediately afterwards tiiey 
were assailed by a violent tempest, in the midst of which the 
ship was struck by lightning. Nine of the crew were killed, 
and L'Isle Adam's sword, which was hanging by his side, was 
destroyed, without, however, causing the slightest injury to 
his person. Such a combination of untoward circumstances 
excited the superstition of his attendants, and they earnestly 
besought him to abandon the voyage. L'Isle Adam was 
not the man to be deterred from his purpose by vague 
terrors, and so in spite of every obstacle he held steadily on 
his course. Whilst at Syracuse, he learnt that the pirate 
Curtoglu was hovering around Cape St. Angelo with the object 
of effecting his capture. Passing the point of peril under 
cover of night, he succeeded in evading the treacherous corsair, 
and reached Ehodes in safety. 

In the summer of that year Solyman brought the siege of 
Belgrade to a successful conclusion, and his banner waved in 
triumph over its ruined ramparts. This victory accomplished, 
the Ottoman emperor found himself at leisure to turn his 
attention once more to that dream of his youthful ambition, the 
capture of Rhodes.* The recollection that the forces of his 

* His father's last words to him had been, *' You will be a great and 

the Knights of Malta. 341 

ancestor had been driven in confusion from its shores only 
rend^ the project aU the more attoaotive in his eyes. In 
addition to the desire which he naturally felt to remove the 
stigma cast on the Turkish arms by the former failure, it would 
be to him a great enhancement of glory to succeed in an under«- 
taking in which so mighty a monarch as Mahomet had failed. 
In this ambitious view he was warmly seconded by many of his 
courtiers, although in the divan opinions were much divided 
on the subject. 

The more cautious amongst his counsellors remembered with 
bitterness the stupendous preparations made on the former 
occasion by Mahomet. They recalled to mind the tempting 
inducements and promising assurances then held out by the 
traitorous adventurers in his confidence, all of which only 
resulted in the most miserable failure. The tide of invasion had 
rolled ignominiously back from those island bulwarks which 
the knights of St. John rendered an impassable barrier. These 
sage advisers pointed out that the garrison of Ehodes was very 
differently composed from those of the numerous fortresses 
which had succumbed to the Ottoman arms; that the town 
itself was at this time fortified far more completely and 
elaborately than it had been in 1480 ; that the recollection of 
their former success would nerve the knights ajid inhabitants to 
resist to the death any aggression on their island ; and, lastly, 
that the powerful force necessary for such an undertaking could 
be far more usefully and brilliantly employed in other direc- 
tions. To these arguments the supporters of the entexprise 
retorted that the failure of Mahomet's attack was mainly due 
to the fact that he was not himself present ; they urged that 
that very failure rendered it highly advisable to wipe away 
the reproach cast on the military fame of the empire, and they 
further added that they had received trustworthy notification 
that the bastion of Auvergne had been thrown down with a 
view to its reconstruction on a better line. It seemed, there- 
fore, that the present opportunity of attacking the place should 
be seized, whilst a breach was open through which they might 
enter with facility. 

powerful monarch, provided you capture Belgrade, and drive away the 
knights from Rhodes*" 

342 A History of 

This pieoe of information had been forwarded to Constanti- 
nople by a spy who had been maintained in Ehodes for some 
years in the pay of the Ottoman government. He was a Jewish 
physician who had been despatched thither by the emperor 
Selim for the express purpose of obtaining intelligence as to the 
state of the dty. His profession had secured him a ready 
entrance and a warm welcome at Khodes, where the impending 
prospect of a siege seemed to render him a yaluable acquisition, 
and he maintamed his clandestine correspondence with the Porte 
for a considerable time unsuspected. It was only at the very 
crisis of the siege that his treachery was discovered, and he 
himself rendered incapable of inflicting any further mischief. 

Chief amongst those who urged Solyman to undertake an 
attack on Ehodes were his brother-in-law, Mustapha pasha, 
and the pirate Curtoglu, both of whom trusted to derive wealth 
and distinction by the enterprise. Their counsels, which accorded 
so well with the promptings of his own ambition, decided the 
emperor to carry out the project. As a preliminary measure, 
and to test the determination of his antagonists, he wrote to the 
new Qrand-Master a letter couched in the following terms : — 
'^Solyman the sultan, by the grace of Gk)d, king of kings, 
sovereign of sovereigns, most high emperor of Byzantium and 
Trebizond, very powerful king of Persia, of Arabia, of Syria, 
and of Egypt, supreme lord of Europe and of Asia, prince of 
Mecca and Aleppo, lord of Jerusalem and ruler of the universal 
sea, to Philip YiUiers de L'lsle Adam, Grand-Master of the 
island of Ehodes, greeting, I congratulate you upon your new 
dignity and upon your arrival within your territories. I trust 
that you will rule there prosperously and with even more glory 
than your predecessors. I also mean to cultivate your favour. 
Eejoice then with me as a veiy dear friend that, following in 
the footsteps of my father, who conquered Persia, Jerusalem, 
Arabia, and Egypt, I have captured that most powerful of 
fortresses, Belgrade, during the late autumn, after which, 
having offered battle to the Giaours, which they had not the 
courage to accept, I took many other beautiful and well-f ortifled 
cities, and destroyed most of their inhabitants either by sword 
or fire, the remainder being reduced to slavery. Now, after 
sending my numerous and victorious army into their winter 

tlie Knights of Malta. 343 

quarters, I myself have rbtumed in triumph to my court at 
Constantinople." L'Isle Adam was not slow in perceiving the 
covert menace of this letter. He therefore returned a reply 
breathing a still more open spirit of hostility. It ran as 
follows: — ^Brother Philip Villiers de L'Isle Adam, Qrand- 
Master of Ehodes, to Solyman, sultan of the Turks, I have 
right weU comprehended the meaning of your letter, which has 
been presented to me by your ambassador. Your propositions 
for a peace between us are as pleasing to me as they will be 
obnoxious to Curtoglu. This pirate, during my voyage from 
France, tried to capture me unawares, in which, when he failed, 
owing to my having passed into the Ehodian Sea by night, he 
endeavoured to plunder certain merchantmen that were being 
navigated by the Venetians; but scarcely had my fleet left their 
port than he had to fly and to abandon the plunder which he 
had seized from the Cretan merchants. Farewell." 

To this bold epistle the sultan again replied, and endeavoured 
to inveigle the Gband-Master into sending a dignitary of the 
Order as an ambassador to Constantinople. He was in hopes 
that he might thus be enabled to extort valuable information 
with respect to the island and fortifications. L'Isle Adam was 
too well acquainted with Turkish treachery to intrust any 
member of his fraternity to the power of the wily Solyman, and 
the event shortly proved the wisdom of his precaution. A native 
of Ehodes, who had been despatched by his fellow-townsmen to 
open a negotiation with the Turks on the Lycian shore, was 
treacherously made captive and carried away to Constantinople. 
There, with the most complete disregard of the laws of civilized 
nations, he was, by order of Solyman, cruelly tortured, and a 
confession extorted from him of all that he knew concerning the 
f ortiflcations of Ehodes. 

It was now clear that no negotiation could any longer stave 
ofi the impending blow, and L'Isle Adam prepared himself with 
prompt energy to resist it manfully. Envoys were sent to all 
the courts of Europe to implore assistance in a struggle the 
result of which might prove a matter of so great moment to 
Christendom. Unfortunately, the emperor Charles V. and the 
French king Francis were too deeply engaged in their own 
broils to give any heed to the cry for assistance which arose 

344 A History of 

from the shores of Ehodes. The oommanderieB had all fur- 
nished suoh contingents as it was in their power to contribute, 
and it became clear to L'Isle Adam that he would haye to trust 
for success far more to the spirit of his troops than to their 
numbers. Only one of the numerous embassies which he had 
despatched was prosperous in its issue, and this was the mission 
to Candia, which he had intrusted to Anthony Bosio, a serving- 
brother of considerable talent and sagacity, and related to the 
celebrated historian <A the Order. This able negotiator suc- 
ceeded in bringing back with him not only an ample supply of 
stores, but also 500 Cretan archers, in those days highly 
esteemed for their skill with the cross-bow. He had likewise 
attracted into the service of the knights the Venetian engineer, 
G-abriel Martinigo, whose reputation as a master of that science 
stood so high that his presence in Shodes was hailed with 

Martinigo was so much impressed with the devotion and zeal 
which he noticed on every side, that he formed a desire to join 
the ranks of the fraternity, and made an application to that 
effect to the Gband-Master. As Martinigo was a man of good 
family and unmarried, no obstacle was placed in the way of 
accomplishing his wishes, and the knights greeted with joy this 
important acquisition to their ranks. He was at once named a 
grand-cross, and a large pension assigned to him, the whole 
charge of the fortifications being vested in his hands. Various 
additions were at his .suggestion made to the defences; the 
gates were covered with ravelins, casemates were constructed in 
the flanks of the bastions, and the counterscarps were mined at 
such points as seemed most likely to be made use of by assault- 
ing columns. Within the town barricades were erected in the 
principal streets, in the hope of protracting the contest even 
after the ramparts had been penetrated. 

L'Isle Adam now caused a careful inspection to be made 
of his little garrison. The members of each langue were drawn 
up in front of their respective auberges, fully armed and 
accoutred, each being inspected by a knight of a different 
langue. Every individual was called on in turn to swear with 
his hand on the cross hilt of his sword that the equipments in 
which he was then paraded were his own property, and had not 

the Knights of Malta. 345 

been borrowed for the oooasion. In this manner L'Isle Adam 
satisfied himself of the complete preparation of his little f oroe. 

The number of English knights present at the siege has not 
been recorded. Mention has only been made of the names of 
twenty, but this must have fallen far short of the number 
actually present. Conspicuous among these stands John Bouch, 
or Buck, the Turoopolier, who was selected as one of four 
leaders of supporting bodies destined to act as reserves, to be in 
readiness to carry succour wherever their services might seem to 
be most urgently needed. The commander of the English 
bastion, or tower of St. Mary, was Nicholas Hussey, whibt the 
leader of the troops apportioned for the defence of the English 
quarter was William Onascon.* 

In like manner L'Isle Adam himself undertook the defence 

* The names of the English knights which have been preserved are as 
follows : — 

John Bouch, or Buck, Turoopolier, 

Nicholas Hussey, commander of the 

English bastion, or tower of St. 

William Onascon, commander of the 

English quarter. 
Thomas Sheffield, commander of the 

palace postern. 
Nicholas Farfan, in the suite of the 

Henry Mansel, in the suite of the 

Grand-Master, killed. 
William Weston. 

John Ranson, or Bawson; 

William Tuest (? West). 

John Baron. 

Thomas Remberton, or Pemberton. 

George Asfelz. 

John Lotu. 

Francis Buet (? Butt). 

Giles Rosel f? Russell). 

G^rge Emer (? Aylmer). 

Michael Rous. 

Nicholas Usel. 

Otho de MontseUi, or Monteflli. 

Nicholas Roberts. 

The last-named knight wrote an account of the siege to the earl of Surrey 
{vide Appendix No. 8). It has been suggested, and with much probability, 
that the William Onascon, commander of the English quarter, is the same as 
the William Weston who stands a little below him on the list. The latter 
was a very distinguished knight, and was not long after made grand-prior of 
England. He would, therefore, have been a likely person to be selected as 
commander of the quarter for that Umgue, If this be so, the number of 
names would be reduced tO' nineteen. Although there is no record of the 
deaths of any of these knights except Buck and Mansell, it is probable that 
the majority of them lost their Hves in the siege, as it is stated that, 
owing to the numerous casualties amongst the members of the English 
lanffue, the defence of the tower of St. Mary had eyentually to be transferred 
to knights of other languea* 

346 A History of 

of the quarter of St. Mary of Victory, the point where the last 
and most desperate struggle had taken place in the previous siege, 

A commission was appointed, consisting of the chancellor 
D'Amaral, the Turcopolier John Buck, and Gabriel de Pomeroys, 
whose duty it was to examine into the stores of provisions and 
ammunition contained within the arsenals of the city. They 
reported that the supply of both was ample, and that no further 
provision of either was necessary. As a matter of fact the 
ammunition of the besieged soon fell short, and this deficiency 
was one of the main causes which led to the loss of Bhodes. 
This report, by which the Ghrand-Master was misled as to the 
state of his magazines, was brought forward against the unf or- 
timate D'Amaral as an additional proof of the treason of which, 
as we shall presently see, he was convicted. The absurdity of 
the accusation is apparent ; the treason, if such it were, must 
have been shared in by his brother commissioners, against whose 
fair fame no suspicion has ever attached. Nothing, in fact, is 
more likely than that the commissioners should have imder- 
estimated the expenditure of powder. The siege was much 
more protracted than the former one, whilst the amount of 
powder consumed in the mining operations of Martinigo, emi- 
nently successful as they were, went far towards exhausting the 
supply, and could hardly have been foreseen or provided for 
by D'Amaral or his associates. 

D'Amaral, unfortimately for himself, was of so haughty 
and turbulent a disposition, that he was perpetually adding 
to the number of his antagonists, and giving them some fresh 
pretext upon which to fotmd additional accusations against 
him. Thus, at this critical moment he headed a cabal which 
broke out amongst the knights of the Italian langt^e^ who, 
under the excuse that the Pope was assuming the patronage of 
their commanderies, requested permission to depart for Rome 
so as to plead their cause in person before his Holiness. 
This request was very naturally refused by L'Isle Adam, who, 
at the moment he was expecting to see the whole power of 
the Ottoman empire arrayed against him, could ill spare the 
services of a single knight. D'Amaral, stiU undoubtedly smart- 
ing tmder a sense of jealousy at the preference shown for 
Xi'Isle Adam, prompted them to take for themselves the leave 

the Knights of Malta. 347 

which had been refused by the Grand-Master. . They followed 
his suggestions, and, departing by night, secretly proceeded to 

L'Isle Adam was dismayed at this serious defection from his 
force, abeady too feeble for its duties. His was not, however, 
the character to swerve from the path of duty through any 
motive of expediency. In the present dilemma his course was 
prompt and decisive, and, as is usually the case, when men 
guide themselves by the strict rules of justice, it was in the 
end eminently successful. He at once smnmoned a general 
ootmcil, before which he arraigned the recusant knights, and in 
their absence judgment was passed by default. They were 
sentenced to be deprived of their habit, and expelled the 
fraternity as unworthy members who had treacherously and 
pusillanimously abandoned their brethren during a crisis of 
extreme danger. This sentence soon brought the fugitives to a 
sense of their duty. They had abandoned the island, not from 
cowardice or from disinclination to share the common peril, but 
simply from a feeling of insubordination, aroused in a moment 
of pique and irritation against the Grand-Master. The view 
which had been taken of their conduct by the coimcil touched 
their honour deeply. Instantly hiirrying back to Ehodes they 
threw themselves at the feet of L'Isle Adam, imploring a remis- 
sion of the sentence, and that they might be permitted to wash 
away in the blood of the infidel all recollection of their miscon- 
duct To this petition L'Isle Adam at once assented. He was 
naturally overjoyed at the prospect of recalling so many gallant 
spirits to his standard, and during the lengthened struggle 
which ensued the conduct of the Italian knights was such that 
he had no cause to regret the leniency he had shown. 

The total strength of the garrison, the inspection of which 
L'Isle Adam had caused to be made, amounted only to 600 
knights and 4,500 men-at-arms. In addition to this force of 
regular troops, many of the inhabitants had enrolled them- 
selves as a voltmteer body, and were formed into battalions. 
The sailors of the galleys were also landed, and composed a 
naval brigade. The peasants who flocked into the town from 
the surrounding country were made useful as pioneers, perform- 
ing most of the manual labour which the small number of the 

348 A History of 

troops rendered them unable to execute for themselves. A 
desoription of the fortress has been given in Chapter XII., 
showing what portion of the general line was attached to each 
langue. It remains only to say that the reserve was divided 
into four bodies, commanded respectively by the chancellor 
D'Amaral, who was to support the quarters of Auvergne and 
Germany; the Turcopolier, John Buck, for Spain and England; 
the grand-prior of France, Peter de Cluys, for France and 
Castile; and the grand-prior of Navarre, George de Morgut, 
for Provence and Italy. The Grand-Master himself, with his 
lieutenant, Gabriel de Pomeroys, at the head of his body-guard, 
was reserved for general purposes. The tower of St. Nicholas 
was placed tmder the command of Guyot de Castellan, a knight 
of Provence, and was garrisoned by twenty knights and 300 

L'Isle Adam did not content himself with merely making 
these military dispositions. He also directed prayers and 
intercessions to be offered in all the churches, invoking the 
intervention of the Almighty to rescue them from their 
enemies. The town was divided into two creeds, the Latin 
and the Greek At the head of each was an archbishop, the 
Latin dignitary being Leonard Balestin, and the Greek, 
Clement. Fortunately these ecclesiastics zealously co-operated 
with each other for the public weal, and maintained the most 
complete harmony between their respective flocka They both 
issued most earnest exhortations to secure faithful and un- 
swerving obedience to their common chief. The address of 
the Greek archbishop has been recorded by Fontanus, and 
is an excellent specimen of the declamation of the period. 
L'Isle Adam was certainly fortunate in possessing, at this crisis, 
two .such able and energetic coadjutors, men whose position 
gave them ample power to sway the opinions and feelings of 
their countrymen. 

The emperor Solyman was, during this time, busily en- 
gaged in collecting his forces in readiness for an attack on 
the island, and when all was prepared he, as a last measure, 
prior to commencing operations, despatched the following 
summons to surrender : — " The sultan Solyman, to Villiers de 
L'Isle Adam, Grand-Master of Ehodes, to his knights and to 

the KnigJUs of Malta. 349 

the people at large. Your monstrous injuries against my most 
afflicted people have aroused my pity and indignation. I 
command you, therefore, instantly to surrender the island and 
fortress of S>hodes, and I give you my gracious permission to 
depart in safety with the most precious of your effects, or if 
you desire to remain under my government I shall not require 
of you any tribute, or do aught in diminution of your liberties 
or against your religion. If you are wise you will prefer 
friendship and peace to a cruel war. Since, if you are con- 
quered, you will have to undergo all such miseries as are 
usually inflicted by those that are victorious, from which you 
will not be protected, either by your own forces, or by external 
aid, or by the strength of your fortifications, which I will 
overthrow to their foimdations. K, therefore, you prefer my 
friendship to war there shall be neither fraud nor stratagem 
tised against you. I swear this by the God of heaven, the 
Creator of the earth, by the four Evangelists, by the 4,000 
prophets who have descended from heaven, chief amongst whom 
stands Mahomet, most worthy to be worshipped, by the shades 
of my grandfather and father, and by my own sacred, august, 
and imperial head." 

This letter was read by L'Isle Adam in full cotmcil. It 
was at once decreed that no other reply should be accorded 
than such as could be borne by the guns of the town. Any 
further parley would, indeed, have been fruitless, for by the 
time that this letter was being read at Bhodes, viz., on 
the 14th June, 1522, every preparation for the immediate 
commencement of the siege had been completed by Solyman. 
Mustapha pasha had been selected as the leader of his 
land forces, and Curtoglu, as admiral of the fleet, had the 
management of everything connected with their transport. 
The question of the strength of the Ottoman army is some- 
what difficult to determine. Vertot, and most of the other 
European historians, place it at 140,000 men-at-arms, sup- 
plemented by 60,000 peasants from WaUachia and Bosnia, 
who were destined to execute the pioneering operations of 
the besieging force. These figures sound incredibly large 
when .placed in comparison with a garrison which could only 
count from six to seven thousand men of all ranks and 

350 A History of 

descriptions. When we look to the Turkish historians the 
matter does not become much dearer. Ahmed Hafiz speaks 
of 40,000 rowers for the galleys, with 25,000 infantry on 
board ; but these figures only refer to the force which originally 
started from Constantinople, and take no account of those which 
the sultan afterwards broiight up with him when he proceeded 
in person to Bhodes. It may therefore well be that even if a 
liberal discount be taken o£E the numbers given by the Christian 
historians, enough will remain to show that the disproportion 
between the forces of the besiegers and besieged was far greater 
than usual. 

The naval armament by which the troops were transported, 
together with the maUriel and stores, numbered, according 
to Hafiz, 700 sail, of which 500 were galleys. Curiously 
enough, these figures are far larger than thosS given by the 
Christian writers, who specify only 400 sail, of which 100 
were galleys. An advanced detachment, consisting of thirty 
vessels, piloted the way to the scene of action, and pouring 
upon the smaller islands, the defenders of which had been 
withdrawn, carried sword and ravage in every direction. In 
the island of Lango, however, the fortress of which was still 
maintained, they met with a decided repulse. The com- 
mandant, a French knight named Prejan de Bidoux, at the 
head of his force, dashed at the disembarking marauders 
and drove them back in confusion to their ships. Awed 
by this act of determination they sheered off, and bore away 
in the direction of Ehodes. 

Early on the morning of the 26th of June a signal from 
St. Stephen's hill conveyed intelligence into the city that 
the Turkish fleet was in sight. It was within the octave 
of the feast of St. John, during which period it had always 
been the custom at Bhodes for a procession to pass through 
the principal streets of the town. L'Isle Adam, anxious as 
far as possible to calm and reassure the terror-stricken popula- 
tion, directed that this procession should pursue its usual 
course, although the hostile fleet was at that moment studding 
the horizon. The procession over, high mass was celebrated 
in St. John's church. At its conclusion the Gfrand-Master 
approached the altar, and moimting its steps he elevated 

the Knights of Malta. 351 

the Host in the presence of the assembled multitude, and 
poured forth a prayer on behalf of the people committed to 
his charge, that the Almighty would deign to give them 
fortitude to defend His holy religion, and that the fire and 
sword, the slaughter and rapine, the destruction and slavery 
with which they were menaced, might through His infinite 
mercy be averted. L'Isle Adam was recognized as one of 
the first soldiers and most trusted leaders of the day. He 
was at the same time equally eminent for the fervour of his 
piety and the earnestness of his religious zeal. When, there- 
fore, on this eventful morning he thus consecrated his cause 
to Heaven, and appealed to the Most High in terms of 
eloquent and touching supplication against the foe by whom 
his dty and Order were menaced, all felt that under the 
leadership of such a man they were in good hands, and that 
if it were decreed that they should prosper, none could better 
carry the fiat into efiect. 

The religious ceremony concluded, the doors of the church 
were closed and the garrison directed to repair to their 
respective posts. The gates were shut, the bridges raised, 
banners were hoisted on the various bastions, and all stood 
awaiting the first scene of the bloody drama. The Gfrand-Master, 
clad in magnificent gilt armour, rode at the head of his guards 
with three knights beside him, one bearing the grand standard of 
the Order, the second a banner presented to D'Aubusson by the 
Pope, and the third a fiag emblazoned with his own coat 
of arms. This latter was borne by a young English knight 
named Henry Mansell, who was killed early in the siege. 

Not a man, woman, or child on that eventful morning 
remained within doors. Every point from whence the motions 
of the hostile fieet could be observed was thronged with anxious 
gazers. Many there were within that crowd, men whose hair 
time had sprinkled with silver, who, looking back throiigh a long 
vista of years, could call to mind a scene very similar to that 
on which their eyes were now bent, when forty-two years since 
their seas had been covered with the fleet of that proud empire 
between which and themselves an undying animosity was ever 
burning. Then the G^od of battles had declared for their side, 
and they had triumphed gloriously. He had aided them to 

352 A History of 

hurl baok the ruthless invader from their shores, and the bones 
of thousands who had onoe mustered in that proud array lay 
whitened beneath their soil. The husbandman still, in the 
preparation of his land, every now and again turned up some 
relic to remind him of that strife of which he was so justly 
proud, and amidst those verdant plains with which the city 
was surrounded, many a patch of green more brilliant than the 
rest was pointed out as the spot where lay one of those numerous 
masses of slain, buried in haste and confusion after the retreat 
of their fellows. 

"With all these memoriaLs of their former victory before their 
eyes, with the knowledge that the Ehodes of to-day was far 
more powerful and capable of resistance than that which had 
maintained itself so successfully forty years before, with the 
strains of martial music filling the air and exhilarating their 
hearts, with the summer sun flashing its rays upon many a 
knightly crest and broidered pennon, it was natural that they 
should enjoy a sense of confidence amoimting to exultation, and 
that they should look with a feeling well-nigh of certainty for 
the moment when the foe, once more recoiling in dismay from 
their ramparts, should seek an ignominious safety in flight. 

Some there were, however, whose hearts, in spite of all these 
brilliant auguries of success, were filled with dread. They well 
knew that the might of Mahomet was, even at its zenith, far 
inferior to that of the emperor who now occupied his throne. 
Solyman's career had, to the present moment, been one unbroken 
succession of triumphs; the power had not as yet appeared 
which could withstand the vigour of his attack ; the army which 
was now pouring its endless battalions upon the shores of their 
fair isle far exceeded that which they had before successfully 
resisted, not in mere numbers only, but in every detail of its 
equipment, and was led by generals trained to victory beneath 
the redoubted banner of their sultan. Under these conditions 
it might well prove that the constancy and bravery even of the 
knights of St. John would be unavailing, and that they might 
yet live to see the day when the Moslem standard should wave 
over those ramparts whereon they were now standing, and which 
had been for upwards of 200 years maintained in proud and 
honourable security. 

the Knights of Malta. 35 


The chief difficulty against which L'Isle Adam had to 
contend was the paucity of his garrison. Numerous tempting 
opportunities presented themselves for opposing the besiegers 
whilst they were disembarking. Any such efforts, however, 
must have involved a certain amount of loss, and as, considering 
the enormous disproportion between the Turkish forces and his 
own, no comparatively minor advantage could compensate for 
any diminution of his strength, the Grand-Master was obliged 
to curb the ardour of his followers, and to permit advances to 
be made which had his numbers been greater he would have 
been able to check. 

It is recorded by Fontanus, in his history of this siege, that 
a Florentine named Girolamo Bartolini brought forward a 
project whereby the whole Turkish navy was to be destroyed 
at a blow, presumably by means of some explosive substance. 
L'Isle Adam declined the preferred aid, and this refusal has, 
by many of the contemporary writers, been attributed to the 
malign influence of D'Amaral. "We may, however, safely 
assume that the clear judgment of the Ghrand-Master had dis- 
covered the chimerical nature of the proposal, and that he did 
not allow himself to be weakly guided by others when declining 
its adoption. 

The disembarkation of the besieging army, which extended 
over several days, proceeded without interruption from the 
defenders, who were busily engaged throughout this period in 
making their last preparations to meet the coming storm. All 
preliminary measures having been taken, the Turks broke 
ground imder cover of a cannonade, and conmienced the con- 
struction of trenches with the aid of the Wallachian peasants, 
whom they had brought for the purpose. The knights, on their 
side, harassed the advances of the working parties by constant 
sorties. These checks greatly impeded the operations of the 
besiegers, whilst vast numbers of the defenceless pioneers fell 
beneath the swords of their assailants. 

From the very commencement of the expedition disaffec- 
tion had shown itself in the Turkish army. Upon the first 
appearance of the fleet a deserter had succeeded in making his 
escape from one of the ships, and reached St. Nicholas's tower, 
swimming a distance stated to be between six and seven miles, 


354 A History of 

under cover of the night. This fugitive, after having given 
correct information as to the magnitude of the force, stated that 
there was great reluctance on the part of the janissaries to 
engage in the operation. The failure of the former siege was 
well known to them, and the almost superhuman valoiu* dis- 
played on that occasion by the knights of St. John had lost 
none of its terrors by constant repetition. They were well 
aware that since that day much had been done to strengthen 
the fortress, and they looked upon Ehodes, defended as it was 
by such a frowning mass of batteries, and held by the lion 
hearts before whom their forefathers had so often recoiled, as 
almost impregnable. 

The ill success of their first attempts in pushing forwcord the 
siege works, and the fearful slaughter of the pioneers by the 
harassing sorties of the knights, completed their disaffection. 
Murmurs and remonstrances soon became loud throughout the 
camp, and it was with difficulty that the troops could be 
induced to advance to what they considered certain destruc- 
tion. Pir Mehmed pasha (called in most of the European 
histories Pyrrhus pasha), a general and counsellor in whom 
Solyman placed the greatest confidence, deemed it necessary 
to report this disaffection to his master, informing him that 
nothing short of his own immediate presence on the spot could 
control the turbulence of the mutineers. Solyman had from 
the first intended to take part in the siege in person, but this 
message hastened his movements, and he soon appeared on the 
scene at the head of a large body of troops.* 

By a judicious mixture of clemency and severity, he rapidly 
restored the spirit of his army, and the late mutineers, ashamed 
in the presence of their sultan of the murmurings and in- 
subordination in which they had so lately indulged, now became 

• The Turkish account of the sultan's arrival at Rhodes differs somewhat 
from the above, which is taken from the narratives of the European his- 
torians. According to Ahmed Hafiz, the force which first landed only 
consisted of the troops usually carried in the fleet, together with the 
Wallachian peasantry. The sultan advanced by land at the head of the 
real army, and the fleet having returned to Asia Minor for the purpose, 
he embarked with his forces, and was conveyed to Rhodes. The date 
of his landing is uncertain, but it must have been somewhere about the 
middle of July. 

the Knights of Malta. 355 

fired with an anxious desire to distinguish themselves and 
merit his approbation. 

Meanwhile a plot of the most dangerous character had 
been discovered within the city,* the details of which 
had been arranged, and were to have been carried into 
execution, by a woman. She was a Turkish slave, who, eager 
for the success of her countrymen, and at the same time 
anxious to regain her own freedom, devised a scheme for setting 
fire to the town at several points, and giving admission to the 
besiegers during the confusion that would ensue. This design 
she communicated io several of her fellow-slaves, and had 
even been able to establish communications with the Turkish 
leaders. The hour for the attempt was fixed, and all the 
necessary arrangements made to insure success, when by 
some inadvertency on the part of one of the confederates, 
the plot became revealed to the authorities. The conspirators 
were at once seized and subjected to torture, under the pressure 
of which a confession was extorted from all concerned, excepting 
only the daring female who had devised the scheme, and who 
stoutly maintained her innocence. Her constancy remained 
unshaken to the last, and she suffered the extreme penalty of 
the law without having uttered one word to inculpate either 
herself or others. Of her guQt, however, if such an attempt can 
be called guilt on the part of one who was suffering all the 
cruelties and privations of slavery, there can be no doubt. Her 
severed limbs were exposed on the ramparts, where they served 
as a warning to deter others similarly situated from any further 
projects of the kind. 

Suspicions of treason throughout this siege appear to have 
been very prevalent, and the rumours to that effect which 
were constantly circulating engendered a universal feeling 
of distrust highly prejudicial to the maintenance of good 
discipline. Many of these suspicions were entirely groundless ; 
but there lurked within the ramparts an amoimt of treachery 
amply sufficient to account for their existence. The Jewish 
doctor was still residing within the town,* and he succeeded in 

* The name of this person has not been recorded. It has by some 
writers been supposed that he was a myth, and that it was D'Amaral who 
was guilty of the treasonous acts imputed to the Jew. This, however, 


356 A History of 

maintaiiiing intercourse with the besiegers whereby much 
valuable information was made known to them. It was by 
his suggestion that the Turkish artillery was turned against the 
campanile beside St. John's church, from which elevated spot 
the besieged had been able to overlook the whole Turkish camp 
and to trace their operations in the trenches. A few days' 
practice at so elevated a target sufficed to achieve its overthrow, 
and the knights were thus deprived of a post of observation 
which they had found extremely useful. 

The numerous sorties in which the garrison had indulged 
during the construction of the trenches materially impeded, it 
is true, the operations of the Turks, and caused the slaughter 
of vast numbers of their WaUachian pioneers, but these suc- 
cesses had not been gained without loss. The same feeling 
which prompted Ij'Isle Adam to refrain from any attempt 
to check the disembarkation of the Turks made him now 
again give strict orders that ^ further sorties were to be 
abandoned. The Turks were thus able to complete their works 
without any other hindrance than that which was caused 
by the ceaseless play of artillery brought to bear on every 
part of the trenches, and, as Ahmed Hafiz admits, with 
wonderful precision and accuracy. The cessation of these 
sallies prevented the capture of any more prisoners, and 
L'Isle Adam was no longer made acquainted with the move- 
ments taking place within the enemy's camp. In this 
dilemma a party of sailors undertook to obtain the required 
information. They dressed themselves as Turks and left the 
harbour during the night in a boat. They coasted along the 
shore, and speaking the enemy's language with facility, 
proceeded fearlessly into the midst of the Turkish camp. 
Thence they succeeded in inveigling two genuine Moslems into 
their boat and carried them off undiscovered into the town. 
The prisoners were taken to tjie top of St. John's tower, 
which had not as yet been demolished, and there they were 
questioned by Martinigo, the Venetian engineer, and two other 
knights. They were given plainly to understand that on 

could not be the case, as it will be seen further on that the doctor was 
discovered and suifered the penalty of death before the conclusion of the 

tJie Knights of Malta. 357 

displaying the least hesitation or prevarication in replying to 
their questioners, they would at onoe be hurled headlong from 
the dizzy height on which they stood. Under the pressure of 
this menace they disclosed all they knew. 

The order in which the besiegers' forces were posted thus 
became known to L'Isle Adam. Between the shore of Arohan- 
dia bay and the bastion of St. John were the troops of the vizier 
Fir Mehmed pasha ; to his left was Cassim pasha, who com- 
manded the division of Anatolia ; then that of Mustapha pasha, 
next to whom was Achmet pasha, whose division reached as far 
as the Amboise gate, the circuit being closed towards the north 
by the troops of the Beglier Bey of Roumelia, and the janis- 
saries under their chief, Baly Aga. Solyman had established 
his head-quarters on St. Stephen's hill. From the same source 
Martinigo learnt the strength of the battering train which had 
accompanied the Turkish army. This train included six brass 
guns with a calibre of 3 J palms,* fifteen others of from 5 to 6 
palms, twelve large bombards of from 9 to 10 palms, and two 
others still larger of 11 palms. In addition to these there were 
twelve basilisks of 8 palms and fifteen double cannon for throw- 
ing iron shot. There were also twelve brass mortars for vertical 
fire, throwing shot and shell of from 7 to 8 palms. From these 
mortars the gunners of the Turkish army anticipated great 
results, and an incessant fire was kept up from them upon the 
town. Bourbon records that they discharged 1,713 stone shot 
and eight brass balls filled with artificial fire during the early 
part of the siege. These latter were probably the first shells of 
which history has recorded the use, and from the fact that so 
few were thrown, we may perhaps conclude that they were not 
found to answer as well as was expected. 

The sultan had not long continued the direction of the siege 
when he discovered that, from the level of the ground in which 
his trenches were formed, he could gain no command over the 
works he was attacking. To obviate this diflBculty he directed 
two large cavaliers to be raised, one in front of the bastion of 
Italy, the other between the posts of Spain and Germany, near 
the gate of St. George. As the sites selected for these works 

*It has abeady been mentioned that these palms are supposed to be 2*9 
inches long. 

358 A History of 

were completely commanded by the guns of the town, and as, 
from the rapid manner in which the operation was pushed 
forward, it became evident that something of more than ordi- 
nary importance was contemplated, every battery which could 
be brought to bear on them was called into requisition, and the 
losses consequently sustained by the unfortunate pioneers were 
prodigious. Heaps of slain marked the rise of the structures, 
but as Solyman held the lives of these wretched peasants in 
no esteem, the labour was pushed forward with undiminished 
energy. In spite of every effort on the part of the defence, the 
mounds continued to rise higher and higher until at length they 
dominated over the ramparts in their front, and exposed the 
defenders to a galling fire from their summit. It is rather 
curious to see how differently the same events are described by 
the two sides. This is what the Turkish historian, Ahmed 
Hafiz, says on the subject : — " Mehmed pasha, without loss of 
time, directed Mustapha pa^ha to have a number of sand-bags 
filled, and to have them piled up as close as possible to the 
fortress in order to raise redoubts, which should reach the height 
of the crest of those works, for in this manner only did he hope 
to be able to carry them. The infidels, doubtless understanding 
the design, concentrated all their fire on the workmen, but their 
shot had no effect in the soft earth, killing, it is true, some 
persons, but not damaging the mounds, which soon reached the 
level of the parapets, so that the defenders could no longer man 
them with impimity." It is easy to see from this description 
that the slaughter of the WaUachian peasants made no impres- 
sion on the mind of the historian — some persons, it is true, were 
killed, but the raising of the mounds was the main object, and 
that was not impeded. 

Meanwhile a heavy fire was brought to bear against the tower 
of St. Nicholas and the post of Auvergne, but without success* 
The artillery directed against the besieging batteries by the 
skill of Martinigo, utterly annihilated their efficiency. A more 
general distribution of the besiegers' guns was then decided on, 
and for a whole month the air resounded with the roar of 
the cannonade, which in all directions was being concentrated 
upon the devoted town. The bastions of St. Mary and Italy 
soon began to show signs of the vigour with which they were 

the Knights of Malta. 359 

being attacked. At the former a new rampart had been con- 
Btructed, covering the old one, and this it was which gave way. 
The older escarp in its rear proved the better defence, and 
resisted the pounding of the hostile guns long after the other had 
been breached into ruins. 

Wherever the works showed signs of yielding to the cannonade, 
the unflagging energy of the defenders was called into play to 
repair the damages almost as rapidly as they were caused. In 
all directions new ditches were simk, and behind them reti'ench- 
ments were raised within the vulnerable points. Solyman at 
length perceived that with antagonists such as these, a simple 
war of artillery might last for ever. He determined, therefore, 
on pushing forward his attack upon different principles, and in 
accordance with the advice of his most trusted generals, he had 
recourse to mining. Shafts were sunk in various directions, 
and galleries driven forward beneath the principal bastions. 
Martinigo had foreseen the probability of this mode of approach, 
and the numerous countermines which he had prepared before 
the commencement of the siege materially assisted him in 
opposing it. By the simple aid of the distended parchment of 
a drum he was able to detect the vicinity of the enemy's miners 
through the vibration of the earth, and took his defensive 
measures accordingly. 

Unfortunately, two galleries which had been driven beneath 
the bastion of St. Mary, eluded his vigilance, and the first 
warning the defenders of that post received was an explosion 
wliich threw down the entire salient of the work. A battalion 
of Turks, which had been drawn up within their trenches, as soon 
as they heard the crash which betokened the downfall of the 
rampart,' dashed forward with a wild shout of triimiph, and 
mounting the still smoking breach, gained the summit before 
the defenders had recovered sufficient presence of mind to 
withstand the onslaught. Here they planted their victorious 
standard, and flushed with success, pushed forward with re- 
doubled ardour to secure the remainder of the work. They 
were, however, brought to a check by the retrenchment, behind 
which the knights, now recovered from their momentary con- 
fusion, opposed a steady and obstinate resistance. At this 
critical juncture the Grand-Master made his appearance on the 

360 A History of 

Boene, followed by his body-guard. He had been engaged in 
the celebration of mass in the chapel of St. Mary of Yictory. 
The alarm caused by the explosion arose at the moment when 
the officiating priest had intoded the prayer, "Dew* in ad- 
jutorium meum intended " I accept the augury," said the 
Grrand-Master, and turning to his followers, he exclaimed, 
"Come, my brethren, let us exchange the sacrifice of our 
prayers and praises for that of our lives, and let us die, if God 
so wills it, in defence of our religion." Eoused by this noble 
exhortation, they rushed to the scene of strife, hurled themselves 
into the midst of the contending battalions, and in a little 
while carried all before them. Foremost in the fray was 
L'Isle Adam, his gigantic frame conspicuous amidst his com- 
peers, as, armed with a short pike, he dashed at the foe, and 
by word and deed encouraged his followers to drive the 
invading Moslem. A few moments of desperate strife sufficed 
to attest the superiority, both moral and physical, of the knights 
of St. John. Cowering under the withering storm, the Turks, 
no longer able to advance, nor even to maintain themselves 
upon the ground abeady gained, gradually gave way, and 
were driven back in confusion through the breach which they 
had so shortly before entered in triumph. Mustapha pasha, 
whose division had furnished the assaulting columns, was 
watching the fortunes of the day from the advanced trenches, 
and had been congratulating himself with the idea that 
Rhodes was won. He was not permitted to indulge long 
in this pleasant dream, and his fury as he beheld his re- 
ceding battalions fleeing timiultuously from the scene of 
' strife knew no boimds. Hastily drawing his scimitar he 
rushed upon the foremost of the fugitives, and in the 
vehemence of his rage cut down several with his own hand, 
and thus checked the flight. Rallying the remainder he led 
them in person once more to the attack, and the struggle was 
again renewed. The advantage, however, had now been lost, 
so that it was not possible even for the valour of Mustapha to 
restore the fortunes of the day. Bravely he strove to penetrate 
within the ruiued rampart, but in vain. The breach was now 
crowned by those who were well able to maintain it, and the 
baffled and discomfited columns of the Moslem were eventually 

the Knights of Malta. 361 

forced to relinquish the strife, and to retire in despair to the 
shelter of their trenches. 

It would be a tedious task to describe the constant succession 
of assaults by which Solyman endeavoured to regain the advan- 
tage which had been lost on the first attempt. In each case, the 
means employed, both in the attack and defence, were always 
the same. The sudden alarm caused either by the explosion of a 
mine or the rush of a storming column, the hasty call to arms, 
the ringing of the beUs, whereby the impending danger was noti- 
fied to the garrison generally, the onset of the Moslem, the firm 
stand of the knights, the fiercely-shouted war-cry ringing out 
on either side, the roar of artillery, the incessant rattle of small 
arms, the fiashing of Greek fire, and the fatal hissing of the 
seething pitch poured on the foe as they clambered over the 
breach ; such were always the leading features of the picture ; 
what need therefore to repeat the tale P The results are the 
only real points of importance, and these were invariably the 
same. Though the assaulting colimms numbered thousands 
and tens of thousands selected from the flower of the Ottoman, 
army, whilst the defenders consisted of but a handful of 
Christians, harassed, exhausted, and weakened by their previous 
efforts, still upon each occasion the swarms of the infidel were 
forced to recoil from the impassable barrier. 

It is thus that Ahmed Hafiz describes some of these assaults : 
** The Mussulmans descended into the ditch, carrying their 
fascines with them, whilst the best marksmen fired on all who 
dared to show their heads above the crest of the parapet. 
Clinging to the walla like polypi, the assailants mounted 
steadily under the storm of fire and steel, which rained on them 
from the ramparts ; the noise of musketry, the discharge of 
cannon, the cries of the combatants filled the air with a con- 
fused tumult. Not content with receiving the victorious* with 
fire and steel, the besieged also poured on them caldrons of 
boiling pitch and tar. The brave soldiers of Islam fell by 
hundreds, and the angels opened the gates of Paradise to their 
souls, for from the summit of the fortress were hurled masses 
of rock and of metal upon the ladders crowded with men. By 

• Hafiz always speaks of the Ottoman forces as " the victorious," even 
when impartially recording their failures. 

362 A History of 

midday the number of the dead had become so great that it 
was necessary to suspend the attack, the corpses of the Mussul- 
mans were so numerous that they were huddled into trenches 
without counting them, but God certainly kept a pitying record 
of the number of the faithful whom He that day received into 
Paradise." And again, on another occasion — " In obedience to 
the orders given, the victorious of Islam rushed to the assault 
full of ardour; the fight was bloody; the dead of the Mussulman 
armv fell like rams destined to the sacrifice, under the terrible 
fire of the enemy's guns; the number of the victims was untold; 
still the fortress resisted the heroic efforts which were made 
against the infidels, so that exhausted at length the victorious 
of Islam were compelled to retire." Once more — " The division 
of Mustapha pasha having completed a mine, fired it; the 
damage done was considerable; all the infidels who defended this 
post were hurled up into the third heaven, and their souls were 
plunged into hell ; a large piece of wall having fallen, the road 
was open for the victorious, they threw themselves into the 
ditches, strove bravely to moimt the breach, and fought like 
heroes ; vain effort ; they were compelled to retire, leaving the 
ditch choked with the dead, and inundated with their generous 

It was thus that on the 13th, the 17th, and the 24th of Sep- 
tember the most furious attempts were made to carry the town. 
Upon the 13th the attack was on the Italian quarter; on the 
17th the English bastion of St. Mary withstood the violence 
of the assault, the Turcopolier, John Buck, falling gloriously at 
the head of his langue. Upon the 24th, in accordance with the 
proposals of Pir Mehmed, the attack was made simultaneously 
on aU sides. Even this gigantic effort of superior numbers 
failed utterly in its purpose. Although several temporary 
advantages enabled the besiegers to gain a footing upon the 
rampant and to plant their standard on its eimimit, still 
the success was in every instance but momentary, and the 
impetuous onset of the defenders ended by restoring the fortunes 
of the day. In order to encourage his troops by his own imme- 
diate presence, the sultan had caused a scaffold to be erected, 
from the height of which he might witness the assault. He 
had fired his soldiery with the prospect of booty, having given 

tlie Knights of Malta. 363 

up to them the whole plunder of the city. This offer, combined 

with the knowledge that they were fighting under the imme- 
diate eye of their sovereign, had roused them to a pitch of 
enthusiasm such as he fondly hoped must prove the precursor 
of victory. If the assailants were stimulated with the hope of 
gain and the prospect of distinction, the defenders, on the other 
hand, were equally nerved to the combat by their religious de- 
votion and by the energy which despair had brought to their aid. 
Solyman had, in consequence, the mortification of witnessing 
from his lofty post of observation the utter discomfiture of 
his forces. Sounding a retreat, he descended to his tent, and 
in the bitterness of his mortification resolved to wreak his 
vengeance on those who had originally counselled the expe- 
dition. Both Pir Mehmed and Mustapha were condemned to 
death, and the sentence woi^d have been carried into effect had 
not the other leaders interceded and persuaded him to reverse 
the decree. They were, however, banished from the camp, 
and compelled to return to Asia, whilst the siege was still in 
progress. The pirate admiral, Curtoglu, was reserved for a 
more humiliating fate, having to undergo the degradation of 
corporal punishment on the poop of his own galley, after 
which he was ignominiously expelled from the fieet, the reason 
alleged for this severity being that he had neglected to aid the 
land forces by making a naval diversion. 

Whilst these successes were enabling the garrison to main- 
tain their resistance, the first seeds of those disastrous results 
which eventually led to the loss of the town began to show 
themselves. Although before the commencement of the siege 
it had been reported to- L'Isle Adam by the commissioners 
appointed for that purpose, that the quantity of powder 
in the magazines was amply sufficient, even if the siege 
were protracted for a year, little more than a month had 
elapsed before it became manifest that the supply was too 
limited for the occasion. In addition to the powder in the 
magazines, there were large stores of saltpetre within the 
town, and L'Isle Adam promptly established a manufactory 
of gunpowder under the superintendence of two knights and 
a committee of citizens. Even with this aid it soon be- 
came necessary to practise the most rigid economy in the 

364 A History of 

expenditure of ammunition, and the efforts of the garrison 
were much impeded by this vital want. Curiously enough, 
we leam from Ahmed Hafiz that a similar difficulty arose 
in the besiegers' camp, and that their operations were for some 
time suspended whilst a portion of the fleet was engaged 
in fetching further supplies. 

Treason also shortly began to display itself. The incident 
of the female slave already recorded had created a dread of 
some similar attempt on the part of her feUow-slaves. Every 
one was on the alert, and whispers of treachery passed from 
ear to ear. At length the Jewish doctor, who had been placed 
in Rhodes as a spy by the sultan Selim, and who had contrived 
to maintain a correspondence with the Turkish leaders during 
the siege, was detected in thfe act of discharging a treasonable 
communication into the enemy's camp attached to an arrow. 
The evidence against him was positive and conclusive ; he was, 
nevertheless, subjected to torture. Under its influence he con- 
fessed to having informed the enemy of the scarcity of ammuni- 
tion, together with many other details tending to induce them 
to continue the siege. His fate was such as he richly deserved, 
but the mischief he had caused did not end with him. But for 
the information he had imparted, in all human probability 
Rhodes would not have fallen. 

As it was, the constant ill success which attended his 
efforts, and the fearful carnage which had decimated his troops, 
caused Solyman to pause and ponder weU the advisability of 
abandoning the enterprise. At that moment the fate of the 
town hung suspended in the balance, and a mere trifle would 
have inclined it either way. It was, indeed, a glorious sight to 
see an army which, on the most moderate computation, must 
have exceeded 100,000 in number, thus baffled and held at 
bay by a force reduced through its many casualties to little 
more than 3,000 fighting men. Those fortifications with which 
they had at such cost surroimded their city were now crumbling 
beneath the artillery and the mines of the enemy. Gaping 
breaches laid it open in every direction, and yet, destitute 
as they had become of even the ordinary necessaries of life, 
short of powder, food, and wine, they still protracted the 
defence with undiminished obstinacy, determined to maintain 

the K^iights of Malta. 365 


themselves whilst yet there remained a knight to oppose the 
entry of the Moslem. 

It is not surprising that in this desperate condition men 
should lend a ready ear to tales of treason. It was evident to 
all that spies were in the town ; everything that occurred was 
soon made known to Solyman, and many points in his attack 
had been altered in conformity with the information he had 
received. They knew not where to look for the traitor, and 
each one glanced fearfully at his neighbour, as though feeling 
that at such a moment no one could be trusted. At this crisis 
suspicion was directed against some of the chief dignitaries by a 
Spanish pilgrim, a female of great reputed sanctity, who was 
then residing at Rhodes, having lately returned from Jerusalem. 
This woman traversed the streets with bare feet, denouncing the 
leaders and asserting that the calamities then befalling the town 
were due to the vengeance of God called down by the iniquities 
of some of those who ruled over their fortunes. No names were 
mentioned, but the general suspicion being thus turned in a 
particular direction it required but little to create a victim, and 
this was ere long effected. 

Whilst the ferment was at its height a servant of the 
chancellor D'Amaral, named Blaise Diaz, was detected on tlie 
bastion of Auvergne with a bow in his hand. As this was 
not the first time he had been seen under similar circumstances 
he was arrested and brought before the Grand-Master. By 
his instructions the man was interrogated before the judges of 
the castellany, and imder the influence of torture averred that 
he had been employed by his master to discharge treasonable 
correspondence into the enemy's camp. D'Amaral was at once 
arrested and confronted with his accuser, who repeated the 
charge to his face. No sooner had the name of the chancellor 
become bruited abroad than numbers rushed forward, eager 
to add corroborative testimony. His arrogant conduct had 
created him enemies in every sphere of life, and now, when 
suspicion had fallen on him, all were ready to lend a helping 
hand to complete his destruction. A Greek priest deposed 
that he had seen the chancellor with Diaz on the bastion of 
Auvergne, and that the latter had discharged an arrow with a 
letter attached to it. The statement was also recalled that at 

366 A History of 

the election of L'lsle Adam, D'Amaral had asserted he would 
be the last Grand-Master of Rhodes. On this testimony he 
also was subjected to torture, which he bore with unflinching 
fortitude, asserting that he had nothing to reveal, and that at 
the close of a life spent in the service of the Order, he would 
not disgrace his career by the utterance of a falsehood so as 
to save his aged limbs from the rack. 

His firmness and constancy did not avail to save him from 
those who were clamorous for his death. Diaz, of whose 
guilt there could be no doubt, was hanged and quartered on 
the 6th November. D'Amaral, whose rank forbade so 
degrading a death, was sentenced to be beheaded. He was 
stripped of his habit in the church of St. John on the 7th 
November, and, on the following day, executed in the great 

Of the two contemporary writers who have given accounts of 
this siege, both of whom were eye-witnesses of the events 
they record, one, the chevalier de Bourbon, asserts the guilt of 
the chancellor without doubt, and may fairly be taken as the 
mouthpiece of the general opinion within the town. The other, 
Fontanus, who was one of the judges appointed to investigate 
the charge, is very reticent and obscui'e on the point. A 
careful study of his work leads to the impression that he found 
no proofs of guilt in D'Amaral. Never, perhaps, was man 
condemned on weaker evidence. The deposition of his own 
servant, who had been detected in a treasonable act, and might 
naturally try to save himself by fixing the guilt on another, 
should have been received with grave suspicion. The testimony 
of the Ghreek priest was absolutely worthless. Why, if he had 
previously witnessed the transmission of treasonable commtmi- 
cations, did he not denounce the criminals sooner, when 
treason was known to be fraught with such imminent danger ? 
The explanation which D'Amaral gave of this man's evidence 
was probably correct, viz., that it was the effect of spite, owing 
to his having had to find fault with the looseness of the priests' 
life. The improbability of a man in the position of the chancellor 
risking his life and reputation by employing a servant in such 
open treachery seems too great for the fact to be readily 
accepted. Much has, of recent years, been said as to the guilt 

the Knights of Malta. 367 

of D'Amaral being confirmed by the fact that the church of 
St. John was destroyed by an explosion of powder stored in 
the vaults beneath, unknown to the authorities. This incident 
seems to add but little, if anything, to the evidence. It is a 
matter of great doubt whether powder would explode after a 
storage of upwards of three centuries. It is much more probable 
that it was placed there by the Turks themselves at some con- 
siderably later period. Even if it could be traced as far back 
as the siege of 1522, there seems nothing to connect it with 
D'Amaral. He was one of three persons appointed to report 
on the quantity of powder and other stores within the fortress, 
but it is nowhere alleged that he had charge of it. At all 
events, had a laxge quantity been stored in these vaults at a 
time when its scarcity was so well known, there must have 
been many persons acquainted with the fact who would all 
have been privy to the treason, if treason there were. It 
seems, therefore, that the chancellor D'Amaral fell an un- 
fortunate and, as far as history can judge, an innocent victim 
to popular clamour. 

Meanwhile, the sultan was weighing in his own mind the 
advisability of abandoning the siege, and this design he would 
in all probability have carried into effect, had he not been 
informed by an Albanian deserter of the state of destitution 
to which the town was reduced. This intelligence tempted 
him to persevere, and Achmet pasha was appointed to the 
command of the forces. Under his directions several fresh 
assaults were made, and in every case successfully resisted. 
Day by day the breaches became wider, and the ramparts more 
untenable ; the defenders fewer, and their strength more ex- 
hausted ; hope had given way to despair, and the prospect of 
relief from Europe had grown less and less ; still the opposition 
remained as stubborn as ever, and Solyman began to dread 
that he would only enter the ruined city when the last of its 
garrison had fallen. 

It was not the men only who were thus covering themselves 
with glory ; the women also, in this fearful emergency, proved 
worthy helpmates in the heroic defence. Many incidents 
are narrated of their courage and devotion, and through- 
out they seem to have aided materially, both by precept and 

368 A History of 

example, in maintaining the constancy of the besieged. One 
woman, a Grreek by birth, and either the wife or mistress of 
an officer, earned an imperishable renown by her sad, though 
brilliant, fate in one of these latter assaults. She had been 
engaged in bringing food to the defenders, when, in one of 
the sudden Turkish onslaughts, she saw her husband struck 
dead. Overwhelmed with despair, she rushed into the thickest 
of the struggle and there fell, covered with wounds, not, however, 
before she had amply avenged the fate of him who had been so 
dear to her. 

With women capable of acts such as these the glorious 
defence which Rhodes made ceases to be a matter of surprise. 
The resistance still offered was as indomitable as ever. 
Although the Turks had established themselves permanently 
on two distinct points in the ramparts, they were not yet masters 
of the place, for as each successive bulwark was lost a fresh one 
sprang up in its rear. Well might Solyman despair of ever 
calling the city his own ; for six months he had hurled aU the 
gigantic resources in his possession against its bulwarks ; 60,000 
men, it is computed, had fallen by sword and pestilence, and 
yet he still found himself advancing step by step only in the 
face of ever-renewed obstacles. 

Then, too, he could not expect that succour for the besieged 
would be much longer delayed. Owing to the disturbed state of 
Europe he had been permitted to carry on his operations for six 
months unmolested. Now, however, that the gallant resistance 
of the knights was arousing the admiration of Christendom; 
when men were gazing breathlessly upon this noble spectacle 
of heroism and devotion, he could not hope to be left much 
longer imdisturbed. Under these circumstances he acquiesced 
eagerly in the proposal of Achmet pasha, that the town should 
be invited to capitulate. Unwilling that such a suggestion 
should appear to emanate from himself, he directed a Genoese 
named Monilio, who was in his camp, to undertake the mission. 
Matters were prepared for him by the transmission of sundry 
letters which were shot into the town, and in which the people 
wore urged to surrender; life and liberty for all being promised 
in case of speedy compliance, and dire vengeance being threatened 
in the event of protracted resistance. 

the Knights of Malta. 369 

When these letters had had sufficient time to oreate the 
intended effect, Monilio presented himself one morning before 
the bastion of Auvergne, desiring an interview with Matteo 
de Via, one of the leading citizens of Bhodes. This request 
being refused, he began to urge those whom he was addressing 
to seek terms of capitulation. His proposals were repulsed, and 
he was informed that the knights of St. John only treated with 
the infidel sword in hand. Two days after he again made his 
appearance, bearing, as he said, a letter from the sultan to 
L'Isle Adam. This letter the Grand-Master refused to receive, 
and Monilio was informed that if he attempted any further 
parleying he would be fired on. L'Isle Adam had long since 
decided that if he failed to receive help from Europe he would 
make the ruins of Bhodes the common grave of himself and 
his brethren. 

Had the town contained none others than members of the 
Order, this resolution would indubitably have been carried into 
effect. It no sooner, however, became noised abroad that the 
subject of capitulation had been mooted from the Ottoman camp 
than a cabal arose in the town to urge its acceptance. There were 
not wanting those who preferred life to the glory of further 
resistance ; and, indeed, it is clear that to men unfettered by 
religious obligations, continued opposition must have appeared 
perfect madness. The principal citizens therefore commissioned 
their metropolitan to urge upon the Gfrand-Master the necessity 
for treating with the enemy. 

L'Isle Adam now found that it did not depend only on 
himself to carry his heroic resolutions into practice. Without 
the concurrence of the citizens this would be impossible, and 
that concurrence the archbishop positively assured him he would 
not obtain. A council was therefore summoned to deliberate on 
the matter. Whilst it was sitting a deputation appeared to 
present a petition signed by the principal inhabitants, in 
which they implored the Order to provide for the safety of 
their wives and children, and to rescue from the profanation 
of the infidel those holy relics which they all held in such high 
veneration. The petition closed with a threat that if the knights 
neglected to comply with its request the inhabitants would feel 
themselves bound by every law, divine and human, to secure by 


370 A History of 

their own efforts the safety of those dearer to them than life. 
On hearing this petition L'Isle Adam called upon the prior of 
St. Gilles and the engineer Martinigo to report on the state of 
the town and fortress. Thereupon the latter rose and asserted 
on his honour and oonscienoe that he did not consider the place 
any longer tenable ; that the slaves and other pioneers had been 
all either killed or wounded, so that it was no longer feasible to 
muster sufficient labour to move a piece of artillery from one 
battery to another ; that it was impossible without men to carry 
on the repairs necessary to the ramparts; that their ammu- 
nition and stores were exhausted, and farther, seeing that the 
enemy were already established within the lines at two points, 
without any power of dislodging them, he was of opinion that 
the city was lost, and should be surrendered. The prior of St. 
Grilles corroborated this statement in every particular. 

The debate was long and stormy ; there were many who, like 
the Grand-Master, were desirous of emulating the self-devotion 
of their predecessors, and of burying themselves beneath the 
ruins of Bhodes. Had the knights not been encumbered by 
the presence of a large and defenceless population, this line of 
policy would unquestionably have been adopted. As it was, 
however, there were present in the council-chamber others, who 
perceived that by such a decision they were dooming to destruc- 
tion those who had stood faithfully by them through the long 
struggle, and were now entitled to consideration at their hands. 
Moreover, the question was not, they felt, left only to them to 
decide. Should they attempt to continue the defence, would 
the people stand tamely by and see themselves thus doomed to 
slaughter, simply because the council had so decreed P If the 
town were to be yielded, it was far better that it should be by 
the unanimous act of the besieged, as they would thereby insure 
more liberal terms from the sultan than he would grant if he 
once knew there were divisions in their councils. It was there- 
fore decreed that the next offer of parley should be accepted, 
and that the Gfrand-Master should be authorized to. secure the 
best conditions procurable. 

The chiefs of Solyman's array were too desirous of putting a 
stop to the fearful effusion of blood which had now been going 
on for six months, and of obtaining possession, upon almost any 

the Knights of Malta. 371 

terms, of the city, which seemed, as it were, to recede from their 
grasp as they advanced, to keep the inhabitants long in suspense. 
Upon the 10th December a white flag was hoisted at the top of 
a church standing within the Turkish lines, and this was at once 
' answered by another raised on a windmill near the Cosquino 
gate. Two Turks then advanced from the trenches for the pur- 
pose of opening a parley, and they were met at the above-named 
gate by Martinigo and the prior of St. Gilles. They tendered 
a letter containing the conditions on which the sultan would 
consent to a capitulation. In consideration of the instant sur- 
render of the town he was prepared to permit the Gh^d-Master, 
with his knights and such of the citizens of all ranks as might 
wish to leave, to do so unmolested, taking with them all their 
household property. Those who elected to remain were guaran- 
teed the undisturbed exercise of their religion, and were to be 
free from paying tribute for five years ; the churches were to 
be protected from profanation ; and aU property secured from 
pillage. The letter concluded with the most fearful threats if 
these terms were not accepted immediately. 

The council decided on despatching an embassy to the 
Turkish camp, and for this purpose selected Anthony Groll^e, 
the standard bearer of the Order, and a Bihodian named Robert 
Perrucey. These envoys at once proceeded to the tent of 
Achmet pasha, who, on behalf of the Turks, sent into the 
city two hostages of high rank as a guarantee for their safe 
return. On the following day Solyman admitted them to 
an audience, but commenced by ignoring the contents of his 
letter, conceiving it to have been beneath his dignity that he 
should have taken the initiative in proposing terms of capitu- 
lation. He, however, added that he was willing to adhere to the 
conditions therein offered, and required an immediate reply. A 
truce was agreed on for three days, and one of the envoys sent 
back into the town to announce the fact, the other being still 
retained as a hostage. 

Meanwhile L'Isle Adam, who was daily looking for suc- 
cours from Europe, determined on protracting the negotiations 
as far as possible. With this object he, the next morning, des- 
patched a fresh embassy into the Turkish camp, the real object 
of which was simply to gain time, but ostensibly to try and 


372 A History of 

persuade Soljman to offer the knights better terms. The 
envoys took with them a letter which had been received by 
D'Aubusson from Bajazet, the grandfather of Solyman, in 
which that prince invoked the malediction of Heaven upon 
any of his successors who should attempt to disturb the Order 
in its peaceful possession of the island of Ehodes. Achmet 
pasha, to whom this document was shown, at once destroyed 
it, feeling sure that if it came under the eye of his master 
it would only stimulate his rage against the fraternity by re- 
calling to his memory an incident which in no way redounded 
to the glory of his race. 

At this juncture, and whilst the terms of the treaty were 
being discussed, an unfortunate collision occurred between 
some portion of the garrison and the Turks, in which several 
of the latter lost their lives. It is not clear how this arose. 
The Turkish writer Hafiz states that on that night a relieving 
force of fifteen gaUeys filled with troops had arrived in the 
harbour, and that the attack was made by them. No allusion 
to such a reinforcement is made by any of the other his- 
torians, nor is it easy to see from whence they came. Be this 
as it may, the outbreak brought the truce to a premature close, 
the batteries were reopened, and everything replaced on a 
hostile footing. Some prisoners who fell into the hands of 
the Turks were mutilated by having their finders, noses, and 
ears cut off. and in that mLrable plight sen? l4k int^ the 
town with the message that such was the treatment the 
besieged might now expect at the hands of the sultan. L^sle 
Adam was overjoyed at the failure of the negotiation. He 
had entered into it most reluctantly, nothing but a stem sense 
of necessity having induced him to countenance the attempt. 
Now that it had been made and had failed, he was free to 
continue the defence, and to carry out his original project of 
burying himself and his fraternity beneath the ruins of the 

The recommencement of hostilities was followed up by an 
assault on the retrenchment of the Spanish bastion still held 
by the knights. This took place on the 17th December, and 
although the struggle was continued throughout the whole day, 
the Turks were once more worsted and compelled to retire dis- 

the Knights of Malta. 373 

comfited. On the following day, however, they were more 
Buooessful, for the assault being renewed, they gained undis- 
puted possession of the whole of the work. Unable to control 
the panio of the multitude, who were now clamouring for uncon- 
ditional Buirender, and feeling sure that they would take 
action themselves if longer opposed in their views, L'Isle 
Adam was again compelled to open negotiations. Fresh 
envoys were despatched to Solyman with carte blanche to 
surrender the town on the best terms they could secure. 
Solyman received the messengers in his pavilion in all the 
splendour of imperial pomp, surrounded by the janissaries X>i 
his body-guard. On hearing the errand which brought them 
into his presence, he consented to renew the offers he had pre- 
viously made, and these were at once accepted by the envoys. 
The principal stipulations were that the citizens should remain 
in perfect freedom, both as to their persons and religion ; that 
the knights should be allowed to leave the island in their own 
galleys, bearing with them all their personal property; that 
such of the citizens as preferred to follow their fortunes rather 
than remain at Hhodes under Ottoman dominion should have 
free permission to do so, and that twelve dear days should be 
granted for the embarkation. The churches were guaranteed 
from profanation, and all their sacred relics were to remain the 
property of the Order. That the due execution of the treaty 
might be insured, the Turkish army was to be withdrawn from 
the vicinity of the town, and only a select body of janissaries 
was to enter the gates and take possession on behalf of the 
sultan. In return for this demency, so unusual in those days 
of bloody reprisal, the knights were to yield up peaceable 
possession, not only of the city, but of all the islands dependent 
on Sihodes, as well as the castle of St. Peter on the mainland. 
Twenty-five knights, of whom two were to be grand-crosses, 
and the same number of citizens, were to be given as hostages 
for the due execution of the treaty. As soon as these persons 
made their appearance in the Ottoman camp, the aga of the 
janissaries, with the spedfied number of troops, entered the 
town and took formal possession of it. 

Thus the island of llhodes, after having remained for two 
centuries in the occupation of the knights of St. John, once more 

374 ^ History of tlte Knights of Malta. 

reverted to the power of the Moslem. All the skill which 
engineering science had developed upon its massive fortifica- 
tions, all the beauties which art had lavished on its buildings, 
were now lost to the Order and to Christianity. That lovely 
island, the garden of the East, that city whose ramparts had so 
long frowned with proud disdain upon its foes, now no longer 
acknowledged the sway of the friars of the Hospital. Still 
bearing the traces of its former grandeur, and still displaying 
in its buildings the magnificence of those who had raised it to 
what it was, it passed for ever from the rule of those gallant 
warriors, who were once more doomed to seek their fortune 
on the wide .world. 

To the nations of !£!urope the loss of Ehodes was a subject 
of the deepest shame. Apathy and indifference had been 
suffered to continue during the six long months that this 
memorable struggle lasted, and its unfortunate issue remains 
a blot on the history of the sixteenth century. To the knights 
of St. John the event bears with it no such memory of 
disgrace. The gallantry which had so long withstood over- 
whelming and desperate odds was everywhere recognized and 
enthusiastically hailed by admiring nations. As the struggle 
progressed, and its ultimate issue became more and more 
certain, men gazed with astonishment and awe upon that 
touching scene of heroism and endurance. When at length, 
driven from their home, sadly reduced in number, and 
ruined in prospects, the relics of that gallant band wandered 
westward in search of a new resting-place, they were every- 
where greeted with rapturous welcome. The feeling of all 
was well expressed by Charles V., who, on hearing of the 
disastrous issue of the siege, turned to his courtiers and 
exclaimed, "There has been nothing in the world so well 
lost as Ehodes." 


Surrender of Rhodes and departure of the Order for Candia — Arrival at 
Messina — ^Departure for Civita Yecchia — Project for bestowing 
Malta on the Order — Hopes of regaining Rhodes— L' Isle Adam 
proceeds to Madrid — His negotiations — ^Visits Paris and London — 
Returns to Italy — Malta ceded to the Order — ^Antecedent history of 
that island — Tripoli — Its disadvantages and dangers — ^Description of 
the harbour of Malta — ^Expedition to Modon — ^Disputed appointment 
to the bishopric of Malta — English Reformation — Insurrection in 
the convent — Death of L'Isle Adam. 

The surrender of Ehodes took place on the 20th December, 
1522, and by the terms of the capitulation a period of twelve 
days was granted to the knights within which they were to 
carry out its stipulations. Messengers were despatched to the 
castle of St. Peter at Budrum, and to the island of Lango, 
the only two outposts which had been maintained during the 
siege, directing the immediate withdrawal of the garrisons, 
which were to retire to the island of Candia. - 

The provisions of the treaty were not at first carried out by 
the Turks with much exactitude ; many foul outrages were per- 
petrated by the janissaries after they had obtained possession 
of the city; churches were desecrated, women violated, the 
inhabitants plundered, and other excesses coiomitted. For these 
acts of barbarity the sultan can in no way be held responsible, 
for the moment he heard of what was taking place, he at once 
issued a most peremptory mandate to the aga of the janissaries, 
intimating that that officer should pay the penalty of any 
further infractions of the treaty with his head. Solyman, indeed, 
appears throughout this transaction to have been moved by 
a desire of showing magnanimity and clemency. That such 
clemency was not one of his usual attributes, the horrors per- 

376 A History of 

petrated with his sanction at the capture of Belgrade fully 
testify. He was evidently actuated by some unusual motive in 
pursuing so different a line of conduct with the defenders of 
Ehodes. The stubbornness of their resistance during a period 
of six months, and the gigantic losses they had inflicted on 
his army, must have exasperated him greatly. It redoimds, 
therefore, much to his credit that he did not allpw himself to be 
carried away by any feelings of animosity when the time came 
for their gratification. 

On the day succeeding that on which the capitulation was 
signed a large fleet was descried on the horizon, bearing down 
on Bhodes ; the idea prevalent in both armies was that this was 
the long looked-f or succour arriving from Europe. The feelings 
of L'Isle Adam and his fraternity may be conceived as they 
reflected that had they held out but for two days longer they 
could have saved their beloved city. When, however, the fleet 
drew nearer it was seen that the vessels bore the Turkish flag. 
Solyman had, in fact, some time previously summoned a fresh 
body of troops from the frontiers of Persia. This reinforce- 
ment, amounting to 15,000 men, had now arrived, and it reflects 
honour on the sultan that he took no advantage of its presence 
to alter the terms of the capitulation, the ink of which was as 
yet scarce dry. 

It seems from the narrative of Ahmet Hafiz that Solyman 
made his first entry into Rhodes on Christmas-day. That 
writer thus describes the event : — " Then the sublime sultan, pre- 
ceded by the second regiment of janissaries and by his banners, 
which were adorned with fringes of gold, escorted by 400 of 
the Solouk body-guard, by four Solouk chiefs, four Kehayas, 
and forty Odabaohis, all robed in white, with turbans glit- 
tering with rich jewels, entered the town to the sound of 
salvoes of artillery, and in the midst of a dense crowd. The 
rest of the body-guard, the musicians, the officers of all the 
various corps followed the glorious Padishah, crying Allah! 
Allah ! by Thy will the glorious scimitar of Mohammed 
has captured this proud fortress ! In this manner the sultan 
went as far as the temple of San Qivan (the church of St. John), 
and there, where the infidels adored an idol, he, the blessed 
conqueror, addressed a prayer to the true God." 

the Knights of Malta. 377 

The sultan made a second entry on the 29th December, 
which Hafiz thus describes : — " On the 29th December, the 
sultan, on horseback, entered the town by the gate of Kyzil 
Capou (the St. John or Cosquino gate), with the same pomp as 
on the first occasion ; he visited the harbour, and admired the 
massive chain which closed it, and the engines of war which the 
infidels had made use of during the siege." 

After this visit to the town, L'Isle Adam received a notifica- 
tion through Achmet pasha that he was expected to pay his 
respects to the sultan in person. Unwilling as he was to submit 
to what he considered an act of degradation, the Grand-Master 
felt that at such a critical moment it would be most imwise to 
create any irritation in the mind of Solyman. He therefore, on 
the last day of the year, presented himself in the Ottoman camp, 
and demanded a farewell audience of his conqueror. Turkish 
pride kept the poor old man waiting at the entrance of the 
sultan's pavilion through many weary hours during that winter 
day, and it required all the fortitude of L'Isle Adam's character 
to bear with composure the slight thus cast on him. At length, 
the vanity of Solyman having been sufficiently gratified, the 
Grand- Master was admitted, when the courtesy of his reception 
in some measure atoned for the previous slight. An eye-witness 
of the interview states that, on their first meeting, each gazed in 
silence on the other. The sultan was the first to speaL After 
some words of condolence and praise for his gallant and pro- 
tracted defence, Solyman proceeded to make the most brilliant 
offers to L'Isle Adam, urging him to abandon his religion and 
to take service under himself. Against such ofPers the mind of 
the Grand-Master revolted with horror. " After," replied he, 
" a life spent not ingloriously in combating for my religion and 
maintaining its cause, I could not cast so foul a slur upon my 
later days as to abandon that religion for any worldly prospects 
whatever. Even the sultan himself must feel that I should be no 
longer worthy of that esteem which he has been pleased so gra- 
ciously to express towards me. I only crave of his magnanimity 
that the terms of the capitulation may be maintained inviolate, 
and that I and my followers may be freely permitted to seek our 
fortunes in a new home." On this head Solyman assured him 
that he need have no uneasiness, and the Grand-Master left the 

3/8 A History of 

imperial presence with every mark of respect. The sorrow of 
the old man, so natural on abandoning the cherished home of 
his Order, touched the sultan greatly, and he could not forbear 
exclaiming to his vizier, ^'It is not without some feelings of 
compimction that I compel this venerable warrior at his age to 
seek a new home." The interview is thus narrated by Hafiz : — 
" On the 31st December, the chief of the fortress, Mastori Mialo 
(a corruption of Meghas Mastoris, or Gfrand-Master), having 
obtained permission, came to take leave of the sublime sultan 
at a divan. The sultan desired to make him a gift of a large 
nimiber of ingots of gold, precious stones, and other valuable 
offerings, and renewed his permission that the Order might make 
use of the galleys and other craft which had belonged to them, 
on condition, as he added with tears in his eyes, that the next 
day should see them quit the island. On this the chief of the 
infidels withdrew with a pensive mien, and left for Frengistan." 

On the night of the 1st January, 1523, this sad event took 
place. Four thousand of the Christian inhabitants of Rhodes 
preferred to follow the fortunes of the knights into exile rather 
than remain under the sway of the Turk. Amidst a general 
display of grief the fleet sailed and made its way to Candia.* 
Misfortune seemed to dog the wanderers on their road. A 
severe hurricane overtook them, and several of the smaller craft 
were lost. Others were saved by throwing overboard the little 
property which the unfortunate refugees had rescued from the 
town, so that when the scattered fleet reassembled at Spinalonga 
there were many on board who were reduced to actual beggary. 
The governor of Candia welcomed the fugitives with every mark 
of hospitality, and urged on them the advisability of wintering 
in the island ; but L'Isle Adam felt that he had much before 
him requiring prompt decision and immediate action. He 
therefore only remained long enough to refit and to repair, 
as far as practicable, the damages his fleet had sustained in 
the late storm. 

Whilst waiting for this purpose he was joined by the gar- 
risons of Budnun and Lango, and he also heard of the 

* It is worthy of note that one of the vessels, the great carrack of 
Rhodes, was commanded by William Weston, who was elected Turcopolier 
immediately on their arrival at Candia. 

the Knights of Malta. 379 

miserable fate of his protigi Amurath, the son of Djem. This 
young prince had been unable to elude the vigilance of . the 
sultan, and to make his escape with his protectors. His dis- 
guise having been discovered he was captured and brought be- 
fore Solyman, to whom he boldly announced himself a member 
of the Christian faith. On this the sultan, who was only too 
glad of an excuse to make away with him, ordered him to be 
strangled in front of the troops. The incident of Amurath's 
fate has been but lightly touched upon by the historians of the 
siege of Ehodes, probably because it seems to cast a slur on 
the otherwise fair fame of L'Isle Adam. Amurath had many 
years before thrown himself on the protection of the Order; 
he had embraced the Christian religion, and had ever since 
lived peaceably at Bhodes. It was well known that his resi- 
dence there was a constant source of disquietude and anxiety 
to the Ottoman sultan. The Grand-Master could not, there- 
fore, have been ignorant of the risk the young prince ran, 
should he ever fall into that monarch's power. Tet we find 
the capitulation of Bhodes agreed on without any mention 
of his name, and no precautions taken to shield the illus- 
trious convert from the vengeance of his implacable foe. The 
city was handed over to the sultan, and with it the unfor- 
tunate victim who had intrusted his all to the good faith of 
the knights of St. John. The result was what must have been 
foreseen, and the feelings of L'Isle Adam, when he learnt 
the sad fate of the young prince, must have been painfully 

True, he had much excuse for his conduct. Not only the 
lives of his own fraternity, but those also of thousands of 
the citizens, hung upon the terms which he could obtain from 
the Turks. It is possible that he may have endeavoured to 
indudo Amurath in the general amnesty, and that the condi- 
tion was peremptorily rejected by the sultan. If this were 
BO, L'Isle Adam would have had a very difficult point of 
conscience to decide. Either he must have given up the lives 
of all within the city to maintain inviolate his honour towards 
his guest, and that, too, without by such action saving the 
young prince, who would have fallen with the others; or, 
on the other hand^ he must sacrifice him for the general 

380 A History of 

weal. In doing the latter he Beems to have acted with more 
prudenoe than chivalry. 

L'lflle Adam hastened to quit Candia as soon as possible, 
being anxious to place himself in close proximity to the court 
of B>ome. He therefore selected the port of Messina as the 
next point of rendezvous. The larger vessels proceeded there 
direct, under command of the Turcopolier, William Weston, 
whilst he himself, with the great mass of his followers, pursued 
his course more leisurely. In token of the loss his Order had 
sustained, he no longer suffered the White Cross banner to be 
displayed, but in its stead he substituted an ensign bearing the 
e%y of the Virgin Mary, with her dead Son in her arms, and 
beneath it the motto, " Afflictts spes mea rebus J^ 

The Qrand-Master was welcomed by the Sicilian authorities 
with the same hospitality as had been displayed in Candia, 
and the viceroy announced that the emperor invited the mem- 
bers of the fraternity to make their residence in the idand for 
as long a time as they found convenient. 

L'Isle Adam's greatest fear had been that his knights, find- 
ing themselves deprived of their convent home, might follow 
the fatal example of the Templars and retire into their various 
European conmianderies. One of his first steps, therefore, after 
quitting Ehodes, had been to solicit special authority from the 
Pope to prevent the dispersion of the homeless wanderers. 
Adrian, who recognized the wisdom of the request, lost no 
time in acceding thereto, so that when L'Isle Adam entered 
the port of Messina he found already awaiting him a bull, in 
which the Pope, imder the severest penalties, enjoined the 
members of the Order to remain with him wherever he 
might lead them. 

Having established a Hospital, and taken such steps as were 
in his power to provide for the comfort of his followers, L'Isle 
Adam caused a rigid investigation to be made into the reason 
for the non-arrival of reinforcements during the siege. He had 
himself upon several occasions despatched envoys from the 
island to hurry on these much-required succours, but none had 
ever returned. Now that he found them all reassembled at 
Messina, he called for a full explanation of their conduct. 
The cause alleged was the unprecedentedly tempestuous state 

the Knights of Malta. 381 

of the weather. From various points efforts had been made to 
bring up the necessary reKef, but the incessant violent and 
contrary winds which had prevailed prevented their departure. 
One English knight, indeed, Thomas Newport, the bailiff of 
Aquila, had persisted in the endeavour to force his way to 
Bh^des in spite of every obstacle, and he fell a victim to his 
temerity, the vessel with all on board having been lost on 
the voyage. The explanation was accepted as satisfactory, and 
the Ghrand-Master in council pronounced a fuU acquittal of the 

The plague having at this jtmcture broken out amongst the 
exiles, the authorities of Messina ordered L'Isle Adam to leave 
the port. With the permission of the viceroy the refugees were 
all transferred to the gulf of Baiae, where they remained for a 
month. At the expiration of that time, the pestilence having 
disappeared, they proceeded to Civita Vecchia, whence the 
Grand-Master pushed on to Eome to pay a personal visit to 
the Pope. He was received with the greatest distinction, 
and Adrian pledged himself to use every possible exertion to 
obtain for the knights a new home, where they might establish 
themselves on a footing as advantageous to themselves and to 
the support of Christian power in the Levant, as that which 
they had held at Rhodes. These promises were unfortunately 
rendered futile by the death of the pontiff, which occurred 
shortly after. The honour of guarding the conclave which 
was assembled for the election of a successor once more 
devolved upon the knights of St. John. Qiulio di Medici 
ascended the papal throne tmder the title of Clement VII., 
and great hopes were entertained that he would prove a 
powerful support to the fraternity from the fact that he had 
himself been a knight of St. John, the first Hospitaller who 
had ever attained to the chair of St. Peter. These hopes 
were to a large extent fulfilled. Clement had no sooner 
assumed his new position than he reiterated all the promises 
of his predecessor, and pledged himself to exert his infiuence 
in obtaining a suitable home for the convent. The islands 
of Elba, Cerigo, and Candia were severally named, but the 
objections to each seemed insurmountable. At last the idea of 
the island of Malta, with its dependency Gozo, was suggested, 

382 A History of 

and this seemed the proposal which met with the most general 

A request was consequently made by the Gbund-Master, 
supported by the authority of the Pope, to Charles V., emperor 
of Germany, in whose possession these islands then were as an 
ofEshoot of the kingdom of Sicily, for their transfer to the ' 

Order of St. John. To this application the emperor returned ^ 

a favourable answer, as he was delighted at the prospect of 
setting up a new and formidable barrier against the aggressions 
of the Turk, who, now that Ehodes had fallen, appeared likely 
to threaten the kingdom of Sicily. He fettered his ofEer, 
however, by two very impalatable conditions; one that the 
city of Tripoli on the north coast of Africa should be coupled 
with the islands, and the other that the Order should render 
fealty to him. The city of Tripoli was a charge which would 
greatly impede the free action of the knights, and exposed as it 
was would lock up a large portion of their available force. As 
regarded the question of fealty, one of the main principles 
involved in the foundation of the Order was its cosmopolitan 
character. Embodying within itself, as it did, members of every 
nation in Europe, it was impossible that fealty should be 
rendered to any one sovereign without oflEence to the others. 
Still, the emperor's gift was not to be hastily rejected, and 
L'Isle Adam trusted that with a little patience he might 
succeed in softening the severity of the conditions. 

Meanwhile a body of commissioners, eight in number, one of 
each langucy was appointed to visit the islands in question, and 
to report to the council then residing at Viterbo on their capa- 
bilities. L'Isle Adam was the more disposed to let matters 
take their course quietly and slowly, since a prospect had 
suddenly developed itself of his being able to recover possession 
of the city of Ehodes. Achmet pasha, to whom, as we have 
already seen, the command of the Turkish army was intrusted, 
upon the degradation of Mustapha, had been despatched into 
Egypt to quell an insurrection there. Having succeeded in 
this, his ambition prompted him to renounce allegiance to 
the sultan, and to establish himself as a sovereign prince over 
the kingdom. As a support in his new and insecure position, 
he sought the assistance of such European powers as he con- 

the Knights of Malta. 383 

sidered likely to lend their aid in a movement tending to 
enfeeble the Ottoman empire. To L'Isle Adam he addressed 
himself more particularly, informing him that he had it within 
his power to restore to the fraternity its lost stronghold of 
Rhodes. The new commander of fort St. Nicholas was, he said, 
a creature of his own, who, if an adequate force were landed on 
the island, would surrender his post and join the invaders. 
L'Isle Adam was so struck with the plausibility of the scheme 
that he despatched the commander Bosio to Ehodes dis- 
guised as a merchant, that he might inquire into the general 
state of the island, and enter, if possible, into a negotiation with 
the conmiandant of fort St. Nicholas. 

This knight performed his mission with admirable tact, and 
on his return to Viterbo gave a promising picture of the feasi- 
bility of the enterprise. The fortifications had been left un- 
repaired since the siege, and were consequently in a ruinous 
condition. The Christian inhabitants of the island had found 
the Turkish yoke very different from the just government of 
the knights, and were eager to enter into any project for the 
recovery of the fortress. The conmiandant of St. Nicholas had 
pledged himself to join the movement provided it were supported 
by an adequate force; it therefore only remained for L'Isle 
Adam to collect sufficient troops and at once take possession of 
his old home. TJnfortimately this, simple as it seemed, was 
a matter involving much delay, since the Order, in its then 
beggared position, did not possess the means of raising such 
a force, but was compelled to seek assistance for the purpose. 
This there was but little present hope of obtaining, owing to the 
distracted condition of European politics. The king of France 
was at that moment a prisoner in the hands of the emperor, 
having been captured at the battle of Pavia, and a league was 
being formed between the Pope and the rulers of France and 
England to check, if possible, the overpowering advance of 

At this juncture, L'Isle Adam was requested by the regent 
of France to act as an escort to the duchess of Alen^on, the 
sister of the captive monarch. That fair lady trusted to her 
charms, which were very great, for she was one of the most 
beautiful women in Europe, and to her wit, to obtain terms for 

384 A History of 

the liberation of her brother less rigorous than those which the 
emperor seemed determined to extort. L'Isle Adam gladly 
accepted the commission, as it would enable him to obtain a 
personal interview with both monarohs, an object he had much 
at heart. He proceeded to Marseilles, for the purpose of 
escoiiing the lovely princess to her destination. This action 
gave great umbrage to the emperor's ministers in Italy, who 
conceived that such a step was a declaration of support to the 
French cause; they therefore at once sequestered the whole of 
the Order's property in that country^. L'Isle Adam did not 
aUow this arbitrary act to prevent him from pursuing the course 
he had proposed; he therefore accompanied the duchess to 
Madrid, and aided her with all the keenness of his political 
sagacity in treating for the liberation of her brother. In this 
matter he was, in fact, the more successful of the two. At the 
expiration of her safe conduct she was compelled to return to 
Prance, and it was after her departure that L'Isle Adam 
succeeded in concluding a treaty between the two kings, 
whereby Francis regained his Hberty. The favourable issue 
of this negotiation, which had in vain been attempted by the 
leading politicians of Europe, reflected the highest credit on 
the tactics of L'Isle Adam, who now added the character of a 
talented diplomatist to that he already had acquired of being 
one of the leading captains in Europe. * 

A heavy ransom having been one of the conditions upon 
which the liberty of the French monarch depended, a general 
levy was made throughout his dominions to raise the necessary 
funds. The privileges of the Order of St. John exempted 
its property in France from any share in this contribution, 

* On the occaaioii of the first interview which took place between the 
rival sovereigns after the conclusion of the treaty, L'Isle Adam being 
present, both monarchs having to pass through a doorway, the emperor drew 
back, offering the precedence to the king. This the latter declined. 
Charles immediately appealed to the Grand-Master to decide this subtle 
point of etiquette, and he extricated himself from the difficulty by the 
following ingenious answer addressed to the king of France: — '*No one, 
Sire, can dispute that the Emperor is the mightiest prince in Christendom, 
but as you are not only in his dominions, but within his palace, it becomes 
you to accept the courtesy by which he acknowledges you as the first of 
European monarchs.'' 

the Knights of Malta. 385 

still the knights were anxious to join in the good work of 
releasing a monarch who had always proved himself a friend to 
their interests. They therefore waived the right of exemp- 
tion, and joined in the taxation on the same terms as the 
other ecclesiastical bodies in the realm, merely requiring from 
the king letters patent, declaratory of the fact that this contribu- 
tion was perfectly voluntary, and was, under no circumstances, 
to be treated as a precedent. A deed to that efPect was signed 
by the king at St. Germain, on the 19th March, 1527. 

This matter having been settled, L'Isle Adam availed him- 
self of the opportunity afforded by the presence of the two 
sovereigns, to submit his project for the recapture of Ehodes. 
The emperor entered warmly into the scheme, and ofEered a 
contribution of 26,000 crowns, at the same time informing the 
Grand-Master that, should this design fail, he might still 
accept the island of Malta. Gladdened by the success of his 
mission, L'Isle Adam left Spain in 1526 and proceeded to France, 
where he trusted to obtain additional assistance for the under- 
taking. Whilst there he was informed that Henry VIII. was 
much piqued at the fact that he should neglect to pay a personal 
visit to the court of England as he had done in Spain and 
France, and was therefore seizing upon the revenues of the 
Order, and also demanding from the knights of the English 
langue military service in his garrison of Calais. Undeterred 
by the severity of the winter and his own age, L'Isle Adam 
decided on at once proceeding to London to mollify the offended 
potentate. He therefore despatched the commander, Bosio, to 
cardinal Wolsey, to inform him of the intended visit. Henry, 
appeased by this mark of deference, directed that he should be 
received with all honour, and every preparation was made to 
give a hearty welcome to the hero of Rhodes. After having 
reposed for some days at the priory of Clerkenwell, L'Isle 
Adam paid his respects at the palace, where he was received 
with the most gracious cordiality. To assist him in his design 
upon Rhodes, Henry promised him the sum of 20,000 crowns, 
which he afterwards gave in the form of artillery. He at the 
same time suspended all his obnoxious proceedings against the 

The Grand-Master now returned to Italy, trusting to be at 


386 A History of 

length enabled to organize his expeditionary force. There he 
found everything in a state of the utmost confusion. The Pope 
had drawn down upon himself the vengeance of the emperor by 
joining in the league against him. The constable de Bourbon, 
who was that monarch's commander in Italy, had imder Charles's 
direction led his troops to Eome, where, having carried the city 
by storm, he handed it over to pillage. After holding out for a 
month in the castle of St. Angelo, the Pope was himself cap- 
tured and taken away prisoner to Naples. This political storm 
completely destroyed the prospects of the knights, and it was 
not until nearly two years afterwards, when peace had been 
signed between the emperor and the Pope, that the Qxand- 
Master was able to gain any further hearing on behalf of the 
interests of his fraternity. During this protracted interval the 
favourable opportunity was lost. Achmet pasha had been 
assassinated, the plots of the Ehodians discovered, and con- 
sequently all hope of success in that quarter was over. It only 
remained to revert to the original project of the occupation of 
Malta, and the Pope, who was now reconciled to the emperor, 
exerted his influence for the abatement of the distasteful 
conditions on which the islands had been originsJly offered. 

The result of his interposition was that an act of donation 
received the imperial signature at Syr£M3use on the 24th of 
March, 1530, by which deed Charles vested in the Order of St. 
John the complete and perpetual sovereignty of the islands of 
Malta and Grozo, and the city of Tripoli, together with all their 
castles and fortresses. The only conditions attached to the gift 
were that the knights should never make war upon the kingdom 
of Sicily ; that they should annually present a falcon to the 
viceroy as an acknowledgment; that the nomination to the 
bishopric of Malta should be vested in the emperor from 
amongst three candidates to be selected for that purpose by the 
Grand-Master; that this dignitary should have a seat in the 
council ranking next in precedence to him ; together with several 
other minor clauses touching the extradition of Sicilian criminal 
refugees, and the selection of commanders to the galleys of the 
Order in the Mediterranean. The whole concluded with a 
proviso that should the brethren at any time desire to abandon 
the islands, they were not to transfer them to any other power 

the Knights of Malta. 387 

"without the previoufi knowledge and consent of the emperor.* 
Such were the terms upon which, after much negotiation, Charles 
was at length induced to surrender the then almost valueless 
islands of Malta and Gozo to a community whose indefatigable 
perseverance and lavish expenditure were destined to convert the 
former into one of the most powerful fortresses in the world. 

This deed was presented to the commander Bosio by the 
emperor in person, and that knight instantly hurried off to 
place the precious document in the hands of the Grand-Master. 
During the journey he met with an accident from the over- 
turning of his carriage, and the ignorance of an unskilful 
surgeon caused a comparatively trivial injury to terminate 
f ataUy. Feeling his end at hand, and knowing the anxiety of 
his chief on the subject of the Maltese donation, he sent the 
deed forward imder charge of a Ehodian gentleman by whom 
he had been accompanied. 

The gift of the emperor was promptly confirmed by a papal 
bull, on the receipt of which L'Isle Adam sent two knights of 
the grand-cross to Sicily to receive from the viceroy a formal 
investiture of the territory. Ab soon as this ceremony was 
completed, they proceeded to take possession of their new 
acquisition, and to place members of the fraternity in command 
of the various posts when handed over to them. A dispute 
arose with the viceroy on the subject of the free exportation 
of com and the privilege of coining money within the new 
possession, which prevented the Grand-Master from proceeding 
to Malta for some months. These difficulties were at length 
adjusted, and then he at once set sail from Syracuse, and 
landed safely in his new home. 

The fixBt view which greeted the wanderers wae certainly not 
reassuring or attractive. Accustomed as they had been to the 
luxuriant verdure of Rhodes, the fertility of which had gained 
it the title of the garden of the Levant, they were but ill- 
prepared for the rocky and arid waste which met their eyes in 
Malta. Few persons who now behold the island, occupied as it 
is with the commerce of Europe and Asia, presenting a busy 
scene of wealth and prosperity, with its massive defences rising 
in frowning tiers around its harbours, can picture to themselves 

• Vide Appendix No. 9. 


388 A History of 

the desolate and unprotected rock which fell into the possession 
of the Order of St. John in the year 1530. 

The antecedent history of Malta is not important, and may be 
very briefly narrated. It was originally colonized by the Phoeni- 
cians, and in many parts it is rich in remains of that people. 
About 765 B.C. the Grreeks, returning from the siege of Troy, 
overran the Mediterranean, founded some cities in Calabria, 
and amongst other acquisitions established themselves in Malta, 
driving out the Phoenicians. Prior to this event the island 
had been known by the name of Ogygia, which was now 
changed into that of Melitas. It remained in the undisturbed 
possession of the Greeks for 200 years, at the expiration of 
which period the Carthaginians disputed with them its 
sovereignty, and eventucdly succeeded in wresting it from 
their hands. In the second Punic war Sempronius established 
the dominion of Rome in Malta, driving out its Carthaginian 
inhabitants. The Greeks were, however, allowed to remain, 
and their laws and customs were not interfered with. The 
island was attached to the government of Sicily, and was ruled 
by a pro-prsetor or deputy governor, dependent on that pro- 
vince. Whilst under Roman sway, Malta attained a high pitch 
of civilization and refinement. Situated in the centre of the 
Mediterranean, within a short distance from the shores of three 
continents, it speedily became a thriving mart for much of the 
commerce of Rome. Its manufactures of cotton and linen, and 
its public buildings — chiefly temples erected in honour of its 
favourite deities — were justly celebrated throughout that part of 
the world. On the division of the Roman empire, the island of 
Malta fell to the lot of Constantino, and from that moment its 
decadence may be flrst dated. In the fifth century it was seized 
successively by the Vandals and Goths; and although in 
the next century, Belisarius, the general of Justinian, drove out 
the barbarians, and once more established Roman dominion, 
the island never recovered its former prosperity. 

The rapid spread of Mahometanism in the eighth and ninth 
centuries brought Malta imder the sway of the Saracens, who, 
in the early portion of the latter century, exterminated the Greek 
population, and established a government in their place depend- 
ent on the emir of Sicily. Much that is Saracenic, both in 

the Knights of Malta. 389 

building and language, still remainB to mark this period of 
occupation. Indeed, the Maltese may be'said, as a race, to par- 
take more of the Arabic than of the Italian type to this day. 
At the close of the eleventh century, count Rdger, the Norman, 
expelled the Saracens, and established a principality in Sicily 
and Malta, which was subsequently converted into a monarchy 
imder his grandson. From that time the island followed the 
fortunes of the kingdom of Sicily through many changes of 
dominion, until at length both f ^11 into the possession of Spain 
after the tragedy of the Sicilian Vespers. 

Its decadence during these successive stages had been con- 
tinuous, and when the emperor handed it over to L'Isle Adam 
there was not much left to tempt the cupidity or aggression of 
neighbouring powers. It contained neither river nor lake, and 
Ivas very deficient in springs. Its surface was almost bare 
rock, with but little earth, and its vegetation was in consequence 
poor and insignificant. Scarce a tree was to be seen throughout 
the islemd, with the exception of a few caroubas and shumacks, 
and the eye roamed in vain for a patch of green to relieve the 
glare of the white rock.* The wretched villages in which the 
inhabitants dwelt, termed casals, partook of the general air of 
poverty and misery which everywhere prevailed. Its western 
side was rugged and inhospitable, offering no shelter to ship- 
ping, or even to boats, but the east and north were broken up 
into numberless creeks and harbours, some of which were of 
sufficient capacity to afford anchorage to the largest fleets. 

This was, indeed, the great point of attraction to the 
knights. They had for so many years been accustomed to 
look to maritime enterprise as the principal source from whence 
their wealth and prosperity were to be derived, they had made 
their name so widely known, and so highly esteemed in the 
waters of the Mediterranean, that they were not prepared 
willingly to resign the position which their naval superiority 
had given them by the establishment of their new home in any 

* This deficiency of trees still exists to a great extent, although of 
late years efforts have been made by successive governors to supply the 
want, by which it is hoped to mitigate the severity of the summer drought. 
These efforts are not very warmly seconded by the inhabitants, nor, 
indeed, looked on with much favour by them, as they hold strongly by the 
doctrine that much foliage breeds fever. 

390 A History of 

locality •which did not afford them facilities for pursoing their 
favourite calling. This, and this alone, was the motive which 
induced them to accept the island of Malta, and to establish on 
it their convent. Nature had done everything, both in the 
central position of the island and in the configuration of its 
eastern coast, to render it suitable for naval enterprise, and L'Isle 
Adam determined to strain every nerve to remedy the numerous 
disadvantages under which it otherwise laboured. 

It would have seemed a sufficiently desolate outlook for the 
Order had it received these islands without conditions, but the 
emperor, who well knew how to make the best of a bargain, 
had insisted on the occupation of the city of Tripoli as an 
absolute condition of their transfer. The report of the com- 
missioners despatched to inspect this new acquisition was 
eminently discouraging. Situated at a distance of more than 
200 miles from Malta and surrounded by piratical enemies, it 
was not only scantily fortified at the time, but what was far 
worse, seemed incapable of receiving much accession to its 
strength. The sandy nature of the soil, presenting a very 
treacherous foundation, rendered the erection of ramparts and 
the sinking of ditches a matter of extreme difficulty, if not 
absolutely impracticable. It was to be feared, therefore, that 
any garrison which the knights might despatch for the 
protection of the place would run great risk of being over- 
whelmed before succour could reach them. They felt, how- 
ever, that in this matter they had no choice. The only 
course for them to pursue, was to endeavour, by the utmost 
exercise of skill and energy, to counterbalance the natural 
disadvantages of this most unwelcome addition to their re- 

The day on which L^Isle Adam landed in Malta was the 
26th October, 1530, and he at once assumed sovereign power 
over the islands. At the entrance to the Citti Notabile, 
an insignificant collection of small houses, surrounded by a 
feeble fortification on the summit of a hill, but which ranked, 
nevertheless, as the chief town, he was arrested by the 
authorities imtil he had sworn upon the holy cross, the symbol 
of his religion, that he would preserve the privileges of the 
inhabitants, and govern them in accordance with their ancient 

the Knights of Malta, 39 1 

laws. The keys were then presented to him, and he made 
his entry amidst the acclamations of the people, who trusted, 
and not without reason, that a new aera was about to dawn 
on them under the vigorous sway of the Hospital.* 

The first care which occupied L'lsle Adam on his arrival at 
Malta was the selection of a suitable and defensible position for 
his convent.. The fortifications which he found existing were 
of the most paltry description. The Oitti Notabile was indeed 
surrounded by a rampart and ditch, but of so miserable a 
character as to be almost worthless. The only other attempt 
at a defensive work was a little fort, called St. Angelo, which, 
although considered the main protection to the island and its 
harbours, was very feeble, and only armed with two or 
three smaU pieoes of artiUeiy. 

In order the better to comprehend the locality here referred 
to, and the alterations which were carried into effect under the 
directions of the Grand-Master, it will be well to enter into a 
short description of this part of the island. The main harbour 
is divided into two parts by an elevated and rugged promontory 
projecting from the mainland in a north-easterly direction, 
and called Mount Sceberras. The height of this tongue of 
land is such as to give it command over all the surroimding 
points. The eastern of the two ports thus formed is in its turn 
divided into three creeks by two minor promontories which jut 
out from the mainland on its eastern shore. Of these two 
peninsulas the one nearest the entrance of the harbour was that 
on the extremity of which stood fort St. Angelo. Behind the 
fort, and extending back as far as the mainland, was a small 
town, or rather village, known by the name of the Bourg. The 
other promontory was called St. Julian, and was not in any 
way occupied. The western harbour, which did not present 
such facilities for safe anchorage as the main port, contained 
within it an island which greatly interfered with its use. It 
was further much subdivided by the sinuosities of its coast line. 
On this side there was no attempt at any work of defence or 
even habitation. 

The practised eye of L'lsle Adam was not long in perceiving 

* A picture hangs in the palace ut Malta representing this scene, an 
engraving from which is here given. 

392 A History of 

the advantages of the positioii of Mount Soeheiras, dominating, 
as it did, both harbours, and owing to its formation secure from 
attack, except on the land side. Here he naturally thought 
of establishing his convent, and fortifying the promontory, 
but unfortunately the funds necessary for such an undertaking 
were not forthcoming. The Order had for the preceding eight 
years led a wandering life, accompanied by a large body of 
Ehodians, to the number of nearly 4,000. Most of these had 
subsisted. mainly on the charity of the fraternity, which was 
distributed to them under the name of the bread of Bhodes. 
This expenditure had gone far towards exhausting the public 
treasury, so that L'Isle Adam now found himself absolutely 
imable to carry out any work of magnitude, even though it 
might clearly prove to be of the most vital necessity. He 
therefore decided upon establishing himself, aa a temporary 
measure, in the fort of St. Angelo, and fixing the convent in the 
adjacent Bourg. Such additions to the defences of the fort as 
his means permitted were at once constructed, and a line of 
intrenchment was drawn across the head of the promontory 
where it joined the mainland, so as to enclose the Bourg, and 
cover it as far as possible from the surrounding heights. 

The Qrand-Master was at this moment the less disposed to 
undertake any costly work in Malta because he still clung to 
the hope of establishing his convent in some more advantageous 
position. When the commander, Bosio, had visited Rhodes with 
the object of ascertaining the feelings of its inhabitants, he had 
at the same time opened negotiations in the town of Modon.* 
This was a port in the Morea which had been captured by the 
Turks some few years before the last siege of Bhodes. The 
position of the town rendered it well adapted for maritime 
enterprise, and L'Isle Adam was the more anxious to obtain 
possession of it since its proximity to Rhodes would enable him 
to take the first favourable opportunity for recovering his old 
home. Two renegades, one the commandant of the port and 
the other the head of the custom house, had notified to Bosio 
their willingness to assist the knights in seizing the place, pro- 
vided a sufficient force were despatched to make success a 

* Now called Methone. It is a Httle south of Navarino. 

the Knights of Malta. 393 

On the 17th of Augiist, 1531, L'lale Adam sent forth a fleet 
of eight galleys, under the oommand of Salviati, grand-prior 
of Borne, to attempt the capture. On arriving near Modon, 
Salviati hid his squadron in a sheltered creek in the island of 
Sapienza, which lies oS the mouth of the harbour. He at the 
same time smuggled into the port two brigantines, ostensibly 
laden with timber, beneath which lay concealed a body of 
soldiers. The renegades, faithful to their promise, admitted 
these vessels, and the commandant, in order further to facili- 
tate the seizure of the town, plied the janissaries of his 
garrison with wine until they were reduced to a state of 
helpless intoxication. At break of day the troops landed from 
their hiding places, massacred the drunken guard, and obtained 
possession of the principal gate of the city. A gun was then 
fired as a signal to the rest of the fleet to shew themselves and 
follow up the advantage which had been gained. A strong 
south-west wind was blowing, and this being directly con- 
trary, prevented Salviati from hearing the report. Several 
hours were thus lost before any succour arrived. Meanwhile, 
the governor of the city, recovering from his first panic, and 
seeing how slender the force was by which he was attacked, 
collected the townspeople and led them on against the intruders. 
These were well-nigh overpowered, when at length, Salviati, 
who had been summoned from his hiding place by a boat des- 
patched for the purpose, made his appearance, and once more 
turned the fortunes of the day. The Turks were driven into 
the citadel, and the remainder of the town fell into the hands 
of the knights. Unfortimately, a body of 6,000 men lay 
encamped within a few miles of Modon. A request for aid 
having been sent to them by the governor beleaguered in the 
citadel, they soon made their appearance and compelled the 
invaders to retire. Before embarking on board their gaUeys, 
however, they completely sacked the town and carried off a 
vast amount of plimder, as well as 800 unhappy Turks as 
prisoners. Thus laden they returned to Malta. 

The failure of this enterprise destroyed the last hope which 
L'Isle Adam had entertained of finding a more congenial home 
than Malta. Nothing, therefore, remained but to take such 
further measiires as should best insure security to his convent. 

394 ^ History of 

Many additions were made to the fortifications and armament of 
St. Angelo. The ramparts surrounding the Bourg, now begin- 
ning to grow from a poor little village into a considerable town, 
were strengthened by the addition of detached works. The 
fortifications of the Cittd. Notabile were restored and increased, 
and its protection intrusted to an ample garrison. At Tripoli 
similar precautions were taken. A vessel having arrived from 
England laden with artillery, the present of Henry VIII. to 
the Order, which has been already mentioned, a portion of its 
cargo was despatched thither to add to the armament of that 
exposed station. 

A chapter-general was at this time convened in which were 
decreed several reforms rendered highly necessary by the 
degeneracy of the fraternity. A material change had been for 
a long time past gradually developing itself in the feelings and 
aspirations of those who sought to assume the badge of the 
White Cross. The religious element, which had for so long pre- 
dominated in the constitution of the brethren and in the lives 
of the members, had almost entirely died out. True, there was 
the same outward observance of the ceremonies of their creed. 
Each postulant still took the three monastic vows. He was still 
told to consider himself a poor soldier of Jesus Christ, and to 
dedicate his life to the defence of his faith and the relief of the 
poor. These exhortations, however, had gradually come to be 
regarded in the light of a mere form. The knights of St. John 
had, on so many a battle-field and behind so many a well-de- 
fended rampart, earned for themselves a glorious reputation, that 
the badge of their founder, the White Cross of Gerard — originally 
assumed as a token of Christian humility, and an emblem of the 
eight cardinal virtues — ^was now coveted as a decoration which 
marked its wearer as a member of one of the proudest and most 
celebrated institutions of the age. Worldly aspirations and 
worldly dignities had long since taken the place of those 
celestial rewards which in earlier times had been the object of the 
postulants' ambition. It is true, that whenever an attack was made 
either on their religion or their home, the knights of St. John 
were still ready to shed the last drop of their blood in defence of 
both, but the religious enthusiasm which had nerved so many of 
their predecessors during the desperate struggles of the twelfth 

the Knights of Malta. 395 

and thirteenth oenturies had vanished, or at most, only shewed 
itself in very feeble and fitful flashes. In its place, the haughty 
bearing and the arrogant assumption of a prosperous military 
fraternity, priding itself as much on its wealth and territorial 
power as on its warlike achievements, gradually became the 
distinguishing characteristics of the Order. 

L'Isle Adam had watched with sorrow the rapid advance of 
this decadence, which the events of late years had much accele* 
rated. The last days of his life were, from this cause, doomed 
to be spent amidst scenes of domestic strife and political discord. 
Well would it have been for him had he fallen gloriously during 
the memorable siege so imperishably connected with his name. 
It was, however, otherwise decreed, and he was fated to pass 
his last hours in the midst of turmoil most distressing to his 
noble heart. 

One subject of dispute sprang from the succession to the 
newly-created bishopric of Malta. By the act of donation 
already referred to Charles had reserved to himself and his 
successors the right of nomination to this post by selection from 
amongst three candidates to be named by the fraternity. When 
the first vacancy occurred the Qrand-Master was most desirous 
that the dignity should be conferred on Thomas Bosio, the 
brother of the commander whose diplomatic services have been 
BO frequently mentioned. He was already vice-chancellor of 
the Order, but L'Isle Adam thought that the late commander's 
services should be repaid by raising his brother to a stiU higher 
dignity. He therefore named him as one of the three candi- 
dates for the vacant post, and at the same time wrote a pressing 
letter to the Pope, entreating him to use his influence with the 
emperor to obtain the appointment for Bosio. This the Pope 
promptly did, and received a reply from the emperor assuring 
him that his request should be complied with. A considerable 
delay, however, took place before the nomination was made 
public, but eventually the deed selecting Bosio for the vacant 
office was deposited in the hands of the ambassador of the 
fraternity then resident at the court of the emperor. All seemed 
now satisfactorily arranged. The Gfrand-Master despatched Bosio 
to Eome with the emperor's deed of nomination, and with in- 
structions to tender his chief's thanks for the share his Holiness 

396 A History of 

had taken in the matter. What was the oonstemation of the 
bishop designate when the Pope announced to him that he had 
abready appointed another person. 

The object Clement had in view by thus nullifying his own 
request is not very clear. It probably arose, in the first place, 
from pique at the delay of the emperor in acceding to his 
wishes, and afterwards from a desire to retain so valuable a 
piece of patronage in his own hands. All remonstrance on the 
part either of the emperor or the Gband-Master was unavailing, 
and the dispute remained imsettled until the death of the Pope 
three years later. His successor, Paul III., anxious to conciliate 
the emperor, eventually confirmed the appointment to Bosio. 

This solution of the afPair did not, however, take place till 

after the death of L'Isle Adam, so that the disappointment he 

experienced in his attempt to provide for the brother of one who 

had rendered such great services to the fraternity still remained 

to embitter his last moments. Another dark cloud which at 

this time gathered over him was the loss with which the Order 

was threatened in England through the religious revolution 

then taking place in that country. Long before Henry VHI. 

had renounced his allegiance to the Church of Bome he had 

displayed symptoms of greed against the English langue. The 

haughty monarch could iU brook that so many broad acres should 

be held in his own land by a power which yielded him no 

allegiance, and he had more than once availed himself of the 

most flimsy pretexts to encroach upon the property of the 

Hospital. Now, however, he had thrown aside the mask 

and placed himself at the head of the religious movement which 

had for years been fermenting within his kingdom, and he soon 

shewed that he purposed nothing short of the complete spoliation 

of the langue. His measures to that effect did not receive 

their final development during the life of L'Isle Adam; stiU, 

enough was apparent to leave him full of anxious forebodings 

for the future. 

He was further fated before his death to become the witness 
of a disturbance within his convent of a nature so serious as 
almost to endanger the existence of the brotherhood. The 
quarrel originated in a dispute between one of the secular 
retainers of the grand-prior of Eome and a young knight of the 

tJie Knights of Malta. 397 

langue of Provence. A duel ensued, in which the knight was 
killed, not without grave suspicions of treachery on the part 
of his opponent. Several of the Proven9al knights, under this 
impression, sought out the ofEending party. Finding him 
surrounded by his friends, a struggle ensued, in which some of 
the Italians were wounded and the remainder driven to seek 
refuge in the palace of the grand-prior. The members of that 
dignitary's household, who were very numerous, enraged at this 
attack upon their countrymen, armed themselves and sallied 
forth for vengeance. Without distinguishing the ofEending 
Proven9al knights from those of the other French hngues^ they 
assaulted them all indiscriminately. As there was always an 
under-current of discontent at the predominance of the French 
element permeating the convent, the Italians soon found them- 
selves joined by the members of the Spanish and Portuguese 
kngues, and thus a regular civil war broke out. The prior of 
Eome did his best to appease the tumult. He placed under 
arrest and confined in his galley those of his suite who had been 
guilty of this breach of the peace. That step was not, however, 
considered by the French knights to be a sufficient reparation. 
They therefore attacked the galley of the prior, and laying 
hands on the prisoners murdered four of them in cold blood. 
This lawless proceeding at once revived the discord, and a 
regular engagement between the antagonistic langues took 
place in the streets of the Bourg. In vain the Grand-Master 
despatched message after message to the combatants directing 
them to disperse under threat of the severest penalties. His 
menaces were unheeded, and the remainder of the day was 
spent in strife and confusion. Towards night, however, the 
bailiff of Manosque, who was possessed of great influence with 
both the rival factions, succeeded by personal intervention in 
quelling the disorder and dispersing the combatants. 

Severe measures were necessary for the punishment of so 
serious an outbreak, and L'Isle Adam directed a searching 
investigation to be made to detect the ringleaders. The result 
of this inquiry led to the expulsion of four knights on account 
of the murders committed on board the galley of the grand- 
prior of Rome. Bosio, the Italian historian, asserts that several 
of the most guilty were condemned to death, and thrown into 

398 A History of the Knights of Malta. 

the sea in sacks. None of the other historians, however, make 
such a statement, nor is it confirmed by the criminal records 
of the Order. There it appears that four French knights, 
named respectively de Fisde, Begnault, d'Orleans, and de 
Vareques were deprived of their habits in the month of May, 
1533, the two first for having killed four men in a galley, and 
the other two for being ringleaders in a tumult, and causing 
the death of the above four men. Ab, however, it was the 
custom of the fraternity, when capital punishment was deemed 
advisable, to deprive the culprit of Us habit, and then to hand 
him over to the civil tribunal to be dealt with as an ordinajy 
malefactor, it is possible that in the present instance that step 
was taken. In any case, the punishment inflicted seems to 
have had the required effect of restoring peace to the convent. 

It was amid scenes such as these that L'Isle Adam brought 
his long and glorious life to a close. A violent fever eventually 
induced that end which he had so often braved, but always 
escaped, at the hand of the Moslem. On the 22nd August, 1534, 
he expired, aged upwards of seventy years, to the intense grief 
of the whole community. Never had the fraternity sustained so 
signal a loss, and never was a chief more sincerely mourned. 
The heroism and grandeur of his character were such that the 
clouds of adversity only set it forth in greater lustre. The 
gallant defence of Ehodes, although ending in the worst 
disaster that had occurred since the loss of Jerusalem, has been 
so imperishably connected with him, that he has become more 
distinguished by his conduct during that calamitous epoch than 
many a successful leader. The skill in diplomacy which gained 
for his convent its new home in Malta has associated him 
inseparably with that island. Amid the long list of Gfrand- 
Masters whose names are written on the page of history, none 
have excelled, and but few have equalled, John VUliers de 
L'Isle Adam. 


Election of Peter Dupont — Expedition against Tunis — ^Didier de St. Gilles — 
John D'Omedes — Expedition against Algiers — Turkish descent on 
Malta — ^Jioss of Tripoli — Destruction of the Order in England — Leo 
Strozzi — ^Attack on Zoara — Death of D*Oniedes and election of La 
Sangle — ^Hurricane at Malta — Accession of La Valette — Expedition 
to Galves — Siege of Mers el Kebir by the Turks— Preparations by 
Solyman for an attack on Malta — Arrangements for defence. 

The council assembled for the purpose of electing a successor to 
their deceased chief, nominated Peter Dupont, a member of a 
Fiedmontese family, to that office. At the time of his election, 
Dupont was residing in his grand-priory of Calabria, and it 
was with extreme reluctance that he accepted the supreme 
dignity. He felt that his great age made him unfit for the 
onerous duties of a Grand-Master at the periloiis crisis in which 
the affairs of the Order were then involved. Eventually his 
scruples were overcome, and he set out for Malta to assume 
his new dignity. 

The dangerous position in which the garrison of Tripoli stood 
rendered the maintenance of that post a subject of anxious 
consideration to the new Gh*and-Master, and he turned his eyes 
towards Charles V., then by far the most powerful potentate in 
Europe, for assistance in its protection. Charles had originallj 
bestowed this unwelcome gift on the knights, partly to escape 
the expense of its maintenance, and partly in the hope that the 
establishment of the Order of St. John in that spot might act 
aa a check upon the piratical enterprises of the surrounding 
princes. He was therefore well disposed to render every 
assistance in his power, and as a matter of fact the appeal of 

400 A History of 

Dupont reached Madrid at a moment when the emperor was 
himself actuallj contemplating a descent upon Africa. 

The northern coasts of that continent abutting on the 
Mediterranean had first been occupied by the Arabs during 
the latter part of the seventh century. The coimtry had since 
then graduaUy become subdivided into several Hngdoms, of 
which Morocco, Algiers, and Tunis were the most important. 
These principalities were now inhabited by a mixed race 
comprised of Arabs, negroes, and Moors, the latter having been 
driven there from Spain during the preceding two centuries. 
Until of late these petty kingdoms had not interfered in the 
politics of Europe, and their very existence was but little 
known and as little cared for. 

At the commencement of the sixteenth century a revolu- 
tion took place which materially altered their position. Two 
of the four sons of a Turkish inhabitant of Mitylene, named 
Home and Hayradin, prompted by a love of adventure, had 
abandoned their father's island and joined themselves to a 
crew of pirates. Their daring and skiU in this new calling soon 
raised them to the command of the band, and they gradually 
augmented their forces imtil they became masters of a fleet of 
twelve large galleys, besides smaller craft. Calling themselves 
the Friends of the Sea and Enemies of all who sailed thereon, 
they scoured the Mediterranean and rendered their names 
terrible in every part of its waters. These brothers were known 
by the surname of Barbarossa, from their red beards. Home 
Barbarossa was recognized as the supreme chief ; at the same 
time the power of Ha3n:adin Barbarossa was but little inferior. 
Increasing in ambition as their control extended, they at length 
sought the acquisition of a new port whence they might carry 
on their buccaneering expeditions in security. 

An opportimity was not long in presenting itself. The king of 
Algiers had called in Home to support him in a war with a 
neighbouring chief, and the freebooter took the opportunity of 
dethroning and murdering his ally, and of establishing him- 
self in his place. To render his position the more secure, he 
placed his new acquisition imder the protection of the Turkish 
sultan, to whom he tendered the homage of a tributary prince. 
It accorded well with the ambitious views of the Ottoman emperor 


the Knights of Malta. ^--^^^ 401 

to add these extensive provinces to his power; he therefore 
accepted the proffered homage, and promised his support to 
the self-elected usurper. 

In the year 1618, Homo fell in an action against the marquis 
de Comares, the Spanish governor of Oran, and his brother 
Hayradin ascended the vacant throne. The fame of his naval 
exploits having reached Constantinople, the sultan appointed 
him commander-in-chief of the Turkish fleet. Thereupon 
Barbarossa repaired in haste to that city, full of a new project 
of aggrandizement which had presented itself to his ambition. 
The king of Tunis had died leaving behind him a flourishing 
family of no less than thirty-four sons, of whom the youngest, 
named Muley Hassan, had been named by the late king as his 
successor owing to the influence of his mother. As soon as 
the nomination had been declared, Muley Hassan poisoned his 
father, and ascending the throne promptly put to death as 
many of his brothers as he could get into his power. 

Al Baschid, one of the eldest, succeeded in making 
his escape, and fled to Algiers to implore the protection of 
Barbarossa. This wily chief at once promised his support, 
and took the fugitive to Constantinople, where he trusted to 
obtain means from the sultan for the prosecution of his design, 
which was simply to make use of the claims of Al Easohid to 
secure the kingdom of Tunis for himself. The sultan readily 
adopted his scheme, and gave him the command of a powerful 
fleet, with an ample land force. Thus armed, Hayradin 
set sail, the unfortunate Al Easchid being meanwhile retained a 
prisoner in the seraglio at Constantinople. Arrived off Tunis, 
he succeeded in obtaining possession of the fort of G-oletta, 
through the treachery of its commander. That work com- 
manded the bay, and on it the protection of the town entirely 
depended. Possessed of this important point, Barbarossa soon 
effected an entrance into Timis, asserting throughout that 
the object of his attack was the restoration of Al Easchid. 
Once fairly established he threw off the mask, and caused 
himself to be proclaimed king. Muley Hassan, who had fled 
at his approach, proceeded direct to Madrid, and there implored 
Charles to aid him in the recovery of his kingdom. 

This application was made at the same time that the Qrand- 


402 A History of 

Master Dapont was also requesting assistanoe in the same 
direction. The emperor, therefore, was induced to imdertake 
an enterprise with the object of establishing a friendly power 
in the neighbourhood of Tripoli, in lieu of that of the dreaded 
Barbarossa. This expedition he determined on directing in 
person, and the whole power of his empire was laid under con- 
tribution to insure its successful prosecution. The army was 
composed of contingents from Italy, Germany, and Spain, 
whilst the fleet, commanded by Andrew Doria, the greatest 
naval officer of the age, was numerous and well equipped. 
The knights of St. John contributed to the force, four large 
galleys, eighteen smaller vessels, and the great carrack of the 

The army, which numbered 30,000 men, landed without 
opposition on the shore of Tunis, in close proximity to the 
fort of Goletta. This work was now garrisoned by 6,000 
Turks, imder the command of a renegade Jew named Sinan, 
the most able and daring of Barbarossa's lieutenants. The 
siege was opened in form, and after its ramparts had been 
duly breached, it was carried by storm, the knights as usual 
occupying the van, and rivalling their ancient fame by the 
valour with which they headed the assaulting columns, and 
seized the obstinately defended breach. 

Barbarossa was both surprised and dismayed at the loss of 
this bulwark. Garrisoned as it was by the flower of his anny, 
and defended by so daring a spirit as his lieutenant Sinan, he 
thought it impregnable. Now that it had fallen, the road 
to Tunis lay entirely open to the conqueror. The whole of 
Barbarossa's fleet, together with an enormous accumulation of 
military stores, fell, by this success, into the hands of Charles, 
who, as he entered the fort, turned to Muley Hassan, then 
in attendance on him, and said, " Here is the gate open for 
you by which you shall return to take possession of your 

Barbarossa had assembled a large force, principally composed 
of Moors and Arabs from the neighboiLring tribes, but he soon 
found that little confidence was to be placed either in their 
valour or fidelity. With such an army he considered that it 
would be unwise to attempt a defence of Tunis, or to await the 


the Knights of Malta. 403 

emperor's arrival before its walls. He determined, therefore, 
upon advanoing boldly to meet the Christians on the open plain, 
where his wild horsemen might be made more available than 
they oould be behind the ramparts of the town. He had, 
however, one great source of uneasiness in the presence of 
no less than 10,000 slaves within the place. Barbarossa 
dreaded that they would avail themselves of this critical 
juncture to rise and regain their freedom, imless he left a large 
force to guard them. This, under the circumstances, he did 
not feel able to afford. So, with the ruthless barbarity which 
had marked every step in his career, he proposed a general 
massacre of the whole body, as the quickest and safest method 
of overcoming the difficulty. To this sanguinary suggestion 
he encountered a strong opposition from all his partisans. 
The atrocious and cowardly brutality of the scheme was 
too great even for the piratical horde whom Barbarossa 
had assembled beneath his banner; added to which their 
interests were as much opposed to the measure as their 
humanity. The Jew Sinan was the owner of many of them, 
and several other leaders were in a similar position. They 
therefore resisted this suggestion for the wholesale destruction 
of their property so strenuously that Barbarossa was forced 
to abandon the idea, and to sally forth to meet the emperor, 
leaving the body of slaves as well guarded as his limited 
means permitted. 

The action which ensued was hardly worthy of the name. 
Although the forces of Barbarossa far exceeded those of the 
emi)eror in point of numbers, they were not to be compared 
with the latter in discipline or steadiness. The very first onset 
decided the day, nor could the utmost efforts of the Algerine 
rally his flying battalions. The rout became general, and 
the usurper hastened to re-enter Tunis so as to take proper 
measures for its defence. Here he found that his original 
fears with regard to the Christian captives had proved well 
founded. As soon as they discovered the departure of the main 
f oroe, they had risen on their g^uards, recovered their freedom, 
and seized upon the citadel, which they now held against the 
retreating Barbarossa. Amongst these captives was a knight 
of St. John, named Simeoni, the same who, in earlier youth, 


404 A History of 

had greatly distinguished himself in the defence of the island 
of LeroB against a Turkish force. This knight immediately 
placed himself at the head of the revolting slaves, and took 
such prompt measures that the whole city fell into his hands. 
Barbarossa was compelled to fly, and his troops rapidly dis- 

Simeoni advanced to meet the emperor, and informed him 
of what he had done. Charles, who was overjoyed at this 
unlooked-for assistance, embraced him with warmth, and 
praised him in the most emphatic manner for the intrepidity 
and discretion with which he had acted. Muley Hassan 
was restored to his throne as a tributary of Spain, and the 
expedition being thus happily ended, the knights returned to 
Malta laden with substantial marks of the emperor^ satisfaction. 
They arrived there in time to see the last of their chief, who 
died shortly afterwards, having wielded the baton of Grrand- 
Master for little more than one year. 

lie was succeeded by Didier de St. Grilles, a French knight, 
whose short reign was tmdistinguished by any event of im- 
portance beyond the destruction of a fort called Alcade, which 
the Algerines had constructed close to Tripoli. Botigella, to 
whom had been confided the command of the fleet of the Order 
in the late expedition, was intinisted with this enterprise, and 
the complete success which crowned his efforts marked the 
wisdom of the choice. The fort was utterly destroyed in 
spite of every effort on the part of the Algerines to save it, 
and the expedition returned in triumph to Malta. 

St. Gilles himself never reached the ch^-lieu after his nomina- 
tion, but died at Montpellier, where he was residing for the 
benefit of his health. The vacancy which thus occurred gave 
rise to a warm contention in the election of a successor. The 
two commanders, Botigella and De Qrolee, the latter of whom 
had led the assault on the fort of GFoletta, were considered to 
have an equally good claim upon the suffrages of the electors. 
The Spaniards, however, whose influence in the convent had 
of late wonderfully increased, owing to the power of their 
emperor, were determined that a knight of their own langtie 
'fehould be chosen. They succeeded in oairying their point, 
and John D'Omedes, of the langvs of Aragon, was nominated 

the Knights of Malta. 405 

to the post. Although his claims were by no means equal to 
those of either Botigella or Dq Grol^e, he had nevertheless 
greatly distinguished himself during the siege of Ehodes, where 
he had lost an eye whilst defending the Spanish quarter. 

The memory of D'Omedes has been much vilified by the 
French historians, and apparently somewhat undeservedly. 
These writers had evidently been imbued with warm feelings 
of partisanship in the struggle between the emperor and their 
own king. Everything Spanish was, therefore, regarded by 
them with a jaundiced eye, and the memory of D'Omedes, 
whose election was of itself calculated to awaken jealousy, has 
borne the brunt of this unfavourable bias. At the same time 
it must be admitted that some of his acts were arbitrary and 
unjustifiable, and that he was too often influenced by a partiality 
for his own nation. 

A feeling of jealousy against his late rival Botigella, 
prompted him to remove that knight from the command of 
the galleys. In his place he appointed a yotmg Florentine, 
named Strozzi, who in after years became notorious as one 
of the most adventurous and daring corsairs in the Mediter- 
ranean. At the time of his appointment he had done but little 
to distinguish himself, and his claims for the post were not 
for one moment to be compaxed with those of Botigella. The 
real reason of the change was that D'Omedes did not consider it 
safe to continue so important a trust in the hands of a man who 
had been his disappointed competitor, and whom he suspected 
of being still violently inimical. 

The condition of the city of Tripoli had never ceased to give 
rise to feelings of anxiety. Though everything had been done 
that the limited means of the Order admitted, the place was 
still but feebly fortified. Each succeeding governor, as he 
returned to Malta, impressed upon the council the necessity of 
taking further steps to strengthen the place. These represen- 
tations became at length so urgent that the Qrand-Master 
appealed to the emperor either to assist in increasing its 
strength or to permit the knights to abandon it. The reply of 
Charles to this petition was a demand on them to join him in 
an expedition which he was contemplating against Algiers, 
still the stroDghold of Barbarossa, and the chief haunt of the 


406 A History of 

pirates* whose depredations kept the coasts of the Mediter- 
ranean in a state of constant alarm. He trusts by crushing 
them in their nest to insure the safety of Tripoli without 
further outlay, and at the same time relieve his maritime 
subjects from an incubus which had long weighed upon 

Four hundred knights, each accompanied by two armed 
attendants, formed the contingent which the Order contributed 
to the army of the emperor, who, inflated by the success of 
his late expedition against Tunis, determined once again to lead 
his forces in person, and directed a general rendezvous in the 
island of Majorca. In vain his veteran admiral Doria remon- 
strated with him on the imprudence of attempting a maritime 
expedition so late in the year, when the storms which, at that 
season, are so violent and frequent in the Mediterranean, might 
at any moment disperse his fleet. Charles was not to be 
diverted from his purpose by any such prudential considerations, 
and he persisted in prosecuting the enterprise. The result 
proved the sagacity of Doria and the foolhardiness of the 
emperor. The army landed before Algiers, and commenced 
operations against it, but two days after they had broken 
ground a fearful storm arose from the north-east (known in the 
Mediterranean as a gregaJe). This not only deluged the camp 
and prostrated the army, but caused the far more irreparable 
loss of the greater part of the fleet, which had been lying off 
the coast, and the bulk of which was driven ashore. Fifteen 
galleys and 140 transports and store ships were lost in this 
dreadful tempest. 

Doria, who, by the exercise of superior seamanship, had 
succeeded in rescuing some of his ships, took shelter imder 
cape Matifu,* whence he despatched messengers to the emperor 
announcing his whereabouts. After a most harassing march, 
Charles at length brought his prostrate force to the spot, 
hampered during the retreat by the hostile action of the Moor- 
ish cavalry. During this movement the knights of St. John 
had ample opportunity for distinction, as the task of covering 
the march of the army was intrusted to them. Their losses 
in carrying out this duty were most severe, and the number 

* About nine miles east of Algiers. 

the Knights of Malta, 407 

who survived to bear the tale of the disaster to Malta was but 
comparatively small. 

The failure of this expedition rendered the position of Tripoli 
still more precarious. In this crisis the Gfxand-Master and 
council selected for the onerous post of governor a knight 
of the langue of Provence, called John de la Valette, a name 
which subsequent events rendered one of the most illustrious in 
the annals of his fraternity. Even at that time La Valette had 
distinguished himself by his bravery and zeal in numerous 
cruising expeditions against the Turks. He had never quitted 
the convent from the day of his first profession, except on the 
occasions of these caravans or cruises, and he had gradually 
risen from post to post within its ranks imtil he had attained 
a high position. 

The fate of Tripoli was destined, however, to be postponed 
for yet a little while, and La Valette avoided the painful 
duty of its government before the blow fell. Meanwhile, 
Malta itself had a very narrow escape from suffering a similar 
catcustrophe. Barbarossa had died at Constantinople, and was 
succeeded in the command of the Turkish fleet by his lieutenant, 
Dragut. This man had attained a notoriety in the Mediter- 
ranean, second only to that of his chief, and this addition to 
his power was followed by prompt and decisive measures. 
He possessed himself of the town of Mehedia, a port situated 
nudway between Tunis and Tripoli, where he established a 
naval depot in the most dangerous contiguity to the latter 
stronghold. D'Omedes viewed with very natural alarm the 
fresh danger which menaced his feeble outpost, and he per- 
suaded the emperor to direct an expedition against this new 

Charles was the more readily induced to accede to this 
request because he was desirous of wiping out the stigma of 
his late failure in the attack on Algiers, and also because the 
proximity of the Turkish corsair menaced the coasts of Naples 
and Sicily. The Order of St. John despatched a contingent 
to join the main force, which was under the command of 
Doria. This auxiliary body consisted of 140 knights and 
500 hired soldiers, the whole being imder the command of the 
bailiff De la Sangle. The siege of Mehedia took place in 

4o8 A History of 

June, 1550, and, after a desperate resistance, ended in its 
capture. As it was not intended to hold the place, the fortifica- 
tions were destroyed and the post abandoned. 

This success, in which the knights had the principal share, 
brought down on them the anger of the sultan, and he forth- 
with began to prepare an expedition for the purpose of driving 
them from Malta. Neither time nor means were available 
for D'Omedes to place the island in a proper state of defence. 
When, therefore, the Turkish fleet under Dragut anchored off 
the Marsa Muscetto on the 16th July, 1551, very few additions 
had been made to the feeble fortifications with which the Bourg 
and the castle of St. Angelo were protected. The commanders 
of the Turkish armament landed upon Moimt Sceberras, and 
from that elevated spot surveyed these several works. The 
natural strength of the position seems to have daimted the 
Turks, for they abandoned the idea of an assault at that point, 
and decided instead to commence operations against the Citti 
Notabile. The troops were disembarked and marched directly 
into the interior, taking with them artillery for the siege 
of the town. The garrison was not prepared to yield 
tamely, and stoutly maintained its resistance, although the 
prospect seemed somewhat desperate. Fortimately intima- 
tion reached the Turkish commander that Dona had set sail, 
with a large fleet, for the relief of the island. This intelli- 
gence, which was completely false, so far terrified Dragut, that 
he decided upon abandoning his attempts on Malta, and re- 
emborked his troops with the utmost expedition. As a last effort, 
he made a descent upon the island of Gozo, which he ravaged 
without resistance, the governor, De Lessa, behaving on the 
occasion with the most abject cowardice. 

The descent upon Malta having thus failed, Dragut directed 
his course towards the city of Tripoli, fully determined to 
capture and destroy it, so as not to return to Constantinople 
empty-handed. At this time the governor of Tripoli was a 
French knight, named Gaspard la Vallier, the marshal of the 
Order. To the summons of the Turks he returned a disdainful 
reply, and the siege was commenced in due form. Dragut 
made the greatest possible efforts, and the works were pushed 
forward with the most ominous rapidity. Treachery within the 

the Knights of Malta, 409 

town aided the designs of those in its front, and before long 
La Vallier was forced to treat for a capitulation. The most 
honourable terms were granted, but when the time came for 
their fulfilment they were basely violated, and the garrison, 
together with many of the citizens, were made prisoners, 
D'Aramont, the French ambassador at the Porte, had visited 
the Turkish army during the siege, hoping to divert its attack 
from Tripoli, and had been compulsorily detained. He now 
exerted himself to the utmost, and partly by his influence, 
partly by the expenditure of a large sum of money, he procured 
the release of all the prisoners, and set sail with them for 
Malta, where he anticipated being received with the grati- 
tude he so richly deserved. The general feeling in Malta 
at the loss of Tripoli was so very bitter that D'Aramont 
soon found that he was regarded with distrust and anti- 
pathy. He was compelled, therefore, to return to Constan- 
tinople, saddened with the conviction that his kindness 
to the unfortimate garrison had been entirdiy miscon- 

D'Omedes, feeling that he himself was not without blame in 
having left the beleaguered city to its fate, became anxious to 
divert the popular wrath into another channel. He there- 
fore caused the marshal to be arrested, with three of his late 
companions in arms. Never were innocent men more basely 
sacrificed to popular clamour. They were all stripped of their 
habits, and La Vallier, than whom a braver man or more skilful 
captain did not exist, was further handed over to the civil 
power and imprisoned. He would undoubtedly have met with a 
still worse fate, but for the bold and indignant remonstrances of 
a knight named Yilligagnon. 

Whilst these events were taking place, the course of the 
religious revolution in England had been gradually reaching 
its climax. The quarrel between the king and the Pope had 
already assumed the most threatening aspect even before the 
death of L'Isle Adam, and fears for the security and per- 
manence of the English langue had embittered the last 
moments of that venerable chief. Since then matters had 
rapidly developed, and the Reformation had become an accom- 
plished fact. An institution like the Order of St. John, still 

4IO A History of 

maintaining fealty to the papacy, was not likely to remain long 
undisturbed xmder the new riginie. Henry VIII., even before 
his quarrel with the Pope, had shewn a strong inclination to 
interfere in the affairs of the fraternity in England, and to 
possess himself of much of its property. Now the moment 
had arrived when a plausible pretext was afforded of laying 
hands on it all. 

There still exists in the Record Office of Malta a document 
addressed by the king to the Grand-Master, which deals fully 
with the subject. This document is dated on the 7th July, 1538, 
at Westminster, and is in the form of letters patent. It begins 
by styling Henry the supreme head of the Anglican church, 
and the protector of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It 
then goes on to declare, first, that for himself and his successors, 
he gives license to brother William West,* grand-prior of the 
priory of England, to confer the habit and receive the pro- 
fession requisite to admit such English subjects as may desire 
to enter the Order under the usual conditions, provided always 
that such postulant shall have been previously required to t-ake 
an oath of allegiance to the said monarch as his supreme lord, 
in accordance with the form duly instituted for that purpose, 
which oath the king exacts from all his subjects, whether lay or 
clerical ; secondly, that any person nominated by the Qrand- 
Master in cotmcil to a commandery, situated within the limits 
of the kingdom of England, shall of necessity obtain a con- 
firmation of his appointment from the king. Such newly- 
appointed commander will be required to pay the revenues of 
the first year accruing from his commandery into the king's 
treasury, nor will his nomination to the commandery be ratified 
imtil he shall previously have taken the oath of allegiance, and 
have paid the said year's revenue, or, at all events, have given 
due security for its future payment. Thirdly, it shall not be 
lawful for the Order of St. John to make eleemosynary col- 
lections t within the realm of England, unless in virtue of a 
royal warrant, which warrant shall contain the express clause 
that such collection was not made in pursuance of any buU 

* This name should be Weston, as Sir William Weston was the grand- 
prior at the time, 
t Alluded to in Chapter VII. under the title of confraria. 

the Knights of Malta, 4 1 1 

from the Boman pontiff, but Tinder letters patent emanating 
from the king of England. Fourthly, those brethren holding, 
or hereafter promoted to commanderies within the realm of 
England, shall not recognize, support, or promote the jurisdic- 
tion, authority, rank, or title of the bishop of Rome. Fifthly, 
those brethren holding, or hereafter promoted to commanderies 
within the realm of England shall, after payment of the first 
year's revenues into the king's treasury, transfer those of the 
second year to the treasury of the Order for the general main- 
tenance and support of the convent with the reservation of such 
annual tithes as the king retains to himself from all the com- 
manderies within his kingdom. Lastly, that every year a 
chapter of the priory shall be held, in which all crimes 
committed by the fraternity within the realm of England 
shall be examined into and duly punished ; and if any offend- 
ing brother shall consider himself aggrieved by the sentence of 
the chapter, he shall appeal either to the vicar of the king, or 
to the conservator of the privileges of the Order of St. John 
duly appointed by the king. 

A very cursory study of the clauses contained in this docu- 
ment will show both the subtlety and rapacity of those by whom 
it was drawn up. The fourth clause was in itself amply suffi- 
cient to prevent any member of the Boman Catholic Church 
from holding office or emolument within the kingdom of Eng- 
land ; but as though the monarch feared lest the members of 
the Order nught be possessed of consciences sufficiently elastic 
to take the oath, he secures for himself an ample provision from 
the revenues of the commanderies, payment of which would 
be enforced even upon the most compliant of the fraternity. 
Had the knights of St. John been in the habit of yielding any 
annual tithes or contributions to the See of Bome, it would 
have been but natural that the king of England, when he 
assumed to himself the papal functions within his realm, should 
at the same time have transferred to his own treasury all such 
payments. This, however, had never been the case. From the 
earliest period of ita institution, the brotherhood had been 
exempted by papal authority from any demand for ecclesiastical 
tithe or contribution, and this exemption had been continued 
and confirmed from time to time ever since. Henry, therefore, 

412 A History of 

in exacting the payment of tithes, was arrogating to himself 

a privilege such as had never been assumed by the pontifis of 

Rome, even in the days of their most dictatorial authority. 

One of the great sources of revenue enjoyed by the treasury 

was the payment of the first year's income by the successor to 

a vacant commandery. It was this of which Henry contem- | 

plated the spoliation. It is true that he substituted the second 

year's revenue for the benefit of the treasury, but in so doing 

he only mulcted the imfortunate commanders by so much 

additional taxation. 

It is greatly to the credit of the members of the English langue 
that they did not permit the natural desire of retaining their 
large possessions in England to outweigh their sense of religious 
duty. Hard as the terms were which Henry was endeavouring 
to impose on them, they were such as many men would have 
deemed preferable to absolute confiscation ; but the Order of 
St. John was not prepared to admit any such compromise 
between its duty and its interests. It had been reared in 
the bosom of the Church of Rome, it had been nurtured 
by the protection of each successive pontiff, and now that 
a storm had burst over the head of the father of the Church, 
which bid fair to deprive him of the spiritual allegiance of an 
important section of his flock, the knights were not prepared 
to abandon his cause for the sake of retaining their worldly 
advantages. The terms offered by Henry were peremptorily 
declined, and the langue of England — ^which had been so long 
considered one of the brightest adjimcts of the Order, and 
of which the historian Bosio, himself an Italian, and there- 
fore an imbiassed witness, has recorded **co«i ricco nohile 
e principal membro come sempre era statu la venerabile lingua 
d'lnghilterra " — ^was lost to the fraternity. A general seques- 
tration of its property took place, accompanied by much per- 
secution. Some perished on the scaffold, others lingered in 
prison, and the remainder, homeless, destitute, and penniless, 
found their way to Malta, where they were received with all 
brotherly kindness and consideration. By an Act of Parlia- 
ment, dated in April, 1540, all the possessions, castles, manors, 
churches, houses, &c., of the Order of St. John, were vested 
in the Crown; out of this revenue, pensions to the amoimt 

the Knights of Malta. 4 1 3 

of £2,870 were granted to the late Lord-Prior and to other 
members of the institution.* 

It has already been stated that at the oommencement of 
his rule D'Omedes had appointed to the oommand of the 
galleys a young Florentine knight named Leo Strozzi, who 
had attained the dignity of grand-prior of Capua. The father 
of this knight had been imprisoned by the emperor Charles, 
and had ended his life by suioide. Leo, burning with resent- 
ment at his death, abandoned the service of the Order and 
entered that of the king of France. He trusted that xmder 
that flag he would have an opportunity of avenging himself 
upon the emperor. For some time he served in the French 
navy with much distinction, and had risen to the chief com- 
mand of ^ the fleet. Being naturally of an imperious and flery 
temper, he had in that position made for himself many 
powerful enemies in the French court, and was, in conse- 
quence, eventually compelled to resign his command and leave 
the kingdom. He then applied for readmission into the 
fraternity at Malta, but D'Omedes, who, as a Spaniard, was 
a warm partisan of the emperor, declined to permit hiTn 
to land on the island. 

The abandonment of his post had closed to him all French 
ports ; his antagonism to the emperor prevented his flnding 
shelter within any of the harbours of Sicily, and now that 
he was refused admission to Malta he was compelled to cruise 
in the Mediterranean without any means of refltting his 
galleys. Under these circumstances, he was in a measure driven 
into acts of piracy in self-defence, and for some time he became 
the scourge of the Mediterranean, under the title, assumed by 
himself, of " The friend of God alone." Charles, who was too 
wily a politician to permit his resentments to interfere with 
his interests, now that he saw this able captain quarrelling 
with his former protector, at once opened negotiations to 
induce him to enter his own service. It is doubtful whether 
Strozzi, whose anger at the imprisonment of his father 
appears never to have subsided, seriously contemplated the 
acceptance of this offer; but he permitted the negotiation to 

* For further details of the suppression of the langue of England, see 
Chapter XXII. 

414 A History of 

be oarried on, as during its progress he was freed from all 
hostility on the part of the emperor. 

His daring deeds. had raised for him a host of friends 
amongst the fiery spirits who dwelt in Malta. Prom some 
of these he received an invitation, whilst his parleying 
with the emperoi: was still continuing, to present himself once 
more in their island, pledging themselves that he should not 
again receive an inhospitable rebuff. Strozzi had now become 
very desirous of once more entering the ranks of the Order. 
He trusted that from his celebrated name and high interest 
he might one day attain to the supreme dignity. He therefore 
promptly accepted the invitation, and again presented himself 
ofE the harbour. The Ghrand-Master had by this time become 
acquainted with the overtures of Charles to the Florentine. 
He also knew how warmly Leo was respected by the knights, 
and therefore no longer refused him readmission into the 
fraternity; but, on the contrary, welcomed him into its 
ranks with every possible honour. The extreme ability of 
Strozzi was now freely displayed for the benefit of his cow- 
frirea, and by his judicious counsels and suggestions he 
rendered them the greatest possible assistance. 

In conjunction with two other knights, he was appointed 
to inspect and report upon the state of the fortifications, 
and to suggest such additions as might be considered necessary 
for the complete security of the island. The commissioners 
pointed out that, although the Bourg was enclosed by a 
rampart and ditch, it was, nevertheless, commanded by the 
rocky extremity of the peninsula of St. Julian, which. ran 
parallel to that on which stood the castle of St. Angelo. 
They therefore strongly urged the necessity of establishing a 
fort on this promontory of sufficient capacity to hold a con- 
siderable garrison. Mount Sceberras also required occupation, 
in order to deny to an enemy the use of the harbour on the 
other side, called the Marsa Musceit, or Muscetto. Their 
recommendations on this head included the occupation of the 
entire peninsula, but the funds in the treasury did not admit 
of so extensive a work. Forts were, however, erected at the 
extremity of each promontory, that on Mount Sceberras being 
called St. Elmo, and that on the peninsula of St. Julian, St. 

the Knights of Malta. 415 

Michael ; their further recommendations as to an increase in the 
works of the Bonrg and St. Angelo were also adopted. 

In order to carry out these additions with the greater vigour, 
the three commissioners each took charge of one of the works, 
and assisted by other knights, pushed forward the construction 
with the utmost rapidity, stimulating the workmen by their 
constant presence. Don Pedro Pardo, a celebrated Spanish 
engineer, designed the forts, to the rapid completion of which 
every one devoted his utmost energies. The bailiffs and other 
grand-crosses contributed the gold chains from which the 
insignia of their rank were suspended, as also a large portion 
of their plat«; other knights followed their example, sub- 
scribing liberally from their private means in aid of the 
treasury. The galleys also were retained in port so that 
their crews, which were principally composed of slaves, might 
be employed upon the rapidly rising ramparts. The result 
of these exertions was so satisfactory, that in the month of 
May in the following year, 1553, the forts of St. Michael and 
St. Elmo, and the bastions at the head of the Bourg, were 
completed and armed. 

The last event of importance which marked the rule of 
D'Omedes was an unsuccessful attack upon Zoara, made under 
the command of Strozzi. This ill-fated expedition ended in 
the destruction of almost the entire force, and Strozzi him- 
self only escaped being taken prisoner by the valour of a 
Majorcan knight named Tordllas. D'Omedes died on the 9th 
September, 1553, at the advanced age of ninety. It has 
already been stated that the French historians have omitted 
nothing which could blacken the memory of this chief. To 
the vices of avarice and favouritism they add a charge of 
general incapacity. That the French languea, long accustomed 
to see the Gband-Master selected from amongst their number, 
should feel it a grievance that this monopoly had been broken 
through, was but natural. It was also to be expected that the 
langue of Spain, suddenly brought into prominence and sup- 
ported by the overwhelming influence of the emperor, should 
assume somewhat on its new position, and should arrogate 
to itself many of those good things which it had never 
before had the power of obtaining. Parsimony was doubtless 

4i6 A History of 

a vice of D'Omedes, nor can he be altogether acquitted of 
nepotism ; still in neither partionlar was he worse than many 
of his predecessors, nor would he, but for the circumstances in 
which he was placed, have been treated with the virulent abuse 
which has been poured upon him. During his later years 
extreme old age rendered him personally almost irresponsible 
for the acts of his government, and the Ghrand-Master, who sank 
into the tomb a dotard of ninety years of age, was a very 
different man from the hero who had so bravely held the post of 
Spain during the siege of Ehodes, and who lost an eye in that 
memorable struggle. 

The general feeling at the death of D'Omedes was that 
Strozzi, the grand-prior of Capua, should be his successor, but 
it having been pointed out to the council that he would 
probably use the power thus intrusted to him in furtherance of 
his private quarrels, which were many and bitter, the choice 
ultimately fell on the grand-hospitaller Claude de la Sangle, 
who was at the time acting as envoy at Rome. This nomina- 
tion, so contrary to his anticipations, gave dire ofEence to Strozzi. 
He at once resigned the command of the galleys, and set sail 
on a private adventure of his own, in which he was accom- 
panied by several of the yoimger knights, who expected to 
earn renown under so distinguished a leader. Their anticipa- 
tions were never destined to be realized, as Strozzi lost his life 
almost immediately afterwards before a small fort in Tuscany. 
TTiR successor in the command of the galleys was La Valette, 
in which position that gallant leader added to the reputation he 
had already won. 

During the first year of La Bangle's rule an evanescent 
prospect sprang up of the restoration of the English langue. 
The death of the young king, Edward VI., having placed his 
sister Mary on the throne of England, that princess being a 
zealous Boman Catholic, at once despatched ambassadors to 
Malta to treat for the revival of the English langue^ promising 
at tbe same time the restoration of its sequestered lands. To 
this proposition the council of the Order naturally gave a 
prompt and joyful assent, and for a few brief years it seemed 
as though that venerable langue was about to resume its former 
status. But tbis was not to be. The death of Mary crushed 

the Knights of Malta. 417 

all the rising hopes of the fraternity, for on the accession of 
Elizabeth it was again suppressed in a still more formal and 
complete manner. 

The successful forays which the galleys of Malta had carried 
out imder the able command of La Valette, so far enriched the 
public treasury that La Sangle determined to add still further 
to the fortifications erected by D'Omedes. Both at St. Elmo 
and the Bourg considerable additions were made, but his 
main eJEEorts were directed to the further strengthening of the 
promontory of St. Julian. D'Omedes had, it is true, erected at 
its extremity a fort called St. Michael, but this was not deemed 
sufficient, as the whole peninsula was much exposed to the 
neighbouring height of Coradino. To remedy this. La Sangle 
constructed a bastioned rampart along the side of the pro- 
montory facing those heights, and he enclosed its neck in a 
similar manner. These works were carried out principally at 
his own expense. The fraternity, in grateful commemoration 
of the fact, named the enceinte thus formed, and the town 
which rapidly sprang up within it, after its public-spirited chief. 
From that day it has always been known as the Isle de la 
Sangle, since Italianized into Senglea. 

The prospects of the island of Malta were every day 
improving; the maritime successes of the Order not only 
enriched the treasury, but added so considerably to its 
already ' widely-spread renown that its ranks became rapidly 
recruited with much of the best blood in Europe; In the 
midst of this prosperity, however, a calamity occurred which, 
but for prompt assistance on all sides, nught have proved 
irreparable. The island was visited by a furious hurricane on 
the 23rd September, 1555. The violence of this tornado was 
such that numbers of the houses were laid in ruins. Almost 
all the Vessels in harbour sank at their anchorage, and many of 
the galley slaves forming their crews were drowned. The most 
prompt and energetic measures were necessary to restore the 
lost fleet, and, f orttmately for the Order, it found friends both 
within and without its own ranks to aid it at this crisis. 
Philip n. of Spain instantly despatched two galleys, well 
armed and fuUy manned, as a present to his protigi^. The 

Ghrand-Master, at his own expense, caused another to be built 


41 8 A History of 

at Messina, and the Pope, not to be behindhand in the good 
work, furnished its orew from amongst his own galley slaves. 
The prior of St. Q-illes forwarded a galleon laden with ammimi- 
tion and troops, and the grand-prior of France proceeded to 
Malta in person, with two galleys, and tendered his services to 
the Gfrand-Master. 

These patriotic efforts proved to be of vital importanoe. The 
corsair Dragut, trusting to find the island in a defenceless 
state, made a descent on it, and even attempted a landing. 
He was repelled with great loss by the aid of the new 
fleet, and the prior of France promptly carried the war 
into the enemy's country by ravaging the coasts of Barbary. 
In this operation he was so successful that he returned to 
Malta with a vast accumulation of valuable spoil. 

La Sangle died on the 17th August, 1557, and was suc- 
ceeded by John Parisot de la Valette, who, during the last year 
of his predecessor's rule, had filled the office of lieutenant of 
the Mastery, holding, at the same time, the grand-priory of 
St. GKlles. His name of Parisot was derived from his father's 
fief, which was so called, but he is far better known to posterity 
by the family name of La Valette, which his deeds have 
rendered so illustrious. He was bom in the year 1494, of a 
noble family of Quercy, and entered the Order at the age 
of twenty ; he had been present at the siege of Rhodes in 
1522, and followed the fortunes of the knights through 
their various wanderings after the loss of that island. Lideed, 
it is recorded of La Yalette that, from the day of his first 
profession to that of his death, he never once left the convent 
except when cruising with the fleet. His successes as a naval 
commander soon singled him out from amongst his compeers, 
and he had, by his own imaided merits, raised himself step 
by step through the various dignities of the Order, imtil he 
now found himself elected its forty-seventh Grand-Mcuiter. 

He had once been taken prisoner in an encounter with a 
Turkish corsair named Abda Bacman, and during his captivity 
suffered great hardships and many indignities at the hands of 
his victor. Curiously enough, in later years he succeeded in 
capturing a galley commanded by Abda Bacman, who thus, 
in his turn, became the prisoner of his former captive. History 

the Knights of Malta. 419 

hajs not recorded how the Turk was treated, or whether 
La Yalette avenged himself for the indignities he had sufiPered 
at the hands of Abda. H