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If we look back to the beginning of this laudable institution, we must confess that the origin of the orders of knighthood is not easy to be traced. For some refer to too remote a period, when they tell us that Pharaoh the king of the Egyptians instituted such; resting on too slight an argument, which they do not scruple to draw from the sacred writings, where it is said: “That Pharaoh honored Joseph with a golden chain, and a ring as a testimony of the Royal favor." Gen. C. 41. v. 42. from whence they conclude that Joseph was invested with the dignity of some order of
knighthood, but as the delivery of a ring, or a golden | chain, does not imply the investment with an order, but is
only a public testimony of favor such as is frequently at this day, conferred on men who have acquired considerable fame, or gained the peculiar favor of the prince, it follows that the origin, or institution, by no means appear from this example. Otherwise Mardochæus clothed by Ahasuerus the king of Persia, with a purple robe, (Esther c. 8. v. 15,) might claim the like honor.*
Others assert that the Romans conferred the orders of knighthood. To enter into the discussion of which, is foreign to our subject and to our intention.
If we investigate the reason why a knight, on his creation is to submit to a blow, or the laying on of one or more swords on his head or shoulder, we discover that this usage was observed by the king of Bohemia, towards William of Holland, when he conferred knighthood upon him at Becka: the king saying-remember that the saviour of the world was buffetted, and scoffed before the High Priest!"
We believe that the praise of this most salutary institution is due to those, who, with Godfrey of Bouillon restored the kingdom of Jerusalem; and by entering into a society for collecting together, and protecting strangers, which they bound by some vows, gave rise to the orders of hospitalers, and the templars, afterwards so famous over the whole globe.” For in imitation of these various orders of knighthood under various titles, patrons and constitutions, were afterwards erected by almost all the powers of Christendom, existing in different parties of the world, some of which will be hereafter slightly noticed.
Conf. Giustiniani historie Chronologiche dell'origine degl'ordiai militari.
of the Knights-Hospitalers of the order of Saint John of Je.
rusalem; who were afterwards called Knights of Rhodes,
The infant state of this order of Knighthood was extremely feeble.* It is indisputably the oldest and most famous Equestrian Fraternity, that ever existed since the establishment of Christianity. It has served as the model from which every other order has been copied. And its reputation has been diffused throughout the whole world. In the beginning of the IX. century, the merchants of Amalfi, in the kingdom of Naples, who traded to Syria, and commonly visited the holy places at Jerusalem, were desirous of having a church, in that city. The caliph of Egpyt, ROMENSOR-MUSTRESAPH, granted them permission to build one in the quarter belonging to the Christians; and it was situated opposite to the chapel of the resurrection. They consecrated it to the honor of the blessed Virgin Mary; and erected a convent for the religious, or monks, of the order of Saint-Benedict, whose especial duty it was to receive and entertain such pilgrims as came there.
This church was called Saint Mary the Latin; to distinguish it from the others, in which the Latin customs were not observed.
In process of time, the number of Pilgrims augmenting very considerably; an hospital was built on the side of the church of Saint Mary, the Latin. This edifice was particularly destined to receive male persons only; the sick and infirm, as well as the healthy. It was under the direction of a master, or rector, who was nominated by the Abbot of Saint Mary's; and an additional chapel was erected to the honour of Saint John the Baptist, for the use of this institution.
A certain Gerard, who was a native of the Island of Martigues, on the coast of Provence, was the first who had the inspection thereof: and some years afterwards, GOD
The sovereign order of St. John, of Jerusalem, and the teutonic were founded by humble pilgrims. The former was established and endowed by merchants of Amalfi; the latter, by those of Bremen and Lubeck. The more pious Crusades, united themselves into chosen bands, for the defence and protection of these charitable institutions. By the sagacious policy of the Popes, they were incorporated, and the edifice of their grandeur, was erected on such solid foundations, as to have outstood the shocks and refolutions of seven eventful centuries. These facts, are well ascertained in the annals of those orders.
FREY of BOUILLOŃ, having conquered the city of Jerusa. lem on the 15th of July 1099, he was so touched with the mild and compassionate conduct observed in the Hospital of Saint Mary, the Latin; that he made a donation to it of several estates, situated in France; and which were part of his property.*
Some other persons, distinguished by their rank and devout munificence, imitated the liberality of this prince; and by such means the revenues of the Hospital were considerably augmented.t
So circumstanced, Gerard and his brethren thought it might be advantageous for the Hospital, to separate it from the jurisdiction of the Abbot and monks of the convent of Saint Mary, the Latin; and to establish a particular congregation under the protection, and to the honour of Saint John the Baptist. Such is the reason why they were hence. forward called the Hospitalers, or brothers of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem; or the Johannists.
In the year 1113, Gerard received from pope Pascal the II. a confirmation of those donations which had been made to the Hospital; his holiness took it under his apostolical protection; and after the death of Gerard, ordained, that the inspectors, or rectors, should be chosen from the brathers Hospitalers, who were the administrators of the Hos. pital.
Gerard died in the year 1118—to him succeeded Raymond du Puy, a native of Dauphiny, who the first, assumed the title of Master. Until that period, the Hospitalers had no written rules by which they were governed.
But Raymond du Puy, connected and bound together the brotherhood, in a more firm and consistent manner, by giving them rules in writing; and, by exacting, or enjoin. ing, the strict observance of the three solemn vows, of pov. erty, chastity, and obedience to their superior. He likewise adopted some of the rules which were observed by the mo
• “They had in several parts of Christendom 20,000 manors; in England the lord Prior of the order, was accounted the prime baron in the realm.
See Clark's Hist. p. 48, vol. 2. † "In the year 1100 Jordan Briset, a rich and religious man, built them a house near West-Smithfield, called St. John, of Jerusalem; and from their great austerity of living, they obtained vast possessions in England; before, what belonged to the Templars, was settler upon them. In Warwickshire they had lands in Grafton, Chesterton, Preston, Pagot, Whitmarsh, New. hold, Pacie, Bilney, Ricton, Dunsmore, Halford, Anstie, and other places; by the gift of sundry persons.”
[See Clark's His, p. 58, vol. 2.
nastic order of Saint Augustin, insomuch that this order of Saint John of Jerusalem, has ever been classed in the number of those who observe the rules of the Augustins.
This first grand master afterwards separated the bospitalers into three classes—The first consists of gentlemen, who are destined to defend the faith, and to protect the pil. grims. The second is formed of chaplains and priests, for the church; and the third is composed of serving-brothers, who are not gentlemen;* but who in time of war, must serve as the militia of the order.
The grand master likewise introduced the custom of receiving the knights into the order with certain ceremonies; which in 1130 were approved of and ordained, by Innocent the II. the then reigning pontiff.
In time of war, the knights must distinguish their flags, or colours with a large white cross upon a red field, and till now, such are the arms of the order. Although it has arisen, so as to become the first equestrian order, nevertheless the members thereof, were not denominated knights, until they bravely conquered and wrested from the hands of the ini. dels, the celebrated island of Rhodes.
As the city of Jerusalem, as well as that of Acre, bad in 1187 submitted, and surrendered itself to Saladin the Caliph of Egypt; the order retired to Marget in Phænieia (a city then belonging to them, but which they lost in 1285.) In 1191, when the christians had again become masters of the city of Acre, the knights established themselves there, and made it the chief seat of the order.
But on the 18th of May, 1191, the Sultan Mulec-Seraph, having taken the above city by storm, the knights repaired to the Island of Cyprus, and settled themselves in the city of Limnisso. There they remained during a period of eighteen years; until, in 1909, having conquered the Island of Rhodes, and some others of less note, they established themselves in the former, under the government of their grand master, FuLK de VILLARET. During the space of two hundred and thirteen years, they possessed these Islands in a state of unmolested tranquility. On the 15th of December 1524, Soliman the second, that ornament of the Ottoman einpire, made himself master of all their dominions.
After this misfortune had befallen them, they successively retired to Castro, Messina, and Rome. At length, on the 2-ih
* Meaning thereby that they were not of high birth, or the descendants of those claiming noble blood, according to the ancient feudal sysu m.
of March, 1550, the Emperor CHARLES the Vth gave them the Island of Malta, on condition that they should protect and defend the same and repress the depredations, which the Turkish and piratical rovers were in the habit of perpetually committing. *
This Island is about twenty French leagues in length, and twelve in breadth. It contains two cities, Civita-Vecchia, and la Valette; and about fifty villages. Their chief (who styles himself grand master of the Hospital of Saint John in Jerusalem, and guardian of the poor of our Lord Jesus Christ) resided at la Valette until 1798, when the French under the command of Bonaparte made themselves masters of the Island. The order was classed at that period into eight languages, or nations, viz. 1. Provence; 2. Auvergne; 3. France; 4. Italy; 5. Arragon; 6. Germany; 7. Castile; and 8. Anglo-Bavaria; which last was added thereto, by the late Elector Palatin Charles Theodore de Sultzbach. That Prince conferred upon the order all the estate of the suppressed society of the Jesuits, situated in Bavaria; and which, at the time of their suppression, had been united to the electoral domains. Charles Augustus prince of Bretzenheim, was the first grand-prior of this nation, or language. He was invested therewith in 1786; and resigned that dignity in 1799, immediately upon the death of the Elector.
The grand master, as well as the cardinals, enjoys the title of EMINENCE; and the grand officers of the order, are as follows: 1. The grand commander, is the oldest member of the
language of Provence.
*“After the loss of the Isle of Rhodes, they removed to the Island of Mal. ta, which with Tripoli and Gozo were granted to them in fee by the Emperor CAARLES V. A. D, 1530, under the tender one Falcon yearly, to the Viceroy of Sicily, and to acknowledge the king of Spain and Sicily for their Protector.
“In May 1565, they were besieged by Solyman, with a navy of 160 gallies full of Turkish soldiers, and 100 vessels with provisions. The siege was sustained for four months by the bravery of the knights, and the conduct of their grand master John de la Valette; so that the Turks, on the eighth of September, in the same year, were obliged to raise the siege, and leave be. hind them 3000 of their men, and most part of their artillery. At Malta on that day, an annual procession is solemnly made, in memory of their deliverance.
“These Knights are in number 1000; 500 must reside in the Island of Malta, the remainder are dispersed at their seminaries in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, and at any summons are to make their personal appearance. They had a Seminary in England till the suppression of it by king Herre VIII. and they still appoint one to whom they give the title of Grand Prior of England.”
See CLARK's Hist. p, 49. l'ol. 2.