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14
ST JOHN OF JERUSALEM


was very great, but not absolute. The supreme legislative and controlling power was vested in the general chapter of the knights, at the periodical meetings of which the great officers of the order had to give an account of their stewardship, and which alone had the right to pass statutes binding on the order The executive power of the grand master, like that of the great dignitaries immediately subordinate to him, was in the nature of a delegation from the chapter. He was assisted in its exercise by four councils: (1) the “convent” or ordinary chapter, a committee of the general chapter,[1] for administrative business; (2) a secret council, for criminal cases and affairs of state; (3) a full council, to hear appeals from the two former;[2] and (4) the “venerable chamber of the treasury” for financial matters. To the general chapter at headquarters corresponded the chapters of the priories and the commanderies, which controlled the action of the priors and commanders.

Immediately subordinate to the grand master were the seven great dignitaries of the order, known as the conventual bailiffs: the grand preceptor,[3] marshal, draper (Fr. drapier) or grand conservator, hospitaller, treasurer, admiral, turcopolier.[4] The grand preceptor, elected by the chapter at the same time as the grand master and subject to his approval, was the lieutenant of the latter in his absence, empowered to seal for him and, in the event of his capture by the enemy, to act as vice-master. The functions of the marshal, draper, treasurer and turcopolier were practically identical with those of the officials of the same titles in the order of Knights Templars. That of hospitaller, on the other hand, was naturally a charge of exceptional importance in the order of St John; he had a seal of his own, and was responsible for everything concerning the hospitals of the order, the dispensing of hospitality, and of alms. The admiral, as the name implies, was at sea what the marshal was on land. The office first appears in 1299 when the knights, after their expulsion from the Holy Land, had begun to organize their new sea-power in Cyprus. As to the equipage and suites of the grand master and the great dignitaries, these were practically on the same scale and of the same nature as those described in the article Templars for the sister order. The grand master had the right himself to nominate his companions and the members of his household (seneschal, squires, secretaries, chaplains, &c.), which, as Le Roulx points out, was such as to enable him to figure as the equal of the kings and princes with whom he consorted.

The grand-mastership of Gilbert d'Assailly was signalized by the participation of the Hospitallers in the abortive expeditions of Amalric of Jerusalem into Egypt in 1162, 1168 and 1169. On the 10th of August 1164 also they shared in the disastrous defeat inflicted by Nur-ed-din at Harran on the count of Tripoli. The important position occupied by them in the councils of the kingdom is shown by the fact that the grand preceptor Guy de Mauny was one of the ambassadors sent in 1169 to ask aid of the princes of the West. Another important development was the bestowal on the order by Bohemund III., prince of Antioch, in 1168, and King Amalric, as regent of Tripoli, in 1170, of considerable territories on the north-eastern frontier, to be held with almost sovereign power as a march against the Saracens (Cartulaire, i. Nos. 391, 411). The failure of the expedition to Egypt, however, brought considerable odium on Gilbert d'Assailly, who resigned the grand-mastership, probably in the autumn of 1170.[5] Under the short rule of the grand master Jobert (d. 1177) the question of a renewed attack on Egypt was mooted; but the confusion reigning in the Latin kingdom and, not least, the scandalous quarrels between the Templars and Hospitallers, rendered all aggressive action impossible. In 1170 the growing power of the two military orders received its first set back when, at the instance of the bishops, the Lateran Council forbade them to receive gifts of churches and tithes at the hands of laymen without the consent of the bishops, ordered them to restore all “recent”[6] gifts of this nature, and passed a number of decrees in restraint of the abuse of their privileges.

A more potent discipline was to befall them, however, at the hands of Saladin, sultan of Egypt, who in 1186 began his systematic conquest of the kingdom. It was the Hospitallers who, with the other religious orders, alone offered an organized resistance to his victorious advance. On the 1st of May 1187 occurred the defeat of Tiberias, in which the grand master Gilbert des Moulins fell riddled with arrows, and this was followed on the 4th of July by the still more disastrous battle of Hittin. The flower of the Christian chivalry was slain or captured; the Hospitallers and Templars who fell into his hands Saladin massacred in cold blood. On the 2nd of October Jerusalem fell. Ten brethren of the Hospital were allowed to remain for a year to look after the sick; the rest took refuge at Tyre. In these straits Armengard d'Asp was elected grand master (1188) and the headquarters of the order were established at Margat (Markab), near the coast some distance northwards of Tripoli. In the interior the knights still held some scattered fortresses; but their great stronghold of Krak[7] was reduced by famine in September 1188 and Beauvoir in the following January.

The news of these disasters once more roused the crusading spirit in Europe; the offensive against Saladin was resumed, the Christians concentrating their forces against Acre in the autumn of 1189. In the campaigns that followed, of which Richard I. of England was the most conspicuous hero, and which ended in the recovery of Acre and the sea-coast generally for the Latin kingdom, the Hospitallers, under their grand master Garnier de Naplouse[8] (Neapoli), played a prominent part. The grand-mastership of Geoffrey de Donjon, who succeeded Garnier in 1192 and ruled the order till 1202,[9] was signalized, not by feats of arms, since the Holy Land enjoyed a precarious peace, but by a steady restoration and development of the property and privileges of the order, by renewed quarrels with the Templars, and in 1198 by the establishment—in face of the protests of the Hospitallers—of the Teutonic knights as a separate order; Under the grand-mastership of the pious Alphonso of Portugal, and of Geoffrey le Rat, who was elected on Alphonso's resignation in 1206, the knights. took a vigorous part in the quarrel as to the succession in Antioch; under that of Garin de Montaigu (elected 1207) they shared in the expedition to Egypt (1218-1221), of which he had been a vigorous advocate (see Crusades: The Fifth Crusade). In 1222, at the instance of the emperor Frederick II., the grand master accompanied the king of Jerusalem and others to Europe to discuss the preparation of a new crusade, visiting Rome, proceeding thence to Paris and, London, and returning to the Holy Land in 1225.

The expedition failed of its object so far as the organization of

    Brandenburg), (8) Castile (grand priories of Castile and Leon, and Portugal). Of the grand priories the most ancient and by far the most important was that of St Gilles, founded early in the 12th century, the authority of which extended originally over the whole of what is now France and a great part of Spain. In the 16th century its seat was transferred to Arles. Out of this developed the langues of Auvergne, France, Aragon and Castile, with their subsidiary priories. The date of the creation, of the various grand commanderies differs greatly: that of Italy was established in the 13th century, the langue of Germany in 1422, that of Castile was split off from Aragon in 1462. The castellany of Amposta (founded 1157) ranked as a priory. The bailiwick of Brandenburg, which had long been practically independent of the grand prior of Germany, obtained the right to elect its own bailiff (Herrenmeister) in 1382, subject to the approval of the grand prior. In the Holy Land there were no priors; the commanderies were directly under the grand master. and the commanders (who retained the style of bailli, bailivus) ranked with the grand priors elsewhere.

  1. This seems to have consisted in practice of the great dignitaries of the order. See Le Roulx, Hospitaliers, p. 314.
  2. A peculiarity of the order of St John was the esgart des fréres (esgart, Lat. sguardium=court) which could be demanded by any knight who thought himself wronged by a decision of his superiors, even of the grand master.
  3. To be carefully distinguished from the regional grand preceptors or grand commanders, and also from the grand commander d'outremer, who represented the grand master in the West generally.
  4. To these the grand bailiff (German, langue) and grand chancellor (Castile) were added later.
  5. See Le Roulx, Hospitaliers, p. 76 sqq. The resignation led to bitter divisions in the order. It was urged that the resignation was invalid without the consent of-the general chapter and the pope; and a temporary schism was the result. Gilbert was drowned in 1183 crossing from Dieppe to England, whither he had gone at the invitation of Henry II.
  6. ° The words “tempore moderno” were interpreted by Pope Alexander III. in a bull of the 1st of June 1179 as within ten years of' the opening of the council (Cartul. 1. No. 566).
  7. The stupendous ruins of Krak-des-Chevaliers (at Kerak, S.E. of the Dead Sea) attest the wealth and power of the knights (for a restoration see Castle, fig. 5). The castle had been given to the Hospitallers by Guillaume du Crac in 1142. In 1193 it was again in their hands, and was subsequently greatly enlarged and strengthened. It was finally captured by the Egyptians under Bibars in 1271.
  8. Garnier had been prior of England and later of France.
  9. So Le Roulx p. 119.