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18
ST JOHN OF JERUSALEM

itself. Rohan had died in 1797, and his feeble successor, Baron Ferdinand von Hompesch,[1] though fully warned, made no preparations to resist. In the early summer of 1798, after a siege of only a few days, he surrendered the island, with its impregnable fortifications, to Bonaparte, and retired ignominiously to Trieste, carrying with him the precious relics of the order—the hand of St John the Baptist presented by the sultan Bayezid, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Philermo, and a fragment of the true cross.

With this the history of the order of St John practically ends. Efforts were, however, made to preserve it. Many of the knights had taken refuge at the court of Paul I. of Russia, with whom in 1797 Hompesch had made an alliance. In October 1798 these elected the emperor Paul grand master, and in the following year Hompesch was induced to resign in his favour. The half-mad tsar took his new functions very seriously, but his murder in 1801 ruined any hope of recovering Malta with Russian assistance. A chapter of the order now granted the right of nomination to the pope, who appointed Giovanni di Tommasi grand master. From his death in 1805 until 1879, when Leo XIII. restored the title of grand master in favour of Fra Giovanni Ceschi a Santa Croce, the heads of the order received only the title of lieutenant master. In 1814 the French knights summoned a chapter general and elected a permanent commission for the government of the order, which was recognized by the Italian and Spanish knights, by the pope and by King Louis XVIII. In the Italian states much of the property of the order was restored at the instance of Austria, and in 1841 the emperor Ferdinand founded the grand priory of Lombardo-Venetia.

Present Constitution of the Order.—The “Sovereign Order of Malta” is now divided into the Italian and German langues, both under the Sacred Council (Sagro consiglio) at Rome. The Italian langue embraces the grand priories of Rome, Lombardy and Venice, and Sicily; the German langue consists of (1) the grand priory of Bohemia, (2) the association of the honorary knights (Ehrenritter) in Silesia, (3) the association of Ehrenritter in Westphalia and the Rhine country, (4) the association of English knights (not to be confused with the English order), (5) the knights received in gremio religionis, i.e. those not attached to any of the preceding divisions. At the head of the order is the grand master. Each priory has a certain number of bailiffs (grand commanders, commendatori), commanders, professed knights (i.e. those who have taken the vows), knights of justice (novices), honorary knights, knights of grace, donats and chaplains.

Candidates for knighthood have to prove sixteen quarterings of nobility and, if under age, must be sons of a landowner of the province and of a mother born within its limits. If an Austrian subject, the postulant must obtain the emperor's leave to join the order; the election is by the chapter, and subject to confirmation by the pope. Knights of justice take a yearly oath to fulfil the duties laid on them by the order. After ten years they may take the full oath as professed knights. At any time before doing so, however, they are free to retire from the order and may receive the croix de dévotion as honorary knights, their sole obligation being an annual subscription to the order. The croix de dévotion is also bestowed on ladies of sufficiently impeccable descent. The grand master also has the right, motu proprio, to bestow the cross on distinguished people not of noble birth, who are known as knights of grace. The grand cross[2] of the order is sometimes given, honoris causa, to sovereigns and others, who then rank as honorary bailiffs. This is a gold, white enamelled “Maltese” cross, surmounted by a crown, which is worn suspended round the neck by a black ribbon. Bailiffs, professed knights and chaplains wear in addition a white linen cross sewn on to the left breast. The grand priory of Bohemia has made the nursing of the sick its speciality, and especially the organization of military hospitals. The hospice between Bethlehem and Jerusalem is under the protection of the Austrian emperor.

Protestant Orders.—In addition to the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta, there exist two Orders of St John of Jerusalem which derive their origin from the same source: the Prussian Johanniterorden and the English Order of St John of Jerusalem. Of these the Prussian order has the most interesting history. At the Reformation the master and knights of the bailiwick of Brandenburg adopted the new religion. They continued, however, like other Ritterstifter, to enjoy their corporate rights; they even continued to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the grand preceptor of the German langue, in so far as the confirmation of official appointments was concerned, and to send their contributions to the common fund of the order. On the 30th of October 1810, under stress of the miseries of the Napoleonic occupation of Prussia, the order was secularized and its estates confiscated; in 1812 King Frederick William III. founded the chivalrous order of St John, to which the expropriated knights were admitted as honorary knights. In 1853 Frederick William IV. reversed this action, abolished the new chivalrous order and reconstituted the bailiwick of Brandenburg, on the ostensible ground that its maintenance had been guaranteed by the treaty of Westphalia (1648). The master (Herrenmeister) is elected by the chapter. All members of the order must be of noble birth and belong to the Evangelical Church. The cross worn is of white enamelled gold with four black eagles between the arms; a white linen cross is also sewn on the left breast of the red tunic which forms part of the uniform. The order has founded, and supports, many hospitals, including a hospice at Jerusalem (see Herrlich, Die Ballei Brandenburg, 4th ed., Berlin, 1904).

As already mentioned, the English langue, though deprived of its lands, was never formally suppressed. In 1826–1827 the commission instituted by the French knights in 1814, which was aiming at taking advantage of the Greek War of Independence to reconquer Rhodes or to secure some other island in the Levant, suggested the restoration of the English langue, obviously with the idea of securing the help of Great Britain for their project. Certain eminent Englishmen, e.g. Sir Sydney Smith, had already been affiliated to the order by the grand master Baron von Hompesch; the commission now placed itself in communication with the Rev. Sir William Peat, chaplain to King George IV., and other English gentlemen of position. The negotiations resulted in articles of convention reviving the English langue. In 1834 Sir William Peat, elected prior of the English langue, qualified himself by taking the oath de fideli administratione in the court of King's Bench, under the charter (never repealed) of Philip and Mary re-establishing the order.[3] For fifty years this was all the official recognition obtained by this curious and characteristic sham-Gothic restoration of the Romantic period. The “English langue,” however, though somewhat absurd, did good service in organizing hospital work, notably in the creation of the St John's Ambulance Association, and this work was recognized in high quarters, the princess of Wales (afterwards Queen Alexandra) becoming a lady of justice in 1876 and the duke of Albany joining the order in 1883. In 1888 Queen Victoria granted a charter formally incorporating the order, the headquarters of which had been established in the ancient gate-way of the priory at Clerkenwell. In 1889 the prince of Wales (King Edward VII.) was installed as grand prior.

The objects and constitution of the order are practically the same as those of its Prussian equivalent. The sovereign is its supreme head and patron, the heir to the throne for the time being its grand prior. It is essentially aristocratic, though—for obvious reasons—proof of sixteen quarterings of nobility is not exacted as a condition of membership. The cross is the gold, white-enamelled Maltese cross, differenced by two lions and two unicorns placed between the arms. The order also gives medals to persons of all ranks “for service in the cause of humanity.” Among other good works, it supports an ophthalmic hospital at Jerusalem. Unlike the Prussian order, the members need not be Protestants, though they must profess Christianity.[4]

Authorities.-From the 12th century onwards the knights exercised peculiar care in the preservation of their records, and the vast archives of the order are still preserved, all but intact, at Malta. These include not only those of the central establishment but also a large number of those of the separate commanderies. They include papal bulls, the records of the general chapter, the statutes of the grand masters, title deeds, charters, and from 1629 onwards the special transactions of the Conseil d'état. These materials were exploited by several writers in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first was Giacomo Bosio, the 3rd edition of whose Istoria della ... illustrissima militia di S. Giov. Gierosolimitano was published in 3 vols. at Rome in 1676. This was followed by S. Pauli's Codice diplomatico del sacro militare ordine Geros. (2 vols., Lucca, 1733–1737) and P. A. Paoli's Dell' origine ed istituto del sacra militar ordine, &c. (Rome, 1781). These are still useful sources as containing references to, and extracts from, documents since lost. In 1883 J. Delaville Le Roulx published Les Archives de l'Ordre de Saint-Jean, an analysis of the records preserved at Malta. This was followed in 1904 by his monumental Cartulaire général des Hospitaliers de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem (1100-1310), 4 vols. folio. This gives (1) all documents anterior to 1120, (2) all those emanating from the great dignitaries of the order, (3) all those emanating from popes, emperors, kings and great feudatories, (4) those which fix the date of the foundation of particular commanderies, (5) those regulating the relations of the Hospitallers with the lay and ecclesiastical authorities and with the other military orders, (6) the rules, statutes and customs of the order. Hitherto unpublished documents (from the archives of Malta and elsewhere) are published in full; those already published, and the place where they may be found, being indicated in proper sequence. Based on the Cartulaire is Le Roulx's Les

  1. He was the only German in the list of grand masters.
  2. So called because the dignitaries wore a larger cross than the generality of the knights.
  3. See Bedford and Holbeche, Appendix D.
  4. The medieval vows are, of course, not taken.