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The Siege of Rhodes, 1480

A.D. Lacy describes how, under the leadership of Pierre d’Aubusson, the Knights Hospitallers at Rhodes withstood a ferocious attack by the Turks.

Many years before the norman conquest of England, Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre were the goal of Christian pilgrimages from all over Europe. Frequently ill after their long journey, the pilgrims found themselves harassed and robbed by the nomadic Bedouin tribes of Palestine. Touched by their sufferings, some pious Italian merchants from Amalfi constructed in a.d. 1050 a church and hospice within the Holy City where pilgrims could take shelter in safety. This establishment was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and those who served it were known as the Brotherhood of the Hospitallers, afterwards to become the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.

At first the Brotherhood had but one aim, care of the pilgrims and relief of the poor; but the continual vexations suffered at the hands of the Bedouins, and the initial success of the First Crusade, led Raymond du Puy, first elected Master of the Order (1118-1159), to form a Military Corps for the protection of its members. The Order was then divided into three classes: the Knights who had to be of noble parentage, the Almoners who acted as chaplains, and the Serving Brothers who acted as squires and in other capacities. Members of each class of the same nationality belonged to a Langue or Tongue of the Order, each Langue under its own chief. Supreme authority was vested in the hands of the Grand Master, who himself owed obedience to the Pope.

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