Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Hospitallers: The History of the Order of St. John

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Hospitallers: The History of the Order of St. John

Article excerpt

RILEY-SMITH, JONATHAN. Hospitallers: The History of the Order of St. Jobn. (Rio Grande: Hambledon Press. 1999. Pp. vii, 152. $40.00.)

The opening sections of this brief book, which is lavishly and excellently illustrated in color, cover the Hospital's origins as a hospitaller order and its subsequent militarization in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Although the work is presented in didactic format destined for general readership, these pages include important new observations. The passages on the Rhodian and Maltese periods from 1306 to 1798 are comparatively short; they are preceded by a special ten-page section on the Priory of England. The final twenty-seven pages covering the story subsequent to the fall of Malta in 1798 also make it clear that the book is primarily intended as a history of the British branch of the Order of Saint John, as revived by royal charter in 1888, and of the Saint John's Ambulance Brigade. The post-1798 history of the Catholic Order of Malta, with its long and continuous history, is largely ignored; those interested in that subject should consult H. Sire, The Knights of Malta (Yale, 1994). What had originated as a hospitaller institution and then became predominantly, though never exclusively, a military-religious order, reverted after some seven centuries to its original charitable activities. …

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