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Knights

john, st, island, jerusalem and turks

KNIGHTS of St. John of Jerusalem. The order of St. John originated from the es tablishment of an hospital at Jerusalem, in the year 1048, by certain Italian mer chants, for the reception of pilgrims and travellers, which they dedicated to the Baptist. The subsequent conquest of Jerusalem, by Godfrey of Boulogne, who wrested it from the Turks, was of infinite service to the hospital, which flourished in the same proportion with the facility thus afforded for visiting the holy city. Raymond, rector of the brethren in its then state, being of an active and military turn, formed the plan of convert ing them into knights, captains, and ser vants; he marshalled them into bands, invented banners, and led them on against the Turks, as knights of the order of St. John of Jerusalem ; they fought with great bravery ; but the inferiority of their numbers occasioned frequent defeats, and they were at length compelled to give up their possessions to the conqueror Sala dine : after a continued series of toils and misfortunes, and a constancy in the cause of religion which did them great honour, they were finally expelled from the Holy Land, in the year 1292.

The master and brethren fled to the island of Cyprus, where they employed their leisure in framing statutes for the government of the order ; but recurring to their former military pursuits, they at tacked Rhodes in 1308, which, with seven other islands, soon fell into their posses sion ; they then assumed the addition of Rhodes to their previous titles ; there they flourished for a very considerable length of time, and resisted the Turks with equal bravery and skill ; but Sultan Soliman, having determined at all events to dislodge them, he assembled an army of 300,000 men, with which he invaded the island, and, after six months incessant fatigue and excessive loss, he succeeded in expelling them. The Emperor Charles

V. gave them Malta at this critical xra, to which island the knights retired in 1523. There they underwent repeated invasions from the Turks, and obtained the admi ration of all nations, for their invincible courage and address in repelling their attacks. The Knights of Malta, as they were now called, might have remained for centuries to come in quiet possession of their island, had they not been disturb ed by a power they had little reason to dread till very lately : their surrender of it to the arms of France has been the means of placing it in the possession of England, and the order may be consider ed as almost extinct.

Jordan Brisset introduced the order in to England, by founding the Priory of St. John, at Clerkenwell, where it flourished till the general dissolution of religious houses by Henry VIII. It will be suffi cient to add, from Malcolm's " Londini um," " Camden says, that the priors were held equal in rank to the first barons of the realm ; and their riches certainly en abled them to support their splendour of living. Such was their power and influ ence, that Edward Ili. thought it neces sary, in the fortieth year of his reign, to appoint Richard de Everton visitor of the hospitals of this order in England and Ireland, to repress their insolence, and to enforce propriety of conduct ; which ap pointment was repeated five years after by the same king.'