Page 1345


Now it was that the Order took on a permanent character. After the establishment

of the Kingdom of Jerusalem the brothers

bound themselves by a vow to labor forever in the hospitals. They were to become

henceforth the "servants of Christ and his

poor." Their vows embraced the trinity

of mediaeval virtues-obedience, chastity, and

poverty. As a garb they chose the black

robe of the Augustinian monks, and to this

was added a white linen cross of eight points,

worn on the left breast. On the 15th of

February, 1113, the Order was approved

by Pope Paschal II., under the name of

the "Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John in


In the organization which was thus made

regular and permanent, Pierre Gerard was

chosen Guardian and Provost of the Order.

Gifts poured in upon the fraternity. A splendid church was built on the traditional site of

the abode of the parents of Saint John the

Baptist, and hospitals for the accommodation

of pilgrims were founded in the principal seaport towns of Western Europe.

After five years of service as Guardian,

Gerard died, and was succeeded by Raymond du Puy. He it was who, in order

to protect the Christians of Palestine from

injury or insult at the hands of the Moslems, armed himself and formed companion

knights, and thus gave to the Order its first

military cast. The movement was applauded

by the age. Both in the Holy Land and in

the West the brothers in arms became more

popular than ever. The chivalric sentiment

was thus added to the charitable vows of

the fraternity, and persons of distinction

and high rank began eagerly to seek admission into the Order. The vow to bear arms

in defense of Christ and his cause, and to

defend from insult and wrong the Christians

of all lands and languages, was taken with

even more enthusiasm than the vow of monasticism and charity.

From the accession of Raymond to the

guardianship of the Order, three degrees were

recognized in the hospital; knights, priests,

and brothers-servants. To these a fourth

grade, called sergeants, or half-knights, was

presently added; and to these intermediates

certain duties in both the field and the infirmary were assigned.

Under the auspices of Raymond, a code was drawn up for the government of the

Order. The Augustinian rule was made the

basis of the statute adopted for the Brothers of the Hospital. The name of the chief

officer was changed from Guardian to Master,

and Saint John the Baptist was substituted

for Saint John the Almoner, as the patron

of the brotherhood. In 1120 the new constitution was submitted to Pope Calixtus II,

and by him cordially approved.

So rapidly did the Hospitallers extend

their establishments and membership that it

was presently found desirable to make-according to the nationality and language

of the members-a nine-fold division of

the Order. The commanderies were thenceforth classified as those of Provence, Auvergne, France, Italy, Aragon, Germany,

England, Castile, and Portugal.

Before the middle of the twelfth century, the Hospitallers had become a powerful military factor in the affairs of the

East. Their membership embraced the most

puissant knights of Christendom. During

the siege of Tyre, they contributed powerfully to the capture of the city, and the

final expulsion of the Moslems from Palestine. In 1153 they aided in the taking of

Ascalon, their valorous actions being the

pride of the Christians and the terror of

the Saracens. After these successful victories for the Cross, the wealth of the Order

accumulated with great rapidity. Nor was

it long until the moral and chivalric grandeur

of the brotherhood began to be undermined

by the invidious influences of luxury and

corruption. As early as 1168, the Master

Gilbert d'Assalit, successor to Raymond

du Puy, was seduced with bribes, together

with the larger part of the Order, to violate

a treaty with Egypt, and to make an invasion of that country. In 1187 the Hospitallers

of Palestine were almost exterminated in

the disastrous battle of Tiberias, where

Saladin so signally overthrew the Christians.

When possession of Jerusalem was finally

regained by the Saracens, the Order made

its headquarters for a while at the Castle

of Margat, and at the same time the woman's

hospitals in the cast were abandoned. At

this epoch, the knights suffered much from

their disputes and rivalries with the Templars;

but in times of danger both brotherhoods

gave their best blood in defense of the