[[quoteright:246:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Caravaggio_-_Portrait_of_a_Knight_of_Malta.JPG]]
[[caption-width-right:246:That lord i' th' black cloak, with the silver cross, is Knight of Rhodes...]]

->'''Caspar Gutman:''' ''What do you know, sir, about the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, later known as the Knights of Rhodes and other things?''
->'''Sam Spade:''' ''Crusaders or something, weren't they?''
-->-- ''Film/TheMalteseFalcon''

[[OverlyLongName The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta]] (SMOM), known also as '''TheKnightsHospitallers''', the Knights of St. John, the Knights of Rhodes, the Knights of Malta, and [[IHaveManyNames about a dozen variations thereon]], is a Roman Catholic religious order and the oldest and perhaps most important of the three great orders of crusading knights, the other two being TheKnightsTemplar and TheTeutonicKnights.

The birth of the Order dates back to around 1048. Merchants from the ancient Marine Republic of Amalfi obtained from the Caliph of Egypt the authorization to build a church, convent, and hospital in Jerusalem to care for pilgrims. The Order of St. John of Jerusalem -- the monastic community that ran the hospital for the pilgrims in the Holy Land -- became independent under the guidance of its founder, Blessed Gérard. With the Bull of 15 February 1113, [[ThePope Pope Paschal II]] approved the foundation of the Hospital and placed it under the ægis of the Holy See, granting it the right to freely elect its superiors without interference from other secular or religious authorities. By virtue of the Papal Bull, the Hospital became an Order exempt from all Church authority except for the pope's, and paid no tithes. All the Knights were religious, bound by the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The habit of the order consisted of a black cloak with a white cross, which by the thirteenth century had assumed the eight-pointed form familiar today as the Maltese Cross.

The constitution of the Kingdom of Jerusalem regarding TheCrusades obliged the Order to take on the military defense of the sick, the pilgrims and the territories that the crusaders had conquered from the Muslims. The Order thus added military operations to its hospitaller mission.

When the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land fell in 1291, the Order settled first in UsefulNotes/{{Cyprus}} and then, in 1310, led by Grand Master Foulques de Villaret, on the island of Rhodes. The military role of the Order shifted from land-based to naval-based operations in the Mediterranean, serving as a sort of Catholic Coast Guard against both Muslim navies and {{pirate}}s and sometimes engaging in something very like piracy against Muslims themselves.

In 1523, after six months of siege and fierce combat against the fleet and army of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the Knights were forced to surrender and abandon Rhodes. The Order remained without a territory of its own until 1530, when Grand Master Philippe de Villiers de l'Isle Adam took possession of the island of UsefulNotes/{{Malta}}, granted to the Order by [[HolyRomanEmpire Emperor Charles V]] with the approval of [[ThePope Pope Clement VII]]. In 1565 the Knights, led by Grand Master Jean de la Vallette (after whom the capital of Malta, Valletta, was named), defended the island for more than three months during the [[http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=finnemore&book=barbary&story=knights1 Great Siege]] by the Turks. In 1571, the fleet of the Order, then one of the most powerful in the Mediterranean, contributed to the ultimate destruction of the Ottoman naval power in the UsefulNotes/BattleOfLepanto.

Two hundred years later, in 1798, NapoleonBonaparte occupied the island for its strategic value during his Egyptian campaign. Because of the Order's Rule prohibiting them from raising weapons against other Christians, the knights were forced to leave Malta (ironically, the very anti-Christian sentiment of the [[TheFrenchRevolution Revolutionary French]] helped provoke a rebellion among the Maltese only two years afterwards). Although the sovereign rights of the Order in the island of Malta had been reaffirmed by the Treaty of Amiens (1802), the Order has never been able to return. After having temporarily resided in Messina, Catania and Ferrara, in 1834 the Order settled definitively in Rome. In the 20th century the original Hospitaller mission became once again the main activity of the Order and lives on today as the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_Military_Order_of_Malta Sovereign Order of Malta]].

It should be noted that there are various Protestant honorary societies, such as the German and Dutch ''Johanniterorden'' and the English Venerable Order of St. John, that claim descent from the original Roman Catholic military order. These groups served largely as honors for the nobility of their respective countries, but have also performed important charitable works, such as the well-known St. John Ambulance service.

In popular culture, the Knights Hospitallers are much less used than their brother orders, the [[TheKnightsTemplar Templars]] and TheTeutonicKnights. They tend to be used more as local color, their distinctive habits adding a note of pageantry to a historical setting (as, for example, in John Webster's ''The White Devil'', whence the picture quote). When they '''do''' appear, they are apt to appear as gentler, more likable figures than those other knights, perhaps because of the emphasis on their hospitaller function, or possibly because they never alienated powerful secular figures, as the Templars did the King of France and the Teutonic Knights the King of Poland (incidentally, a great many Templars who survived that organization's destruction promptly joined the Hospitallers, because...well, what else is a WarriorMonk with no order of his own going to do?). Interestingly, there are a surprising number of extremely fine paintings of Knights of Malta by distinguished artists such as Titian and Caravaggio (who was himself for a brief time a member of the Order).
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!!Tropes Associated With The Knights Hospitallers:
* AllMonksKnowKungFu
* BadassPreacher
* BadassBookworm: All Brethren were well educated and knew philosophy, sciences and arts. During the times when literacy was reserved to the upper layers of the society, the brethren formed both a military and intellectual elite.
* BlackKnight: They favoured blackened armour as it stood better against rust at sea than if it had been polished.
* BringMyRedJacket: Their combat uniform was, and is still, a red surcoat with a white Maltese cross. The famous black habit was changed around 1248 due to practical considerations (Fighting is kind of hard while wearing a bulky monk's robe!)
* CelibateHero: The Knights were required to take a vow of celibacy.
* ChestInsignia: Just look at the picture.
* ChurchMilitant
* CombatMedic: They got their start as a monastic order that cared for the sick and wounded and from then on the order trained its members with the best medical knowledge available at the time. This is actually what saved the order after they lost Malta, and they now fulfill this role within the Italian military.
* TheCrusades
* ForensicPhlebotinum: By tradition Hospitallers would deed their bodies over to be dissected [[ForScience For Medical Knowledge]] after their deaths. JustThinkOfThePotential.
* HeroicVow: The knights take a vow of celibacy, poverty, obedience and a vow to defend Christians.
* HonorBeforeReason: Instead of trying to defend Malta from Napoleon's army, the knights surrendered and left because of a rule that forbid fighting against Christians. This is despite the fact that Napoleon and his government were so anti-christian that they arguably were more of a threat to Christendom than the Ottomans.
* LastStand: During the siege of Malta in 1565, only 6100 Knights and Maltese soldiers defended their island against 48,000 Ottoman soldiers. The knights were able to hold out against insurmountable odds until the Ottomans were forced to give up and return home.
* TheMigration: After being forced from Jerusalem, they took up residence in Rhodes. After being forced from Rhodes, they took up residence in Malta. After being forced from Malta, they were finally able to take up residence in Rome.
* NinjaPirateZombieRobot: For much of their history, they were essentially crusader knight pirates.
* WarriorMonk
* WoodenShipsAndIronMen: The Hospitallers are unique in offering examples of sea-faring knights.
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!!Works associated with the Knights Hospitallers:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Film]]
* David Thewlis plays a nameless but profound Hospitaller in ''Film/KingdomOfHeaven''. At various points he is implied to be [[spoiler:an angel]]. Some extended material calls him Brother John. Which tells us next to nothing, other than that he bears the [[FridgeBrilliance same name]] as [[spoiler:the Saint upon which the Order is based, fueling the angelic implication further.]] In the DVD commentary screenwriter William Monahan outright conforms his nature:
--> David Thewlis' character essentially being [[spoiler:God]], it means a little more than a knight. I think it was kept secret from David that he was playing [[spoiler:God, or at least some kind of angel]], but I think he figured it out anyway.
* ''Film/TheMalteseFalcon'': They were the original owners of The Black Bird.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* A sort of appearance in the Literature/BelisariusSeries. The military religious order founded by Michael of Macedonia on the suggestion of Aide are ''called'' the Knights Hospitaller most of the time, though the imagery used (especially the red cross on white) is usually that of the Knights Templar. One edition even slips up and calls them Templars in one instance.
* Dorothy Dunnett's ''The Disorderly Knights'', third book in the ''LymondChronicles'', depicts the 1651 siege of Malta, in which the Turks sack Gozo and take Tripoli. Grand Master Juan de Homedes is portrayed as a greedy incompetent, while the knights are too distracted by in-fighting to focus on their defenses. Many of the individual knights do mean well [[spoiler: including Lymond's childhood friend and future sidekick Jerott Blythe]], but the blindness of their faith leaves them suceptible to anti-Muslim bigotry as well as to manipulation by charismatic leaders [[spoiler: such as Lymond's great antagonist, the falsely-pious knight Gabriel]].
* In Sir Creator/WalterScott's ''Literature/{{Ivanhoe}}'', the Hospitaller, Ralph de Vipont, is a much less formidable figure than any of the other challengers at Ashby-de-la-Zouche.
* Literature/{{The Maltese Falcon}} - the original owners of the [[MacGuffin Falcon]] - as in the [[Film/TheMalteseFalcon Film of The Book]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Incredibly tenuous, yet obligatory ''Series/DoctorWho'' example: the original TARDIS prop had a [[http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45219000/jpg/_45219570_hartnell_466.jpg St. John's Ambulance badge]] on the door. It made a [[http://blogs.coventrytelegraph.net/thegeekfiles/Matt-Smith-Tardis.jpg reappearance]] when the TARDIS rebuilt itself in the [[Creator/MattSmith Eleventh Doctor]]'s premiere.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* ''The Siege of Rhodes'', the first British opera (1658), is about the conflict of the Hospitallers against the Turks for the eponymous island.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Black Templar {{Space Marine}}s in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' wear Hospitaller colors and are organized along the lines of a monastic order, although they are just as much Templars.
** The [[TheKnightsHospitallers Sisters Hospitaller]] of the [[AmazonBrigade Adepta Sororitas]] are perhaps a more straight example. A non-militant section of the Sisters of Battle, They are excellent fighters by the Imperium's standards, but their main focus is on treating the wounded and easing the pain of the dying. While they have no problems torturing a confession out of heretics using their medical gear, they are still beloved as saints amongst the Imperial citizenry for their tireless and selfless (often self-sacrificing) efforts in the medical field-- famous as they are for [[CombatMedic darting across a battlefield without any sign of fear so that they can treat a wounded soldier]], no matter his or her rank.
* Along with the Templars, The Knights Hospitaller are one of the knightly orders battling the demonic minions of The Unholy on the living planet of '''Wormwood''' in ''{{Rifts}}''.
* DungeonsAndDragons has featured various Paladin variants known as Knights Hospitaller; they focus more on the normally secondary casting/healing aspects of the base class than its martial ability.
* The Knights of Malta are one of the more noteworthy conspiracies in the ''TabletopGame/DarkMatter'' campaign setting. Like most conspiracies in the setting, their goals are multifaceted, thus they can serve as allies (Defending the world from extradimensional influence) and enemies. (Control the world to prevent the decay of society)
* One of the best defense-and-counterattack oriented armies in the DBM and DBMM.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Infinity}}'', the Hospitallers are one of several elite, [[ChurchMilitant Church-funded]] [[PowerArmor power-armor units]] that [=PanOceana=] can field, specializing in battlefield rescues and medical support.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* One appears in a walk-on part in John Webster's ''The White Devil''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Morgan Black, a protagonist in VideoGame/AgeOfEmpiresIII, is a Hospitaller and embarks on a quest on which one of the objectives is finding a way to rebuild the order. [[spoiler:Oddly enough it turns out to be the Hospitallers rather than the Templars the ones behind the AncientConspiracy this time.]]
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI'': With the Templars operating as a mysterious background force, Hospitallers represent a lot of the generic knights to be stabbed-inna-throat in Acre. One of the high-profile targets is their leader, an actual surgeon in an early mental asylum. Of course, prone to massive historical revisionism.
* In both TotalWar games set in the Medieval period, Hospitallers appear in the roster of almost all Christian factions (along with Templars, Teutonics and the Knights of Santiago). In ''Medieval'' they only appear as part of the free troops granted when a crusade is launched, while ''[[VideoGame/MedievalIITotalWar Medieval II]]'' allows the creation of Hospitaller guilds in any province, although the prerequisites for them quasi-require a Crusade or two. ''Medieval II'''s extension campaign centered around the Crusader Kingdoms expands their roster a lot. Finally, in ''Empire'', the Knights of Malta are their own minor faction which usually spends the whole game keeping the Barbary Pirates in check.
* EuropaUniversalis III features the Knights Hospitaller (referred to simply as ''The Knights') as a playable country among over 200 others, controlling the island of Rhodes. Thanks to the Ottoman Turks they are quite difficult to play as, but they are moderately popular among players.
* Both ''VideoGame/CrusaderKings'' games feature the Hosptiallers as a crusading order alongside their Teutonic and Templar brethren. While they're not directly playable in either game, the second game's expansion ''Sons of Abraham'' allows rulers to interact with them (and all Holy Orders) in various unique ways, including giving them lands of their own and sending "spare" sons off to join them.
[[/folder]]
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