Hereditary Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem 1914.

Source: Journal of the Central Asian Society Vol. I, 1914 Part I, pp 23, 24:
British Library Shelfmark: Ac.8820.C

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Archives of the British Association, Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.

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Publication: Journal of the Central Asian Society Vol. I, 1914 Part I, pp 23, 24.

Published by: The Central Asian Society, 22 Albemarle St, W

British Library Shelfmark: Ac.8820.C

Author of the article: Lt Col. Arthur C. Yate FRGD., FRHist.Soc, Beckbury Hall, Shifnal, Shropshire.

Journal of the Central Asian Society Vol. I, 1914 Part I


The Island of Rhodes.— We must seek probably in the general ignorance of the past history of the Rhodes the solution of the fact that even the most classical of our British journals fait to grasp the idea that the history of the past may possibly, under fostering influences, have some hearing upon the future destiny of this island. Personally, ever since Italy occupied it, I have been allowing my mind to ruminate, academically, upon the possibility of restoring it to the Knight's of Saint John of Jerusalem. At the time when an ungrateful Europe, headed by Philippe IV. Of France (Le Bel- Heaven save the mark 1) and his creature, Clement V., were diabolically suppressing the Templars, and doing nothing themselves either to check the Turk or protest the Holy Land, the Hospitallers (alias Knight's of Saint John) were quietly occupying and fortifying Rhodes. The Byzantine Emperor of the moment, Græculus csuriens, could not protect Rhodes himself, and refused the Hospitallers' offer to hold it for him, acknowledging his suzerainty. The refusal decided the Grand Master to hold it without permission; and so well did they hold it that it was not until sixty-nine years after the Grand Signor had taken Coustantinople that the Turks succeeded in driving them out. To tell the story of the sieges, which they underwent, and of the incessant naval warfare which they waged against Turk and corsair, is beyond the scope of this short note. Their defence of Rhodes was magnificent; the history of the sieges must be read, For a time they held Smyrna, but Taimur (Tamerlanc) the Lame dove them from it, and also, I think, took their fortified slave-refuge at Budrum, built of the masonry of the ancient Halicarnassus. Budrum for a century was the haven of refuge of the escaped Christian slave. If anyone would read of the Rhodes, of the Knights, and of Budrum, I must refer him to the fine library at St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell, the principal remnant of the old Grand Priory of England. If any would know what slavery in the hands of the Turk, or Moor, or Barbary corsaic meant, let me refer him to Sir Lambert Playfair's "The Scourge of Christendom." The successful defence of Rhodes by the Knights in 1430 won for them the devotion of all Christendom. Their evacuation of it on January 1, 1523, with all the honours of war, after a six-month's sledge, drew from the lips of Charles V. the words, "Never was a place more nobly lost." Then he gave them Malta. This suffices to justify my contention that, theoretically, no one had a better right to Rhodes

Journal of the Central Asian Society Vol. I, 1914 Part I


than the Knights of St. John. Since 1523 many are the vicissitudes through which they have passed, viz. : The secession of the bailiwick of Brandenburg at the time of Luther's reformation; the suppression of the Order in England and Ireland by Henry VIII. In 1539, and in Scotland in 1563; and finally the revolution in France (1792) and Napoleon's seizure of Malta (1798). The order has survived those vicissitudes and holds a high position throughout Christendom, firstly by the distinction of many of those who are numbered among its members, and secondly by the eminence to which it has attained as a promoter of "first aid" and ambulance work. There exists first and foremost the Catholic Order, with its headquarters and Grand Master at Rome and its grand priories in Austria, Italy and Rohemia, and its "associations" in France, Spain, England, and Germany; secondly, the Johanniter Order at Berlin; and last, but not least in distinction and power, the Grand Priory of England. Independent as these three actually are of each other at this moment, there seems no reason why a closer union should not be formed. After the two centuries of estrangement, the Brandenburg bailiwick returned, some time in the first half of the eighteenth century, into the fold of the Order. The Grand Priory of England has its Ophthalmic Hospital at Jerusalem on a site granted by the Sultan. The Johanniter Order hols the Muristan of Jerusalem, the old site of the Order's chef-lieu, presented, I believe, by the Sultan to the Crown Prince Frederick forty-five years ago. The French Republic has just shown that, thought its earliest aspirations after "liberté, egalité, fraternité" took the form of unfettered madness, the reverence for the great traditions of the past has returned. France, with the consent of Italy and Turkey, has secured possession of the finest of the three old auberges (inns or hostels) which belonged to the French Knights of Provence, Auvergne, and France in the fifteenth century, Everyone knows that they stand to-day much as they were left, with the arms of their countries, Grand Masters, Grand Crosses, and Knights carved upon them.
Amid the obvious uncertainty, which, owing to the susceptibilities of the Great Powers and the ambitions of Italy, turkey, and Greece, encircles the destiny of the Ægean Islands, one possible solution of a difficult situation, which might satisfy all, suggests itself. It is understood that the Ægean islands, when allotted, are not to be fortified or used as naval bases. Rhodes, administered by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem- and in making this suggestion I presume the united action of the chef-lieux of Rome, London and Berlin- under the guarantee of the Great Powers, would surely be, by the very cosmopolitanism of its administrators, exempt from such temptations as might be calculated to once more sow and foster the seeds of discord. The traditions of Rhodes claim it emancipation from Turkish rule. If Christendom wills that no one Power holds it, then let the Knights hold it in the name of all the Powers. It has had a great commercial past. It will have a greater commercial future; for, whatever others may do, the grand priory of England will, we trust, extend to them the privileges of the "open door."— A. C. YATE.

NOTE: The article continued with an addendum. See yate2.htm

Created 21st August 2006

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