The Knight Hospitaller (2) 1306-1565
by David Nicolle Published by Osprey

Book Review.

Knight Hospitaller 1306-1565 is an excellent treatment of the Knight in the Order of St John/Malta in the period when the Order settled in Rhodes, and then transferred to Malta up to the Great Siege.

The text is highly readable, and although the subject matter is the Knight of the Order, the book gives a good account of life in the Order, an insight to how the Order was organised, and its history in the time period covered by the book.

The Sections covered are; The knights get a new home; Chronology; Recruitment; Organisation, structure and finance; Motivation and morale; Costume, arms and armour; Strategy, tactics, training and naval warfare; Support services; Everyday life and culture; Fortification and sieges; The move to Malta; Collections and major related sites; Further reading; Glossary; Colour plate commentary.
In addition to the information covered, the book is well illustrated throughout, as well as a centerpiece of 8 full colour pages.
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Contact details for Osprey:
Osprey Direct, P.O. Box 140, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire NN8 2FA, UK.
01933 443863

For the details of the first Volume
click below.


The technical details of the Order's eight pointed cross are correct for the period reviewed. The illustrator has resisted the attempt to portray the Maltese Cross (post 1565) anachronistically. The cross portrayed in the illustrations is the Rhodian Cross, as can be seen on page A (page 33) of the colour illustrations.

For anyone seeking to learn about the Order, this book and its companion first volume are well worth buying, providing a wealth of detail not found elsewhere for the price. The colour illustrations are unique.

Criticisms; only one, and it is to be acknowledged that in seeking to provide an accurate historic account of every detail given the restrictions of size, there may be omissions.
Two seemingly unconnected points are made by the author, that would benefit from further explanation. On page 19 it is mentioned that during a period of peace, the Order gained the Arm of St John the Baptist from Sultan Bayazid II, and then on page 44 it is noted that the Order held Prince Cem (Sultan Zizim) as a prisoner in France. These two points are intimately connected. Following the failed invasion of 1480 the old Sultan died, and the throne was contested, with the failed claimant seeking refuge with the Knights in 1482, which was granted. However Zizim became a pawn and prisoner, who was then sent to France out of reach and out of harms way, but housed under a treaty with Sultan Bayazid II, who provided money for his brothers upkeep, as well as the occasional gift of relics! This also gave the Order respite from invasion. In 1489 the Order 'swapped' Zi-Zim for the revenues and titles of three suppressed Orders and a Cardinal's hat for the Grand Master Perre d'Aubusson. In 1495 when the King of France took Zizim from the Pope, the latter had him poisoned! Whilst Zizim was still alive, so was the treaty with Bayazid II. Zizim had some support for his claim within the Empire, but dead, he was no longer any threat. This event explains the respite from invasion attempts and the gifts of relics!

The omission is minor, as the story of Zizim fails to find its way into many other accounts of the Order. Also to be noted is that the aim of the book is to provide details on the Knight of the Order, which it achieves plus a wealth of connected detail. The book is one to be enjoyed, and worth buying.

The Reverend Dr Michael Foster.
Rector Chase Benefice, Salisbury Diocese, Church of England.

Created 20th November 2001
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