Knights Hospitaller

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  • The Knights Hospitaller
  • The Order of Hospitallers
  • The Order of St John
  • Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem


The Knights Hospitaller were one of the first Military Orders, founded to provide care for poor, sick or injured pilgrims to the Holy Land. Attempts to found Crusader states in Palestine in the Twelfth century failed because of the strength of the Zangid Sultanate of Syria, which controlled all of the Middle East and large portions of Persia. The Hospitallers, however, played a key part in many battles of the Crusades, including the reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors, and Italy and North Afriqa from the Saracens. During the Age of the Crusades, the islands of the Mediterranean were important to the Military Orders, especially Rhodes, Cyprus and Malta. The island of Malta was heavily fortified.

The Knights Hospitaller remained an important arm of the Catholic Church until the division of the Church Spiritual and the Church Militant in 1615. Until that time, the Roman Catholic Church was a significant factor in world politics, and a lightning rod for political disputes with its fellow Catholic nations around the world. The leaders of the Catholic nations began to find themselves increasingly competing with the church for territory, rather than cooperating with the church on matters of religion. In 1615, a summit was held, and, by the vote of the attending cardinals, the Church was split in two - a religious branch led by the Pope (the Church Spiritual), and a political branch led by the Grand-Master of the Order of the Knights of St. John. This political branch inherited most of the Church lands in South America, along the coast north of the Amazon, extending northwards to the Caribbean, westwards to border the then Franco-Incan territories, and south towards the pampas of New France. This nation took the name of the Kingdom of New Granada, retaining close links to the Papacy. In the 18th Century New Granada embarked in a major dispute with New France, and whilst most of its senior leadership were involved in military adventures in the south suffered a series of slave revolts and coups.

At one time, New Granada, the successor state to the Knights Hospitaller, dominated the north and east coasts of South America, but lost territory to both the Méxica Empire and New France.

By the late 18th century the nation was a mere shadow of itself, in near terminal decline and increasingly at risk from the Méxica Empire and its allies and the forces of New France. Faced with disaster, in the early 19th century the last king petitioned the Pope for aid and agreed to recombine his failing state with the portions of the Knights Hospitaller that had remained quietly performing their ancient duties in the shadow of the Templars. With the Templars already acting as the primary military wing of the Church, the Knights Hospitaller instead focused on their ancient mission of providing medical care for pilgrims, with their martial activities mostly restricted to anti-piracy patrols and actions. The resurgent Order retained much of its remaining lands as a means of financial support, but as vassals of a New French viceroy. Although the Order never lost its martial nature, it tended towards medical support and disaster relief, sponsoring medical research and providing medical facilities.

With the colonising of worlds around alien stars the Knights Hospitaller maintained their remit to defend and care for pilgrims and travellers, and protecting the space-lanes. The Order provides medical support for many of the smaller Third from the Center borderline colonies as well as a level of protection. The Grand Commander of the Order is a vassal of the Méxica Emperor and its activities are permitted so long as they do not interfere with Imperial interests.

Other Orders

The Church Militant had consisted of Order of the Knights of St. John, the Knights Templar and a number of other military orders. The Templars were retained by the Church and a few of the lesser Orders returned to their original nations or were disestablished. Some Komtureis of the Teutonic Knights had survived their catastrophic conflict with Swedish-Russia; with Germany almost entirely Hussite and part of the Danish Empire these remnants were included in the establishment of New Granada.


Hospitaller Roundel.GIF
Hospitaller Roundel2.GIF

The Knights Hospitaller symbol is a variant of the cross pattée. The eight points of the four arms of the Knights Hospitaller Cross originally represented the eight lands of origin, or Langues.

The eight points are said to symbolize the eight points of courage:

  • Loyalty
  • Piety
  • Generosity
  • Bravery
  • Glory and honor
  • Contempt of death
  • Helpfulness towards the poor and the sick
  • Respect for the church

The Hospitaller roundel features a black or white cross on a red background. Although similar to the Templar roundel it is distinguished by the design of the cross and colors; the white on red roundel is a reverse of the Templar design.


Below the Grand Commander of the Order the Knights Hospitaller are divided into:

  • Les Frères Chevaliers - Brother knights of the military role.
  • Les Frères Aumôneriers - Brother priests and sisters.
  • Les Frères Serjens des Armes - Brother sergeants of the military role.
  • Les Frères de Métiers - the serving brothers-of-office performing support roles.

Central Organisation

Below the Grand Commander of the Order, the General Chapter (Chapitre-Général) acts as the governing committee; the members of the General Chapter are known as Grand Crosses for the eight pointed crosses on their uniforms. In addition, a council drawn from from each of the eight Langues supports the Grand Commander.

Grand Commander of the Order
Grand Marshal Military Commander
Grand Hospitaller Commander of the Hospitals, the sacra infirmaria.
Treasurer Financial Administrator
Drapier/Grand Conservator Logistics Administrator
Grand Bailli Fortifications Administrator
Admiral Warship Commander
TurcopolierMilitary commander of the cavalry
Conventual Prior Senior Priest

Regional Organization

The Knights Hospitaller are organized into:

Langues (Tongues). These were named for the geographical areas that provided recruits and funding and despite the name covered several different languages. Each Langues consisted of at least one Grand Priory.
Priories or Grand Commanderies, ruled by Priors, which consist of a number of Commanderies. Bailliage (bailiwicks) ruled by Bailli. Baillis ranked just below the Grand Priors and Priors.
Commanderies, ruled by Commanders.
Domus (House), often a domus infirmorum – a hospital.


The Langues (Tongues) were originally the geographic-cultural subgroupings of the Knights Hospitaller. Over time the Langues changed to reflect the actual language of their members.

Teutonic Langue
Teutonic Mon.GIF

Within the Hospitallers, the German Langue, recruited almost entirely from the German population settled within New Granada, maintained a number of distinct customs and their own terminology.

The organization of the Teutonic Langue is:

Ballei The equivalent of a Bailliage.
Komtureis Equivalent of a Commandery, ruled by a Komtur, with a Procurator overseeing the administration of the Commandery. A Komtur would lead at least twelve Brothers.

Unlike the other Langues the Teutonic Ballei includes all the priests, knights and halfbrothers (Priester, Ritter and Halb-brüder) plus servants (Diener).


The dress uniform of the Hospitallers consists of a mantle with the black cross emblazoned above the heart or on the chest. Hospitaller z-suits and z-armor are brown and white, with the black cross on a white field emblazoned on the chest.

Hospitaller Ranks

Hospitaller Rank Meaning Marine/Army Rank
Knights (Chevaliers)
Grand-Maître Grand Master
Master of the Order
Grand-Commandeur Grand Commander Lieutenant-General
Maréchal Marshal Major-General
Sous-Maréchal Sub-Marshal Colonel
Gonfanier Banner-bearer Major
Commandeur des Chevaliers Commander of Knights Captain
Connétable Constable Lieutenant
Frère-Chevalier Brother-Knight 2nd Lieutenant
Squires, Sergeants and Armsmen (Les Frères Serjens des Armes)
Maître-Escuier Master Esquire Sergeant Major
Frère-Sergent Brother-Sergeant Sergeant
Escuier Esquire Cadet
Frère-Caporal Brother-Corporal Corporal
Frère en Armes Brother-at-Arms Private
Frère en Service Brother-at-Service Private (non-combatant)
Frère-Chapelain Brother Chaplain Private (priest)
Novice Novice Recruit
Associates (Confrères) not members of the Order
Donat Nobleman
Confrère Confrater Layman
Confrère-Chevalier Confrater-Knight

Hereditary Ranks

With the transition from nation to Military Order many of the aristocracy of New Grenada were awarded their estates in perpetuity as well as ranks of Hereditary Commander and Hereditary Knight. The Hereditary Commanderies were obligated to contribute a share of commandery revenue to the Order, and to distinguish the estate holder from the command structure of the Order became known, at times, as Châtelains.


There are three different forms of knighthood in the Knights Hospitaller:

  • Chevalier de Justice: knights practicing the monastic triple vow of poverty, chastity and obedience.
  • Chevalier d'Obéissance: knights taking the oath of obedience, but not practicing the triple vow.
  • Chevalier de Dévotion: recruits lacking noble status who take the oath of obedience, and may if authorised become Knights of Justice. Knights of Devotion are further divided into:
    • Chevaliers d'Honneur et de Dévotion - Knights of Honor and Devotion.
    • Chevaliers de Grâce et de Dévotion - Knights of Grace and Devotion.
    • Chevaliers de Grâce Magistrale - Knights of Magistral Grace.

In most modern Military Orders, the Knights of Obedience and Devotion tend to outnumber the monastic knights. The type of knight is added as a suffix to the rank in formal situations, for example Connétable d'Obéissance.

Military Officer Titles

Officer Titles
Admiral Knight in command of all armed ships.
Turcopolier Knight leading the Brothers-in-Arms in battle
Gonfanonier Standard Bearer/Knight leading non-combatant squires.
Castellan Knight commanding a military facility.

Religious Titles

Senior Priest
Grand Prior Head priest of a Langues
Prior Priest
Subprior Under Priest

Medical Officer Titles

Hospitaller Commander of the Hospitals
Practici Surgeon
Theorici Technician
Infirmarer Brother overseeing the infirmary.
Infirmarian Medic

Administrative Officer Titles

Capitular bailli Senior Bailli
Pilier The Bailli commanding a Langue.
Bailli Executive administrator of a Bailliage.
Commandeur Administrator of a Commandery

Hospitaller Units

Hospitaller Term Meaning Notes
Eschiell Squadron Ten knights/brothers-at-arms
Conrois Tactical Unit Several squadrons; originally a close formation of 25/50 knights.
Bataille Battlefield Division
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