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The Order

The Order of St. John is a completely modern organization dedicated to the care and protection of people and human rights world wide. (The use of the term "Christian peoples" has fallen out of general use, although it still pops up on occasion.) They actually prefer to avoid headlines, and haven't had a major influence on events in over seven decades. However, they haven't forgotten their military tradition, and their "jousting tournaments" these days are likely to be done with mortars and rifles. (Such "tournaments" are actually fairly common, with an emphasis on the training of medics and battlefield surgeons which often outnumber the combat element by ten to one, or more.)

There are, however, many long-standing traditions that simply don't make sense to those outside the order, or with a "modern" perspective. One of these is their claim to Rhodes. Another is their claim that the order is obedient to the pope, in spite of defying all overt manipulations by the holy office.

The current knights of the order are medical men first. (There are women in associated orders and those who work regularly with the Order, but the membership itself is all male.) However, they are also expected to maintain a basic familiarity with weapons, and attacks on hospitals or refugee camps have, on occasion, been met with gunfire from Knights of St. John stationed there. The Order prefers to hush up such incidents as much as possible.


The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta was founded in the 11th century in Jerusalem as an order whose purpose was to care for sick and injured pilgrims to the holy city; it was granted papal privilege in 1113. The order took on a military character thereafter, though it has always maintained its first duty of humanitarian works. By the 15th century, the Knights had expanded their territory to include the islands of Rhodes and Malta. In 1523, Tripoli, having been claimed for Spain by Dom Pedro in 1510, was given to the Knights of St. John in recompense for Rhodes, which had fallen to the Turks. Then the Cyrenaeans realized their worst nightmare - the threat of oppression by heretics. Tripoli was lost to the Turks in short order, but they retained Malta, only losing out to Napoleon in the 19th century. England undertook the expulsion of Napoleon's forces and held Malta as a colony until the 20th century. The governance of the Kingdom of Malta is once again in the hands of the Order, and Malta is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.


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