|The Knights of St. John of the Hospital,
commonly referred to as the Hospitallers, were the primary rivals of the
wealthy Knights Templar. They began as an association of knights who
maintained the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem and cared for sick and
weary pilgrims. After becoming an order, they maintained their popularity
and respect by running hospitals throughout Europe. The Hospitallers were
also responsible for the fleet that supplied the conquests in the Holy
Land and protected against pirates.
In 1307, the very year that the Templars of France were destroyed, the Hospitallers purchased the island of Rhodes and there built their massive fortress/capital. The Hospitallers remained on Rhodes until their defeat by Suleiman the Magnificent in1522, after which they moved their headquarters to Malta.