As one of the greatest of the military orders that were generated in the Church, the Order of the Hospital of St John was a major landowner and a significant political presence in most European states. It was also a leading player in the settlements established in the Levant in the wake of the crusades. It survives today. In this source-based and up-to-date account of its activities and internal history in the first two centuries of its existence, attention is particularly paid to the lives of the brothers and sisters who made up its membership and were professed religious. Themes in the book relate to the tension that always existed between the Hospital's roles as both a hospitaller and a military order and its performance as an institution that was at the same time a religious order and a great international corporation.
JONATHAN RILEY-SMITH'S first university post was in the Department of Medieval History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. In 1972 he returned to the Faculty of History in the University of Cambridge before being appointed Professor of History at Royal Holloway College, University of London in 1978. From 1994 to 2005 he was Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History in Cambridge. He is a Knight of Justice of The Most Venerable Order of St John and a Knight Grand Cross of Grace and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. He is the sole author of eleven books, including The Knights of St John in Jerusalem and Cyprus, c.1050-1310 (1967), The Feudal Nobility and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1174-1277 (1973), What Were the Crusades? (1977, 4th edition 2009), The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading (1986), The Crusades: A History (1987, 2nd edition 2005), The First Crusaders, 1095-1131 (1997), The Crusades, Christianity and Islam (2008) and Templars and Hospitallers as Professed Religious in the Holy Land (2010).