Knights Of Malta: Modern History

After the Great Siege of Malta, La Valette decided to transfer his capital on the high ground of Mount Sciberras, which commanded both harbours. There were erected the convent and other buildings, surrounded with very strong walls and other fortifications. The first stone was laid with great ceremony on March 28, 1566. Although La Valette himself suggested the name Umillima (Most Humble), the new city was called in honor of its founder, Valetta. La Valette died in 1568.

In 1571, the new city of Valetta was finished, and the Order took up its residence with an impressive ceremony.

Under the government of the Knights, Malta flourished, and in 1632 the census recorded a population of fifty one thousand, beside the knights and the clergy. But on the continent, the Knights of Malta were losing power, and the progress of Reformation in Germany deprived the Order of many of their Commanderies there.

In the 17h century there were disputes between the Knights of Malta and the Pope, as he arbitrary appointed his nominees to important offices in the Order. In 1723, the Turks attacked Malta again, this time without attempting to land or begin a siege. After vainly bombarding the town and the forts, they withdrew.

In September, 1792, the estates and property the Order had in France were annexed to the state. The Knights of Malta lost their stronghold in 1798, when, on his way to Egypt, Napoleon Bonaparte captured the island.

In 1801, the Russian Emperor Alexander proclaimed himself Protector of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and appointed Count Nicholas de Soltykoff as lieutenant. The assembly of the Knights at St. Petersburg took the title of "The Sovereign Council of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem".

In 1826, the English Langue of the Order of the Knights of Malta was revived. Among other charitable activities, in London they assisted the poor out-patients of Charing Cross, and King's College Hospitals. However, the British order was recognized by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta only in 1963. Its best-known activities center upon the St. John Ambulance corps and the St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem.

In 1834, the Order established his headquarters in Rome. The Order became known as The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic Religious Order.

Today, The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) has a sovereign status, and is recognized by membership in numerous international bodies. It has observer status at the United Nations, maintaining diplomatic relations with approximately 100 countries. The Grand Master of the Knights of Malta serves as a Papal Viceroy.

How the Order was formed:

Knights of Malta History