The acquisition of the landed estates of the Hospitallers in the Latin East, 1099-1291
By Paul Sideklo
PhD Dissertation, University of Toronto, 1998
Abstract: During the period of the Crusades (1099-1291), the Knights of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jenisalem, or Hospitallers, developed into one of the largest institutional landholders in the Latin East and Europe. This thesis examines the acquisiton policy of the Order and documents the chronological and geographical distribution of its rural properties in the Latin East.
In addition to land, the Hospital also acquired fortresses, houses, and other edifices, as well as rights to people, animals, water, and vines. This thesis profiles the individuals and families who transferred property to the Order and discusses the relationship between benefactor and recipient. An additional area of exploration is the administration of these lands and the people who inhabited them.
As a monastic order, the Hospital largely acquired its landed estates through pious donations made by benefactors in return for spiritual rewards. These donations were augmented by strategic purchases, which demonstrate clearly that the Order actively pursued properties with the intention to consolidate land and to develop contiguous estates. The charters also suggest that rural settlement was more extensive than has previously been assumed. As settlers, the Hospitallers came into contact with the native population.
The evidence presented in this thesis indicates that the Order developed strong ties with many Syrian Christians, but maintained a distance fiom most Muslims. It is also suggested that the Franks employed a system of land tenure which had many parallels with that practiced in parts of Europe.
The primary sources used in this thesis are the charters of the archive of the Hospitaliers, of which nearly 600 related to the Latin East have been transcribed and edited by Delaville le Roulx in Cartulaire général de l’ordre des Hospitaliers de Saint- Jean de Jérusalem (1 100 – 1310). For ease of recall and reference, the charters have been coded and entered into a relational database according to person, property, and type of transfer. These documents have been supplemented by the charters of other property-holding institutions in the Latin East, as well as various Latin and Arabic chronicles of the Crusading period.