In 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V granted the Hospitallers the island of Malta, which became their headquarters.

The Great Siege

From their new base, the Hospitallers patrolled the Mediterranean, and it was not long before the Ottoman Turks attacked. In May 1565, an invasion force of 25,000 Ottoman Turks invaded the island.

The defence of Malta is perhaps the most famous episode in the Hospitallers’ military history. The brutal siege lasted nearly four months, there were heavy losses on both sides, but in September reinforcements arrived and the Ottoman Turks were finally driven off.

Malta and Napoleon

The Hospitallers thrived on Malta for more than two centuries before a serious new threat arose. Following the French Revolution, General Napoleon Bonaparte captured Malta in 1798 with almost no resistance.

Russia and Rome

Suddenly bereft of their island home, some of the Hospitallers returned to their own countries, others settled briefly in Russia, with Tsar Paul I as their de facto Grand Master (although he was an orthodox Christian).

Following Tsar Paul’s assassination in 1801, the Hospitallers re-established themselves in Rome, where the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta continues today.