Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

The Hospitallers of Rhodes and their Vow of Poverty in the 15th Century (1420-1480)

Pierre Bonneaud


All brethren of the Order of the Hospital took the three monastic vows when they were admitted to the Order: personal poverty, chastity and obedience to their Master. The rule of the Hospital (circa 1120) and further early statutes forbade the brethren to hold private property and ordered them to live in the same state of poverty as the members of other regular orders established in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The purpose of this study,
after examining the regulations in this respect, is to investigate to what extent the Hospitallers residing at the convent of Rhodes in the fifteenth century were faithful to their vow. At this period Rhodes was the head of the central government of the Order, under its Master, as well as a military stronghold in the Eastern Mediterranean, in face of the Mamluks of Egypt and the rapidly expanding Ottoman Turks. Three to five hundred brethren gathered for long periods of stay at the convent in order to resist any attack. We shall review in detail the ordinances and practices which ruled over this original religious as well as military community. As with most other regular religious orders, the practice of personal poverty had been deeply modified in comparison with the first times. The Hospitallers, at Rhodes
as well as in their Western commanderies, were allowed to hold various forms of private property although within certain limits and their life at the convent was far from being ascetic However after death their property was recovered by the Order.

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