The London Quadrennial conferences hosted by the Hospital Order and the London Centre
for the Study of the Crusades have already become a modern classic
within the historiography of the Military Orders. The present volume
is comprised for the most part by the papers read at the third meeting
held in September 2000—after an editing and publishing nightmare
of eight years. Some of the papers were lost along the way, others
were withdrawn and many of them have become outdated. Fortunately the
final editor allowed the writers to update their papers before the
final publication. Most of the authors took this opportunity, and have
updated some of their conclusions and their bibliography, but it is
clear that something that could have been groundbreaking if published
in 2002 is not in the front line in 2008 (the very same year that the
fourth conference proceedings from the 2005 meeting also saw the light).
At any rate, the present volume
has as general title The Military Orders: History and Heritage.
The volume is divided into four sections: historiography, liturgy and
fiction, general issues on templars and teutonics knights, and, finally,
the Hospital Order. Although most of the papers deal with the role of
the Military Orders in Malta, Cyprus and the Latin East, other scenarios
are contemplated such as the Baltic, central and eastern Europe and Iberia. In
addition, a few papers have something to do with arts as well (8 of 30).
The first section opens with an
article by A. Lutrell on Hospitaller historiography. The paper defended
by Luis Garcia Guijarro offers a suggestive and provocative view of the
Spanish historiography on the Crusades and the Military Orders. Luis
Garcia is right in several points, but perhaps the way he expounds them
is not very polite and it will surely not receive a great deal of sympathy
among Spanish academics. In the same line, Maria Starnawska offers
a general but clear survey of the unknown Polish historiography on the
In the second section, we can find approaches to some
aspects of the life of the Hospital Order (heraldry, liturgy, funerary
rites and stories), while the third section is a kind of melting pot
of different issues related to the history of the templar and teutonic
Perhaps we could point out the articles by P. Crawford
on the University of Paris and the trial of the Templars and
Barbara Bombi´s on the origins of the
Swordbrothers. We must add a very interesting investigation by Axel Ehler
about the use of indulgences by the Teutonic Order. This last paper should
be read opposed to Riley Smith´s A Short History of the
Crusades on the “perpetual crusade” lead by the deutsche
orden. Besides, R. Hiestand’s older
thesis claiming that the papacy did not use the military orders (i.e.,
the Temple and the Hospital) in crusade preaching should be read in a
new light thanks to Ehlers data. Sven Ekdahl´s article on the commemorations
of the battle of Grunwald follow one of his last lines of research about
linking medieval events to present time world.
Finally, the fourth section focuses again on the Hospital
Order. And indeed this is the most interesting part for those scholars
working on this Order. Within this chapter, we find contributions by
very well known scholars in that field such as Carlos Barquero, Helen
Nicholson, Theressa Vann, Johannes Mol and Judith Bronstein, among others.
Their papers deal with the local, political, artistic, economic, hospitaller
and military roles of the Order. In addition, there are two archaeological
investigations by Edna Stern and P. Mitchel.
To sum up. This is a must for all those people interested
in the Hospital Order. Besides we can find vey informative and suggesting
aportations on historiography. But some of the points presented in this
volume have already been shown elsewhere due to the delay in its publication.
Furthermore one should not miss the considerable contributions on other
Military Orders besides the Hospital (18 articles out of 30) and the
Temple (6 articles).