Ordo Equitum S. Ioannis Ierosolymitani, qui tam Melitenses vocantur.

Extracted with thanks from:
http://www.uni-mannheim.de/mateo/camenaref/avity/avity1/s1005.html
The entire work can be seen on:
http://www.uni-mannheim.de/mateo/camenaref/avity/avity1/books/avityarchontologia_18.html



7

Quidam initium huius Ordinis attribuunt Ioanni Hircano, qui fuit unus ex Maccabaeis: alii S. Ioanni Eleemosynatio, patriarchae Alexandrino: quamquam Equites huius Ordinis vota sua S. Ioanni Baptistae nuncupant, eumque suum patronum agnoscunt. Alii existimant, hunc Ordinem primum institutum a quodam Girardo, qui tempore Gothofredi Bullionaei, cum Ierosolymam venisset, ut loca sancta visitaret, extraordinario quodam zelo incitatus, ope quorundam aliorum nobilium, quorum animum eadem religio incesserat; Xenodochium S. Ioannis Ierosolymitani exstruxit: atque ita prima huius Ordinis fundamenta iecit, cuius Equites a primo ipsorum domicilio Hospitalarii appellabantur.

Papa Gelasius II. primus hoc institutum probavit. Vestis ipsorum fuit toga, cui inserta erat crux candida octogona, ut esset nota, puritatis ipsorum, et octo beatitudinum, ad quas adspirarent: idque ex concessione Papae Honorii II.

Officium ipsorum erat, ut eos, qui ex Omnibus orbis partibus loca sancta visitatum venirent, cum omni charitate exciperent, in itinere comitarentur, et contra Arabes omnesque alios infideles tuerentur, contra quos, Principum Christianorum opibus atque auxiliis subnixi, instructos exercitus duxerunt, eosque feliciter profligarunt.

Urbem et insulam Rhodum occupaverant, quam postea rursus amiserunt, a Soliman no II. Turcarum Imperatore inde eiecti. Cum eam tenerent, Equites Rhodii dicebantur. Postea Carolus V. Imperator insulam Melitam ipsis donavit, quam semper fortissime defenderunt, inprimis in gemina illa obsidione Turcarum, quam magna virtute sustinuerunt, unam sub Solimanno modo dicto, alteram sub Selimo II. utroque Turcarum Imperatore, qui magno cum damno et dedecore obsidionem soluere coacti fuerunt. Ab hac insula hodieque Equites Melitenses appellantur: in quorum numerum nemo cooptatur, nisi sit genere nobilis.

Primus ipsorum magnus Magister fuit Raimondus Podiensis, qui postea leges, quas etiamnum observant, composuit et publicavit Regulam S. Augustini sequuntur, et singulis diebus Orationem Dominicam, loco horarum canonicarum, aliquoties recitant, ac fidem, oboedientiam et castitatem promittunt. Arma ferunt in honorem Dei et S. Ioannis Baptistae (quem, ut diximus, patroni loco habent) pro defensione fidei Christianae.

Ceterum eodem tempore, quo hi Equites in Xenodochio S. Ioannis Ierosolymitani sedem figere caeperunt, feminae quaedam, exemplum illorum imitatae, mulieres peregrinas hospitio exceperunt.

Mulierum Xenodochium S. Mariae Magdalenae appellabatur, cui Agneta, matrona honestissima, praeerat, quae cum sua caterua habitum assumpsit, et vitam regularem instituit, sicut Geratdus fecerat.


Further information on this historical work:

                                                                                                                                       
Gottfried, Johann Ludwig (1584-1633):: Archontologiae Cosmicae, Liber III: Origo Ordinum Militarium, tam Regularium, Frankfurt am Main, 1628 being a Latin translattion of the work of Pierre d'Avity (see below)

Avity, Pierre d' (1573-1635): Les Estats, empires, et principautéz du monde : représentez par la description des pays, moeurs des habitans, richesses des provinces, les forces, le gouvernement, la religion, et les Princes qui ont gouverné chascun estat ; Avec l'origine de toutes les religions, et de tous les Chevaliers et Ordres militaires.    

The original French masterpiece of the Archontologia first appeared in Paris in 1613 under the title "Les Estats, empires, et principautéz du monde : représentez par la description des pays, moeurs des habitans, richesses des provinces, les forces, le gouvernement, la religion, et les Princes qui ont gouverné chascun estat ; Avec l'origine de toutes les religions, et de tous les Chevaliers et Ordres militaires";  with twenty five further editions until 1665. Its author Pierre d'Avity added and improved his masterpiece up to his end of life; others later took over work.

Pierre d'Avity (aka Davity; 1573-1635), Sieur de Montmartin, were born in Tournon in the Vivarais (Dép. Ardèche, Southern France). He interrupted his law studies in Toulouse in order to go to Paris, where he soon achievef success as a man of letters.  In 1599 (and again in 1601 and 1609) he produced his Latin and French poems, letters and speeches under the title "Les Travaux sans travail". Military service however was to become his main profession. As an officer he participated in campaigns in Holland (1606) and Italy (1630) among others. In his free time he collected and translated historical news, which he processed in his masterpiece  "Les Estats...". Later still he undertook historical-geographical trips to Italy (1620) and Germany (1626). The meagre biographic data left to us point to substantial literary achievements which were the fruit of a mixture of learning, literary and informal education, wide military and political experience and an understanding of different countries and ways of life.

"Les Estats..." combines the history of government  with politics. All territories of the known world are represented in a regular succession of various aspects, beginning with geographical extension and regional arrangement and progressing to climate and topography, national character and political institutions, military and economic resources and religious life up to the chronicle of the rulers. Frequently interspersed numbers and other detailed data give the appearance of reliable information, which certainly is often deceptive, since the compilor did not examine the reliability of his sources systematically. The representation  is lightened by personal remarks and judgements, historical anecdotes and sayings as well as poetic quotations. The various travel descriptions drawn from representation of exotic peoples additionally lends a curious attraction to the work. d'Avity expected politicians and merchants in particular as readers. The reception of his work in France and Germany also shows that a wider circle of interested laymen as well as academics were glad to seize upon  on the work.