The Prior of the Knights Hospitaller in Late Medieval England

The Prior of the Knights Hospitaller in Late Medieval England

Simon Phillips


Boydell Press



The full significance and influence of the part played by the Prior of the Knights Hospitaller in the middle ages is brought out here in a wide-ranging survey.
The Prior of the Knights Hospitaller played a major role not only within the Order, but also in the wider arena of English - and indeed European - politics. This role, and its changes between 1272 and 1540, are the focus of this new book, which draws extensively on archival material both in the United Kingdom and in the Hospitaller archives at Malta. It argues that the Prior's allegiance to the crown was as important as his allegiance to his order, that the relationship between crown and priory was generally cordial and that usually there was no contradiction between service to crown and convent. It demonstrates a general expansion in the public roles of the Hospitaller Prior, not just under the most politically important Priors. It analyses the Priors' interactions with financially important merchants and the terms that three Priors served as treasurers of England. Finally, by revealing how the order lost political control of its estates, it contributes to the broader themes of secularisation and emerging nationalism.

Dr SIMON PHILLIPS is a Research Associate of the University of Cyprus and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


February 2009
1 line illustrations
224 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843834373
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Financier and Treasurer
A Defender of the Realm
International Ambassador
National Statesman
The Prior and the Secularisation of the Order in England


Provide(s) welcome new evidence and ideas significant for Hospitaller history in England and beyond.ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Makes a very useful contribution to English history, to that of the Hospitallers in England and on Rhodes, and to their relations with the English crown. SPECULUM

A carefully argued and carefully structured study. (...) One comes away from this book with a much better understanding of the prior of England's place in his native polity. CRUSADES

A fine study whose use of English source material is a healthy corrective to other works that have relied too extensively on Maltese records. I hope that future historians, and perhaps Phillips himself, will reassess the general history of the English Hospitallers in light of these sources. COMITATUS: A JOURNAL OF MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE STUDIES

This is the first detailed, well-founded analysis of the important role of the English priors of the Hospitallers in English politics from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW

(A) major contribution to the current understanding of the Hospitallers. (It) provides an important addition to scholarship on both the Hospitallers and the history of the English government during the later Middle Ages. This work will be of considerable use to scholars and graduate scholars. JOURNAL OF MILITARY HISTORY

A significant contribution to the histories of the Knights Hospitaller and of England. INTERNATIONAL HISTORY REVIEW (Jonathan Riley-Smith)
Provides an important glimpse of the possibilities of an altogether new type of Hospitaller history. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

A close study of documents in the National Archives at Kew as well as of those in the National Library in Malta allows the author to challenge or qualify a number of generalisations made by historians of crusades and military orders about the prior's links with the crown. (...) The study provides a detailed and comprehensive account of the prior's activities in royal service. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY (Alan Forey)