shall be last, and the last shall be first
The Knights Hospitallers in Poland
I would like to dedicate this brief survey of the works of the Knights of Saint John to two Confreres who have been a source of personal encouragement to me in my research. H. E. Sir James Gobbo, the Governor of the State of Victoria in the Commonwealth of Australia who is the President of the Australian Association of the Order of Malta and Dr Barry Bradley, Medical Officer, Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, Dublin, Ireland.
Table of Contents
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The Order of Malta is a chivalric religious order that requires its members to care for the sick and the poor, an obligation that is honoured to this day by the Knights and Dames of Saint John. The piety and purpose of the Knights of Malta is reflected in the ancient Orders Prayer, still in use since about 1200 AD - My Lords, the Sick, pray to God to send peace from heaven to earth. My Lords, the Sick
The Order of Malta was established during a period of great personal piety and sacrifice in Medieval Europe. The nobility and leading families sent their sons - Kings, Princes, Knights - to free the Holy Land from the Infidel. The Crusades facilitated not only the creation of the new religious and military order but also its rapid expansion throughout Europe. Through participation in the Crusades, knights learnt of the purpose and prestige of this new order of Knights Hospitallers, and carried with them the Orders principals and ideals when they returned home. From the beginning, the Order placed special emphasis on the care of the sick and the provision of hospitals. Following the example of the first Knights Hospitallers, the highest ranks of the Polish nobility demonstrated their religious fervour and commitment to the Order of Malta by donating in perpetuity hospitals and the means for their support.
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta (Note 1) is an independent entity under International Law. The Order is often described as a Sovereign State but is really a Sovereign Persona as it does not possess any territories. The Order's sovereignty is currently recognised by over eighty states through exchanges of mutual diplomatic relations. In 1994 the Order was accorded the status of a Permanent Observer at the United Nations. At the same time the Order is also a religious order of the Catholic Church and a Catholic Order of Knighthood. The Order was founded during the First Crusade before the fall of Jerusalem in 1099. Its purpose was to administer a hospice-infirmary for pilgrims to the Holy Land. It became an independent organisation under the leadership of the Blessed Gerard (d. 3 September 1120) through the Apostolic Bull of 15 February 1113 issued by Pope Paschal II. The Bull approved the confraternity of the Hospital of Saint John under the protection of the Holy See. Subsequent papal acts confirmed the special status of the Order. These acts confirmed its underlying objectives of obsequium pauperum (service to the poor) and the defence of Christendom tuitio fidei (protection of the Faith).
Under the leadership of Fra Raymond du Puy [1120-1158/60] the Order assumed military protection of the sick, pilgrims, and the Christian territory of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which the Crusaders had won back from the Muslims. It was at this time that the Order gained the characteristic of being an Order of Knighthood. However, while being fighting knights, these early members were primarily monks bound by the three monastic vows of Obedience, Chastity, and Poverty. It was also at this time that the white octagonal cross was adopted as the Orders emblem, now widely recognised as the Maltese Cross.
With the fall of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1291, the Holy Land was lost and the Order settled temporarily in Cyprus. Under the leadership of Grand Master Fra Foulques de Villaret [1305-1317] the Order took over the Island of Rhodes by 1310. The Knights of Saint John were now known as the Knights of Rhodes. In Rhodes the Order faced both Muslim territorial and naval might and it became a bastion of Christendom in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Order's location and situation led to the acquisition of a powerful fleet which patrolled the East Mediterranean waters. Apart from many battles against the Muslims, the Knights of Rhodes took part in the crusades in Syria and in Egypt and brought aid to the Christian Kingdom of Cilicia (Armenia).
By the fourteenth century the members in Rhodes, as in all establishments of the Order in Europe, were grouped according to the languages they spoke (there were seven ancient Langues or Tongues). Each Langue was composed of Grand Priories or Priories, Bailiwicks, and Commanderies. The Order was ruled by the Grand Master and the Council, minted its own money and maintained diplomatic relations with other States. The Grand Master was Prince of Rhodes, as he was later the Prince of Malta. The highest offices of the Order were allocated to representatives of the different Langues, and the seat of the Order, the Convent, was in effect composed of a number of national religious houses.
Until Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent successfully attacked Rhodes, the Knights dutifully repulsed numerous Turkish assaults. However, on Christmas Eve of 1522, the Knights were forced to capitulate and on 1 January 1523 left the island with full military honours. For the next seven years the Order, while vested with international sovereignty, was deprived of territory. Eventually they received a grant from the Emperor Charles V of the Islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino, as well as Tripoli in North Africa as a sovereign fief. On 26 October 1530 the Grand Master Fra Philippe de Villiers de lIsle-Adam [1521-1534] took possession of Malta, with the further approval of Pope Clement VII. It was at this time that the Order undertook to remain neutral in wars between Christian nations.
From the Order's new territories the defence of Christendom remained an active task. Battles with the Turks culminated in the Great Siege of the Isle of Malta from 18 May to 8 September 1565. The Knights, led by the Grand Master Fra Jean de la Valette [1557-1568] (after whom the islands capital Valletta is named) finally defeated the Ottoman Turk forces. This victory is understood as the beginning of the decline of Turkish sea power. The navy of the Order of Saint John (or of Malta as it was now called) became one of the most powerful in the Mediterranean and took part in the final destruction of the Ottoman navy in the great battle of Lepanto in 1571.
In recognition of the role of the Order, in 1607 and again in 1620, the dignity of Grand Master was conjoined with the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and in 1630 with the rank equal to the dignity of a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church with the style of Eminence.
In the eighteenth century the political winds sweeping across Europe did not miss Malta. In 1798 the French Republic's forces under Napoleon Bonaparte occupied the island of Malta as part of the Egyptian campaign, and forced the Order out of its possessions. The Knights again found themselves without a home. This was followed by what has been called the Russian coup détat (1798-1803). The Emperor Paul I of Russia had himself proclaimed Grand Master by a handful of the Knights in Russia, in place of the Grand Master Fra Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim [1797-1799], who had capitulated to the French. However, Emperor Paul I could be regarded only as a Grand Master de facto, never as de jure. This proclamation is assumed to be wholly illegal and void (he was married non-Catholic) and it was never recognised by the Holy See. This chapter in the history of the Order was closed when Alexander I, a successor of Paul I, refused to take up the dignity of the Grand Master.
In 1802 the Treaty of Amiens recognised the Orders sovereign rights to Malta but the British who occupied the island from 1801 never allowed the Order to take possession of it. The Order returned to legitimate rule in 1803 when Fra Giovanni Battista Tommasi was appointed Grand Master from among the candidates presented by the Priories. The Order finally established itself in 1834 in Rome after a sequence of temporary seats (Messina, Catania and Ferrara). From 1805 the Order was ruled by Lieutenants, elected by the Council and represenatives of the Priories. In 1879 Pope Leo XIII elevated the Lieutenant to the rank of Grand Master with the honours of a Cardinal attached to it. At this time Hospitaller work, the principal work of the Order, became once again its main concern. The hospitaller and welfare activities were undertaken on a considerable scale in World War I and were greatly intensified and expanded again during World War II under the Grand Master Fra Ludovico Chigi Albani della Rovere [1931-1951].
The activities of the Order were further expanded under the leadership of Grand Master Fra Angelo de Mojana di Cologna [1962-1988] who was succeeded by the present Grand Master, Fra Andrew Bertie [elected 8 April 1988].
The structure and activities of the Order are regulated by the Constitutional Charter and Code and the 18th century Code de Rohan, which retains its validity as a supplementary source of law. The Order is a world-wide and supranational institution which is now dedicated to providing assistance in the sanitary, social and humanitarian fields in the widest possible meaning of these words. Its work is to be conducted without any religious or ideological discriminations.First references
The historical information in regards of the activities of the Order or individual Knights of Saint John in Poland prior to seventeenth century is generally difficult to obtain. The main difficulty being the overwhelming presence of the Teutonic Order (known as the Knights of the Cross) in the countrys history. For many centuries the activities of any religious order of knighthood in Poland were attributed to the Teutonic Order, often by mistake. The lack of historical sources reflects also the relative lack of contemporary knowledge about the activities of the Order amongst the local population. Despite these limitations, the presence of the Knights of Saint John in Poland can be traced to the beginning of the twelfth century.
It is generally accepted that the first of the Polish Monarchs to establish permanent contact with the Grand Magistry was King Wladyslaw IV [1632-48] who wished to create a Polish Priory of the Order. The relationship was strengthened under one of Wladyslaws successors, King Jan III [1674-96]. Jan III had participated in the Crusades against the Turks in Central and Eastern Europe. He received a confirmation from the Grand Magistry that any Polish Knight who served in the fight against the Infidel for at least six months was exempt from the requirement of pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Further, a Knight who served for two years or more was to be granted the same privileges with respect to the Order as those of the Captains of the fleet of Saint John and could be short listed for the award of a Commandery.
These special privileges ensured the popularity of the Order amongst the noble families of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and it was from amongst these men that many of the Polish Knights of Malta were recruited. Despite these early roots, it was not until the eighteenth century that the relationship between Poland and the Grand Magistry were fully legitimised through the creation of the Priory of Poland. None the less, its existence proved to be short-lived.Commandery in Poznan
The date of the establishment of the first Commandery of the Knights of Saint John in Poznan is disputed by two key sources. The suspiciously precise date of 6 May 1170 is given by Polish medieval historian, Jan Dlugosz (1415-1480), in hisRoczniki (Chronicle or Annals) as the founding date of a hospital and hospice under a patronage of the Order of Saint John. In contrast, a document issued by a Bishop Benedykt at the end of the twelfth century suggests 1187 as the date of the donation. The second source is more generally accepted, and 1187 is generally acknowledged as the founding date of the Poznan House of the Knights of Saint John. It was also from 1187 that the Poznan Commandery was allowed to pay the customary responsium to the Grand Magistry.
The Poznan donation was made by Duke Mieszko III Stary [1173-77 & 1194-1202] assisted by Bishop Radwan, Bishop of Poznan, and consisted of a hospital and hospice for the poor, pilgrims and travellers. Duke Mieszko III Stary supported the foundation with a grant of several villages to ensure the financial stability of the settlement. The Knights of Saint John were invited to take care of this foundation. Interestingly, the national origin of the Knights who settled in Poznan is not known. It is suggested that they were part of the Moravian or Bohemian contingent. This seems unlikely given the outcome of linguistic analysis of the documents issued by the Commandery indicate that they were French. In a further contradiction, most of the Knights in charge of the Commandery were bearers of Teutonic Christian Names, which suggest a German origin. The question stands unsolved.
Administratively, the Poznan Commandery belonged to the Grand Priory of Bohemia, which exercised its rights of supervision over the Orders estate in Poznan. It seems however, that contact between the two was sporadic. Regular contact seems only to have been maintained during the fifteenth century, when a great deal of time of the Grand Priory of Bohemia was spent analysing the administration of the Commandery.
From the fifteenth century onwards successive Commanders of the Poznan House are Poles, which reflects the growing patronage of the Kings of Poland over the Commandery. This process was most likely initiated by King Wladyslaw II Jagiello [1386-1433]. This is also a reason for the increased number of disputes between the Crown and the Grand Magistry in regards to the appointments of the Poznan Commanders. Disputes typically arose when the Crown refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Order in regards of the appointments. The Crown treated the office of Commander as one of the dignities customarily awarded at the Monarchs pleasure. Settlement of this issue was finally reached by the end of the seventeenth century when the Crown agreed that a necessary prerequisite for the appointment to the office was membership of the Order and the Crowns nominee need to obtain approval of the Grand Master.
Throughout its existence, the Commandery attracted various grants from both the local bishops and nobility as well as the Kings of Poland. It seems that the Knights were also good administrators as they purchased other land and settled a town named Saint Johns Town. In the seventeenth century the Order was an owner of the estate comprising several villages (Baranowo, Chrostowo, Krzesinki, Radzim, Slepuchowo, Zukowo and the Saint Johns Town). The decline of the Poznan Commandery at the end of the eighteenth century is closely associated with the demise of Poland as a result of the partitions (1772, 1793, 1795) and also with the decline in the personal qualities of the Commanders.
The last Commander of Poznan Andrzej Marcin Miaskowski [1781-1832] of the Clan (Herb) Boncza was installed in 1781 at the request of Grand Master Fra Emmanuel de Rohan de Polduc [1775-1797]. Commander Miaskowski became subsequently a Professed Knight. In 1810, after the fall of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Prussian Government took over the property of all religious orders. The Commander ceased to use his title and failed to intervene with the Government when the parishioners and the parish priest protested against the demolition of the ancient church of Saint John in Poznan. The final chapter of the history of the Commandery in Poznan was closed with the death of Commander Miaskowski in 1832 and its property was ultimately forfeited to the Prussian state.
The Commandery in Poznan and its activities are the example of an extraordinary achievement of maintaining the continuous, active presence of the Order of Saint John on Polish soil. It was remarkable because it was able to maintain the Hospitaller tradition as well as uphold the virtues of the Knights of Saint John in a situation of geographical isolation from the Grand Magistry and the contemporary mainstream Langues.Commandery in Zagosc
While Poznan is the site of the longest surviving Commandery in Poland, the earliest references to the Knights of Saint John can be traced to year 1154. Our information again comes from Jan Dlugosz. Dlugosz, used older sources to write about the pilgrimage of Prince Henryk (fourth son of Duke Boleslaw III Krzywousty) to the Holly Land in 1154 or 1155, where Henryk no doubt learnt of the work of the Order. Dlugosz described a settlement of Hospitallers in Zagosc (a village located between Wislica and Pinczów). This permanent Hospitaller site was established when Prince Henryk, Duke of Sandomierz and Lublin, made a donation of land for a hospital and church. 1154 puts Zagosc as one of the first places where the Knights of Saint John established a presence in Poland. (Note 2)
The national origin of the Knights settled in Zagosc is not known. It is thought that the Knights came from the Italian Langue because of the architecture of the church and the Commandery buildings. Prince Henryks donation to the Order was typical of that time. The donation of a hospital and church also included the means to support it: the village of Zagosc, including all land, peasants, craftsmen and livestock. Moreover, the Prince Henryks donation was irrevocable, and was described by him in his Act of Donation as a way to salvation for both himself and his parents.
The donation at Zagosc was latter added to and extended by several royal grants documented in surviving Letters Patent of several Piast rulers. For example, Prince Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy [1177-94] (document issued between 1172 and 1176) eased the Commanderys obligations in respects of the services customary supplied to the Court. Prince Leszek Bialy [1202-27] enlarged the possessions of the Hospitallers. Subsequently Prince Boleslaw Wstydliwy in a document issued in 1244, again confirmed all of the estates of the Order listing numerous villages under its patronage.
The Order could not stay totally apolitical. Around 1307, the Commander of Zagosc, known from archival sources as Teodoryk, was a witness presenting testimony at the Archbishop of Gnieznos Court of Justice. This testimony was detrimental to the Bishop of Kraków, who proved to be a political opponent of the aspiring Prince Wladyslaw I Lokietek [1306-1333]. It was this prince who was successful in unifying all Polish Dukedoms under one sovereigns rule. Ten years later, at the request of the same Commander, Wladyslaw Lokietek (crowned king in 1320) confirmed as legitimate all holdings, lands and privileges of the Commandery in Zagosc.
By 1321 however, the political climate had changed dramatically. Relations between the Kingdom of Poland and the Teutonic Order (also known as the Knights of the Cross) in Prussia had become less than cordial. A war was soon raging in the Polish territories of Prussia. Conflict between the Polish Crown and the Teutonic Order was very significant, as the Knights of the Cross spent more time fighting their Catholic hosts than converting the heathen. Hospitallers in Pomerania were under direct patronage and in a alliance with the Teutonic Order. Indeed the Teutonic Knights, who built their own state in Prussia, proved to be mighty protectors but also possibly a reason for eviction of the Knights of Saint John from their possessions in Pomerania and Prussia.
The eviction order came as a result of the Knights from Lubiszew not paying the customary taxes and dues to the local bishop. The Knights refused to obey the courts order and responded by further demolishing the property of the local Bishop Gerward. A subsequent court order awarded the bishop all of the property of the Knights under their jurisdiction. These included Zagosc and other Houses of the Order in the Pomerania. This time the order was enforced.
With no fault of their own but due to an unidentified administrative allegiance to the Commandery in Pomerania, the Hospitallers were evicted from all possessions of the Zagosc Commandery by the middle of the fourteenth century.Commanderies in Silesia
Not long after the settlement of Hospitallers in Zagosc, another Polish Commandery of Saint John was established independently in Strzegom (germ. Striegau)in Silesia. It is probable that the Hospitallers were present at the consecration of a Church of Saint Peter in 1163. They were invited to settle in Strzegom by one of the local Lords, Gniewomir Strzegomita. This gesture, most likely, followed the pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Prince Wladyslaw Wygnaniec [1105-59] or his son Prince Boleslaw Wysoki in the entourage of King Waclaw II [1300-1305].
The Commanderys importance and growth is evidenced by subsequent donations. By the end of twelfth century, Bishop Zyroslaw II increased the size and privileges of the settlement by donating the Church in Warta along with income from the thigh from several villages including Losiów (germ. Lossen) and Pilawa (germ. Beilau). Around 1202 the Knights received the right ofpatronage of the Church of Saint Peter and Paul in Strzegom from Imbram, the son of Lord Gniewomir Strzegomita. A Papal Bull in 1205 addressed to the Head of the Silesian Commanderies, Confrere Robert, confirmed their right in this respect. Bishop Zyroslaw II proved to be a friend of the Order further extending the possessions of the Commandery in Tyniec (German Tinz) by granting the right of patronage of the Church in Tyniec in 1189.
The activities of the Order in Silesia changed with the growth of the possession of the individual Commanderies and increased wealth of the Order. From the initial military and Hospitaller role, the knights progressively moved to the establishment of schools (e.g. in Golubczyce), and played a significant role in the administration of the Faith. Increased patronage of Parish Churches meant also an increased number of chaplains and priests, which was matched by a decreased in the number of knights. However, the main factor in the decline in the number of knights was due to the Order in Silesia not being faced with an immediate Infidel enemy. The Order was able to concentrate on its local priorities.
It is worth noting that the above Commanderies in Silesia formed a part of a German Langue. The other Silesian Commanderies were subordinated in the early thirteenth century to the Grand Priory of Bohemia (Strzegom, Tyniec, Losiów, Pilawa, Brzeg, Zlotoryja, Klodzko, Grobniki, Golubczyce). There was also a Commandery of Corpus Christi in Wroclaw (germ. Breslau, lat. Vratislavia). Its growth was related to acceptance by the Confreres of a patronage over the hospital and the Church of Corpus Christi in Wroclaw in 1337. The Convent and the Commandery was administratively subordinate directly to the Grand Magistry and not the Grand Priory of Bohemia, as it was originally held. This direct relationship with the Headquarters of the Order was confirmed in 1454. From surviving documents (about 120 manuscripts - sermons, philosophical treaties and medical compendia), it is known that the Commandery was a intellectual centre which educated a number of contemporary scholars such as Bartlomiej Stein from Brzeg, known lecturer of Universities in Kraków, Vienna, and Wüttenberg.
Compared to the rest of Europe, the Silesian branches of the Order seem to have been rich and prosperous. In about 15 Commanderies there were about 200 confreres. The significance of the region to the Order as a whole was evidenced by the election of Michal of Tyniec (1325) and Gallus of Lwówek (1337) as the Grand Priors of the Bohemia and titular Priors of Poland. The fate of the Order in Silesia was not different to the political upheavals of the region. Initially the Hussiten Wars started the decline of the Wroclaw Convent and Commandery. Later the Reformation took its toll. Consequently the Order lost its influences, patronage of Churches and Hospitals (Golubczyce 1534, Wroclaw 1540, Strzegom in 1542, Klodzko 1562, Brzeg 1573).
The anti-reformation movement of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries partially reversed the decline of the Order in Silesia but the Commanderies never returned to their past glory and prosperity. The religious character of the Order declined further. The number of priests could no longer support the Churches under the Orders patronage and the activities of the Orders Estates and Commanderies took on a business character. The above state of affairs continued until 1810 when the Government of Prussia confiscated all property of convents and religious orders. As in case of the Poznan Commandery, all property of the Order in Silesia was lost.Priory of Poland
The foundation of the Polish priory of the Order did not eventuated until the late eighteenth century. In a curious way it is related to a testamentary bequest of the Duke of Ostrog. The Duchy of Ostrog, Volhynia, remained for centuries a property of the House of Ostrogski. Prince Janusz, Duke of Ostog, converted the whole of his estate into a maioratus (known in Polish as Ordynacja) in 1609. This was the only legally permissible way to assure that the whole of the designated estate would not be divided after the death of the Duke. In his Testament, formally registered ten years later, the Duke stipulated that in the event of the demise of the House of Ostrog and a lack of representatives of related branches of the House of Zaslawski or House of Radziwill (descendants of the Duke's sisters) eligible to take up the bequest, the head of the Ostrogski Ordynacja should be elected by the representatives of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which in practice meant the Commonwealth Parliament. Further, the candidate had to be a Knight of Malta. (Note 3)
The situation, not probable at the time of original bequest, materialised 200 year later. The bequest became the source of a dispute by distant relatives of the Testator. It took several years, the use of force and legal proceedings for the matter to reach the Polish Parliament. However, only temporary solutions followed. The bequest of such a considerable size and value made the Grand Magistry enter into negotiations with the Crown and the Polish Parliament. It was mainly due to the diplomatic efforts and skilful persuasion of the envoys from Malta that the King and the Parliament decided to resolve the issue amicably.
On 14 December 1774, an Act settling the dispute was promulgated. The Act authorised the creation of a Priory of Poland with 6 territorial Commanderies and 8 family Commanderies ("jus patronatus"). The Order had been offered a compensation in a form of annual dues for cession of its rights to the bequest of Duke of Ostrog. The independent existence of the Priory was short-lived. With the second partition of Poland in 1793, the independent Priory of Poland ceased to exist with the Ostrogski Ordynacja being forfeited to the Russian Treasury. The Priory's structures were taken over by the Catholic division of the Grand Priory of Russia created by the Emperor Paul I, who was proclaimed the Grand Master in a short-lived affair known in the history of the Order as the Russian coup détat.Polish National Association
During the period of partitions of Poland (1795-1918), Poles who were Knights of Saint John had no other option but to join other national associations or priories, for example, Alfred Chlapowski (Note 4) belonged to the Silesian Association. The regaining of independence by Poland in 1918 paved the way for the creation of a national association of the Knights of Saint John. Due to the efforts of confrere Alfred Chlapowski, several Polish Knights agreed to establish an association continuing the traditions of the Priory of Poland and comprising of the Knights of Polish heritage living in the country and abroad. The inaugural meeting was convened on 21 June 1920, not incidentally, in the church of Saint John of the former Commandery of Poznan, with the encouragement and support from most senior Polish confrere Prince Ferdynand Radziwill (1834-1926). (Note 5)
Out of this meeting the Polish Association of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (Zwiazek Polskich Kawalerów Maltanskich - the Association of the Polish Knights of Malta) was registered by a County Court in Poznan on 31 August 1920. The first Assembly General was held in Poznan on 27 June 1922. The majority of the newly admitted members were recruited from noble families of the Great Poland Province. The Assembly General decided to submit a petition to the Grand Master and the Sovereign Council for recognition of the new Association. Subsequently, a delegate of the Association, Count Bogdan Hutten-Czapski consulted the Grand Magistry. Recognition of the Association by the Grand Magistry was to take more time than anticipated however.
The fate of the petition of the Polish Association was clarified in 1925 when Count Hutten-Czapski received clear indication that the Association would be recognised as an integral part of the Order following compliance with several conditions. Among others these were the creation of the Statutes of the Association to conform with the Statutes and the Code of the Order, and a minimum membership. The efforts of Count Bogdan Hutten-Czapski bore fruit after his election as the President of the Association on 19 May 1926.
Following assent of the Holy See, Grand Master Fra Galeazzo Thun zum Hohenstein, issued a magistral decree on 27 June 1927 announcing the existence of the Polish Association and approved its Statutes. Membership of the Association was initially 43. The city of Poznan was chosen as the seat of the Association. In the short period of Polands independence between the wars (1918-1939) members of the Association took over control of the hospitals of the Silesian Association of the Order in Rychtal (purchased from the Silesian Association in 1927) and Rybnik (1932). There were negotiations between the Association and Prince Janusz Radziwill (1870-1967) to establish a hospital on his foundation in Olyka, however nothing eventuated before 1939 (Prince Janusz was arrested in September 1939 by the Soviet occupation forces and imprisoned in Moscow). (Note 6)
In the political arena, diplomatic efforts of the Association resulted in Marshal Józef Pilsudski and President Ignacy Moscicki being honoured with the Grand Balii Cross of Malta. Later, the Grand Master Fra Chigi Albani was awarded the Order of White Eagle and officially visited Poland. During World War II members of the Association were the first to lead the rescue of wounded civilians during the Nazi air raids on Warsaw. In September 1939 they organised a Hospital of Malta where wounded civilians and soldiers were taken care of. The hospital was able to accommodate for 220 beds and after the fall of Warsaw Hospital remained opened until the Warsaw Uprising. The hospital is possibly one of the finest examples of the impartial care of the sick by the Order, as they honoured their pledge never to take sides in wars between Christian nations. After the fall of the Uprising, its management passed to the civilian medical administration. (Note 7)
Knights who found themselves abroad at the beginning of the war decided to convene a Interim Committee of Management. Its existence was approved by the Grand Magistry in 1940. The Committee managed the affairs of the Association during the war and its aftermath. Chairman of the Committee was Prince Olgierd Czartoryski, with deputy Count Michal Potulicki. The war and the following efforts of many to return to the war-torn country created a leadership vacuum. It was not until 1948 that a new President of the Association could be elected. Count Emeryk Hutten-Czapski, who later became Grand Chancellor of the Order, was the first post-war President. His deputies were Krzysztof Górski and Andrzej Ciechanowiecki. For the next half of the century the seat of the Associations Executive remained in exile. (Note 8)
For obvious reasons the Order could not be formally represented in communist Poland, and some of its members were politically prosecuted (for example Stanislaw Lipkowski-Milewski). For this reason the activities of the members living in Poland were restricted to informal support of various charitable projects and religious matters. Very often their presence was of a moral support nature. During the dark years of Marshal Law in Poland (1981-1983), the Knights of Saint John living in the West were able to send valuable supplies of medicines, medical equipment and clothing as well as food. The Association was also an intermediary between other national associations and charities in Poland for the distribution of welfare amongst the most needy. Following the collapse of the communist regime, the First Assembly General of the Order in post-communist Poland was opened at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on 17 October 1992 in the presence of the delegate of the Grand Magistry, Count Kinsky. At this time the Association had ninety members living in Poland and abroad. (Note 9)
The Association of Polish Knights of Saint John honours the ancient obligations of the Hospitallers. This requires its members to care for the sick and the poor. The ancient tradition of service to the Lords, the Sick is carried on through the Foundation of Saint John of Jerusalem. It is known as the Pomoc Maltanska and operates under the administration of confrere M. Radziwill. The Foundation takes care of people infected with the HIV virus via a network of Community Centres and a Hospice. The Foundation also made substantial cash grants and donations in support of other charitable actions.Sources for the history of the Order of Malta and the Knights of Saint John in Poland
J. Sendligen de Rozan Zbiór krótki wiadomosci potrzebnych dla wygody y pozytku przezacnych Familii Król. Polsk. y. W. X. Lit., Warszawa 1755 [Short Compendium of Information Required for Pleasure and Use of Most Honourable Families of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.]
A. Krzyzanowski Zarys dziejów Zakonu Maltanskiego w Polsce, K. W. WójcickiAlbum Warszawskie, Warszawa 1845. [Historical Survey of the Order of Malta in Poland.]
J. Zawierkowski (?) Podrecznik Zwiazku Polskich Kawalerów Maltanskich, Poznan 1930. [Manual of the Polish Association of the Knights of Malta.]
P. Czerwinski Zakon Maltanski i stosunki jego z Polska na przestrzeni dziejów, London 1962. [Order of Malta and Poland through the ages.]
E. Potkowski Rycerze w habitach, Warszawa 1974. [Knights in habits.]Sources for this review
In presenting the above information I have relied mainly on the following sources:
A very interesting book by T. W. Lange Szpitalnicy, joanici, kawalerowie maltanscy, Poznan 1994 [Hospitallers, Knights of Saint John, Knights of Malta].
An excellent source of detailed information about the Polish Knights of Saint John is P. Czerwinski Zakon Maltanski i stosunki jego z Polska na przestrzeni dziejów, Londyn 1962 [Order of Malta and Poland through the ages].
H. J. A. Sire The Knights of Malta, New Heaven-London 1996.Notes
1. The Knights are also known as Hospitalers or Hospitallers and The Order has been referred to as the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem, Order of The Knights of Rhodes, Sovereign and Military Order of The Knights of Malta, Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem.
2. The settlement at Zagosc was researched in detail by Kazimierz Tymieniecki in his work published in 1912 - Majetnosc ksiazeca w Zagosci i pierwotne uposazenie klasztoru joannitów na tle osadnictwa dorzecza dolnej Nidy. Studium z dziejów gospodarczych XII wieku. [The Dukal Estate in Zagosc and the initial establishment of the Hospitaller Commandery in the light of the settlement of the basin of the lower Nida river. Study of economic history in the 12th century.]
3. Very interesting account of this in R. Cavaliero "The Affair of Ostrog. An Episode in Malto-Polish Relations in the Eighteen Century," Journal of the Royal University of Malta, La Valletta 1958.
4. Biographical note about A. Chlapowski is included in J. Leskiewiczowa ed Ziemianie Polscy XX wieku, vol 2, Warszawa 1994, pp. 15-17. [Polish Landed Gentry of the 20th century.] Also in D. Chlapowski Chlapowscy. Kronika rodzinna, Warszawa 1998, pp. 141-147. [The House of Chlapowski. A Family Chronicle.]
5. Information about F. Radziwill in S. Górzynski et. all Radziwillowie herbu Traby, Warszawa 1996, pp. 40-41. [The House of Radziwill of the Clan Traby.] This work includes full detail annotated family tree of the House of Radziwill.
6. Fate of Prince Janusz and many other representatives of Polish noble families are depicted in M. Miller Arystokracja, Warszawa 1993. [The Aristocracy.]
7. Details presented in Edgar Erskine Hume Medical Work of the Knights Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem, Baltimore 1940.
8. The Executive elected in 1990: President Jan Badeni with Deputies: Wladyslaw Tarnowski and Andrzej Ciechanowiecki, Hospitaller Adam Zamoyski, Chancellor Witold Sulimirski, Treasurer Rafal Smorczewski. Delegate in Poland Juliusz Ostrowski of Kraków.
9. The Executive elected: President W. Tarnowski, with Deputies A. Ciechanowiecki and J. Ostrowski, Hospitaller A. Zamoyski, Chancellor M. Morawski, Treasurer W. Sulimirski, Members J. Mycieski, Michal Radziwill and Marcin Libicki.