The Knights Hospitalier emerged in the early 1100s, when a group devoted to the care of sick pilgrims acquired a further military function after the First Crusade’s capture of Jerusalem. This dual proficiency proved popular and the Order spread rapidly, arriving in England in the 1140s. In 1177, they were granted a Royal Charter by Henry II and provided lands for the foundation of a hospital at Dalby in Staffordshire. By the middle of the 13th century, the Hospitaliers’ network extended throughout England with outposts in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For administrative purposes within the order, the British headquarters were located at Clerkenwell. By the standards of the time, the Hospitaliers were enlightened – they employed women to nurse the sick, and had established convents in England. Members were divided into military brothers (knights), brother infirmarians and brother chaplains, each with distinct roles and terms of service.
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