Knights Hospitallers

This list is an attempt to portray the armies of the Order of the Knights of St.John or Knight Hospitallers (as they were more commonly known) from their expulsion from the Holy Land after the fall of Acre to the Mamalukes; their subsequent involvement on Cyprus and stay on Rhodes, ending in the siege by the Ottoman Turks; and ultimately their move to Malta in 1422AD.

This is not an easy army to portray in Armati terms. The numbers of troops overall is relatively small and aside from the siege of Rhodes and involvements in pitched battles on Cyprus most major military action was maritime in nature. I was tempted to include a unit of Dismounted Kn as LHI in the Bonus, but unless their protection was allowed to increase to +2 (with an FV5) they are far too vulnerable and this is not realistic. I have therefore opted for them to be included with the other foot units on a command and ‘bolstering’ basis.

Portraying the Native Greek/Rhodian troops is also difficult as they are clearly a light militia, many of them being fishermen or galley crew (oarsmen) and I have therefore opted for LI rather than FT as this reflects their ability to fight Ottoman cavalry in the open or defend built-up areas (which they did very successfully) but doesn’t make them ‘solid’ enough to stand up to formed close-order infantry in the open. LHI (Galley Crew) are the Orders dedicated maritime military lay troops rather than oarsmen.

NB: One of the differences between Hospitaller war galleys and their Muslim opponents was that a high percentage of the oarsmen were unshackled and fought in boarding actions and the subsequent melee.

Depicting the Turkopoles is also difficult. There is one school of thought that believes that they did not deploy separately from the Brethren in set battle situations and another that believes they were more akin to Byzantine HC than LC & a third that views them as a hybrid based on their original Levantine LC forebears. All options are covered by placing them in the Bonus section and offering a LC or HC alternative. My own personal view is that as the period progress the Turkopoles got ‘heavier’ and eventually disappeared – although the position of Master of Turkopoles remained long after the actual troops had disappeared from the army.

The Genoese (Men-at-Arms) are portrayed as LHI to reflect their small numbers, the fact that they were brigaded with the Galley Crews and they did not fight mounted whilst in the Orders service.

The RG depict fortified built-up areas on Rhodes and Cyprus or the rocky terrain on both islands. They can also represent vineyards.


The Knights Hospitaller: Helen Nicholson: Boydell

Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2: Ian Heath; Wargames Research Group

Nicopolis 1396: David Nicholle; Osprey - Campaign 64

The Crusades: David Nicholle; Osprey - Essential Histories

Kights Hospitaller(1) & (2): David Nicholle; Osprey - Warrior 33 & 41

Era: Age of Chivalry   Knights Hospitallers CR: H: 3 L: 4   BP: 2 Init: 6
Number Type   Description Key FV PROT Weapon Cost
1 KN(d) Brethren key 6[2]0 +2 Lance 14
6 LI Militia key 2[1]1 +1 Bow or X-bow 4
2 FT   key 4[1]1 +1 X-bows 6
1 FT   key 5[1]1 +1 Spears 6
2 SI Militia   2[1]1 +2 Bows or X-bows 2
1 Kn(d) Knights etc key 6[2]0 +2 Lance 14
1 LC Turkopoles key 2[0]0 +1 Various/Bows 8
1 HC Turkopoles key 4[0]0 +1 Various/Bows 10
1 FT   key 5[1]1 +1 Spears 6
1 FT   key 4[1]1 +1 X-bows 6
2 LHI Galley Crew key 4[1]2 +1 Javelins 7
4 LI Militia key 2[1]1 +1 Bows or X-bows 4
2 SI Militia   2[1]1 +2 Bows or X-bows 2
2 SI Mercenaries   2[1]1 +2 X-bows 2
1 LHI Men-at-Arms key 5[1]2 +1 Various 8
1 LHI Galley Crew key 4[1]2 +1 Javelins 7
2 LHI Galley Crew key 2[1]1 +1 X-bows 4
    Cilician Armenians:          
1 HC Men-at-Arms key 5[1]0 +1 Lance 12
2 LHI   key 3[1]2 +1 Javelins 5
2 SI     3[1]2 +2 Javelins 2
    Navarrese Company:          
2 FT Navarrese key 6[2]3 +1 Spears etc 9
2 SI Navarrese   3[1]2 +2 Javelins 2
1 SI Navarrese   2[1]1 +2 X-bows 2


Core: RG

Bonus: (Max: 3 ) 2-GR; 1-SH; 2-RG


Core: 96 Bonus: 155

The numbers of Brethren were always relatively few although they were extremely effective, highly disciplined and much feared opponents. Other Brethren, Brother knights and Lay Brethren were used to officer and bolstered Native, Mercenary and Settler detachments and are assumed to be included within these and can be depicted leading the various FT and LI units.

FT spears are either: Greeks, Colonists/Settlers, Frankish Garrison or Mercenaries.

FT X-bows are also Colonists/Settler, Frankish Garrison or Mercenaries.

Bonus Kn represent Colonist or Settler nobility on Cyprus and or Lay Brothers and very small numbers of western Crusaders.

Genoese, Cilician Armenians and Navarrese cannot be used in the same army. If any troops from any allied contingent are bought, that entire contingent must be purchased.

Light troops from any of these contingent are excluded with regard to the purchase of all Light Bonus troops if their contingent is not purchased.

Cilician Knights are assumed to be such a small percentage of this allied force that they are therefore included with the HC Men-at-Arms.

Earlier armies will contained more Native Militia (Rhodian Greeks or Cypriots) armed with Bows, later armies would contain more X-bows.

The Order enthusiastically embraced ‘modern’ military technology and towards the end of the era covered by this list the following changes can be made:

The core Brethren can be upgraded 1 – Kn(d!) (Brethren) [k] 6[2]0 +3 Lance etc. and the 2 Bonus SI (Native) with bow become: 2- SI (Mercenaries) 2[1]1 +2 HG @ 2pts. The Native LI should all be X-bow armed.

HG are classifed as Xbow in all respects.

Cilician Armenians cannot be used if the +3 protection Brethren and HG option is used.

NB: The option to classify Orchards as RG is due to the fact that in the medieval (& ancient) era fruit trees were pruned for picking at ground level and planted in cross pattern to assist with pollination, thus making them inaccesible for horsemen. As this is a 'theory' a non-competition option is available, if agreed by both players, when one Bonus RG can alternatively be classified as WD - still being called an Orchard.

List Author: Aetius