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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

VIII: The Hospitallers at Rhodes, 1306-1421,   pp. 278-313 PDF (20.9 MB)

Page 300

ruption and indiscipline in Europe. Philip of Mézières complained
that the brethren served four or five years at Rhodes in order to get a good
preceptory or priory, and then returned to Europe: c'est une moquerie ou
grant derision.47 The blame lay partly with the popes, whose attempts to
reform the Hospital achieved little but who increasingly interfered with
nominations to offices and other busi ness. Innocent VI had pretentious schemes
for the reform of the vices he denounced, yet he disrupted the Hospital's
whole European organization by overruling legitimate complaints from the
Convent, and he abused his papal powers by providing his ambitious and experienced
Aragonese favorite Juan Fernández de Heredia both to the priory of
Castile and Leon and to the Hospital's richest priory, that of St. Gilles
in Provence. Fernández de Heredia had obtained the castellany of Amposta
(as the priory of Aragon was called) in 1346 through the favor of Peter IV
of Aragon, and for many years he exemplified those unscrupulous brethren
who scarcely visited Rhodes but controlled extensive Hospitaller possessions
in the west. His own administrative and political talents enabled him to
extract great wealth from the Hospital, and to enrich his kinsmen and illegitimate
children.48 Even so he was outdone in grandiosity, refractoriness, and personal
immorality by Alvaro Gonçalves Pereira, prior of Portugal. The Iberian
priories, notably those of Castile and Portugal, were especially difficult
to discipline, but they were not the only ones which fell into arrears with
their responsiones or failed to pay them in full.49 
Capable brethren were not always employed to the Hospital's profit; in 1340,
for example, every province in the Papal States was governed by a Hospitaller.
The masters were well-intentioned but many were old men, and some had little
experience in the east; Dieudonné of Gozon and Raymond Bérenger
both tried to resign. The Convent attempted to resist Innocent VI but was
powerless when, for example, he appointed a committee of cardinals to white
wash Fernández de Heredia's blatant transgressions; subsequently Raymond
Bérenger and pope Urban V did manage to strip him of part of his power.
The struggle for men and money conducted 
 47. Philip of Mézières, Le Songe du vieil pèlerin,
ed. G. Coopland, I (Cambridge, 1969), 
 48. Details and references in Luttrell, "Aragonese Crown," pp. 13—19;
"Juan Fernández de Heredia at Avignon: 1351—1367," in El CardenalAlbornoz
y el Colegio de Espana, ed. E. Verdera y Tuells, I (Bologna, 1972), 289—316.
 49. While the administrative documents used extensively in Delaville Le
Roulx, Rhodes, naturally tend to reflect the troubles which provoked them,
the surviving accounts do modify this picture of widespread corruption; see
J. Nisbet, "Treasury Records of the Knights of St. John in Rhodes," Melita
historica, II, no. 2 (1957), 95—104. 

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