The Knights Hospitalier, also known as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, the Order of St. John, the Knights of the Hospital, The Knights of Malta, and the Chevaliers of Malta, was one of the Christian orders of the Crusades. Their emblem was a white cross, often on a black background.
The Knights Hospitalier were founded in the city of Jerusalem to provide care for poor, sick, or injured pilgrims to the Holy Land, but became a much more militaristic organization with the onset of the Crusades.
By 1191, the Knights were led by Garnier de Naplouse, who was secretly a Templar. He experimented on his patients to try and replicate the effects of the Apple of Eden, of which he achieved a limited amount of success, though he was assassinated by Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, ending his experiments. Despite this, the Knights Hospitalier persisted, remaining in the city until its downfall.
After the loss of Acre, the Hospitalier base relocated to Rhodes. During the Renaissance, the knightly order were responsible for killing the Master Assassin Castor. In response, Ezio Auditore da Firenze sent a team of Ottoman Assassins to burn the Hospitalier compound to the ground.
In 1522, the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman, an ally of the Assassins, succeeded in expelling the Knights from Rhodes. He failed, however, to eradicate the Order, as they reorganized themselves on Malta and prevented the Ottoman forces from conquering the island in 1565. This event sparked a longtime grudge between the Hospitalier and the Ottoman Empire.
After 1675, the Hospitalier in Malta had been severely damaged by a plague, and lacked for resources and defences. During the Seven Years' War, the Templar Shay Cormac used his fleet to send some troops to the island.
To this day, the Hospitalier Order still exists as the Order of Saint John, although they no longer serve a military function.
- The Knights Hospitalier were the only faction of Crusaders without high-ranking soldiers, aside from informant targets.
- In Assassin's Creed, the armor and uniform of Knights Hospitalier guards was strikingly similar to that of the high-ranking Templar crusaders in the Holy Land, with the primary difference being the black and white coloring of the Hospitaliers, as opposed to the red and white of the Templar crusaders.
- In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, the simulated location of Rhodes in the Animi Training Program contained a Knights Hospitalier fortress. In reality, during the 15th century, the Knights Hospitalier held sovereignty over the island.
- In the Captain's Cabin minigame of Assassin's Creed: Rogue, several ships features the alternative emblem of the Knights Hospitaliers: a white cross on a red background.
- Hospitalier Captains could be seen in the crowd behind King Richard I of England, when the latter was confronted at Arsuf, and during some investigations conducted by Altaïr.