The Knights of St John were a Christian military order that’s founding dates to the crusades. The Knights were evicted from their base at Acre in 1291, establishing a presence in Cypress. By the year 1310, the Knights had conquered the island of Rhodes, taking it from the Byzantine Empire to use as their new stronghold. The Knights began to conduct daring raids against Muslim naval interests, establishing themselves as a naval power in the Mediterranean, and earning a reputation as a terror of the Muslim world.
The Knights of St John were in many ways a centralized Christian equivalent of the dreaded Pirates of the Barbary Coast. They conducted raids and operations against the full breath of Muslim naval activity, a Muslim shipping to battling their hated enemies the Barbary Pirates.
THE GRAND PRIORIES OF ST JOHN
The Military Hospitaller Order of St John received much of their funding and manpower from the Priories of St John. These priories served as the local administrative units for the broader order that operated throughout Europe. Many prestigious noble families were associated with the Knights, providing material support in the form of tithes, donations, and sons to join the order.
In Magna Mundi, the Priories are represented by the ability of Christian countries to build Grand Priories of St John in their provinces. The number of Priories in existence determines the strength of the order in Europe, and this affects their ability to prosecute war against the enemies of Christendom.
A country that chooses to host a Grand Priory in their borders will have access to special benefits, and their continued support will help the Knights war against the Ottomans, Mamluks and the dreaded Barbary Pirates.
Only one new Grand Priory can be founded every five years. If a country’s relations with the Knights sour, there is no limit to how many Grand Priories they can destroy at once. A skilled Grand Master will try to keep positive relations with all the countries of Christendom to strengthen the Knights.
KNIGHTS OF ST JOHN - ADVISORS
One of the greatest benefits the Grand Priories provide is access to special Knight of St John Advisors. These advisors represent members of the order serving at court as loyal subjects to the princes of Europe. These advisors can only spawn in provinces that have Grand Priories or at the Fortress of the Knights. Countries that do not have Grand Priories may occasionally hire a Knight Advisor from the general pool, but the Grand Master of the order has a habit of recalling them within a few years if no priory has been established in the country.
CAMPAIGNS AGAINST THE PIRATES
The Knights conducted operations against the ports and safe havens of the Pirates of the Barbary Coast. These campaigns were intended to suppress pirate operations in the area, and as a means of retaliation on behalf of Christendom. In exchange for safe harbor, they enlisted the help of Christian Pirates, leading them into attacks and raids against the Barbary Coast. They cut off supply lines to the pirates and suppressed their activity along sections of the coast.
The Knights have a series of decisions available that represent these campaigns against the pirates of the Barbary Coast. When activated, the decision will result in a campaign against the targeted country, as well as support for Christian Privateers in the Mediterranean. It will temporarily remove their ability to support the Barbary Pirates, and adversely affect the economy of the target country. The target country may choose to respond by building defences, or even to go to war against the Knights. The Knights will also enjoy higher blockade efficiency and can take benefit from Christian privateers during each campaign.
THE TONGUES - Manning the Walls and Ships
The Knights maintained a central fortress from which they planned and executed their operations against their enemies. These are impressive fortifications, with each section of fortification assigned to a grouping of Knights know as a Tongue. Each Tongue was responsible for one section of the walls, their upkeep and maintenance, as well as a division of duties. Tongue’s were organizational and political groupings based on region, culture, and language. Historically, there were normally between 6 to 8 tongues, but at times some of these were devoid of any meaningful membership (such as the English Tongue after King Henry the VIII closed the English Grand Priory of St John.
The power of the Knights is linked to the manning and upkeep of their central fortress. A powerful order may be able to expand beyond seven tongues and establish an eighth, ninth, and maybe even tenth tongue. But if the order begins to decay, tongues may need to be re-organized and consolidated.