The Dark Ages
In Jerusalem in 1023, the Amalfi opened a hospital for Christian pilgrims. This hospital became the basis for the formation of the Knights of St John or as they are famously known, the Hospitallers. These were fearsome knights. These Knights came about when Gerard who was the first master of the order, was running a pilgrims hospice. This was the time when during the first crusade that Jerusalem was captured.
Pope Urban II was the leader who incited the first crusade.
The Crusaders of the First Crusade reached the walls of Jerusalem in June 1099. The Crusaders were unable to conduct a proper siege of Jerusalem due to their depleted numbers and the shortage of food and water. Instead of waiting for the surrender of the residents of Jerusalem, the Crusaders were forced to attack the city after a 5 week siege on the 15 July 1099.. They attacked from St. Stephen's Gate and Jaffa Gate and were easily successful. 93
The victorious "Christian" army slaughtered men women and children of the Muslim and Jewish faith.
It was said that blood ran through the gates. Several thousand Muslims as well as Egyptian, Jews and even Christians were slaughtered although it is generally thought the figures have been inflated for its propaganda value. The reasons are not fully known however he did wish to assert the power of the Roman Catholic Church to the Near East. Pope Urban II died July 29th, 1099 before word of the Christian triumph and the slaughter of the innocents had reached his ears.
Ibn al-Qalanisi has written:
"The Franks stormed the town and gained possession of it. A number of the townsfolk fled to the sanctuary and a great host were killed. The Jews assembled in the synagogue, and the Franks burned it over their heads. The sanctuary was surrendered to them on guarantee of safety on 22 Sha'ban [July 14 of this year, and they destroyed the shrines and the tomb of Abraham." 94
Al-Azimi of Aleppo's Description:
“Then they turned to Jerusalem and conquered it from the hands of the Egyptians. Godfrey took it. They burned the Church of the Jews (Kanisat al-Yahud). This ‘church’ was presumably the principal Jewish synagogue.93
In 1113 he was given Papal backing and thus assumed the title of a Religious order The Knights of St John (named after St John the Almsgiver) and eventually the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. By providing protection to ambulance trains, they soon had a military wing and eventually as the Hospitallers and being made up of religious fanatics and Monks were ferocious in battle and fought mostly to the death.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, many large hospitals were constructed including several great London hospitals. Rahere founded St Bartholomew’s hospital in 1123.
Rahere made a vow after becoming sick on a pilgrimage to Rome, he is said to have seen St Bartholomew in a vision and this moved Rahere to set up a priory and a hospital for the sick at Smithfield’s in London. It must also be noted that after a battle it was common for the nobility to care for the wounded.95