In order to frame the current constitutional reform of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in a political-historical context, this thesis researches the institutional identity of the Order and its spiritual predecessor, the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, at various stages in history. A historical narrative follows the Order’s institutional development and places its international encounters within the context of its time. Original research into the Order’s legal constitutions, including the 15th century Stabilimenta Rhodiorum militum, the 18th century Codice de Rohan, and the 20th century Constitutional Charter and Code, reveals trends of institutional innovation and stagnation. This gives us insight into the high and low periods of the Order. Today, the Order is a somewhat obscure entity, often misunderstood entity within scholarship. This was not always so. A better understanding of the role the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem played during its heyday will help us better understand the European international system, sheds light on the most widely misunderstood international player in today’s society, and gives us a deeper appreciation of the often fraught reform process that is currently holding the Order in its grip.

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Global History and International Relations
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Ralf Corsten. (2022, July 23). Old Habits Die Hard An Historical Inquiry into the Institutional Identity of the Orders of Saint John. Global History and International Relations. Retrieved from