Raymond du Puy de Provence

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Raymond du Puy, copper engraving by Laurent Cars, c. 1725

Raymond du Puy de Provence (1083–1160) was a French knight and was the first Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (Knights Hospitaller) from 1120 to 1160.

A member of a noble and ancient family in Dauphiné, Rochefort and Montbrun, he was the son of Hughes Du Puy, Seigneur de Peyrins, d'Apifer, et de Rochefort, Governor of Acre and a general serving under Godfrey of Bouillon and was also related to Adhemar of Le Puy, the papal legate during the First Crusade. As the first Grand Master he developed the Knights Hospitaller into a strong military force. He is also said to have taken over the management of the leprosarium outside Jerusalem that eventually broke off from the Order of St. John to become the Order of Saint Lazarus becoming its seventh master just before his death. He made the eight-pointed cross the official symbol of the Order, which later became known as the Maltese Cross after the establishment of the Order on Malta. Raymond also divided the membership of the Order into clerical, military, and serving brothers and established the first significant Hospitaller infirmary near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He was present at the capture of Ascalon in 1153.

According to The Great Historical Dictionary written by Louis Moreri in 1759:

"Raymond du Puy, the first grand master of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, (who later became known as the Knights of Malta) succeeded Gerard as rector in 1118. He came from the province of Dauphiné and was of the illustrious house of du Puy... Raymond was elected by the brothers of the order, following the disposition of the bull of Pope Paschal II, given in 1113, and was from then on called Master of the Hospital of the City of Jerusalem to mark his authority. Gerard had only used the name of Governor and Rector of the Hospital. Since there were many gentlemen and men of arms among the ranks of the Order, he established a militia for the defense of religion against enemies of the Holy Land, while others were assigned to care for the poor and the sick at the hospital. To better succeed in his pious designs, he held the first general assembly and divided the order into three ranks: knights, men at arms, and chaplains. He also instituted a new constitution to improve the rules that Gerard established. They were approved in 1123 by Pope Callixtus II and in 1130 Pope Innocent II gave the order their coat of arms, a silver cross (today known as the Maltese cross) in a field of blue (gueulles). Raymond armed his troops and offered them to Baldwin II of Jerusalem, to join him and his army in the fight against infidels. From that time on, there was never a battle that this order did not participate in. In the year 1153, the king of Jerusalem was ready to lift the siege of Ashkelon; however, Grand Master du Puy received permission to extend the siege and camp his army in front of the city. The city surrendered within a few days. Because of this conquest he acquired great glory and received the esteem of the pope, Pope Anastasius IV, who granted many privileges to the order. Raymond thereafter built a magnificent palace which caused much jealousy among the prelates of Jerusalem and the holy land. But the order was supported by the supreme pontiff in his exemptions and in the privileges granted to them. Raymond du Puy died in 1160 and his successor was Auger de Balben. He was the first to assume, and the first to whom was given, the title of Grand Master of the Order. He never used it except after Roger II of Sicily used the title in the letters he wrote to Raymond"


Preceded by
The Blessed Gerard as rector
Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller
Succeeded by
Auger de Balben