Order of St. Lazarus and Property

The concept I have is that a Tytalus leper magus establishes a covenant within a leprosarium run by the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, because the concept of a leper magus working with an army of leper knights amuses me. However, I have a historical question.

Traditionally (at least according to the ArM books I've read), lepers can't own property, and the Order of St. Lazarus in the thirteenth century is made up entirely of lepers. Who owns the land of the leper colonies and hospitals of the Order?

Is the Order "incorporated" somehow as an entity separate from its membership?
Does the Church own it in trust?
Does nobody really ask because, really, who's going to try to move a bunch of lepers with swords from wherever they are?

Any information is appreciated.

In the middle ages, an order owning property is an issue quite different from an individual doing so.

The Order of S. Lazarus developed from a monastic community running a leprosorium outside of Jerusalem under the jurisdiction of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem. After the conquest of Jerusalem in the 1st crusade, they moved to the jurisdiction of the Roman Patriarch.
Sometime later the knightly orders in the Holy Land turned their members afflicted by leprosy over to that community, where they still remained knights with a military function. Raymond du Puy, Grand Master of the Hospitallers, was from 1157 also Grand Master of the Lazarites. We know, that some time later the Lazarites started to participate in battles, and had Grand Masters who until 1253 had to be lepers, too.

From that genesis, we can see that the Order of St. Lazarus always had property, first as a Greek monastic community, then as a community running hospitals, and finally as a knightly order. The leper knights certainly did not suffer from most of the ostracism described in HoH:S p.95 box. Indeed, as many other knightly orders it also held - and still holds - property in Europe.

The currently best wiki-entry on the Lazarites is the German one, which I link here: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazarus-Orden . The others you can easily find from there.


Either the lord who is letting them hold the land, or the church. Leper monks are still monks, and so can't own land.

Yes, it's a Holy Order. Nigel Tranter, who eas a member of the new version of the Order (which has some disputes in terms of its historical provenance) claimed that in Scotland the lack of a z in the local dialect meant that many of these places are dedicated to St Lawrence.

Not in trust, no. Basically they own it, much the same way the Church owns Cluny Abbey, or they rent it like any other vassal.

Yes, they do, because lepers tend to die a lot, and so their land becomes free to use for other things.

Right. Orders, monasteries, dioceses, cathedral chapters, hospitals and so on own property in the middle ages.
The exception are mendicant orders and their convents, where things are more complicated: see e. g. the 1230 Papal bull "quo enlongati" and the trustees it allowed to adminster money for Franciscan convents, while these convents themselves remained in evangelical poverty.

'The Church' in the middle ages is not an institution holding property. But Cluny Abbey "was considered the grandest, most prestigious and best-endowed monastic institution in Europe", though it did not hold lands in fief. (See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cluny_Abbey .)


Here is a good summary on ecclesiastical property, as seen by Catholics in the early 1900s: newadvent.org/cathen/12466a.htm . It has a chapter on Church property in the Middle Ages, that should be sufficient for this thread.


Thanks for the citation! Excellent!


I also had this idea about a year or so ago when I was looking at re-envisioning / converting Blood & Sand to ArM5!
(see here for details of my partial "conversion notes")

IIRC I had a covenant idea called "Sancti Aegrotti" in the leprosarium outside Jerusalem, led by a Tytalus leper magus and consisting of Spiral of Criamon, a Flambeau leper knight-magus and an aprentice leper magus Tytalus with a Story Seed that he may or may not be the lost heir of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV, son of the Leper King, Baldwin III. I think I also was working out a story involving the senior leper magus becoming Praeco after arranging the assassinaiton of Tau of Flambeau by a Nizari sahir assassin.

I should really have another look at that concept...

Although i think your question has been answered, you might find this book useful:
(I managed to acquire it via interlibrary loan a while back)

Leper Knights (Studies in the History of Medieval Religion) Paperback
by David Marcombe

books.google.com.au/books?id=6tA ... er&f=false

Google Books link:
books.google.com.au/books?id=6tA ... er&f=false