From these roots the Order began its dual mission of supporting hospitals and a military arm to protect pilgrims. This mission quickly expanded with the parallel development of the Knights Templar and Teutonic Knights.
At the high tide of the Order’s presence in the Holy Lands, the Hospitallers, held 7 great fortifications and extensive land holdings in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The two major castles, being “Krak des Chevaliers” considered the most formidable fortress in the East and “Margat” both found in what is today Syria.
The fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem took 172 years. The last great castle on the coast in the Holy Lands at Acre fell after a terrible struggle in 1291.2
At the fall of Acre, the Grand Master of the Order and a handful of Knights were able to escape by sea to the Island of Cyprus. It was a great setback but a time of transition for the military orders.