The rich history of the Order of St John is often told through descriptions of important battles and the deeds of heroic men. The loss of Rhodes, the granting of Malta to the Knights by Charles V, and the Great Siege, are perhaps the most significant markers in the history of the Order in the early modern period. It is therefore exciting to discover an alternative approach to the history of the Order through the lens of art appreciation, collecting, and display. Theresa Vella’s meticulous research into a rich body of source material,
especially inventories, wills, and correspondence, draws the reader into what it was about the Knights’ experience that was distinctive and specific to them, while also placing them in the larger framework of European elite culture. Elegantly written and thoughtfully conceived, this lavish production is grounded in scholarly research but accessible to a wide readership. To read it is to enter a fascinating world.