Last time we did Historic Objects, and this installment’s FJ! clue, since there haven’t been any about the Knights Templar, will be about HISTORIC ISLANDS instead. And hey, this is the last regularly-scheduled Deeper into Jeopardy! post of the show’s 31st season! While the show takes a short break I’ll be taking one, too, but check back here for the possibility of a few stray posts, and certainly check back here a couple weeks into Season 32, when a whole new season of DiJ! will be right here as usual.
Final Jeopardy! category: HISTORIC ISLANDS (13-7-1999)
Final Jeopardy! clue: A 900-year-old organization expelled in 1798 was allowed to return to this island in 1998
The gist: Those other knights. The Knights of Malta were formed in 1530 when the Knights Hospitallers, also known as the Order of the Knights of Saint John, were granted control of Malta by King Charles I of Spain in exchange for the yearly tribute of one Maltese falcon. The Hospitallers, like the Knights Templar, were founded during the Crusades. Blessed Gerard Thom, the man credited with founding the Hospitallers, who founded a home in Jerusalem to care for sick and injured pilgrims. After Jerusalem was captured in 1099 by the First Crusade, the Hospitallers became, again like the Templars, a military and religious order under their own Papal charter. When Jerusalem was taken back by the Muslims, the Hospitallers retreated to the Greek island of Rhodes, where they flourished just as the Templars were being destroyed. From Rhodes, they battled with Barbary pirates, the Ottomans, and others. When the Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453 and the Byzantine Empire fell, the Hospitallers were forced to retreat yet further West, this time to Malta. On that island, they brilliantly repelled an Ottoman siege, which forced the Ottoman fleet into battle with a huge combined European force. With the Ottoman fleet reduced to a fraction of its former size, they no longer posed a credible threat to the Western Mediterranean. Following the siege, the Knights constructed a new capital for Malta, Valletta, named for their commander Jean Parisot de la Valette. From then on, the Knights functioned as the governing body of Malta, until Napoleon conquered it in 1798 and it was transferred to Great Britain in 1814. From then until 1998 the Knights were stationed in Rome, until a treaty was signed with the secular Maltese government. While the Knights no longer control sovereign territory, they maintain diplomatic relations with over a hundred countries, issue their own passport, currency, stamps, and license plates, and continue to be players on the world stage, especially in the medical field.
The clue: The Knights of Malta are not an entirely unknown organization, but this still strikes me as a pretty tough clue. Obviously, the island thing is a big hint, and 1798 might clue you in to Europe since Napoleon was doing his thing around then, but that still leaves plenty of well-known islands. If you can make all those connections and land on Malta, well done.
In Jeopardy!: Malta has a very healthy showing for such a tiny country, with 74 regular and ten FJ! clues in the J!Archive. Its small size is a very common theme, as is its Mediterranean location. The Knights of Malta are in 18 regular clues and this FJ!, while the “Hospitallers” and the “Order of St. John” are in seven in total. Valletta has eight. The “Maltese Falcon,” of course, has over seventy clues, but most of those are about the movie starring Humphrey Bogart, not the country or the bird.