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Knights of Santiago

During the period when the Moorish Empire was a considerable threat to Christian Spain, a band of knights offered their services for protecting pilgrims in Spain wishing to visit holy places for worship. By 1171 clerics had joined the expanding group of knights and by 1175 the brotherhood was recognized by the Pope and the Knights of Santiago were ordained as a religious military order. Over the next decade the order quickly acquired lands in France, Italy, Palestine, Hungary and England. Because the knights of the order were all of nobility and therefore limited in number, the order was never able to develop into a fighting force of magnitude. The monarch appointed the Grand Master often with little concern for ability; eventually the king retained the title of Grand Master. By 1485 the order ceased to be an active organization.

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