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A Langue was an administrative division of the Knights Hospitaller or Order of St. John of Jerusalem.


By the early fourteenth century, when the order moved to Rhodes, the knights were organised into eight groups or langues, based on language and origin. The head of each langue was known as a Pilier or bailiff. The Piliers, together with the Knights Grand Cross, the Bishop, the bailiffs of the Convents and the prior of the Conventual Church, sat on the Grand Council of the order. Each Pilier also had specific responsibilities within the order; that of France was the Hospitaller, that of Italy was the Admiral.[1]:64–65

Each langue was housed in its own headquarters or auberge, in Rhodes, then in Birgu (Vittoriosa), Malta, and then, from the 1570s, in the new city of Valletta.

At the time of the construction of Valletta, there were eight langues: Aragon; Auvergne; Castille, León and Portugal; England; France; Germany; Italy; and Provence. The English langue however consisted of one knight only; seven auberges were built.[2] The English langue was re-created as the Anglo-Bavaro-Polish langue in the late eighteenth century and an Auberge was built.[1]:225–26

St John's Co-Cathedral

Each langue has a chapel in the Co-Cathedral of St. John in Valletta.[3]

List of Auberges

In Malta, a total of sixteen Auberges were built, eight in Birgu and later another eight in Valletta. Of these, eleven survive to this day, two are mostly destroyed but some parts have remained, and three are completely destroyed. Of the five destroyed Auberges, four were demolished following extensive damage by bombing in the Second World War.

Two Auberges in Birgu which were side by side were later merged into one Auberge, that of Auvergne and Provence.


  • Auberge d'Allemagne - mostly destroyed in World War II; some of the inner rooms remain
  • Auberge d'Angleterre
  • Auberge d'Aragon
  • Auberge d'Auvergne et Provence
  • Auberge de Castille, Leon et Portugal
  • Auberge de France
  • Auberge d'Italie - mostly destroyed in World War II; some parts of the facade remain


  • Auberge d'Allemagne - demolished in 1839 to make way for St Paul's Pro-Cathedral
  • Auberge d'Aragon
  • Auberge d'Auvergne - completely destroyed in World War II; replaced by the Law Courts
  • Auberge de Bavière
  • Auberge de Castille
  • Auberge de France - completely destroyed in World War II; replaced by the Worker’s Memorial Building
  • Auberge d'Italie
  • Auberge de Provence


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ernle Bradford (2002 [1972]). The Shield and the Sword. London: Penguin.
  2. Auberge de Castille. Office of the Prime Minister. Archived 5 July 2008.
  3. The Chapels. St John's Co-Cathedral. Accessed February 2014.

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