Blog post by Nancy Mavroudi, Museum Assistant, Museum of the Order of St John, on women in the Hospitallers:
If we were to generalise, we would probably say that Hospitaller women were primarily wealthy, noble women, from aristocratic or powerful families who, in many cases were even forced to join the Order by their families for spiritual benefits – the Order’s blessing for the family. However, although popular, such generalisations are not always accurate. To start with, there is evidence that many women joined voluntarily, simply because they so wanted. Joining a community of Sisters could bring about a change in their lives in which they themselves might have found comfort – especially given that, as discussed in further detail below, the Order could potentially be a more privileged and safe space to be.Read more here at Museum of the Order of St John.
See also: Hospitaller Women in the Middle Ages - abstract @ Cambridge University Press