A summer volunteering at the Museum of the Order of St John

Posted August 24, 2017 4:30 pm by Abigail Turner under Impact Volunteering

This summer Matthieu Isbell spent a month at the Museum of the Order of St John volunteering with two important projects. One, to collate and catalogue some of the many thousands of very important Order of St John nomination forms, and another, which Matthieu discusses here.


Why did you want to volunteer with the Museum of the Order of St John?

I volunteered with the Museum partly to develop my experience working in a museum, to which I aspire. Furthermore, I was attracted by the Order’s strong connection with medieval history, in which I am especially interested.  


While at the Museum, you have been researching and writing about kings of Jerusalem. Your research has helped to improve records on the Museum’s collections database, and will be featured on the Bearers of the Cross blog. What about this project appealed to you?

I enjoyed not only bringing to light these monarchs’ colourful careers but also helping provide context to artefacts of the collections closely associated with said rulers.

Instead of simply seeing a billon denier minted under Baldwin III, now one sees a denier minted as part of one of the earliest instances of currency reform in the kingdom of Jerusalem.

Instead of just a coin from the reign of Amaury I, now one sees a coin minted to convey stronger ties with the Byzantine Empire.


Having learnt a bit more about the Bearers of the Cross project, do you think you may be able to make use of the database and the resources available through the website for your studies? These resources are, after all, there to be used!

I believe that the database and the articles on the Bearers of the Cross website would be highly useful for my studies. Thanks to the artefacts available for viewing on the website, I can supplement my knowledge of the military orders and the crusades with not just literary evidence but also chronologically wide-ranging physical evidence, from coinage to charters. Furthermore, I find the articles on the Bearers of the Cross website beneficial to any prospective student of medieval history by providing an introduction to a topic as well as detailed primary and secondary literature.


What have you enjoyed most?

I especially enjoyed developing knowledge about the individual rulers whom I researched, and I appreciated the calm, welcoming environment full of people always ready to offer assistance.


What have you learnt while you have been at the Museum?

In my time at the Museum, I have learnt far more about the political and legal complexities of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem through the individual leaders whom I studied and wrote about. Additionally, working with the Order of St John’s archives helped me develop a greater appreciation of the Order’s work through reading about the charity and medical assistance provided by its individual members throughout the twentieth century.


Thank you very much for all of your hard work at the Museum this summer Matthieu, and for taking the time to tell us about your experience. It’s been a pleasure to have you on the team!

If you would like to see what Matthieu has been up to, and enjoy the fruits of his labour, you can read his blogs on Baldwin III, John de Brienne, and soon Amaury, here on the Bearers of the Cross blog.

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