Two earlier buildings were incorporated into the structure of the fort: the twelfth century Commandry of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem, which served as a monastic hospice during the crusades; and the fifteenth century tower of René I, King of Provence.
During the French Revolution the fort was used as a prison, holding Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, and two of his sons, Louis-Charles, Count of Beaujolais, and Antoine Philippe, Duke of Montpensier.
During the years when the French Foreign Legion served almost entirely in Africa (C19th to mid-1960s), the Fort was a final stop-off point for recruits destined for basic training in Algeria.
- Duchêne, Roger; Contrucci, Jean (2004), Marseille, 2600 ans d'histoire, Editions Fayard, ISBN 2-213-60197-6
- Jacoby, David (2007), "Hospitaller Ships and Transportation across the Mediterranean", The Hospitallers, the Mediterranean and Europe, ed. Karl Borchardt, Nikolas Jaspert and Helen J. Nicholson (Ashgate): 57–72, ISBN 0754662756 , a chapter on the role of Marseille in Hospitaller shipping