The word came from French commanderie, from medieval Latin commendaria, meaning "a trust or charge". Also called "commendę" in Latin.
Originally commandries only existed for the Order of Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, but later also for the Order of Teutonic Knights and other orders. Its equivalents for Knights Templars were preceptor and preceptory. In 1540, the Knights of St. John's possessions in England were seized as crown-property.
Commandry (郡 in pinyin: jłn) had been an administrative level of China. During the Zhou Dynasty, it one level below a district (縣). Qin Shi Huangdi inverted the hierarchy and made commandries higher than districts. In the Sui and Tang Dynasties, commandries were abolished and replaced by zhou-prefectures (州). In the Song Dynasty, fu-prefectures (府) were in commandries' place.