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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

VIII: The Hospitallers at Rhodes, 1306-1421,   pp. 278-313 PDF (20.9 MB)

Page 281

off Tortosa defended for a few years (until 1302) mainly by the Templars.
He also went twice with considerable forces to Cilician Armenia, where the
Hospitallers had long held possessions, and stayed there for some time. Between
1300 and 1304 he continued the revision of the statutes, one of which, defining
the powers of the admiral, emphasized the Hospital's increasingly amphibious
 From their insecure point of exile in Cyprus the Hospitallers faced other
difficulties. They were less involved in financial operations than the Templars,
but people in Europe were disillusioned with the crusading idea in general
and with the military orders in particular; many envied the orders' wealth
and privileges, or felt that they had betrayed their cause and misused the
donations made to them. Tempting schemes for reorganizing the military orders
or for confis cating their lands received considerable support. James II
of Aragon, who alleged that the Hospitallers were lingering idly in the Levant,
sought to secure their incomes and services for his "crusades" in Granada
and Sardinia, and even threatened to seize their possessions. Henry II of
Cyprus quarreled with the military orders over taxation and enforced the
prohibition against their acquisition of new estates. The Hospitallers' resources
in Cyprus were so slender that they were at the mercy of the kings of Naples
and Aragon for the importation of food, horses, and fodder, and in 1305 Fulk
of Villaret, newly elected to succeed his uncle William as master, presented
to the pope a crusading scheme emphasizing the complex organizational prob
lems of raising men, money, and ships in western Europe. In Cyprus the Hospitallers
mediated in May 1306 between king Henry and his brother, Amalric de Lusignan,
who had seized power.1 With the general arrest of the Templars late in 1307
and the propaganda campaign leading to their suppression in 1312, the Hospitallers'
position might have been bleak had they not embarked on the conquest of Rhodes
in 1306. That island offered a prospect of independence, while effective
action against the Turks and the poten tial usefulness of Rhodes as a crusading
base served to quiet the Hospital's critics.2 
1. See below, pp. 343—345. 
2. J. Delaville Le Roulx, Les Hospitaliers en Terre Sainte eta Chypre, 1100—1310
1904); J. Riley-Smith, The Knights of St. John in Jerusalem and Cyprus, c.
1050—1310 (London, 1967). See also A. Luttrell, "The Aragonese Crown
and the Knights Hospitallers of Rhodes: 1291—1350," English Historical
Review, LXXVI (1961), 1—11; "The Hospital lers in Cyprus after 1291,"
Acts of the Ffrst International Congress of Cypriot Studies (Nicosia, 1972),
pp. 161—17 1; "The Hospitallers' Interventions in Cilician Armenia:
129 1— 1375" [forthcoming]. 

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