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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 289

Ch. VIII THE HOSPITALLERS AT RHODES, 1306—1421 28915. Luttrell, "Cilician
Armenia" [forthcoming]. 
of Cos, in which there were some two thousand Greeks who had slain the Hospitallers'
garrison there and gone over to Andronicus; leaving a new garrison, he returned
with numerous captives to Rhodes. Again in 1320, with four galleys and twenty
lighter craft aided by six Genoese galleys, Schwarzburg inflicted severe
losses on a Turkish force of eighty vessels and a large army preparing to
attack Rhodes. After this, although there were often frightening reports
of prepara tions against Rhodes, as for instance in 1325, no serious attack
was made upon the island for over a century, and the Hospitallers were more
free to intervene elsewhere. In 1319 and 1320 the pope instructed that Maurice
of Pagnac, now preceptor in Cilicia, was to urge the kings of Cilician Armenia
and Cyprus to respect their truce; he was also to reside on and defend the
Hospital's Cilician lands if they were returned by king Oshin, who had seized
them, probably because of the Hospithj's earlier support Of king Henry of
Cyprus. During the next few years, while Cilician Armenia was being ravaged
by Mongol, Turkish, and Mamluk forces, Pagnac did provide some troops for
its defense.15 
 At this point certain weaknesses limiting the Hospital's contribution to
the crusading movement became increasingly evident to contem poraries. Once
it was no longer necessary to defend Rhodes itself, the Hospitallers' lack
of clear objectives and of a vigorous policy of their own was exposed. This
weakness was due partly to the Hospital's dependence on the popes, who mostly
failed to provide effective leadership, and partly to the corruption and
disorganization to be found in many of the European priories, which prevented
the Hospi tallers from mobilizing their full resources at Rhodes. From the
west the occupation of Rhodes looked at the time like an act of selfpreservation
or of self-aggrandizement which promised little crusad ing activity; subsequently
the Hospitallers seemed to have transferred the defensive attitudes acquired
in their Syrian castle to Rhodes, where they appeared to be defending only
 The Hospital, while still in debt, faced heavy expenses for the fortification
of Rhodes and the upkeep of the Convent, its mer cenaries, and its hospital,
and for costly imports of food, horses, and armaments. The Hospital possessed
vessels used for transport from Europe and could summon Rhodian mariners
into service, but the brethren often came from the petty landed nobility
and many were French; probably few were interested in naval affairs. At times
the Hospital had to rely on Sicilian, Provençal, Venetian, or, especially,

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