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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 301

against endless indifference and corruption seems to have exhausted most
masters, and the Hospital's lack of gifted leaders and of firm and positive
direction was enhanced by the predominance of feeble or distracted popes
who usually counted on the Hospital to take part in their ineffective Levantine
campaigns but whose meddling in Hospitaller affairs was of doubtful value.
Many of the brethren themselves knew the Levant well enough to realize the
futility of small amphibious expeditions which might make minor coastal gains
but certainly lacked the sustained strength to conserve them; it was difficult
enough to garrison Smyrna. 
 While further chances of crusading activity based on Cyprus faded, it became
clear that the Latins must support the Greeks in Romania. Amadeo VI of Savoy
took Gallipoli from the Ottomans in 1366 but was unable to hold it; John
V Palaeologus submitted to the pope anew in 1369 but could not persuade his
Greek subjects to cooperate with the Latins; and in 1371 Serbian resistance
was crushed by the Turks at Chernomen on the Maritsa river. Latins as well
as Greeks were in danger and the new pope, Gregory XI, was determined to
use the Hospitallers, almost the only reliable military force available,
to oppose the Ottomans. In 1373 he ordered episcopal inquests into the state
of every preceptory in Europe, while expressing his intention of providing
a Latin fleet to operate against the Turks in the Darda nelles and the Aegean.
In 1374, despite the Hospitallers' marked reluctance, he made them wholly
responsible for the defense of Smyrna, revoking the captaincy of Ottobono
Cattaneo, a Genoese of Rhodes appointed in 1371, who had grossly neglected
his duties. He also sent two Hospitallers, Bertrand Flote and Hesso Schiegel
holtz, to Constantinople to prepare for a passagium of Hospitallers ad partes
Romanie; this expedition was to be organized and com manded by Juan Fernández
de Heredia, who had returned to papal favor and now secured wide powers as
the master's lieutenant in the west. Preparations moved slowly. Late in 1375
some four hundred Hospitallers, each with a squire, were summoned for the
passagium; the French priories were to provide 125 brethren, the Italian
108, the Spanish and Portuguese 73, the English and Irish 38, the German
and Bohemian 32, the Hungarian 17, and the preceptories of the Morea and
of the duchy of Athens two each. Hospitaller lands were to be sold or rented,
and 24,500 forms were borrowed from the Alberti of Florence; Gregory supported
these arrangements and or dered that the money raised should be kept in Europe,
not sent to Rhodes. 

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