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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 306

306 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 56.Luttrell, "Grecia catalana," pp. 242—248.57.On
the crusade of Nicopolis see above, pp. 21—25. 
gically sound idea of renewed intervention in Greece. In about 1385 he negotiated
with the Navarrese in the Morea; in 1386 he purchased the Angevin claim to
the principality of Achaea; and in 1389 he actually appointed Dominic de
Alamania as governor there, empow ering him to raise 15,000 ducats.56 Such
schemes however were beyond the Hospital's resources, especially in view
of the anarchy then reigning in Greece, and they were dropped when the danger
to Smyrna increased after 1389. 
 The garrison at Smyrna was a minor irritant to the Ottomans, who maintained
just sufficient pressure on it to ensure the expenditure of the Christians'
energies there without provoking them to a desperate resistance or to alliance
with the emirates. For the Hospital, the loss of Smyrna would have been politically
disastrous in Europe, and in 1381 the defenses were strengthened and certain
unreliable merce naries expelled. The danger grew when an earthquake seriously
damaged the walls in 1389. In that year, in which the vigorous young Bayazid
I became the Ottoman ruler, the Hospitallers decided to strengthen Cos and
to join the Latins of Cyprus, Chios, Lesbos, and Pera in a defensive naval
union which functioned against the Turks for some years. From 1390 on the
master was planning a passagium in response to appeals from Rhodes, but it
was unable to leave until 1394. In 1392 Bayazid was preventing the exportation
of food from the mainland, so provisions grew scarce at Rhodes, where a number
of brethren died of plague. Negotiations were opened but broke down when
the Turks demanded the right to trade slaves at Rhodes. Bayazid then turned
his aggression toward the Balkans, and the Christians responded with a major
crusade. In 1396 a contingent of Hospitallers sailed into the Black Sea and
up the Danube. They fought valiantly in the terrible Christian defeat at
Nicopolis, and escaped by sea.57 
 Juan Fernández de Heredia died shortly before the battle of Nicopolis
and the leader of the Hospital's forces there, Philibert of Naillac, prior
of Auvergne, returned to Rhodes to find himself elected master. He was a
distinguished French noble who enjoyed the support of king Charles VI of
France and duke Philip of Burgundy. During 1397 the Hospitallers helped ,to
negotiate and finance the ransom of prisoners taken at Nicopolis, many of
whom were enter tained at Rhodes. One of these, the French marshal Boucicault,
returned with six ships to the Levant, and in the autumn of 1399, 

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