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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 312

312 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES III 69.Piloti, Traité, p. 234; Thiriet,
Régestes, II, nos. 1589, 1635, 1648, 1690, 1764.70.Piloti, Traité,
pp. 216—217; Iorga, Notes, II, 299—301. In 1423 the Venetian
 From 1410 onward the brethren, periodically short of money and of food,
attempted little crusading activity. Rhodes became instead a center of piracy
directed against Christians and Moslems alike. Thus in 1412 when a Hospitaller
vessel seized a Turkish ship in the waters of Mytilene, the Rhodian crew
was imprisoned and tortured by James Gattilusio, lord of Lesbos, while the
Turks of Palatia attacked the castle of Bodrum and the Hospital's island
of Syme. In 1413 the Hospitallers were alarmed by rumors of an impending
Ottoman naval assault on Rhodes and began to form a defensive alliance. At
this time a group of Catalans discharged at Rhodes some merchandise captured
in a raid at Alexandria, and in the following years the Catalan corsair Nicholas
Samper used Rhodes as a base, involving the Hospital in quarrels with his
Venetian and Genoese victims. When the Ottomans solicited aid against the
Turks of Altoluogo and the other emirates in April 1415, the Hospital instructed
the captain of its "guard galley" off Chios to act in concert with the Genoese
there. There were also proposals for Venetian participation in a general
defensive league against the Turks. In January 1417 the Venetians hoped to
include a Rhodian galley in a union to attack the Turks in the Aegean. Yet
when Naillac finally returned to Rhodes in 1420, there was still peace there.69
 At the time of Naillac's death in 1421, a century after the last serious
attack on Rhodes in 1320, Ottoman and Mamluk seapower were still relatively
undeveloped and the brethren at Rhodes, as yet in no real danger, seemed
demoralized and inactive. Throughout this period the Hospital suffered from
a lack of resources. It could seldom count on a powerful ally, and was limited
by the commercial self-interest and mutual quarrels of Venice and Genoa,
by the intoler ance of Greeks and Latins, by the ineffectiveness of papal
crusading policy, and more fundamentally by the indifference of Latin Chris
tendom to the problems of its own defense. The Hospitallers at Rhodes could
rarely sustain a decisive role in crusading affairs or make the most of their
opportunities. The old accusations against them, especially those of corruption
in the priories, continued to be repeated, not without some justification.
For example, one such critic, the Cretan merchant Manuel Piloti, who spent
some time in Florence, may have known of the visit there in 1431 of a Hospitaller
who conducted a mass sale of papal indulgences intended to finance the defense
of Rhodes, dining and debauching himself spectacularly on the proceeds. 70

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