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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 313

 Granted its weaknesses, the Hospital had some claims to success, and if
it played no very decisive part in Levantine affairs, it did overcome considerable
difficulties. The Hospital's establishment at Rhodes, the absorption of the
Templars' properties, the fortification and defense of the Rhodian archipelago,
indeed its own very survival, were real if somewhat unspectacular achievements,
without which later successes would have been impossible. The Hospital always
acknowledged its subordination to the papacy, but at Rhodes it enjoyed many
attributes of independence, passing laws, minting money, and sending ambassadors.
The master's powers were not limited to Rhodes. In the west, oultremer to
the brethren, he had extensive jurisdictions, and in extreme cases the Hospital's
subjects made the long journey to Rhodes to appeal to the master. The brethren
participated, usually with distinction, in most crusading enterprises and
were seldom responsible when these were strategi cally misconceived. They
had played a leading part in the capture of Smyrna in 1344 and in its defense
until 1402, and in the period of crisis between the battles of Nicopolis
in 1396 and Ankara in 1402 they had successfully defended Corinth, perhaps
saving the Morea for Christendom for another sixty years. The Hospitallers
provided a permanent and reliable military force to which their experience
and discipline gave a value more than commensurate with its limited size.
Their presence at Rhodes provided an element of stability in the Christian
gave favorable consideration to an approach from the Hospitallers, who wished
to exchange Rhodes, which they claimed to find too difficult to defend, for
a territory of equal value in Greece, preferably Euboea; nothing, however,
came of this (Iorga, Notes, I, 338). 

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