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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume IV: The art and architecture of the Crusader states

VI: The arts in Frankish Greece and Rhodes,   pp. 208-250 PDF (15.7 MB)

Page 234

mortar. Much of the work was carried out by Turkish prisoners, but the local
masons obviously had a considerable degree of competence and in particular
their mortar has proved exceptionally durable. The masonry throughout is
admirable work, and the heraldic sculpture carefully placed to set it off.
Little care was taken for aesthetic effects. The wide ditches which surround
the wails give them a sense of less height than they in fact have, and Rhodes
suggests a businesslike efficiency rather than a prestigious dignity, though
Naillac's tower must have added an impressive feature to the general scheme.
 Rhodes in 1444 was besieged by a force from Egypt, a siege that lasted for
some forty days, in which considerable damage was done to the fortifications
by the enemy's artillery. Even more threatening than the Egyptian siege was
the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, and its demonstration
of the new power of artillery against the most famous walls known to the
medieval world. 
 The grand master Peter Raymond Zacosta (1461-1467), in his short rule of
six years, introduced a new scale and new methods of defense works. The Egyptian
attack had been most fiercely con centrated on the northeast, from the bay
of Mandraki, and here, with a liberal grant from Philip the Good of Burgundy,
Zacosta built the tower of St. Nicholas, which, with much reconstruction,
still survives. As originally designed it was a central round tower, 57 feet
in diameter, surrounded by a polygonal outer wall, with gunports in each
of its twenty sides. At the end of the mole leading to the castle was a smaller
round staircase tower, from which the outer wall was reached by a drawbridge
to a postern defended by machicolations. The polygonal scheme, evolved in
a special form for the limited space of St. Nicholas, was carried further
in the defenses of two of the main gateways, those of St. John (Koskinou)
and of St. George, though the plan of the latter is now obscured by later
additions. The Koskinou gate was already protected by a square tower, standing
free of the curtain. Zacosta enclosed this tower with a barbican, springing
from the wall of the fausse-braie and in height halfway between it and the
original tower.7 This barbican was four-sided, but the two outermost sides
meet in a point making a salient and thereby providing a wide field of fire
for their gunports (fig. 16). Already Zacosta's predecessor, James of Milly
from Auvergne (1454-1461), had used a slightly pointed salient on a tower
strengthening the 
 7. B. H. St.J. O'Neil, "Rhodes and the Origin of the Bastion," The Antiquaries
Journal, XXXIV (1954), 44-54. 

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