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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 284

supplied by certain Genoese, whose seapower was essential to the whole operation,
they sailed to Castellorizzo, a small island some way east of Rhodes, and
there they waited while Vignolo went ahead to spy out the situation at Rhodes.
The Rhodians, however, had been forewarned by a Greek in the Hospital's service,
and Vignolo was barely able to escape arrest and rejoin Villaret. Meanwhile
two Hospitallers with fifty men had succeeded in surprising the castle at
Cos, but were unable to defend it against the Greeks who had held it for
the emperor. 
 A land and sea assault on Rhodes failed to secure an initial victory. On
September 20 the Hospitallers captured the ruined castle of Pheraclos on
the east coast but five days later were repulsed in an attack on the town
of Rhodes. Faced with the prospect of a long siege, they were lucky to take
the castle of Phileremos in November through the treason of a Greek; three
hundred Turks with whom the Greeks had garrisoned it were massacred. Probably
early in 1307, eight galleys sent by Andronicus reached Rhodes and compelled
the Hospitallers to raise the siege temporarily, killing ten of the brethren
but losing eighty men themselves. Meanwhile the Hospital sought aid in Cyprus,
where a fleet of eight galleys and another craft was in preparation. In October
the Hospital held Lindos on the southeast coast, but some twenty Greek ships
lay off the city of Rhodes. The Hospitallers' prospects were poor; there
was some possibility of Venetian intervention against them and they resorted
to diplomacy, but in April 1308 Andronicus indignantly rejected their offer
to hold Rhodes under his suzerainty and to provide three hundred men to fight
against the Turks. Hoping perhaps for help from Europe, the Hospitallers
maintained the siege, until by chance a Genoese ship sent by Andronicus with
supplies for Rhodes was blown ashore at Famagusta in Cyprus. It was handed
over to the Hospitallers, and its Rhodian captain, in order to save his life,
negotiated the surrender of the town on condition that the Rhodians' lives
and property be spared. This was probably in mid-1308, but the whole island
was not yet subdued.5 
 5. The chronology of these events remains uncertain; contemporary sources
and modern works alike have confused the question of the date of the "conquest"
of Rhodes by attributing a four-year process to a single, though varying,
year. The best interpretation is in Riley-Smith, Knights of St. John, pp.
215—216, but his sources are incomplete; see especially Delaville Le
Roulx, Hospitaliers en Terre Sainte, pp. 272—281, and E. Baratier,
Histoire du commerce de Marseille, II (Paris, 1951), 213—215. Historians
usually follow the fifteenth-century chroniclers, who imply that the initiative
in 1306 came from Vignolo, but the best source, written within less than
a decade of the event, Les Gestes des Chiprois, ed. G. Raynaud (Geneva, 1887),
pp. 319—320, states that, wishing to attack Rhodes, Villaret sent for
the Genoese Boniface of Grimaldi to come to him from Famagusta. 

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