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)
284 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES III 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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