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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 291

incurred by Villaret between 1306 and 1310. In 1320 the Hospital owed over
500,000 florins, mainly to the pope's Florentine bankers, the Bardi and Peruzzi,
but Vileneuve raised the responsiones, levied special subsidies, and had
liquidated the debt by about 1335.20 A visitor to Rhodes described the master
as "a very old and stingy man, who amassed infinite treasures, built much
in Rhodes, and freed the Hospital of incredible debts."21 
 Hospitallers moved back and forth between Europe and the Con vent, although,
despite regulations to the contrary, some acquired priories and preceptories
without serving at Rhodes; such men often cared mainly for the wealth and
social position the Hospital offered. Others served predominantly in the
Levant, where they garrisoned castles and governed the populations of Rhodes
and the lesser islands, the senior brethren sharing the higher offices of
the Convent. There were reported to be four hundred Hospitallers at Rhodes
in 1345, with a small garrison at Cos; their fighting force also included
mercenaries and local levies. At Rhodes the brethren lived in a reserved
quarter around the castle, the collachium, separated by a fortified wall
from the rest of the city or borgo. Some Hospitallers had their own houses,
while others lived in the auberge or hospice of their priory or nation; they
included Italians, some Germans, and a few Englishmen and Spaniards, but
the French-speaking group was the largest. In theory the details of their
daily life and discipline, their religious exercises and military training,
were regulated by the statutes. Some of the rules were harsh or trivial,
but probably many brethren, served by their slaves in the semi-oriental society
of Rhodes, lived comfortably in the Frankish town with its classical foundations
or in the hilltop castles which looked out over the sea. 
 When Hélion of Villeneuve died in 1346 Rhodes possessed a strong
castle and defensive landward fortifications, and his successor Dieu donné
of Gozon built walls to the seaward side and a mole to improve the harbor.
Rhodes was in part a Latin town, where notaries, clerics, doctors, scribes,
soldiers, businessmen, and pilgrims from Italy and farther west lived in
houses built in a western style. An English visitor of 1345 wrote: "Within
the castle walls are an archbishop and his metropolitan church, and the dwellings
of the many citizens are like those of distinguished men. There are money
 20. Luttrell, "Interessi fiorentini nell' economia e nella politica dei
Cavalieri Ospedalieri di Rodi nel trecento," Annali della Scuola Normale
Superiore di Pisa: lettere, storia e filosofia, 2nd ser., XXVIII (1959),
317—320; and documents in C. Tipton, "The 1330 Chapter General of the
Knights Hospitallers at Montpellier," Traditio, XXIV (1968), 293—308.
There are no regular statistics for the amounts of money reaching Rhodes.
 21. Ludolph of Suchem, De itinere Terrae Sanctae liber, ed. F. Deycks (Stuttgart,
1851), p. 27. 

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