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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 294

genuine crusading activity when John XXII died in December 1334. At first
Benedict XII continued his predecessor's policy, but though the new pope
had funds available he was pacific, economical, and somewhat unenthusiastic
about the crusade. In any case, from 1336 onward Benedict's hands were tied
by the great Anglo-French war and numerous concomitant struggles which precluded
any major expedition, and he refused to declare an official crusade when,
in effect, that meant granting papal crusading taxes for secular pur poses,
in particular to the French king. Meanwhile from about 1335, when its debts
were extinguished, to about 1343, when it had a credit of some 360,000 forms
with the Florentine banks of Bardi, Peruzzi, and Acciajuoli, the Hospital
continued the payments it had long been making to them. Thus papal discouragement
of any crusad ing effort by the Hospitallers prevented expenditures which
would have increased the growing difficulties of these three houses, which,
at least until 1339, were also the pope's own bankers. In May 1336 when Cilicia
was threatened by the Mamluks, Benedict canceled all support for an expedition
there. In June the Venetians suggested that although Benedict had refused
financial aid, they and the Hospital lers should equip a fleet at their own
expense; the fleet assembled but did nothing of note. 28 Thereafter the crusade
was abandoned, although in 1341 the Cypriote king and the Hospital both appealed
for papal aid, and negotiations for a new league were opened with Venice.
Pope Clement VI, elected in 1342, was perhaps unjust in threaten ing the
Hospitallers that he would found a new order with their possessions if they
did not abandon their idle ways and contribute to the upkeep of a Latin fleet,
but it was Clement's vigorous diplomacy which secured action against Umur
of Aydin. The Hospitallers, faced with a demand for six galleys, increased
their responsiones to finance the squadron which joined the Venetian, Cypriote,
and papal forces in 1344. After a minor naval victory north of Euboea, the
Latins attacked Smyrna, where Umur was preparing a large fleet for a new
campaign; they surprised Umur and captured the port and its fortress on October
28, a great if lucky success.30 Then during an assault in January 1345 on
the upper citadel, which was never captured, the papal legate Henry of Asti,
the papal captain Martin Zaccaria, and the Venetian leader Peter Zeno were
killed; thereafter, the Latins 
28. For this interpretation of Benedict's policy see Luttrell, "Interessi
fiorentini," pp. 
318—319, and "The Crusade," pp. 133—134; see also F. Giunta,
"Benedetto XII e La crociata," Anuario de estudios medievales, III (1966),
2 15—234. 
29. Hill, Cyprus, II, 299. 
30. On the capture of Smyrna see above, pp. 11—12. 

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