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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

IX: The Hospitallers at Rhodes, 1421-1523,   pp. 314-339 PDF (14.1 MB)

Page 319

tance, both because the knights were busy fighting on land and at sea, and
because the new situation in the Levant had reduced the number of pilgrims
to the Holy Land, and not all who did come stopped at Rhodes on their way.
The order did maintain the huge hospital at Rhodes, which it rebuilt after
1437 with Fluvian's legacy, and the smaller hospital of St. Catherine, built
in 1392 by Dominic de Alamania, an Italian knight, and modernized in 1516
by Constant Oberti. The grand master continued to appear in chancery acts
as "servus pauperum Christi et custos Hospitalis Hierusalem." Addi tional
hospital activity was carried on in the priories and com manderies of western
Europe, and brethren were still occasionally mentioned as serving in the
hospital at Jerusalem; their hospice at Ramla did not pass to the Franciscans
until 1514.8 
 In 1440, while John of Lastic was grand master, Rhodes was threatened by
an Egyptian fleet of eighteen galleys, dispatched by sultan Jakmak az-Zãhir.
After having devastated the little island of Castellorizzo9 they approached
Rhodes and anchored at Sandy Point. John of Lastic described the events in
a letter written on November 6, 1440, to John de Villaragut, prior of Aragon
and castellan of Amposta. The fleet of the order, composed of seven galleys,
four other ships, and six lesser craft, attacked the Egyptian feet, which
resisted without moving, making much use of cannon and Greek fire. During
the following night the Egyptians moved toward the coast of Turkey, and the
next day formed their order of battle near the coast, above a sandy bottom
where the Rhodian galleys could not maneuver. Nevertheless, the Hospitallers,
commanded by their marshal, attacked the enemy, superior in number, pushing
among them "not unlike a few bears amidst swarms of bees." There were heavy
losses on both sides, until night divided the contestants. The next day the
Egyptian feet turned on Cos, devastating especially the property of the Hospitallers,
and carrying off many Christian slaves. The grand master added that he had
learned that the sultan, angry at his defeat, planned another expedition
against Rhodes, thinking that if he could control it he would be able to
reduce to submission the rest of eastern Christendom.10 
 8. See Girolamo Golubovich, ed., Biblioteca bio-bibliografica della Terra
Santa e dell' Oriente francescano, IV (Quaracchi, 1923), 17, and A. Luttrell,
"The Hospitallers' Hospice 
at Venice: 1358—1451," Studi veneziani, XII (1970), 369—383.
9. Castellorizzo was destroyed by the Mamluks in 1444, and definitively lost
by the order in 1450, having been occupied by the fleet of Alfonso V of Aragon,
king of Naples, as authorized by a brief of pope Nicholas V (Marinescu, Misc.
Mercati, V, 392—39 3). 
10. Malta, cod. 354, fol. 103, published in Pauli, Codice diplomatico, II,
121—123. Cf. Bosio, Istoria, II, 158—159. 

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