The Knights of St. John in Rhodes.
Note: This Web Page originally existed as two pages on
but has ceased to exist.
dod7en.html & part of dod8en.html
||In 1309 a Genoese adventurer, to whom the Byzantine
emperor had given Rhodes as a feudal property, or fief, sold the island to
the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, who then quickly spread
their control across the islands of the Dodecanese (with the exception of
Astypalaia, Karpathos and Kasos).
The multiethnic composition of the Order favoured the ethnic mix and diversity
of peoples who inhabited the islands. The port of Rhodes regained its old
international significance and activity.
|Pepper, caviar, perfumes, fabrics, carpets, olive oil,
wines, sugar, soap and slaves were just some of the merchandise that was
handled by the port. Although the Knights of St John were deadly enemies
of the Turks, mutual economic interests led them to conduct trade with each
|The Order was composed of three main classes:
the knights, chaplains and serving brothers or fighting squires who followed
the knights into action. The official language of the Order was Latin, and
later French, while all spoke the local tongue of Greek.
In the city of Rhodes the majority of inhabitants were Greeks, although there
were also many merchants, craftsmen and soldiers from the West. There was
also an important Jewish community, with its own neighbourhood within the
walls of the city.
A Knight of St John of Jerusalem (14th century.)
||The citys fortifications were very strong, built
to withstand the latest military technology: gunpowder. The Knights were
heavily armed, with armour worn beneath a purple tunic decorated with an
octagonal white cross on the chest.The armour was even heavier than that
worn by the Byzantine Knights, and very much heavier than the Turkish mounted
|The prevailing architectural style in Rhodes city was the
Gothic style, imported from the homelands of the Knights in the West, and
even came to influence the normally traditional Greek aesthetic tastes.
In 1453 the city of Constantinople fell to Mehmet the Conqueror. Rhodes now
braced itself for the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks.
The Long Siege and the Ottoman Turks
|In 1480, the Ottoman Turks besieged the island without success.
They returned in 1523 and, after a long and hard-fought struggle, managed
to conquer the island. The Knights of St John withdrew to Malta.
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