Religion, Warfare and Business in Fifteenth Century Rhodes
Maria Elisa Soldani, Daniel Duran i Duelt
RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONSIN THE EUROPEAN ECONOMY: 1000-1800, Firenze University Press (2012)
At the beginning of the fourteenth century, after the occupation of Rhodes and the installation of their headquarters on it, the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem made the island the hub of their activities. Although their main task was initially welfare-type functions, the Hospitallers in the East, as a military order, gradually assumed a moreactive role in the defense of Christianity and the redemption of captives. Nevertheless, during this century, with the exception of participation in some projects of crusade or with local leagues, the Order took no active offensive policy but rather a prudent attitude, focusing on defending and consolidating its position in this area of the Eastern Mediterranean.
During the fifteenth century, the presence of the Hospitallers in Rhodes, in the Dode-canese and, more generally, in the East was threatened by repeated attacks that put a strainon the political, diplomatic, military and economic skills of the Order: the Mamluk and Ot-toman military expeditions of 1440, 1444 and 1480, the war of 1502-1503, and finally thesiege of 1522 that resulted in the abandonment of the island and the permanent Ottomanoccupation in 1523. The financial needs of the Order of St. John were constrained by several factors. The first of these was the need to defend itself from attacks that came suddenly from the surrounding territories and the need to organize both the offensive operations with a constant character typical of the border such as privateering as well as other military expeditions consistent with the role that Latin Christendom and the Papacy attributed to the Order and that justified its Eastern and European possessions.