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The Cittadella Maltese: Ic-Cittadella , also known as the Citadel, is a small fortified city and citadel. The area has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The settlement here was developed by the Phoenicians. During the Roman era, it became the acropolis of a city known as Glauconis Civitas. In the Medieval era it was known as the Gran Castello. In the fifteenth century, during the rule of the Crown of Aragon, the city's fortifications were strengthened.

Mdina is a medieval walled town which served as the island's capital from antiquity until , when the capital was moved to Birgu. Evidence of settlements in Mdina goes back to before BC. It was possibly first fortified by the Phoenicians around BC, because of its strategic location on one of the highest points on the island and as far from the sea as possible. When Malta had been under the control of the Roman Empire, the Roman Governor built his palace there. Maltese cross in the courtyard at the Vilhena Palace in Mdina, Malta.

Bodrum Castle, Bodrum, Turkey. Peter or Petronium. Confronted with an invasion by the Seljuk Turks, the Knights Hospitaller, whose headquarters were on the island of Rhodes, needed another stronghold on the mainland. Its location was the site of a fortification in Doric times BC as well as of a small Seljuk castle in the 11th century. The same promontory is also the probable site of the Palace of Mausolos, the famous King of Caria.

The construction of the castle began in Construction workers were guaranteed a place in heaven by a Papal Decree of They used stone from the nearby Mausoleum of Mausolos.

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Fourteen cisterns for collecting rainwater were excavated in the rocks under the castle. Each langue of the Order had its own tower, each in its own style. Each tongue was headed by a Bailiff and was responsible for the maintenance and defence of a specific portion of the fortress and for manning it with sufficient numbers of knights and soldiers.

Grand Masters

Seven gates lead to the inner part of the fortress. For over a century St.

Peter's Castle remained the second most important castle of the Order. It served as a refuge for all Christians in Asia Minor. The castle came under attack with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, first after the fall of Constantinople in and again in by Sultan Mehmed II. When the Knights decided to refortify the castle in , they again used stones from the Mausoleum. Walls facing the mainland were thickened to withstand the increasing power of cannon. Walls facing the sea were less thick, since the Order had little to fear from a sea attack due to their powerful naval fleet.

In the early years, the hospital was probably staffed by the monks of the abbey next door. Under supervisor Gerard, the first master of the order, the medical unit was split from the monastic part. On February 15, , the order was formally recognized by pope Paschal II. At some time between and , the order was militarized.

When this happened exactly is unclear, but Alan Forey estimates that it happened sometime in the s. The reasons for this militarisation can only be guessed.

Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes

It is possible that it was a reaction to the militarisation of the Order of the Templars. Another reason might be that the care for the inhabitants of the hospital had to be extended to their protection from violence. The Order gradually gained power, but had to change the location of its headquarters regularly.

When Acre was captured in , they moved to Cyprus, but this was not successful and they went to the island of Rhodes in This island was attractive because of its fertility, climate, strategical position and defensibility.

The Knights of Rhodes. 1309 AD - 1522 AD

In Rhodes, the Order ruled as an independent state. The forces of the Order were small: there were seldom more that brothers on the island. They learned to rule the sea, even though their fleet was rather small. During their time on Rhodes, the Order had numerous financial problems, that will be discussed later in this chapter. Their debts made it more difficult to prepare for battle against the Ottomans.


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In and , the Knights were attacked by the Egyptian Sultan. With help of the fleet that the Duke of Burgundy, Philip, had sent, these attacks were beaten off. The Knights made peace with the Sultan of Egypt. However, the danger returned after , when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople. The Hospitallers feared an attack and frantically started to prepare themselves. The Siege started eventually on the 23rd of May The Ottomans were beaten, but they tried conquering Rhodes again forty years later, in The Order of the Hospitallers is often compared with the Knights Templar, as both are military orders with origins in the Middle East.

However, the Templars were solely occupied with being warrior monks, while the Hospitallers had their nursing duties as well. Another difference is the fact that the Templars only admitted men, while the Hospitallers also admitted women, although those were not among the fighters.

The Network of the Knights of Rhodes. These priories were sorted in langues , of which there were eight: Provence, Auvergne, France then only the region around Paris , Castile, Aragon, Italy, England and Germany.

The Knights Hospitaller

The French langues Provence, Auvergne, France were the most influential: approximately half of the Knights were French. Each langue was given its own auberge on the island of Rhodes, so the Knights could have their residence with people from the same area. The network of langues is shown in the map next to this text. The Knights of Rhodes had relations with most of the western European monarchs, and with many Eastern monarchs as well, as the picture further below shows.

The pope was another important ally. They gave the Hospitallers quite a lot of resources, if they were willing to help when another crusade was planned.

Hospitaller ambassadors to the court of the Grand Turk.