Rhodes in the Middle Ages

The Medieval Rose Festival is going to reproduce the ambience of the Knights’ times, through events stemming from everyday life and History of Medieval Rhodos. Well, let us see how it all started…

The Sovereign Order of the Knights of St John

It is reported to be founded in early 12th century A.D. in Jerusalem, by Pierre Gerard as a hospitaller Order. By the time it gets military organization by Raymond du Puys, in order to fight to expand the western imperialism to the Middle East, where, however, fails to settle for more than two centuries.

In 1247, after the fall of Jerusalem, the Knights of St John begin to lose their forts one after the other, and finally sail to Cyprus, in 1291. There, Grandmaster Foulques de Villaret starts negotiating with landowner Vigniolo de Vignioli, who finally sells him Rhodos, and therefore, in 1309 the Order of St John, counting about 600 knights, occupies the island. From this time and until their depart, in 1523, they will be called “The Knights of Rhodos”.

Leader of the Crusaders’ Order is the Grandmaster, granted the utmost authority over administration and military issues for life, assisted by his Council. During the 213 years of the Knights’ presence in Rhodos, they have had 19 Grandmasters.

The Hospitallers’ Order was a multi-national organization, divided into national groups, called “tongues”, which were, starting from the older: Provence, Auvergne, France, Italy, Aragon (Iberian), England and Germeny. From the tongue of Aragon stemmed the eighth tongue of Castilla. The common official language for all tongues was latin.

The knights lived in a separate part of the city, called “Collachio”, where every tongue had its “inn”. They spent their time with military exercise and prayers.