The siege of Rhodes

(To Alessandro Rugolo)

"When will we scape from the delay of Rome? 
And when, slow Venice, will thy Soccours like? 
How often too have we been in vain Sought ayd from long consulting Spain? 
About the barren island sore.

This is what Alfonso, Marshal of Rhodes, used to express in the theatrical work "The Siege of Rhodes" by Sir W. Davenant. 
But what led him to complain in this way of his supporters and allies? 
To understand it, you need to take a few steps back.

In the 1522, during a session of the Turkish sofa, in the presence of the sultan Suleiman the Magnificent recently ascended to power in place of his father, the admiral of the Turkish Fleet takes the floor to support the need to subdue Rhodes to the Ottoman Empire: "What war could ever more easily procure an immortal reputation, if not the victory and the conquest of Rhodes, the bulwark of Christianity, which alone precludes us from accessing the territories of the infidels? Cortug-Ogli is right. Rhodes is an obstacle to the expansion of the Ottomans in Europe. Rhodes and the Order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem."

In the 1048 some merchants of the seafaring city of Amalfi get permission to create a hospital with an adjoining monastery, to accommodate pilgrims wishing to go to Jerusalem.
In the 1113 the Order of the Knights of St. John becomes independent and sovereign. 
In the 1187 falls the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Knights are forced to retreat in the County of Tripoli from which, in the 1291, they move to Cyprus.
In the 1309 the Knights conquer Rhodes and here we find them again in the 1522.

In the room where the Sofa met, there were those who were contrary to what Cortug-Ogli asked. 
The walls of Rhodes had already proved, in the past, too hard a bone for the Ottoman armies. 
Mohammed II himself had seen his efforts broken. Yet Suleiman decides to attack.
Missives with requests for help had long ago left for the pope and the heads of the European states representing Christianity. 
Some sporadic reinforcement came ...

It is the 6 Jun of the 1522 when the Turkish fleet comes in sight of the Island. 
Rhodes is defended by 600 knights, 4500 infantrymen and archers and around 7000 among citizens and peasants. The Turkish conquerors were about 115.000! 
The artillery of both sides were immediately felt. 
Two men among them are still remembered today by a few history buffs: the great master Philippe de Villiers of L'Isle Adam and the first siege artilleryman and engineer Gabriele Tadino da Martinengo.
Despite the numerical superiority of the Ottomans, the defenses resisted and the Turks, pushed forward by their commanders, continued to fall, until one day they mutinied. 
The great vizier, Piri, was forced to write to the sultan to request his presence on the spot.

The 28 August Suleiman arrives in Rhodes, brings with it a new army and immediately faces the internal uprising by restoring order. With new energies he revived the armies that resumed fighting. 
The battle resumed more bloody than before. 
The Isle Adam never gave up and where the need arose he was there, with his imposing figure and his experience.
Bombs, bombards and basilisks were reaping lives on both sides. The war also continued under the ground where the Turchi sappers opposed the men of Tadino. 

Gabriele Tadino from Martinengo

Gabriele Tadino was born in Martinengo, responsible for the defenses of Candia (Cretan city), he was invited by the grand master to join his men. An expert in sieges, he had invented a method to find out if there were any excavation works under the city walls. He made excavations under the walls and placed his men equipped with an instrument with a drum skin, this revealed the vibrations of the enemy's excavations and allowed to intervene. 
The September 4 a mine blows up the bastion of the English-speaking Knights. The Turks rushed inside the breach that opened in the walls, immediately hindered and pushed out by L'Isle Adam, who rushed with some knights on the enemies. 
In the ensuing battle, 2000 Turks died on one side and 50 on the other. 
A few days later Suleiman orders a new attack that gets the same result: nothing done.
Gabriele Tadino is however seriously injured.
The spies infiltrated by the inhabitants of Rhodes, meanwhile, acted behind them. A Turkish slave and her accomplices were captured, hanged and quartered. A Jewish doctor and a knight, accused of treason, were executed. In the Turkish camp, the situation was not better. You fight for life. The grand master runs from one bastion to another to counter the attacks of the Turks. Suleiman, in the face of the uselessness of his latest attack and the dead men in the 20.000, makes the retreat sound.

The time comes to punish those who have misdirected the sultan. 
The military summits are removed with ignominy and turned away, even if the first idea of ​​Suleiman had been to "take off" all. 
Then again attacks and new deaths, by the thousands. 
But failing to win by force, Solimano spreads the rumor that if Rhodes had surrendered he would have received mercy. 
The Isle Adam is not the type to surrender: "Never be told that our honor should succumb, if not with ourselves!", but the citizens are of different notice, they beg him, they convince him to treat. 
The Isle Adam and a group of chosen riders are received, after a day of waiting in the rain, in the sumptuous tent of the Sultan. 
The Grand Master bends and kisses the Sultan's hand, Suleiman offers him a rich garment of honor and offers him a high office in the Empire. 
The Isle Adam refuses: "To be defeated is simply the risk of every war, but to abandon one's own people and to go to the enemy is, to me, a shameful cowardice and an abominable betrayal.
Suleiman is struck by this man, by his strength, by his moral integrity and allows conditions of surrender proportional to the value of the adversary. 
The knights could leave the island with their weapons, their belongings and with all those who would have wanted to follow them. 
The Rhodians who remained on the island could have retained their freedom, their possessions and the freedom to profess their religion. 
The 25 December 1522 Suleiman the Magnificent enters from the main port of Rhodes. The 1 Jan. 1523 The Isle Adam and his entourage abandons Rhodes. 
On the galleys, instead of the flag of the Order waved the image of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus in her arms, to indicate the betrayal by Christianity that had abandoned them to their destiny.

In Rhodes the winners remained: the Ottomans, with their dead 60.000s.
The Knights, in the following centuries, continue their pilgrimage to the Mediterranean by adding the names of the territories visited to them. 
Today they are known as Knights of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem in Rhodes and Malta.