by Robert Douglas Smith & Kelly DeVries
Stroud, Glouc.: History Press/Chicago: Independent Publishers Group, Trafalgar Square, 2012. Pp. 206..
Illus., tables, appends., notes, biblio, index. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 0752461788
Besieged Rhodes, military historian
DeVries and museum curator Smith join forces to retell the epic story of the
long defense of Rhodes by the Knights Hospitaler against the Ottomans.
Ottomans first tired to take the island fortress in 1480, but failed after four
months of often fierce fighting. Although
Sultan Mehmet II was prepared to renew the siege, his death in 1481 led to a long
uneasy peace. In 1522 the young Sultan
Suleiman I initiated a second siege.
After six months of heavy fighting (June-December), the Knights
surrendered on good terms, decamping to Malta, where Suleiman would once more
besiege them in 1565 with very different results..
preparing this new account of the siege, the authors draw upon many sources,
including, documents, letters, and personal narratives, and make excellent use
of physical evidence as well, including artifacts from swords and cannon to moats,
bastions, and curtain walls. They
provide a rather detailed analysis of the defenses, the siege works, and the
weaponry. Their account of the siege is prefaced by a look at the earlier history of the Knights and firmly fixed in the larger theater of European-Mediterranean politics. The narrative of events include excerpts from many eye witness accounts, which makes for a more vivid treatment. The authors also give us looks at
the principal leaders, and the work is supported by numerous
a surprising lack of maps (some of the illustrations help), Besieged Rhodes is not only a very good
account of these critical events, but also provides a good look at the
evolution of siege craft in the period.