Anastasia Of Rhodes – Courage and Tragedy In War’s Shadow

One of the amazing events (and somewhat upsetting) to come from battles of the past is that of Anastasia Of Rhodes.

How many of you know about this story? I will be the first to confess, that after living here for so long, I never learned of this until late on. It is my honor to tell it to you here.

As I have said in the history section of this site, battles have not been uncommon in years past. The island of Rhodes has been occupied by many forces and this event took place during the battle between The Knights Of St John and The Ottoman Empire.

So What Happened?

It was the year 1522, and the siege of Rhodes took place between these two forces.

The Knights were fighting hard in order to prevent the Turkish forces conquering the island. The Knights stood alongside the men and women of Rhodes who fought with bravery and honor. This was a time of courage.

The Turkish forces eventually started to make ground, and it was only a matter of time before the Knights started to feel the full force of The Ottoman Empire.

This then became the time for heroes and Anastasia was ready to go to battle.

Sword - Anastasia Of Rhodes

Anastasia was a Greek woman, beautiful and wife to an English Warrior (his identity is not known). She was also the mother of two children.

After witnessing her husband fall to his death on the front line of battle, she faced a decision. She did not want her children to fall to The Ottoman Empire, yet there was a need for her to defend.

Her decision was to kiss her two children goodbye. She killed them both to protect them from the Turkish forces and then went through the battleground to her husband. After this she donned his blood stained Armour and went head on into battle.

She fought hard and with pride until she reached the front line. She continued her courageous fight there until she was finally brought down and killed.

Anastasia Of Rhodes – Good Or Bad?

I Think if you look at the modern world today, we can all agree things have changed. Yes there are still wars happening around the world, but there is also a lot more in the way of monitoring and regulations.

What are your feelings on the actions of Anastasia Of Rhodes?

Here in Rhodes, she is considered a hero. She made a sacrifice and fought to protect her family and land.

Or do you think she could have done things differently considering the situation?

Personally I think she had to do what she had to do. It is easy to judge after the fact. The killing of her two children is deeply saddening, but what would have happened should they have been taken my the enemy?

I do not think anyone can deny she was a brave woman though. She stood up to her enemies and fought well.

I would really love to know your opinions on this. Leave me a comment below and I will get back to you.

Click From Below To Learn More About Some Important Historical Figures In Rhodes

22 thoughts on “Anastasia Of Rhodes – Courage and Tragedy In War’s Shadow”

  1. Wow.. What a brave woman.

    In this day and age we are so quick to judge others. It’s easy for us to sit on our comfortable couches, look at our politics, and say, “we are living a terrible life thanks to them!”. We will never fully understand past hardships like that of Anastasia.

    I believe that what she did was a HUGE act of courage. Of course it is saddening and troubling that she murdered her two children; but she did so to save them. If the Turks had gotten a hold of them, who knows what would have happened? And she would have known she would not have survived the onslaught herself. She couldn’t leave her children behind to live like that.

    Brave woman. Good read. I’m glad you shared this.

    • Yes I am with you on this Kayley.

      Although I will listen to everyone’s point of view, and respect other people feelings, I have to say that I think Anastasia was faced with a situation that none of us would wish to face.

      The Ottoman Empire showed no mercy in those days of old, and there were no laws in place like what we know today.

      Although it was a terrible thing to have to do, I agree that she would have been scared of what would come to the children.

      She knew she had to fight, and I am sure she knew her end would come doing it.

      It is a hard call, but she did what she thought she had to do.

      Thanks Kayley, I really appreciate your point of view on this.


  2. Hello Chris,

    First off I love your website! I have been reading your wonderful articles for a while now and always enjoy them.

    What an amazing story here too! She certainly was a very brave woman. Still, I don’t know if I could kill my own kids myself – maybe have them killed by someone else if the island fell. 

    Isn’t the Island of Rhodes famous for the Colossus? Is there anything left of it? Are there any statues of Anastasia there? 

    I am a bit of a history buff and always enjoy your articles

    Thanks again

    • Hello there and thanks once again for taking the time to have a look at my website.

      The opinions are mixed when it comes to the actions of Anastasia. Like I say though, times were not only hard then, but they were very different to what we know and have today. It must have been a very difficult decision for her to make. 

      Rhodes is famous for The Colossus yes, although nothing remains of it today. It was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 226 BC. You can read more on The Colossus Of Rhodes here.

      There is no statue though of Anastasia, at least not to my knowledge. There have never been anything documented about this.

      Keep coming back, as there is a lot more coming for the important historical figures in Rhodes.

      Thanks Vic.


  3. My feeling about her actions are mixed. First, you cannot judge another person unless you have been in the exact same situation. Because this never happens, it is best not to judge.

    It is fairly courageous that she went into battle herself to fight for what she believed in. However, there may have been someone she could have left the children with. If the children were about to be captured, they could have ordered the warden to kill them both.

    Just a thought.

    • Yes, a fair point Ernest.

      I am in total agreement with you. A lot of us will never know what our true actions would be, simply because most will never have to face a situation which requires a decision such as this. This is life and death.

      It is very easy to judge and have your say, and this is the way of the world these days.

      Look at it this way, a police officer is trained to use a firearm, but when he/she is actually pressed and put in a situation to use it, he/she is judged, and suspended pending an inquiry. These inquiries are then carried out by people that have never had to face a situation such as what they are judging. 

      It is very easy to sit back later and decide how things could be done differently. Especially by the so-called experts wearing a suit and tie and holding an expensive pen.

      Anastasia was put in a horrible and violent situation. I guess she just could not see another way out.

      Thanks Ernest. I am grateful for your point of view.


  4. While many traits lean toward bravery, I don’t consider any woman who would murder her own children to so-call protect her family a hero. 

    The fact she felt such a need to join the battle is one thing, but there are other stories in the history of women sending children off or hiding them to protect them, even in some cases disguising them to be of the opposite sex to protect them, but few ever killed their children to protect them. 

    In modern times we have had women do this who have either faced life in prison or the death penalty hanging over their heads. 

    At the minimum, they are bound for life to a psychiatric facility.

    • Yeah, absolutely Andy. I can see your point of view too for sure.

      This kind of act will stir different feelings from person to person. It could be a huge debate, it could lead to disagreements, and often to heated arguments. Each person has the right to have their own views though.

      It is really great to hear your thoughts on this. 

      I do not know what I think on this in all truthfulness. It must have been a very terrifying time. There was no modern laws to fall back on, it was kill or be killed. The Ottoman Empire showed no mercy at all. So did she do the best for her children? I guess we will never know. 

      Thanks Andy. It is great to hear from you. 


  5. Hi there, and thanks very much for sharing this story. 

    Unfortunately I do not agree that she should be considered a heroine, it sounds like she may have been quite disturbed to have slaughtered her children. 

    However, that said, you highlight just how much wonderful and rich history there is to explore on the Island of Rhodes. 

    Definitely one for the bucket list. Cheers, Karen

    • Hey Karen and thank you for your thoughts on this one.

      Yes i mean, I can really see how peoples opinions will differ on this, but you have to also remember these were old days. 

      It was a time of war, and The Ottoman Empire were not really an army to show mercy. Maybe she just thought it was a better option than letting the Ottomans get their hands on them?

      Also, let’s not overlook that she donned her dead husbands armor, made her way to the front line to fight for her life and country. I would like to think this would be considered a heroic action.

      It is stories like this, good and bad times that does offer Rhodes a rich history.

      Glad to hear it is on your bucket list 🙂

      Thanks Karen!


  6. This is a really interesting story you have narrated here. I love reading about history, and watching films set hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

    In one sense Anastasia sounds like a hero, but it’s also a very tragic and disturbing story. The fact that she killed her children, despite her reasons, I just can’t get my head around.

    I enjoyed reading this though.

    • Hi Darren, thanks for getting in touch with your thoughts.

      A agree, it must have been a very tough decision to face. I think Anastasia could have been under the opinion, that if her children had been captured by The Ottoman Empire, the same or worse could have happened.

      Maybe captivity? Slavery? Who knows what could have taken place.

      It is a disturbing story, but one that is fact. As hard as it is, conflict is conflict. I am sure lots of people have had to make decisions that they did not want to make, or were forced too.

      Thanks for your point of view. Nice to have you here.


  7. Well she was certainly a strong willed woman with a mind of her own.

    I’m not sure about the killing of her children or what she actually achieved by going into battle as she too lost her life.

    An interesting part of history though. Did the Ottoman Empire eventually take Rhodes or were they defeated?

    • Hi Karen, thanks for your thoughts.

      Yes, the Ottoman Empire did conquer the island, so whether she fought or not, the outcome I think would not have ended in her favor.

      I think it must have been a hell of a difficult situation for her to make during this horrific time, and in the end I suppose the made the one that she thought to be right.

      Sometimes it is hard to imagine what it must have been like. It can be easy to judge later on.

      I am grateful for your point of view Karen.



  8. Chris, when I visited Greece I never had the chance to visit Rhodes. We had limited time so chose closer islands to visit. Maybe one day I will be back.

    I can see why the Ottomans would have liked to conquer Rhodes as it is so very close to Turkey. Unfortunately for them Cypres is even closer so now a duel country island.

    I can also understand Anastasia’s decision with no problems. The method of execution used by the Ottomans was very inhumane. I expect she killed the children quickly and as cleanly as possible.

    I think I would rather do this than watch (if still alive) the impalement of them. (I believe some people are advocating bringing this back.)

    Women are tougher than most people think.

    A very interesting article Chris. Well presented.



    • Hey Helen, yes it is disappointing that you were not able to see the island of Rhodes last time on your trip to Greece. Maybe next time though. Let’s hope so.

      It is nice to hear your point of view on Anastasia. Thanks for that. I am sure there will be a lot of diverse ideas and opinions on this, and it is nice to hear yours.

      I agree with you, The Ottoman Empire were not showing any mercy, so maybe the outcome for the children could have played out a lot differently. I can see what she had in her mind to do what she did. 

      Great to hear from you Helen.

      Thanks for visiting!


  9. During a critical moment like that, she may have to make decision and acted fast based on her best knowledge and experience. 

    She may have calculated chances of winning or losing and knew the consequences her children would have faced. 

    Hence, she may be a hero at that point of time. It would be interesting if you are able to find out if her decisions were definitely the best based on all scenarios possible at that time.

    • Yeah you make some good points here.

      I agree that at that time, she probably had to make snap decisions. It was a time of war, and this decision needed to be made in haste.

      I think it is easy to sit afterwards and hold an inquiry as to why she chose her path. In the heat of the moment she had to do what she had to do. All of the people who are able to sit in judgement may never have the courage to do what she did, right or wrong in peoples eyes.

      It is like the modern day police isn’t it? They are trained to fight in anger, to respond, to react. Yet when they do, they are suspended pending an inquiry. Then they are judged by people who have never had to face a similar situation.

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your points!


  10. Thanks for writing this post. I had not heard of this story before.

    I agree that the story of Anastasia Of Rhodes needs to be told. Sadly, there are very few female heroes in our history books (from any country).

    It is great that this story had lived on for centuries.

    Thanks for sharing it today.

    • I agree Glenys, there is not so much going on in the way of heroism in the world of today.

      When I say this, I am not referring to all people of course. There is bravery and courage in the world. The wars that are taking place even today demand this, and our soldiers who are serving deserve all credit. In most cases they are unsung heroes. Firefighter, Police and Paramedical services also deserve a lot of credit and respect.

      When it comes to the old days, figures such as Anastasia who you read about here, were ready to go to their death to defend. I am not sure there are many people like that today!

      I have my own opinions, but countries back in the day had honor. It was important to represent where you were from, wherever it was in the world. I do not feel or see that that in the world of today!

      Thanks Glenys


  11. Boy, this is a great story. 

    But as a mom, I don’t think under any circumstances could I kill my kids and then go off on a death march. But that is just me personally. 

    What she did was heroic. It is kind of like the people who are in the service for our country. I don’t want my kids to join, that is just the selfish side of me, but then I already lost one son so maybe I am biased. 

    It takes a LOT of courage to do what she did. I think I have courage, but not that much!

    • Hey Leahrae and thanks for your thoughts on this,

      I know times have changed a lot since the old times, but I also know it must have been a hard and courageous decision for her to make.

      I understand your point of view too (entirely). Your children are part of you, so it would be an almost impossible task to carry out actions which are similar here.

      I am sorry too that you have had to face a loss. Not wanting your children to join up is not selfish at all. You are entitled to be the way you are and are free to make the choices you make.

      Thanks for your point of view on this. I know many people will have different opinions and thoughts. I am happy to hear yours.



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The Island Of Rhodes