Today I want to talk to you about The Byzantium And The Middle Ages on the island of Rhodes. This is yet another major important era that shaped the future of Rhodes!
Now this period dates back as far as 58 BC. It is believed that Saint Paul (Saul Of
Tarsus) came to the island to spread the word of Christ and he taught the Gospel which led to many people on the island converting to Christianity.
This preaching took place in Lindos and to this day there is the bay named after him called Saint Paul’s Bay!
His positions of both a Roman citizen and a Jew enabled him to increase his audience as he was able to preach to both. He is also well-known for his founding of many churches in the olden days throughout Europe.
After The Division Of The Roman Empire
Once the Roman Empire had suffered division, the Byzantine territory had Rhodes as its Capital of the islands.
This caused further and regular bombardment and carnage.
Examples of this are the Persians occupying once more in 620 AD under Chosroes (The King Of The Sasanian Empire) from 590 – 628.
The Saracens also came into play in 651 and Rhodes was once again devastated by Caliph Haroun El Raschid of Baghdad. Back in the early days the words ‘Islam’ and Muslim’ were not in general use and the word Saracen was used to describe people that came from this background!
Once again Rhodes was at the mercy of pirates at the close of the 12th century during Alexios the First’s reign from 1081 to 1118 and he was the Emperor of the Byzantine!
It was not until the 11th century that the island of Rhodes started to have contact with the western world once more. It was from here that the Venetians were offered permission from Alexios the First to utilize the main harbor in Rhodes as a commercial port.
In the early 1190s came the time of the crusades.
It is also documented that Richard the Lionheart (King of England from 1189 until his demise) and Philip (King Of France) made a visit to the island in order to recruit soldiers to assist them in the crusades.
Once these Crusaders occupied Constantinople in 1204, Leo Gabalas (a Byzantine Greek merchant) affirmed himself as the ruler of the island and this came also with the agreement from the Venetians.
Later on, the Byzantine Empire once again acquired control of Constantinople in 1261 and the island of Rhodes was said to be part of this Empire, however in reality they were actually under the Admirals from Genoa and they were occupying the harbor at that time.
The Knights Of Saint John!
It was in 1306 that one of these Geonese Admirals (Vignolo Vignoli) sold the harbor to the Order Of The Knights Of Saint John from Jerusalem.
This came with ferocious resistance from the Rhodians however they gained full control on the island in 1309 and ruled here for over 200 years until 1522 when they were forced to surrender to Sulieman the Turkish Sultan!
During the reign of the Knights however, you can see they really have stamped their history on the island, and it is well thought that this period was one of the best for the island of Rhodes when it came to expansion and growth.
Rhodes really prospered when under the control of The Order Of The Knights Of Saint John!
The Turkish Rule
When it comes to the occupation of the Turkish in 1522, it is thought to be the worst period for the island.
At this time Rhodes was under the control of the Naval Captain and Chief of the Ottoman Empire. They were known as the Kapudan Pashas which translates to the ‘Captain of the Seas’.
During this period, Rhodes Town was secured as the Capital of the Vilayet (The Administration of the Ottoman Empire).
The Reaction Of the Greeks
The beautiful walls of the old city in Rhodes was home to the Greeks, but they were compelled to flee this area and live outside of these walls.
With this they developed a new area outside which was named Marasia.
The Greek population outnumbered the Turks by far though, and because of this the Turks were never really able to stamp their authority on the island.
The Greek people went on to settle deals in commerce and business and the island really came to bear fruit.
The Turkish rule finally came to an end in 1912.
As you can see Rhodes has experienced a lot in the way of history from the ancient times and beyond. It has had its fair share of misfortune and maybe this is why today the island is flooded with visitors. They all want a little taste of this amazing history.
Personally I find it fascinating to stand here and be in the place where all these historic events took place. It is certainly something I do not take for granted!
So what are your thoughts on the Knights Of Saint John? The Ottoman Empire? What about the Greek people themselves?
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Just leave me a comment below and I will get back to you.