As you are most probably aware by now, the island of Rhodes has had its fair share of war in the years gone by. It has had to bear The Ottoman Military strength in sieges that have lasted months each time. One of the most fierce opponents of Rhodes was Suleiman The Magnificent -The 10th Sultan with the longest tenure of The Ottoman Empire. He was the authority figure from 1520 until 1566 (his death).
Suleyman Bin Salim
Born Suleyman Bin Salim in November 1494 in Trabzon (North East Turkey), he went by many names. He was known as Suleiman The Magnificent, Suleiman The Lawgiver, Kanuni Sultan Suleiman (Kanuni meaning Canon) and also Suleiman The First.
When he was aged just 7 years old, he was sent to Constantinople (today known as Istanbul) for his studies. He studied History, Science, Literature as well as military warfare and tactics.
After his studies were complete, Suleiman went on to become an outstanding Commander for The Ottoman Empire and was in control of the force’s economy and military.
Suleiman The Magnificent went on to dominate most of Europe during his reign. He carried out sieges against Hungary, Africa, the Middle East, Belgrade and throughout the Mediterranean and of course, this included Rhodes. His purpose was to take over the Christian holds all around Europe.
OK, so it is obvious that the campaigns of Suleiman were deeply involved, so I am sure you can understand, we will be talking about his activity in Rhodes here.
If you want to know more about him and his other conflicts, please see the Suleiman The Magnificent Wikipedia Page.
Suleiman’s Siege Of Rhodes
It was during the Summer period in the year 1522 that Suleiman The Magnificent made his move on the island of Rhodes. He dispatched an army of 400 ships and 100,000 men to carry out the siege.
The 400 ships were sent ahead and were under the command of the Ottoman Statesman named Coban Mustafa Pascha. The Sultan himself followed with his army just over a month later with his powerful soldiers to take personal control.
He also had carried out the reconstruction of Marmaris Castle in the Mugla Province in Turkey and used this as his base of operations for the conflict.
Initially, The Turks carried out attacks on a daily basis and they also secured the harbor area. Despite massive efforts, they struggled to breach the fortification walls of the old city. It was not until a few weeks later and with the help of explosives that they managed to blow a 10-meter plus hole into the wall and causing major collapse.
Naturally they attacked this now weak area with soldiers, but The Knights were able to defend and drive them back again. In the same day, The Ottomans tried twice more to break through the line of defense, but again, The Knights defended.
From here, and a few days later, Coban Mustafa Pascha ordered a second offensive charge on the city. This fighting continued most of the day and once again it was met with fierce resistance. Suleiman finally called off the attack.
Furious that the city was still not captured, he ordered the execution of Coban Mustafa Pascha for failing to carry out his duties. This order was eventually dropped after many officials implored him to reconsider.
Despite him going back on the execution, Coban Mustafa Pascha was replaced with a very qualified figure. Ahmed Pasha was put in charge of carrying out further attacks and cultivating a strategy to breach Rhodes City.
Yet again, further attacked were held off by The Knights and Soldiers. By the end of November 1522 both sides were drained and weakened. The Knights did not have the strength or the backup to keep fighting, and the Ottomans had suffered a lot of casualties in battle.
Suleiman then made a decision to offer a deal to the local citizens of the island. He promised them food and would allow them to live if they ceased to resist. If they were to refuse this deal, then death would follow or even slavery.
The local citizens then looked to The Grand Master Villiers de L’Isle-Adam to arrange negotiations. On the 11th December and for 2 days, a period of talking was allowed and there was a reprieve from fighting. During these talks, the local people put on more pressure to ensure their safety. This infuriated Suleiman and he ordered his soldiers to continue with the siege.
It was only 4 days later, a large percentage of the walls were lost and the city was ready to be taken. Again, under tension from the locals, Villiers de L’Isle-Adam was forced to ask for another reprieve.
Finally, the terms set by Suleiman were met. They were considered quite reasonable by the people of Rhodes and outlined the following.
- The Knights Of Rhodes were told to leave the island within 12 days.
- Weapons and Armory would be allowed to leave with them.
- Other islanders were offered a time period of 3 years to leave the island.
- No Churches would be destroyed or converted into Mosques.
- Those remaining would not be subject to Ottoman Tax for 5 years.
Just little over a week later on New years Day 1523, The Knights Of Rhodes left the island with their flags held high accompanied by thousands of locals. They made use of 50 vessels that had been made available to them and left for Crete.
After the departure of The Knights, Suleiman went back on his promises. He had thousands of the local civilians slayed and started the process of pillaging and destroying/converting the local Churches into Mosques.
Watch This Amazing Video On Suleiman And His 1522 Siege Of Rhodes
Later Life And Death.
It was in January 1566 that Suleiman The Magnificent would play out his last role. The Siege of Szigetvar (Southern Hungary) was fought between August 5 and September 8 and there were heavy losses on both sides.
Both Leaders of the two Armies died during the conflict. Zrinski died during the final charge, and Suleiman died from natural causes two months before is 72nd birthday.
His body was returned to Istanbul after the Ottoman Victory where he was buried. Because the journey home was long, very hot and far, his liver and heart (as well as other organs) were removed and buried jut outside Szigetvar before the journey home commenced.
The Mosque Of Suleiman In Rhodes
After The Knights had left the island of Rhodes, Suleiman had his Mosque built in
order to monument his victory.
It was originally constructed in 1522 and it was rebuilt in 1808.
The Ottoman Empire converted a lot of churches on the island into Mosques, and this was the first.
It is a fabulous construction and you can not miss it. The outer walls are painted pink and it is located at the top of Socrates Street (Sokratous in Greek) in The Medieval City Of Rhodes. Only 2 minutes away from The Palace Of The Grand Masters, it is a beautiful setting and a location not to be missed if you are visiting the island.
So, as you can realize, The Sultan Suleiman was a powerful and strong leader. He has certainly left his mark on the island of Rhodes. The Siege Of Rhodes in 1522 will long be remembered.
Although a powerful and respected leader, he also brought a lot of harm to many. War is war though, would you agree? Or not?
I would love your opinions and thoughts on this. Although Suleiman will stand out in the history of The Ottoman Empire, I am sure many of us have conflicting opinions.
Please leave me a comment and I will get back to you. I look forward to hearing from you all.
Thanks for reading.