An important figure for the history of Rhodes was a man called Philippe Villiers de l’Isle Adam. Born in the year 1464, he became the 44th Grand Master of The Knights of Saint John In Rhodes in the year 1521.
He would be the last Grand Master on the island, later becoming the first Grand Master in Malta on the 26th October 1530.
The 1522 Siege Of Rhodes
As did Pierre d’Aubusson in the 1480 Siege Of Rhodes, Philippe Villiers de l’Isle Adam also had to face the strength of The Ottoman Empire in the 1522 Siege Of Rhodes.
This time, Rhodes was up against the fury of The Sultan Suleiman and his army.
Villiers de l’Isle Adam, being Commander of the Knights during this 1522 Siege, was confronted with over a 100,000 Ottoman Soldiers. They arrived in force and the siege lasted for 6 months.
Against 100,000 men, it was always going to be a difficult task. He had only 600 of his Knights and 4500 soldiers. It was simply not enough to resist Suleiman and his forces. Being unable to repel the opposition after a long battle, he and his order were forced to surrender. They were offered a path out, and they left the island of Rhodes for Crete, on New Year’s Day in 1523.
After the siege had come to a close, Villiers de l’Isle Adam and his Knights Order went on to relocate in different places over the next years.
First, they landed in Messina (Sicily, Italy), then onto Viterbo (Lazio) and to Nice in France.
It was not until the 26th October 1530 that they landed in Malta with their ship. This ship was called the Santa Anna and was obtained from Nice in France. This vessel was constructed in the 16th century and was considered somewhat state of the art during that time. Malta had been granted to The Knights Order by Roman Emporor Charles V.
From here, The Order set up base and they reestablished themselves as The Maltese Knights, for which they are still known today.
Villiers de l’Isle Adam And His Knights In Malta
The Knights settled in an area called Birgu (also known as Citta Vittoriosa) in the South East of Malta.
This city was also equipped with the fortress, which goes by the name Fort Saint Angelo. The Knights used this as settlement when they arrived and slowly they built their accommodation for the different Langues. They constructed their empire once more. They had their protective fortress, their palace, their accommodation, their hospital and their overall foundations in place again!
At first, The Knights were not too happy with Malta. They saw it as a desolate land. After saying that, the location of Malta was considered a very strategic location. Situated in the middle of The Mediterranean, it served as a great advantage point between the east and the west. They soon went on to transform Malta into a powerful operation.
The Grand Masters Later Years
Despite all this, Villiers de l’Isle Adam and many of his knights dreamed of recapturing the island of Rhodes again in the future. They longed to have their home back!
This was never to be though, and Villiers de l’Isle Adam passed away on the 21st August 1534 and he was buried inside the grounds of Fort Saint Angelo.
Long after his death, in the year 1565, The Ottoman Empire struck again. This time they wanted to capture Malta. The Knights were able to repel these attacks and this went on to be known as ‘The Great Siege Of Malta’.
After only a few days, The Ottoman Empire retreated. It was after The Great Siege that The Knights order decided to make Malta their permanent residence.
As you can see, The Knights were really up against it centuries ago.
Grand Masters such as Villiers de l’Isle Adam and their Knights really needed to have courage, strength and resistance.
Although defeat was suffered in Rhodes, they went on to reform in Malta. This was no easy task in those days.
After the death of The Grand Master, his fierce enemy Suleiman The Magnificent is said to have ordered a memorial for him. This took place in all Mosques across The Ottoman Empire.
Personally I love to read about the history of people that have made a difference. What are your thoughts? I would love to hear what you have to say.
Just 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