The Cross and the Crescent: Rhodes, 1522 (Part 3)

Seneca III concludes his three-part account of the Siege of Rhodes in 1522. Previously: Part 1, Part 2.

The Cross and the Crescent: Rhodes, 1522
by Seneca III

Part III. “Never was a Battle so Well Lost”[1]

That the siege would now extend into winter was no more desirable from the point of view of the Knights than it was from Suleiman’s. Although a single boatload of reinforcements and supplies had got through in August, the blockade had tightened. This is hardly surprising, considering that upon hearing of the blockade runner Suleiman had Cortoglu strapped to a plank and bastinadoed[2] on the deck of his own flagship and the diligence of the fleet in carrying out its duties thereafter closed Rhodes to any help that may have come from Europe. Secondly, and just as seriously, Gabriele Tadini had taken a ball in his right eye. The ball had exited above his ear, taking a piece of his skull with it, and leaving him disabled and confined to the hospital for six weeks whilst Suleiman’s miners continued their activities unhindered.

By October winter was truly upon Rhodes, and food and powder were in short and ever diminishing supply. The bombardment and attacks continued unabated throughout that month and November, the rain leaving the shattered ramparts slippery with mud and blood. By December the courageous Rhodians, confined to the hell of that tiny city for five months and lacking the fanatical religious motivation of the Knights, had no more spiritual stamina to draw on. When Suleiman offered honourable terms, the people of Rhodes informed De L’Isle Adam that if he did not accept, then they would. The Grand Master was of the old crusader spirit and would have none of it, but events had overtaken him. He was forced to listen to the counsel of those who advocated living to fight another day, and in the end capitulated.

Thus, on the cold, snow-flurried morning of January 1st 1523, De L’Isle Adam and his surviving Knights, almost all wounded[3], left Rhodes in the great carrack Sancta Maria and three other vessels and sailed out onto a stormy sea. They took with them their weapons, except for the cannon, their personal possessions, the archives of the order and their Holy Relics under the generous terms Adam had negotiated with Suleiman.

And, indeed, how generous these terms were for both the Knights and the people of Rhodes, but such chivalrous magnanimity was not out of character at that point in Suleiman’s life. He was himself a warrior and, albeit at great cost (at least 50,000 of his force had been killed outright, died of wounds or succumbed to disease), had succeeded in taking Rhodes where the forces of his grandfather, Mehmed II, under the field command of Gedik Ahmed Pasha, had so ignominiously failed. Compared with the backstabbing, quarrelling often militarily incompetent Kings and Princes of Europe, the conviction, courage and fighting skill of the Knights and their retainers is something he could easily admire. There is little doubting the genuineness of his sentiments when, as was reported, he turned to his Grand Vizier and said “It saddens me to compel this brave old man to leave his home.”

That, however, was a state of mind and course of action he would come to regret and never repeat as his declaration before the Divan of 1564 initiating the Great Siege (Malta, 1565) demonstrates — “Those sons of dogs whom I have already conquered and who were spared only by my clemency at Rhodes forty-three years ago — I say now that, for their continual raids and insults, they shall be finally crushed and destroyed!”.


1.   Emperor Charles V.
2.   Whipping or heavy caning of the soles of the feet, either as a corporal punishment or as a prolonged form of execution, both functions being prevalent throughout the Ottoman Empire
3.   Amongst the wounded was the twenty-six-ear old Fr. Jean Parisot de la Valette, who was destined to be elected the Grand Master of the Order in 1557 and lead it throughout the Great Siege and beyond.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *


Viewing the events at Rhodes from the perspective of several hundred years, it is not stretching credulity to consider that the courage and selfless determination of the Knights, their Sergeants at Arms, their small mercenary force and the people of Rhodes, coupled with the genius of Gabriele Tadini, sowed the seeds that became the breeze that became the Christian wind that defined the course of history in the Mediterranean and much of Europe to this day. Had the defenders not held out as long as they did — in no small part due to the work of Tadini — Suleiman would probably have breached the defences before the onset of winter; had this been the case the Order would have ceased to exist, for the Knights, as they had done so many times before, would have fought to the death. Fortunately, as it eventuated, the Order survived to find a new home and rebuild its manpower, and the Monks of War and the armies of Suleiman would meet again in Malta some forty-odd years later with a very different outcome. Yet again, during the time of his son and successor Selim II (a.k.a. ‘Selim the Sot’), at Lepanto in 1571 as part of the victorious Christian fleet under the command of Don John of Austria, and these distant events must surely carry with them a message as relevant today as it was in the 16th Century.

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in its sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a foolish knight forever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade…
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

            — G.K. Chesterton, “Lepanto”, v.140

To explain: I have long felt that a knowledge of and a non-revisionist interpretation of history are keys that can be used to open many of the possible doors that lead into our future, and that it is axiomatic that whichever door the key holder selects is a function of his or her particular mind-set, of his time and place and of his societal conditioning, particularly in respect of how he has been educated (or indoctrinated, if you wish), and by whom.

Consequently it is my hope that this short potted history of one battle, and its copious notes, will have in some small way illustrated how little the motivations for and the conduct of Jihad have changed in their general form and how, if we look around us, we can see reflected in their modern incarnation only slightly variant forms of many of its particulars — an addiction to slavery, mass suicidal tendencies reflecting an unreconstructed belief in the deviant, chauvinistic pleasures of the Muslim paradise and a total disregard for human life and its values in general, both of those souls within the confines of the iron cage of the Umma and of those others unfortunate enough to find themselves subject to its depredations. And, most of all, it illustrates what fortitude we in the West will have to muster if our response will be sufficient for us to survive Islam’s onslaught. It is with this thought in mind that the last paragraph of Part I was (re)written in such specific detail.

— Seneca III, Rural England, 17th October 2013 CE: far from the madding hives of the urban ‘occupied territories’ we will soon have to deal with, but still too damn close for comfort.

For links to previous essays by Seneca III, see the Seneca III Archives.

28 thoughts on “The Cross and the Crescent: Rhodes, 1522 (Part 3)

  1. It would be great if Senenca gave of his talents with a follow-up article on the siege at Malta.

    • I had given that some thought, Ray, but decided against it on the basis that I really couldn’t do it any more justice than has been done so well by so many others in several different ways (particularly Ernle Bradford) and any treatment I could give it would nothing more than covering old ground in abbreviated form.

      However Lepanto is a different kettle of fish and the implications of certain aspects of that particular turning point have not, as far as I can determine, been explored in any great detail elsewhere, although I might have to amend that conclusion when I commence the research in earnest.

      I intend to have a crack at it as soon as I have finished my current project. That could take a little while and provided that the Thought Police haven’t locked me up by then and thrown away the key.
      In what was once a “Land of hope and glory, mother of the free” it is no longer permitted to speak truth about the ‘Religion of Peace’, in fact really to speak about it at all except than in the craven, drivelling tones of the Dhimmified or the deconstructionist language of those traitors who have taken possession of the Mother of Parliaments and rendered it into a state of absolute disrepute. I do not joke, Ray, nor do I exaggerate; these are dangerous times for all free men and women who choose to stand and be counted.

      • Perhaps more interesting (because less well-known) than Lepanto would be the battle of la Goulette, just three years after Lepanto, which marked the beginning of a terrible reversal in the perennial Christian-Muslim conflict. The 19th century French historian, Émile Chasles, has some insightful things to say about it in the context of a biography he wrote on Cervantes, in which he delves into how Islam loomed so large in the mind and life of that great Spanish poet:

        Michel de Cervantes, sa vie, son temps, son oeuvre politique et littéraire (“Miguel de Cervantes: His life, his time, his political and literary works”).

        Cervantes (along with a few other great contemporaries), was deeply moved with tragic anguish at this epochal reversal — especially after the great hope Lepanto seemed to augur.

        (A link to his book may be found on my essay on Chasles,

        • Just had a quick look, Hesperado, and will checkout la Goulette after dinner (have just been called by she who must be obeyed :). Thanks, S III

          • La Goulette – well I’ll be damned, Hesperado, I’ve been there! I will have to check my diaries but I think it was sometime during the winter/spring of ’87-88. I was only in Tunis for a few days for a quick briefing on the implications of the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ as I was underway to Egypt on other business before being diverted. I do recall late one afternoon strolling around what I now presume to be the La Goulette on my way to dinner at a lovely open air sea front sea food restaurant nearby, but I must admit that my mind was on other things at the time and I did not recognise the significance of where I was. I can still picture it in my mind, though, as I can the Restaurant and the pleasant little walled terrace at the back of the Tunis Hilton where I was staying at the time and where I was first introduced to gazpacho, which has a been a favourite of mine ever since. Small world. S III.

    • Same problem, Ray, and my cat doesn’t help by perambulating across my keyboard in order to sniff at my wine glass then sniff again in disdain when she realises its contents are not to her taste.

      • My wonderful Swedish cat “Sotaren” (= chimney sweep – guess his colour!) did the same.

        I quote the Danish multigenious Piet Hein:

        Lille kat, lille kat, lille kat på vejen
        Hvis er du, hvis er du?
        Jeg er sgu min egen

        A sort of translation:

        Little cat, little cat, little cat on the road
        Whose are you, whose are you?
        Me! I am noones but my own

  2. The Knights has the misfortune of being so close to the Turkish mainland. Rhodes was no more than a day’s sailing from Anatolia. Malta was, by contrast weeks and weeks away by sail.

    Today the Muslim gets to squat in the heart of our capital cities and bully us from inside the ramparts. The strategic situation is not a good one.

  3. Having visited Rhodes twice, and walked around that huge dry moat twice, i cannot help but admire the order and everything they achieved in the 200 years they were there.

    Those walls are mostly built on solid rock. The son et lumiar was interesting too, but the lesson never learned by the Knights was DON’T lose command of the sea, a lesson the Royal Navy took to heart later.

    If there are posters here from the states, go there, stand, see and wonder, and you will understand HOW tough and committed they were.

    • These fortifications at Rhodes are amazing to see in person. The scale of it brings home the dangerous times the defenders of that city must have lived in to require such immense defences. I wandered around it a few years ago with a slack jaw – totally ignorant of the historic siege by the muslims. If anyone gets a chance to see it they are fortunate. Thank you Seneca for enlightening me with the history of that incredible place.

  4. You really should have researched and published an alternative to a recent BBC programme “The Ottomans” on BBC2 – it was so full of holes it should have been made in Switzerland in a cheese factory. Their reformatting the history of the Armenian Genocide was the point at which I could no longer bare to watch.

    • Glad, two things: This paper was a resurrection of a draft written 40 odd years ago (see Part I, Caveat.) and only by coincidence did it overlap with ‘The Ottomans’; I was aware that the programme was in the offing but as I knew full well what sort of whitewashing/revisionist treatment the BBC and its ‘British National of Somali Origin’, one ‘ Raage Oomaar (Sm.), a.k.a. Rageh Omar , (whom Al Beeb have trotted out at every opportunity in order to illustrate how well integrated they and such persons are even though the even handed Rageh once described it [the BBC], in an obviously non-racist way, as “A white man’s club”- after moving to Al Jazeera for a while, I kid you not !) would give to the subject matter I did not bother watching. I have had my fill of the Islam enabling, vomitus inducing disinformation peddled by that foul nest of leftard traitors and doubt if my old TV would survive being booted off of its stand yet again. 🙂 Rgds, S III.

  5. Federale, I simply do not understand your comment – what does my use of CE have to do with Marxism? Please explain.

    N.B. I use both AD and CE according to the context of what I am dating or referring to, i.e. either the spiritual implications of or the historic (epochal) aspects of Christianity. Indeed, although I have not done so yet, I would use the full abbreviation ADNIC (Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi) if I felt it was appropriate. I have even been known to use AH (Al Hijra) where I felt it might make a (less than subtle) point. Rgds, S III.

  6. S III: After reading your accounts, I paused to wonder about these words attributed to your namesake and your opinion of them.

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

      • Differentiate?

        It is clear that you find the valor and metal of those knights laudable to say the least. I have heard many bemoan that the West’s loss of its religious underpinnings has made it ripe to be raped as those like those knights would never permit. It would seem that Seneca the Younger would have viewed their religion as unsound as any other.

        If that does not differentiate enough, then perhaps I should ask you directly: would you separate the determination of those knights from their religious convictions? It certainly seems that S II saw no value there.

        • And pardon me that I missed your wink. 🙁

          I gave you a naive straight-man’s response to a comic question.

          Well, at the least it provides you an opportunity to launch. 😉

      • Pascal,
        “That’s the inclination of Blaise Pascal over time but in a constant moral plane.” Like it!

        Three other things:
        Whilst widely attributed to Seneca II (‘The Younger’) I seem unable to locate anywhere in his copious oeuvre an original Latin form in any way resembling your quotation. I will agree it is oft quoted, possibly because Gibbon, allegedly making a free translation from Seneca, said ” Religion was regarded by the common people as true, by the philosophers as false, and by the rulers as useful.”, but nowhere does he or anyone else cite precisely his [Gibbon’s] original source as far as I can determine (perhaps you could help?), and in this regard I tend towards one of the many telling philosophical observations made by your namesake:

        “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth we cannot know it.” Penséese de M. Pascal Sur La Religion, Pub. Guillaume Desfrez, Rue Saint Jacques, à Saint Prosper, M,DC,lxx (1670).

        Secondly you do invite me to swim in very deep waters, don’t you? 🙂 However, regretfully and without any animosity, I must decline as I am of the opinion that I am not that good a swimmer in the first place and I believe there is little or nothing to be gained that would be of benefit to the Counter-Jihad – or its Christian and Secular brothers – for you and I to engage in something akin to a modern version of ‘how many angels can fit on the head of a pin’ debate. We’re all in this together and we need to concentrate on the actuality as it is now and what it will mean to us and our descendants if Islam becomes triumphant. However in this context I could perhaps find it within me to agree with Gibbon on one matter, if I was really pushed:

        “The faith which, under the name of Islam, he preached to his family and nation, is compounded of an eternal truth and a necessary fiction, THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD, AND THAT MAHOMET (sic) IS THE APOSTLE OF GOD.” The Decline and Fall…(Abridged version), Chap 50, The Rise of Mahomet – Chatto and Windus Ltd., 1960. (my bold, above).

        Finally, even if I did choose to bite, the eternal hag on my back would compel me to spend an awful lot of time and effort explaining (the devil is always in the detail) and time is not on my side at the moment; I suspect that the Baron will have my ‘globulae’ for ‘prandeo’ unless I come up pretty soon with the long promised essay I am working on at the moment and, even more importantly from a personal financial perspective, unless I also soon finish the two books that I have been working on for so long the original notes could well have been scribbled on papyrus my bank manager will do likewise.
        My Best Regards, S III.

        P.S. As a mathematician you might find it interesting to see if you can come up with a philosophical interpretation of “Δx/ Δy = (f(x + i) – f(x))/i; where i = Δx”[1]. It may even answer your question. 😉
        [1] Oeuvre Complètes d’Augustin Cauchy, Differential Calculus, Lecture 3.
        S III.

        • Marvelous responses.

          Yes, I think I can help. Others have noted that I excel best at offering fleeting insights rather than getting into details, so I am the last who would ask you to separate the fly excrement from the pepper. 😉

          Your last response first.

          A mathematician would dismiss your equation as incorrect.

          An engineer, such as I, would tell the mathematician to stop being such an ____, and tell you that the left side of the equation was obviously transcribed in error and that you meant its reciprocal.

          Then we have the general form of the Mean Value Theorem which, once the limit of “as Δx ➞ 0” is applied, legitimizes the calculus.

          As demonstrated above, I can be slow to pick up double-entendres, and I’m afraid I’ve missed the one in your P.S. I pray it is not noting that Cauchy was both renowned for his genius and tendency to leave things incomplete when working with others.

  7. Engineers aim to cut out the extraneous, so let me try cutting your Gordian Knot and dismiss your hag.

    Two different eras.
    1. The words of the tutor to the future caesar in circa 50 AD
    2. Those same words in the hands of Western 21st Century antitheists.

    In 1, the predominant religion is polygamy, with the reigning emperor treated as a living god. Such a cynical view was the safe one and even rational given that Judeo-Christian influence was barely noticeable yet. Though, as S II would find out, his personal safety was not for much longer. Yes you could go on longer, but I’m satisfied.

    In contemporary 2, you ought find it significant that the predominant phraseology has changed “philosopher” to “wise.” And one of the leading antitheists calls his brand of atheist “brights.” Yes you could go on longer and perhaps should. I argue that where it leads I envision could aid counter jihad. Why? Peruse FWPorretto’s Convergence of the Death Cults and related essays and reader comments.. I have my own essays too that expand on those, but I’ll wait for you to ask.

    • I promised to avoid details, so please excuse me as I hit on what will be obscure to many others but which applies to the way I see that quote being mangled and about which I think you will quickly understand.

      I point to how Pascal was clearly irked by how explicit probabilism crowded out the intrinsic substance by the Casuists seated at the Sorbonne.

      Similarly the intrinsic attributed words as perhaps they were remembered by Nero are now used solely extrinsically (as assessed by my surmise of eras) where the anti-theists wish to gain luster for themselves by exploiting the name of Seneca.

      This extrinsic authority they are after you have personal reason to obliterate lest it tarnish your own. I have a sense such could be a blessing in aiding our goal for reasons unrelated to yourself.

      • rewrite of 2nd paragraph to erase its ambiguity.

        I point to how Pascal was clearly irked by how explicit probabilism used by the Casuists seated at the Sorbonne crowded out all of the originals’ intrinsic substance.

        • OMG. Several days late I have noticed that I made an awful error, and not just once.

          In each instance where I typed “explicit,” the term I had intended was “extrinsic.”

          I am not terribly prone to Malaprop, but this one being part of a quite esoteric subject with which I hoped to improve understanding of how the anti-theists without merit seek to exploit the name of Seneca, I find it terribly embarrassing.

          However, my personal embarrassment by exposing it is less important than the stopping the propagation of misinformation just in case anybody is paying attention.

          Extrinsic (and not explicit) is the unwelcome parasitic property that seeks to attach itself to the intrinsic.

          The following line the correct one:

          I point to how Pascal was clearly irked by how extrinsic probabilism used by the Casuists seated at the Sorbonne crowded out all of the originals’ intrinsic substance.

          This is why I say I’m best in providing insights rather than details where, echoing S III’s words, the damnable creeps in. And also demonstrates why I dislike writing so, and why writing is, for me, a form of penance for mostly making a living in my pre-retirement years and not battling the Statists in a more proportionate level to that which they attacked what I hold dear.

          Thank you for you understanding.

  8. Pascal: Hands up for the typo ‘Δx/ Δy’, it’s a function of age; as for everything else I, as I said and for the reasons stated, and without any reciprocal rancour, won’t be taking this discussion any further. Rgds, S III.

    • No need to take it further my friend. You did ask if I might help. See my added comments as solely FYI. Should you later be surprised how helpful they turn out, you may remember me well.

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