chapter  13
14 Pages

Hospitaller statecraft in the Aegean: island polity and mainland power?

ByMICHAEL HESLOP (ROYAL HOLLOWAY)

The acquisition of Rhodes in 1309 and the subsequent conquest of the adjacent Dodecanese islands moved the Hospitaller power base from the Levant to the Aegean ( Figure 13.1 ). At fi rst, however, the Hospitallers were an island rather than a mainland power, which may have presented them with a strategic dilemma. Should they seek to remain an island polity, with or without adding further islands, or should they try to acquire territory on the mainland somewhere on the Aegean coast as well? This dilemma may well have underpinned Hospitaller behaviour in the Aegean for more than 100 years, until geopolitical developments in the fi fteenth century resolved the issue for them. This chapter describes the choices open to the Hospitallers at Rhodes and how they dealt with them.