The Crusades: The Siege of Rhodes

The Crusades: The Siege of Rhodes Facsimile Edition

Paris (France) — 1482–1483

Written by the Grand Master of the Order of Saint John and illustrated with 52 full-page miniatures: a pictorial account of the successful defense of Rhodes against the Turks in 1480

  1. An account of the successful defense of Rhodes against the Turks in 1480 by the Order of St. John

  2. The codex was written by Grand Master Guillaume Caoursin (1423–1503), an eyewitness

  3. The exciting story was illustrated by Illuminator Gérard Louf with 52 powerful full-page miniatures

The Crusades: The Siege of Rhodes

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
The Crusades: The Siege of Rhodes

A captivating, unbelievably artfully illuminated historic novel concerning the history of the siege of Rhodes. The manuscript is as credible as a work of non-fiction, but simultaneously represents an exciting work of entertainment nonetheless. It was written by Guillaume Caoursin, Grand Master of the Order and eyewitness to the events, in the year 1483 and is furnished with expressive miniatures.

The Crusades: The Siege of Rhodes

This codex retells the history of the siege of Rhodes by the fleet and Army of the Turks in the year 1480. In this tale, the heroic resistance of the island by the Order of St. John under the leadership of Pierre d'Abousson is celebrated. Guillaume Caoursin, Grand Master of the Order and eyewitness to the events, reports on the attacks, battles, and a great earthquake in the year 1481 in his Obsidionis Rhodiae Urbis Descriptio or Description of the Siege of Rhodes. Readers experience the application for asylum of the Turkish Prince Zizim, of betrayal, murder, and political and diplomatic skill in the settlement of the conflict. The exciting history is illustrated with 52 full-page miniatures, 4 enchantingly furnished bordures, and 90 grisaille initials, which are embellished with plants and fantastic animals.

An Island Plagued by War

In the year 1314, the first siege of the city of Rhodes occurred in the north of the island, though the attack failed. The knights of Rhodes were – above all due to the timely arrival of the fleet of the Duke of Savoy in support – in a position to defend their island. In the year 1440, the Egyptian fleet attacked Rhodes and it was hit by eight galleys from the Orient. In the year 1444, the Sultan of Egypt subjected the island to attack once again: 18,000 Mamluks and a large number of the Knights Hospitaller died during forty days of siege. In May 1453, the powerful Turkish Sultan Mehmed II took Constantinople and ended Roman rule in the Orient. In the year 1480, Mehmed II sought to conquer the enclave of Rhodes. This was the last Christian stronghold in the East and a strategically important point for the expansion of power westward. He died during the campaign on May 3rd, 1481.

A Captivating Historic Novel

The history of the siege of Rhodes was written by the author Guillaume Caoursin and masterfully illustrated by the illuminator Gérard Louf. Historically interested readers can experience new information in this work about the resistance against the erstwhile Ottoman Empire. Even booklovers who are not necessarily fascinated by medieval history can get their money’s worth with this work. The precious manuscript is captivating with its exciting and diverse descriptions beginning with the first page. The historically important events are described here as though in a novel. It spends less time chewing dry and hard facts, but is more focused on entertaining the reader. Nevertheless, the work adheres to the historic circumstances. The gorgeous pages lend the work its special charm.

Stirring Miniatures

A particularly impressive, full-page miniature in the work shows a harrowing war scene. The events reenact an attack by the Turks. One sees the city walls of Rhodes with countless mutilated bodies lay along it. In the background, the army of Rhodes withdraws into the guarded city. An additional picture shows the tower of the church of St. Nicolaus, which was destroyed by Turkish artillery fire. The tower, an important symbol of hope, stands in flames and collapses. In another picture, we see the counter-attack of the army of Rhodes. A floating bridge, over which the Turks attempt to secure their supplies, is destroyed in an attack. The lively, colorful pictures express the terror of the long war.


Alternative Titles
El Sitio de Rodas
Die Kreuzzüge: Die Belagerung von Rhodos
Size / Format
464 pages / 28.0 × 19.5 cm
52 full-page miniatures, 4 large borders and 90 grisaille technique initials decorated with plants and fantastic animals
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
The Crusades: The Siege of Rhodes – Lat. 6067 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) Facsimile Edition
Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid, 2006
Limited Edition: 575 copies
Detail Picture

The Crusades: The Siege of Rhodes

Assaulting the walls

A colorful throng of Turkish shoulders armed with spears and shields mounts a direct attack on a curtain wall, which drips red with blood as the bloody struggle continues. Fighting under a blue and gold banner with a depiction of the Crucifixion, Rhodes’ defenders wear open-faced steel helmets, vambraces, and gauntlets while manning cannons along the city walls. Dead and decapitated bodies are shown floating in the moat in this beautiful yet terrible scene of late medieval warfare.

El Sitio de Rodas
Single Page

The Crusades: The Siege of Rhodes

Second Attack on the Tower of St. Nicholas

In the foreground, two ships full of troops sent by King Ferdinand I of Naples, identifiable by his escutcheon on their bows, arrive to reinforce the defenders of Rhodes – the Knights Hospitaller. The tower of St. Nicholas guards the harbor and protects their approach. Turkish troops are bombarding the tower and have massed for an attack, but the bridge they have constructed has been broken.

The impressive fortifications constructed by the Hospitallers – white stone walls and towers with ditches in front of them – stretch off into the distance, as does the Ottoman camp. Despite being a battle scene, the color palette is surprisingly cheery. The depiction of the ships with billowing sails and gold-highlighted hulls is particularly impressive.

El Sitio de Rodas
Facsimile Editions

#1 El Sitio de Rodas

Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid, 2006

Publisher: Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid, 2006
Limited Edition: 575 copies
Binding: Green sheepskin on boards
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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