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Castles as European Phenomena

Towards an international approach to medieval castles in Europe. Contributions to an international and interdisciplinary workshop in Kiel, February 2016


Edited By Stefan Magnussen and Daniel Kossack

Castle research witnessed a revival in recent years, and new theoretical and methodological approaches have massively changed our perception of medieval castles. But despite the fact that this renaissance is observable all over Europe, research is still mostly subject to regional perspectives. In 2016, a workshop was hosted at Kiel University, Germany, in order to address these recent developments and stimulate international scientific discourse. It was especially designed to provide a platform for young scholars. With its 11 contributions, the volume provides a vivid picture of current castle research in different areas of Europe, from Italy to Latvia and the Levant to Denmark.

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Defenses, Shelters or Symbols of Power? Castles, Towers and Fortified Settlements (Kástra) in the Knights Hospitallers’ Monastic State in the Aegean from 1307 until 1522


Michael Losse

Abstract: Rhodes and the Dodecanese Islands are among the most important areas for late medieval or early modern fortifications. This is mostly due to the reign of the rule of the Knights of St John from the 14th to the 16th century, who erected plenty of sites. The present paper assesses the variance and different types of fortifications. It is the outcome of more than 15 years of field work in the area, in which the author was able to trace more than 360 sites.

Subjects of this paper are castles and fortifications on Rhodes and the Dodecanese Islands in Greece which belonged to the Military Order of the Knights of St John, known as the (Knights) Hospitallers’1 from 1307 until 1522. The following statements are the outcome of my surveys commenced in 1999, combined with studies on written sources and of the (often contradictory!) technical literature.2

With the fall of Acre in 1291, the Knights of St John lost their last base in the so-called Holy Land. They lost most of their brethren and much of their political power as well as important economical sources. The few surviving Knights, together with the wounded Master of the Order, escaped to Cyprus. It was on this island that the Order, whose headquarters were established in the city of Limassol, found ways to re-organize and rebuild parts of its military strength. However, under control of the kings of Cyprus, the Knights did not feel...

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