Rhodes and Otranto in 1480: Lessons of Two Parallel Sieges
In 1480, the Ottomans, who had just defeated the Venetians, attacked the two other western maritime powers resisting their expansion: Rhodes and the Kingdom of Naples. At the end of May, they arrived at Rhodes thinking they could gain control in less than a month, which would have enabled them to send troops right away to invade the south of Italy. But strong resistance from the Knights Hospitaller changed their plan. The attack against Otranto was considerably delayed and started only at the end of July. The Turkish army was victorious on the ground at first, but didn’t receive the reinforcements it expected and was finally expelled from Otranto in 1481. The sieges of Rhodes and Otranto help us examine the techniques of war, which at the end of the 15th century had changed considerably owing to new ways of employing artillery, the navy, and propaganda. The Aragonese, the Hospitallers, and the Turks did not use these weapons and techniques in the same way.