Detailed information about the history of Rhodes

rhodes-historyThe oldest finds in Rhodes come from the east-northeast side of the island. In the Erimokastro cave in Kalythies, archaeologists discovered fossilized bones of dwarf elephants from the Stone Age. The first human activity is witnessed in the cave of Koumelos in Archangelos and the cave of Agios Georgios in Kalythies.

Finds include sharpened stones and animal bones (used as cutting tools and/or weapons), pottery fragments with cereal remains, cooking utensils, tools for spinning wool, etc. The dating of these finds shows that the island has been inhabited since at least the Late Neolithic era (5300 – 4800 BC). A generally accepted theory is that the first populations immigrated to the island from the opposite shores of Asia Minor.

In the area of Asoma Kremastis, on the northwest side of the island, the oldest Neolithic settlement was found, dating back to 2400 – 1950 BC. It is not clear whether there was Minoan colonization in Rhodes, but findings prove that there were, at least, commercial contacts with the Minoans. The geographical location of Rhodes made it, early on, a hub of trade, with prehistoric findings indicating trade contacts, beyond Minoan Crete, with Cyprus, Egypt, Phoenicia and of course the Greek area.

The colonization of Rhodes by the Mycenaeans dates back to the 15th century. e.g. The findings of this period come from graves, with interesting offerings, such as various vessels of ritual use, swords, spears, copper tools of daily use, but also high-tech jewelry. It is estimated that the oldest city of Rhodes, Achaia, known from philological sources, was built in the Mycenaean era. During the movements of the Greek sexes in the 11th c. BC, Rhodes was colonized by the Dorians.

Geometric, Archaic and Classical era

The arrival of the Dorians in Rhodes also marks the division of the island into three states, centered on the cities: Ialyssos in the northwest, Kameiros in the west and Lindos in the east. There are no testimonies of tensions and conflicts between the three cities of Rhodes. Instead, the three of them formed the so-called Doric Hexapolis, together with the also island city of Kos and the cities of Cnidus and Halicarnassus from the nearby coast of Asia Minor. It was a religious community centered on the temple of Triopius Apollo which was located on the Knidos peninsula.

In the following centuries the Rhodians travel and build colonies: Rhodes in distant Iberia and in Italy the Parthenope and, together with the Coos, the Elpies in Daenia. The Soli in Cilicia were built by Lydians and Achaeans. The Lindians also built Phasilida in Lycia, while around 688 BC. Lydians together with Cretan colonists built Gela in Sicily.

According to the Chronicle of Lindos, the Lindians took part in the colonization of Kyrenia and Syvari. Diodorus Siculus says that Lipari was colonized by Cnidius and Rhodians, as was Symi, while Nisyros was colonized by Rhodians, after an epidemic that wiped out the Kos colonists. Finally, around 550 BC Rhodians together with many other Greeks build Naucratida in Egypt.

During the 6th c. e.g. Cleobolus, one of the seven sages of antiquity, lived and ruled Lindos as a tyrant. In the same century the Camiris minted their first coin and the Ialysians and the Lindians did the same in the 5th century. In the Persian Wars, after the unsuccessful campaign of Mardonius in 492 BC, a new campaign was organized led by Datis and Artaphernes.

The Persians, after gathering a large army in Cilicia, launched an invasion by sea. According to the Chronicle of Lindos, the Persians besieged the city of Lindos unsuccessfully in 490 BC. However, when Xerxes was enumerating his army at the city of Doriscus in Thrace, the Rhodians, along with the Coos and the other Dorians of Caria participated with 40 ships. After the end of the Persian wars all three cities of Rhodes joined the Delian League by paying tribute to the treasury in favor of the campaign against the Persians.

The growing authoritarianism of the Athenians and then the Peloponnesian War, which brought the Rhodians, as members of the Delian League, against the same-sex (Dorian) Spartans, caused intense internal unrest. A typical example is the Eratides, an aristocratic family of Ialyssos, who took the lead against the Athenians. In fact, Dorias, son of the famous Olympian Pyctic Diagoras, an Olympian himself, came out in favor of the Spartans, with the result that the Athenians condemned him and his entire family to death, forcing them to become fugitives and take refuge with the Thurians.

Nevertheless, the Rhodians participated in the Sicilian campaign of 415 – 413 BC. with 2 pentagonors and 700 slingers, during which they were even forced to fight against the colonists themselves, the Jeloos. The failure of the campaign changed the situation and the old allies turned against the Athenians.

In 412 BC, therefore, Dorias (who had been persecuted by the Athenians a few years before) with 10 ships from the Thurians (who had fought on the side of the Athenians in the Sicilian campaign) will return as an ally of the Spartans and will sail to Urticaria.

There, the Spartans, having accepted invitations from the oligarchs of Rhodes and wanting to associate an island with many sailors and foot soldiers, which would allow them to maintain a powerful fleet without the help of the Persians, decided to intervene. Thus, during the winter, led by Astyochus, they sailed with 94 ships against Cameiros and caused such terror to the inhabitants, that they began to leave the city, as it was unwalled.

Finally, they invited them to return and convinced them, as well as the citizens of Ialyssos and Lindos, to defect from the Athenian alliance. The Spartans were financially reinforced with 32 talents from the Rhodians, while at the same time they decided to haul their ships ashore and remain idle for 80 days.

During this time, the Athenians tried to react and, led by Leo and Diomedon, made a successful landing and defeated the Rhodians who rushed to meet them; they eventually returned to Chalcis, which they used as their stronghold against the Spartan fleet.

Meanwhile, the Persian satrap Tissaphernes managed to secure a treaty of alliance with the Spartans, providing them with money to maintain their fleet. The Spartan fleet left Rhodes and sailed to Miletus, which belonged to the territory of Tissaphernes. But during the fleet’s stay there, there was strong resentment against Tissaphernes, who seems to have obstructed the payment of wages.

In one incident, some allied soldiers turned against the Constable, demanding the payment of their salaries. He reacted strongly, threatened them and even raised his staff to strike Dorias, who was pleading for his soldiers. The soldiers were enraged and moved against him, forcing him to flee to an altar to escape their wrath. Fortunately for him, Astyochus’ term of office was ending and shortly after this event, his replacement, Mindaros, arrived in Miletus.

During the summer (411 BC), Mindarus with the Spartan fleet set sail for the Hellespont, at the same time sending Dorias with 13 ships to Rhodes to suppress the attempted rebellion there. And after clarifying the situation in Rhodes, he too set sail for the Hellespont at the beginning of winter. But arriving there, he was noticed by the Athenians, and together with the fleet of Mindarus, which came to reinforce him, they were involved in the naval battle of Abydos.

In the following spring (410 BC) the naval battle of Cyzicus was fought, disastrous for the Spartans. No longer having to worry about the Spartan fleet, the Athenians gained superiority at sea and thus Alcibiades, after campaigning in Andros, attacked Kos and Rhodes, from where he collected a lot of booty for his soldiers (409 BC) .

The year of the 93rd Olympiad (408 BC) is a milestone in the history of Rhodes, as the citizens of Ialyssos, Kameiros and Lindos carry out the so-called settlement building the city of Rhodes, which henceforth becomes the center of a new, stronger State created by the union of the three old states.

At the same time, the Rhodians participated in the Spartan effort to re-strengthen the alliance’s fleet, providing ships to Lysander and later reinforcing his replacement Callicratidas with sailors to man more ships. And in the victorious naval battle on the Aigos rivers, the Rhodians Timarchos and Diagoras distinguished themselves.

But the end of the Peloponnesian war alone does not bring peace to Rhodes, as in the following years the democratic (pro-Athenian) part and the oligarchic (pro-Spartan) part continue to quarrel. And in 395 BC, with the help of Conon, who was now in charge of the Persian fleet, the democratic part managed to get the upper hand and expel the oligarchs.

The Spartans, enraged by this development, attacked Dorias, who was in the Peloponnese, arrested him, accused him of treason and sentenced him to death (the irony is that Dorias had been captured by his enemies, the Athenians in 407 BC, but they decided to let him go free without bothering him).

At that time, when Rhodes was on the side of Conon and the Persians, Timocrates also acted, who, having at his disposal 50 silver talents from the Persians, returned to Greece and tried with bribes to make various Greek leaders declare war to the Spartans.

A few years later (391 – 390 BC), Rhodes is again sown from the disputes of the two political factions. The oligarchic faction seeks the help of the Spartans, who respond by wanting to ally Rhodes, but the Athenians also try to thwart the Spartans and help the democratic faction prevail.

After the Andalkidian peace (386 BC), Rhodes is autonomous, but remains under Spartan tutelage. Over the next few years, resentment against the Spartans grows steadily, until the eviction of the Spartan garrison from Cadmeia becomes the catalyst for new changes. The Athenians send envoys to various cities that were in the sphere of influence of the Spartans and manage to form the so-called Second Athenian Alliance against Sparta, with the participation of Rhodes (478 – 477 BC).

The next few years are years of relative calm for Rhodes. And while Thebes gains undisputed supremacy on land, after the victories against the Spartans, the Thebans decide to create a powerful fleet as well. For this reason they ask for the help of the Rhodians, the Chians and the Byzantines. But their plans will freeze abruptly with the death of Epaminondas in 362 BC.

This calm would end with the start of the First Allied War (357 BC), in which Rhodes, Chios, Kos and Byzantium fought against the Athenians, with the support of the Carian dynasty Mausolus. At the end of the war, Athens was forced to recognize the exit of Rhodes from the alliance, but this gave the necessary space to Mausolus, who installed a pro-Philokarian, oligarchic government on the island (d. 355 BC). With the death of Mausolus, the Rhodians tried to dethrone his successor, Artemisia, but failed (351 BC). Thus they remained under Carian rule until 344/343 BC, when a dynastic dispute gave them the opportunity to expel the Carian garrison from the city.

The recovery of the freedom of Rhodes came at a time when the Macedonian king Philip II was in conflict with other Greek states. And so, when Byzantium was besieged, Rhodes was one of the cities that sent reinforcements to help the Byzantines. When Philip’s son and successor, Alexander the Great, finally began his campaign against the Persians, it was a Rhodian in the service of the “Great King”, Memnon, who posed the most serious threat to the Macedonian soldier. Fortunately for Alexander, Memnon fell ill and died before he could complete his plan, which was to carry the war from Asia to Europe by attacking cities allied to Alexander and inciting revolts, with the ultimate goal of forcing him to stop the his progress.

It was probably during Alexander’s advance into Caria that Rhodes received a Macedonian garrison. Then it is mentioned that the Rhodians participated in his campaign as allies. According to Plutarch, in the battle of Gaugamelos, Alexander wore a mantle given to him by the Rhodians, while according to the Chronicle of Lindos, Alexander also honored the Rhodians by dedicating “bucephalas” to the temple of Athena in Lindia.

Hellenistic era

After Alexander’s death the Rhodians drove out the Macedonian garrison and freed the city from Macedonian patronage. Some years later (316 BC) the city of Rhodes suffered a great disaster, as a spring hailstorm caused a flood, which destroyed many buildings and led to the death of more than 500 people.

In the wars of the Successors of Alexander the Great, Rhodes was involved for the first time in 315 BC. undertaking the construction of ships for Antigonus. But also in 313 BC the Rhodians allied with Antigonus by providing him with 10 fully equipped ships for the liberation campaign of the Greek cities. But in 307 BC, the Rhodians did not heed the command of Demetrius, son of Antigonus, calling them to join the war against Ptolemy, preferring to remain at peace with everyone.

It was the political stance of the Rhodian state to make friendship agreements with all rulers and remain neutral in wars between them. However, it had strong trade links with the Ptolemaic kingdom in Egypt – on these links a large part of its revenue was based – while Egypt was also Rhodes’ main supplier. It was therefore unthinkable for the Rhodians to “lightly turn their hearts” against Ptolemy.

When the Rhodians refused to take part in Antigonus’ war against Ptolemy, Antigonus sent a fleet to the region, with orders to seize any merchant ship sailing from Rhodes to Egypt and confiscate its cargo. The Rhodians naturally drove him out, but this angered Antigonus, who threatened to besiege the city. The Rhodians then voted to honor Antigonus and sent ambassadors to him, begging him not to force them to declare war to Ptolemy, violating their terms. Antigonus, however, gave them a very harsh answer and sent Demetrius with a strong army to the opposite shores of Asia Minor. This move scared the Rhodians, who agreed to fight by his side. But then, Demetrius demanded 100 prominent citizens as hostages and that his fleet be admitted to the ports of Rhodes. The Rhodians suspected the real purpose of this demand, and regarding it as a plot against their city, determined to prepare for a siege.

So these were the events that led to the great siege of Rhodes in 305 BC. The siege lasted a year, during which Demetrius’ army used every kind of siege engine and siege technique, but the Rhodians with fortitude and determination managed to hold out. Very important was the contribution of the Rhodian navy, which, thanks to its ability, managed to equalize the numerical superiority of the opponent many times. In this struggle Rhodes received help from the other Successors – Ptolemy, Cassander, Lysimachus – but mainly from Ptolemy. Finally, at the urging of many Greek cities, the two sides finally capitulated.

Rhodes would remain autonomous and independent and would have its own annuities.
the Rhodians would be allies of Antigonus; unless he fought against Ptolemy.
the Rhodians would give 100 hostages of Demetrius’ choice[note. 15], excluding officials.
With the end of the siege the Rhodians honored those who distinguished themselves and freed and made citizens the slaves who fought bravely. Statues were erected for Cassander and Lysimachus. They wanted to honor Ptolemy even more. They sent a sacred embassy to the oracle of Ammon asking if he advised them to honor him as a god. When they got a positive answer, they built in his honor the Ptolemaion, a huge square mosque, one furlong long on each side. And henceforth Ptolemy received from the Rhodians the surname Sotir.

In the aftermath of the great siege, the Rhodians made a decision that left its mark, not only in the history of Rhodes, but also in world history. They forged the siege engines that Demetrius left in Rhodes after the siege and, with the 300 talents they collected, decided to honor the patron of their land, the god Helios. So they commissioned a disciple of Lysippus, the sculptor Charis Lindius, to create a gigantic bronze statue of the god, the Colossus of the Sun.

Information about Rhodes in the following years is fragmentary. The Rhodians financially helped the inhabitants of Priene in their struggle against the tyrant Hiero, they gave an interest-free loan of 100 gold talents to the Argives to repair their walls, in these years king Pyrrhus dedicated “bucephalas” and weapons to the temple of Lindia Athena; in Chremonideo War Rhodes allied with Athens, Sparta and King Ptolemy II against the Macedonian king Antigonus II; during the Second Syrian War the Rhodesian admiral Agathostratos defeated Ptolemy’s admiral Chremonides at the naval battle of Ephesus .

About 226 BC Rhodes was shaken by a great earthquake, which destroyed the Colossus, most of the walls and the neoria. But as Polybius says, the Rhodians turned the misfortune into an opportunity: they sent embassies to other states that described the situation in the darkest colors, thus managing to win the sympathy of their listeners, who responded with generosity:

Hieron and Gelon responded with financial aid totaling 100 talents, 75 talents for the oil used in the gymnasium, silver hydrias and cauldrons with their bases, and 10 talents for population growth. In addition, they gave tax exemptions to Rhodian merchants in their ports, while also donating 50 catapults. And after they had given these, they set up a statue on the Model of Rhodes representing the Municipality of Syracuse crowning the Municipality of Rhodes.

Ptolemy III responded with 300 talents of silver, 1 million bushels of grain, timber for 10 quintessences and 10 triremes, 1,000 talents of copper coins, 3,000 stupi, 3,000 pieces of cloth for sails, 3,000 talents for repairing the Colossus, 100 craftsmen and 350 workers and 14 talents yearly for their wages. He also gave 12,000 bushels of grain for the games and sacrifices, as well as 20,000 bushels to feed 10 triremes.

In the following years, however, Rhodes continues to flourish. Indicative testimony of this prosperity is the fact that it was the Rhodian fleet that ended the piratical raids of Demetrius Pharios in the Aegean. In the same year (220 BC) another incident is described that testifies to this prosperity, with the involvement of the State of Rhodes in the decision of the city of Byzantium to impose a tax on goods coming from the Black Sea. Those aggrieved by this decision asked for the intervention of Rhodes, which was recognized as a maritime power.

The Rhodians and their allies sent ambassadors to Byzantium, but the Byzantines persisted in their decision. After the embassy returned, a declaration of war against Byzantium was immediately voted. The Rhodians invited King Prussia I of Bithynia to join the war, and he immediately seized the opportunity to attack his neighbors.

Byzantines and Bithynians started the hostilities on the battlefields, while the Rhodians, moving in the field of diplomacy, managed to secure the friendship of the Seleucid ruler Achaios, whom the Byzantines aspired to make their ally in the war. Finally, the intervention of the Gallic king Cavarus managed to lead to a peace treaty between the warring parties. Around the same time, the Pontic king Mithridates IV declared war on Sinope and its citizens turned to Rhodes for help. The Rhodians responded by delivering supplies worth 140,000 drachmas to the Sinopian embassy.

Second Allied War

In the so-called Second Allied War, the Rhodians assume the role of mediator and together with others try to convince the Macedonian king Philip V to make peace with the Aetolians, they also assumed the same role in the First Macedonian War, addressing the Aetolians.

Around 205/204 BC the Rhodians became involved in the Cretan War, fighting against Cretan pirates who disrupted trade in the region. The Cretans had the secret support of King Philip V, who sent to reinforce them 20 ships under the prefect Aitolos. In another act of intrigue against the Rhodians, Philip sent Heraclides Tarantino to Rhodes to destroy the Rhodian fleet. Heraclides succeeded in allaying the initial suspicion of the provosts of Rhodes by revealing Philip’s support for the Cretan pirates, and when his surveillance was relaxed, he managed to infiltrate the garrisoned naval port and destroy part of the Rhodian fleet by arson.

The last straw was the capture of Kios (202 BC) by Philip’s army, this act was considered a betrayal by the Rhodians who began to treat the Macedonian king as an enemy. Thus they found themselves fighting against him in the Second Macedonian War; in this war they achieved victories – such as in the naval battle of Chios – but also suffered losses – Philip campaigned in Caria and managed to capture several cities of the Rhodian Perea.

After the involvement of the Romans in this war (200 BC) an attempt was made to capitulate at a council in the city of Nicaea of Locris, in which the admiral Akesimbrotos represented Rhodes (198/197 BC). The failure of the synod led to Philip’s defeat at the battle of Kynos Kefales (197 BC) and the declaration of freedom and independence of all Greek cities in the Isthmias (July 196 BC).

The shrinking of Philip’s power gave the necessary space to the Seleucid king Antiochus III to expand first in Asia Minor and then in Greece. This expansion led to the Third Syrian War, in which Rhodes also took part, allying with the king of Pergamum Attalus I and the Romans. The end of the war, which was ratified by the treaty of Apameia (189/188 BC), resulted in the State of Rhodes reaching the point of its greatest territorial extent, expanding into Asia Minor, where beyond Perea, which formed an integral part of her state, she received the administration of all the cities of Caria and Lycia.

However, the new acquisitions bring big problems for Rhodes. Motivated by external factors as well, the Lycians refuse to accept Rhodian rule and revolt. Over the next 20 years the Rhodians will have to constantly suppress the Lycian rebellions, which will financially drain their state. In fact, Polybius comments that the Romans seem to have wanted, through this dispute with the Lycians, to weaken Rhodes economically.

And during the Third Macedonian War the Rhodians supported the Romans with their fleet. However, the Macedonian king Perseus managed to create a pro-Macedonian faction in the politicians of Rhodes.

Shortly before the end of the war the Rhodians decided to send ambassadors to Rome and Macedonia to propose peace. However, the embassy arrived in Rome after the defeat of Perseus and received a cold shower from the Senate, who knew of the action of the pro-Macedonian faction at Rhodes and told them “that they did not really desire an end to the war, but only wanted to save Perseus”. . In the following years the Rhodians repeatedly try to appease the Romans, who treat the Rhodians coldly. At some point, the praetor Markos Juventios Thalnas called the people to church and proposed declaring war on Rhodes.

Fortunately, the tribune Antonius removed him from the platform, but the Senate took strict decisions against Rhodes. Initially, it lost the cities of Caria and Lycia that had been granted to it by the treaty of Apameia. The most important blow was the declaration of failure for the port of Delos, which immediately led to the withering of the trade of Rhodes. Then, when they learned of the revolts in Caunus and Stratoniceia, the Romans ordered the removal of the Rhodian garrisons, even though both cities belonged to the Rhodian Perea.

After successive Rhodian embassies, with the positive testimony of Tiberius Gracchus, who testified that the Rhodians had obeyed all the orders of the Senate and that all the supporters of Perseus had been arrested and put to death, the Senate agreed to recognize Rhodes as an ally of Rome. So in 164 BC, Rhodes, which until then maintained friendly relations with all the powerful states without being bound by oaths of alliance with them, is recognized as a friend and ally of Rome. Accepting that henceforth it will have “common friends and enemies” with Rome, it essentially loses its independence, although it will retain its autonomy for a fairly long period of time.

Trying to adapt to the new reality and recover from the disaster she suffered in the previous years, Rhodes asks for the permission of the Senate to help Kalinda who had rebelled and was besieged by Kaunos. He also asks that the Rhodians who have property in Caria and Lycia be allowed to keep it as before; to “catch” the Romans they vote to erect a colossal statue of the Council of Rome 30 cubits high in the temple of Athena. With the positive response of the Senate, Rhodes sent an army and the Kaunians were forced to lift the siege; so Kalinda came under the protection of Rhodes. In 155 BC the former sea-kingdom State of Rhodia, trying to protect its trade from pirates, became involved in the Second Cretan War, but after a disastrous naval battle, it was forced to ask for Rome’s help to end the war.

And although in the following years it is limited to helping Rome militarily in its wars, Rhodes still retains the glamor of a great intellectual center; from the middle of the 2nd century BC. until the middle of the 1st century BC some of the greatest philosophers and rhetoricians of the time were active in Rhodes: Hipparchus of Rhodes, Panaetius, Poseidonius of Rhodes, Apollonius of Malakos, Apollonius of Molon, Andronikos of Rhodes and Geminus of Rhodes. Many Romans studied in Rhodes, such as the orator Cicero, the poet Lucretius, Julius Caesar and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

Alliance of Rhodes with Rome

The alliance of Rhodes with Rome will be the cause of the second great siege in its history by the king of Pontus Mithridates VI (88 BC) in the context of the First Mithridatic War. Once again, the Rhodians would manage to withstand a siege by an opponent with a larger army and force them to abandon their attempt. And then they will help the Romans with their navy, until the Pontic king is forced to capitulate (86/85 BC). But also a few years later, the Rhodians will help the Roman viceroy Pompey in his campaign to clear the Mediterranean of pirates (67 BC).

The Roman civil war after the assassination of Julius Caesar became the cause of the greatest looting in the history of Rhodes (42 BC). The Rhodians gave ships to Roman Dolavella who was fighting on the side of the triads Mark Antony, Lepidus and Octavian. A little later they refused to do the same for Cassius Longinus, who, after his victory over Dolavella, moved angrily against Rhodes.

The Rhodians sent Archelaus, who had been Cassius’ tutor while he was studying at Rhodes, to appease him and persuade him not to attack Rhodes. But this was not possible and after the defeat of the Rhodians in the naval battle of Myndos, Cassius besieged Rhodes by land and sea. This time, however, Rhodes was completely unprepared to withstand a siege and so the Rhodians surrendered. Cassius entered the city, sentenced 75 people to death and he cleansed all the temples of all the gold and silver they had and ordered private individuals to hand over their money to him.

Organization of the Rhodian State

As early as the Geometric/Archaic era, the three cities of Rhodes – Ialyssos, Kamiros and Lindos – had extended their territory beyond the island of Rhodes and had incorporated into their state neighboring islands – Kamiros Halki, Lindos Karpathos and Kasos, Ialyssos, Symi – as well as lands on the opposite coast of Asia Minor, in an area that became an integral part of the later Rhodian State and which the Rhodians called Peras (Perea). Each of the three cities had divided its territories – both those on the island of Rhodes and those on the surrounding islands and Peraia – into dams which were further subdivided into ktoines and each of them had to elect a master who participated in the administration of the city.

After the settlement of 408/407 BC. the city of Rhodes became the capital of a single state produced by the union of the territories and municipalities of the three old cities. At the head of the central authority of the State were the Chancellors. It was about 5 officials who were elected for a six-month term (with one of them having the role of chairman) and were based in the Rectorate.

The rectors were charged with hearing foreign embassies and negotiating with them, controlling, at least in the first degree, the foreign policy of Rhodes. As for the internal affairs of the state, they managed the day-to-day procedural matters of the city and directed the work of the Parliament (a body that also had a six-month term), which in turn determined the issues that would be put to a vote by the Damos (i.e. the people). . Such issues were the declaration of war, the conclusion of alliances, the election of officials, etc.

The three old cities of Rhodes continued to have a degree of formal self-government, since the mastros and the people of each city made decisions on procedural issues, such as the election of priests, sacrificial priests, etc. A similar formal self-government in internal matters seems to have been the islands that belonged to the territory of Rhodes (eg Karpathos).

It is worth noting that islands, such as Kos, Astypalaia, etc., did not belong to the territory of Rhodes, but were its allies, they were independent states that managed their own internal issues, but through the alliance they followed Rhodes in foreign policy . Historians estimate that around 220/200 BC. Rhodes formed such alliances with many of the islands of the Cyclades, partially re-establishing the so-called Common of the Islanders.

The biggest celebration of the Rhodian state was the Alia which was held in honor of the Sun god, the patron of Rhodes. The (Little) Fishes were held every year, while the (Great) Dipanamia Fishes were held in the month of Panamos II of the Rhodian calendar and it seems that they had a pan-Hellenic scope, since they were attended by scholars from other Greek cities.

Strabo, speaking of Rhodes in the first half of the 1st century AD, says that the Rhodians are “democratic” and not “democratic” and explains that the state takes care of feeding the poorest, so that it has the necessary population for to serve her fleet. And her youths are inaccessible to the crowd, and anyone who tries to spy or enters them will be punished with death.

Roman era

In the years following the great destruction suffered by Rhodes by Cassius Longinus, Octavian became the sole ruler of the Roman state and took the name Augustus, ushering in the period of the Roman Empire. Fortunately for Rhodes, Emperor Augustus allowed Rhodes to retain its formal autonomy. From 6 BC until 4 AD the successor of Augustus, Tiberius, lived on the island as a self-exile.

The second half of the 1st century AD it is a period when Rhodes often loses its autonomy with decision of the respective emperor. The beginning takes place in 44, when Claudius deprives the Rhodians of their freedom, because they condemned some Roman citizens to death on a cross. But in 52, Nero again allowed them to be governed according to the ancient customs. And again, in 70, Vespasian deprived Rhodes of its freedom, only for Titus to restore it in 79. Finally, Domitian deprived it in 81, before revoking his decision. According to tradition, in the second half of the 1st century AD. the Apostle Paul passed through the island and laid the foundation stone of the Christian church in Rhodes.

In the year 155 the cities of Caria, Lycia, Kos and Rhodes were completely destroyed by a great earthquake. Emperor Antoninus Pius spent large sums on their reconstruction. The next piece of information we have about Rhodes is that in 269 Rhodes was one of the cities attacked by the Goths. A few years later, in 279, the emperor Diocletian permanently united Rhodes with the province of the Islands, which belonged to the Administration of Asia.

Thus, as a provincial city of the Roman state, Rhodes passes into the Middle Ages. The information we have about Rhodes from here on is fragmentary, since the interest of historians is focused on Constantinople. In 344/345 Rhodes suffered great destruction from an earthquake, in 469/470 it was plundered by the tribe of the Isaurians, in 515 it was hit again by an earthquake, more destructive than the previous one. Emperor Anastasius made large donations for the relief of the survivors and saw to the reconstruction of the city. A positive account states that Rhodes produced good quality, light weight bricks (bricks) that were used in the construction of the dome of the Hagia Sophia.

Byzantine Era

In the early 7th century the Byzantine Empire was involved in a multi-year and exhausting war conflict with the Sassanid Empire. At a time when the Sassanid Persians were advancing, scoring repeated victories against the Byzantines, Rhodes was attacked and sacked by the forces of Chosroes II (620). The empire came to the brink of collapse, but in the end, Emperor Heraclius managed to impose himself on his opponents. The Arabs benefited from the weakening of the two great empires, who started the spread of Islam from the Arabian peninsula. So, after the Sassanid state had been overthrown, the Arab commander of Moab Syria launched a campaign against Constantinople.

In the context of this campaign, the governor of Moab, Abulavar, captured Rhodes (c. 653). It was then that the pieces of the destroyed Colossus were sold to a Jewish merchant from Edessa, Syria, who transported the copper on 900 camels. Rhodes remained under Arab rule until 679/680, when after the failed siege of Constantinople (674-678) the Arabs capitulated to the Byzantines. Then, it must have been incorporated into the Karavessian naval theme. The island suffered yet another sacking by the Arabs before the new siege of Constantinople (717-718), without being captured this time. The same happened at the beginning of the 9th century, plundered first by the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (807) and then by his son Al-Ma’mun.

Around 1089, a Seljuk Turkish former pirate in the service of the Byzantines, Tzahas, turned against the empire and, with Smyrna as his initial base, created an independent state by occupying islands of the Eastern Aegean (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Rhodes). Finally a force under the Grand Duke John Doukas, after first besieging him in Mytilene, managed to destroy his fleet (1092). Perhaps as a result of this campaign, or because of the death of Jachas, which occurred some months after this event, Rhodes was liberated.

Since the 10th century, the empire had granted many commercial privileges to maritime Latin states, such as Venice, Genoa, Pisa, etc., seeking the contribution of their fleet in its wars. These privileges ultimately had more of a negative impact than a positive one, since on the one hand they depleted its economy and on the other hand they allowed Latinos to function as a “state within a state”. And when the Byzantine emperors tried to revoke these privileges, the Latins (primarily the Venetians) began to plunder the islands (among them Rhodes) to put pressure on the respective emperor, who eventually gave in. A remarkable fact about Rhodes is that in 1191, the English king Richard the Lionheart and the French king Philip Augustus on their way to the Holy Land stopped on the island and collected food and mercenaries.

The penetration of the Latins into the empire fatally led to the Fall of Constantinople (1204). It is not clear whether it was a consequence of the lagoon or whether it preceded it, but historical sources testify that Rhodes became the center of an independent state, which also extended to some of the surrounding islands. The ruler of this state was Leo Gavalas, who used the title “Caesar” and again it is not clear if the title was conferred on him by an emperor or if Leo received it himself.

Then a mint was established in Rhodes – something the emperors did not allow – and copper coins were minted. The emperor of Nicaea, John III Duke of Vatatzis, launched a campaign against Rhodes under the Great Domestic Andronikos Palaiologos, forcing Leo to accept the suzerainty of Vatatzis, but retaining the title of Caesar. In August 1234, Gavalas made a treaty of alliance with the Venetians in which they committed themselves to mutual support if they were attacked by Vatatzis. However, when Ioannis Vatatzis unsuccessfully besieged Constantinople, Leo Gavalas was the leader of the fleet and fought against the Venetians.

Historians estimate that Leo Gavalas died around 1240 and that he was then succeeded by his brother, Ioannis Gavalas. Ioannis Gavalas seems not to have had the independence tendencies of his brother, since he used the title Authentis of Rhodes, while, possibly, Ioannis Gavalas had become the emperor’s son-in-law.

In the year 1248, while John Gavalas was fighting the Latins with the emperor’s army near Nicomedia, the city of Rhodes was suddenly captured by the Genoese. Immediately, the emperor sent to the island the Duke of Thrace, John Kantakouzenos, who with a small force captured the fortresses of Lindos and Filerimos; and as soon as he received reinforcements he began to besiege the capital in which the Genoese had been shut up.

It is estimated that the Genoese were ready to surrender, when the prince of Achaia, William II Villeardouinos, arrived on the island, forcing Cantacouzenos to lift the siege and retreat to Philerimos (May 1249). Villeardouin came to an agreement with the Genoese, leaving them reinforcements before he withdrew. Emperor Ioannis III Doukas Vatatzis reacted by sending the highly respected Theodoros Kontostefanos with reinforcements and clear instructions. Upon their arrival, they surprised the Latins who were plundering the countryside and killed them all. The Genoese remained closed in the city, but recognizing that they would not withstand another siege, they were forced to surrender the city in exchange for their safe departure.

The Genoese

The liberation of the city of Rhodes by the Genoese coincides, according to historians, with the death of Ioannis Gavalas and the end of their dynasty in Rhodes (1250). Since then, Rhodes came under the direct rule of the emperors of Nicaea. After the recapture of Constantinople by Michael VIII Palaiologos and the reconstitution of the Byzantine Empire, Michael granted Rhodes and Lesvos as private possessions to his brother John (1261). From 1275 to 1278 Rhodes was ruled by a Krivikian in 1278 Rhodes and the surrounding islands were ruled by the Genoese corsair Giovanni de lo Cavo, at that time Seljuk Turks from the opposite coast managed to capture part of Rhodes; around 1305 the emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos granted Rhodes, Karpathos and Cassos to the Genoese corsair Andrea Morisco and his brother Ludovico as a reward for their services in the emperor’s battles against the Catalans and Turks. However, as early as 1306 Karpathos and Kasos would come under the control of the Venetian Cornaro family; Andrea Morisco continued to fight on the side of the Byzantines against the Catalans and the Venetians until his capture and execution in Cyprus (1308). At the same time another Genoese, Vignolo Vignoli made an agreement with the Knights Hospitallers for the capture of Rhodes, which would eventually take several years to complete (1306-1309).

Knights of St. John

In the turbulent period of the early 14th century for the Byzantine Empire, the Genoese Vignolo Vignoli, who owned estates in Kos, Leros and Lardo in Rhodes, made an agreement with the Grand Master of the Knights of St. John Fulk de Villare to occupy together Rhodes and the surrounding islands (May 17, 1306). The agreement stipulated that Vignoli would cede his estates in Kos and Leros to the Knights, but would retain Lardo and another estate of his choice in Rhodes. Also, the taxes would be distributed by 1/3 to Vignoli and by 2/3 to the Johnites. So, on June 23, 1306, the Johnnite forces sailed from Limassol, Cyprus, where the Order had been since 1291 – and first occupied Kastellorizo. Their first ventures in Rhodes and Kos were not successful.

On September 20 they occupied Faraklou castle and on November 11 the fortress of Filerimos. Until March-April 1307 the Knights had attempted, unsuccessfully, three times to capture the city of Rhodes. The Johnites asked the emperor Andronikos II to cede Rhodes to them in recognition of his suzerainty and in return they would provide him with knights whenever he asked for them – but the emperor refused and ordered reinforcements to be prepared for Rhodes.

Villare left Rhodes in August 1307 and traveled to the West securing support for his cause. He remained in the West for 2 years – during which time the Johnites had conquered all the countryside, but not the city of Rhodes, and on his return he brought with him large reinforcements. Finally, the city of Rhodes surrendered on August 15, 1309.

Rhodes was ruled, from 1309 to 1522, by a total of 19 Grand Masters, the following: Fulk de Villaret, Elion de Villeneuve, Theodotus de Gozon, Petros de Cornelian, Roger de Pen, Raymond Beranger, Robert de Zillac, Ferdinand de Herendia, Philibert de Nalliac, Antonios Fluvian, John de Lastic, Jacobus de Milly, Petros Raim. Jacosta, John Battista Orsini, Peter d’Aubuchon, Emery d’Aboise, Guy de Blanchefort, Fabricius Carretto, and Philippe Villiers de Lisle-Adam.

During the stay of the Knights in Rhodes, the fortifications were extended, modernized and constantly strengthened. A hospital, a palace, several churches were some of the many public buildings erected at this time. These buildings are remarkable examples of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Despite all the friction with the Ottoman Empire, sea trade was a source of wealth and the city’s markets were thriving. During the period of the Knights’ occupation the island of Rhodes was in a period of prosperity and the relations between the Knights and the locals were characterized by tolerance and often by close cooperation.

Most of the streets of the medieval city coincide with the streets of the ancient city while the division of the city into two zones was preserved. The battalion in Rhodes kept a very well organized archive which included documents issued by the commanding authorities, correspondence, legal documents etc. This file is preserved to this day and is preserved in the National Library of Malta. This archive is a valuable source of information for this period.

The city was divided into two zones by an inner wall. The northern part which was known as Chastel, Chateau, Castrum, Castellum or Conventus, where stood the Grand Master’s palace, the Catholic cathedral and the residence of the Catholic bishop, the lodgings of the “tongues”, the residences of the Knights, a hospital etc. The southern part known as the ville, burgus or burgum was the area where the laity lived and included the market, synagogues, churches as well as public and commercial buildings. In 1522 the city was conquered by Suleiman the Magnificent.

Turkish rule

The Turkish rule in Rhodes formally begins on January 1, 1523, with the departure of the Knights from the island, and ends on May 5, 1912, with the occupation of the city by the Italians, lasting almost four centuries.

In December 1522, the Knights, unable to withstand the months-long siege, which was personally overseen by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent, were forced to capitulate the surrender of Rhodes and the rest of their possessions in the southeastern Aegean. Although some janissaries disobeyed the sultan’s orders and stormed the city on 25 December carrying out looting, looting and rape, the punishment of the offenders limited the deviations in the surrender of the city.

Suleiman himself entered the city two days later, on December 27, and immediately negotiations began between the two sides as to what the Knights would take with them and what would remain on the island. On January 1, 1523, the Knights boarded their ships and, followed by 3,000-4,000 Rhodians, left the island.

On the same day Suleiman prayed in the church of Saint John the Forerunner and the “Hatti Serifi” was read with which the temple was converted into a mosque. The Sultan remained on the island until January 25, and during this time he tried to organize his new possession. He set the tax, established madrasahs, imarets, appointed imams and determined the waqfs. He cared for the wounded of the war, gave pay and distributed rewards to the officials. When he left, he left the janissary Ibrahim Aga in charge of the island.

As mentioned above, 3,000-4,000 Greeks left Rhodes with the Knights. Those who remained in the city were forced to leave their homes and move outside its fortified part. Although Greeks were not allowed to reside within the walled part of the city, they were allowed to enter during the day to work. Some even kept shops. In any case, at night they had to pass outside the walls before the gates were closed, for there was a guard who threatened offenders with severe punishment.

In the countryside beyond the city of Rhodes, the population lived in villages and was purely Greek. The Turkish settlers eventually created settlements outside the walls, on the outskirts of the city.

A very important element for the Hellenism of Rhodes and all the other islands was the exemption of Christians from child molestation, which seems to have been one of the conditions of capitulation. In an attempt to stop the wave of Greeks and foreigners fleeing the islands, the sultan decided on a five-year exemption from paying taxes, while skilled artisans as well as warriors received tempting offers from Turkish officials not to leave. During the Turkish occupation, Rhodes was the seat of a separate province, Sandzaki of Rhodes.

Italian rule

In 1912 Italian troops occupy Rhodes and the rest of the Dodecanese. The Italians are welcomed as liberators by the inhabitants of the island, who hope that the occupation will be temporary. But the Italians envisioned the annexation of Rhodes and the other islands to Italy and prevented any unification movement with the rest of Greece. In the First World War, the Entente promised Italy the official recognition of the occupation as permanent, a fact that was sealed with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

The commanders Mario Lago initially and de Vecchi then implemented a policy of alienation of the islands. The administrative and judicial power is exercised by Italians, the official language is Italian, the teaching of Greek is abolished, trade and industry are in Italian hands. Of course, for reasons of tourist exploitation of the island, a number of public works are carried out. During the Second World War, Italy capitulates after being defeated and the Italian occupation is followed by the German one.