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Guillaume Caoursin (1430-1501), son of a Rhodian, was born in Douai, and spent forty years in the service of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, as vice-chancellor and secretary to the grand-masters Raimond Zacosta, Giovanni Baptista Orsini and Pierre d’Aubussson. He distinguished himself during the Turkish siege of Rhodes in 1479, and undertook a critical mission to the Holy See in 1484 when he delivered his well-known oration to Pope Innocent VIII in February 1485.

"Siege of Rhodes" scene from Gestorum Rhodiae obsidionis commentarii (1481)
“Siege of Rhodes” scene from Gestorum Rhodiae obsidionis commentarii (1481)

The work is comprised of ten sections, and all but the first, concerning the siege of Rhodes in 1480, appear here for the first time. These sections include descriptions of: the earthquake also in 1480, the author’s speech before the Rhodian Senate concerning the death of Sultan Mohammed II in 1481, the conflicts over the succession between the brothers Bagyazit (Beyazıt /Bayezid) and Zyzymy (Dschem /Cem), the alliance between the Knights of St. John and Bajesid, the fate of Dschem, the translation of the reliquary with the hand of St. John the Baptist from Constantinople to Rhodes, the famous speech of Caoursin before Pope Innocent VIII, and the appearance of Dschem before the same pontiff. Read more …

Reach further details… Download a 1480 copy or a 1496 copy… Or reach a book evaluating the content of Caorsin’s writings: “Hospitaller Piety and Crusader Propaganda – Guillaume Caoursin’s Description of the Ottoman Siege of Rhodes, 1480” by Theresa M. Vann.

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