The Tale of Anastasia of Rhodes

By Journey to Greece on August 1, 2018

As you enter the main yard of the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights in Rhodes, on your left, under lush trees and colorful plants, there is a small sitting area. On the wall, an abstract from De bello Rhodio by Jacobi Fontani, a medieval book describing the Wars fought by the Knights Hospitaliers in Rhodes, against the Ottoman Empire.

The abstract, a fine porcelain reproduction of the original book, reads in Latin and Greek, and it talks about the “Death of Anastasia”. Anastasia was a local woman, married to an English Knight, Kensington, leader of the Tongue of England. During the Siege of Rhodes by Suleiman the Magnificent, in 1522, the siege that ultimately led to the surrender of the islands to the Turks and the departure of the Knights to their next home, Malta, Kensington was killed. Anastasia, then, decided to take his place, wore his armor and continued fighting.

rhodes-greece knights

The text on the wall, reads:

“A Greek woman, holding in her arms her two beautiful and loving children, with motherly love she kissed them and crossed their heads, while they were crying, those poor unfortunate souls. With a knife, the unbroken woman slaughtered them, while they writhed and their soul was pouring down with their blood, and with everything she hold dear, she threw them to a high fire, for their living or dead bodies not to become spoils in the hands of the enemy.

With these words, she wore the cape, the one already full of blood, and throws herself against the enemy. And this exceptional warrior, a heroine, whose memory should always be remembered, among the thick lines of the enemy, boldly fighting like a man, she fell.”

Tales like the one of Anastasia, confirmed being true by multiple sources, give us hints of the struggle of thousands of men that tried to defend or were capture at the beautiful island of Rhodes, a living monument to this day. The glorious fortifications we gaze today where built to protect Rhodes and its people from various enemies, and within these very walls, a multicultural heritage emerged, visible even to the most unsuspected eye.

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