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Le Sens des formes dans l’Europe d’Ancien Régime
2. Éloge et auto-promotion : quelles formes mettre ?

Hospitaller Aesthetics: The Self-Fashioning of a Supranational Military Religious Order

L’esthétique des chevaliers-hospitaliers, ou comment un ordre religieux et militaire façonne son image
Ranieri Moore Cavaceppi

Résumés

L’ordre de l’Hôpital de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem fut fondé à la fin du XIe siècle pour porter secours aux pèlerins malades et indigents en Terre sainte. Sa mission s’élargit au XIIe siècle au domaine militaire, pour soutenir les Croisés dans le Levant. Les activités des Hospitaliers se divisèrent ainsi en deux, guerrières d’une part, religieuses de l’autre. Cet article examine la manière délibérée dont, pour des raisons de survie géopolitique, la hiérarchie de l’ordre a façonné son image par le biais de livres et d’œuvres d’arts produits dans plusieurs centaines de résidences hospitalières, ou commanderies, établies à travers l’Europe. Le décor et les activités de ces commanderies renforçaient l’image de la piété hospitalière, tout en aidant à financer de nouvelles incursions militaires en Méditerranée. Depuis le premier siège de Rhodes en 1480 jusqu’au « Grand Siège » de Malte en 1565, l’image soigneusement construite des chevaliers en défenseurs de la chrétienté a servi de vitrine aux valeurs de l’ordre. La Description du siège de Rhodes de Guillaume Caoursin (1480), le retable réalisé par Geertgen tot Sint Jans aux Pays Bas (vers 1485), le cycle de fresques de Pinturicchio dans la Libreria Piccolomini à la cathédrale de Sienne (1502-1507), l’Oppugnation de Rhodes de Jacques de Bourbon (1525), et les Ricordi de Sabba da Castiglione (1546) sont quelques exemples parmi d’autres des productions littéraires et artistiques conçues pour exprimer la stabilité de l’ordre hospitalier. Une imagerie durable fut ainsi disséminée dans les commanderies, où les chevaliers s’appliquaient à répondre aux besoins de l’ordre tout en protégeant son indépendance à l’égard des nobles comme des autorités épiscopales.

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1. Origins

  • 1 Circa 1070, a group of merchants from the Italian port city of Amalfi, with the aid of Benedictine (...)
  • 2 See Anthony Luttrell, “The Spiritual Life of the Hospitallers of Rhodes”, Die Spiritualität der Rit (...)
  • 3 J. Riley-Smith, op. cit., p. 21.

1The Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem was founded in the late eleventh century to assist sick and indigent pilgrims in the Holy Land.1 After the First Crusade (1096-1099), its mission expanded to include fighting alongside crusaders, first in the Holy Land, then in Rhodes, from which it fought Ottomans for over two hundred years until 1522 and the eventual relocation to Malta. Hospitaller activities became bifurcated, exhibiting both warlike functions and daily prayers. Hospitallers included priests, knights, sergeants, and nuns, all of whom took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They were Latin religious of the Roman Church that came closest to being canons by way of adopting a mixed but mostly Augustinian Rule approved by the papacy.2 Knights were expected to fight and worship. Knights were not monks and did not lead a cloistered existence, nor were they simply volunteer crusaders, since their vows lasted a lifetime. They were, along with the Templars, milites Christi, or soldiers of Christ; both orders had developed as such in order to defend Christian interests in Jerusalem. The Hospital’s foundation charter, in the form of the letter “Pie postulatio voluntatis” (“The Most Pious Request”), was written in 1113 by Pope Paschal II for the purpose of establishing parity of privilege with other religious communities and protection from financial impositions by secular authorities (fig. 1).3

Figure 1. Pope Pascal II’s 1113 bull, “Pie postulatio voluntatis”, formally recognising the Hospitaller Order. National Library of Malta in Valletta, Malta.

2This paper provides examples of deliberate self-fashioning by the Order’s hierarchy by means of notable books and artworks produced in several Hospitaller commanderies throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. The decor and activities in these domiciles reinforced Hospitaller piety and helped finance forays into the Mediterranean battle zone. From the first siege of Rhodes in 1480 to the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, a carefully crafted image of the knights as defenders of Christendom showcased core Hospitaller values. Guillaume Caoursin’s Description of the Siege of Rhodes (1480), Geertgen tot Sint Jans’ altarpiece in the Low Countries (ca. 1485), Pinturicchio’s fresco cycle in the Piccolomini Library of the Duomo in Siena (1502-1507), Jacques de Bourbon’s Oppugnation de Rhodes (1525), and fra Sabba da Castiglione’s Ricordi (1546) are but some of the newfound vehicles for expressing the stability of the Order under the influences of the printing press and naturalistic Renaissance painting techniques.

2. Early Imagery and Representation

  • 4 For a useful synopsis of medieval Italian knightly iconography from 1250 to 1480, see Marjatta Saks (...)
  • 5 Franco Cardini, Le guerre di primavera. Studi sulla cavalleria e la tradizione cavalleresca, Floren (...)

3Western Europe produced an abundance of knightly representations during the Middle Ages. These artworks celebrated the duties, ideals, and ethos of knighthood in its various forms – freelance crusader knights, Hospitallers, Templars – and portrayed the ideal knight’s general comportment as manifested or imagined by the knightly class, pious patrons, or even the artist himself.4 The medieval knightly class exchanged ideas and values within its own community and among peers of the individual knight’s home region, creating a broad spectrum of behavior and ethos as well as a multiplicity of iconic representations in a variety of media and styles.5

Figure 2. Unknown artist, detail of the Four Knights of Philerimos fresco panel, ca. 1360-1380. Subterranean Chapel of St. George of Philerimos, Rhodes, Greece.

  • 6 Elias Kollias, The Knights of Rhodes: The Palace and the City, Athens, Ekdotike Athenon, 1994, p. 3 (...)
  • 7 The etymology of Collachium derives from the Latin verb colligere – to gather, border, or delineate (...)
  • 8 E. Kollias, The Knights of Rhodes, op. cit., p. 37-40.
  • 9 See Elias Kollias, The City of Rhodes and the Palace of the Grand Master, Athens, Ministry of Cultu (...)
  • 10 For a description of the four knights of Philerimos, see Jean-Bernard de Vaivre, “Peintures murales (...)
  • 11 E. Kollias, The City of Rhodes, op. cit., p. 104-105.

4Of great significance is the two-hundred-and-thirteen-year dominance by Francocentric Hospitaller knights on Rhodes after its capture in 1309, which fostered a burgeoning of the arts that would be noticed by visiting artisans and knights.6 By the fifteenth century, the town of Rhodes was sharply divided into two sections: the Collachium, the residence compound of the European knights, and the lower town comprised of Greek inhabitants.7 The Hospitaller citadel was enclosed by walls within which were the Palace of the Grand Master, the arsenal, the Church of St. John, and the hospital; along its main thoroughfare were auberges, or Hospitaller lodgings representing the eight European tongues, in essence the geographical divisions of the Order. As with other Frankish-held territories of Greece, Rhodes under the Hospitallers became a hodgepodge of art that might be classified either as Western, Byzantine-Palaeologan (mainly Greek Orthodox with a propensity for panel icons), or eclectic, a hybrid form that intermingles iconographic and stylistic traits of both Byzantine and Western art.8 In all, some seventy-six pictorial complexes remain in Rhodes today that were there before the 1522 Hospitaller exodus; about fifty were painted between 1309 and 1522.9 Originally emanating from the Balkans to Cyprus and Crete in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the unknown painters of these compositions produced a distinctive Hospitaller iconography. These murals or frescoes often depict knightly saints and designs fashioned from geometric motifs (pillars, arches, diamonds, and circles). The compositions and themes span a wide range and frequently display boldness in style and content. The art appears to be an amalgamation of regional genres adapted to express various cultural topoi. This hybridism is best exemplified by the surviving, yet heavily damaged, frescoes in the subterranean Chapel of St. George of Philerimos in Rhodes, among which are found on the southern wall four knights kneeling in prayer, resplendent in red and white military garb and surrounded by shields (fig. 2).10 Knights appear to be the patrons of this fresco panel, and while the panel may not depict actual Hospitallers, the imagery probably suited the aesthetic tastes of both the Franks and the Greeks on the island: a modest amount of shape, form, and distance is depicted with the kneeling knights, which eschews some of the linearity and stasis found in Eastern art.11 The artwork is still juxtaposed, however, with the Byzantine two-dimensionality and a broad, repetitive assimilation of motifs, most especially the assortment of shields and Silene chalcedonica flowers (now more commonly known as Maltese-cross plants for their resemblance to that emblem).

Figure 3. Le Roumans du petit Renart de moralité [Renart le Nouvel], Jacquemart Giélée, fourteenth century. MS Paris BNF français 372, f. 59r.

  • 12 See Damien Carraz, “À l’orée d’une enquête: images peintes et lieux de culte des ordres militaires (...)
  • 13 Jacquemart Giélée, Renart le Nouvel, ed. Henri Roussel, Paris, Société des anciens textes français, (...)
  • 14 Anthony Luttrell, “Iconography and Historiography: The Italian Hospitallers before 1530”, Sacra Mil (...)
  • 15 A. Luttrell, “The Spiritual Life”, op. cit., p. 83-84. See also Ludovica Sebregondi, “Commende Gero (...)

5The absence of a more uniform Hospitaller iconography during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is problematic for scholars. While portrayals of kneeling, standing, marching, or fighting knights do appear in various illuminated manuscripts and frescoes of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Europe and the Levant, the images are often integrated into scenes of local saints and noble benefactors. This absence of easily identifiable imagery can be explained, in part, by the very fact that the Order did not actively promote the saints chosen from its ranks, nor did it exalt its early leaders to the outside world, including Blessed Gerard, who while venerated as the purported founder of the Order was never recognised as a saint by the Church.12 The extant Hospitaller images of the 1200s and 1300s, specifically paintings, frescoes, and illuminations, appear largely subordinate to a larger narrative, such as the tales of Renart le Nouvel in Jacquemart Giélée’s 1289 version, a satirical epic tale mocking the scruples of both the Templars and Hospitallers (figs. 3 and 4).13 Alternatively, a Hospitaller Knight might be standing in attendance on the papal court as depicted in a 1360s Florentine fresco, a show of pious service established in the thirteenth century when Hospitallers and Templars acted as cubicularii, the personal attendants and private guards to the pontiff.14 In either scenario, however, the Order’s depiction is merely ancillary, and its primary mission in the Mediterranean is not described at all, in most cases because the brethren are not commissioning these works. The knights are merely an interesting sideshow in the depiction of more prominent figures. Indeed, until the early 1400s, Hospitaller iconography generated by its membership had been generally limited to visual representations of John the Baptist, the Archangel Michael, Catherine of Alexandria, the Virgin Mary, and a few regional saints such as Fleur of Beaulieu and Ugo of Genoa.15

Figure 4. Detailed illustration portraying Renart the Fox alongside a Hospitaller and a Templar after being made Master of both institutions. Le Roumans du petit Renart de moralité [Renart le Nouvel], Jacquemart Giélée, fourteenth century. MS Paris BNF français 372, f. 59r.

  • 16 Jean-Bernard de Vaivre points to fragmentary epitaphs and heraldic imagery at the Commandery of Epa (...)
  • 17 Anna-Maria Kasdagli, “Hospitaller Rhodes: The Epigraphic Evidence”, in Karl Borchardt, Nikolas Jasp (...)
  • 18 A.-M. Kasdagli, op. cit., p. 116-128. Toward the end of the fifteenth century, the epitaphs evolved (...)

6The brethren began to have tombs with personalised epigraphy in significant numbers after 1400, when decorative personal burial sites for knights began to be commissioned in parts of Europe: either tomb slabs with the Hospital’s arms or the family heraldry of individual knights. Sometimes both shields were included side by side or with the Hospitaller cross superimposed on the edge of the family crest.16 Extant Hospitaller inscriptions in Rhodes are mostly funerary epitaphs and number roughly one hundred, if pieces now held in Paris and Istanbul are included.17 Latin is the predominant language of the inscriptions on the island, followed by French and the occasional Italian and Spanish. The vast majority of the textual inscriptions are epitaphs from the 1400s and early 1500s and follow a general formula: hic iacet followed by a general description of the deceased (for example, nobilis or reverendus dominus frater), then proper family names, followed by offices held (prior, preceptor hospitalerius, etc.), the date of death (qui obiit anno domini), and the obligatory cuius anima requiescat in pace amen.18

  • 19 H. J. A. Sire, The Knights of Malta, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1994, p. 169.

7The Hospitaller Order still had no clearly defined (or uniform) artistic imagery before the 1480s, when important military events in the Levant, the introduction of the printing press, and increased art patronage helped infuse a new programmatic visual identity into the Order. An urgent desire to memorialise one’s knightly deeds for posterity occurred among the Hospitaller hierarchy of the 1500s, producing a proliferation of effigy tombs and frescoes throughout Europe, as the Order faced the increasing necessity for European commanderies to provide funding for the Order’s military activities in its Mediterranean outposts.19 Individual preceptors began to adorn their domains with embellishments designed to impress upon visitors – especially potential donors – the importance of the Hospitaller military mission.

Figure 5. “Guillelmus Caoursin Rhodiorum Vicecancellarius Historiam edidit”,Guillaume Caoursin, Rhodian vice-chancellor, writing his history”. Woodcut illustration in Guillaume Caoursin’s 1496 Rhodiorum historia, Ulm, Johann Reger, 24 October 1496, f. 60r. National Library of Malta in Valletta, Malta.

3. Renaissance Iconography

A. Guillaume Caoursin

  • 20 Guillaume Caoursin, Obsidionis Rhodiae urbis descriptio, Venice, Ernst Ratdolt, 1480. The first edi (...)
  • 21 H. J. A. Sire, op. cit., p. 54-55. See also Guillaume Caoursin, Rhodiorum historia (1480-89), Ulm, (...)
  • 22 T. Vann and D. Kagay, op. cit., p. ix-xiii.
  • 23 The illustrations found in later editions of Caoursin’s Descriptio have little in common with a ric (...)
  • 24 T. Vann and D. Kagay, op. cit., p. 70-71.

8Guillaume Caoursin (1430-1501) wrote an account of the 1480 Siege of Rhodes, the Descriptio obsidionis Rhodiae, which would set the stage for an unofficial codification of Hospitaller imagery by means of its colorful illustrations in later fifteenth-century editions, all to commemorate a pivotal moment in the Order’s history.20 A graduate of the University of Paris, Caoursin already had more than twenty years of professional experience in the Order’s Chancery keeping precise records as its Vice-Chancellor when he composed and published a 1480 Latin account of the siege in humanistic script just months after it occurred. This publication of the Descriptio brought great attention to the Order: Hospitaller membership in the Convent proper increased by over one-third, and young men like Sabba da Castiglione, a Lombard knight, would flock to the storied Rhodes citadel to serve in its defense during the early 1500s.21 This description marks the first attempt after the fifteenth-century Gutenberg printing revolution to provide a Hospitaller history describing a successful military engagement. Caoursin’s Descriptio was designed and composed in Rhodes, with nine different publishers in Europe printing it before 1500, showcasing the knights as the true defenders of Christendom in the Eastern Mediterranean.22 Caoursin even reprinted the Descriptio in his 1496 Rhodiorum historia, which had now become not only a textual compendium but also an illustrated description of historical works.23 This latter work contained an account of the 1481 Dodecanese earthquake, orations concerning Pope Innocent VIII and Sultan Mehmet II, and a description of the removal of St. John the Baptist’s hand from Constantinople to Rhodes – all in an effort to construct a cultural identity of the intertwined history concerning the Order, the Roman Curia, and the Ottoman court. The 1496 Ulm edition provides thirty-six woodcut illustrations (nine of which depict the Descriptio), a culmination of the author’s key rhetorical objectives not only to enhance the Order’s stature but also to provide visual comprehension. While Caoursin only changed the spelling of a few words from the original 1480 siege account, he added numerous illustrations to divide the Rhodiorum historia by chapters, with the author’s image bookending both the frontispiece and colophon.24 Indeed, the anonymous woodcut artist’s depictions provide a chronological imagery of events alongside Caoursin’s timely captions.

  • 25 See Vincent J. Flynn, “The Intellectual Life of Fifteenth-Century Rhodes”, Traditio, 2, 1944, p. 23 (...)

9Increased Hospitaller awareness of the printed text aimed to convince the influential humanist advisers in the European courts that Rhodes needed support. Caoursin’s texts and the accompanying illustrations portray the Order as valiant, pious, and educated, as evidenced, for example, in the author’s 1496 woodcut depiction, despite the fact that few of its members were actually scholars or learned men in the Rhodian Central Convent (fig. 5).25 Ottoman expansion was very worrisome at the European courts, yet a coordinated passagium, or crusading expedition, was unlikely in the near future, leaving the Hospitallers as the last effective bulwark in the East. The 1480 Siege made the Order not only relevant as a military organisation but also as a cura animarum, a charitable and medical institution helping others in the Mediterranean, essentially a religious model based on providing spiritual and social support to both the West and the East. Thus, the Hospitaller estates in the West had to produce wealth and transfer men and resources to sustain the knights, their retainers, and the poor in the East. The Order’s brethren clergy represented an important element in nearly all houses in the West and in the conventual church at Rhodes, with a duty to celebrate the canonical liturgy and masses. The priests and the knights were part of the same organisation, and although the knights did not share the priests’ status, they belonged to an unusual clerical estate both in how they perceived themselves and in how they were perceived by others. The Order would take every opportunity henceforth to enlighten prospective donors and supporters, the message being that Hospitallers could defeat the Turks if they had sufficient backing.

Figure 6. Polyptych oil on panel, ca. 1485, The Burning and Restitution of the Bones of the Baptist, Geertgen tot Sint Jans. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

B. Geertgen tot Sint Jans

  • 26 Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, trans. William G. Ryan, vol. 2, Princeton, Princeton Univer (...)
  • 27 The Hospitallers had received the arm in 1484 from Constantinople, where it had been since 956 when (...)

10The Haarlem commandery in Holland, for example, commissioned an altarpiece by the artist Geertgen tot Sint Jans (ca. 1465-ca. 1495) around 1485, of which two panels survive. In The Burning and Restitution of the Bones of the Baptist panel, the Haarlem Hospitallers chose to publicise not only the 1480 victory over the Ottomans but also the possession of St. John the Baptist’s relics (fig. 6). The scene depicts the original burial of the decapitated body of the saint and the subsequent burning of his bones around 362 at the behest of Emperor Julian the Apostate, represented anachronistically as a Turk on the right. Several priest-brethren handle the arm and finger saved from the flames, for which monks from Jerusalem traveled to the tomb of the Baptist outside Jerusalem, a hagiographical reference to The Golden Legend and saintly lore.26 In this altarpiece, the real and the legendary mingle: the patron saint’s relics are safeguarded, and the origin myths of the Order are expanded with pseudo-historical deeds. The diplomatic gift of St. John’s relics by Sultan Bayezid II, as part of a larger treaty with the Order, is presumably acknowledged; pagan Romans are portrayed as infidel Turks or perhaps vice versa, and knights act as monks throughout the panel – a reasonable assumption considering the religious nature of the organisation. In this particular instance, the “translation of relics” motif in Haarlem followed the wide dissemination of Caoursin’s siege account and his May 1484 diplomatic mission to Constantinople in order to authenticate the bestowed relics. Caoursin would then fully describe this acquisition of the relics in the 1496 Rhodian History, in tandem with three detailed illustrations of the key protagonists.27

Figure 7. Fresco by Pinturicchio, detail of Kneeling Knight in Armor, 1504-1506. Siena Duomo, Chapel of St. John the Baptist.

C. Pinturicchio

  • 28 For an insightful retrospective on Pinturicchio and his masterpieces in the Siena Cathedral, see Sa (...)

11The first mural representations in Europe that depict Hospitallers on the island of Rhodes are found in the Siena Cathedral. Of three frescoes painted between 1504 and 1506 depicting Hospitallers wearing either plain black Hospitaller frocks or full military armor and surcoats, two show a Rhodian background. Their painter, Bernardino di Betto detto il Pinturicchio (ca. 1454-1513), learned his techniques as an assistant for Perugino, crafting courtly images that display a passion for antiquity and present a solemn representation of public life.28

  • 29 Frank A. D’Accone, The Civic Muse: Music and Musicians in Siena during the Middle Ages and the Rena (...)

12A pair of frescoes in the left transept of the Siena Cathedral, located in the chapel of San Giovanni, show fra Alberto Aringhieri, first as a young man in military garb and then as an older man in a black Hospitaller cloak. Aringhieri had been appointed superintendent of the Cathedral works in 1480, a position he still held at the time the Pinturicchio frescoes were commissioned.29 The Kneeling Knight in Armor portrays Aringhieri as an attractive young Hospitaller Knight on his knees in prayer visible in profile (allowing a better view of his layered garments) in full military attire (fig. 7). He wears a suit of plate armor beneath a loose scarlet surcoat with a Hospitaller white cross on its chest; his ornately plumed helmet rests nearby. The fresco probably shows Aringhieri during his obligatory “caravan” tour of duty in Rhodes, sometime around the failed 1480 Ottoman assault. In the background is the Rhodian Convent and its inner harbor. The so-called Aringhieri with the Cloak of the Order of the Knights of Malta depicts Alberto Aringhieri piously kneeling in contemporary Hospitaller garb of black under-robe and black mantle with an eight-pointed cross on the left breast (fig. 8). He wears a black skullcap, and his hands are clasped together in prayer; the fortified city of Rhodes is visible and clearly labelled in the background. By the first decade of the sixteenth century, Hospitaller activities in the Eastern Mediterranean were now showcased in a straightforward manner for the worshipping crowds of the faithful, with little rhetorical ambiguity as to meaning and purpose, a visual characteristic that would continue throughout the 1500s.

Figure 8. Fresco by Pinturicchio, 1504-1506, Alberto Aringhieri with the Cloak of the Order of the Knights of Malta, with Rhodes in the background. Siena Duomo, Chapel of St. John the Baptist.

Figure 9. “La Grande et merueilleuse et trescruelle oppugnation de la noble cite de Rhodes, prinse naguieres par Sultan Seliman a present grand Turcq, ennemy de la tressaincte foy Catholicque, redigee par escript, par excellent et noble cheualier Frere Jacques bastard de Bourbon, commandeur de sainct Mauluiz, Doysemont, et Fonteynes, au prieure de France”, Paris, 1525, title page. University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville.

D. Jacques de Bourbon

  • 30 Jacques de Bourbon, La Grande et merueilleuse et trescruelle oppugnation de la noble cite de Rhodes (...)
  • 31 Marie-Paule Loicq-Berger, “L’Oppugnation de Rhodes de Jacques de Bourbon: un texte à découvrir”, Re (...)
  • 32 Pascale Barth, French Encounters with the Ottomans, 1510-1560, London and New York, Routledge, 2016 (...)
  • 33 Whether or not the Franco-Ottoman agreements were actually signed in 1536, their diplomatic discuss (...)
  • 34 David Nicolle, Knights of Jerusalem, Oxford, Osprey Publishing, 2008, p. 194.
  • 35 The Oppugnation de Rhodes is Bourbon’s only published work, which was written in French and first p (...)

13Jacques de Bourbon (1466-1537), an illegitimate son of Louis de Bourbon, the Prince-Bishop of Liège, wrote the most trusted of the four Hospitaller chronicles describing the 1522 siege of Rhodes.30 In the account, Bourbon describes the events leading to the siege (including Suleiman’s ultimatum letter to the Order inscribed verbatim), preparations for battle, various descriptions of battle, negotiations for the eventual capitulation, and the departure of the knights from their beloved island. The account ends in January 1524 with the arrival of the Hospitallers to temporary quarters in Viterbo. A knight since 1503 and a future Grand Prior of France, Bourbon kept a detailed account of the six-month-long siege, which best encapsulates the survival instincts of the Order. After the capture of Rhodes, Bourbon accompanied the Order’s leadership to central Italy, southern France, Malta, and finally Paris, where he died in 1537. His 1525 Oppugnation de Rhodes comprises the most detailed information regarding the number of troops, military preparations, and assaults, as well as (supposed) eyewitness accounts of the Hospitaller Grand Council’s many hasty deliberations (fig. 9). While personal interjections, detailed meetings, and accusations against adversaries (and fellow knights) are to be taken cum grano salis, the author exhibits substantial restraint in describing Ottoman objectives. As Marie-Paule Loicq-Berger cogently remarks, the erudite knight was treading a delicate geopolitical tightrope between François I, Charles V, and the Roman Curia, not to mention the ever-expanding Ottoman sphere of influence.31 The Order’s main objective at this point was sheer survival, so Bourbon describes the knights as honorable yet heavily outmanned, the Ottoman adversary as powerful and determined, and the Christian monarchs as essential to the mission. The Ottomans are not disparaged as one might have expected: warlike preparations and military tenacity are emphasised, ongoing discussions and general scheming on both sides are discussed, and the generous safe conduct from Rhodes provided by the sultan is amply noted. Bourbon accepts the Ottomans as part of God’s ordained plans and as God’s punishment for a highly fractured and quarrelsome Christian Europe.32 The Ottomans are highly organised soldiers who strategise, adapt to circumstances, and extend justice in a mostly deliberate manner, always mindful of the exigencies needed for military success. Bourbon may have determined the path of least resistance, for he is indirectly beseeching future help from the Christian leaders of Europe to help the Order regain a home base and maintain its raison d’être in the Mediterranean. He also does not besmirch the opponent’s decision-making to any great degree, fully aware of the burgeoning mid-1520s entente between François I and Suleiman – to the detriment of the Holy Roman Empire and Italian city-states – which would lead to the Franco-Ottoman alliance of the mid-1530s.33 Bourbon concludes his account with the 1524 arrival of the Hospitallers in Viterbo, a temporary refuge and a rhetorical plea for permanent lodgings, one that would only be granted after further stops in Villefranche-sur-Mer and Nice, when in 1530 they agreed to pay the “rent” of one falcon per year to the Spanish Holy Roman Emperor for the use of Malta.34 In this particular instance, the author does not wait to publish his history before the knights find safe refuge; rather, Bourbon publishes his work while the knights are without a home, knowing that a detailed account of the 1522 siege and exodus urgently needs to be shared with the widest audience in the shortest amount of time possible, which also helps explain why the 1525 first edition has no woodcut illustrations, a notable case of rhetorical expediency.35

E. Sabba da Castiglione

  • 36 For a thorough description of Sabba’s art patronage in the Faenza commandery, see Paolo Cova, Le ar (...)
  • 37 Anthony Luttrell, “I Cavalieri di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme, Rodi e Malta”, in Franco Cardini (ed (...)

14By contrast, Sabba da Castiglione (ca. 1480-1554) lived a more secluded lifestyle in a European commandery from the 1520s to the 1550s, yet he is the primary source for Italian Hospitaller artistic and literary imagery in the first half of the sixteenth century.36 Sabba’s activities as preceptor of a commandery on the famed Via Emilia, not far from either Bologna or Ravenna, reveal an energetic individual capable of genuine spirituality yet deeply appreciative of worldly goods, especially art objects, beloved books, and symbolic manifestations of that spirituality and of the idiosyncratic persona he assiduously fashioned.37 Active in an age of assertive self-promotion, Sabba remains an elusive figure. He gained admission to the Gonzaga court at Mantua, served as a knight in the Levant, gathered antiquities for Isabella d’Este Gonzaga, and worked among the Roman Curia – all while still in his twenties. He became preceptor of the Hospitaller commandery in Faenza in his early thirties, whereupon he disappeared behind the estate’s walls, becoming a virtual recluse there.

Figure 10. Unknown artist, woodcut frontispiece from Sabba da Castiglione’s Ricordi 3rd edition, 1555 [1554]. Biblioteca Comunale Manfrediana di Faenza.

  • 38 The three editions that Sabba wrote grew substantially over a ten-year period, the first one compri (...)
  • 39 Ugo Rozzo, Lo studiolo nella silografia italiana (1479-1558), Udine, Forum, 1998, p. 90-91, 114. In (...)
  • 40 Petrarch, De viris illustribus, ed. Guido Martellotti, Florence, Sansoni, 1964. The subsequent fres (...)

15Sabba’s ultimate self-definition comes in the form of an unpretentious woodcut executed, as sixteenth-century woodcuts often were, by an unknown artist (fig. 10). The third and final edition of the Ricordi, published posthumously in 1554, contains this woodcut as its frontispiece, which depicts Sabba in his studiolo and captures the essence of the man as an idealised Renaissance Hospitaller Knight.38 The woodcut portrait contains symbols of both the active and the contemplative sides of the Hospitaller preceptor. It also serves as an emblem of Sabba’s knighthood that portrays the vita solitaria. The woodcut presents a visual codification of the studious humanist knight enjoying the quiet of his commandery far from the distracting urban bustle.39 Indeed, the woodcut is emblematic of Sabba’s monastic life conducted within the Order’s parameters of social utility in mainland Europe. The tranquility of his commandery is preferred to the bustle of the city. Sabba evokes the image of the solitary scholar surrounded by books, much as Petrarch espoused in his writings and as later depicted in frescoes by the Italian painter Altichiero (ca. 1330-1393) in the Sala Virorum Illustrium of the Carrarese Palace in Padua, portraying illustrious men from Petrarch’s own De viris illustribus.40

  • 41 For descriptions of Hospitaller clothing, see Giovanni Morello, “Note sulla croce, armature ed ‘abi (...)
  • 42 For a selection of Castiglione family emblems and shields, see Pompeo Litta, Famiglie celebri itali (...)

16In the 1554 Ricordi frontispiece, Sabba da Castiglione seems indeed content, engrossed in prayerful concentration at his writing desk in a notably spare and modest studiolo workspace. The image provides a focused, uncluttered view of Sabba surrounded by only the most basic accoutrements representing his life’s work. In the woodcut Sabba sits in profile on a leather chair that incorporates a writing surface, in the fashion of some student desks. Books are scattered on a bookshelf from which dangle a shield, sword, and rosary. On the writing table there is an inkwell and an open book that faces the viewer, in which Sabba seems to be writing (with his left hand) the words “Dirige Domine sinistram meam in laude[m] tua[m],” (Lord direct my left hand for your praise). The brief epigraph acknowledges Sabba’s sinistrality, a rarely incorporated topic in Renaissance artwork. The image also seems to recognise the Counter Reformation, for it is devoid of any artifacts that might be misconstrued as unorthodox in the newly restrictive atmosphere, such as spheres or astrolabes. Sabba’s clothing is plain, displaying less glory than gravitas. The cap on his head resembles the square biretta often worn by Hospitallers and some priests.41 There are three distinctly separate shirt collars around his neck, a feature found in no other Hospitaller depiction. An eight-pointed Maltese cross hangs around Sabba’s neck; its prominent display, along with a shield and sword, is a reminder that the Ricordi was a manual for Knights Hospitaller. The heraldic shield hanging from the shelf also signifies Sabba’s patrician origins, inasmuch as the lion rampant holds a miniature castle above which appears a shaded Greek cross. An extended Lombard family, the Castiglione used various emblems, including the castle-and-lion, which offers an obvious play on the family name.42 The scattered books and the casually hung sword and shield suggest the nexus of the active and contemplative lives led by the Ricordi’s author yet also reinforce the desired Hospitaller image of the noble heart and mind. The subtle mid-sixteenth-century Hospitaller creed is now fully visible for us to see, depicting the brethren of the Order of St. John as fully aligned with the necessary ethos of survival by way of adaptability.

4. Purpose

  • 43 For a study of the Antemurale Christianitatis concept as it pertains to Eastern Europe, see Norman (...)

17What has not always been fully appreciated is that the Hospitallers – who received a papal charter in 1113 and who moved from Jerusalem to Acre after 1187, to Cyprus in 1291, to Rhodes in 1309, to Malta in 1530, and then finally to Rome in 1834 – were an autonomous naval and military power on Rhodes and Malta that developed and maintained an enormous network of European priories and commanderies, which in turn collected and transferred wealth and manpower back to the Mediterranean front lines. This was an ecclesiastical order under the pope’s jurisdiction, whose rules, statutes, and policy were supervised by the Roman Curia alone, yet whose very survival also needed the sociopolitical backing of the Christian princes. Strategy and mobilisation for the ad hoc Antemurale Christianitatis, the bulwark of the Christian frontier, was oftentimes haphazard and fraught with indecision, as evidenced in the Balkans or in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.43 The Hospitallers, however, retained their efficacy and wherewithal as an elite corps, or at least managed to give such an impression to their European benefactors. They were quick to appreciate the invention of printing, and copies of papal indulgences and privileges for the Order appeared frequently in printed texts. The past and the near present were emphasised in paintings and frescoes, as well as with statuary, engravings, and coins. No matter the outcome against the Ottoman Empire, battles and sieges were turned into propaganda devices, and their visual and textual records became effective weapons in the pursuit of funds and recruitment. Individual Hospitallers, despite their vow of poverty, began commissioning in the late fifteenth century specifically crafted portraits and histories that showcased the viability of the Order for public consumption.

  • 44 See Fulvio Pezzarossa, “I Ricordi di Sabba da Castiglione e le scritture familiari dei religiosi em (...)
  • 45 Franco Cardini, “Introduzione”, in Franco Cardini (ed.), Monaci in armi, gli ordini religioso-milit (...)

18From 1480 onward a concerted effort was made by the Order to recast its story in the most positive light, as the newfound availability of the printing press permitted timely descriptions of the battlefront. Cathedrals and Hospitaller commanderies commissioned artworks displaying knightly piety and religious solemnity, especially as depicted by Geertgen tot Sint Jans and Pinturicchio. Concurrently, Caoursin’s various histories depicted success on the battlefield alongside elaborate woodcut illustrations; while Bourbon’s history may have been hastily published, his work is precipitated by the dire straits of the knights in sudden exile; finally, Sabba’s multiple editions of his mid-1550s Ricordi are a perfectly calibrated vade mecum for the more comfortably situated knights across Europe.44 A connoisseur of art and informed in the proper conduct of his chivalric peers, Sabba was describing a purposeful otium for the knights that showcased their dual role as protectors of the faith and fighting warriors. The security of the Order had been attained, the headquarters were now in Malta, and its members sought a carefully delineated understanding of their daily comportment. The Order’s particular brand of chivalry now produced a coherent, self-confident organisation that not only garnered approbation but also justified respect, reaching its military apogee in the 1565 Great Siege of Malta.45 Geopolitical realignment in the Mediterranean substantially changed the Hospitaller nexus from Jerusalem and Rhodes to Malta and Western Europe. To enhance the spirituality of the Order – and complement its crucial military and political aspects – artistic and literary topoi were now successfully deployed at regular intervals that helped define the Hospitallers as a legitimate branch of the Roman Church, and thus worthy of support.

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Notes

1 Circa 1070, a group of merchants from the Italian port city of Amalfi, with the aid of Benedictine monks, established a hospice in Jerusalem located midway between the Holy Sepulchre and the Byzantine Church of St. John the Baptist to serve sick and indigent European pilgrims. Jerusalem was then under the control of the Fatimid Caliphate, which generally did not impede European visitors. The founder and first leader of these “Hospitallers” was Blessed Gerard, probably an Italian from the Piedmont region. In 1075, Pope Gregory VII declared that waging war on behalf of Christianity was an act of charity that could be penitential, a ruling that legitimised Pope Urban II’s later proclamation at the 1095 Council of Clermont of a war to “liberate” churches in the Levant from Muslim rule, especially the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a popular pilgrimage destination. See Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Knights Hospitaller in the Levant, c. 1070-1309, New York, Palgrave MacMillan, 2012, p. 1-37.

2 See Anthony Luttrell, “The Spiritual Life of the Hospitallers of Rhodes”, Die Spiritualität der Ritterorden im Mittelalter, Torun, 1993 (Ordines Militares – Colloquia Torunensia Historica, VII), p. 75-96, here p. 76.

3 J. Riley-Smith, op. cit., p. 21.

4 For a useful synopsis of medieval Italian knightly iconography from 1250 to 1480, see Marjatta Saksa, “Cavalleria e iconografia”, in Franco Cardini and Isabella Gagliardi (eds.), La civiltà cavalleresca e l’Europa: ripensare la storia della cavalleria. Atti del I Convegno Internazionale di Studi, San Gimignano, Sala Tamagni, 3-4 giugno 2006, San Gimignano, Pacini, 2007, p. 139-160.

5 Franco Cardini, Le guerre di primavera. Studi sulla cavalleria e la tradizione cavalleresca, Florence, Le Monnier, 1992, p. 69.

6 Elias Kollias, The Knights of Rhodes: The Palace and the City, Athens, Ekdotike Athenon, 1994, p. 36.

7 The etymology of Collachium derives from the Latin verb colligere – to gather, border, or delineate – and signifies the residence area of the knights, much in the same vein as terminology that seeks to distinguish monastic quarters from those of lay people. See Santa Cortesi, “Introduzione”, in Santa Cortesi (ed.), Fra Sabba da Castiglione, Isabella d’Este e altri: voci di un carteggio 1505-1542, Faenza, Stefano Casanova Editore, 2004, p. xiii-cxvii, here p. xxxi.

8 E. Kollias, The Knights of Rhodes, op. cit., p. 37-40.

9 See Elias Kollias, The City of Rhodes and the Palace of the Grand Master, Athens, Ministry of Culture Archeological Receipts Fund, 1988, p. 85.

10 For a description of the four knights of Philerimos, see Jean-Bernard de Vaivre, “Peintures murales à Rhodes: les quatre chevaliers de Philerimos”, Comptes rendus de l’Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, 148.2, 2004, p. 919-943. In this careful study, de Vaivre offers the distinct possibility that Regnault de Nantouillet and his family members (who themselves were in the service of Pierre I de Lusignan) are the French knights being depicted in the panel during a Rhodian sojourn, and not resident Hospitallers, as evidenced by the family shields and the corresponding military armor of the 1360s and 1370s. The 1481 Rhodes earthquake caused extensive damage and subsequent alterations to these frescoes.

11 E. Kollias, The City of Rhodes, op. cit., p. 104-105.

12 See Damien Carraz, “À l’orée d’une enquête: images peintes et lieux de culte des ordres militaires dans l’espace français”, in Damien Carraz and Esther Dehoux (eds.), Images et ornements autour des ordres militaires au Moyen Âge: Culture visuelle et culte des saints (France, Espagne du Nord, Italie), Toulouse, Presses universitaires du Midi, 2016, p. 23-35.

13 Jacquemart Giélée, Renart le Nouvel, ed. Henri Roussel, Paris, Société des anciens textes français, 1961, p. 302-310. First written in ca. 1289, this version of the Reynard the Fox tales has both orders’ brethren competing for Reynard’s cynical (and self-serving) patronage. See also Helen J. Nicholson, “Jacquemart Giélée’s Renart le Nouvel: The Image of the Military Orders on the Eve of the Loss of Acre”, in Judith Loades (ed.), Monastic Studies: The Continuity of Tradition, Bangor, Headstart History, 1990, p. 182-189.

14 Anthony Luttrell, “Iconography and Historiography: The Italian Hospitallers before 1530”, Sacra Militia, 3, 2002, p. 19-46, here p. 31.

15 A. Luttrell, “The Spiritual Life”, op. cit., p. 83-84. See also Ludovica Sebregondi, “Commende Gerosolimitane a Firenze: tracce di storia artistica”, in Josepha Costa Restagno (ed.), Riviera di Levante tra Emilia e Toscana, un crocevia per l’Ordine di San Giovanni: atti del convegno Genova — Chiavari — Rapallo, 9-12 settembre 1999, Genoa, Istituto Internazionale di Studi Liguri, 2001, p. 579-604, here p. 599-601.

16 Jean-Bernard de Vaivre points to fragmentary epitaphs and heraldic imagery at the Commandery of Epailly Chapel in Courban, among which is found one the earliest extant Hospitaller cross shields carved in Western Europe, emblazoned at the top dexter of a family coat of arms, namely that of Girard de Montagny, Prior of Champagne, whose death occurred by 1362: “Deux commandeurs de l’ordre de l’Hôpital, d’origine fribourgeoise, dans la Bourgogne du XIVe siècle (note d’information)”, Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 146.2, 2002, p. 499-530, here p. 499-513.

17 Anna-Maria Kasdagli, “Hospitaller Rhodes: The Epigraphic Evidence”, in Karl Borchardt, Nikolas Jaspert, and Helen J. Nicholson (eds.), The Hospitallers, the Mediterranean and Europe: Festschrift for Anthony Luttrell, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2007, p. 109-130, here p. 109-116. For a study of the extant funerary monuments concerning the nineteen grand masters of the Rhodian Hospitaller period (1309-1522), see J.-B. de Vaivre, “Les tombeaux des grands maîtres des hospitaliers de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem à Rhodes”, Monuments et mémoires de la Fondation Eugène Piot, 76, 1998, p. 35-88.

18 A.-M. Kasdagli, op. cit., p. 116-128. Toward the end of the fifteenth century, the epitaphs evolved into a visually more elegant form as Gothic script began to be replaced by the humanistic script, a classical revival style based on available medieval Carolingian and Romanesque models. In Rhodes proper, the Lombard script lasted until the 1370s, whereupon it was replaced (at a relatively late stage) by Gothic script, which survived for the first seven decades of the fifteenth century. The island of Cos contains the oldest extant humanistic script from 1454, while in Rhodes it first appeared in 1471.

19 H. J. A. Sire, The Knights of Malta, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1994, p. 169.

20 Guillaume Caoursin, Obsidionis Rhodiae urbis descriptio, Venice, Ernst Ratdolt, 1480. The first edition was printed in Venice in the fall of 1480. For a detailed chronology of subsequent editions, see Theresa M. Vann and Donald J. Kagay, Hospitaller Piety and Crusader Propaganda: Guillaume Caoursin’s Description of the Ottoman Siege of Rhodes, 1480, Farnham, Ashgate, 2015, p. 65-73.

21 H. J. A. Sire, op. cit., p. 54-55. See also Guillaume Caoursin, Rhodiorum historia (1480-89), Ulm, Johann Reger, 1496. The National Library of Malta possesses a copy of Caoursin’s 1496 masterpiece Rhodiorum historia, which previously belonged to Sabba Castiglione and which bears Sabba’s signature as well as an autograph note by the famous early seventeenth-century knightly historiographer fra Giacomo Bosio.

22 T. Vann and D. Kagay, op. cit., p. ix-xiii.

23 The illustrations found in later editions of Caoursin’s Descriptio have little in common with a richly illuminated manuscript created for the Grand Master of the Order, Pierre d’Aubusson, which devoted thirty-two highly detailed and multicolored illustrations of the events in Rhodes. See Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Lat. 6067, ca. 1480-1483. While these illuminations are attributed to the Master of the Cardinal of Bourbon, there is uncertainty about whether Caoursin commissioned the manuscript.

24 T. Vann and D. Kagay, op. cit., p. 70-71.

25 See Vincent J. Flynn, “The Intellectual Life of Fifteenth-Century Rhodes”, Traditio, 2, 1944, p. 239-255, here p. 246-255.

26 Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, trans. William G. Ryan, vol. 2, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1993, p. 135.

27 The Hospitallers had received the arm in 1484 from Constantinople, where it had been since 956 when it arrived from Antioch. Bayezid II promised an annual payment for his brother Jem’s expenses and sent the Hospital the relics of the right hand of St. John as a gift. See Victor F. Denaro, “The Hand of John the Baptist”, Revue de l’Ordre Souverain Militaire de Malte, 16, 1958, p. 33-38.

28 For an insightful retrospective on Pinturicchio and his masterpieces in the Siena Cathedral, see Salvatore Settis and Donatella Toracca (eds.), La Libreria Piccolomini nel Duomo di Siena, Modena, Franco Cosimo Panini, 1998, p. 217-252. Pinturicchio’s three frescoes, located on the northwest side of the Siena Cathedral adjacent to the west transept, were commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini to complement the elaborate tombs therein, especially that of his uncle Enea Silvio, the fifteenth-century Pope Pius II (1405-1464). The first of the three Hospitaller frescoes is on the southeast wall of the Siena Cathedral’s Piccolomini Library. It is the fifth in a series of scenes showing events in the life of Pope Pius II and depicts Enea Silvio Piccolomini [the future Pius II] Presenting Eleanor of Portugal to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III on 24 February 1452. Enea Silvio was credited with negotiating the marriage in his role of ambassador to the emperor. Immediately behind the central protagonists are two somber black-clad Hospitallers, one of whom (with particularly individuated features) has the emblematic white eight-pointed Hospitaller cross of profession on his chest. The fresco panel in the Piccolomini Library with Enea Silvio became a vital component of Hospitaller lore, emphasising the Order’s significant everyday role in mainstream Italian public life, a visual codification initiated by Pinturicchio in Siena.

29 Frank A. D’Accone, The Civic Muse: Music and Musicians in Siena during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1997, p. 249.

30 Jacques de Bourbon, La Grande et merueilleuse et trescruelle oppugnation de la noble cite de Rhodes, prinse naguieres par Sultan Seliman a present grand Turcq, ennemy de la tressaincte foy Catholicque, redigee par escript, par excellent et noble cheualier Frere Jacques bastard de Bourbon, commandeur de sainct Mauluiz, Doysemont, et Fonteynes, au prieure de France, Paris, par maistre Pierre Vidoue pour honneste personne Gilles de Gourmont, 1525. Another noteworthy account is by Jacques Fonteyn, De bello Rhodio, libri tres, Rome, Iohannem Secerium, 1524. Piero da Campo and Gabriel Taragon are used as eyewitness accounts by Marino Sanudo in his I diarii di Marino Sanuto (MCCCCXCVI-MDXXXIII) dall’autografo Marciano ital. cl. VII codd. CDXIX-CDLXXVII, eds. Rinaldo Fulin et al., 58 vols., Venice, F. Visentini, 1879-1903. Finally, there is a firsthand letter by Sir Nicholas Roberts in Whitworth Porter, A History of the Knights of Malta or the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, London, Longmans, Green and Co., 1883, App. p. 8.

31 Marie-Paule Loicq-Berger, “L’Oppugnation de Rhodes de Jacques de Bourbon: un texte à découvrir”, Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire, 69.4, 1991, p. 905-924, here p. 905-908.

32 Pascale Barth, French Encounters with the Ottomans, 1510-1560, London and New York, Routledge, 2016, p. 54-77.

33 Whether or not the Franco-Ottoman agreements were actually signed in 1536, their diplomatic discussions led to coordinated (yet separate) military actions in the 1536-1538 Italian War, the Third Ottoman-Venetian War (1537-1540), and the Ottoman fleet’s wintering in Toulon in 1543-1544 after the Siege of Nice. See Christine Isom-Verhaaren, Allies with the Infidel: The Ottoman and French Alliance in the Sixteenth Century, London, I. B. Tauris, 2011, p. 114-140.

34 David Nicolle, Knights of Jerusalem, Oxford, Osprey Publishing, 2008, p. 194.

35 The Oppugnation de Rhodes is Bourbon’s only published work, which was written in French and first published in Paris in 1525, with two subsequent editions in 1526 and 1527 (the earlier one containing a single woodcut illustration of the author writing his account beside a desk). The text includes a dedication, a descriptive table of contents, and 108 short sections of content. See also M.-P. Loicq-Berger, op. cit., p. 905-906.

36 For a thorough description of Sabba’s art patronage in the Faenza commandery, see Paolo Cova, Le arti e la spada: La committenza artistica dei Templari e dei cavalieri di Malta in Emilia e in Romagna, Bologna, Paolo Emilio Persiani, 2018, p. 137-165.

37 Anthony Luttrell, “I Cavalieri di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme, Rodi e Malta”, in Franco Cardini (ed.), Monaci in armi, gli ordini religioso-militari dai Templari alla battaglia di Lepanto: storia ed arte, Rome, Retablo, 2004, p. 53-62, here p. 58-59.

38 The three editions that Sabba wrote grew substantially over a ten-year period, the first one comprising 72 ricordi (or chapters), the second edition increasing to 124, and the definitive edition adding a few lengthy chapters to total 133: Ricordi di F. Sabba di Castiglione, Bologna, Bartolomeo Bonardo da Parma, 1546; Ricordi di Frate Sabba di Castiglioni, Bologna, Bartolomeo Bonardo da Parma, 1549; Ricordi overo ammaestramenti di Monsignor Saba da Castiglione cavalier Gierosolimitano, ne quali con prudenti, e Christiani discorsi si ragiona di tutte le materie honorate, che si ricercano a un vero gentil’huomo. Con la tavola per alphabeto di tutte le cose notabili, Venice, Paolo Gherardo, 1554. The frontispiece of the third edition has an incorrect 1555 date, while the last page of the text, 135v, has the colophon correctly dated 1554.

39 Ugo Rozzo, Lo studiolo nella silografia italiana (1479-1558), Udine, Forum, 1998, p. 90-91, 114. In his history of Italian xylography, Rozzo deems Sabba’s studiolo woodcut to be a unicum for its content and for its unusual display of books. See also Dora Thornton, The Scholar in His Study: Ownership and Experience in Renaissance Italy, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1997, p. 106-114.

40 Petrarch, De viris illustribus, ed. Guido Martellotti, Florence, Sansoni, 1964. The subsequent fresco in Padua helped engender the “cult of the personality” in Italy, whereby various political leaders exhibited their intellectual prowess by commissioning or funding architectural and artistic projects. For a thorough explanation of the work’s iconographic significance, see Theodor E. Mommsen, “Petrarch and the Decoration of the Sala Virorum Illustrium in Padua”, Art Bulletin, 34, 1952, p. 95-116. For the desideratum of a medieval philosophical otium, see Petrarch’s De vita solitaria, ed. Marco Noce, introd. Giorgio Ficara, Milan, Mondadori, 1992.

41 For descriptions of Hospitaller clothing, see Giovanni Morello, “Note sulla croce, armature ed ‘abito’ dei Cavalieri di Malta”, Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 22, 1980, p. 89-107.

42 For a selection of Castiglione family emblems and shields, see Pompeo Litta, Famiglie celebri italiane. Volume primo del conte Pompeo Litta, 3 vols., Milan, P. E. Giusti, 1819-1824. The text contains no pagination and is essentially an undocumented genealogical compendium of historical Italian families.

43 For a study of the Antemurale Christianitatis concept as it pertains to Eastern Europe, see Norman Housley, Crusading and the Ottoman Threat, 1453-1505, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 62-99.

44 See Fulvio Pezzarossa, “I Ricordi di Sabba da Castiglione e le scritture familiari dei religiosi emiliani”, in Anna Rosa Gentilini (ed.), Sabba da Castiglione (1480-1554): dalle corti rinascimentali alla Commenda di Faenza. Atti del convegno, Faenza, 19-20 maggio 2000, Florence, Olschki, 2004, p. 95-124.

45 Franco Cardini, “Introduzione”, in Franco Cardini (ed.), Monaci in armi, gli ordini religioso-militari dai Templari alla battaglia di Lepanto: storia ed arte, Rome, Retablo, 2004, p. 15-39, here p. 33.

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Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 1. Pope Pascal II’s 1113 bull, “Pie postulatio voluntatis”, formally recognising the Hospitaller Order. National Library of Malta in Valletta, Malta.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 635k
Légende Figure 2. Unknown artist, detail of the Four Knights of Philerimos fresco panel, ca. 1360-1380. Subterranean Chapel of St. George of Philerimos, Rhodes, Greece.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 743k
Légende Figure 3. Le Roumans du petit Renart de moralité [Renart le Nouvel], Jacquemart Giélée, fourteenth century. MS Paris BNF français 372, f. 59r.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 473k
Légende Figure 4. Detailed illustration portraying Renart the Fox alongside a Hospitaller and a Templar after being made Master of both institutions. Le Roumans du petit Renart de moralité [Renart le Nouvel], Jacquemart Giélée, fourteenth century. MS Paris BNF français 372, f. 59r.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 44k
Légende Figure 5. “Guillelmus Caoursin Rhodiorum Vicecancellarius Historiam edidit”,Guillaume Caoursin, Rhodian vice-chancellor, writing his history”. Woodcut illustration in Guillaume Caoursin’s 1496 Rhodiorum historia, Ulm, Johann Reger, 24 October 1496, f. 60r. National Library of Malta in Valletta, Malta.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 540k
Légende Figure 6. Polyptych oil on panel, ca. 1485, The Burning and Restitution of the Bones of the Baptist, Geertgen tot Sint Jans. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 302k
Légende Figure 7. Fresco by Pinturicchio, detail of Kneeling Knight in Armor, 1504-1506. Siena Duomo, Chapel of St. John the Baptist.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 323k
Légende Figure 8. Fresco by Pinturicchio, 1504-1506, Alberto Aringhieri with the Cloak of the Order of the Knights of Malta, with Rhodes in the background. Siena Duomo, Chapel of St. John the Baptist.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Légende Figure 9. “La Grande et merueilleuse et trescruelle oppugnation de la noble cite de Rhodes, prinse naguieres par Sultan Seliman a present grand Turcq, ennemy de la tressaincte foy Catholicque, redigee par escript, par excellent et noble cheualier Frere Jacques bastard de Bourbon, commandeur de sainct Mauluiz, Doysemont, et Fonteynes, au prieure de France”, Paris, 1525, title page. University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 3,7M
Légende Figure 10. Unknown artist, woodcut frontispiece from Sabba da Castiglione’s Ricordi 3rd edition, 1555 [1554]. Biblioteca Comunale Manfrediana di Faenza.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/docannexe/image/11670/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 417k
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Référence électronique

Ranieri Moore Cavaceppi, « Hospitaller Aesthetics: The Self-Fashioning of a Supranational Military Religious Order  »Études Épistémè [En ligne], 39 | 2021, mis en ligne le 15 mai 2021, consulté le 18 septembre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/11670 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/episteme.11670

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Auteur

Ranieri Moore Cavaceppi

A Fulbright Fellow and a college graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Cavaceppi received a doctorate in Italian literature from Brown University. He is currently a Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer and the Italian Program Director at American University in Washington, DC. Dr. Cavaceppi’s research interests include military religious orders (with a special emphasis on Renaissance Knights Hospitaller), the commedia dell'arte theatre, and twentieth-century Italian cinema.  

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