FLAGS OF THE KNIGHTS OF RHODES

An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2
by Ian Heath


48.      FLAGS OF THE KNIGHTS OF RHODES

48a, from Caoursin's ms. of the 1480 siege, is the banner of the Order, comprising a simple white cross on a red field. It was seemingly about 6 feet deep and slightly less in width. 48b and c show two additional flags from this ms. in which the arms of the Grand Master, Pierre d'Aubusson (or, a cross formy couped gules), have been quartered with those of the Order, 48c having in addition long, red swallow-tails marked with small white crosses. 48b appears to be slightly smaller than the banner of the Order, while inclusive of its tails 48c is about 10 feet in length. As many as 8 flags like 48a appear in a single scene in Caoursin's ms., and as many as 7 like 48b in another. However, there seems to have been only one standard like 48c, and in the ms. illustrations it is always depicted close to the Grand Master.

48d, also from Caoursin's ms., is a vexillum depicting the Crucifixion, one of the three battle-flags (featuring the Virgin, John the Baptist and the Crucifixion) under which d'Aubusson is recorded to have fought in 1480. It is shown held by a brother knight immediately behind the Grand Master, and is blue with a gold border and gold figures. Clearly it was the pre-eminent of the three flags mentioned, since it occurs in the Ulm printed edition of Caoursin's chronicle too, though as a flag rather than a vexillum (48e).

48f is also from the Ulm edition, and differs from 48a by the addition of a long tail. Some banners in this edition bear the 8-pointed cross in place of the more usual plain cross.

48g is the flag of the Langue of Aragon, comprising Aragon (paly, or and gules) impaled with Navarre (gules, a cross, a saltire and an orle, of chains linked together or, the centre pierced vert), while 48h is that of the Langue of Auvergne, being yellow with a black dolphin. The flags of the other Langues were: Provence, the arms of Jerusalem (argent, a cross potent between 4 crosses or); France, azure, 3 fleurs-de-lis or (ie, France Modern); Italy, black with the word 'Italia' embroidered across it in gold; England, the arms of England; Germany, the arms of Germany (argent, a 2-headed eagle displayed sable); and Castile, the arms of Castile quartered with the arms of Portugal.
Other extracts by Ian Heath:
43. Knight Hospitaller, 14th century
44. Knight Hospitaller, 1480
45. Knight Hospitaller In Habit, 15th century
46. Fra John Longstrother, 1471
47. Rhodian Greek Militiaman, 14th-15th centuries



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