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Lot 701

Estimate: 400 CHF   |   Starting price: 400 CHF Price realized: 600 CHF
The Knights of St. John in Rhodes. Hélion de Villeneuve, 26th Grand Master, 1319-1346. Gigliato, about 1332-1340. AR 3.90 g. +FR.eLIOn:D:VILAnOVA.D.I.GRA.mR Within a dotted circle Grand Master kneeling l. before a patriarchal cross on base and two steps, Maltese cross on shoulder. Rev. OSPITAL:S.IOhIS.IRLnI.QT:RODI: Within dotted circle cross fleury with shield of the Order at the end of each limb. Schlumberger, Orient pl. IX, 17.
Toned. Close to extremely fine
Provenance: Bank Leu AG, Zurich - Fixed Price List 20 (1985), 83.
Grand Master Hélion de Villeneuve (1319-1346)
The 26th Grand Master was 56 years old at the time of his election and belonged to a prominent family from Provence. The new Grand Master continued to live in France (he took part in the battle of Cassel in 1328 against the Flemish), before taking up residence in Rhodes only twelve years later. His presence was badly needed there, because during his absence, the discipline amongst the knights had deteriorated rapidly. In order to rein­force the Christian bridgeheads in Asia Minor, the Order formed alliances with France, Venice and the King of Cyprus. The last years of de Villeneuve’s rule were marked by some noteworthy military successes. In 1343 the knights of the Order defeated the army of the King of Morocco and a year later they were able to capture the city of Smyrna on the Turkish mainland. During the reign of Grand Master de Villeneuve, a certain Ludolf de Suchen visited Rhodes, where he observed great building operations on the defence walls and in the city. In order to strengthen the defences of the island, the Grand Master had ordered the construction of a vast fortress, located on the north side of Rhodes, which was named Villanova in his honour. De Villeneuve died in 1346, aged 83 years.

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