Les Rodiens demanderont secours,
Par le neglect de ses hoirs deaissée,
L’empire Arabe reualera son cours,
Par Hesperies la cause radressee

The inhabitants of Rhodes seek help,
Because of imprudence by their heirs/their lineage elsewhere,
The Arab empire corrects its course/straightens its course,
Righteousness/rights will be restored by the Westerners.

Is this an old history being re-told? What new information is the visionary Nostradamus trying to tell us? The lines seem incomplete and may be out of order with each one bearing a discrete clue. What is the full story?

Line 1, the OF adjective ‘Rhodien’ means whatever is relative to Rhodes, now part of Greece, or an inhabitant thereof. It seems that the Isle of Rhodes or Island of the Knights (the Knights Hospitallers of St.John of Jerusalem) has been ever popular with travellers of all stripes. It’s located near the island of Crete and stands offshore from the region of Athens and the Anatolian Coast of Turkey.

Line 2, OF ‘deaissée’ may be approached by calling it the negative form of OF ‘aisé’ which means adjacent, therefore by inversion distant or elsewhere or abroad. (One of its roots ‘eise’, easy or possible, would then mean difficult or impossible.)

OF ‘hoir’ is an heir or successor. It is usually exactly such a legal call yet, confusingly, it could mean on particular occasions an ancestor or predecessor. In the context of the Knights Hospitallers it would suggest the consangineous successive family memberships of this particular Order.

(OF ‘ses hoirs’ if it be a mistaken OF ‘cesseurs’ would mean those who are yielding something, cessors, although that seems quite unlikely, even for dubious print dictation within the clamour of hot print typesetting, as the main vowel sounds do differ at least in spoken modern French.)

Line 3, OF ‘revalera’ meant to reduce, reappraise, re-evaluate.

Line 4, OF ‘Hesperie’ recurs throughout the Nostradamus Centuries meaning either the West (the Western hemisphere, the Americas) or a country to the West of a location (example, Spain to the West of France and Italy). 

As a truncated ‘ayant cause’ the OF ‘cause’ would mean having caused to do or having the right to do something but ordinarily ‘cause’ meant a particular way of acting or a motive, an original reason or a raison d’être. Used more legalistically it meant rights passed from one to another such as to an heir.

OF ‘radressee’ is quite directional but seems most likely to mean redress, rectify or restore to rights. It carries the idea of a righteous rectification, the correct order of things, the perfection of beauty.

Rhodes was home to various ethnic groups from the surrounding countries. It was under Crusader control in the Middle Ages having fallen to the Knights Hospitallers around 1306. Twice the island was besieged by the Ottoman Turks. Whereas the second siege in 1522 led to 400 years of Islamic rule, in 1480 Mehmed II launched a major attack that ultimately failed.

For ten years some small islands around had been attacked by the Turks and their populations were withdrawn to Rhodes. A village on the coast of Rhodes had been raided by Turks some years before.

On 23rd May 1480 the extensive KH garrison came under full attack. Initially the assailants chose the Tower of St.Nicholas which commanded a view of two harbours.

It should be recalled that the KH were a very organised and wealthy multi-national organization and their records speak of them “flying” to Rhodes in response. Hundreds of knights and two thousand soldier volunteers under Pierre’s brother Antoine Vicomte de Monteuil, who paid for them all, arrived from France in support.

Back in 1438 the Grand Prior of Auvergne on his arrival had uncovered secret arrangements between Saracens and Turks to take Rhodes. Diplomacy followed and then Guillaume de Lastic arrived from Egypt to warn his uncle of a great naval force embarking from there upon the invasion of Rhodes, September 1440. This was defeated off the the harbour at Rhodes by KH galleys. Hereafter Greek Fire was to give way to the sulphurous gunpowder clouds of lengthy cannon bombardments and warfare itself had changed. Pressure was building on Papal Christendom from repeated warnings of an Islamic takeover (“Constantinople first, then Rhodes” went the cry) and the KH had for decades been summoning knights and money from all over Europe, including Spain. 

Old Grand Master de Lastic was an elected sovereign, his knights being of the highest families of Europe (meaning that he was independent but had better not anger the Kings of Europe) and refused to make any concessions to the Turks in the troubled years leading up to 1480. Under the energetic captain general d’Aubusson – descended from Dukes of Normandy (incidentally, the Queen of England is the present Duke) and Kings of the Anglo-Saxons – the fortifications of the garrison were strengthened and extended. In 1478 a chapter general, brimming with encomium, granted Pierre absolute authority during the coming siege.

For the two years before the actual invasion of 1480 (“before iron”) there was much spy activity, especially Greek spies and some treacherous Rhodiens too, including spy ships and map-making and ground-measuring on behalf of the Turkish invader furnishing the minutest detail of the fortifications. (Despite our media headlines and astonished-sounding newsreaders today, war is almost always planned well-ahead and in detail.)
May 1480 the Muslim fleet of 160+ ships under sail appeared at Rhodes and docked its army to its ‘pipes and drums’ without opposition. After two days of preparation they came to the walls.

With the Turks digging channels at the walls, d’Aubusson called a council of all the military and civilian dignitaries on the island including any folk with a talent and from all origins. The defence of the city was their common ground. A rather placid yet fickle Rhodien temperament – it was a dreamy kind of island with a perpetual feeling of Spring – converted to steely resilience after that.

“Three thousand seven hundred (some of them the heaviest of all cannon) have battered their walls for several days, to say nothing of the roaring of an infinity of mortars and lighter artillery, which play day and night around the entire city; that shower of bombs fall into it at all hours, exploding, burning, demolishing houses, towers, palaces, entire streets, without exciting the least sign of wish to surrender.”

Aerial bombardment rarely does, save that it kills all, as whoever it doesn’t kill seems strengthened in their resistance.

The siege lasted ninety-nine days with the deaths of tens of thousands of Turks during singular and repeated assaults and their repulses. The Turks withdrew August 1480 after a final thrusting back by KH led by the Grand Master who alone bore five wounds to his body. He was to heal most miraculously.

The above account is from d’Aubusson’s own version of events as translated by John Taaffe in his “history of the Holy, military, sovereign order of St. John of Jerusalem”. There was also an official report by the KH Vice Chancellor and fighting knight Guillaume Caoursinus in his Obsidionis Rhodiae Urbis Descriptio, a topical English translation of which, by Caius the Elder, survives.

Mehmed II died in 1481 but his battle cause was later taken up by the great Sultan Suleiman who proved far more successful at ejecting the KH from Rhodes. The Turks had really had enough of the KH disrupting their shipping and sitting off Anatolia blocking their expansion aims.

“And the Grand Master sent ambassadors into Spain to Charles V and to Rome, and cardinals and knights of Italy, and to France and the French knights, imploring assistance for the unhappy city besieged by land and sea; and that it was the duty of all Christians to aid the Rhodians, foremost in defending the common religion of all Christendom. But our lot befel otherwise.” Translation by John Taaffe.

Second Siege of Rhodes 26th June to 22nd December 1522

On 26th June 1522 an invasion force of 400 ships/200,000 men arrived at Rhodes. On 28th July Sultan Suleiman and his Mamalukes arrived.

The walls had been massively upgraded since 1480 but 7,500 men with 700 knights and 500 archers (turcopoliers) seemed insufficient as the Turks combined constant artillery fire with daily infantry assaults as their present siege program and had hundreds of thousands of men available including 2,000 miners and sappers from Bosnia and Vallachia.

Prewarned by a Christian-favouring deserter (and amazing sea-swimmer) that much reliance was being placed on mines by the Turks (and that the Janissaries were uneasy about combat with the KH despite or because of their new-fangled firearms) the Order were made very happy to be joined by Gabriel Martinengo di Brescia the famous engineer who had been working for the Venetians in Candia. He counter-mined many channels in the lull before fighting started and once opportunely built a new wall where cannon had breached the old, saving many.

 Grand Master Philippe de Villiers de L’Isle-Adam had called upon the Order’s knights elsewhere in Europe to come to the island’s defence. Some of Venice’s troops transferred from Crete to assist the KH but other states and Order members around Europe avoided his request for assistance.

“I was told there was a way to burn the whole Turkish navy proposed then by an excellent Florentine, Captain Girolomo Bartolini; but that plan (like many other plans that went against the infidels) was not approved by an officer of the treasury, whom his colleagues followed.”

It often seemed to happen that KH financial officers stymied military plans for reasons inconsistent with the surplus wealth of the organization. However at least one of the financial triumvir at Rhodes was a fighting man (who died leading the English section) Sir John Bouch the Turcopolier, and so perhaps particular military insights did play their part in exercising these bureaucratic controls.

On 24th September came a massive assault. Suleiman eventually called off the attack and replaced the military commander with an experienced siege engineer. The Turks now focused on continuous artillery barrages whilst constantly weakening ramparts and mining them with gunpowder.

A major attack in November was successfully repelled. However each side was exhausted especially the knights who had reached their limit with no sign of reinforcements in sight. On the Turkish side, fatalities and camp diseases were badly demoralizing the army. Each side was approximately 5-6,000 bodies down.

Important walls were down also and Villiers de L’Isle-Adam asked for a truce. Sultan Suleiman made an offer of peace. The Turks allowed a dignified withdrawal by the KH and granted certain freedoms to the Rhodien citizens.

Suleiman the Magnificent – a quick, intrepid man – went on to expand his conquests yet after his demise in 1566 (the same year as Nostredame’s sad death) things went downhill for the Ottoman Empire. When they lost the Battle of Vienna in 1683 this marked the end of their expansionism. The Austrian Empire, their traditional adversary, harassed them for the following centuries. (Austria opened a stamp-issuing Post Office at Rhodes in 1864.) Rhodes became Italian controlled in the Twentieth Century. Following the Italian Armistice of 1943 the British tried to get Rhodes to change sides and join them but Germany caught wind of this and occupied it. In 1945 the Germans surrendered Rhodes to the Western powers.

Somewhat coincidentally, perhaps, the following words may be constructed from letters found scrambled around the Nostradamus Quatrain IV 39

(duplication of a letter was allowed in Medieval anagram building)

Group One:
Chevaliers hospitaliers
Grand maître Pierre d’Aubusson
Tour de Saint-Nicolas
Grand Prior d’Auvergne (duplicate ‘g’)
Guillaume de Lastic
Antoine Vicomte de Monteuil (duplicate ‘t’)
Vice chancelier Guillaume Caoursin (duplicate ‘c’)
Obsidionis Rhodiae Urbis Descriptio (duplicates ‘b’ and ‘i’)
Group Two:
Philippe de Villiers de L’Isle-Adam
Gabriel Martinengo di Brescia (duplicates ‘g’ and ‘b’)
les sapeurs, soldats du génie
Bosnia et Vallachia
Capitaine Girolomo Bartolini
Chevalier Iohn Bouch le Turcopolier (Substituting ‘I’ for ‘J’ as was common in the Middle Ages, duplicate ‘h’)

I’ll repeat my translation here and then comment on the quatrain lines:

The inhabitants of Rhodes seek help,
Because of imprudence by their heirs/lineage elsewhere,
The Arab empire corrects its course/straightens its course,
Righteousness/rights will be restored by the Westerners.

The first line speaks for itself.
The second line fits to the Second Ottoman Siege of Rhodes.
The third line is ambiguous, do they change course or focus even more determinedly on their chosen destination?
The last line stands on religious or moral grounds. That is, if you should believe that the inhumanity of war can have any spiritual grounding at all. The Westerners might be the Knights Hospitaller generally or those that came to the rescue of Rhodes from France or even the Western Allies accepting the surrender of Rhodes from the Nazi fascist occupiers,1945.

It seems that this Nostradamus Quatrain IV 39 could be referencing more than one historic invasion and uses of force on the gentle island of Rhodes.



                                                     NIGELRAYMONDOFFORD (C) 2017