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Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, born 1423; died 1503. He made his first campaigns against the Turks, and fought next under the French Dauphin in a war against the Swiss (1444). It was on his return from this last expedition that he obtained from Charles VII permission to join the Hospitallers. The year 1460 found him Castellan of Rhodes, and he soon after became captain-general of the city, which had been the seat of the order since 1309, and was now the chief obstacle to Ottoman supremacy in the Mediterranean. Mahomet II therefore resolved to subdue it. D'Aubusson, who bad been raised (1476) to the Grand Mastership, foresaw the sultan's design, and lost no time in making what preparations he could for the defense. A letter to the houses of his order brought him whatever men and money they could spare. Additional sums came from Sixtus IV and Louis XI, together with some of the bravest soldiers of Italy and France. Yet with all his exertions he was able to muster no more than 450 knights and 2,000 auxiliaries. The Turkish armament, which appeared before Rhodes 23 May, 1480, was overwhelmingly superior in numbers, and was furnished with the best artillery then obtainable. But the example of d'Aubusson's good right arm, and his omnipresence, made heroes of all the defenders. After three months of almost incessant fighting, which cost him 25,000 of his best warriors, the Turkish commander was forced to raise the siege. For this brilliant achievement d'Aubusson received a cardinal's hat, and was revered by all Christendom as "the Shield of the Church." In his subsequent efforts to form a league that would drive the Turks from Constantinople, he failed.
BOUHOURS, Histoire de Pierre d'Aubusson (Paris, 1676; 3d ed., Hague, 1739; tr., London, 1679); MARULLI, Lives of the Grand-Masters . . . of St. John . . . (Naples, 1636); FLANDRIN, History of the Knights of Rhodes (Paris, 1876).