So many knights had lost their lives trying to kill the monster of Malpasso that the Grand Master was obliged to forbid any to make further attempts on pain of expulsion from the Order. In spite of this proscription, one knight, Dieudonne de Gozon, matured a plan to tackle the dragon with the aid of two specially trained blood-hounds. His ruse, commemorated by Schiller in his ballad Der Kampf mit dem Drachen, was successful and the dragon was slain: but the Order’s inexorable discipline required that the young knight was expelled and stripped of his habit. His appeal on the grounds of a motivation for the public good and safety was later accepted and Dieudonne stepped from legend into history to be come the Order’s Grand Master between 1346 and 1353. Such pieces of local history show how easily chivalric legends grew up around the court of the Knights of St John. They may even have been encouraged by them. Nonetheless, in order to quell any scepticism that might arise, the skull of the dragon was still to be seen as late as 1837, nailed to a post above the d’Amboise Gate.

Rhodes Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.

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