(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

In the fortress at Rhodes, seven bastions are maintained by eight Christian nations as united in opposition to the Turks as were the earlier Crusaders. Villerius, a Knight of St. John in supreme command of those forces, is successfully defending the fort from Solyman’s assault. Alphonso, the most vigorous among those defending the Cross from the Crescent, considers this battle Christendom’s last stand against the infidel. Ianthe, his bride of but a few months, first aids the war effort by sacrificing her jewels to buy arms, and then she decides to become one of history’s termagants, or Amazons, and fight by the side of her husband. In her attempt to join him, she is captured by the Turks. Two days later she is released by order of the sultan as a mark of respect to her courage and her virtue.

In the battle that follows, Alphonso, mad with jealousy because he believes that his wife was unfaithful to him with the Turkish ruler, fights with the fierceness of many men. Roxolana, Solyman’s wife, also becomes jealous, so highly is Ianthe praised by her husband. The battle is fought so ferociously, especially by the English, that the infidels are repulsed, forcing the sultan to resort to siege tactics. Honor is preserved in love and in battle by participants on the two sides of the fort.

Famine soon becomes a threat to the beleaguered garrison. While the leaders debate strategy, the populace demands that Ianthe sue for peace. Alphonso,...

(The entire section is 467 words.)