Παρασκευή 15 Μαρτίου 2024

Chlemoutsi Castle

Chlemoutsi (Greek: Χλεμούτσι or Χλουμούτσι Chloumoútsi), also known as Clermont, is a medieval castle in the northwest of the Elis regional unit in the Peloponnese peninsula of southern Greece, in the Kastro-Kyllini municipality.
It was built in the early 1220s by the Crusader rulers of the Principality of Achaea as their main stronghold and is perhaps the finest fortification of the early period of Frankish rule in Greece preserved in the country today. The castle is located on a small plateau 226 metres (741 ft) above sea level and comprises a central hexagonal keep built around an inner courtyard and containing two-storeyed halls along its entire length, and complemented by an outer wall enclosing an outer yard on its western side. The castle is largely preserved in its original 13th-century state, with only minor later modifications for the installation of artillery.
Located near the Principality's capital of Andravida and the chief port of Glarentza, Chlemoutsi played a central role in the Principality's history but was never actually besieged. After coming under Byzantine rule in 1427, it was captured in 1460 by the Ottoman Empire, along with the rest of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea. In Ottoman times, minor additions were made to provide platforms for artillery, but the castle progressively lost its significance and was completely deserted by the late 18th century. In 1825, during the Greek War of Independence, part of its outer wall was demolished to prevent the Greek rebels from using it. Today it is a preserved monument open to the public..
The position of Chlemoutsi
Chlemoutsi is located on a hill about 220 meters high, a short distance from the sea (about 2-2.5 km), on the westernmost cape of the Peloponnese overlooking the Ionian Sea, opposite Zakynthos, in the same wider area as harbor and the castle of Glarentza (at a distance of 5-6 km.) and Andravida (somewhere at 12-13 km), the capital of the Principality of Achaia.
History of the castle
Construction
The history of the construction of the Castle is preserved in the Chronicle of Moreos. The castle was built in the period 1220 - 1223 by the second prince of Achaia, Godefroid I Villeardouin, due to the enmity that had broken out between the prince himself and the Catholic clergy of the principality. The prince asked the clergy to hand over 1/3 of their property to him in return for not providing him with military service. Godefroid I Villeardouino confiscated his property and built the castle in Chlemoutsi. The clergy refused stating that they obeyed only the pope, protested to Pope Honorius III who excommunicated him. Godfrey explained to the pope that he used the taxes to build the castle, thanks to which the existence of the principality and the Latins was protected, otherwise if the Romans took the Morea, they would not only kill soldiers like him, but also the Latin clergy . The pope eventually agreed to lift the excommunication. The castle was built in an area where there was no ancient building, Chlemoutsi is probably a Greek translation of Clermont, others suggest that the name came from an earlier Slavic site. It consists of the main castle, which is a hexagonal building around an inner courtyard, and the surrounding area protected by a wall, which has towers at intervals. In the 15th century the Republic of Venice mistakenly called it "Castro Tornese" because in neighboring Glarenza there had been a mint minting Tornese silver coins since the 14th century. The new castle was 13 kilometers from the capital of the principality Andravida and 5 kilometers from the principality's largest port, Glarenza. These sites together with Pontikokastro in Katakolo Ilia a little further south formed the heart of the principality and it could control the fertile plain of Ilia. However, it never distinguished itself in military operations, it basically became a prison for famous prisoners, Byzantine prisoners from the Battle of Makriplagio such as Alexios Philis died imprisoned there.
Outer ward
The outer gate of the fortress lies in the northwestern side of the outer ward, originally within a small recess in the outer curtain wall, protected by a portcullis. The Turks later filled the recess with a smaller set of walls to preserve unbroken the outer wall's frontage. The Ottomans also added additional buttresses to the junctions of their wall with the original curtain wall. In contrast, the space between the original gate and the new Ottoman entrance was left unroofed and open to the sky. From the gate, the outer wall continues east and then south, in three distinct stretches of walls, to the keep. The wall is built of limestone masonry, with little evidence of brick or tiles, topped by a small inner parapet and Ottoman-built crenellations, now largely ruined. From the beginning, buildings were built leaning on the outer wall, as evidenced by the remnant of their foundations, side walls joining the curtain wall's inner face, or the presence of fireplaces and lancet windows in the curtain wall. One of these buildings is largely preserved immediately next to the outer gate. Windows, fireplaces etc. display a uniformity of style that points to their construction at the same time as the fortress itself.at the point where the outer wall joins the keep, a small postern is located, as well as a stairway leading up to the outer wall's chemin de ronde.
On the other side of the gate, the curtain wall continues in two stretches southwest and south, with a tower—probably an Ottoman addition—at their junction, before turning sharply to the east. The Turks built a terrepleined bastion behind this southwestern corner as an artillery platform. There is evidence of buildings erected adjoining the curtain wall along the western wall. The southern wall shows evidence of later, probably Turkish, repairs, with broken tiles alternating with stone courses. In this stretch, Ibrahim Pasha's cannons affected the wall's breach in 1825. Roughly halfway between the southwestern corner and the keep, the wall abruptly turns inwards for about 5 metres (16 ft) around an Ottoman-built tower before continuing east and then northeast to join the keep. Another postern is located about 10 metres (33 ft) from the junction of the two walls.

Keep
The keep is of an irregular hexagonal shape, measuring some 90 metres (300 ft) from east to west and c. 60 metres (200 ft) from south to north, with its six walls enclosing an inner courtyard of 61 by 31 metres (200 ft × 102 ft). Its walls hold a series of two-storeyed halls, forming a ring of rooms around the central courtyard. The lower storey, separated from the upper by wooden floors—now mostly collapsed with only the niches for the support of beams testifying to their existence—has arches opening into the courtyard. The upper storey features large galleries with ovoid barrel vaults "of immaculate poros ashlar" (Andrews), supported by side walls of limestone blocks and by regularly spaced transverse arches every 7–10 metres (23–33 ft). These have collapsed except for the pilasters, set into the wall and topped by Byzantine-style chamfered imposts.

The galleries feature mostly a uniform style—common in 12th-century French architecture—of double-arched windows set within a vaulted depression in the walls, with banquettes on either side. The galleries also feature niches and fireplaces similar to those of the outer curtain wall and the associated buildings, reinforcing the "stylistic uniformity" (Andrews) of the castle. Chlemoutsi was well suited for a princely residence: its halls, arranged around the inner courtyard, were spacious, comfortable, and well-lit, cool in the summer and provided with several fireplaces for the winter months.

The entrance to the keep was located in an avant-corps on the northern side, with a vaulted passageway between two gates leading from the outer courtyard to the inner rooms of the keep. The keep itself features just two round towers of 5 m diameter with square bases, both located on the western side and within the outer ward. The more southern of the two is almost totally ruined, probably as a result of Ibrahim Pasha's destruction. The more exposed eastern and southern sides featured no towers. According to the historian Kevin Andrews, this is perhaps because they were judged to be adequately protected by the steep terrain.

The roof of the keep appears to have originally been sloping or gable-shaped, with a chemin de ronde and parapet on its outer face, but was later rebuilt with the outer wall raised and the roof replaced by the current, platform-like terrace. Access to the roof is given via a staircase from the courtyard, immediately next to the main entrance into the keep, and by a spiral staircase, now collapsed, in the western corner. The inner parapet of the new roof survives, but few traces of the outer parapet remain, except for a few Ottoman-era merlons. No provision appears to have been made for the installation of guns here.

Architecture and importance
Judging by the relative uniformity of construction, the castle of Chlemoutsi appears to have been built within a few years, c. 1220–23. Most of the architectural elements found in the castle are typical of French 12th-century architecture; as K. Andrews writes, "lacking purely Gothic features, it appears to be more a transition from the Romanesque". A few native Byzantine elements are also apparent, as in the impost blocks or in the use of local material.

Chlemoutsi remains "one of the most important and best-preserved castles in Greece" (A. Ralli), and maintains its Frankish character intact. After the Frankish period and the decline of its military importance, occupiers made few additions or alterations; the Byzantine rule left no traces, and only the Ottomans made some minor repairs and modifications for artillery.

The successors of the Bellearduins
When Prince William II Villeardouin died (1278) the princely title was inherited according to the Treaty of Viterbo (1267) by the King of Naples, Charles of Andeagus. Chlemousi, however, was inherited by William II's wife Anna Angelina of Epirus who also kept the hereditary barony of Kalamata in Messinia. Her new husband Nicholas II of Saint-Omer who was lord of half of Thebes inherited the most fertile lands in the Peloponnese, this worried Charles. With a new Treaty (September 25, 1281), Chlemoutsi and Kalamata were granted half of the lands of the deceased Leonardo of Veroli with estates in Ilia, Messinia and Italy. In the early 1290s, Thomas Komnenos Doukas son and successor of the Despot of Epirus Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas was held captive in the castle as a punishment for his father's behavior. The Andean kings of Naples acquired the principality under their control (1278). The only surviving daughter of William II Margarita Villeardouinou claimed her father's inheritance, she acquired a part of it Chlemoussi and Kalamata that her mother owned (1311). In February 1314 she married her only daughter Isabella de Chabran to the Spanish Prince Ferdinand of Majorca to whom she also gave the rights of succession. The Andean bailiff of Achaia was enraged by this act, arrested Margarita and imprisoned her in Chlemoussi where she died in March 1315. Ferdinand of Majorca encamped in June 1315 at Glarenza to claim his inheritance from the Andean sovereign Louis of Burgundy , occupied the largest part of Ilia but in July 1316 fell in the Battle of Manolada. Ferdinand's troops from Majorca were forced after this to surrender Ferdinand's conquests in Ilia and return home. Charles I Tokkos captured Chlemousi and Glarenza and tried to extend his power to the Morea at the expense of the last Genoese prince of Achaia, Centyrion II Zacharias.

Byzantine and Ottoman situation
After the defeat by the Byzantine Empire in the Battle of the Echinades (1427), Karolos Tokkos was forced to hand over almost all of his principality to the Despotate of the Moreos ruled by the later last emperor, Constantine XI Paleologos. The concession was made in the form of an inheritance since Konstantinos Palaiologos married in his first marriage the daughter of Karolos Tokkos Theodora Tokkos. Based in Chlemoutsi, Constantine Palaiologos occupied the last areas of the Peloponnese that were left to the Latins, such as the city of Patras (1428 - 1430). The castle remained in Byzantine hands until the time when the entire Peloponnese fell to the Ottoman Empire (1460). The illegitimate son of Centyrion II Ioannis Asan Zacharias was imprisoned in Chlemousi, he escaped and proceeded to a failed rebellion against the Paleologues who ruled the Despotate of Moreos (1453). The castle lost its strategic importance when the Despotate was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. However, it was occupied by the Venetians when the First Venetian-Turkish War broke out and it was attacked by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (1620). When the 6th Venetian-Turkish War ended and the last rule of Venice in the Peloponnese (1687 - 1715) followed, it was an administrative seat, but at that time it was smaller and sparsely populated. The Venetian forecaster Francesco Grimani suggested demolishing it because they could not defend it and rebuilding the seaside Glarenza (1701). When the 7th Venetian-Turkish War ended and Moria passed back to the Ottomans (1715) it was completely deserted.. When the Greek Revolution of 1821 broke out, Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt demolished its walls so that the Greek revolutionaries could not use them (1825)
Modern Times
The castle is currently owned by the 6th Tax Administration of Byzantine Antiquities, it is visible and accessible by car from the neighboring Kyllini of Ilia. Small-scale repairs during the period of the Turkish occupation are mentioned as maintenance works of the castle. The particularly limited interventions resulted in the preservation of the architectural elements of the 13th century, so that the castle is today an important example of constructions from the Frankish era. In the 1970s, the entrance gate to the inner precinct 39 was partially restored as well as the openings of hall A1-A2. At the same time, the dome of hall A4 was also partially repaired in order to prevent the walls on the side from collapsing. With the financing of the 3rd K.P.S. (PEP Western Greece and CULTURE program) continued, since 2000 and completed, in 2009, the works related to the configuration and equipping of halls A5, N, A1I1 as museum spaces, fixing-rehabilitation of the entrance and its gates internal enclosure, in shaping the courtyard area of the museum and in designing visitor routes, as well as in the conversion of room A6 into an archaeological warehouse, a study area and a maintenance laboratory. In 2008, the permanent exhibition in the castle area was completed, while the works for Hall A1 were carried out from 2012-2013, while in 2013-2014 maintenance works took place.

History - Chronology
1220-1315 Villeardouins
1315 Catalans ?? (probably only for a year or less)
1315-13?0 Francs ?? (to be found from the history of the principality)
13?0-13?? Charles I Tokkos
1427 Constantine Palaiologos (dowry, with his marriage to Theodora, niece of Charles I Tokkos)
1460-1687 First period of Turkish rule
1687-1715 Venetian rule
1715-1821 Second period of Turkish rule
1825 Bombardment by Ibrahim