(1900 Times Atlas of the World)
1209 The Venetians acquire Corone.
1500 Sultan Bayazet II forces the Venetians out of Corone.
1532 Genoese Admiral Andrea Doria conquers Corone on behalf of Emperor Charles V.
1534 The Christian alliance leaves Corone which returns to Ottoman hands.
1686 The Venetians return to Corone.
1714 The Venetians abandon the fortress which is occupied for the third time by the Ottomans.
Corone, which in classical times was a simple fort, became a large fortress during Byzantine times. It was captured by the Franks of the Fourth Crusade and granted to Geoffrey de Villehardouin (1205) who, under the Treaty of Sapienza (1209), ceded it to the Venetians; the terms of the treaty were later on ratified by Emperor Michael VII Palaeologus. Coronis, the ancient name of the town, means crow because a bronze crow was found when laying the town's foundation.
The fortress seen from the west: behind it the Mani peninsula
The Venetians called Belvedere (fine view) the territory around Corone: this not because of the views towards the Mani peninsula, but because it was very nicely farmed: today its landscape has a Tuscan appearance due to many rows of cypress trees.
Corone and nearby Modon were called the eyes of Venice because they controlled an important section of the maritime route between Italy and the Levant. The Venetians strengthened the battlements of the old Byzantine fort: the town expanded beyond its walls: its population was a very mixed one.
1685 map and 1692 view of the fortress
In August 1500 the city was taken by the Turks (first Turkish occupation), causing many inhabitants to flee to Zante
In 1532 the Allied Fleet of Charles V, the Pope and the Knights of Malta under the command of the Genoese Admiral Andrea Doria, seized the city only to abandon it in 1534, taking with them 2,000 inhabitants, mainly belonging to the Arbereshe (Albanian) community. They settled in southern Italy where already other Albanian refugees lived. They never forgot Corone and Morea as their songs testify.
Oh my beautiful Morea
Oh my beautiful Morea/since I left you,/ I 've never seen you again./ There I have my father/ There my lady-mother/ My brother also/ all buried below the earth./ Oh my beautiful Peloponnese!
The Lament of Corone
We left behind in Coron our possessions and our goods, but have taken Christ with us,oh my beautiful Morea! Deeply sad, with tears in our eyes, we grieve for you Arberia...My swift-flying little swallow, when you return once more to Coron, you will not find our homes, nor our handsome lads, but only a dog (the Ottomans), may death come upon him! When the ships spread their sails and our land was lost to the eyes, all the men with a sigh and the women with a wail cried out: Get out Ghost! devour us! oh my Morea! oh Arberia!
Main gate and winged lion
In 1685 the Venetians under the command of Francesco Morosini laid siege to the fortress; they soon had to face the arrival of an Ottoman army; Morosini decided to attack the enemy and forced them to flee; more than a hundred enemy heads were placed on pikes and shown to the fortress defenders, who nevertheless refused to surrender; a second Ottoman army was repulsed; eventually the fortress fell and the assailants killed all the inhabitants, including women and children: the winged lion of Venice was placed again on the main gate of the fortress (it is now in a street leading to it).
Northern bastion and olive-grove
The fortress was strengthened by the Venetians, but when in 1714 a large Ottoman army invaded Morea, the Venetian consulta, (the council of commanders in charge of the war) decided to move the garrison of Corone to Modon, in the hope of being able to defend the latter fortress.
(left) Cathedral (in turn Orthodox, three times Catholic, three times a mosque, Orthodox again): the bell tower is built on the base of a former minaret; (centre) Byzantine chapel; (right) XIXth century chapel at Resalto
In 1824 during the Greek War of Independence, the insurgents made an attempt to seize the fortress by climbing a tower on its southern side.
Probably they hoped to take the Turkish garrison by surprise, but the plan failed and most of the attackers died: the tower is called Resalto (salto in Italian means jump, so probably the name is a reference to the attackers jumping down from the tower). A chapel was built at the top of Resalto in memory of the fallen.
In 1828 Général Maison, commander of the French expeditionary Corps (who helped the Greek insurgents), managed to occupy Corone; the Muslims had to leave the town. It was not the last war event which occurred in the fortress: in 1944 during the Greek Civil War a fight for the control of the town ended with the massacre of more than 1,500 civilians.
It is therefore very appropriate that the site of the fortress is today occupied by a large olive-grove and by a few churches and small graveyards.
Eastern bay and steps leading to it
Excerpts from Memorie Istoriografiche del Regno della Morea Riacquistato dall'armi della Sereniss. Repubblica di Venezia printed in Venice in 1692 and related to this page:
In Belvedere, chè parte dell'antica Messenia Provincia più diviziosa del non men fertile Regno della Morea
in distanza da Modon miglia dieci per terra, e venti in circa per mare al lato sinistro
di Capo Gallo, da Tolomeo detto Acritas Promontorium, ha forte sito la Cità di Coron, già da
Strabone, e Plinio collo stesso nome riconosciuta, per haversi nel cavar le fondamenta trovato una
Cornacchia di rame, che da Greci Coronis è detta; per il che come pronostico di prospera riuscita,
Corone la dissero, qual come seggio un tempo Episcopale, soggetta all'Arcivescovato
di Patrasso, così altre volte fù Colonia de Tebani, chiamata dalli Poeti
Pedasus, da Lauremberg Nisi, da Pausania Epea, celebrata dalle Storie
delli più rinomati antichi, e moderni Scrittori.
Introductory page on the Venetian Fortresses in Greece
List of the fortresses
|Geographic area||Location||Ionian Islands||Corfù (Kerkyra) Paxo (Paxi) Santa Maura (Lefkadas) Cefalonia (Kephallonia) Asso (Assos) Itaca (Ithaki) Zante (Zachintos) Cerigo (Kythera)||Greek Mainland||Butrinto (Butrint) Parga Preveza and Azio (Aktion) Vonizza (Vonitsa) Lepanto (Nafpaktos) Atene (Athens)||Peloponnese (Morea)||Castel di Morea (Rio), Castel di Rumelia (Antirio) and Patrasso (Patra) Castel Tornese (Hlemoutsi) and Glarenza Navarino (Pilo) and Calamata Modon (Methoni) Corone (Koroni) Braccio di Maina, Zarnata, Passavà and Chielefà Mistrà Corinto (Korinthos) Argo (Argos) Napoli di Romania (Nafplio) Malvasia (Monemvassia)||Aegean Islands||Negroponte (Chalki) Castelrosso (Karistos) Oreo Lemno (Limnos) Schiatto (Skiathos) Scopello (Skopelos) Alonisso Schiro (Skyros) Andro (Andros) Tino (Tinos) Micono (Mykonos) Siro (Syros) Egina (Aegina) Spezzia (Spetse) Paris (Paros) Antiparis (Andiparos) Nasso (Naxos) Serifo (Serifos) Sifno (Syphnos) Milo (Milos) Argentiera (Kimolos) Santorino (Thira) Folegandro (Folegandros) Stampalia (Astipalea)||Crete||Grambusa (Granvousa) Castello (Kasteli/Kissamos) La Canea (Xania) Souda Candia (Iraklion) Rettimo (Rethymno) Spinalonga and Castel Mirabello Castles on the southern coast Sittia and Paleocastro|
You may refresh your knowledge of the history of Venice in the Levant by reading an abstract from
the History of Venice by Thomas Salmon, published in 1754. The Italian text is accompanied by an English summary.