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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume IV: The art and architecture of the Crusader states

VI: The arts in Frankish Greece and Rhodes,   pp. 208-250 PDF (15.7 MB)

Page 213

(Chalcis), on the island of Euboea, the Franks turned the Byzantine church
of Hagia Paraskeve into a Gothic cathedral with a square apse flanked by
side chapels, of which the southern one has two bays of ribbed vaulting supported
on consoles where vine leaves are carved with considerable naturalism, the
skilled work of some western sculptor of the thirteenth century (pl. LXIIIb).
 The military architecture of the Frankish conquest survives in greater abundance
than the ecclesiastical. The main routes were watched by castles built on
hilltops, where in most cases previous fortifications could be reused and
where the nature of the site provided a strong defensive position. As elsewhere
the castle had a dual purpose; it was both the center of a fief and a unit
in a strategic scheme. In the former capacity, it was required to be centralized
with reference to a particular area and to provide in its base court a place
of refuge for the local inhabitants; in the second it had wider responsibilities
to watch frontiers and control communications. To further the latter aim,
towers were built along the main routes, such as that at Moulki, where the
road from Thebes to Livadia enters the plain of Copais. 
 The tide in the affairs of the Frankish principalities moved with great
rapidity. Frontiers changed; castles passed from Franks to Greeks or Catalans
or Venetians. At one moment a key position, at another isolated and forgotten,
these fortresses had widely varying fates. Some, firm on their Hellenic foundations,
have continued to play a part in history, centers for Turkish garrisons,
or strongholds of national resistance in the wars of independence. Others
have crumbled, merging with the hillside, till even their exact site is lost.
All are singularly undocumented, and, with battlements dismantled for artillery
or fallen from disuse, with little care for ornament or fashion in their
building, they are hard to date. The masonry is undistinguished and the stones,
either small trimmed blocks or undressed, provide no clues. A common formula
is a foundation of well-cut antique blocks on which the walls are continued
in uncoursed rubble with brick tiles scattered throughout and the angles
reinforced by larger cut stones. The later Byzantine Greeks, the Franks,
and the Turks in this respect built alike. Only in some of the fifteenth-century
Venetian buildings was well-cut ashlar at all generally used. 
 One of the earliest blows to Frankish security was the destruction of the
Latin kingdom of Thessalonica in 1224. Theodore of Epirus led forays into
Boeotia. Honorius III ordered Salona and Bodonitsa, now holding the frontier,
to be put into the best possible repair. 

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