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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume IV: The art and architecture of the Crusader states
(1977)

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


Page 227

Ch. VI FRANKISH GREECE 227 
Scutari, held by Venice from 1396 to 1474, and the fortress there is Venetian
in plan. At Berat the impressive castle on the hilltop has on the gateway
the monogram of Michael I Ducas (Angelus) "Comnenus" (1204-121 5), the first
ruler, but the walls show varying styles of masonry from the large well-cut
blocks of the lower courses to the small rubble of the top; an irregular
enceinte with alternate square and semicircular projecting towers crowns
the top of the hill, with a large polygonal keep at the highest and strongest
point, where the mountain side breaks away precipitously; a casemate ending
in a bastion stretched down the hillside with walls built in places across
steep rock cliffs. It suggests the design of Byzantine fortifications, such
as those of Antioch, and was probably chosen by the despots because of preexisting
remains, but much of its history, even of its various occupations, remains
uncertain. At Lesh (Alessio) the castle is inferior and later work: it was
the center in the fifteenth century of Scanderbeg's rally against the Turks,
and was destroyed by them on their capture of it; the present ruins may date
from that period. The same is probably true of Kroia and Petrela; the fortress
of Elbasan is Turkish work. Canina above Avlona (Valona) has a polygonal
tower, similar to that at Berat. 
 Arta was the capital of the despotate. Here there is not Only fortification,
mainly Venetian and Turkish in its present state, but also a group of churches
which in their architecture and ornament recall a culture, limited and provincial,
but not without genuine individuality in its fusion of Byzantine and Italian
elements. In the narthex of the chapel of St. Theodora (d. about 1270) there
is a tomb, remade but embodying a slab on which are represented two half-length
angels, with between them, under an arch supported on knotted columns, the
sainted queen, a large figure protecting the smaller effigy of her husband,
Michael II, or perhaps of her son Nicephorus. With its curious flat and linear
relief this carving is probably a copy of an earlier thirteenth-century relief,
but even at second hand it brings a close contact with the arts of the despotate.
 Passing eastward, central Thessaly was controlled by Trikkala, with a strong
keep on the highest point of the hill and a base court, divided by a fortified
wall, sloping down from it. Much of the castle still stands, curiously dominated
by a nineteenth-century clock tower with elaborate crenelations, but the
rebuildings have been too frequent and its history is too obscure to allow
of any exact chronological analysis. To the north and on the sea controlling
the coastal route, the castle of Platamon stands on a cliff, its ruins still
an impressive spectacle. It has little known history. Its outer enceinte,


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