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Description

The Kights of Malta Attack Chlemoutsi Castle in 1620

Rare view depicting the conquest of Castel Tornese (Chlemoutsi) by the Maltese, dedicated to "Carlo Aldobrandino Recevitore della sacra Religione di Malta."

Located on the western tip of the island of Morea in the modern Andravida–Kyllini municipality, the view celebrates the attack of the castle on July 18, 1620 by knights of the order of St John of Malta.

Castel Tornese / Chlemoutsi

The castle was built between 1220 and 1223, during the rule of the Prince of Achaea Geoffrey I of Villehardouin, as a result of a dispute between the Prince and the clergy of the Principality. Geoffrey had asked the clergy, which owned almost a third of the Principality's lands but was not obliged to render military service, for additional donations to help defend the realm. When the clergy refused, claiming that they owed allegiance only to the Pope, Geoffrey confiscated Church property, and began construction of Chlemoutsi with the new funds. The fortress was set on a new foundation, with no previous structure identifiable on this site. Its French name, Clairmont or Clermont, most probably gave rise to the Greek form of Chlo[u]moutsi, which more recently became Chlemoutsi, although various theories have been proposed as to the name's origin, with suggestions of Greek, Albanian or Slavic roots pre-dating the Frankish fortress. From the 15th century, Italian sources came to call it Castel Tornese, apparently through a confusion with the seat of the Principality's mint in nearby Glarentza, which until the middle of the 14th century minted silver tornese coins.

In 1418, Glarentza and Chlemoutsi passed into the hands of Carlo I Tocco, who began to expand his territories in the Morea at the expense of Prince Centurione II Zaccaria. After his defeat by the Byzantine navy in the 1427 Battle of the Echinades, however, Tocco was forced to cede his possessions to the Despot of the Morea, Constantine Palaiologos (who would become the last Byzantine emperor), in the form of a dowry for his daughter Maddalena Tocco.  Chlemoutsi now became Constantine's residence and his base of operations against the last major Latin stronghold, the city of Patras, in 1428–30. The castle remained in Byzantine hands until it was captured, along with the rest of the Morea, by the Ottoman Empire in 1460. 

With the Ottoman conquest, the castle lost much of its strategic significance, although it was occupied by the Venetians during the Ottoman–Venetian War of 1463–79, and attacked by the Knights of Malta in 1620. During the period of Venetian rule in the Peloponnese (1687–1715) after the Morean War, it served as the seat of a fiscal district.