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Chlemoutsi (Castle Glarentza)

Chlemoutsi or, Chloumoutsi, the Clermont, or, Castel Tornese of the Franks was the most important castle of the Principality of Achaia. The original name of the castle was Clermont, as it was named by its French owners. The Greeks called it Chloumoutsi or Chlemoutsi, a name which is still used today. During the time of the Venetian domination it was called Castel Tornese, because the Venetians thought that there was minting of the coins of the principality of Achaia, the "Tornesei".

It was build in the years 1220 - 1223, during the Frankish occupation by Geoffrey II Villehardouin and protected Andravida, and the seaport, Glarentza. Geoffrey the second taxed the Latin clergy, who complained to Pope Honorius III and he in return excommunicated Geoffrey. Geoffrey explained to the Pope that he used the taxes to build the castle, which would protect and ensure the existence of the principality and the Latin people, otherwise, if the Romans took Moria would not only kill the soldiers, like him, but also the Latin clergy. The Pope was persuaded and agreed to lift the excommunication.

After the death of William Villehardouin , intense conflicts erupted over the succession of the hegemony and the principality gradually was led to decline. Chlemoutsi was claimed by several noble Catalans, Greeks and Franks. In 1460 the castle was captured by the Turks and in 1687 by the Venetians, who kept it in their possession until 1715, when they lost it again and was passed in the hands of the Turks.

The castle of myths and legends

Chlemoutsi has to tell many myths and legends and, like all castles, is associated with traditions that speak of princes and princesses living in neighboring castles, connected by underground passages. One of the traditions tells the story of a prince living in Paliopoli (ancient Elis) and loved the princess who lived in Chlemoutsi. The prince was called Aniliastos (which in greek means the one who has never seen the sun) because if he ever saw the sun he would be transformed into stone. So was the princess’ fate and they were called her Aniliasti.

In order to see each other they made an underground passage from Paliopoli to Chlemoutsi and the prince used it to go and meet her in Chlemoutsi . One time, though, as he was returning to his palace, he happened to be outside the passage when the rooster cried at sunrise and he was turned into stone. And the legend continues even today, that the stone prince is still there as he ran to get into the passage.

In Chlemoutsi Margarita Villehardouin , the second and most beloved daughter of Prince William was jailed. Her father had died and so Isabeau , the eldest sister. And now others ruled. Thus, in turn , she had approached the Catalans , the enemies of the Franks . The Franks condemned her and isolated her in Chlemoutsi until her death in the year 1315.

In the area there is still the widespread tradition that refers to two fairies, who were compared to the daughters of Villehardouin and one of them inherited Chlemoutsi and other one Santameri . In Chlemoutsi lived a beautiful but childless Fairy while on Santameri an ugly one, but she had five boys and a beautiful daughter. The ugly Fairy gave her daughter to the beautiful Fairy, when she went to visit her and she was asking for a child for companion in her solitude.

When the beautiful Fairy took the daughter, she closed her in the castle and never let her see her mother again. The Fairy of Santameri tried in vain to convince her sister to allow her to see her daughter. Her wail was so great, that matched the elements of nature. That's why since then, when the winds are booming and rain falls heavily they say that it is the groan of the ugly fairy that mourns the loss of her child. In the area of Ilia, the Chlemoutsi Castle is considered as a gathering place of fairies.


The legend of Princess Isabeau

After the conquest of Constantinople by the Franks in 1204, the territories of the Byzantine Empire were distributed among the winners. Godefrigkos Villehardouin (in French: Geoffroi de Villehardouin) plundered the Peloponnese and became Prince of Achaia, in 1209. The Frankish conquest of Moria just began.

Isabella Villehardouin (in French : Isabelle de Villehardouin), aka Isabeau Zambia , as mentioned by the Chronicle of Morea, was born in 1263 and died on 23 January 1312. She was the eldest daughter of Achaia Prince William II Villehardouin and his main heir.

Angelos Terzakis made her love story a novel titled "The Princess Isabeau ." Isabeau,A Princess of Achaia ,  she was the daughter of William Villehardouin and a Greek woman Anna Angelina Comnini. At the age of twelve she was engaged to Philip d' Anjou. After the death of her husband and father, she married Florent de d' Hainault, and returned to Achaia to assume power. She loved neither the one nor the other. She spent her life full with sadness and returned to her parents' castle in Kalamata.

At the same time, Nikiforos Sgouros Evgenikopoulos of Nauplion (Nafplion) organized the revolution of the Greeks of Morea against the Franks. Nikiforos met with Isabeau and entered her Service. During the occupation of Kalamata by the Greeks, the princess had the opportunity to become better acquainted with the young man and fell in love with him. But how can two strangers live together? How can two enemies live together? The relationship was impossible and doomed from the beginning, since her two poles were on opposite sides of the conflict, while the social distance between them was great.

When Nikiforos told her to leave together she did not find the courage to follow him.

In Kalamata by themselves
grow orange trees
and the seagulls count their centuries
on the beaches.

In the castle the bees
seek Isabeau
but you never willed me
in your garden to enter.

Lyrics : Nikos Gatsos .
Music: Manos Hadjidakis.

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