Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία
Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Πέμπτη, 20 Αυγούστου 2015

The battle of Olive Grove of Kountouras, Messinia, Peloponnese - The Frankish knights defeat Byzantine army

The Battle of the Olive Grove of Kountouras took place in the summer of 1205, in Messenia in the Peloponnese peninsula, between the FrankishCrusaders and the local Greeks, resulting in a victory of the Frankish knights and the collapse of the local resistance. In 1204, Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine Empire was taken by the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade and the Republic of Venice. This led to the collapse of the Byzantine Empire and the establishment of the Latin Empire. Meanwhile, a Crusader force of between 500 and 700 knights under the command of William of Champlitte and Geoffrey I of Villehardouin advanced into the Peloponnese to deal with Byzantine resistance. In the Olive Grove of Kountouras in Messenia, they confronted an army of around 5,000 Peloponnesian Greeks under the command of a certain Michael. In the ensuing battle, the Crusaders emerged victorious, forcing the Byzantines to retreat and crushing resistance in the Peloponnese. This battle paved the way for the foundation of the Principality of Achaea. The army of the Fourth Crusade conquered Constantinople on 12 April 1204. One of the main leaders of the crusade, Boniface of Montferrat, having lost the opportunity to become Emperor, went on to found the Kingdom of Thessalonica. That autumn, William of Champlitte  followed him to Thessalonica but then continued south until he reached the Morea (Peloponnese). There he was joined by Geoffrey I of Villehardouin, who had sailed to Modon (Methoni) on his way back from Palestine. There Geoffrey of Villehardouin had entered the service of a local Greek magnate against his rivals, and had gained the impression that the country was easy to take. When the magnate died, his son broke off the alliance with him, but Villehardouin, learning that the Crusaders under Boniface were besieging the Greek magnate Leo Sgouros in Nauplia and the Acrocorinth in the northwest, set out to seek his aid. Boniface sought to retain him in his own service, but Villehardouin teamed up with his fellow Champenois, Champlitte, whom he enticed with tales of the richness of the land and with a pledge to recognize him as his lord. Boniface finally sanctioned their undertaking, and in charge of around a hundred knights and several soldiers, Champlitte and Villehardouin set out together to conquer the Morea. The towns of Patras andAndravida fell without struggle, and at the latter Champlitte received the homage of the local magnates and people of the Skorta and Mesarea. From there the Franks moved south along the coast, accompanied by a fleet, easily taking the fortress of Pontikon, which they repaired and garrisoned. They bypassed the strong fortress of Arkadia (Kyparissia), and passing through Navarino, arrived at Modon. They repaired the fortress walls, long ago torn down by the Venetians to stop its use as a pirate base, and assaulted the nearby fort of Coron, which fell after a single day, and the town of Kalamata, which surrendered. At this point, the Greeks of Laconia and Arcadia, under the leadership of a certain Michael, tried to stop the Franks at the olive grove of Kountouras in northeastern Messenia. Modern scholars have traditionally identified this Michael with Michael I Komnenos Doukas, founder of the Despotate of Epirus, but this identification has been questioned more recently by Raymond-Joseph Loenertz, as the fragile nature of his control over Epirus would have made a departure to aid the Moreote Greeks a major and unlikely gamble. The events of the conquest are narrated by two sources, the various versions of the Chronicle of the Morea, and On the Conquest of Constantinople, by the Crusader Geoffrey of Villehardouin (uncle of Geoffrey I). According to the Chronicle, the Franks had between 700 men, while the Greeks had 4,000, mounted and on foot. The elder Villehardouin states that the army of Michael (who is not mentioned by the Chronicle) numbered 5000 men and that of the Franks 500. The two sources also differ in the exact chronology of events, with the Chronicle placing the battle after the Frankish capture of Kalamata, and the elder Villehardouin after the seizure of Modon. In any case, despite being outnumbered, the Franks, after a march of a single day, confronted the Greeks and won the battle, no details for which are given. The exact location of the olive grove of Kountouras in Messenia is unknown; the Greek version of the Chronicle records, apart from the owner's name (Kountouras or the variant form Koundouron), a location name Kepeskianous (Κηπησκιάνους), while a variant form is recorded as Kapsikia (Καψικία). Efforts have been made to identify the locality, with some linking it with the modern village of Kapsia west of Mantinea in Arcadia, but this is too far from the reported area of the battle based on the sources, and furthermore olive trees do not grow in the region. The Battle of the Olive Grove of Kountouras was decisive for the conquest of the Peloponnese by the Franks, as it represented the last general effort of the local Greeks to resist. The eminent historian of Frankish Greece, William Miller, likened the battle to a "Hastings of the Morea",writing that the "fate of the Morea, like that of Saxon England, was decided by a single pitched battle". After their victory, the Crusaders rested for a while in the rich plain of Messenia. Champlitte called a council of war to determine their future strategy, and sent the fleet, which until then had accompanied them, home. In late 1205 or 1206, the Crusaders went on to capture Arkadia, whose siege lasted for some time, as well as the fortress of Araklovon, whose resistance was led by the celebrated warrior Doxapatres Voutsaras. By this time, the entire northern and western of the peninsula was under the rule of Champlitte. The northwest belonged to the Duchy of Athens under the suzerainty of Boniface of Montferrat, although Leo Sgouros and his men still held out in their two fortresses; and Laconia and the mountains of the Taygetus and Tsakoniaremained still unsubdued. Nevertheless, the first stage of the Frankish conquest was complete, and in a letter to Pope Innocent III on 19 November 1205, Champlitte claimed for himself the title princeps totius Achaiae provincie, establishing a new state, the Principality of Achaea.
Πηγη: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Olive_Grove_of_Kountouras

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