Saturday, August 20, 2011

Frankish Church in Chalandri: Franciscan?

My last post, where I reported on a little-known new excavation of a Frankish chapel in Athens, generated a wonderful discussion among a group of specialists, notably Diana Wright, "The Duke of Athens Makes His Will," Surprised By Time (Aug. 12, 2011) and Pierre MacKay, who knows Mendicants in Greece like nobody's business

I would like to report on the paper trail on the identification of Chalandri's Frangomonastiro with the Franciscans. The Deltion article reported succinctly on the excavation of the 13th-c. chapel and marshaled all the recent citations, primarily the 1960 Greek translation of William Miller's Latins in the Levant. So, the question remains. Is this really a Franciscan foundation? and if so, what are the arguments for such an attribution?

The main citation for a Franciscan attribution was the Greek edition of William Miller's classic, The Latins in the Levant: A History of Frankish Greece 1204-1566 (New York, 1908). Those that know the history of this unsurpassed work know that the legendary Byzantinist (and once Prime Minister) Spyridon Lambros produced a Greek translation immediately after the English original, in his journal Νέος Ελληνομνήμων (1909). Lambros' translation basically endorsed Miller's volume as the best available history of Frankish Greece and antiquated a whole lot of earlier studies (Buchon, Hopf, etc.) for Greek readers. In 1960, Angelos Phouriotis produced a complete translation of Latins in the Levant with the added bonus of updated annotations and illustrations, Ιστορία της Φραγκοκρατίας στην Ελλάδα (Athens, 1960). In other words, the Greek 1960 translation surpasses the English original in its inclusions of 50 years of scholarly commentary.

So, here is my reconstructed chronology for Frangomonastiro.

1851. The will of Walter V de Brienne (1312) is published by Marie Henry d'Arbois de Jubainville, “Testament de Gautier V de Brienne, duc d’Athènes,” in Voyage paléographique dans le département de l'Aube (Paris, 1851), pp. 332-340. . d'Arbois de Jubainville publishes this material again in, Catalogue d'acted des comtes de Brienne 950-1354 (Paris 1872), p. 44. The will is vague about money that de Brienne left for the Franciscans of Athens.

1881. The name "Franko Monastiri" is first identified in Ernst Curtius and Johannes Augustus Kaupert's atlas, Karten von Attika (Berlin, 1881), pl. 5 (Download here). Elements of buildings are still standing.

1892. The ruins of a building (not existing anymore) are mentioned by Tassos D. Neroutsos in the pioneering study, "Χριστιανικαί Αθήναι (Christian Athens)" Β'1 "Η εκκλησία Αθηνών επί Φραγκοκρατίας (The Churches of Athens in the Frankish Period" Δελτίον της Ιστορικής και Εθνολογικής Εταιρείας 4 (1892), pp. 51-204. Naroutsos's account is the first Greek topographical investigation of Frankish monuments in Attica. Sadly, Neroutsos died the same year section B'1 was published. He is the first scholar to suggest a connection between Frangomonastiro in Chalandri and de Brienne's Franciscans. This is what Neroutsos says, and you can see hat the association is just speculation: "Σ'αυτή την περίοδο, επίσης ανέρχεται το "Φραγκομονάστηρο" που τα ερείπια του για καιρό βρίσκονταν στους πρόποδες του Πεντελικού και πιθανόν να είταν η έδρα των Μινωριτών, που μνημονεύονται στη διαθήκη του τελευταίου δούκα." ["'Frangomonastiro' belongs to this period. The ruins of Frangomonastiro were to be found on the slopes of Mount Pentelikon for many years. This is probably the Franciscan center that [de Brienne's] will commemorates."](p. 82, n. 65)

1908. William Miller publishes Latins in the Levant. He discusses de Brienne's will but makes not association with Chalandri.

1933. Anastasios Orlandos mentions the ruins in his Index of Medieval Monuments of Greece, Ευρετήριον των Μεσαιωνικών Μνημείων της Ελλάδος 3 (1933), p. 177.

1960. Citing Neroutsos, Phouriotis mentions the possibility that the Chalandri Frangomonastiro may have received de Brienne's benefaction as a Franciscan monastery.

2001. Rescue excavation of Frangomonastiro, in the building of Attike Odos. Neroutsos suggestion, via Phouriotis is reconsidered.

In short, there is no strong reason to associate this building with Franciscans, although it is certainly Frankish. This quick fact-checking exercise has produced all kinds of interesting questions. You might note from his will that de Brienne commissioned a church at Lecce for his memory. Wouldn't it be interesting to compare the church in Italy with the duke's buildings in Greece? We are confronted with a truly global order that moves beyond Greece-France. Whether Franciscan or not, the little chapel on the slopes of Mount Penteli need to be related to the more famous Frankish Monastery excavated by Anastasios Orlandos. It is important to note that Orlandos implicated the Franciscans in this building, as well, although he argues that the building was a Greek church that might have been later sold to Latins monastics (to explain the toponym Frankish Monastery).


Nauplion said...

Thank you for laying out the paper trail and showing how easily assumptions become statements of authority.

Anyone who wants to make this a Franciscan monastery needs to look at what we know about Franciscan monasteries in Greece. Those in Clarenza, Methoni, Rethymon and Nauplion are in the main urban area. That of Chania is within the city walls. That of Negroponte was outside the walls, but a very short walk away. Simply the location of this Chalandri site argues against its having been a Franciscan monastery.

Franciscans were a preaching order and lived by begging: because of that they were primarily urban. This is not to say that some monasteries were not located outside a city, but such occurrences are later than the Frankish period in Athens.

Notice that the local tradition retains "Frankish" rather than "Franciscan." Your sketches of the chapel remains give every indication of the burial chapel of a fief, and Frankish makes perfectly good sense in that context. I would also suggest that any Franciscan construction would be symmetrical.

Heather G. said...

Yes, agreed wholeheartedly about the (likely false) Franciscan attribution. But also let's note (and I note that I haven't yet read the Deltion report) that there seems to be little archaeological evidence tying the Halandri chapel remains to the folkloric name. Is this actually that same chapel, or possibly some other chapel dating to the same period? What makes it 'Frankish' -- meaning Latin rite -- per se, as opposed to 'Frankish-period'? As this is such a common type of vernacular church architecture, as Kourelis's previous blog post points out, there is little, on the face of it, that can designate the religious rite of the patron(s). If the bodies had been found intact, perhaps burial practice could have helped, but this seems not to have been the case here.

The real, bigger question is why archaeologists (and art historians, etc) are still employing the dichotomy 'Frankish' and 'Byzantine' in cases such as these, when architectural forms rarely correspond so neatly to these canons. Style and form do not always equal identity, or the identities we might think.

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Kostis Kourelis

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