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THE CITADEL IN TROGIR A Contribution to the Study of the Fortifications of the early 15th Century

Vanja Kovačić ; Konzervatorski odjel Ministarstva kulture u Splitu

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 5.399 Kb


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Puni tekst: engleski pdf 5.399 Kb


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The citadel in Trogir was built according to a plan by the new Venetian government at the beginning of the 15th century as a detached fort on the periphery of the fortified town. In the earliest documents relation to the planning of the Trogir castle and the preparations for the building there is mention of a fortilicio or arx. It was only several centuries later that the name of Kamerlengo, taken from the title of respected officials [chamberlain] of the Venetian Republic, became common. In documents of the late 18th century it is stated that the castellan and camerlengo had a dwelling in the northern set of houses within the citadel, today no longer in existence, which suggests that the name of the office became, over the course of time, a synonym for the Trogir town castle. Trogir 17th century historians Ivan Lucić and Pavao Andreis collected invaluable historical sources and evidence concerning the past of the city, particularly concerning the siege by the Venetian fleet. Documents provide precise instructions for the construction of the citadel founded on strategic analyses of the ground, access from land and sea and of directions from which attacks would be naturally frustrated.
The Trogir naval siege, accompanied by bombardment of the city, was executed according to the decision of Doge Tommaso Mocenigo (1414-1423). As early as the 14th century there had been an attempt by Venice to master Trogir, that small but important Dalmatian commune. The conflict between the Genovese and the Venetians broke out in a sea battle off Trogir in 1378, for Genovese galleys commanded by Luciano Doria had taken cover there. Under the command of Admiral Vettore Pisani, the Venetian fleet bombarded the city from the sea and from positions on Čiovo island, with an attempt to make a seaborne descent on he mainland. However, the plan did not bear fruit, and neither did a renewed attempt by Venice to take Trogir in the following year.
After the victory over the Turkish fleet at Gallipoli, on the bridgehead
between Europe and Asia Minor in 1416, the Venetians soon gained control of cities on the entrance into the Adriatic. A second strategic point, in the northwest, consisted of Aquileia and the whole of the province of Friuli, which fell in 1419-1420. When Venetian government in Zadar had been consolidated, interventions in the commune centres in central Dalmatia were the next part of the Mocenigo programme to conquer the whole of the Adriatic basin. At Gallipoli, Pietro Loredan had made his name as commander of the fleet, and led it during the attack on Trogir during May and June 1420. The 14th century city walls with the towers at the rim, the monastery of St Nicholas, the cathedral and bell tower, the council chamber, city loggia and numerous palaces were seriously damaged. One of the first tasks in the organisation of the life in the city was the repair of the damaged walls and towers and the construction of the citadel, which was able to function as a separate fort. Immediately after Verona acknowledged Venetian rule in 1408, an office called provisores ad fortilicia was set up, part of the programme of which was to check out the condition of the defensive system in other conquered provinces as well. The Republic sent Picino its tried and tested fortification expert, who had achieved prominence in the construction of the Lido fort, which was in fact the bulwark of Venice, and from 1413 to 1428 was posted to Verona, where he ran the renovation of the citadel. In the edicts of 1422 and 1424, mention is made, in connection with the fortification of Verona, of magistri Picini ingenarii nostri and prothoingenarius ducalis dominii Venetorum. Working with him were masters Stefano and Giovanni of Cremona. On the orders of the doge, he occasionally arrived in Dalmatia as well; the sources refer to him in 1414 in Zadar and Šibenik as magistrum Pizinum, but his personal name is not given. In 1409, the Venetian government in Zadar built a fort at the south east of the city called Citadella. Not long after that the trecento city castle on the north east of the peninsula was reinforced after a detailed plan by Engineer Picino of 1414. It had a square ground plan with a polygonal corner tower facing onto the city, a barbican with a fortified belt of walls around the castle, which was accompanied by a wide defensive fosse.
At the very beginning of August 1425 the doge constituted a commission the task of which was to make a decision about the best place for the construction of a citadel in Trogir. Magister Picino made use of the defensive mode adopted in the Zadar castle, where the site chosen was peripheral with respect to the existing structure of the town and adapted it to the position of Trogir port, the navigation channels and the shallows of the marine channel. Detailed instructions about the handling of the walls and towers in situ were given by Captain General of Adriatic Pietro Loredan, specifying which parts were to be demolished, which strengthened.
At the beginning of September Trogir rector Detrico signed a contract with the stone carver Marin Radojev for the working of stone for the foundations of the citadel. With three stonecutters, Marin guaranteed to collect stone in the quarry and work the face of the ashlars, and bring them by ship to Trogir, to the site of the construction of the future citadel. The contract made it clear that what had to be built was a tower with 15-foot wide towers, making use in the fill and the outer face of the walls high quality mortar, as befitted the reputation of a good craftsman.
A small chapel dedicated to St Mark, patron saint of the Most Serene Republic, was put up in the courtyard of Kamerlengo. Below the monumental relief of a lion was the coat of arms of the Tron family in a quatrefoil. Luca Tron had distinguished himself as the captain of a Venetian galley in the surrender of Korčula and the siege of Trogir, and was rewarded with the confidential office of city rector (1421-1424), the second in chronological order from the establishment of the new Venetian government. A Gothic relief of a lion with the initials DC and the coat of arms of the Contarini family was done after the capture of Trogir in the 15th century and placed in the chapel in memory of Doge Domenico Contarini I (1043-1071), who is mentioned in Venetian annals in the context of the taking of Zadar in the middle of the 12th century.
The works on the construction of the castle went on slowly for the commune was not able to summon up funds enough from its own revenues and constantly repeated requests for aid. During a second visit to Trogir in 1424 Admiral Loredan toured the city with the commanders of the galleys and informed Doge Francesco Foscari of all he had observed.
At the time of rector Jacopo Zorzi (1424-1426) work was continued on the construction of the citadel and the barbican was reinforced. The coats of arms of rector Jacopo Barbarigo (1426-1429) were incorporated into both towers on the eastern side of the citadel; as trophy heraldry, they must be considered indications of the time of the completion of the work on this part of the fort. An inscription mentioning some big works of 1425 during the time of Rector Jacopo Zorzi is built in over the eastern part of the portico of the cloister of the Dominican monastery.
It needs connecting with the long stay of Pietro Loredan in Dalmatia;
together with rector Zorzi and the galley commanders, he issued detailed instructions for the renovation of the Trogir walls and towers that had been damaged in the bombardment. A slab that records the rapidly completed works was probably incorporated into the curtain of the new wall in front of the monastery, and Loredan’s coat of arms was built into the corner of the wall close to the gate of St Roch.
In 1432 the city received aid from the Republic for continuation of works on the city walls, and in an edict of July 26, 1436, a decision to complete the citadel and renovate the city walls at places threatened with collapse was taken. Rector of Trogir Marco Zen (1435-1436) entered into contracts with the Zadar craftsmen Matej Radovanov and Šimun Bilšić about the construction of a vault over the cistern in the castello and of a new wall on the north and the east in the fosse.
Detailed drawings of the city castello in watercolour are kept in Vienna (Kartensammlung des Kriegsarchives) and were done during the time of the Austrian government of 1829, when the moat was already filled up with building material from the demolished walls. A large tower in all floor plan levels and with cross sections and indications of dimensions is shown separately.
At that time, throughout Europe, the defensive character of city walls lost their importance; the opening up of wide roads and promenades was encouraged; on the platforms of the bastions and along the onetime fortifications stretched parks and gardens. The ruinous state of the walls was an additional encouragement to the authorities to remove them, and Kamerlengo Castle, which had been registered in the exchequer, was in 1848 added to the demolition list. But unlike the citadel in Split and Zadar, which were partially demolished or integrated into later construction, the Trogir castle kept the original planimetry and volume. Although of modest dimensions, this fort acquired a symbolic level in the image of the city, dominating the city port like a lighthouse for all the navigational routes.

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