Post-classical history


Modon (mod. Methoni, Greece) was a fortress town of ancient origins on the western side of the Messenian peninsula of the Peloponnese. It was held by Venice during the period of Frankish rule in Greece.

By the twelfth century, Modon had become a base for pirates threatening Venetian trade in the Adriatic Sea. It was attacked by Venice in 1125 and again sometime before 1204, when it was clearly deserted. The fleet of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) stopped in Modon in 1203, and in 1209 the Treaty of Sapienza awarded it to the Venetians, who built it up as a major port of call for vessels sailing between Venice and the Holy Land. Ships bought salt pork here, and the Messenian peninsula became well known for its large herds of pigs, which supplied this victualling trade (an activity that continued during the Turkish occupation). The town contained a Latin cathedral and the headquarters of the Teutonic Order in Greece.

In 1500 Modon fell to the Turks and the garrison was massacred, a procedure that hastened the surrender of Coron (mod. Koroni, Greece), its twin town on the eastern side of the peninsula. Twice Christian forces unsuccessfully attacked it in the sixteenth century: the Knights of St. John in 1531 and Don John of Austria in 1572 following the battle of Lepanto. Venetian forces occupied it again from 1686 to 1715. In 1825 the Egyptian army of Ibrahim Pasha was disembarked here, and three years later French engineers built the modern town nearby, despoiling the medieval site for their building materials.

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