Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the winner of more than 20 literary accolades. For a complete list of her awards see: http://helenapschrader.com

For readers tired of clich├ęs and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers nuanced insight to historical events and figures based on sound research and an understanding of human nature. Her complex and engaging characters bring history back to life as a means to better understand ourselves.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Kolossi - Settings for the "Last Crusader Kingdom"

Richard the Lionheart's first rout of Isaac Comnenus allegedly took place at Kolossi. Later it was the site of a Hospitaller Commandery and a magnificent example of crusader architecture of the 15th century has survived to this day. Although this castle did not yet exist at the time in which The Last Crusader Kingdom is set, we know that the current structure was built on foundations of earlier buildings and this inspired an important episode in the novel. Below is a brief history of Kolossi.

Kolossi is located just 10 kilometers (6  miles) west of Limassol on a fertile coastal plain.  In 1191, according to the chronicles, Isaac Comnenus collected his army here, and Richard the Lionheart surprised the camp at dawn, over-running the tents and capturing a huge treasure in equipment and furnishing, while Isaac Comnenus just barely managed to escape on a swift steed. All sources agree that at this time there was no fortress on the site.

In 1210, however, the estate of Kolossi which included some 60 villages, was turned over to the Knights Hospitaller by King Hugh I.  The original castle is believed to date from this period.  Ruins of this castle have been found and exposed by archaeologists:

The land was fertile and the Hospitaller set about cultivating products for export: wheat, cotton, sugar, oil and wine.  Indeed, the wine produced here became famous as "Commandaria" -- a sweet, red wine allegedly preferred by the Plantagenet kings of England.  

Sugar production and export, however, was also a highly lucrative business, and the remains of a 13th century sugar factory are located directly beside the castle. These are erected on the remains of a 12th century factory. 

Sugar production and refining requires large quantities of water and the remains of the sophisticated aqueducts and drains have also been found at Kolossi.

It was this factory that inspired  me to use Kolossi as the venue of an important incident in The Last Crusader Kingdom -- an attack by the rebels against the economic infrastructure of the island. 

Historically, the Hospitallers moved their headquarters to Cyprus (possibly Kolossi) after the fall of Acre in 1291, but mindful of the greed and jealousy of princes, the Hospitallers wisely acquired the island of Rhodes and moved the bulk of their resources there early in the 14th century.  Nevertheless, Kolossi remained an important source of income, and the castle was last refurbished in the 15th century. This last building is what we can see today.  Below are a number of pictures which I took during my most recent visit in 2012.

Left the "Donjon" from the innerward.

Right one of the ground floor chambers presumably used for storage.  

 The interior stairs from the cellars to the first floor.

One of the spacious upper chambers.


 A fireplace:

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