Monforte San Giorgio
Monforte, probably derived from the French 'Montfort' or strong hill,
existed in 1115 as Montisfortis.
By 1145 it was record as castellum Montisfortis, although in the 1154 Book
of Roger it was recorded as just a placename. However, there
was a castle here by 1208 when it and nearby Saponara castle were held
by Nicholas Castagna. This probably occurred in and ended with the minority of Frederick II
(d.1250) in 1208. The castle remained in the hands of the Crown,
although it was garrisoned by Peter Ruffo of Messina (d.1256+) after
the death of Frederick II in 1250. After Peter's defeat at Piazza Armerina in November 1254 it was surrendered by him to the Messinans.
The castle was recorded again in 1268
and in 1270 had a Provençal castellan, Pierre
François. On 3 May 1272 it was stated that the
castle should have an Angevin garrison of 12 knights. In the
first half of the fourteenth century the castle was supposedly rebuilt
by Frederick III
(d.1337), though whether this was before or after Robert Alagona was
lord in the late 1320s is a moot point. Despite this, by 1396 it
had been infeudated to
duke Martino il Vecchio of Montblanc as he granted the castle to
Messina city. The castle was mentioned as Castel di Monforte
near Rometta in 1558, but was shattered by the 1693 earthquake and
The castle stands on a rocky crag just east of the town, the sharp drop
to the next valley to the east forming one side of the
defences. Despite its position the castle does not seem to adopt a
Byzantine battleship disposition. This suggests that it is
probably Norman. The site has been much ‘improved'
and is now occupied by the shrine of the Immaculate Conception and an
archaeological park. The few fragments of enceinte that remain leave
little idea of the castle's original form.
Why not join me at other Sicilian
castles? Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly
Paul Martin Remfry