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 never recovered.

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 Sojourns.


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