The Image and the City - The War for Candia previous 5/6 next

Rethymno and the representation of the city


Here, unlike Candia  and Chania  but like Siteia  the difference seems clear between civilian habitation and castle, between the local population and the military. Rethymno  is described by Provveditore  Luca Michiel as a 'wretched and desolate city'1: the fortification was indeed in distressing condition, and it could only possibly have been used as a desperate last-resort refuge for its inhabitants. The Venetian rulers worked industriously to restore the appearance of their governors' territory. In 1578 Davide Bembo urged them to send timber and iron, to be used not only to strengthen the walls, but to initiate construction of the rectors' residence and the public offices. There was clearly an attempt to set an example and encourage the local population to come and 'fabricar et habitar' ('build and live') in the city (as Paolo Contarini mentioned in 1578), but the citizens of Rethymno continued to build their low houses even after the destruction of buildings which had been destroyed in the razing  operations. There was therefore bitter conflict between civilians and the military, which even shed doubt on the function of the city. Natale Dandolo, Captain of Candia, wrote in 1580 that it would be better to destroy the fortress, which was a possible attraction for enemies, such badly guarded 'bait' for the Turks.

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Viaggio virtuale tra le fonti storiche veneziane
Rotta: Venezia e il Levante (sec XV - sec XVIII)
© 1996 by the VENIVA consortium