02 Mar Rhodes Rivers, Part 2
In part two of Rhodes Rivers, we look at two rivers that flow onto the West coast.
The first is the main river between Kremasti and the airport, near the former site of palace of Villanova. Villanova was one of the grand master’s summer residences outside Rhodes town. The village took its name from Grand Master Helion de Villeneuve (1319-1346). A wide and at times perilous river, as we sadly know from a few years ago (2013), this river appears in at least two versions of the medieval Insularium Illustratum, that in the British Library and also at Chantilly. There must have been a bridge connecting Kremasti to Villanova, perhaps on the site of the current bridge. This is likely as Kremasti Castle is very close to the current bridge on a direct route to Villanova.
Also possibly shown on both of these maps is the river running near Trianda. There is certainly documentary evidence of this river. In 1433, a vineyard leased to the Grand Preceptor was situated by the river or ‘potamo’ in Trianda. See my ‘Piety and property in Late Medieval and Early Modern Rhodes: the case of Trianda’ (2020) for details. Just below Mount Philerimos, this is some of the most fertile land on Rhodes. Much of the land was leased to Hospitallers or their servants, but some was held by locals. Now, where not built up, it’s mostly olive groves, under the Hospitallers there were many vineyards in the area.
Wine Production on Medieval Rhodes
The Hospitallers made good use of Rhodes long hot summers and wet winters to cultivate vineyards all over the island. This probably included Embonas, still a centre of wine production, though the early documents do not specifically mentioned vineyards. Uninhabited in 1336, the Hospitallers persuaded Greek surfs to settle it with various tax incentives and allowances. There was a large river here at that time, essential to agricultural production. Senior Hospitallers exported wine from Rhodes abroad, perhaps for use in services or entertainment. For example, amongst other goods, in 1439 Prior Mallory of England imported 18 barrels of wine from Rhodes.