Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
Roy Kevin Victor Andrews was born in Beijing on January 20, 1924, the nominal son of Roy Chapman Andrews, the celebrated American explorer, naturalist, and dinosaur hunter. Raised in England and New England, Kevin Andrews entered Harvard in 1941 and graduated with an A.B. in Classics and English Literature in 1947. He won the prestigious Charles Eliot Norton Fellowship to attend the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in 1947-48. At the end of the academic year, he secured a second-year fellowship to study an unpublished portfolio of early 18th century castle plans commissioned by a high official of the Veneti an colonial empire in Greece, Francesco Grimani. This project kept Andrews in Greece until 1951. The finished work was published in 1953 as Castles of the Morea and won immediate praise as a minor classic. The publication of 1) Elizabeth Boleman-Herring’s Farewell to Ikaros (2006), a poignant memoir of Kevin Andrews’ last days before his tragic death from drowning off the coast of Kythera on Sept. 1, 1989; 2) a revised edition by G.R. Bugh of Castles of the Morea (2007); and 3)Roger Jinkinson’s biography American Ikaros: The Search for Kevin Andrews (2010) affords a fitting opportunity to revisit the career of Kevin Andrews, classicist, polemicist, and philhellene as we approach the centennial anniversary of his birth.
Kevin Andrews defies categorization. He did not pursue what would have been a promising academic career in classics. By 1955 he had taken up permanent residence in Greece, and twenty years later, after the fall of the Junta (1967-1974), Andrews became a Greek citizen. During his residency he published what would be (and still is) viewed as his other classic, The Flight of Ikaros (1959), an autobiographical account of his travels around Greece during the final years of the Greek Civil War (1946-1949). A revised version appeared in 1984. In essence, Andrews’ diaries and research notes, so meticulously taken over four years as a student at the American School, yielded two important books: 1) an academic study of medieval castles in the Peloponnese (Morea) and 2) an impressionistic encounter with contemporary Greek history.
For Kevin Andrews, the castles of the Peloponnese were more often tools of oppression and control over local populations than places of refuge and defense in times of invasion. The Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian, and Turkish castles were (and are) marvels of military engineering and material culture, but they served foreign masters with more sinister purpose. Through the lens of his Castles of the Morea, we will explore a selection of Venetian fortresses of the southern Greece. It is altogether fitting that in 2017 the UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee recognized the importance of Venetian fortresses in the military, political, social, cultural, economic, and architectural landscape of the Mediterranean world by awarding heritage site status to The Venetian Works of Defense between the 16th and 17th centuries: Stato da Terra-Western Stato da Mar. Although the award does not include the Venetian castles of the Morea, the typology of construction, date, and function parallel their Italian and Adriatic neighbors. They are all keys to the defense of a Venetian empire that lasted over 500 years in Greece, Crete, and Cyprus.