Mont-Terri Castle is a ruined medieval castle above a prehistoric hillfort on Mont Terri, located in the municipality of Cornol.
Mont Terri forms a buttress of the Lomont ridge (part of the Jura mountains), and is separated from it by a saddle called Derrière Mont Terri. The wooded summit forms a plateau four hectares in area. It is bounded on the west and southwest sides by steep cliffs, the remaining sides are protected by an ancient rampart. At the highest point of the plateau are the remains of a medieval fortified tower.
The summit of Mont Terri is known locally as 'Julius Caesar's Camp'; however, the earliest traces of habitation are from the Neolithic era. Pottery finds suggests that there was occupation during the Middle and Late Bronze Age. During the 1st century BC, a rampart was built of typical Gallic construction, a Murus Gallicus; it has been associated with the Gallic Wars, but the only firm dating for the site is a later Roman coin from the reign of Augustus. There are also finds from a further period of occupation in the 4th century AD and other finds extend into the 10th century. A stone tower was built on the site in the 13th century, probably replacing a previous wooden one, and is probably the 'Château Thierry' mentioned in contemporary texts.
The first investigation of the site was by an antiquarian and Jesuit priest, Father Pierre-Joseph Dunod, at the start of the 18th century. Writing in 1716, Father Dunod speculated that the site was the scene of a decisive battle between Caesar and the Suebi tribe led by Ariovistus. There were later excavations by the owners of the site, Koeckler and Maupassant, who were found to have planted antiquities that they had purchased elsewhere, the deception being uncovered in 1862 by archaeologist Auguste Quiquerez (1801-1882). In the 20th century, methodical excavations by Alban Gerster (1898-1986) and in 1984 by a team from the University of Basle, have uncovered a range of finds from Neolithic flint arrow heads to a 10th century dinarius coin from the reign of Louis IV of France.References:
From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.
Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.
In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.
Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.