A History of Cyprus

The Frankish - Italian era

Latin and Orthodox Christians

In 1192 , Cyprus thus passed into the hands of a Catholic French aristocratic family . The transfer of power was facilitated by the peace signed between Saladin and the Crusader state of Acre . Guy de Lusignan endeavoured to expand the basis of his power and generously granted fiefs to Frankish nobles . There were enough candidates through the losses of territory in Syria . He died childless in May 1194 . His brother , Amarlic , consolidated the rule of the Lusignan dynasty by adopting the constitution of 'Outremer ' without copying its weak points . In Frankish Cyprus there were no over - powerful barons who might have disputed his power in the ruling council . He consolidated his position by adopting the title of king . The Hohenstaufen Emperor Henry VI became his overlord . Amarlic was crowned in Nicosia in 1197 . In addition , he expanded his secular power through the spiritual power of the Roman Catholic Church . For the next centuries , Orthodox and Latin hierarchies existed side by side , mainly to the disadvantage of the indigenous office-holders . When Amarlic died in 1205 , he left a minor son ; Cyprus passed under the regency of one of the barons , He broke the peace with the Moslems in 1206/1207 by an attack on the coast of Asia Minor , enriching himself so much that he was sent into exile in 1210 . At the age of 13 , Amarlic's son married Alice of Jerusalem and assumed the reins of government as Hugh I at the age of 15 and died at 23 at the wedding of a half - sister in Tripoli . His wife Alice delegated the regency .

The dynastic relationships of these centuries were not infrequently marked by the rapid sequence of princes in their minority with their mothers , regents and young kings . Again and again there was vacuum of power revealing the exposed nature , the strange irreality of this realm . In addition , in the long term , the existence of the Latin kingdom on Cyprus was not to be separated from the idea of liberating the Holy Land . Without supplies and support from the West , this regime , which never really came to any arrangement with the Greeks , despite certain concessions and a certain degree of assimilation , but always remained an alien element , was unable to survive permanently . In the first hundred years of its existence , the Frankish dynasty was directly involved in the crusades . And as all the crusades , apart from the first one , remained unsuccessful , it was thus involved in a chain of defeats involving heavy losses .

Hugh I , who had participated in the Fifth Crusade alongside his liege lord , the Emperor Frederick II , with his own troops , also left a minor son at his death . His queen had entrusted the government to a member of the most powerful family in Frankish Cyprus , the Ibelins . Frederick II , Emperor of the 'Holy Roman Empire' , one of the three leaders of the Crusade , triggered off a civil war on the island by deposing this regent in 1228 and appointing people acceptable to him . The uprising did not last long ; on 14 July 1229 , the renegades were defeated in a battle near Nicosia . They fled into the Pentadaktylos Mountains , but had to give up in 1230 . Frederick II again sent a marshal who was intended to press his claims . In the year before the prince would be able to take up the reins of government , fighting broke out again which the young king - Henry I - was only able to decide in his favour with the help of the Genoese . The Genoese claimed Famagusta as a base and from then on interfered considerably in the island's politics . Pope Innocent IV dispensed the Cypriot king from his feudal oath in 1246 so that the German emperors were no longer able to interfere in Cypriot affairs . In Summer 1248 , the Seventh Crusade led by Louis IX , later Saint Louis , assembled in Cyprus .As the French king was hoping that the Mongols would attack the Saracens from the land side , the war society spent the winter in Famagusta , setting off by sea for Egypt in May 1249 , conquering Damietta and then suffering a disastrous defeat near The Crusaders' position in the Holy Land became ever more precarious ; without Cyprus as a supply base and source of food , the collapse would have taken place even more quickly . In 1260 , the soldier dynasty of the Mamelukes took power in Egypt . The last bastions of Christianity in Palestine collapsed before their military superiority .

The power of the losers

In 1289 Tripoli fell , in 1291 Acre . A flood of refugees fled to Cyprus . With them came a very great deal of money into the country , because the Genoese , Venetians and Pisans had amassed huge fortunes with their trade with the Arabs which they had continued even during the war . But others had lost everything and brought nothing with them except their wretchedness and the plague . The Latin element on the island was strengthened , but with the aristocratic families settling , resistance to the Lusignans' absolutist assertions also grew . The ending of the obligations towards the Holy Land and the independence from the Western as well as the Eastern emperor meant that the money earned by trade remained in Cyprus for the first time in centuries . The position directly on the front-line to Islam was a two-sided matter : on the one hand , trade with the Orient was left to the island's inhabitants , on the other hand , they had to reckon constantly with attacks .

The Knights Templar , who had moved their mother house to Nicosia , and Cypriot barons helped the brother of King Henry II to power . Civil war broke out once again . Whereas the Templars had long been suppressed and put on trial in France , they were able to survive for a while in Cyprus . With Henry II's return to the Cypriot throne , they were then also put on trial here ; their property fell to the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem who had their mother house in Limassol from 1291 to 1308 , but then withdrew to Rhodes .

In 1324 , Henry II once again became the victim of the over-powerful Frankish-Cypriot barons ; they had him arrested and deposed . Admittedly , Henry's successor curbed the power of the nobles energetically . Hugh IV , who was 24 years of age when he acceded to the throne , was an absolutely modern ruler , intent on efficiency . Under his leadership , the country experienced the climax of its economic prosperity which admittedly , only those who were already rich anyway were really able to enjoy . The indigenous Greeks lived in poverty . Apart from the poll tax , they had to perform villein service twice weekly and hand over one third of all their agricultural products .

The island became an experimental field for the cultivation of oriental plants . In addition to cotton and bananas , sugar cane grew particularly well . The Lusignans , the Knights of St. John and a Venetian family of importance in Cypriot history , the Cornaros , maintained extensive plantations and refineries . The finely chopped and crushed cane was pressed out once again in a mill , then boiled up two or three times . The molasses was then filled into funnel-shaped clay vessels , dripping out inside . When it had dried out , it was freed from its clay casing . Until the discovery of America and the development of loose sugar , the sweetener was sold in the shape of a hat . In addition , luxury textiles , such as Lefkara lace and gold brocade , which are still familiar today , were manufactured on Cyprus for export .

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