Изображения страниц

found the port closed by sunken ships and other impediments, so
the troops were rowed in galleys a short distance along the coast
to a place where the shore was low and suitable for landing, and
here he disembarked, and advanced upon Limasol. The Latin
inhabitants of the town at once opened their gates to him, and
informed him that Isaac, with the Greek army, had retired to the
hills. Eventually a meeting took place between Richard and
Isaac in the English camp, and the king expressed his surprise at
the inhospitable treatment which his followers had experienced,
reminded Isaac of his duty as a Christian prince, and concluded by
asking him to join in the crusade, and throw open the island for
the purchase of provisions. To all this, Isaac at the time agreed,
but after leaving the King's presence he changed his mind, and
rejoined his army at Kolossi, whence he sent a message ordering
the English to leave the island at once, or to take the consequences.
Indignant at this falseness and arrogance, Richard now resolved to
delay his crusade for a time and punish Isaac ; he therefore at once
disembarked his cavalry, marched against the Greeks, vanquished
them, and shortly re-entered Limasol with a large quantity of
booty. Amongst other trophies gained on that day was the
Imperial Standard, which was subsequently deposited in St.
Edmund's Chapel, in the county of Suffolk.
The arrival in Cyprus at this juncture, of Guy de Lusignan,
ex-king of Jerusalem, accompanied by the Princes of Antioch and
Tripoli, caused a temporary suspension of hostilities, and on the
#. May, 1191, Richard, in the presence of his distinguished
guests, celebrated his marriage with the Princess Berengaria, who
was crowned Queen of England by the Bishops of York and
Evreux. Hearing shortly afterwards that Isaac had re-organized his
army in the interior, Richard set off with the main body of his
forces to attack him, and sent the fleet round to Larnaca to co-
operate. In consequence probably of the fact that the geography
of the island was at this time but imperfectly known, the sub-
sequent operations are not very clearly related by historians;
it appears, however, that. Guy de Lusignan was detached with a
portion of the troops to Famagusta, which town he occupied
without meeting with any resistance; Isaac having taken up his
position in the Messaria Plain, near Tremithoussia, a place very
suitable for cavalry movements. Richard quickly followed him
to this spot and gave battle; the Anglo-Norman army attacked
with great impetuosity, and for some time victory wavered.
Isaac, anxious to encourage his followers, threw himself into the
thickest of the fight, and encountering the King of England,
struck at him with his battle-axe, he was, however, soon sur-
rounded, dragged from his horse, and made a prisoner. Isaac's
capture completed the discomfiture of the Greeks, who dispersed
in all directions, without a thought for the defence of Nicosia, which
town surrendered without resistance, and tendered its allegiance
to King Richard. If the historians of the time are to be believed,
the King, as a mark of his supremacy, then ordered the Cypriotes
to cut off their beards. -
The chief towns being now occupied, it only remained to reduce

Guy de Lusignan arrives.

Marriage of

King Richard.

Battle at Tremithoussin.

Surrender of

Capture of the fortresses.

King Richard lcaves Cyprus.

Salo of
Cyprus to the

Guy de Lusignan purchases Cyprus.

the strong castles in the north of the island, which would otherwise
form places of refuge for the few Greeks who had not surrendered.
Richard, being detained by illness at Nicosia, intrusted this task to
Guy de Lusignan, who was a prominent figure in all the operations of
the conquest of Cyprus. ' The castle of Cerinea was the first attacked,
it soon capitulated, and Isaac's wife, daughter, and treasures fell into
the hands of the English. Lusignan then marched against Fort St.
Hilarion, which, after a brave resistance, was also forced to capitu-
late. Shortly afterwards the castles of Buffavento and Kantara
opened their gates to Richard himself, and the subjugation of the
island was then complete.
Richard was now able to turn his thoughts to his neglected
crusade; he returned to Limasol and sent Isaac's daughter, with
his own wife and sister, on before him to St. Jean d'Acre. On the
5th June, 1191, Richard himself sailed from Cyprus, leaving the
island in charge of Richard de Canville and Itobert de Turnham,
with injunctions to keep the army in Syria well provided with
Isaac was placed in silver fetters and taken with King Richard
to Syria, where he was handed over to the Hospitallers, since
Knights of Rhodes, for safe custody, and was by them confined in the
castle of Margat near Tripoli, where he died shortly afterwards.
Several insurrections subsequently occurred in Cyprus, but were
all suppressed by the decision and prompt action of Robert de
The Templars now entered into negociations with King Richard
for the purchase of Cyprus, and they eventually obtained it from him
for the sum of 100,000 Saracenic golden besants, it was further ar-
ranged that 40,000 besants should be paid at once,and the remainder
as soon as it could be derived from the revenues of the island.*
The Templars ruled Cyprus for a time with a heavy hand, and
their government became highly unpopular amongst the inhabitants,
who continued in a perpetual state of revolt, causing so much
annoyance and trouble to their masters, that in May 1192, the
Templars, finding that the popular feeling was entirely beyond
their control, were compelled to entreat King Richard to take back
the island, and they begged that the price which they had paid for
it might be returned to them. Richard expressed his willingness
to take over the island, but refused to return the 40,000 besants.
King Guy de Lusignan now came forward, and, having arranged
with the Templars that in the event of his being made King of
Cyprus, he would refund to them what they had paid, went to
Richard, and asked him for the island as compensation for the
loss of the crown of Jerusalem, engaging also to pay the same sum
that the Templars had agreed to. This offer was accepted and
Guy intrusted to his chancellor, Pierre d'Engoulesme, Bishop of

* To estimate the relative value of this payment, the golden besant may be taken as equivalent to about 9 fr. 50 cont., so the sum was about 950,000 francs, which in the present day would be worth about eight times as much, so that the price may be considered to be about £304,000 sterling. See “L’Histoire de L'Ile de Chypre,” by M. L. De Mas Latrie, vol. ii, page 7 (note).

Tripoli, the task of raising the money. The sum of 60,000 besants was collected by means of loans from the citizens of Tripoli, and from the Genoese, and was paid by Guy to Richard, who asked for the remaining 40,000 besants, but Guy then pleaded poverty, and it is stated that the English King did not urge this claim further.” Guy de Lusignan at once took possession of the island (May, 1192) but it appears, according to De Mas Latrie, that he never actually assumed the title of King of Cyprus. His reign was but short, lasting only one year and eleven months, but from all accounts he governed wisely and restored order and tranquillity in the island. One of his first measures was the introduction of a feudal system, and he endowed with portions of land, according to rank, about 300 knights and 200 esquires, who formed the nucleus of the nobility and privileged bodies in Cyprus. Guy was succeeded by his son Amaury de Lusignan. The following table gives the names, titles, and the duration of the reign of the Lusignan Kings of Cyprus. ; :

* Some English historians have stated that King Richard gave Cyprus to Guy de Lusignan without payment, but De Mas Latrio considers this a mistake, and supports his account of the sale by documentary evidence. See “L’Histoire de L'Ile de Chypre,” vol. i. page 87 (note), vol. ii, page 21, and vol. iii, page 594.

The Lusignan dynasty.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors]

There is but little of historical importance to relate concerning the three centuries during which Cyprus was ruled by the Lusignan dynasty: internal tranquillity, a state of affairs which had hitherto been almost unknown in the island, prevailed throughout nearly the whole period, with the two exceptions mentioned below, and consequently the kingdom was generally in a flourishing condition; at the same time some distinction was gained against the Arabs and Turks. In 1372, an untoward incident occurred; Pierre II was then King of Cyprus, and whilst he was entertaining several Genoese and Venetian grandees on a festival day, a quarrel with regard to precedence arose, and was decided by the King against the former. It is said that the Genoese then plotted against the King's life, and that their intentions being discovered, it was ordered that all the Genoese subjects in the kingdom should be put to death. This monstrous command was only too faithfully obeyed, and the Republic of Genoa, in order to avenge the murder of her citizens, despatched at once a considerable fleet to Cyprus under the command of Admiral Pietro Fregoso, who, after several engagements, took Famagusta in 1373, and carried off Jacopo Lusignan, the King's uncle, and LieutenantGovernor of the island. The Genoese continued to hold and garrison Famagusta, strongly fortifying the city in order to ensure their grasp on the island, and they exercised supremacy there for no less than ninety years, when King Jacques II, with the aid of the Egyptians, retook the place.

In 1425, Cyprus was invaded by an Egyptian force which first took Larnaca, then Limasol, and subsequently ravaged almost the whole island. King Janus was carried off a prisoner to the Sultan at Cairo, but after paying a ransom, and promising that Cyprus should send an annual tribute to Egypt, he was liberated, and allowed to return to his kingdom as the lieutenant of the Sultan.*

King Janus died in 1432; he was succeeded by his son Jean II., who married Helena Paleologos, niece of the Emperor of Constantinople, and their daughter, Carlotta, was now the only legitimate descendant of the Lusignans. King Jean, however, left a natural son, named Jacques, who was Archbishop of Cyprus. Carlotta, on the death of her father in 1458, became Queen of Cyprus; she had married, first, one of the sons of the King of Portugal, and secondly, Louis de Savoie, who, with her, governed Cyprus under the titles df King and Queen of Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Armenia. Their o was, however, but short, for in September 1460, Jacques, “Le Batard,” who was a man of great ability, and highly popular with the Cypriotes, headed a revolt against their authority, seized Nicosia, the capital, and then with the assistance of the Sultan of Egypt, forced the King and Queen to fly from the island; he was immediately proclaimed King, with the title of Jacques II, and before dismissing the Egyptian troops, he captured Famagusta from the Genoese. This exploit greatly increased his popularity amongst

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

*An interesting account of this Egyptian invasion is to be found in a document contained in De Mas Latrie's History of Cyprus, vol. ii, page 506–514; it was written by Khalil Bhaheri, the Sultan's vizier.

Usurpation of
the throne by
Jacques Le

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »