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found the port closed by sunken ships and other impediments, so
Guy de Lusignan arrives.
Battle at Tremithoussin.
Capture of the fortresses.
King Richard lcaves Cyprus.
Guy de Lusignan purchases Cyprus.
the strong castles in the north of the island, which would otherwise
* 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.
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
*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.