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The Comoro family.
the natives, to whom the presence of foreign troops holding one of their chief cities had been very galling.
Thus Queen Charlotte was the last legitimate successor of the Lusignan Kings; she became a widow in 1482, and abdicated in favour of her nephew Charles I, Duke of Savoy, on the 25th February, 1485*; she died at Rome on the 16th July, 1487. f
King Jacques II, in order to strengthen his position, allied himself with the Venetian Republic, and, in 1472, married Catherine Cornaro, a daughter of one of the noblest Venetian houses. This union yraa fated to last but a very short time, for in July 1473 King Jacques died, leaving Catherine to direct the kingdom in the interest of their unborn heir. Two months later Catherine gave birth to a son, who received his father's name, and was crowned King Jacques III., but in August, 1474, this infant king died, and Catherine then reigned alone for about fifteen years.
To show clearly how Cyprus now passed from the Lusignan dynasty under the rule of the Venetian Republic, it is necessary to give a short history of the CornaroJ family.
This family (now extinct) was among the oldest of the Venetian nobility; established at first at Padua, it gradually acquired both riches and influence, and, since the fourteenth century, had constantly several of its members in the senate, and holding various high offices. Of the numerous branches which sprang from the original stock, two are famous in history: the first of these were the owners of Piskopi in Cyprus, and were generally called Cornaro Piscopia; this family lived in Venice in the palace Saint Luc (now the property of the Campagna Peccana family), here Frederic Cornaro received King Pierre II of Cyprus, when he visited Venice in 1365 and 1368, and, as a Cypriote landowner, he advanced 60,000 ducats to the King for war expenses; this branch became extinct at the end of the sixteenth, or the commencement of the seventeenth century. The second branch, the Cornaro delta ca§ grande or delta regina (also sometimes called Cornaro de Saint Cassien), is that from which Catherine Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, is descended. This family had two palaces in Venice, the Saint Paul, now called Mocenigo-Corner, and the Saint Cassien. Queen Catherine after her abdication of the crown of Cyprus and subsequent return to Venice, always lived in the latter palace, which, rebuilt in the sixteenth century by Sansovino, has retained the name of Palazzo della ca grande.
According to the tables drawn up by Capellari, and now kept at Venice, the following is the genealogical tree of Queen Catherine of Cyprus.
* M. De Mas Latrie in his Histoire de L'llo de Ohypre, vol. iii. page 557-589,
fublishes a series of documents showing the continuance of the pretensions of the rinces of Savoy to the crown of Cyprus, after the island had been taken by the Turks, and the recognition of their rights by the European powers.
f Several persons claim to be the descendants of the Lusignan family; amongst them are two brothers, the elder, Guy do Lusignan, bears the titles of Prince Royal of Cyprus, Jerusalem, and Armenia, and now lives in Paris; tho younger, Korono Nur-Bey Lusifman, is Archbishop of Beshiktaah-Constantinople: their uncle, Louis de Lusignan, lives at St. Petersburg.
X Cornaro is the Italian form, but the popular and truly Venetian name is Corner.
f The Venetian word ca is merely an abbreviation of the Tuscan casa.
The Venetian Republic gradually acquires supremacy in Cyprus.
The last descendant of the family of Queen Catherine of Cyprus, and the last direct representative of the Cornaro house, was M. Catherino Corner, who died at the beginning of this century. He bequeathed the splendid Saint Cassien Palace to Pope Pius VII, who united it to the pontifical property. Gregory VII gave it to the Abbes Cavagnis, who afterwards ceded it to the Venetian municipality, and it is now the "Mont de PiAe." of Venice.
As soon as the fact of King Jacques IPs death was known in Venice, the Senate of that city began to interest itself in the affairs of Cyprus, and on the 22nd August, 1473, Captain General Pierre Mocenigo was ordered to take the fleet of the Republic at once to Cyprus "in order to watch over the security of the Queen and the country;" and on the 2nd September, the Senate wrote to the Queen assuring her of the goodwill of Venice, promising protection in all eventualities, and informing her that Mocenigo had been ordered to leave at least five galleys in the port of Famagusta at her disposal. It appears that eight galleys were left, and the crews maintained at the expense of the republic, but on the 7th November, the Queen was asked to provide them with bread. On the 14th November, 1473, Andre" Cornaro, Auditor of Cyprus, and uncle of the Queen, was murdered at Famagusta, and then Mocenigo received fresh orders from Venice, dated 20th December, 1473, to watch over all the affairs of Cyprus, to maintain the Queen and her infant son in possession of the throne, to prevent the establishment of any foreign power in the island, and to opcupy all the strong places. On the 6th January, 1474, all the Venetian cavalry and infantry in Cyprus were placed under the. command of the proveditor Jacques Marcello, and by degrees,, having occupied with their troops all the fortresses, having exiled all their chief opponents, and calmed the popular feeling, the Venetian Republic acquired complete ascendancy in the island.
On the 28th March, 1474, the Senate decided that forthwith two Venetian counsellors and one proveditor should reside in Cyprus, to assist the Queen in the government and to command the forces of the Republic. Francois Minio and Louis Gabriel, were the counsellors, and Jean Soranzo, the proveditor first; elected; minute, instructions were given to them regarding the management of the revenue, the general government of the country, and the armament of the fortresses.
From August, 1474, when the infant King Jacques III died, the island though nominally ruled by Queen Catherine, was, for all practical purposes, entirely under Venetian authority, and no order of any importance could be enacted by the Queen, until it had received the approbation of the republic or the counsellors. Matters continued so until 1488, when, in consequence of the war with the Turks, the Republic of Venice determined to take full possession of Cyprus, the Senate considering the island valuable not only as regards commerce, but as a good naval and military station, and further, as the most favourable position from which to threaten and annoy the southern Ottoman provinces, and to maintain friendly relations with the Persians, whose co-operation was of great importance. Accordingly Georges Cornaro, brother of the Queen, was sent by the Senate to Cyprus to beg Catherine to resign
the crown and leave the island. He was authorized to point out •
that if she would not consent to this step, the Senate would be ,
obliged to resort to measures of compulsion; the mission appears,
however, to have been executed with considerable tact, and was
completely successful, for in a very short time the Queen signified
her assent to the proposal. Navagiero relates that the formal Abdication of
abdication, and the erection of the banner of Saint Maro, took place $ne?n cf"
at Famagusta on the 26th February, 1489, in the presence of favour of
Francois de Priuli, Captain-General of the Venetian fleet, andi that Venice.
the Queen soon afterwards left the island for Venice.
The new government of Cyprus was at once instituted; the Cyprus under administration consisted of a Lieutenant, with the title of Viceroy Venetian rule. of Cyprus, assisted by two counsellors (who with the Lieutenant formed the Privy Council), and a Captain, who was called Captain of Cyprus, or Captain of the Kingdom, and who added to his other duties, the function of Proveditor.
To these officials the entire direction of the government, of justice, of finance, and of the army was intrusted, save only the legislative authority and right of appeal, which was reserved to the metropolitan. The Lieutenant was never kept in office more than two years, and between 1489 and 1571, when the Turks obtained
possession of the island, no less than 46 Venetian nobles held the I
post. The first Lieutenant was Francois Barbarigo, appointed in I
1489, and the last, Sebastian Venier, appointed in 1569, who was to have been succeeded by Daniel Barbarigo, Duke of Candia, but before the latter left Venice to assume the vice-royalty, the news of the loss of the island was received by the Senate at Venice.
During the Venetian rule the island was divided into eleven districts, some governed by captains, others by " civitains:" the towns of Nicosia and Famagusta were placed under Cypriote Viscounts (Sheriffs) as in the time of the Lusignans. The districts were—Baffo, Avdimu, Limasol, Mazoto, Saline, Viscontado, Messaria, Carpasso, Cerinea, Pentagia, and Khrysokho.
A detailed report, compiled at the end of the fifteenth century, and containing statistical information concerning the population, the number of villages, the amount of the harvests, the products of the island, the incomes of the chief landowners, the possessions of the clergy, and the public lands in Cyprus at this date, is contained in M. De Mas Latrie,s " Histoire de L,lle de Chypre," vol. iii, page 493.
There is but little of importance or of general interest to relate concerning the period during which the Venetians ruled over Cyprus; the Lieutenants succeeded one another far too quickly to organise and establish alterations and improvements, or indeed to acquire even a sufficient knowledge of the necessities of the country, and an interest in its welfare. Once only, however, did the Greek population rebel; in 1546, an attempt was made to recall remembrances of ancient Greece, and the inhabitants combined to effect a change of masters; the Venetian government acted promptly, and soon stifled the insurrectionary feeling, the leader, Jacques Le Cretois, called the Didascalos, paid with his life for his ambitious project. (774) B 2
During the Venetian occupation the island was visited by several calamities. In 1492 and 1542, immense destruction was caused by violent earthquakes. In 1544, the locusts were so numerous that all the crops were destroyed, and for two years the inhabitants had to be fed by provisions imported from other countries. In 1574 the rainfall was so great that the Messaria plain became a lake, and no crops whatever could be grown. More than once pirates entered the ports, and ravaged the adjoining towns with impunity.
The tenure of Cyprus by the Venetians may be described as simply a military occupation, and as no measures for its proper maintenance were taken, the prosperity of the island visibly declined throughout the whole period; trade languished, manufactures almost ceased, landowners abandoned their property, schools closed, the population emigrated, cultivation was neglected, the streams were allowed to overflow and form infectious marshes, and the national wealth rapidly diminished.* Cyprus But the greatest calamities that threatened Cyprus were the in
threatened by creasing power of the Turks, and the advance that they were making Turkey. both in Asia and Africa, so we now pass on the time at which they
invaded and obtained possession of the island.
It appears that after the subjugation of Egypt by the Sultan Selim I in 15J7, the tribute which, since 1425, had been regularly paid by Cyprus to the King of Egypt, was then annually sent to the Sultaii of Turkey instead, and with this arrangement the old chroniclers say that " they (the Turks) held themselves well contented." Solyman the Qreat, was, however, succeeded on the 25th September, 1566, by the ignoble and degenerate Selim II, to whom his own national historians give the epithet of " the fool," and in 1570, the self-willed cupidity and violence of this prince, involved the Porte in a war with Venice for the acquisition of Cyprus, the possession of which island Selim had coveted, whilst he was governor of Kutahia in his father's lifetime.t
A£ this time a treaty of peace existed between the Porte and Venice, but Selim, endeavouring to satisfy his conscience with regard to the proposed act of aggression, obtained from his Mufti, Ebousououd, a fetva authorising him to attack Cyprus, in open violation of the treaty.
The island had, as we have seen, been at one time under Mahometan rulers, and the Turkish authorities now proclaimed, and acted upon the principle, that the sovereign of Islam may at any time break a treaty for the sake of reconquering from the misbelievers, a country which has formerly belonged to the territory of Islam.J The Grand Vizier, Sokolli, earnestly, but vainly opposed the war against Venice, his influence being counteracted by the suggestions of Lala Moustapha, who encouraged Selim in his project .
• See Do Mu Latrie's " Histoire de L'lle de Ohypre," vol. Hi, page 823. Other authors use by no means suoh forcible language to describe the faults of the Venetian administration, and in some respects they are even able to award pruiso.
t It is said that Selim found the attractions of Cyprus wine irresistible ond a Jow oallod Joseph Nassy, who was his favourite, first gavo him tho idea that ho should make himself master of tho island.
J Von Hanmer's" History of the Ottoman Empire" (German 2nd edition), Toi. ii, page 402, on i Sir E Creasy. "History of the Ottoman Turks," pago 217.