The Conquest

The conquest of Cyprus by Richard the Lionheart

According to the Benedict of Peterborough (1135-1193), Richard, the king of England, in 1191, sailed from the port of Messina [on his way to fight the Saracens in Jerusalem according to van Kootwyck] with 150 large ships and 53 galleys, but a terrible storm scattered his fleet. The King reached Rhodes, but 3 of his large ships ended up wrecked and broken up in Limassol port, Cyprus [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. Isaac Comnenos, the Emperor of Cyprus, according to Guillaume le Breton (1165-1225), had given orders that none of the Crusaders should be allowed to touch at any port of the island. Warned of the expected arrival of the fleet at Lemesos [Limassol], he had brought troops to prevent the crews from landing. The ones who escaped alive from the wrecks he treaded them brutally, robbing them of all they had, demanding hostages, and refusing them to shelter within the town [George Hill, 1940]. The news reached King Richard who arrived in Limassol and sent three times a message to the Emperor to leave the men to go and return to them their belongings, a request that he refused with proud words. King Richard attacked, slaughtered the ones who resisted and conquered Cyprus on the 1st of June, 1191. The Emperor surrendered after a long resistance [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. According to Mas Latrie (19th cent.), King Richard left to the Cypriots half of their land and the other half provided it to his knights who guarded the island, in the form of timars. According to Sakellarios (1890), this was the first time that the timars appear in Cyprus [Athanasios Sakellarios, 1890].

The selling back and the final resale

Then, according to Giacomo Diedo (16th cent.), Richard, the King of England, sold Cyprus for 100,000 [golden] ducats to the Templar Knights, by whom, on account of the turbulence of the islanders [read “Events of Significance”], it was restored to the English. Richard sold it again under the same conditions to Guy Lusignan. According to Poscacchi (16th cent.), Guy brought with him into the island in the year of 1193 many nobles of Jerusalem and France, who had started for the conquest of the Holy Land, nearly all of them being French barons [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. According to Hill (1948), he let it be known in Palestine, in Syria and in Armenia that he would grant fiefs [timars] and lands to all those who were willing to come and settle on the island in exchange for military service. In those countries were many knights who had been deprived of their fiefs by the Saracen conquest, as well as widows and sons and daughters of those who had been killed in the wars, and these took advantage of the invitation. Guy is said to have disposed of 300 fiefs to knights and 200 to sergents a cheval, besides making grants of land and other provisions to the common people, such as scribes and artisans, who flocked to the island in the hope of picking up a living. He also gave dowries to the widows and orphan girls [George Hill, 1948].

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