According to Kyrris (1997), after the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus  “based on the firman, only the presence of Orthodox and Muslim was allowed on the island. Not of Greeks and Turks, but of Muslims and Orthodox. Thus, the Francs that were left had to choose following the policy or the line that they had followed after the fall of Nicosia, either the Orthodox religion or Islam…” [Michalis Michael, 2009].

In Ottoman-ruled Cyprus, religious tolerance existed for all the races. This was the claim of Giovanni Mariti in the 1760s. The ruling Turks were Muslims and were led by the “mullah”; The Christian Orthodox Greeks were led by an archbishop [in Nicosia] and three bishops [in Larnaca, Kyrenia and Pafos]; The Armenians were Christian and were led by a bishop; The Maronites were Christians and were led by a high priest; The Christian Catholic Latins were led by two rectors, one for the French and one for the Italians [Giovanni Mariti, 1791]. The Ottoman conquerors converted most Latin churches into mosques, although they handed over several to the large Greek orthodox community and at least one to the Armenian Gregorians. Many of the Latin nobility either adopted Islam and became spahis or first became Christian spahis but gradually were Islamicized. Others interacted with the Greek Orthodox and became Hellenized; some of those even penetrated the Orthodox church [Ronald Jennings, 1992]. In 1738, according to Richard Pococke, the Greeks were everywhere in possession of their churches, but could not repair any that were ruined without a licence [or build new ones]. According to Hume in 1801, the usage of bells on churches was prohibited [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. Lubin (2012) summarizes: “The ringing of churchbells was forbidden after 1570, heavy taxes were imposed on a number of monasteries, the repair of Christian buildings was slow and permission often grudging” [Matthew Lubin, 2012]. According to E. Rizopoulou (2019), between 1767-1810 the Archbishop Chrysanthos undertook the restoration of many churches and monasteries all over Cyprus [Euphrosyne Rizopoulou-Egoumenidou, 2019].

Ali Bey in 1806 gives useful information about the Greek clergy: “Priests are distinguished by a hat or cap of black felt, angular for those who are married: round like an inverted cone for celibates and monks. Bishops wear a little violet riband round the head and often dress in cloth of the same colour. Other priests generally wear black”. “The Greeks are extremely submissive and respectful towards their bishops: in saluting them they bow low, take off their cap, and hold it before them upside down. They scarcely dare speak in their presence”. “These [the bishops], on their part, parade in their houses and followers a princely luxury; they never go out without a crowd of attendants, and to ascend a flight of stairs they must need to be carried by their servants”. William Turner in 1815 about the Greek clergy: “…these Greek priests, everywhere the vilest miscreants in human nature, are worse than usual in Cyprus from the power they possess. They strip the poor ignorant superstitious peasant of his last para, and when he is on his deathbed, make him leave his all to their convent, promising that masses shall be said for his soul” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].


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