Cyprus under Venetian rule
According to Georgios Boustronios, who lived during the Venetian rule of Cyprus, the house of Lusignan kept the throne of Cyprus for 232 years, until the time of Jacques the bastard [Jacques II]. Jean III died in 1458 leaving his daughter Charlotte heir to his crown. In 1460 her bastard brother Jacques revolted against Charlotte and simultaneously he was approved as king by the sultan of Cairo, to whom Cyprus was subjugated since 1426. He married Catherina, a Venetian, in 1472 and he died in 1473. She bore a son, Jacques III, who died when scarcely two years old . Catalans and other nobles tried to push Cyprus into the control of Naples but the Venetian queen and the Venetians were constantly alerted and protected their interests on the island. Following pressures from her family members, Queen Caterina resigned her kingdom to the Venetian Signory, and in 1489 was conducted to Venice [Georgios Boustronios, 15th cent.].
The reasons behind the acquisition of Cyprus by the Venetian Republic
There are obvious reasons for which the Venetians extracted Cyprus from the French:
- Venetians wanted to exploit the feudal system using the local serfs as costless work labour to extract the rich agricultural products of the island such as grain, sugar, cotton, silk and salt, and gain massive profits.
- Famagusta and Larnaca ports could be used to gain extraordinary profits from sales of the demanded local products towards the West, as well as to the Middle East, and of course to raise profits from customs duties imposed on the merchants.
- Extra profits would arise from the taxation of the serfs of the island, which as to be seen, was pretty harsh.
- Alongside its other Greek colonies, Venice could enlarge its sphere of influence and control all the eastern Mediterranean waters, hence it was a strategic acquisition.
The new administration kept paying the 8,000 golden ducats tribute to the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate, and then to their successors, the Ottomans, until the year 1517. Due to the harsh and cruel Venetian administration, according to Mas Latrie (19th cent.), there had been emigrations towards the Ottoman Minor Asia [Athanasios Sakellarios, 1890].
Districts and Towns
According to Tommaso Porcacchi (born 1559), during the Venetian rule, Cyprus was divided into eleven provinces: Paphos, Avdimou, Limisso [Limassol], Mazotos, Saline [Larnaka Salt Lake], Mesaoria, Crusocco [Cryshochou], Pendaya, Cerines [Kyrenia], Carpasso (Rizokarpaso), and Viscontado [?]. Nicosia and Famagusta according to Martin von Baumgarten (1508), were the only cities of Cyprus [modern researcher Benjamin Arbel (1984) has the same opinion [Benjamin Arbel, 1984]]. Limassol according to Jacques le Saige in 1518 was just a village. Denis Possot in 1533 and Furer in 1566 describe Larnaca as a village as well. Venetians of that era, such as Porcacchi, estimate the number of villages at around 800-900 [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. The number is realistic and it is verified by other sources, for instance, Sanuto around 1523 mentions exactly 877 [Benjamin Arbel, 1984].
Martin von Baumgarten was in Cyprus in 1508 and wrote “All the inhabitants of Cyprus are slaves to the Venetians, being obliged to pay to the state 1/3 part of all their increase or income, whether the product of their ground, or corn, wine, oil, or of their cattle, or any other thing. Besides, every man of them is bound to work for the state two days of the week wherever they shall please to appoint him: and if any shall fail, by reason of some other business of their own, or for indisposition of body, then they are made to pay a fine for as many days as they are absent from their work. And which is more, there is yearly some tax or other imposed on them, with which the poor common people are so flayed and pillaged, that they hardly have the wherewithal to keep soul and body together”. Jacques Le Saige mentions in 1518 that the Cypriots “were heavily taxed” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. According to Arbel’s sources, “the francomati, or free tenants, were obliged to work on the fortifications of Famagusta and in other public works or pay a tax instead, in addition to the regular dues paid to the state and to the lords of their estates. Towards the end of Venetian Rule, they were organized in a militia, and their registration could thus also serve for military purposes.” [Benjamin Arbel, 1984].
Law and order
According to A. Sakellarios (1890), the Venetian Republic sent in Nicosia during the beginning of the rule one placeholder and two consultants who were judging the affairs of the knights and the timar holders (replacing the High Court of the previous rulers). They served and were replaced every two years. For every district, a governor was assigned, while 300 soldiers were assuring in the implementation of law and order. To protect the coasts against piracy, 1000 Albanians were deployed on the coasts in small teams. According to Mas Latrie, the assise laws remained during this era as well [Athanasios Sakellarios, 1890].
According to Elias of Pesaro in 1563, in Famagusta, “the Government always keeps here five empty galleys to watch and guard the sea, as well as four captains living in the town, who have 800 Italian mercenaries under their orders” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
According to Archbishop Constantius (1766) “Force, sophistry, threats were daily used against the Orthodox: they were daily oppressed, and their clergy harassed” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
According to Johann van Kootwyck , under the last kings and the Venetian Republic, the inhabitants of Cyprus during the Venetian rule were divided into six distinct classes, Parici [(δουλο)πάροικοι=slaves], Levteri [ελεύθεροι=freed], Perpirarii, Albanians, white Venetians and Nobles. The Parici were men of the lowest or servile condition, and so completely under the power of their lords that these had over them all but the power of life and death. For besides the annual tax which they were bound to pay to their lords, they had to give in each week two days’ labour, and a third of their crops. The lords too were free to sell, exchange, release, auction, flog, torture, and inflict any corporal punishment except death, which was reserved to the kings. This only consolation and hope remained to these wretched creatures that by payment of sixty gold crowns they could redeem their personal freedom, but their land remained in all cases subject to the duties exacted from the Parici. Baumgarten (1508) speaks clearly that they were slaves to the arms of the Venetians: “Besides all the inhabitants of Cyprus are slaves to the Venetians”. Next to them were the Levteri or Francomati, freemen or freedmen, who were really of the Parici class, but by payment, or by their lords’ favour, or otherwise had obtained their liberty. But these were not all on the same footing. Some, for instance, were freed absolutely, others obtained their personal liberty, but their masters still kept a lien on their property, and compelled them to pay yearly some fifteen or sixteen, some more some less, perpira or hyperpira: hence parici of the third class got the name of Perpirarii or Hyperpirarii. The Albanians, originally from Albania or Epirus, were free men, and under the kings and Venetians received pay from the state. They patrolled the coast day and night, took turns as sentries, and guarded the island against corsairs and pirates. They settled by and by in the country and were called Albanians. The white Venetians [these were generally Greek Orthodox who had managed to obtain Venetian citizenship through officeholding [Matthew Lubin, 2012]] were also reckoned free men, but they were obliged to pay a yearly tax to the princes or magnates. The Nobles, divided into two classes, ranked before all these. The Princes, Barons, and (so-called) Lords came first, after them the other patricians. For while the Venetians ruled the island it was not only the Venetian nobles who enjoyed the rights of nobility, but these were granted also by the license of the Senate to all citizens of the Republic who could prove that for five years at least they had lived in Nicosia [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
Population censuses and estimates
According to Mas Latrie, an estimation of the population of Cyprus during the Venetian rule in the year 1490 would be 106,000 persons. The earliest figure which could have been based on results of an island-wide survey is that included in the governor’s letter in 1509, referring to a population of 120,000 Cypriots. Bragadino’s estimation of a population of 143,000 souls follows in 1529. A report of the governor Trevisan, presented in 1534, includes the following figures (excluding the Morfou baliaggio – 9 villages): Parici 53,950 and Levteri 76,647 [owned by the government, the nobles and the Latin church], which according to Arbel “seem to be based on an actual census” [compared to other figures given during that time by others]. Arbel writes: “Da Ponte’s report, which belongs to 1553, refers to a rural population of 149,200 souls. Adding to this number the 24,000 town dwellers, we would reach a total population of 173,200 persons”. For the end of the Venetian Rule, there are the testimonies of the governors Bembo and Bragadino, to which one may probably add that of the “report” attributed to Francesco Attar, all of which refer to a total of around 70,000 Parici in Cyprus. In regards to the Levteri, Arbel takes into consideration several reports, reaching the conclusion that there should have been approximately 95,000 Levteri at the end of the Venetian Rule. Thus, according to Arbel, “about 70,000 serfs [parici], 95,000 free tenants [levteri], 20-25,000 inhabitants in Nicosia and about 10,000 in Famagusta would bring the total population of the island to around 195-200,000 souls on the eve of the Turkish conquest“. Arbel concludes: “The growth of the Cypriot population under Venetian rule shows a rise of about two thirds from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the Ottoman invasion of 1570, with an average annual rate of 7.6 pro mille. This demographic expansion of Cyprus is quite a clear indication of the relative prosperity enjoyed by large segments of Cypriot society during the Venetian domination of the island. The belief that Venetian colonial rule in Cyprus was a period of decay and negligence must therefore be revised” [Benjamin Arbel, 1984].
Repopulation following the depopulation of Cyprus
According to Arbel’s sources of that era [end of 15th cent.], Venetian subjects from colonies in the Peloponnese and from Corfu were given motives to relocate to Cyprus to repopulate the island, and in 1506 many Christian settlers reached Cyprus from Syria, having had been motivated as well. Another source mentions that private initiative combined with Venetian policy also contributed to the repopulation of the island; The Republic approved requests by Cypriot noblemen to receive in lease uncultivated lands in order to settle foreign peasants on them. According to Hill (1940) Venice brought to the colony military settlers (stradioti) from the Balkans [80% Albanians and a good number of Greek origin according to Stathis Birtachas (2018), originating from Peloponnisos], who received lands on the island. There were as many as 300 stradioti families in Cyprus in 1516 according to Sanuto (alive at that time). Also, “under the rule of the Republic, Cyprus became a place of exile for criminals who were banished from Venice and her other colonies. There were not only individual banishments. The Venetian authorities sent 270 brigands from the area of Canea [Chania?] in Crete and distributed them among various Cypriot villages in 1527-8, according to Sanuto. Finally, according to Sathas (1880-90), when Venice’s colonies in the Peloponnese fell into Turkish hands in 1540, refugees from those parts found a new home in Cyprus [Benjamin Arbel, 1984].
Casualties of the plagues
[Plague kept up decreasing periodically the population of Cyprus and the rulers had to repopulate the island]: In the summer of 1494 plague was raging in Nicosia. In 1505, according to a letter from the Venetian governor of Cyprus Piero Balbi, the plague killed more than a quarter of the citizens of Kyrenia [Ronald Jennings, 1992]. According to a 1531 letter by Francesco Bragadino, he claimed that the population during the previous thirty years had increased about a third [despite the plagues] [Benjamin Arbel, 1984]. On 28 March 1533, the governor in Nicosia Marco Antonio Trivixan and his council reported to Venice that a new plague had entered Famagusta, coming by way of Syria, and more than 200 people had already died. On the 2nd of May, Francesco Bernardo, captain of Famagusta, had sent a dispatch advising Venice that plague continued to afflict the people, who were in great misery, reduced to living by begging. Everywhere was contaminated and of 9,000 inhabitants, 2,000 had fled. The rest endured in poverty, especially the women and girls; five soldiers had died. On 22 June, Governor Tiepolo and counsellors Bernardin Venier and Segondo da Pexaro wrote from Nicosia that the plague had ceased in Famagusta, but that 2,000 people had died from it, including 150 soldiers [Ronald Jennings, 1992]. According to Marino Sanuto (alive at that time), very few people died by the plague in 1533 outside the walls of Famagusta [Benjamin Arbel, 1984].
According to Arbel’s research (1984) most of the population of Cyprus under Venetian rule, between 80-85%, lived in the countryside. Lapithos was at that time very large. According to Lusignan (1569), Episkopi, Pelendri and Kilani had 1000 households each [the 20 largest villages according to him were: Lapithos, Sivouri, Rizokarpaso, Lefkara, Agios Konstantinos, Limnati, Silikou, Pelendria, Kilani, Kolossi, Episkopi, Salines, Kouklia, Ktima, Arsos, Omodos, Chrysochou, Solia, Morphou and Lefka]. Next to these few big villages, there was quite a large group of medium-sized ones, each numbering between 100 and 500 inhabitants. Most Cypriot villages, however, had less than 100 souls, some of which were only small hamlets comprising just a few families [Benjamin Arbel, 1984].
According to Mas Latrie, the administration’s language was now Italian, replacing the French of the previous era [Athanasios Sakellarios, 1890].
According to Elias of Pesaro in 1563, for the transport of goods and money Cypriots used great carts drawn by oxen. He also added that “one finds plenty of animals to ride, horses and donkeys. You hire a good horse for four livres a day” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
Venetians, according to Furer in 1566, were mostly marrying the daughters of Venetians. A free woman who married a slave gave birth to slave children. A slave couldn’t marry the female slave of another master, but the nobles themselves paired off their own serfs; unless, and this is a rare case, a master allowed a union with another’s serf, and the children belonged to the master of the female slave [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. According to Hill (1948), a fair amount of intermarriage took place and was complained of by some Latin clergy [Matthew Lubin, 2012].
According to Elias of Pesaro in 1563, local Christians had their intelligence “less developed, and their manners peculiar”. He adds: “The Greeks eat meat on the other days of the week as well as Sunday. They keep a Lent three times a year, abstaining from all animal products, even from fish and eggs. Their popes marry once, but if that wife dies they do not take a second. Most of the Greeks are workmen. For all the gold in the world, they would not eat anything that a Jew has touched, and would never use his cooking utensils. Suppose a Jew wishes to buy anything from them he must not touch it but must describe what he wants: anything he touches he must keep. They reject, as though it were carrion, the flesh of an animal which has had its throat cut and hate their Italian fellow-Christians much as we do the Karaites. They do not allow their women to show themselves in the town by day; only by night can they visit their friends and go to church. They say this is by way of modesty, but it is really to avoid the frequent adulteries, for their rule of life is thoroughly perve. They are all liars, cheats, thieves. Honesty has vanished from their midst” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
The Venetian pilgrim Francesco Suriano in 1484 claimed that Cypriot “women are lewd. The country and climate of themselves incline to fleshly lust, and nearly everyone lives in concubinage” [but we don’t know if he refers to the nobility or the peasants as “Cypriot”] [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
The Venetians and the Greeks had four episcopal sees according to Martin von Baumgarten: Nicosia, Famagusta, Limassol and Paphos, of which in every one of them there’s both a Greek and Latin bishop. According to Elias de Pesaro in 1563, the churches had no bells at that time [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. Tommaso Porcacchi writes about the minorities: “Armenians, Copts, Maronites, Indians, Nestorians, Georgians, Jacobites, who all settled in Nicosia, each nation having its own bishop: but all these bishops were suffragans to the Latin archbishop of Cyprus” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. According to Hackett the Orthodox monasteries in Cyprus in the middle of the sixteenth century were 52 [George Hill, 1948].
According to Archbishop Constantius (1766) “Force, sophistry, threats were daily used against the Orthodox: they were daily oppressed, and their clergy harassed. Some of the bishops and priests were driven into heterodoxy: others, like Archbishop Esaias, fled into far lands: others again, who refused to conform, like the Archbishop Neophytus, were banished. Moreover, they compelled the priests and monks, with their congregations, to conform to the Latin rite, and communicate with them, and to acknowledge the Pope. Those who submitted were left at peace, the recusants were openly chastised with bonds and imprisonment. Some they tied to the tails of horses, which dragged them over rough and rocky places till they died. The chief men of the island were burnt on a huge pile, and earned by their constancy to the Truth the crown of martyrdom” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
According to Papacostas’s research (2016), what we do know from a number of Venetian reports, however, is that several dozen and possibly as many as fifty or more Greek monasteries were operating on the island at that time. Cypriot monasteries appealed to Venice for grants and tax exemptions, and their requests were often favourably answered. The island’s countryside is littered with well over one hundred ecclesiastical structures built in the century preceding the Ottoman conquest. Investment in such congregational village churches and monastic katholika, or in private chapels and in their decoration and furnishings, presupposes a certain degree of prosperity, or at least some income surplus. This was clearly available in rural Venetian Cyprus, significantly in what was supposedly the island’s most deprived areas but where the vast majority of the population lived.20 Evidence from archaeological surveys corroborates the healthy state of the countryside, at least in some regions. Also according to Papacostas, there is adequate evidence suggesting that the Republic and its local representatives facilitated through grants and material assistance the construction and repair of churches, regardless of their rite [Tassos Papacostas, 2016].
HEALTH AND WEATHER CONDITIONS
One of the great disasters regularly striking Cyprus from the mid-13th century onward through the end of the 17th was the plague. Plague, really a disease of rats and similar rodents, passed to humans by their fleas. Frequently new plagues have found their way to the Middle East, and Cyprus, via land and sea routes from central Asia or India [Ronald Jennings, 1992]. According to Arbel (1984), the plagues that struck Cyprus during the Venetian Rule were not as destructive as the ones that struck Cyprus during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries [Benjamin Arbel, 1984]. George Hill (1940) paid careful attention to such occurrences. In the period of the Venetian Rule, he mentions plague [in Cyprus] in 1494, 1505, and 1533 [Ronald Jennings, 1992]. Jacques le Saige mentions another one in 1518 [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895] and according to Marino Sanuto, another one struck Cyprus in 1523 [Benjamin Arbel, 1984]. According to Elias of Pesaro in 1563, in Famagusta, there were Jews and Christian doctors. Speaking about the plague and how the administrators of the island tolerated it, “Their precautions are very thorough, as in Italy, and no person arriving from an infected or suspected locality can enter the town before he has been detained forty days in the harbour”[Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
Malaria is an exceptionally far-reaching disease, long-standing in Cyprus. Certain coastal areas of Cyprus became malarial, most notably Famagusta. After its pestiferous nature became known in the 14th century, it declined rapidly. Of the towns on the island, only Nicosia and Kyrenia seemed at large from malaria. In Cyprus, sizeable salt lakes in the vicinity of Limassol and Larnaca were fed by winter rainfall and snow in the Troodos and incorporated dimensions that fluctuated with the season. The vast swampy area and marshes in the Mesaoria west of Famagusta affected a much more extensive area. The eastern Mesaoria is very flat, making drainage into Famagusta Bay extremely slow. That region has small lakes and seasonal streams which also contribute to its swampy nature. Since no attempts were made to keep the mouths of streams clear, and the land was so flat, they silted up, causing inland water to build up even more. Braudel has pointed out that in the 16th century, the inland plains of the Mediterranean were largely depopulated because of malaria, including those on the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, and Cyprus. Malaria emerges after flooding during the rainy season. “To avert disaster their inhabitants must take precautions, build dams and big channels.” The Venetians didn’t undertake such projects in Cyprus. Malaria has greater and lesser periods of virulence. According to Braudel, the late 15th century was one of particular virulence, and then there were fresh outbreaks of virulence late in the 16th century when virtually all of the Anatolian and Syrian ports were malarial. According to Jennings, “Famagusta faced virtually the same fate” [Ronald Jennings, 1992].
From Cobham’s “Excerpta Cypria” we learn that a Jew travelling from Italy to Jerusalem visited Famagusta for three days, beginning the 29th of August in 1495; there he found out that “the air is very bad and the water unwholesome.” When the Italian pilgrim Canon Pietro Casola toured the extensive ruins of Limassol in 1494, he was surprised to encounter it virtually empty. “When I asked why the Signoria did not seek to repopulate it, standing as it does on the sea, he told me that people do not care to settle there on account of the earthquakes, and also because it is a very unhealthy place. The inhabitants have in truth an unhealthy appearance. They all appear to be ill. True there are only a few of them.” John Locke in 1553 wrote: “The air of Famagusta is very unwholesome, as they say, by reason of certain marish ground adjoining unto it. They have also a certain yearly sickness reigning in the same town, above all the rest of the Island: yet nevertheless, they have it in other towns, but not so much. It is a certain redness and pain of the eyes, the which if it bee not quickly holpen, it taketh away their sight … either of one eye or both …” In an introductory chapter on the island, the Venetian Antonio Graziani, who lived there before the Ottoman conquest, wrote: “Its Ayr, in truth, is not answerable to the goodness of its Soyl; immoderate heats rendering the whole Island unhealthy, and in some parts contagious, so that it seems as if its Malignity would ravish from the Cypriots the pleasure of a long enjoyment of Natures Favours; few of them arriving in great maturity of Years.” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
Regarding the heat, he writes: “Ophthalmia is very common here. It generally begins on the longest day of the year and lasts beyond the autumnal equinox. It begins with a fever, which lasts two or three days, and violent headaches. Then the fever grows less, and a flux attacks the eyes with pain and inflammation and lasts for twenty or thirty days. If one is observant and careful the affection disappears of itself. Men and women, adults and children, are equally liable to it” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
Regarding the weather Elias of Pesaro in 1563 while being in Famagusta mentions “People say that snow has never fallen here and that there has never been frost. The amount of rain is very small. On the other hand, the heat is much greater here than in all the Turkish provinces. In summer no one leaves his house except for an hour in the morning, and an hour in the evening and the summer lasts eight months. To go from one place to another one travels on horseback by night. Such is the custom of persons who wish to preserve their health”. [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
Regarding the products of the island, Pietro Casola (1494) singled out sugar, cotton, and carobs [Ronald Jennings, 1992]. Many years later Mariti claimed that during this period, the cultivation of olives was abandoned for that of cotton [Giovanni Mariti, 1791]. According to Martin von Baumgarten in 1508, salt was exported yielding great profits [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895]. The salt from the Larnaca salt lake was collected annually and loaded around 70 vessels [Giovanni Mariti, 1791]. The island also exported corn and silk [indirectly mentioned by von Baumgarten]. Von Baumgarten, during his stay, was offered among others, almonds and peas. He added that in Cyprus silk, sugar, oil, and wine were also produced. Aeneas Sylvius (1509) mentions huge squashes, abundant wine and oil, much grain and sugar cane, and particularly cloth of goats’ hair, called camlet. Jacques le Saige in 1518, mentions the existence of pomegranates, cucumbers and melons. Benedetto Bordone in 1528 mentioned that “wine, oil, wheat, barley, sugar and cotton greatly abound” and he added the production of vitriol. Denis Possot in 1533 speaks about the doves, the fat partridges, the fat hares, and the muflons of Cyprus. He also adds that “sugar, cinnamon, silk, and mulberry trees were abundant”. John Locke in 1553 speaks about the date and pomegranate trees of Nicosia [Elias of Pesaro in 1563 talks about the various pomegranates of Famagusta region] and the carob trees of Limassol. He also speaks about the existence of vinegar and talks about the exportation of some kind of bird in great quantities [probably the vine-bird]. Elias of Pesaro mentions the existence in Famagusta of onions, leeks, cauliflowers and cabbages found in abundance, beetroots, spinach, carrots, mint, marjoram, parsley, peas, lentils, white kidney beans, beans, fish, eggs, fowls, quails, walnuts, quinces and of dark honey. On the contrary, geese and turkeys were rare. He also adds: “Medlars, sorbs and almonds are nowhere grown. Citrons, lemons, oranges, capers, pistachios, dates, breadfruit, figs, green and dry, are abundant and cheap. The native cheese is made of a mixture of the milk of sheep, goats and cows”. Giacomo Diedo adds in 1571 the exportation of saffron. According to Tommaso Porcacchi (born 1559), Cyprus in addition produced sesame, coriander, sumach, lentiscus seed, and three sorts of honey, the white of the hives, black made from carobs, and treacle from sugar, and the colocasia [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
The perpetuating headache of locusts in Venetian Cyprus was well-known in Venice in the 16th century. According to Marino Sanuto, a locust invasion in 1510 ruined the crops and caused great hunger in the island [Benjamin Arbel, 1984]. The popular geographical book of islands of the world by Benedetto Bordone, first published in Venice in 1528, warned: “But among so much good, that there may be found nothing in this world without its bitterness, the luck of the island has one drawback … that a vast multitude of cavalette or locusts appears with the young wheat”; those locusts “hide the sun” “like a thick cloud,” “and where they light they devour and consume not only the grain and grass but even the roots below the ground so that one might say that fire had blasted everything.” To destroy them, according to Bordone, people dug out the eggs-some 30,000 bushels (stara)/year, and also they brought certain water from Syria in which they soaked the eggs of the locusts. The German traveller Jodicus de Meggen, who visited Cyprus in 1542, gave a vivid description of the destruction left by the locusts. ” … there is a plague of caterpillars, about one in three years, especially after a period of drought; these gradually get bigger until, by the month of March, they are the thickness of one’s finger, having grown wings and some long legs, and resemble the locust; they fly about in the wind, in such immense numbers, that they look like a cloud; and any crops on which they may settle are completely devoured, right down to the roots, leaving no hope of blade or ear. That is why, sometimes, there is a woefully bad harvest.” Consequently, the Venetian government maintained the requirement that villagers be required to turn over a certain specified weight of locusts to the magistrates. The problem was also recorded by John Locke in 1553 and by de Lusignan in 1569 [Ronald Jennings, 1992].
Tommaso Porcacchi talks about the vine birds of Cyprus [ortolans] [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
Tommaso Porcacchi writes about the minerals of Cyprus: “Minerals abound, veins of gold and copper, white and red marcasite, brass and iron; Rock alum, white and black, pitch, resin, sulphur, nitre, cochineal and amiantus” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
Jacques le Saige in 1518, viewed some areas outside the city of Nicosia. He mentions that “the houses are chiefly of earth and have no roof except some stout reeds and then earth, that is their covering”. Elias of Pesaro in 1563 while being in Famagusta mentions: “I have hired a house composed of two large and handsome rooms upstairs, with a kitchen, besides a room below which makes a good kind of store for wine, oil and wood, and a poultry yard” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
According to Mas Latrie (19th cent.), the Greek schools that were in use during the Frankish Rule were forced to shut down and were replaced by schools teaching the Italian language [Athanasios Sakellarios, 1890].
EVENTS OF SIGNIFICANCE
1491 > Earthquake: On 25 April 1491, a very severe earthquake did great damage to Nicosia districts while knocking down one of the two seaside walls of Pafos and part of the castle at Limassol. After the earthquake of 1491 Pietro Casola (1494) found in Limassol all the churches but one in ruins and no good houses anywhere. The few people appeared ill. Because of the earthquakes and malaria, no one could be induced to settle there [Ronald Jennings, 1992]. The earthquake is mentioned also by Dietrich v. Schachten who was alive at the time it occurred [George Hill, 1948].
1499 > Piracy: According to the London copy of Boustronios document, “the 9th of June of 1499, arrived at Karpasia peninsula 6 small Turkish galleys at the location ‘Chelones’ and took men, women and children, and they deserted the villages and killed 37 persons…” [Georgios Boustronios, 15th cent.].
1539 > Piracy. Turkish pirates nearly destroyed Limassol [Ronald Jennings, 1992].
1542 > Earthquake: “Destructive” earthquake according to Sakellarios (1890) [without any further details][Athanasios Sakellarios, 1890].
1546 > Earthquake. Struck both Nicosia and Famagusta and damaged Santa Sofia church [Ronald Jennings, 1992].
1547 > Excessive rain: According to Sakellarios (1890) too much rain during this year destroyed the crops and caused a lack of grain [Athanasios Sakellarios, 1890].
1556 > Earthquake. Fra Angelo Calepio mentions it [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
1557 > Earthquakes. Fra Angelo Calepio speaks of “awful earthquakes, which lasted continually for fifty-three days” [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
1565 > Drought: Excessive drought during this year damaged the crops that lead to hunger, according to Sakellarios (1890). Despite the low grain crop, there had been exportation of grain by the rulers, and the inhabitants were so hungry that they besieged them at their residents, forcing them to provide them with grain for their survival [Athanasios Sakellarios, 1890].
1567 > Earthquakes. On 25 April 1567 “shocks were felt throughout Cyprus which lasted for 53 days and went on for two years. Most affected was Limassol, and then Nicosia; little damage was done [Ronald Jennings, 1992].
1568 > Earthquakes. On 28 January “very violent shocks caused some damage at Limassol,” where some people “were driven to live in the open country as the shocks increased in number and intensity.” A total of 140 were recorded in one two-week period. Some damage was done [Ronald Jennings, 1992].
1567 > Fortification. In 1567 Venice began an economic and military retrenchment in Nicosia.
The walled area was reduced to a round, modern defensive fortification, three miles in circuit, with low thick walls and a deep moat, and all the buildings and walls outside the fortified area were levelled, including reportedly some eighty churches [Orthodox and Catholic] [Ronald Jennings, 1992].
1569 > Earthquakes. Fra Angelo Calepio speaks of “eight or ten earthquakes at Famagosta at the end of October”[Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
1569 > Comet. Fra Angelo Calepio wrote “He [God] sent us the comet of November 1569, whose tail pointed down towards Cyprus, a clear sign of the sword of God [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].
1571 > War. During the time that Famagusta was besieged, received 168,000 cannon shots, writes Anche Thevet who lived during that time [Claude Delaval Cobham, 1895].