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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe
(1989)

V: The Institutions of the Kingdom of Cyprus,   pp. 150-174 PDF (9.7 MB)


Page 155

Ch. V THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE KINGDOM OF CYPRUS 155 
vassal).1' Cyprus even conserved some practices which were tending to disappear
elsewhere, in particular the right of the king to compel the heiresses of
a fief to remarry, by offering them a choice among three men of their rank.
The manuscript of the Assises indicates "comme dame doit estre requise d'espouser
baron".'2 This obligation was derived from that of guaranteeing the services
of the fief-holder in person. 
 Florio Bustron has given a precise definition of the military service of
the vassals. The knight had to present himself to the army with four horses,
the squire with three, the man-at-arms with two, and the turcopole (who was
a lightly armed horseman, originally a Syrian) with one. Where the vassal
was unable to guarantee this service — as in the case of a young unmarried
woman or a widow who had not remarried, although other exemptions existed
— the vassal had to pay a tax called "default of service", which was
assessed according to the number of fees of knights or other warriors which
he or she held.'3 Under Hugh III, the vassals claimed that they were not
obliged to serve the king overseas or outside the kingdom. Prince Edward
of England worked out a compromise limiting the duration of such service
to forty days. 
 In accordance with the obligation to give advice to the king, the vassals
were summoned to attend his court. The high court was made up of liegemen
who judged cases concerning fiefs and vassals. Its jurisdiction is specified
by two custumals which particularly concern the kingdom of Cyprus: the Livre
a un sien ami of Philip of Novara (midthirteenth century) and the Livre contrefais
des Assises, or Livre du Plédeant et du Plaidoyer, written a century
later.'4 
 The high court was first of all an instrument of royal power, which elaborated
the sentences promulgated by the king after the jury reported its decision
to him.'5 It had charge of maintaining the rights of the king as well as
judging disputes between him and his vassals. In this regard, the vassals
were the guarantors of the king's acts; the Livre 
 11. RHC, Lois, I, 503—504; Mas Latrie, Histoire, I, 44—45. On
the formula of homage see RHC, Lois, II, 385—386. 
 12. RHC, Lois, II, 389. An exemption was given to James de Fleury for his
wife, allowing her to remarry anyone she chose: Richard, Documents chypriotes,
p. 131. 
 13. Florio Bustron, Chronique, pp. 462—463; Richard, Documents chypriotes,
p. 131; RHC, Lois, II, 427-434; G. Hill, History of Cyprus, I, 168—170.
The royalty seems to have been very liberal in conceding such "defaults",
which made possible concentrations of fiefs in fewer hands. 
 14. Maurice Grandclaude, Étude critique sur les livres des assises
de Jerusalem (Paris, 1923), pp. 70—81, 127—135, 168—170.
Philip examines only the high court; the Livre contrefais deals primarily
with the court of the bourgeois. Other works, though probably written in
Cyprus (Geoffrey le Tort, James of Ibelin), are of no special interest for
the kingdom. 
 15. See, for example, Richard, Documents chypriotes, p. 155; cf. RHC, Lois,
II, 386. 


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