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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

X: The Kingdom of Cyprus, 1291-1369,   pp. 340-360 PDF (10.3 MB)

Page 352

the grounds that in accordance with the Assizes of Jerusalem a surviving
son had the prior right over the son of a deceased elder brother. Later,
young Hugh's claims were settled by a grant of a pension and, in 1365, the
title prince of Galilee, and he became reconciled with his uncle, whom he
accompanied on his western journeys and on the expedition against Alexandria.
 Peter I was not only the most spectacular monarch of his house; he is one
of the most spectacular figures in late medieval history. If his father had
guided the Lusignan kingdom to material prosperity, the son brought it to
the height of its reputation on the international stage. Devoted to the crusading
ideal from the days before his first coronation and accession, when he bore
the title of count of Tripoli, he became in pursuit of that ideal one of
the most persistent knights-errant of his century. Brave and chivalrous,
passionate and sensual, he not only could win the acclaim of a François
Villon; he could inspire the personal devotion of a Peter Thomas, who is
venerated as a saint by the Carmelites, and a Philip of Mézières.
Until the final failure of his hopes, combined with domestic trouble, turned
disappointment to despair and an idealist into a capricious and irresponsible
tyrant, Peter had earned the approval of some of the leading spirits of his
age. Jean Froissart, William of Machaut, and Philip of Mézières
chronicle his remarkable activities; Petrarch and Chaucer award him praise.
 Already by 1347, when still in his teens, the young count of Tripoli had
founded his Order of the Sword as the embodiment of his compelling passion
for the recovery of the holy places. He believed himself to have been divinely
entrusted with this mission, in a vision vouchsafed to him in the mountain
monastery of Stavro vouni near Larnaca, a shrine famous for the relic of
a piece of the True Cross embedded in pieces of the crosses of the two thieves,
which had been brought to it by the empress Helena. The motto he gave to
his order was c'est pour loyauté maintenir, and the inspira tion of
its emblem was not only daily before him but daily before his subjects. For
on his coinage he caused to be placed in his hand the sword instead of the
scepter held by his predecessors and his successors; heraldically, too, it
supported his arms. 
 Peter was just thirty years old on his accession and had already been married
for six years to his second wife, Eleanor of Aragon, a princess of physical
attractions but of a jealous and vindictive temper. The pair were crowned
for the kingdom of Jerusalem in Famagusta by the papal legate Peter Thomas,
who was to become the king's 

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