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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311

XVII: The Kingdom of Cyprus, 1191-1291,   pp. 599-629 PDF (17.1 MB)

Page 600

Whether one holds with lorga that the conquest of Cyprus was an integral
part of Richard's grand strategy for the crusade, or with Hill that the conquest
was only a "side-issue", which later developed into a major operation, still
the position and resources of the island were obviously bound to involve
it eventually in the fortunes of the crusader states on the mainland. 1 Cape
Andreas, the easternmost tip of the island, lies only a day's sail, with
favoring winds, from the coast of Syria less than seventy miles distant;
and the northern coast of the island approaches to within forty miles of
the coast of Anatolia. In clear weather from the height of Stavrovouni one
can see Mt. Lebanon, and from the peaks of the northern range of mountains,
the summits of the Taurus range eighty miles away. For centuries a way-station
for pilgrim traffic to the Holy Land, Cyprus, since the First Crusade, had
intermittently provided ships and supplies to the crusaders. In 1 1 or 1
1 56, it suffered from a devastating raid, condemned alike by Greeks and
Latins, at the hands of the freebooting Reginald of Châtillon. 
 In 1 191 Cyprus had been subject for almost seven years to the tyranny of
a great-nephew of emperor Manuel I, Isaac Ducas Comnenus, who had assumed
the title basileus and had thwarted all efforts of the emperors Andronicus
I Comnenus and Isaac II Angelus to dislodge him. An enemy of the Latins and
an ally of Saladin, Isaac Comnenus of Cyprus prevented the Franks in Syria
from procuring provisions, and gave orders that no ship of the crusaders
was to be allowed to enter any port of the island.2 Toward the end of April
1 1 91, two of the ships accompanying that in which Richard's sister, Joan
of Sicily, and his betrothed, Berengaria, had sailed from Messina, were wrecked
on the southern coast near Limassol. Isaac robbed and mistreated the survivors,
endeavored to entice the ladies ashore in order to hold them for ransom,
and, upon 
1 Iorga, France de Chypre, pp. 16-17; Hill, History of Cyprus, I, 15—316.
 2 Hill, History of Cyprus, I, 17, cites only English sources for the league
with Saladin; cf. Hackett, Orthodox Church in Cyprus, p. 60; R. Grousset,
Histoire des croisades, III, 47; and Mas Latrie, Histoire de l'Ile de Chypre,
I, 21 (the last cites also the Continuator of William of Tyre and William
the Breton). But see Abu-Shãmah, Ar-raudatain (RHC, Or., Iv), pp.
508—5 10, quoting a letter of the qadi al-Fa4il, secretary of state
under Saladin, who refers to the "liberated king from Cyprus", his opposition
toward the king of England, and his offer of friendship to the sultan. The
editors of ar-Raudatain, p. 510, note I, say that the phrase "roi aifranchi"
(Arabic, al-malik al-'atiq, involving a play on words with another meaning
of "good" or "precious") refers to Guy of Lusignan, liberated after Hattin,
but this makes little sense since Guy aided Richard in taking Cyprus. It
seems probable that it refers to Isaac who, before going to Cyprus, had been
taken prisoner and liberated by the Armenians. A reference to a roi afranchi
at the siege of Acre undoubtedly does refer to Guy: see p. 413 and note a,
with reference to another possible translation: "ancien roi". The index,
s.v. "Chypre" and "Guy de Lusignan", Continues the Confusion. Cf. A. Cartellieri,
Philipp II. August (4 vols., Leipzig, 1899—1921), II, 189, note I,
who identifies the "liberated king from Cyprus" as Isaac. On the Byzantine
situation, see above, chapter IV, pp. 145—148. 

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