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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 608

and his successors made available lands in Cyprus, free from the menace of
incessant Moslem raids. Merchants also were attracted, and the various towns
of the island became thriving centers of trade, though Famagusta had to await
the fall of Acre to enter upon its great commercial role. The mainland thus
lost badly needed colonists and defenders. As the century advanced, the Cypriote
knights became increasingly loath to leave the comfort and safety of the
island in order to defend the few ports remaining to the Christians in Syria.
After the final catastrophe of 1291, planners of future crusades still looked
to Cyprus as their advance base, but the emphasis among Europeans in general
shifted from crusading zeal to lust for commercial profit. 
 Aimery of Lusignan, in accepting the crown of Jerusalem, had made clear
that he did not intend to mortgage the revenues of Cyprus to support the
kingdom of Jerusalem, now threatened by the successors of Saladin, but he
promised as much help as possible. He at once crossed to the mainland with
a Cypriote contingent to reinforce the Germans and the military orders, but
when the news of the death (September 28, 1 197) of emperor Henry VI reached
Palestine early in 1198, it effectively took the heart out of the German
crusade. In the following summer Aimery concluded a truce with al-'AdiI,
and, when that expired, a further favorable one in 1204. 
 Meanwhile preparations for the Fourth Crusade were well advanced. In the
spring of 1201, Alexius III appealed to Innocent 
III. If the pope would help him to recover Cyprus by excom municating Aimery,
Alexius would give aid to the crusaders. The pope refused, stating that Byzantium
had already lost Cyprus when Richard I conquered it, that "the western princes
have asked us, since in the island of Cyprus no modest aid is supplied to
the eastern province, to warn your imperial magnificence, given the present
state of the Holy Land, not to molest the king of that island . . 
and that it would be most unwise to divert Aimery from the defense of the
Holy Land to the protection of his Cypriote realm.27 When the main body of
crusaders was detoured to Constantinople in 1203, Cyprus was militarily little
affected, though the excesses committed by the Latins against the Greek church,
after the fall of the city, had repercussions on Orthodox believers in the
 Faced with delays in the army's assembling in the ports of Italy for the
Fifth Crusade, Honorius III, in July 1 2 1 7, decided to 
 27 Gesta Inn. III (PL, CCXIV), cols. cxxiii—cxxv. See Hill, History
of Cyprus, II, 62, note for further references, 

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