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

XI: The Kingdom of Cyprus, 1369-1489,   pp. 361-395 PDF (8.0 MB)

Page 365

Ch. XI THE KINGDOM OF CYPRUS, 1369—1489 365 
advantage of the opening of the sea gate for the conference to swarm into
the castle, and seized the king and his people. John of Antioch, helped by
his cook, effected his escape in the disguise of a kitchenboy, while the
king's younger uncle, James, had already made his way back to Nicosia in
a previous, successful sortie. To these circum stances the royal uncles no
doubt owed their lives, for the Genoese now beheaded, to the queen's unbounded
satisfaction, a number of the regicides, alleging that in so doing they were
executing the judgment of the king. But the king was in truth far from being
in a position to give directions to the Genoese; he himself was in a most
perilous position, completely at the mercy of the Genoese admiral (and later
doge), Peter Campofregoso, who forced him to write under duress a series
of instructions to his uncles to act apparently in accordance with his wishes
but in reality in accordance with those of the Genoese. He was no more than
a helpless tool in the hands of the enemy. The queen played a complicated
and equivocal part, some times appearing to pursue the interests of the invaders,
sometimes the true interests of her son. But always she had before her the
paramount aim of contriving the death of John of Antioch, and set her tortuous
course accordingly. 
His brother James, whose loyalty to his nephew was not in doubt, deemed it
in the best interests of the kingdom to concentrate on holding the important
northern fortress of Kyrenia, where he made a stand against assault by land
and sea so successful as finally to bring the war to an end by leading the
Genoese to agree to terms. In the meantime these had first looted, then occupied
the inland capital, Nicosia, and were making free of the island in general
except for the fortresses of St. Hilarion ("Dieudamour," held by John of
Antioch), Buffavento and Kantara in the northern range of mountains, and
the city of Kyrenia itself. Yet by March 1374 something like stalemate had
been reached. Although the Genoese had plundered the island bare and had
contrived to possess themselves of a forced loan of one million ducats imposed
on the kingdom by the king's council to sustain its defense, they were finding
the prolonged campaign a heavy drain on their resources. They decided, therefore,
to take advantage of their favorable situation to impose a final settlement,
to which end they now played their trump card, the control they exercised
over the captive king, to its fullest advantage. Their most effective adversary
in Cyprus was James, and him they determined to get into their power and
to hold as a hostage in Genoa for the fulfillment of the terms they would
impose on the kingdom. They 

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