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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 393

Ch. XI THE KINGDOM OF CYPRUS, 1369—1489 393 
was to be warned that she would incur the signoria's displeasure and be regarded
as a rebel; in the last resort, she was to be removed by force. As an afterthought
the council, preferring not to use extreme measures if these could be avoided,
sent Catherine's brother George after Priuli to reinforce the captain-general's
official persuasions. For if Catherine were to prove contumacious, the result
would be disas trous for the Cornari, and it appears that this argument finally
induced the bitterly reluctant queen to accept the ultimatum. "Are not my
lords of Venice content," she asked, "to have their island when I am dead,
that they would deprive me thus soon of what my husband left me?" 
 No time was lost by the Venetians in implementing the assent thus wrung
from the queen. With somewhat heartless cynicism they staged, on February
26, 1489, a ceremony in Famagusta whereat the queen was made to hand to the
captain-general the standard of St. Mark to be flown thenceforth in place
of her own; "and thus," wrote cardinal Peter Bembo, her kinsman, "was the
kingdom of Cyprus reduced to a province." When Catherine arrived in Venice
the follow ing June, her reception matched in splendor the functions attending
her betrothal and her departure for Cyprus as a bride. The republic now granted
its "daughter" the little lordship of Asolo at the foot of the Dolomites,
where the former queen spent her time pleasantly enough as a patron of art
and of scholars of the Renaissance. She died in Venice on July 9, 1510, aged
 Catherine had not Charlotte's depth of character, nor was her lot on the
whole, despite the sorrows, loneliness, and mortifications of her fifteen
years of widowhood in Cyprus, as tragic as that of her consistently ill-starred
sister-in-law and rival. Nor, again, were the rights for which she put up
such struggle as she could to be compared in weight with those for which
Charlotte fought with such admirable tenacity of purpose. Yet Catherine was
of a kindly, affectionate, and—fortunately for herself—forgiving
disposition, and she contrived in very unpropitious circumstances to render
herself genuinely loved by her subjects. When the time came for her to make
her final, compulsory exit from her kingdom, she effected it with dignity
and a good grace. 
 The recorded history of medieval Cyprus is concerned mainly with an intruding
ruling house and caste alien in blood, religion, and language to the people
of the country, and with the rulers' dynastic quarrels, their diplomacy,
their international relationships, and their wars, as well as with the designs
upon the island of foreign powers in 

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