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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 621

Ch.XVI1 THE KINGDOM OF CYPRUS, 1191—1291 621 
often kept their Palestinian titles. These fiefs were hereditary, but, unlike
the system in the kingdom of Jerusalem, where the fief descended to all heirs
of the first holder, in Cyprus, from the time of either Guy or Aimery, in
the event of the failure of a direct heir, born in wedlock, the fief reverted
to the crown. This custom proved a distinct advantage to the crown. Contributing
also to its strength was the fact that, while such a noble house as the Ibelins
might acquire much wealth and exercise great influence, there never developed
in Cyprus great territorial fiefs such as weakened the position of the kings
of Jerusalem. Furthermore, unlike the latter, the rulers of Cyprus kept the
prerogative of coinage in their own hands. Yet the island was small; practically
all the nobles were immediate vassals of the king; all were equally concerned
in main taining their interests against their lord. So a compact and united
group developed, which could on occasion be extremely dangerous to the crown.58
 To non-noble Europeans and easterners, Guy and his successors granted burgage
tenements in the towns or rents in money or in kind (grain, sugar, olives,
etc., for sale or for immediate consump tion). As in Jerusalem, rents came
to be habitually granted also to knights and were regarded as true fiefs.
 Between the French ruling class and the native Graeco-Cypriotes no fusion,
such as occurred in England between Normans and English after 1066, and to
a lesser extent in Syria and in Frankish Greece between French and natives,
ever took place. Religious differences, exacerbated by the Latin policy of
forcing the Greek church into obedience to Rome, were too great.59 Many Greek
landholders had fled the island during Isaac's rule or at the time of Richard's
conquest; others lost their lands because of opposition to the new rulers.
Numbers of the remaining free Greeks seem to have fled to the towns, where,
subject to arbitrary tallages and other exactions, they suffered a loss in
status.60 Wilbrand of Oldenburg, who visited Cyprus in 1 2 1 1, recorded
his rather prejudiced impres sions of the island and its native population:
"There is one arch bishop, who has three suifragans. These are Latins. But
 58 See Grandclaude, Etude critique, pp. 151 ff. for this point and a technical
discussion of the effect of the Assise sur la Ligke on Cyprus and Jerusalem
respectively. See also Richard, op. cit., pp. 81 ff. 
  For other elements — Syrians, Maronites, Armenians, Jews, etc —
fused in varying degrees with the native Greek population, see Hill, History
of Cyprus, II, I ff. 
 60 For the view that the leading Greek families maintained their former
rank and pre rogatives in the bosom of the native population, hostile to
the conquerors, and bided their time until their position was restored, partially
under the venetians and more fully under the Turks, see Laurent's review
in Revue des etudes byzantines, VI (1948), 270. 

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