Lost Kingdoms: Kingdom of Cyprus

The Kingdom of Cyprus was a Crusader kingdom that existed between 1192 and 1489. The island of Cyprus was conquered by 1191 by King Richard I of England from the Byzantine Empire. He soon realised that the island was not worthwhile and he sold it to the Knights Templar. The people of Cyprus attempted to kill the Templar rulers in 1192, and eventually, the Knights Templar asked for Richard to come back. Richard offered the island to Guy of Lusignan, the husband of the late Queen Sybilla of Jerusalem, a long-time vassal of King Richard. Guy became the island’s first Lord. He died just two years later without heirs and so the first man to use the title King of Cyprus was his brother Amalric.

Amalric had married Eschiva of Ibelin before 1180, and they had six children, though not all lived to adulthood. Eschiva was only briefly Queen consort of Cyprus; she died later that same year. He remarried to Queen Isabella I of Jerusalem. He was her fourth husband and together they had two surviving daughters. Amalric was succeeded by his son from his first marriage upon his death in 1205. His son became King Hugh I of Cyprus. Hugh married his stepsister Alice of Champagne, and they had two daughters and a son. Hugh died in 1218 and was succeeded by his son, now King Henry I of Cyprus. Henry was just eight months old. Officially, the regency was to be handled by his mother, but she gave the power to her uncle, Philip of Ibelin and later to her other uncle, John of Ibelin.

Henry married three times. His first wife was Alix of Montferrat, but she died after just four years without having children. He then remarried to Stephanie of Lampron. She died in 1249, and they also had no children. In 1250, he married Plaisance of Antioch, and they had one son together. Henry died in 1253, and he was succeeded by his minor son, now King Hugh II of Cyprus. The young King may have been married to Isabella of Ibelin, but the marriage was not consummated. Hugh died in 1267 without heirs. Hugh was succeeded by Hugh of Lusignan-Antioch (son of his younger aunt Isabella) as Hugh III of Cyprus, although Hugh of Brienne (son of his elder aunt Mary) had the better claim.

King Hugh III also claimed the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1268. He had married Isabella of Ibelin in 1255, and they had eleven children, though not all would live to adulthood. Hugh III died on 24 March 1284 and was succeeded by his eldest son, now King John I of Cyprus (and John II of Jerusalem). He died the following year and was not married. He was succeeded by his younger brother, now King Henry II of Cyprus. In 1317, he married Constance of Sicily, but they had no children. Henry died on 31 August 1324 and was succeeded by his nephew, now King Hugh IV of Cyprus. The Kingdom of Jerusalem had been dissolved in 1291.

Hugh had married Marie of Ibelin around 1307, and they had at least one son together before her death in 1318. He remarried to Alix of Ibelin that same year, and they had a further four children. He resigned the crown to his eldest son by his second marriage rather than his grandson by his eldest from his first marriage in 1358 and died the following year. His second son was now King Peter I of Cyprus.

Peter had married Eschive de Montfort in 1342, but she died in 1350 without children. In 1353 he remarried to Eleanor of Aragon-Gandia, and they had three children together, though one daughter died young. He died on 17 January 1369 and was succeeded by his son, now King Peter II. He married Valentina Visconti in 1378, but they had no children together. He died on 13 October 1382 and was succeeded by his uncle, now King James I of Cyprus. He had married Helvis of Brunswick-Grubenhagen in 1365. She and James were imprisoned by the Genoese, and she gave birth to several children while imprisoned. They had around twelve children, though not all lived to adulthood. They were released shortly after James became King, although their eldest son remained behind as a hostage.

James died on 9 September 1398 and was succeeded by his eldest son, now King Janus of Cyprus. Janus had been released as a hostage in 1392. He married Anglesia Visconti around 1400, but that marriage was annulled around eight years later. In 1411, he married Charlotte of Bourbon, and they had six children together, though only three lived to adulthood. Janus died on 29 June 1432, and he was succeeded by his eldest son, now King John II of Cyprus. Between 1435 and 1440, he married Amadea Palaiologina of Monferrato but she died in 1440, and they had no children. Around 1441, he remarried to Helena Palaiologina, and they had two daughters together, though one died young. He also had an illegitimate son named James by his mistress Marietta de Patras. Upon his death on 28 July 1458, he was succeeded by his daughter Charlotte, who became Cyprus’s first Queen Regnant.

Charlotte married John of Portugal in 1457 but was widowed the following year. On 7 October 1459, she married her second husband, Louis of Savoy. She had no children by either of her husbands. Charlotte’s reign was constantly challenged by her illegitimate half-brother, James. She was dethroned by him in 1464. James was now King James II of Cyprus. He married Catherine Cornaro in 1468. James died on 10 July 1473, leaving a pregnant Catherine. Their son became King James III of Cyprus upon birth. He died under mysterious circumstances just after his first birthday. By his father’s will, he was succeeded by his mother, Catherine. Catherine reigned until 1489 when she was forced to abdicate and sell the administration of Cyprus to the Republic of Venice.

Following Salic law (excluding women), the claim to the Cypriot throne is carried by either Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples or Amedeo, 5th Duke of Aosta. Following primogeniture (men before women), the claim is carried by Charles-Antoine Lamoral of Ligne-La Trémoïlle.

Cyprus finally became an independent nation in 1960.

 

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My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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