The Walls of Famagusta

These pages deal with the surviving monuments of the Frankish and Venetian rule over Cyprus (1192-1571).

In 1187 Saladin the Great, Sultan of Egypt and Syria conquered Jerusalem. Pope Gregory VIII issued a papal bull (Audita tremendi .. - Having heard the horrible news..) which called for a new crusade (the third one).

In April 1191, King Richard the Lionheart, who was one of the leaders of the crusade, sailed from Messina in Sicily to reach the Holy Land. Some of his ships were wrecked on Cyprus and the crews were maltreated by the men of Isaac Comnenos, the local ruler who belonged to an important Byzantine family. Richard subsequently seized the island and captured Isaac who was released for a ransom many years later. In June King Richard set sail for Acre where he joined the great Christian force which had been besieging this town since 1189. Richard remained in Palestine until 1192, when, after having vainly attempted to restore the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem, he reached an agreement with Saladin which allowed Christian access to the Holy Sites of the city.

Richard sold the Kingdom of Cyprus to Guy de Lusignan, his vassal in Poitou, a region of France, who was the titular King of Jerusalem by right of marriage, as a compensation for having failed to reinstate him on the throne.

The Lusignans ruled Cyprus for nearly three centuries and they did so by introducing the feudal system existing in western Europe which meant serfage for the Greek population of the island. In the XIVth century the Lusignans had to face the growing influence of Venice and Genoa in the Levant and they usually sided with the Venetians; in 1373 the Genoese in retaliation occupied Famagusta, the main port of the island.

In 1453, the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople brought a new actor on to the political scene of the Levant. Venice signed a peace treaty with Sultan Mehmet II in 1454, but the confrontation was only postponed. The war erupted in 1463 when the Turks seized Argo. It lasted until 1479 and at the end Venice lost several possessions in Greece and Albania.

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Article and Image Source: http://romeartlover.tripod.com

Keywords: Famagusta,Walls,Cyprus



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