Mar
25
2013

by

Cyprus, 1248 AD

Dear Readers,

In the next book in my Mother of All series, The Scarlet Oak, my hero and heroine travel with Louis IX on his 1248-1250 crusade. In my previous blog, Entranced by History, I mentioned that I needed to find a source on Cyprus in 1248. The crusade of Louis IX wintered in Cyprus in 1248 before departing for Damietta, Egypt in 1249, and my heroine is there with them in Cyprus while my hero makes his own journey to Egypt with his boyhood friend, Alphonse de Poitiers, brother of Louis IX. Alphonse remained behind to help his mother establish her Regency as he gathered more knights for the crusade.

I had to dig a bit to find sources that would give me facts and a feel for Cyprus in 1248. It’s kind of ironic that Cyprus is so in the news now, with Europeans in an uproar over the proposed bail-out, because one book I found, Cyprus, Society and Culture 1191-1374, written by historian Nicolaou-Konnari and translated by Schaebel, shows that Cyprus was extremely connected to Europe in the middle ages. The French just went on in and took over.

In the tenth century, Cyprus was quite prosperous and secure. Saladin was not keen on naval warfare, so Cyprus was relatively safe from the Sultans in the Middle East. However, Cyprus was such a gem that in 1191, Richard the Lionheart captured it. Richard put Guy and Aimery de Lusignan in charge of Cyprus because he did not want to leave them in Jerusalem – they’d lost it to Saladin. So the Lusignans moved in and ruled over the Greek, Syrian, Jewish, Armenian, Genoan and Pisan population.

No Greek lay landowners retained estates when the French moved in and set up a modified feudal system there. The Lusignans brought with them many settlers from places in Outremer, dispossessed by Saladin’s conquests. This small group of closely interrelated families comprised noble society on medieval Cyprus. In this manner, a middle-ranking French aristocratic house founded a royal dynasty when Cyprus became a province of the Roman church rather than the Byzantine church. The Lusignans were made Kings of Cyprus and knights from the continent looking to better themselves surrounded the Lusignans.

The new Lusignan dynasty was able to give Cyprus a period of peace and stability from 1191 to 1229. From 1229 to 1233 a civil war erupted but it was put down with help from the continent because Cyprus was seen as not only commercially rich, but as a launching point for crusades and a place for pilgrims traveling to the Holy Lands.

Henri de Lusignan was King of Cyprus when Louis IX wintered there in 1248, and the island benefited by providing food and ships for the crusade. My heroine is handmaiden to Beatrice of Provence, sister of Queen Marguerite of France, and they all stayed in Deudamor castle, now known as St. Hilarion castle, close to the mountain pass linking Nicosia to the coast of Kyrenia.

So now I have the context and the breathtaking landscape of medieval Cyprus. Next I need to obtain the same feel and facts for medieval Egypt, where my hero joins the disastrous Seventh Crusade and my heroine looks after Beatrice, Marguerite and Jeanne. I already have a number of sources on the Seventh Crusade but need more on medieval Egypt from the Muslim point of view, as well as the landscape of Egypt in the middle ages.

Happy reading!

Carolina

3 Comments »

  • Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi Norene,

    I appreciate the comments and the share on your blog. Thank you!

    Namaste,

    Carolina

  • Zelda says:

    I like this site so much, saved to bookmarks.

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