The Later Crusades, 1274-1580: From Lyons to Alcazar

By Norman Housley | Go to book overview

6
The Kingdoms of Cilician Armenia and Cyprus, 1274-1573

WHEN Acre fell in 1291, the remaining Latin establishments in the eastern Mediterranean comprised not only the Frankish states and colonies of Romania, but also the Kingdoms of Armenia and Cyprus (see map 7). Like Frankish Greece, these Kingdoms originated as by-products of the crusading movement, and their defence by western Catholics was an important goal of the papacy's crusading policy in the fourteenth century. By 1274 Cilician Armenia, a non-Frankish country, was economically debilitated, politically chaotic, and immensely vulnerable to Islamic attack. In 1375 it was extinguished altogether by the Muslims. For most of the century preceding this, Cyprus, protected by the sea, had presented a very favourable contrast to its embattled northern neighbour. The island's Frankish royal house and nobility enjoyed deep-rooted governmental stability, occasionally marred by dynastic and constitutional conflict; and until the mid-fourteenth centuryCyprus's economic prosperity was striking. But by 1400 the most independent, constructive, and brilliant period of Cyprus's medieval history had ended. Invaded, exploited, and politically disrupted, fifteenth-century Cyprus increasingly resembled the Kingdom of Armenia a century earlier. In Cyprus, as in Syria and Greece, Frankish government began well but ended in disunity and disaster.

The Kingdom of Cilician (or 'Lesser') Armenia dated from January 1198, when Prince Leo II was crowned by Conrad of Hildesheim, Chancellor and envoy of the Emperor Henry VI. The Armenians, whose original homeland had been in eastern Anatolia, had only settled in the Taurus mountains in the decades leading up to the First Crusade. Here, and in the coastal plain to the south, the Rupenid family built up a

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