CYPRUS: Jewel of the Mediterranean
by Angela Bowie c2000

People make history. How about a gallop through Cypriot history? We'll slow down to a trot as we come to the interesting characters. Maybe we'll arrive at now with a deeper understanding of the rivalries and rumors that affect human response. 3000 years ago, the Mediterranean was the center of the known world. The inhabitants shared a common experience: food, wine, climate. Their occupations were mining, agriculture, metal-smithing, herding of livestock and fishing, though not much in Cyprus.

Swirling around the island are the stories of extraordinary conquerors and visitors: the Achaens, the Phoenicians, the British, the Persians, the Egyptians, Macedonians, Arabs, Turks, Venetians and the Genovese. Location or religion might mark their differences, but they spoke each others languages, traded with each other and visited neighboring holy places, consulted oracles, made sacrifices and sailed the Mediterranean together. The history of Cyprus illuminates human behavior at its most noble & passionate, most nationalistic & barbaric. .

The people on whom to focus are the Cypriots, their conquerors and neighbors, philosophers and clerics and small boys: Andreas Vassiliou is the most recent Cypriot hero.

CYPRUS-Boy's plight mends rift.

The plight of a 6-year-old boy whose life depends on finding a bone marrow donor has brought together the rival Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities of war-divided Cyprus. Scores of Turkish Cypriots crossed yesterday into the UN- controlled buffer zone splitting the island, for blood tests to see if they could provide a transplant to save Andreas Vassiliou, a Greek Cypriot boy suffering from Leukemia. "This is a very good development that will help build trust between the two sides, " said Mehemt Ali Talat of the opposition Republican Turkish Party.

Cyprus has been divided into a Greek Cypriot controlled south and a Turkish occupied north since a 1974 Turkish invasion. The Turkish Cypriot State prevents free movement between the two areas except in rare cases. More than 50,000 Greek Cypriots have already come forward since the boy's father made a plea for donations nine days ago. Doctors say the chances of finding a suitable donor are 30,000 to one. "We are trying to help a little, we hope he gets better," said Serdar Denktash, son of Rauf Denktash, president of the Turkish Cypriot state. "This is a humanitarian action, nothing to do with politics." March 28th, 2000 AZ Daily Star

The propaganda war of the last 50 years has left the truth beaten and raped. Both sides have interpreted, misinterpreted & reinterpreted massacres, slaughters, rapes and mass graves. My father told me of a Turkish Cypriot man who traveled to the south of the island at extreme personal danger to himself, to find my father and pay him 350 pounds for my parents' car. It had been left at the mine when they were evacuated. My father had no doubt as to the honor of all Cypriots.


Achaean/Greeks/Hellenes established city kingdoms on Mycenaean model________________________2,000 BC Cyprus added to EGYPT________________________________________________________________1,500 AD Phoenician influence____________________________________________________________________800 BC Cypriot Kings fought the Egyptians_________________________________________________________68.BC Persians conquered Cyprus____________________________________________________________500 - 406 BC Persians defeated at Salamis_______________________________________________________________406 BC Alexander succeeded Philip of Macedonia____________________________________________________323 BC Roman Empire___________________________________________________________________52 BC- 295 AD Byzantine Empire___________________________________________________________________395 -1191 AD Richard the Lionhearted gave it to Guy de Lusignan___________________________________________1192 AD Lusignan Dynasty 1192-1489 AD Venetian Rule_____________________________________________________________________1489-1571 AD Ottoman Empire___________________________________________________________________1571-1878 AD Cyprus leased to the British_______________________________________________________________1878 AD Cyprus became a crown colony____________________________________________________________1925 AD Cyprus became a republic________________________________________________________________1960 AD Cyprus partitioned into North and South ___________________________1974 AD

At the end of the ice age, the Mediterranean basin filled with the floes of melted ice and Cyprus pulled away from Turkey and Africa becoming an island. "There are traces of Neolithic sites, circular huts from about 8,000 years ago with flint and stone tools. At the Stone Age site at Kirokitia fifty huts have been comprehensively excavated, little circular homes where the living existed happily with their dead ancestors buried beneath the floor." (Derek and Julia Parker CYPRUS.Travel Guides)

The excavation at Khirokitia began in 1936 under the direction of Porphyrios Dikaios. They found up to 26 skeletons in one dwelling. The next group of remains dates from 5000 and 4000 BC. There is a site specifically pertaining to this period at Ayia Napa. There is evidence of copper weapons in 3000 BC. By 2000 BC metalworking was advanced enough to produce bronze. Cyprus was rich in copper and trade throughout the Mediterranean was taking off, helmed by the Greek City of Knossos in Crete. In 1500 BC Thutmosis added Cyprus to the Egyptian empire. After the destruction of Knossos, the Dorians invaded Greece around 1200 BC. Merchants and traders from the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon conducted commerce with Cyprus. The Phoenicians built trading centers at Citium, Amathus and Lapithos. After the Dorian invasion of Greece, many Achaeans fled to Cyprus. The island of Achaea was an area of ancient Greece in the Northern Peloponnesus. The Achaeans brought the Hellenic culture and language to Cyprus. The "Cypro-Minoan" system of writing appeared in Cyprus in 1,500 BC.

The Greeks who came to Cyprus had not come to conquer but to make a life. They brought their art and culture. Salamis was the main city, founded after the fall of Troy by Teucer, King of the island of Salamis, an island near Athens. The Cypriot city was named for what had been left behind. So begins the love affair with Greece. City states were divided into nationalities. Marion, Salamis and Soli were "Ionian" Curium was "Dorian" & Palea Paphos and Kouklia and Kitium were "Mycenian" (Thanks to the historian who compiled the history section for windows on Salamis sent corn, wine salt and oil to Phoenicia and Egypt. In 525 BC, to throw off the Egyptian yoke, the Cypriot kings allied themselves with the Persian empire and as part of the 5th. satrapies, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Israel helped the Persians beat the Egyptians. Victory had a bitter taste.

When war broke out between the Greeks and the Persians, the Cypriot cities took the side of the Greeks, led by Onesilos of Salamis, who had usurped the throne of his pro-Persian brother Gorgos. In 499 BC a huge Persian army sailed for Cyprus. The allies defeated the Persian fleet; but on land the battle went the other way. The Cypriot army was scattered but King Evagoras emerged as a Cypriot hero. He ruled Salamis at its most splendid. It became the premier city of Cyprus.

There was another uprising to expel the Persians in 350 BC. Constant bickering amongst the Cypriot princes doomed the attempt. Then Philip of Macedon assembled a huge army to take on the Persians and was assassinated before he was able to fulfill his ambition. His son, Alexander succeeded him. He was to expand Philip's dreams of conquest.

Alexander the Great & The Byzantine Empire

In 336 BC at the age of 23, Alexander succeeded his father Philip of Macedon. He was born in 356 BC in Greece to. Philip and Olympias, who was a snake dancer at the temple. Aristotle taught Alexander for a time; the boy was infatuated with the heroic age. In Plutarch╠s biography, Alexander feared his mother and with some justification. Olympia's reputation from snake dancer to Queen was littered with bodies. Her desire to control the lives of her children manifested itself in perverted ways. One of her sons was a drug addict. She administered the drugs with her own hand. She was a suspect in the deaths of her husband, Philip and her son, Alexander. .

Alexander earned his title of "the Great" with his defeat of Darius III, Emperor of Persia in 333 BC. He invaded Asia Minor and Syria and Egypt. At the oasis of Amon he was acknowledged as the son of Amon Ra endorsing his belief that he was a God. In 330 a conspiracy against Alexander caused him to act with violent cruelty killing a son and father: one guilty, the other innocent.

Alexander's soldiers resented him assuming Persian dress and his directive that they marry Bactrian women. (Alexander married Statira, Darius' daughter. There was a huge wedding and Alexander paid the army's debts. Each guest at the wedding was given a golden goblet to commemorate the occasion; all 9,000 of them.)

Plutarch tells how Alexander was so considerate of his friends, he took the time to write them letters advising on their health to the moral ethic of keeping slaves. While Alexander was defeating Persia and installing himself in Darius' court, the Macedonians had no intention of calling their absent King "God". He began to behave in a godlike fashion. He executed Aristotle's nephew, Callisthenes. This did not sit well with the chaps in Athens or Thebes. After the death of Hephaestion, his Grand Vizier and love, he mourned deeply. In 323, He planned a sea voyage around Arabia. Before he left, he caught a fever and died at 33 years old without nominating a successor.

Strife & civil war followed the death of Alexander. There was civil war between city-states and strife between his wives. Roxanne, his wife back in Macedonia was jealous of Alexander's Persian wife, Statira. When Alexander died, she forged a letter from Alexander asking Statira to come to him. Once Roxanne had them in her power she killed Statira and her sister & had their bodies thrown down a well.

The rivalry in Cyprus was between 3 men: Antigonus, governor of Phrygia, Seleucas and Ptolemy governor of Egypt. The Egyptian court at Alexandria was predominantly a Greek court & in 318 BC, Ptolemy set out to conquer Cyprus and subdue the 4 cities which favored Antigonus. After much slaughter and the banishing of kings, King Nicocrean of Salamis was made overall ruler under the guidance of Ptolemy╠s brother, Menelaus. In 306 BC, Antigonus attempted to win back the lost territories but was not successful. Egypt valued the lumber supplies in the Troodos Mountains to build their fleets. Their rule lasted for 300 years.

ZENO & The Hellenistic Age

The Hellenistic Age is the name given to the period between Alexander's death in 323 BC and the beginning of the Roman Empire 30 BC At about this time, ZENO, the founder of Stoicism established his school in Athens. Zeno was born in Kitium in 336 BC. He was the son of a Phoenician merchant and followed his father into that trade, transporting purple dye around ports in the Mediterranean. He was shipwrecked off Pyraeus, the port of Athens. While wandering around Athens, he was smitten by particular manuscripts in a bookstore. Upon inquiry as to their source he was directed to a certain area. As a result, he met Crates, the cynic and became his student. In 294 BC at the age of 42 he began his own school in the Stoa Poikite ( the painted porch) The mall was adorned with pictures of the Trojan Wars and the Amazons. Zeno's disciple Cleanthes wrote a hymn to Jupiter about the unity of god, his omnipotence and moral government. Chrysippius from Soli continued the Stoic teachings and wrote volumes expanding the Stoic beliefs. Quoted with thanks - "To Zeno belongs the establishment of the logical criterion, the adaptation of Heraclitean physics and the introduction of all the leading ethical tenet. He was a very humble man and took as his students rich and poor alike. He disliked mixing with kings or the authorities. At one point when he was unable to pay the resident alien's tax, the Athenians sold him into slavery, but he was bought by a friend and freed. Later the Athenians honored him with a golden crown and a large tomb built at public expense. The Athenians held him in such high esteem that they awarded him the keys of the city and a golden wreath. They also put up a copper statue to honor him." (Who was it that said your condemnation is as meaningful as your adulation- or something like that) "Zenon died as simply as he had lived, he just hanged himself when he thought his time had come. His ideas and the resultant stoic philosophy had a great impact on many of the important men of his day and the history of our civilization."

Zeno certainly seems to have inherited the Cynics' preference for gruff speech and shocking behavior. He was continually making fun of the fops in Athens, commenting on a youth who was taking pains to avoid stepping in some mud, that it was only because he couldn't see his reflection in it. Of another who was given to displays of rhetoric, he said, "Your ears have slid down and merged into your tongue." He attempted to avoid attracting too many followers by associating with (according to Timon) "a crowd of ignorant serfs, who surpassed all men in beggary" and was also in the habit of asking passers-by for small change. Despite this he was held in high esteem by the citizens of Athens and was even given the keys to the city. He was also invited to act as an advisor to King Anigonus of Macedon, but he turned this down and sent his pupil Persaeus, instead.

Scholars find interesting details: "Not much is known of Zeno's personal life. He appears to have continued his interest in trade, though by all accounts his life was fairly frugal, his main enjoyment being to sit in the sun eating figs and drinking wine. In fact, contrary to the popular image of stoicism, Zeno seems to have liked his drink, commenting (presumably while staggering drunkenly) that it was better to slip with the feet than with the tongue. He was not fond of being waited on (possibly due to the Stoics' aversion to slavery) though it was said that he occasionally had a maidservant at parties "in order not to appear a misogynist." He probably died in 261 BC striking the ground with his fist and quoting the line from Niobe, "I come, I come, why do you call me?"(Robin Turner Zeno of Citium

Stoicism is put into practice in Cyprus with an oft repeated phrase: "Siga, Siga." The Stoic doctrine embraces the following principles: strive for even temper, accept the blows of fortune and limit ones wants and practice contentment. Slowly, slowly. In 190 BC the sons of Ptolemy were squabbling and wanted Rome to do something about it. Finally Rome sent Cato and he spent two years "Romanizing" affairs in Cyprus

Roman Empire

Cyprus was acquired in 52 BC. and became part of the Roman province of Cilicia. Cato the Younger was sent to make order, against his personal wishes according to Plutarch. Marcus Portius Cato was the first Roman governor in 58 BC. He was a good and honest administrator. He supported the senate and when Casaer became a dictator, he took his own life, dismayed at republicanism no longer being the model of government. The island made an instant contribution to the Roman coffers to the tune of 2.5 million pounds at today's rates. Cyprus was given as a gift to Cleopatra. After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, Augustus Caesar took Cyprus back at the naval battle of Actium in 33 BC. Five years later, the island was separated from Cilicia and became an imperial province under a military governor. Cyprus was encouraged by the tax reforms of Augustus Caesar. He built harbors, roads, bridges and public buildings. Water was brought in by aqueduct and the great temple at Paphos was rebuilt. The Romans had successfully suppressed piracy and there was a market in Rome for all the Cypriot crops: wine, oil, wheat, and a demand for their metal too: iron, copper and silver.

This period was known as the "Pax Romana" in Roman history. The Roman Empire was under the rule of Imperator Caesar Augustus. He rebuilt the city of Rome and became a patron of the Arts. During his reign the Roman Empire was at its heights. A postal service and the construction of roads helped unify the Empire. Augustus reformed the senate, made taxation more equitable and revived the census. He died in 14 AD and was succeeded by his stepson Tiberius. Tiberius was a frugal monarch and his reign was peaceful and prosperous.

The prosperity of the Roman Empire declined after the death of Marcus Aurelius. In 324 AD there was a great famine that decimated the Cypriot population. Emperor Constantine's mother, Helena succeeded in nursing the Cypriots through a rough patch. My mom's name was Helen and Eleni is Helen in Greek. One day at the sea side they were talking about names and aunt Eleni said, "We are lucky, we are named- (name days are celebrated in Cyprus) after such a great saint."

"There is no Saint Helen, is there?" my Mom asked Eleni.

"Oh yes, there is a Saint Helena and she is from right here in Cyprus. The Cypriots were starving, first there was a drought, then a famine and Helena told her son, no you will not collect taxes. She was his mother; it was the right thing to do. So he was a good boy and didn't collect taxes and she built the Stavrovouni monastery for the Greek Orthodox Monks and for the villagers to take refuge in times of attack."

I loved it when she told the stories of Cyprus; she made them come alive in my head. I could see Helena, her heart touched with compassion, loving the island's people during a time of famine. I said, "Can we go there?" We went to Stavrovouni. There was a chapel there that had the most incredible golden altar with icons and candles, long tapers the color of parchment.


Cyprus was the first country to become Christian after Palestine. "After Jesus was crucified, his disciples spread the new religion among the peoples of Egypt, Syria, Anatolia, Greece and Italy. Saint Paul laid the foundations of Christian theology and transformed Christianity from a Jewish sect to a world religion. The original Christians being Jews observed the dietary and ritualistic laws of the Torah and required non-Jewish converts to do the same. Paul and others favored eliminating obligation, thus making Christianity more attractive to gentiles." Barnes & Noble New American Encyclopedia.

Evangelist Mark, Apostles Paul and Andreas as well as Saint Barnabas and Lazarus were active on Cyprus. Saints Paul and Barnabas were the first to convert a Roman official to Christianity. Saulus the Roman pro-consul was converted to Christianity in Paphos. Ten years later Barnabas was martyred in Salamis at the hands of the Jews. St. Mark supposedly hid his body until 477AD. The body miraculously appeared when needed by the Cypriot bishops to ensure they appointed their own clergy and had the right to collect tithes.

Many Christians were martyred at the hands of the Romans. "The most savage of these was the one under Emperor Decius 249-251 AD. Many Christians welcomed martyrdom as an opportunity to share in the sufferings of Christ. Christianity continued to grow despite all attempts to suppress it. Following the recognition of Christianity by Emperor Constantine I in the early 4th. Century, a philosophical controversy was debated about the person of Christ, the problem was to defend Christian monotheism against the charge that the church also worshipped Christ as Lord and the holy spirit of god." " (Barnes and Noble new American Encyclopaedia Christianity)

They came up with all kinds of rationales: Monarchianism, Modalism, Arianism. They are different ways of explaining how one person is actually three and who you worship. The condemnation of Monophysitism alienated the churches of Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia and Armenia creating dissension in the Eastern Roman Empire and lessening its ability to withstand the Islamic invasions in the 7th century.

Cyprus became a battlefield for the forces of East and West. The island was invaded by Arabs in 647 AD but stubbornly resisted the attack. In 654 AD the Arabs triumphed. For 300 years Cyprus was raided by Muslim fleets from Syria and Egypt, unprotected by the ineffective Byzantine navy. Thousands of Christians were massacred or taken as slaves. The situation for a small island of mixed religions was critical they needed a protector, who wouldn't tax them to death, ensure their freedoms and let them live in peace. But who? That has been the question for 3000 years!

The Crusades

During the Middle Ages, a religious war broke out between Moslems and Christians. From 637, the Moslems had held Jerusalem. Pilgrims had been welcomed and treated fairly. Charlemagne had been feted by Caliph Harun al Rashid when he visited Jerusalem. But in 1071, Jerusalem was captured by the Seljuk Turks .

"In 1054 there was an open breach between the Eastern and western churches-friction between the Popes of Rome and the Archbishops of Constantinople. The Orthodox Church founded by the apostles refused to contemplate the amendments of the Creed formulated by the council of Nicaea, and rejected Roman doctrinal legislation. As disagreement reached its height, Christendom was treated to the spectacle of the Patriarch of Constantinople issuing an encyclical letter rebuking the errors of Rome, and the pope replying by excommunicating him. A thousand years have not sufficed to heal the breach between the two churches." (Derek and Julia Parker)

Pope Urban II and the Holy Roman Emperor mounted the First Crusade. It resulted in the capture of Antioch and a 40- day siege of Jerusalem. Kneeling in the blood of 70,000 Moslems at the tomb of Christ, the Christians justified this slaughter.

In 1187, one year after Guy de Lusignan became King of Jerusalem, Saladdin, the supreme ruler of Islam mounted a war to recapture Jerusalem. His jihad was the rescue and return of Jerusalem to the protection of Islam. The king of Jerusalem was a French adventurer, Guy de Lusignan. He married Sybilla and was envied for his inheritance of the monarchy of Jerusalem. The Christian kings of Europe were appalled and readied for the Third Crusade. In Cyprus, an evil ruler was in power called Isaac Commenus.

Richard the Lionheart

The British, French and Germans, the big 3 Christian powers in Europe set aside their differences for a moment and gathered the resources together for a Third Crusade. In 1189, Guy began the siege of Acre. Guy was captured by Saladdin but released on his word, which he promptly broke and returned to the attack.

In 1191, the army of the Holy Roman Empire marched to free Acre which had been under siege for 2 years. Richard the Lionheart and Philip II of France went by sea to Sicily and then across the Mediterranean to Acre. A storm scattered Richard's ships. 3 ships sank close to Limassol. The crew was taken prisoner by Isaac Commenus. Another ship reached the harbor. This ship carried Johanna the dowager, Queen of Sicily, sister to Richard and Richard's fiancee, Berengaria of Navarre. Richard arrived in the nick of time and saved the ladies. He was so disgusted with the behavior Commenus showed towards his shipwrecked men and his fiancee and sister that he landed the English troops and cut Commenus' army to shreds. Three days later, Guy de Lusignan came to pay homage and swear fealty to Richard the Lionheart.

On May 12th 1191, King Richard of England and Princess Berengaria were married at Amathus. Berengaria was crowned Queen of England by Bishop John of Evreux. Richard garrisoned the island before he left on the crusade.The Cypriots were glad to be rid of the tyrant Isaac Comnenus, but they were not content to replace one tyrant with another. Richard set sail for Acre with Guy de Lusignan, the Prince of Antioch and the count of Tripoli and Isaac's treasure. Richard placed garrisons in the castles and towns.He left Richard de Camville and Robert of Tornham in charge. The Cypriots were alerted to the danger surrounding their freedom and they found a monk, a relative of Commenus and staged an uprising. Robert of Tornham knew about the plan and nipped it in the bud. Richard was not amused; Cyprus was a liability and he could not spare forces to hold the island.

He sold it to the Knights Templar. They were a controversial group whose gig it was to escort pilgrims safely to Jerusalem. The Knights Templar had a dispensation from the church in Rome so they were authorized to collect tithes and they were exempt from any authority save the pope's. The Cypriots and priests planned an insurrection. The Knights went out before dawn and slaughtered Cypriot men, women and children. It was so intense the feisty Cypriots backed down. Richard presented the booby-trapped jewel of the Mediterranean to the EX-King of Jerusalem: Guy de Lusignan.

Lusignan Dynasty

Guy de Lusignan established a French monarchy in the chaos left after Isaac Comnenus and the Knights Templar. The Lusignan dynasty ruled until 1489 and during that time life was organized on the basis of western feudal models. Guy de Lusignan promised to restore Cypriot lands to their owners if they returned from abroad by a certain date.

"There were 300 nobles and knights and 200 squires. Below them the bourgeoisie with the Parici at the bottom, they were practically slaves. Then there were the Perpiriarii who were granted their freedom on condition they made annual donations to their lord. The Lefteri who had purchased their freedom outright, the Albanians who had intermarried with the Cypriots and the Venetians who had settled on the island." (Parkers) Guy de Lusignan assumed the title Lord of Cyprus in 1186. He defended a constitution modeled on that of Jerusalem. Guy's brother succeeded and was crowned King of Cyprus. Cyprus regained its prosperity. The Council of Famagusta, in 1222 forced the Orthodox Church to surrender income to Rome and lose their right to appoint church officers.

"Orthodox monks were imprisoned for allegedly speaking disrespectfully of Roman rites and when they declined to submit were tied by the feet to mules and dragged out to be burned at the stake. When the Orthodox Patriarch appealed to the Pope he was told that the sufferings of his church were entirely due to its separation from the true Church of Rome." Parkers.

The reign of Hugues IV was the peak of the Lusignan dynasty; the richest merchants of Genoa, Pisa, Marseilles and Barcelona were to be found at Famagusta. The merchants were wealthy beyond belief; dowries of jewels, land and livestock were not uncommon. One merchant's daughter's dowry boasted more jewels that a respectable royal treasury. The merchants of Genoa and Venice would have been blind not to notice the wealth of Cyprus. They were vying with each other for trade.

In 1365 Pierre, the son of Hugues captured Alexandria though he lost the city after 3 days due to the cowardice of the Knights of Europe. Pierre had tried to restore his family's monarchy in Jerusalem. He returned home and found his wife, Eleanor of Aragon had cuckolded him. She turned against him and he was assassinated.

Pierre II, his son was crowned in Famagusta in 1372. Fighting broke out between the Genoese and Venetian representatives at the coronation. The Genoese navy set sail from Italy. Queen Eleanor took refuge in the castle at Kyrenia with Prince Jacques of Antioch. The King was restored to the throne but Jacques was taken to Venice as a hostage. Famagusta was ceded to the Genoese. In 1382 Pierre II died and Jacques was released to succeed him.

In the next 50 years the Egyptian fleet sacked Larnaca and Limassol & the Mamelukes captured the king, slew the army and left Nicosia in ruins killing most of the inhabitants. In 1432 King Jean II married Helena Palaeologus. She was determined to restore the Orthodox Church in Cyprus; and, when a Roman-appointed archbishop died, she named a successor without consulting Rome.

Rome intervened through the Knights Hospitaller. A marriage was arranged between his daughter, Charlotte and John, Duke of Coimbra. Tired of his wife's intrigues, Jean II appointed his (illegitimate) son, Jacques, Archbishop of Nicosia. . Charlotte's husband John was poisoned thereafter. The Pope refused the appointment of Jacques as the island's new Archbishop. Jacques killed the assassin of John of Coimbra. He fled to Rhodes, but returned with an army, killed someone else and received a full pardon from his father. He remained the Archbishop of Cyprus for the rest of his life. Charlotte succeeded her father Jean II.

Jacques went to Egypt, raised a Muslim army and landed at Larnaca. He was given a hero's welcome because his mother was Greek. Charlotte and her new husband the count of Savoy fled and Jacques' claim to the throne was confirmed. A marriage was arranged with a rich Venetian merchant's daughter, Caterina Cornaro. Jacques died the following year. Caterina was sent back to Venice.

Venetian Rule 1489-1571

In Northern Italy, Genoa and Venice enjoyed the prosperity of the renaissance. The art that adorns Italy, is a result of the trading genius of the Italian merchants after the Middle Ages and the prosperity that trade created. Renaissance artists focused on religion to fund their creativity. The Roman church was a great patron to the arts. The church was into advertising. There were other patrons: commercial institutions such as banks and the government; villas for wealthy merchants were an occasional bonus. Venice had succeeded in acquiring Cyprus.

The Venetians' first move was to restore the land of deposed nobles. They confirmed the status of the nobility and clergy. The Pope acknowledged the Orthodox Church would not be persecuted. They restricted taxation and allowed serfs to buy their freedom if they could afford it. They modernized the fortifications of Cyprus to repel the Turks (who they feared as rivals for their trade routes) They installed cannon; they fortified the castles of Kyrenia and Famagusta and built a wall around Nicosia. They did this in 80 years and it was taken from them in 1570.

Lala Mustapha laid siege to Nicosia for 6 weeks. When they took the city, they wreaked a tragic revenge killing 20,000 people including the governor and the bishop. They pillaged and looted and took all able-bodied young men as slaves. Everyone surrendered except for Famagusta defended by Marcantonius Bragadino. When Bragadino capitulated, his companions were killed and he was tortured for 2 weeks. Lala Mustapha made him kiss the ground under his feet, then had him flayed alive and his body was exhibited in the main square of Famagusta.

Ottoman Empire

Europe was not interested in rescuing Cyprus. The adrenaline of 4 crusades was exhausted. During the Ottoman rule in Cyprus the Christian population was represented by the Orthodox Church. "Following the Turkish conquest, many Greek Cypriot and Latins, in order to escape heavy taxation converted to Islam. Greek Cypriots who had been converted to Islam remained actually Christians in secret. They were normally called "linobambaki"" meaning a cloth woven with linen and cotton which had two different sides as with their faith." Archbishop Timotheus presented a request to Philip II of Spain which stated: "There have recently been repeated cases of abuse on the part of the conqueror; in a greedy manner they attempt to confiscate and seize the property of the inhabitants; Christian houses are broken into and domiciles violated, and all sorts of dishonest acts against wives and daughters are committed. Twice until now churches and monasteries have been plundered, multiple and heavy taxes have been imposed whose collection is pursued by systematic persecution, threats and tortures, which lead, many persons to the ranks of Islam, while at the same time, the male children of Cypriot families are seized in order to form the brigades of the Jannissaries. This most hard practice is the worst of the sufferings to which the people of Cyprus is subjected by the Turkish administration." .

Between 1572 and 1668, the Cypriots staged 28 "bloody" uprisings to protest the taxes. That's an average of one bloody uprising every 3 and a half years. In 1660, the Sultan recognized the Archbishop and the Bishops as "the protectors of people" and the representatives of the Sultan. In 1670, Cyprus came under the jurisdiction of the admiral of the Ottoman fleet. The admiral sent an officer to govern in his place. In 1703, Cyprus came under the jurisdiction of the grand vizier who sent a military and civil administrator. This office accompanied the highest bid for the tax rights to Cyprus.

The Cypriots were being cruelly exploited to repay the note on the bid. By 1760, the situation on the island was critical. An epidemic of plague, bad crops and earthquakes caused many Cypriots to emigrate. The final straw came when in 1764, the newly appointed Pasha doubled the taxes. Chil Osman (the local tax collector and Turk from HQ) and 18 of his friends were torn to pieces by Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The group had to pay a huge sum to the Sultan and the families of the victims. It was assessed that each Christian family had to pay 14 piastres and each Turk 7. The Turkish Cypriots led by Khalil Agha attacked the Turkish government authorities. The uprising was suppressed and Kahlil Aga beheaded.

The consequences of the Greek rebellion spilled onto Cyprus. The Sultan consented to the execution of 486 Christians on July 9th. 1821 accusing them of conspiring with the rebellious Greeks. The casualties included 4 bishops, many clerics and village officials and prominent citizens. They were beheaded in the central square of Nicosia while Archbishop Kyprioanos was hanged. The property of the church was plundered and the Christians forced to pull the upper stories off their houses. Maybe to make sure there were no tall buildings on which to station a lookout. In 1878, 307 years after they took control Turkey relinquished the rule of Cyprus to Britain.


At the Congress of Berlin, Britain and Turkey signed the Cyprus Convention. Turkey handed Cyprus over to the British in exchange for the British supporting them in a war against Russia. Three years after they took control, the British conducted a tax census. The composition of the Cypriot population was Greek Orthodox 74% and Muslim Turkish 24.5%. The British imposed heavy taxes on the Cypriots to cover the compensation they were paying to the Sultan for having ceded Cyprus to them. The Cypriots were paying to solve Britain's problem with the "sick old man of Europe": Turkey. In 1914 when Turkey entered the First World War on the side of the Germans, Britain annexed Cyprus. The treaty of Lausanne (July 24th. 1923) formalized the arrangement between Britain and Turkey concerning the status of Cyprus.

In 1929, "The National Radical Union of Cyprus" was established. It aimed at the liberation of Cyprus from the British and ENOSIS with Greece. ENOSIS means the reunification of Cyprus to Greece. In 1931 the NRUC issued a proclamation of protest against the British, which was followed by an uprising of the Greek community. The uprising was suppressed with the help of the Egyptians. Britain was no longer willing to negotiate for the independence and self-determination of Cyprus.

The British government appointed Sir Richard Palmer as governor and he shook things up a little. From October 1931-October 1940 was a very difficult period for the Cypriots. Palmer limited the functioning of Greek schools and prohibited trade unions or associations of any kind. This period of suppression and persecution was known as "Palmerokratia". It was a failed attempt at limiting public interest in politics. After World War II, the Cypriot delegation submitted a demand for ENOSIS to London. It was rejected but London came up with a counter proposal: a more liberal constitution and a 10 year program for social and economic development.

For the Turkish Cypriot minority, Islam was a way of life. Attaturk's secular reforms in Turkey had some influence on them, especially on the educated urban class. Overall, the two communities lived peacefully side by side until the British inserted a wedge between them by hiring more of the Turkish Cypriot minority in civil service and policing areas. British influence was obvious in the legal system and public offices. Lawrence Durrell writes in Bitter Lemons (published in 1957) "Enosis and only Enosis" as he comes home he is hissed at from a door way and warned that his neighbor is drunk. Manoli was standing in the rosy glow from the tavern door, swaying a bit and twirling his mustache. "Ah," he says as he caught sight of me, "Here is the foreigner." I catch hold of his arm and whisper in his ear; "Never say that Greece and England drew the sword upon each other." He suddenly seemed to come to himself. "Never," he repeated indistinctly. "Never, my friend, Never." I slip past him into my own front door. Though they have written Enosis on every wall in the village, so far nobody has touched the walls of the house, three of which are on a public highway. I point this out to Andreas, "Of course he says that would not be neighborly. And another thing you know we love the English. There is nothing anti-English in Enosis."

In the June, 1956 National Geographic, Franc Shor writes, in Cyprus, Geography's Stepchild: "Recent agitation among more than 400,000 Greek Cypriots for Enosis, or union with Greece, has changed the island's whole pattern of life and caused loud reverberations in the capitals of Britain, Greece and Turkey, all members of NATO. For months Cyprus has been an armed camp with more than 20,000 British soldiers struggling to keep order. Trucks and land rovers roar over roads accustomed to bicycles and donkeys. Sentries patrol behind barbed wire as violence stalks the island."

The Greek Cypriot majority was nurtured by the Greek Orthodox Church. They upheld the spirit of the people and kept the nationalist movement alive. The leader of the push for freedom was Archbishop Makarios III. Michael Mouskos was born in 1913. In 1948, he became Bishop of Kition & in 1950 Archbishop of Cyprus. In 1955 EOKA (the organization of Cypriot Fighters) began a guerrilla campaign under the leadership of George Grivas Digenis. Its aims were the right to self-determination and/or union with Greece. From Mid 1956 onwards there were constant discussions about the status of Cyprus amongst the members of NATO. Harold Macmillan submitted a proposal for partition of the island but Makarios rejected it. Makarios declared that he would only accept a proposal which guaranteed independence excluding both partition and ENOSIS. On February 11th 1959, Makarios agreed to the proposal from the London Conference fearing that if he didn't and the British left the negotiating table, the Turks would use the British withdrawal from the talks as an excuse to invade.

In 1959, the Zurich-London agreements made Cyprus independent. Cyprus sovereignty was compromised by the conditions placed on the new government by NATO's strategic interests in the East Mediterranean. In 1960, Makarios was elected President of Cyprus and then again in 1968 & 1973. The Bow Educational briefings pick up the story here: "Makarios himself fled, and eventually reached the United Nations where, on 19th., July 1974 he declared in the Security Council that the coup was an invasion in violation of the independence of the Republic and that it was the work of Greek officers directed by the military government in Athens. The coup took place not because Makarios had abandoned ENOSIS but because he was no friend of the Greek military Government and was not proceeding towards ENOSIS fast enough for their liking."

The Republic of CYPRUS

The constitution divided and shared power between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in a 70/30 ratio. The president would be Greek and the vice president Turkish. The 70/30 rule applied to the House of Representatives and the civil service and the police force. The army of 2,000 men was to be 60% Greek and 40% Turkish. Treaties were signed to guarantee all these rights. It took 3 years for things to break apart.

The Cypriot government failed to meet the military quota. The government introduced conscription - but only for Greek Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriots should have been delighted not to have to be drafted. (Here in the United States, the European concept of the entire population being war-ready is not accepted ). For the Turkish Cypriot politicians, however, this was another opportunity to demonstrate the unfair status of Turkish Cypriot citizens.

On April 25th. 1963, the court ruled that article 173 had not been complied with. On May 21st, the neutral judge of the 3 who formed the court tribunal, a West German citizen, resigned. The Turkish Cypriot representatives were excluded from fulfilling their office unless they agreed to changes in the articles of the constitution. The Turkish consensus was that there was a motive for changing the articles of the constitution that they were a deterrent to achieving ENOSIS, union with Greece. From December 1963, there were serious incidents of violence against Turkish Cypriots. Daily Express, (London newspaper) Dec. 28th: "We went tonight into the sealed-off Turkish Quarter of Nicosia in which 200 to 300 people had been slaughtered in the last five days. We were the first Western reporters there and we have seen sights too frightful to be described in print. Horror so extreme that the people seemed stunned beyond tears."

On 14th. January 1964 the Daily Telegraph reported that the Turkish-Cypriot inhabitants of Ayios Vassilios had been massacred on 26th, Dec. 1963, and their exhumation from a mass grave had been witnessed by members of the International Red Cross. However it happened; people died either as a result of a hate crime or due to political machination. Those corpses belonged to living, breathing friends and relatives: civilian slaughter is a coward's weapon.

In April 1966, the Greek Paper PATRIS published a "top- secret document" called the Akritas plan. It is unknown whether it was real or forged. The English text is a marketing plan to get Cyprus reunited with Greece, I think! It's so wordy and mealy-mouthed, it's hardly worth classifying as a top secret document and on close inspection has turns of phrase that don't ring true. They hint, they don't state, it's odd. The text may be found at

Derek and Julia Parker pick up the story here; "In 1964, Turkish Representatives withdrew from the Cypriot Government, claiming that they were being forcibly prevented from participation in decision-making. And asserting their walk-out made the whole system of government unconstitutional. The Greeks however argued that the Turkish withdrawal was voluntary-they could participate in government if they wished-and continued to rule alone."

From 1970-1973, differences arose within the Greek Cypriot community, which was divided, into pro and anti- Makarios factions. The Greek military junta came to power in Athens in 1967. They played a divisive and destabilizing role in Cyprus. Greek led Cypriot rebels attempted to overthrow the Cypriot government to bring about union with Greece Bow educational briefing # 5 :"In 1967 there were serious episodes of violence against Turkish Cypriots and in 1971 the EOKA leader General Grivas returned to Cyprus and established the EOKA-B organization committed as was EOKA in the 50s to union with Greece. According to a letter dated July 2nd. 1974 from Makarios to the Greek government, the Greek-Cypriot National Guard was from the outset the main supplier of men and materials to EOKA-B. Turkey did not respond to this violence except for sporadic air attacks." The Parkers "The principal Greek opponents of President Makarios doubted his enthusiasm for ENOSIS and attempted to assassinate him in October 1973, murdering 2 of his supporters in January 1974. Makarios found it impossible to act against his attackers because of their strong links to Greece and the colonels."

After the death of General Grivas in 1974, Makarios pardoned his followers but protested the National Guard's Greek officers' attempts to intervene in government. He insisted on the dismissal of 650 of them. The National Guard staged a coup, on July 15th. 1974 and Makarios was forced to flee the country. From July 22nd. - 16th. August there were murders of Turkish civilians, reprisals taken by the National Guard: "Particularly in the villages of Aloa (Times, Guardian 21st. August) Zyyi. Sandallaris, Mari, Maratha and Tokhni and again despite the presence in Cyprus of UN troops. In Tohkni, on 14th. August 1974 all the Turkish-Cypriot men between the ages of 13 and 74, except for 18 who managed to escape, were taken away and shot." The problem with the figures is we don't know how many there were to start with and whether they opened fire on the National Guard. What is the truth? "In Zyyi on the same day all the Turkish-Cypriot men aged between 19 and 28 were taken away by Greek-Cypriots and were never seen again. On the same day Greek-Cypriots opened fire in the Turkish Cypriot neighborhood of Paphos killing men, women and children indiscriminately. On 23 rd. July 1974, the Washington Post reported " In a Greek raid on a small Turkish village near Limassol 36 people out of a population of 200 were killed. The Greeks said that they had been given orders to kill the inhabitants of the Turkish villages before the Turkish forces arrived." (see also Times, Guardian 23rd. July)"

Bow Educational continues: "July 24th. 1974 France Soir reported "The Greeks burned down Turkish Mosques and set fire to Turkish homes in the villages around Famagusta. Defenseless Turkish villagers, who have no weapons, live in an atmosphere of terror and they evacuate their homes and go and live in tents in the forests. The Greeks' actions are a shame to humanity."

The National Guard appointed Nikos Sampson president. He called on the exiled Konstantinos Karamanlis to form a government. In August the Turkish army advanced to occupy one third of the island. Cyprus was now in chaos; prisoners of war were exchanged, but as the winter approached one third of the island's population was living in tents and the economy was in ruins. The country faced a deficit of 350 million pounds and the Turks now occupied land which had previously produced 70% of the country's wealth.

President Makarios returned to the island and was faced with the enormous task of reconstruction. Both sides argue energetically as to how their rights were violated. In the Universal Declaration of Human rights, there are 30 articles. I found 7 articles that have been violated with respect to the citizens of Cyprus:

  • Article 1- "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
  • Article 2 paragraph 1 "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language or religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Paragraph 2 - Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non self- governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
  • Article 3 Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  • Article 5 No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
  • Article 6 Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
  • Article 9 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Article 15 1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. 2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

    By August it was obvious the Turks weren't leaving. Cyprus could have used an ally that summer. The British were busy trying to decide how they were going to take over Europe, the Americans were humiliated by Watergate and really disgusted with the Vietnam war. At least, this bizarre Greek attempt at a coup in Cyprus helped unseat the military regime in Athens. They had been in power since 1967. The invasion of Cyprus helped the Greeks get rid of the junta. But at what cost? Was the sacrificial lamb asked if it wanted to participate? Cyprus was partitioned in 1975. The Greek sector led by President George Vassiliou is the Republic of Cyprus, he was elected in 1988. The Turkish zone under the leadership of Rauf Denktash, declared itself the Turkish republic of northern Cyprus in 1983 but is recognized only by Turkey. Cypriots have paid a high price for civilization, if you could call it that. Onerous taxation, religious persecution and a procession of rulers, lined up to take advantage of the strategic value of Cyprus that's a pretty heavy burden to bear.

    City life requires facilities that a resident does not have to provide. It's inconvenient marching though your local suburb with a couple of tins of water balanced on your head. Thus came the introduction of city services; "Hey, if you'll pay taxes we'll lay you a pipe You won't have to walk or send the servant half a mile to the well, save you time, that servant can just get busy and scrub something!"

    If you live in a place where the services don't function; you apportion blame. Are they competent or not? When some warlord or invader offers to do the administration the population is being handed a large cudgel with which to smite that invader every time the fool drops his guard. Why don't the trains run on time used to be my father's favorite anecdote about collaborators discovered in Europe after the Second World War? "When the Fuherer was in power the trains ran on time." Or as one of the old Cypriot ladies remarked to my mother; "Aggh, in Roman times they knew how to build roads."

    The effervescent, stoic Cypriot personality is evident in the economic strides made in the southern half of the island since 1974. The continuing promotion and agitation for the reunification of the island by wonderful websites from Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities, musical tours to promote awareness, the City of Famagusta exhibit, lecture & document presentations: all these endeavors are an amazing commitment of individuals' time and effort to bring about a peaceful conclusion. In CYPRUS 2000, I will address the extraordinary strides taken by the Cypriot government since 1974 and the plans they have put into effect.

    Some conquerors were welcomed. Some were guests; others broke the house rules, outstayed their welcome. If a conqueror demanded too much, the Cypriots made preparations for his departure. If negotiation failed, they would figure out a scheme and a good fight would ensue until the scales were balanced and the Cypriots felt they had righted the wrong or remedied an injustice. This is not isolated human behavior, it is how we protect the hearth.