Denomination: Gros Grand Mint Year: 1324-1359 AD Mint Place: Famagusta (Cyprus) State: Crusader Kingdom of Cyprus Ruler: Hugh IV. of Lusignan (1324-1359) Condition: Minor marginal scratches in reversse (where dark deposits were removed), otherwise XF! Reference: Metcalf 756, CCS 69. Diameter: 26mm Weight: 4.42gm Material: Silver
Obverse: King Hugh IV on curule chair, draped, crowned and wearing chlamys, sceptre fleury in right hand, globus cruciger in left hand. Letter (B) in left field. Legend: +hVGVE REI DE
Reverse: Cross of Jerusalem with four small crosses in fields. Legend: +IERVSAL'M E D' ChIPRE
The Kingdom of Cyprus was a Crusader kingdom on the island of Cyprus in the high and late Middle Ages, between 1192 and 1489. It was ruled by the French House of Lusignan.
The island was conquered in 1191 by King Richard I of England during the Third Crusade, from Isaac Comnenus, an upstart local governor and self-proclaimed emperor claiming the Byzantine Empire. Richard then sold it to the Knights Templar, who in turn sold it to Guy of Lusignan, jure uxoris King of Jerusalem, in 1192 after the failure of Richard's crusade and when Guy was dispossessed of his late wife's kingdom. His brother and successor, Amalric I of Cyprus, received the royal crown and title from Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. A small minority Roman Catholic population of the island was mainly confined to some coastal cities, such as Famagusta, as well as inland Nicosia, the traditional capital. Roman Catholics kept the reins of power and control, while the Greek inhabitants lived in the countryside; this was much the same as the arrangement in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The independent Eastern Orthodox Church of Cyprus, with its own archbishop and subject to no patriarch, was allowed to remain on the island, but the Latin Church largely displaced it in stature and holding property.
After the death of Amalric of Lusignan, the Kingdom continually passed to a series of young boys who grew up as king. The Ibelin family, which had held much power in Jerusalem prior its downfall, acted as regents during these early years. In 1229 one of the Ibelin regents was forced out of power by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, who brought the struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines to the island. Frederick's supporters were defeated in this struggle by 1233, although it lasted longer in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and in the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick's Hohenstaufen descendants continued to rule as kings of Jerusalem until 1268 when Hugh III of Cyprus claimed the title and its territory of Acre for himself upon the death of Conrad III of Jerusalem, thus uniting the two kingdoms. The territory in Palestine was finally lost while Henry II was king in 1291, but the kings of Cyprus continued to claim the title.
Like Jerusalem, Cyprus had a Haute Cour (High Court), although it was less powerful than it had been in Jerusalem. The island was richer and more feudal than Jerusalem, so the king had more personal wealth and could afford to ignore the Haute Cour. The most important vassal family was the multi-branch House of Ibelin. However, the king was often in conflict with the Italian merchants, especially because Cyprus had become the centre of European trade with Africa and Asia after the fall of Acre in 1291.
The kingdom eventually came to be dominated more and more in the 14th century by the Genoese merchants. Cyprus therefore sided with the Avignon Papacy in the Great Schism, in the hope that the French would be able to drive out the Italians. The Mameluks then made the kingdom a tributary state in 1426; the remaining monarchs gradually lost almost all independence, until 1489 when the last Queen, Catherine Cornaro, was forced to sell the island to Venice.
Hugh IV of Cyprus (or Hugh IV of Lusignan) (c. 1295 or 1293-1296 – 10 October 1359) was King of Cyprus from 31 March 1324 to his abdication, on 24 November 1358 and, nominally, King of Jerusalem, as Hugh II, until his death. The son of Guy of Lusignan, Constable of Cyprus (son of Hugh III of Cyprus and wife Isabella of Ibelin), and Eschiva of Ibelin, Hugh succeeded his father as Constable of Cyprus in 1318, and later succeeded to the throne of Cyprus on the death of his uncle Henry II, since Henry II had no son. He was a member of the House of Lusignan.
Hugh appears to have been content to rule Cyprus, as he prevented his son, Peter I, from going to Western Europe to recruit support for a new crusade to recover their Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1344, he joined a league with Venice and the Knights Hospitallers which burnt a Turkish fleet in Smyrna and captured the city. In 1345 the allies defeated the Turks at Imbros by land and sea, but Hugh could see little benefit for his kingdom in these endeavors and withdrew from the league.
He was crowned as King of Cyprus at Santa Sophia, in Nicosia, on 15 April or 25 April 1324. In the same year, on 13 May, he was crowned at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, in Famagusta as Titular King of Jerusalem. As a leader, King Hugh signed an agreement with Venice, which had to do with the activities of the Venician merchants who were settling in Cyprus. That caused problems with the Republic of Genoese who were rivals of the Venetians; however he negotiated with them and had agreement in 1329. The Genoese demanded that Hugh pay the debit of his uncle Henry II. He died in Nicosia.
During his reign, he was strict about issues relating to justice. When his two sons left wthout his permission for a trip in Europe, he arrested the man who helped them to leave the island, he imprisoned and tortured him, and he cut off a hand and a foot before he hanged him in April 1349. He managed to bring back his two sons and he imprisoned them.
Other sources show that he was well educated and had an interest in art, literature, and philosophy and had much knowledge of Latin literature. He owned a summer villa in Lapithos and organised philosophical meetings. The Italian writer Boccaccio, wrote Genealogia Deorum Gentilium at the request of Hugh IV.
Hugh resigned the crown to his son, Peter I (rather than his grandson Hugh) in 1358, and died on 10 October 1359 in Nicosia.