Little Bits of History

Sold to the Highest … Bidder?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 14, 2015
Portrait of Caterina Cornaro by Titian, 1542

Portrait of Caterina Cornaro by Titian, 1542

March 14, 1489: Caterina Cornaro sells. She was the last Queen of the Kingdom of Cyprus. The Crusader kingdom on the island of Cyprus lies in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and was established in 1192 after being conquered by King Richard I of England in 1191 during the Third Crusade. The House of Lusignan ruled the kingdom beginning with Guy of Lusignan from 1192-94. The rule came down through the generations until James II aka James the Bastard ruled from 1464-1473. The illegitimate son of John II of Cyprus and Marietta de Patras married then 14-year-old Venetian heiress, Caterina Cornaro, to gain political support. They were married by proxy and Caterina traveled to Cyprus and they were married in person in 1472.

James died a few months later, possibly poisoned by some of Catherine’s uncles. According to James’s will, Caterina (who was pregnant) became regent. James III was born in 1473 and was dead (also under suspicious circumstances) before his first birthday. The kingdom had been in decline and was a tributary state of the Mameluks since 1426. Mameluks are “property” or “owned slave” of the king and is an Arabic designation for slaves. Caterina ruled Cyprus from 1474 to 1489 but the island was essentially controlled by merchants of Venice and on this date she was forced to abdicate and sell the administration of the country to the Republic of Venice. She had been deposed in February and was forced to leave the country on May 14, 1489.

This was the last Crusader state and it had become a colony of Venice. However, Caterina was permitted to keep the title of Queen and was made the Sovereign Lady of Asolo, a county in the north of Italy. The region soon was known as a bastion of literary and artistic development as the arts. This was mostly due to it being the fictitious setting for Pietro Bembo’s platonic dialogues on love. Caterina died in Venice in 1510, at the age of 55.

The earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC and is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Rule of the land has changed hands uncounted times. Today, the Republic of Cyprus is an independent nation having separated from the United Kingdom on February 19, 1959 and proclaiming its independence on August 16, 1960 with Independence Day on October 1, 1960. They joined the European Union on May 1, 2004. The island covers 3,572 square miles and around 1 million people call it home. Greek and Turkish are the two official languages and Armenian and Cypriot Arabic are also both spoken there. The government is a unitary presidential constitutional republic and Nicos Anastasiades is President.

I’ve been waiting over 40 years to come to Cyprus, and it has not disappointed – the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Crossroads of Civilization, and, I might add, a genuine strategic partner to the United States of America. – Joe Biden

Cyprus was a breath away from economic collapse. It was a big battle in which we came out wounded, but upright and determined to make a fresh start. – Nicos Anastasiades

It’s a Cyprus of misery and soup kitchens and a state which cannot meet basic obligations. It can only cause me grief. – Nicos Anastasiades

The people of Cyprus have sent a strong message… of stability, credibility and change. – Nicos Anastasiades

Also on this day: Cotton is King – In 1794, Eli Whitney was granted a patent for the cotton gin.
PCN – In 1942, Penicillin was first used on a patient.
Roughest and Toughest – In 1950, the FBI instituted the Ten Most Wanted list.
Cut That Out – In 1937, the Mit Brennender Sorge was read at Catholic Masses in Germany.
Oil, Oil Everywhere – In 1910, the Lakeview Gusher Number One went out of control.

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