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the Lusignan princes, and the indifference of the Cypriote nobles, gradually increased the influence of the monarchy; yet, even as late as the fourteenth century, the aristocracy as represented by the High Court of Nicosia retained the principal power, and the real direction of the State.
It is with surprise we learn that no ecclesiastic, whatever his rank, was allowed to be a member of the High Court. Yet, despite such restrictions upon its authority, monarchy in Cyprus was surrounded by much pomp and splendour. A numerous retinue of knights and men-at-arms always accompanied the prince. When he rode out running footmen went before his horse and drove back the crowd. It was customary in approaching him to bend on one knee, and to address him in the most respectful terms, as Monsignor, or Sire, or your Lordship. The title of your Majesty was hardly used in Cyprus before the fourteenth century.
The Latin occupation of Cyprus led to the introduction of the Roman Church upon the island, and with its wonted disregard of the rights of independent Churches, the Papacy intruded prelates of its own choice and communion. At first the Roman bishops were content to be associated with the rightful Greek holders of the same titles and dioceses. Gradually they supplanted and dispossessed them. Ere long the Franks became more hateful to the Greeks than the Saracens. In a letter written in 1196, Neophyte, a Cyprian monk, exults in the failure of the Crusades—No, it has not pleased the Divine goodness to chase the dogs from the Holy City, in order to instal the wolves in their place.' All the skill and authority of Innocent III. were called into exercise to maintain the pretensions of Rome without utterly alienating the Greek Christians, and to arrange the questions of investiture which arose from time to time ; but Latin predominance was, in 1211, already assured. Our readers will hold with M. de Mas Latrie that the following account, written by Count Wildebrand of Oldenburg, a canon of Hildesheim in Hanover, who passed this year through Cyprus, is invaluable for the light it casts upon this period :
'From Gorgihos,' says Wildebrand, we passed to Cyprus, ani island of great fertility, and where they grow exquisite wines. It has an archbishop and three Latin bishops ; the Greeks, who have to acknowledge their supremacy, have thirteen bishops, one of whom is an archbishop. The Franks are masters of this country : the Greeks, as well as the Armenians, are their subjects, and pay them tribute as their serfs. This whole population is wretched, badly clothed, addicted to idleness, which is doubtless to be attributed to the hot wine
of the country, or rather to those who drink it. The island contains plenty of donkeys and wild sheep, of stags and fallow deer ; but there are neither bears, nor lions, nor any other kind of ferocious animal. The first place at which we went on shore was Cerines, a small fortified town with a good harbour-of which it is immensely proud and a castle surrounded by ramparts garnished with towers. The King of Cyprus possesses four strong castles in this part of the island. ... On quitting Cerines we came to Nicosia, situate almost in the centre of a vast plain. It is not protected by fortifications ; but they are now building a strong castle. It is the capital of the kingdom. Its inhabitants are innumerable and extremely rich. Their houses, by their paintings and the interior ornaments with which they are decorated, much resemble those at Antioch. This place is the seat of the archiepiscopal see, of the royal court, and of the palace of the king. It was in this palace that I, for the first time in my life, saw an ostrich. From Nicosia we betook ourselves to Limasol, in order to see the cross of the thief who was crucified on the right hand of Our Lord. From the top of Santa Croce we could discern Paphos, where may still be seen the very tower on which, in the days of the Gentiles, Venus was worshipped.'— Mas Latrie, i. pp. 186-7.
in Cyprus, and .Ternplars had madaich our sp
One special feature of Latin rule in the East deserves more than the passing mention to which our space restrains us. The Knights Ternplars had made themselves unpopular in Cyprus, and had been, ere this period, crushed by the enmity of Clement V.; but the Hospitallers had acquired so strong a footing in the island that they might have involved its monarchy in serious jeopardy if they had not made Rhodes the centre of their community and of the vast influence which they exercised through Christendom. A romantic interest attaches to these fraternities, half monks, half soldiers. The Templars and the Hospitallers, says a writer of the thirteenth century, are the true champions of the Lord. Clad in their white mantles marked with a red cross, and preceded by the 'Beaucéant,' their black and white standard, they advance silently in the battle, always in close array and in good order. They utter no battle cry; only when the trumpet of their chief sounds the assault, they lower their lances and charge as they recite a verse from the Psalms, O Lord, grant us the victory; not for our sake, but for the glory of Thy Holy Name. They always fall upon the enemy's strongest position, and never give way : they must either carry it or be slain. The Hospitallers, clothed in black, marked with a white cross, specially concerned themselves with the care of the sick and the poor ; but, equally with the Templars, they had their place in every campaign. They ordinarily formed
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the advanced guard at the commencement of a march, and the rear-guard on its return.
The Hospitallers of Cyprus occupied an important position under the style of the Great Commandership. It was their special privilege to be exempt from ordinary Customs duties, and to grind their corn free of charge at the royal mills. They possessed large estates, especially in vineyards, which still produce a wine called “Le vin de Commanderie.' These estates became, at the Turkish conquest of the island, and still remain, the personal property of the Sultan.
We cannot linger over the story of the Lusignan dominion in Cyprus. The reader who wishes to enter fully into its history can peruse the fascinating pages of M. de Mas Latrie's history, and satisfy himself of its authenticity by studying the ample volumes of documents by which every detail is supported. Unhappily, M. de Mas Latrie's task is as yet only partly accomplished, and we much fear that the comprehensive scheme he has drawn out will hardly admit of full completion within ordinary limits of time or space. General Cesnola's introductory chapter gives a brief but clear narrative of the closing years of the Lusignan dynasty, and of the circumstances under which it passed under the dominion of Venice. The last Lusignan king, James II., was of illegitimate birth.
He had seen the portrait of a niece of Cornaro, a Venetian nobleman at his court, and fell in love with her. ... He formally asked her hand from the Senate of Venice, a request which, with a gravity suitable to the nature of the proceedings, was granted. A dowry of a hundred thousand gold ducats was bestowed on the bride. She was adopted as a daughter of the State, and sent to Cyprus with a splendid retinue.'—Pp. 34-5.
The Venetian bride was soon left a widow, and a posthumous son she bore to her husband quickly followed his father to the grave.
After reigning alone for sixteen years, Catherine resigned her crown in favour of Venice in the year 1489. The beautiful town of Asolo was assigned to her. “There she lived for many years the centre of no little romantic sentiment and of some legends which yet survive.
The period of Venetian rule in Cyprus was undisturbed by events of public interest, until the increasing power of the Turks justified the most serious alarm. Turkish pirates ravaged her ports, and the Sultan, Selim II., formally demanded the cession of the island. It is strange that under such conditions an energetic effort was not made to fortify
and garrison Cyprus, as both Spain and the Pope had promised their assistance. Was it indecision or misunderstanding or treachery which paralysed the arm of Christendom, permitted the Turks to land their forces unopposed, and failed to relieve the gallant but ineffectual resistance of Bragadino ? The ruthless slaughter of 20,000 persons at Limasol and the treacherous and cold blooded murder of Bragadino, on his capitulation, were but a foretaste of Turkish cruelty, perfidy, and misrule. In vain the loss of Cyprus seemed to be avenged by the victory of Lepanto. The latter, said a Turkish prisoner, ‘is to the Sultan but as the loss of his beard, which will soon grow again: the former is to Venice the loss of an arm, which can never be recovered.'
A country which has experienced such varied fortunes and has been subject in turn to so many distinct races may be expected to be exceptionally rich in antiquities, and General Cesnola's work contains a graphic account of the thoroughness with which his researches were prosecuted, the difficulties which he encountered, and the great success which he achieved. It is a singular fact that in Cyprus there are more perfect remains of the earlier periods than of those who are less remote. This is partly to be accounted for by the eagerness with which the Greek inhabitants assisted the Turks in destroying the Latin churches and every other memorial of the hated Latin rule ; and partly by the care with which some of the most ancient treasures were concealed, as well as by the sanctity assigned by the heathen populations to the buryingplaces in which so large a portion of the recently-discovered antiquities were found. The eagerness with which the consuls of different States vie with one another in their desire to secure these precious relics is such as to kindle the astonishment and distrust of the Turks, and at times leads to ludicrous results. When General Cesnola was exploring the neighbourhood of Dali (Idalium) he visited Potamia, formerly a royal residence of the Lusignan princes, and now
‘belonging to three notable Turks. In returning their visit, I was served (says Signor Cesnola) coffee and sweetmeat as is the custom in the East, and to my surprise I remarked that the silver teaspoon I used had the lion of St. Mark and a royal crown engraved upon it. I asked Mehemet Effendi if he would part with that and the other spoons I supposed he possessed, but he declined, though as a Turkish compliment he offered me as a present the spoon I had used, which, of course, I refused . .. I repeated my visit there at other times, but the teaspoons with the royal crown had disappeared.'—Cyprus, p. 98, note.
VOL. VII.—NO. XIII.
No wonder that suspicion was aroused by General Cesnola's extensive and systematic excavations, and only the positive terms of the firman from the Sultan could have ensured the prosecution of his work. The Turks complained that this Christian dog was digging up the whole island, and the continuous employment of 1,100 excavators might well seem to justify their remonstrances. The Governor-General accordingly summoned the Grand Council, who recommended that the excavations should be stopped, and that application should be made to Constantinople for further instructions.
In accordance with this advice, I received a few days later an official despatch from his Excellency, informing me of the Council's decision, and enclosing in it, for my consideration, a copy of the Masbatta or document he had received from the Council on the subject. He added that he had received my letter requesting the loan of twelve tents for the use of my diggers while at Aghios Photios, and that he had given orders that they should be sent to me without delay; the incongruity of this with the official despatch was thoroughly Turkish.'— Cyprus, pp. 146–7.
General Cesnola himself must tell the artifices by which he overcame this and many other hindrances. Suffice it to say that American acuteness proved in every case a match for Turkish chicanery. But the story of the final despatch of the collections is too tempting to be omitted. The General held the twofold dignity of Russian and American Consul in Cyprus. The fame of his success as an explorer had reached Constantinople, and the cupidity of the Turk was aroused. Positive orders were despatched forbidding the embarkation of the collection. The boxes were all ready to be shipped, and there was the vessel waiting to receive them. Worst of all, a Turkish man-of-war unexpectedly arrived with political prisoners, and lay at anchor in the bay.
"I sat pondering moodily, Besbes looking at me through his great blue spectacles and red-rimmed eyes and impassable aspect (he is one of the ugliest men I think I ever saw, but at the same time one of the most faithful). “Besbes," said I,“ these antiquities must and shall go on board the schooner this day.” Suddenly I saw a sort of twinkle in his eyes, and a curious expression dawned on his lips as he said, looking very meekly at me, “Effendi, those telegrams are to prevent the American consul from shipping antiquities," and then he stopped. I replied with some heat, “ You seem to take pleasure in repeating the information to me-I should think I ought to be aware of it by this time.” Besbes did not lose a particle of his equanimity, but only said still more meekly, “There was nothing in those orders about the Russian Consul.” I understood then what he meant, though my Western civilisation would never have arrived at this truly