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Cyprus History

Late Byzantine Period in Cyprus: AD 965-1191

Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas of Byzantium, having conquered the coast of Cilicia and defeated the Egyptian fleet, was able to reoccupy Cyprus peacefully in AD965. In order to secure the island against the Saracen threat, the Muslim inhabitants of the island were encouraged to convert or emigrate.

Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas of Byzantium
Nicephorus II Phocas
Emperor, 963-969

A series of mountain fortresses above the northern coast of the island were built to give early warning of raiders to the permanent garrison. Secure inland headquarters were also created with the foundation of Nicosia, where three high officials set up their rival courts. 

The Byzantine rule in Cyprus was rigidly thorough in its tax collection but it also gave back to the people in firm government and in its building programmes. The 10th century churches of St Lazarus in Larnaca and St Barnabas near Salamis are some of the most important Orthodox buildings built during Byzantine period on the island.

However, despite the growing prosperity of the island with the increased trade during the First Crusade, by mid 12th century Byzantine Empire started showing decline in its military strength. In about 1184, the Byzantine governor of Cyprus Isaac Comnesus, rebelled and proclaimed himself emperor. 

Isaac resisted attacks from the Byzantine emperors Andronicus I Comnesus and Isaac II Angelus, but in 1192, on engaging in hostilities with an English crusader fleet under King Richard I the Lionheart, he was defeated and imprisoned. The island was seized by Richard I (the Lionheart), from whom it was acquired by the crusading order of the Knights Templar; because they were unable to pay his price he took it back and sold it to Guy de Lusignan, the dispossessed king of Jerusalem.





north Cyprus villa





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