Hugues III, surnamed the Great, had the advantage of coming to the throne as an
experienced man of affairs. He reigned for fourteen years, and in that time established
the kingdom of Cyprus on a firm basis. He married Isabelle d'Ibelin, and their sons
eventually succeeded him.
Hugues III was not only a
soldier and a man of action, he was also a patron of learning and a founder of
monasteries. To him, St.Thomas Aquinas dedicated his treatise `De Regimine
The Guidance of Princes), a book which, owing to the great reputation of its author and
the principles which it lays down, became a handbook on the relations of Church and State
in the Middle Ages.
In 1267, the first year of his reign, Cyprus suffered from
plague and famine, in which emergency the king was conspicuous in his efforts to help his
people in their distress. In 1269 Hugues III claimed the crown of Jerusalem by right of
descent, was recognised as the lawful claimant by the barons and was crowned at
title was, however, contested by Mary of Antioch, a granddaughter of Amaury. She appealed
to the Pope, and unable to make good her claim, sold her rights to the crown of Jerusalem
to Charles of Anjou, who still aimed at the conquest of Constantinople and at uniting the
kingdoms of Sicily and Jerusalem.
|Shield of Mary (1321), daughter of
Hugues III, King of Cyprus
In 1271, as king of Jerusalem, Hugues III with his forces
joined Prince Edward, afterward King Edward I of England at Acre, in the attempts to
withstand the attacks of Bibars on the kingdom. In 1268 Antioch had fallen and the
principality of Bohemund ceased to exist. For over a year Hugues and Edward remained at
Acre, making sallies against the Moslems and negotiating but without avail. In 1272 Hugues
was obliged to make a treaty with Bibars which left him only the stronghold of Acre and
the right of pilgrimage to Nazareth. He was supported by the Hospitallers, but hindered by
the Templars. The Geonese helped him, the Venetians thwarted him. So, realising that
Jerusalem could not be recovered unless the Christian forces were united, he returned to
Cyprus, where people prospered under his care.
But, he was not allowed to remain at peace. In 1277
Charles of Anjou, in pursuance of his policy in the East and under cover of the sovereign
claims which he had purchased from Mary of Antioch, sent a body of troops to Acre. By the
action of the Grand Master of the Templars, the Sicilian troops were admitted to the
citadel, which they immediately seized, and proclaimed Charles as king of Jerusalem. To
recover Acre the king led an expedition to Syria, but after a siege of four months, owing
to the opposition of the Templars, the attempt was abandoned and the king returned to
Cyprus. In return for the treachery of the Templars, King Hugues III destroyed their
fortifies places at Limassol, Paphos, and Gastria, besides confiscating all their property
in the island. Hugues III died at Tyre in 1284 and was buried in the Abbaye de la
which he had himself embellished and endowed.