The Reign of Queen Caterina Cornaro
When her husband King Jacques II died, Caterina Cornaro was appointed queen until the birth of an heir, which was shortly expected, and the management of affairs was entrusted to a council of regency among whom were the uncles of the queen. Her son King Jacques III, was born in August 1473, but only lived one year.
End of the House of Lusignan
Queen Caterina Cornaro of CyprusThe Venetians, who were already numerous and powerful on the island, acquired increased importance from the fact that the sovereign was a Venetian and the adopted daughter of the republic. Their pretensions were resented by the Cypriot nobility, who with the support of the Pope and Ferdinand, the king of Naples, designed to place on the throne of Cyprus Alfonso, a natural son of Ferdinand. The Latin archbishop, Fabricius, who was the leader of Alfonso's party, arrived in Cyprus from Naples with two armed galleys and a letter from the Pope denouncing the uncles of the queen as murderers of Jacques II. The conspirators broke into the palace at Famagusta and, in the fracas which ensued, Andrea Cornaro and Marco Bembo were killed.

But the conspiracy was not supported by the Cypriots, who had no desire to come under the rule of Naples. On the arrival of a Venetian fleet at Famagusta to demand satisfaction for the murder of the uncles of the queen, Fabricius and the other conspirators saw that their position was hopeless and sought safety in flight. The republic of Venice was now in a position to pursue her own schemes without any interference. The opportune death of the child, Jacques III, in 1474 removed the last legitimate heir to the throne. Venetian garrisons and commanders were introduced into the fortresses of the island, and all those who were hostile to Venice or likely to cause trouble, including the relations of the late king, were removed to Italy. Caterina was allowed for fifteen years to remain queen of Cyprus, but she had no real power, since all the principal offices of the kingdom were in the hands of the Venetians. But, the position was not entirely satisfactory to Venice. Caterina was still young, and there was a possibility of her marrying Alfonso, son of the king of Naples, and leaving an heir to the throne. There was also a danger that the queen might rebel against her Venetian advisers and regain authority over the island with the help of the Cypriots and of the sultan of Egypt, her suzerain.

To guard against such contingencies, the republic persuaded the queen to leave Cyprus. To compensate her for the loss of her throne, she was allowed to retain the title of queen, with an ample allowance to enable her to live in a manner befitting her rank. 

In 1489 Queen Caterina embarked for Venice, and remained in honourable exile at Alonso for the remainder of her life. An ambassador was sent to the sultan to announce that the republic of Venice had taken possession of Cyprus with the free consent of the queen, and asked for a friendly alliance with Egypt. 

On 26 February 1489, the banner of St. Mark floated over the castles and palaces of Cyprus and the Lusignan dynasty came to an end.

  • From: Newman, P., (1940), "A Short History of Cyprus", Longmans, Green & Co., London.

Chronological History