Jacques I died in 1398 and was succeeded by his son Janus.
The reign of King Janus for thirty-four years was one long struggle
with the Genoese and the Moslems. His first object was to recover, if possible, Famagusta
from the Genoese, whose power in Europe had begun to decline. With this object he prepared
in 1402 a fleet and a force to besiege Famagusta. To defend it the Genoese sent a small
fleet under the admiral, Bucciardo. Hostilities were ended by the mediation of the Grand
Master of the Hospitallers and, after making peace, both parties directed their forces
against the Moslems.
The Genoese ravaged the Syrian coast, while King Janus
plundered the shores of Egypt. This drew upon Cyprus the vengeance of the
were still seeking to retaliate for the sack of Alexandria by Pierre I. In the midst of
war, Cyprus was for the third time attacked by plague, and the consequent weakness of the
island gave the sultan the opportunity for which he had waited.
|In 1425 the Egyptian fleet appeared off the coast of Cyprus,
defeated the Cypriot ships and plundered Larnaca and Limassol. The following year a still
larger force seized Limassol and marched on Nicosia.
King Janus, with all the forces he
could muster, met the advancing Mamelukes at Chirokitia, where a battle took place on 7
July 1426. The Cypriot army was routed. King Janus was taken prisoner and most of the
nobility were captured or slain.
On the night of the battle, Hugues de Lusignan, brother
of the king and Latin archbishop of Nicosia, left the capital with the royal family and
took refuge in the castle of Kyrenia. On 11 July the city of Nicosia was sacked. The
Mamelukes broke into every building, palace, and burnt the city, including the king's
palace. The Mamelukes eventually retired with immense booty and numbers of prisoners, who
were sold as slaves in Alexandria.
captivity of ten months King Janus was released on payment of an enormous ransom, the
promise of an annual tribute to Egypt, and recognition of the suzerainty of the Sultan.
During the kings captivity the government of the island was carried on by his
brother the archbishop, who had to put down a rising of the peasantry under an Italian,
Sforza Pallavicino, who attempted to seize the government. King Janus returned broken in
spirit and in fortune. He died in 1432, and with him ended the greatness of the Lusignan