Cross relationships between Cyprus and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Teutonic Military Order Tradition
By Lotan Shlomo
Notandum, No. 32 (2013)
Abstract: The history of the Teutonic Order on the island of Cyprus has received considerable attention from scholars such as Hubatsch, Forstreuter and Riley-Smith. Their studies covered mainly the Teutonic Order’s activity on Cyprus in the thirteenth century, up to the fall of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1291. The network of relationships that developed between members of the Order, the Church, kings and nobility in Cyprus and the Teutonic Order’s headquarters in the Kingdom of Jerusalem has not been given much attention. These connections between neighboring regions in the eastern Mediterranean developed mostly because of security needs, and were related to the political an economic ties between these districts.
Introduction: The Teutonic Order at first had only a few outposts on Cyprus and these had little impact on what occurred there. The Teutonic knights based at their headquarters in the Latin kingdom therefore needed to expand contacts and relationships. Such relationships contributed to the status of the Teutonic Order in the Holy Land and strengthened their territorial, economic and political influence.
This article will shed new light on the relationships and connections that developed between members of the Teutonic Order based in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and various elements of the population on the island of Cyprus. It will be emphasize, with reference to various events, the contribution of Cyprus to the growing importance of the Teutonic Order within the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. This will reinforce the main conclusions emerging from my own research on the history of the Teutonic Order in the thirteenth century, which attempts to reassess the strength of the Teutonic Order in the Latin Kingdom and neighboring regions, and to establish its contribution to developments in the eastern part of the Mediterranean in the thirteenth century.
The popular view in Crusader historical research about the presence of the Teutonic Military Order in Cyprus has long been that its activity was limited to small outposts in several settlements, in Nicosia and in a village name Lefkara near Limassol. Researchers suggest that the reason for this was the centrality of the well established Military Orders of the Hospitallers and Templars. Also, the Crusader nobility, who were the rulers of the island, had been hostile to Emperor Frederick II, who was the main supporter of the Teutonic Order in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, in southern Italy and in northern Europe.