The Teutonic Order in Cyprus ca.1197-1250
By Turaç Hakalmaz
Master’s Thesis, Bilkent University, 2017
Abstract: This thesis focuses on the early development of the Teutonic Order in Cyprus during the period between c.1197, when the Order first appeared in Cyprus, and death of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1250. Contrary to the prevalent judgement, this study demonstrates the Teutonic Order was not subordinate to the emperor and developed in a similar way to the Templars and the Hospitallers. This study investigates the factors behind the development and focuses on a particularly important factor: the political situation of the island. Besides, after describing the Teutonic Order’s early development in Cyprus, it discusses the reasons that prevented further development on the island which has been simply explained by historians via the Teutonic Order’s relations with Frederick II, especially during the conflict in Cyprus between 1229 and 1233. However, this study concludes that the Teutonic Order neither supported the emperor nor contributed to any conflict in Cyprus. Instead, thanks to its legendary Grandmaster Hermann von Salza, it remained neutral and managed to keep a certain level of development in the Holy Land whilst no longer keeping its early level of development in Cyprus. At this point, this study focuses on the influential family of Ibelin in Cyprus and concludes that the Ibelins prevented the Teutonic Order’s further development on the island.
Introduction: To provide support for those who were sick and wounded during the Siege of Acre, a German Hospital was established in 1190. Following the siege of Acre, this Hospital evolved to a military religious order namely the Teutonic Order and its presence prevailed: in a few decades they became one of the most important international military orders dedicated to Christendom. The Teutonic Order’s development, for sure, was not limited to the Holy Land but also included neighbouring regions of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. One of these regions, the newly established kingdom of Cyprus was an area in which the Teutonic Order managed to establish itself.
Formerly ruled by the Byzantine Empire, Cyprus was captured by Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade, and, in 1192, Guy of Lusignan purchased the island from Richard. Following the purchase, apart from the Templars who were already there, the military orders established themselves and used Cyprus as an outpost in the Mediterranean. As a new military order, the Teutonic Order was one of these military orders and they established themselves in the latter half of 1190’s in Cyprus. It is worth paying attention to the fact that the presence of the Teutonic Order on the island was begun only a few years after their birth at Acre. The Order’s establishment was certainly related to the role of Cyprus in crusades as a base for supplies transferred from Europe to the Holy Land in addition to its role as an intermediate destination for armies.