of Henri II
|Henri II reigned nominally from 1285 to 1324, but during part
of that time he was superseded by one or the other of his brothers. From 1306 to 1310 he
was a prisoner in Armenia while his throne was usurped by his brother,
Amaury, prince of Tyre. His other brother, Guy, also conspired against him, and for his treason put to
death. It was not until the death of Guy that his reign was free from fraternal strife,
but while he was able to exercise authority he used it well. He was an epileptic, which
perhaps accounts for his incapacity to retain his rule, and he left no children.
Charles of Anjou, whose power had declined since the Sicilian
Vespers, died in 1285, and the Templars became reconciled with the king of Cyprus. With
the help of the two military orders, Henri II recovered possession of Acre and in 1286 was
crowned king of Jerusalem at Tyre.
|The stronghold of Acre from the time of its capture by
Richard to its final conquest by the Moslems formed for hundred years the base of the
crusading movement in Palestine. Its strategic position on the highway along the coast,
its communications with Damascus to the north-east and the plain of Esdraelon to the
south, together with the military strength of the rocky promontory on which it stood, gave
to Acre an exceptional importance both political and commercial.
Within the walls of Acre was a strange collection of soldiers,
priests, and merchants. There each of the great military orders had their fortified tower
and an appointed share of the defence of the walls. From their palaces in Acre, the Grand
Masters of the Templars and of the Hospitallers governed the members of their orders
throughout Christendom. The Venetians, the Genoese, the Pisans, and the English had each
their appointed quarter of the city. The mendicant orders had each their house and their
church. Strongly fortified and able to draw by sea supplies from Cyprus and reinforcements
from Europe, Acre was the last secure foothold of the kingdom of Jerusalem. But, within
the walls and intensified by such close confinement were all the conflicting interests,
religious, political and commercial, which had always hampered the crusades.
In May, 1291 the sultan Khalil attacked Acre with an army
of 200,000 men. In spite of their discords the defenders fought with courage of despair.
After a siege of thirty-three days the double walls were forced and city taken by assault.
Sixty thousand people were killed in the war. Of the Templars, including their Grand
Master, only ten escaped of five hundred knights. The king, the patriarch, and the Grand
Master of the Hospitallers, with the few survivors, effected their escape by sea to
With the fall of Acre, the Templars left Sidon and fled to
Cyprus. The Franks of Tyre abandoned the city and sailed to the west. Beyrouth and the
scattered fortresses fell. Nothing was left in Palestine of the Latin kingdom of
|Regency of Amaury -
Templars and Hospitallers in Cyprus
On their return to Cyprus King Henri granted to the Templars and the Hospitallers the town
of Limassol in joint occupation. Mistrusting their loyalty, the king forbade the Templars
to acquire any landed property in the island without his consent. But the Templars not
only disregarded his commands but conspired with his brother Amaury, Prince of
depose Henri from the throne. Having seized the person of the king, the Templars forced
him to sign a deed appointing Amaury regent of the kingdom and sent Henri to confinement
in Armenia. But, the ambitions and pride of the Templars had aroused the suspicions of the
Pope and the king of France, and in 1306 the Pope summoned Jacques de Molay, the Grand
Master, from Cyprus to answer the charges of heresy and the practice of profane rites.
After years of imprisonment and torture the Grand Master was eventually burnt as a heretic
in 1314, and the whole Order was dissolved.
Amaury, regent of Cyprus, received letters from the Pope directing him to arrest all the
Templars in Cyprus and to take an inventory of their property. This was done, and in 1313
the Templars were disbanded and all their properties in Cyprus, consisting of over fifty
villages and manors, were handed over to the Hospitallers. The Hospitallers in 1308,
seeking a new headquarters, seized the island of Rhodes, where for the next 250 years they
maintained their power against the Turks. In Cyprus, they retained their possessions, and
after the assassination of Amaury they supported King Henri II on his return to the throne
The property of Hospitallers in Cyprus was divided into
three commanderies, each of which was administered by a member of the Order with the title
of commander. It is from these commanderies that the famous Cyprus wine called
"Commanderia" derives its name.
(a) The Grand Commandery had its headquarters at
where may still be seen the massive keep erected by the knights. This commandery comprised
some forty villages, and was for long the richest possession of the Hospitallers in any
(b) The Little Commandery was located in the district of
Paphos with its headquarters at the village of Phinika, close to the modern
comprised about five villages.
(c) The Commandery of
Templos, near Kyrenia was originally
the property of the Templars -hence its name- but on the suppression of that Order passed
to the Hospitallers.
Years of Henri II
On the assassination of Amaury in 1310 Henri II returned to his kingdom and, with the help
of the Hospitallers, put down the insurrection of his remaining brother, Guy, the
constable of Cyprus. His remaining years were peaceful and devoted to the establishment of
He contributed largely to the judicial
decisions which formed a supplement to the Assizes, and established a strong judicature in
Cyprus. Under his direction Famagutsa was fortified, the rebuilding of the cathedral of
St. Nicholas was begun, and the town was enlarged to accommodate the refugees from Acre.
In 1324 Henri II died peacefully at his villa of Strovilo
near Nicosia, and was succeeded by his nephew, Hugues IV.
Newman, P., (1940), "A Short History of Cyprus",
Longmans, Green & Co., London.