The Rule of Hugues III
The Reign
Hugues III, surnamed the Great, had the advantage of coming to the throne as an experienced man of affairs. He reigned for fourteen years, and in that time established the kingdom of Cyprus on a firm basis. He married Isabelle d'Ibelin, and their sons eventually succeeded him.

Hugues III was not only a soldier and a man of action, he was also a patron of learning and a founder of monasteries. To him, St.Thomas Aquinas dedicated his treatise `De Regimine Principum' (For The Guidance of Princes), a book which, owing to the great reputation of its author and the principles which it lays down, became a handbook on the relations of Church and State in the Middle Ages.

In 1267, the first year of his reign, Cyprus suffered from plague and famine, in which emergency the king was conspicuous in his efforts to help his people in their distress. In 1269 Hugues III claimed the crown of Jerusalem by right of descent, was recognised as the lawful claimant by the barons and was crowned at Tyre. The title was, however, contested by Mary of Antioch, a granddaughter of Amaury. She appealed to the Pope, and unable to make good her claim, sold her rights to the crown of Jerusalem to Charles of Anjou, who still aimed at the conquest of Constantinople and at uniting the kingdoms of Sicily and Jerusalem.

Shield of Mary (1321), daughter of Hugues III, King of Cyprus
Shield of Mary (1321), daughter of Hugues III, King of Cyprus

In 1271, as king of Jerusalem, Hugues III with his forces joined Prince Edward, afterward King Edward I of England at Acre, in the attempts to withstand the attacks of Bibars on the kingdom. In 1268 Antioch had fallen and the principality of Bohemund ceased to exist. For over a year Hugues and Edward remained at Acre, making sallies against the Moslems and negotiating but without avail. In 1272 Hugues was obliged to make a treaty with Bibars which left him only the stronghold of Acre and the right of pilgrimage to Nazareth. He was supported by the Hospitallers, but hindered by the Templars. The Geonese helped him, the Venetians thwarted him. So, realising that Jerusalem could not be recovered unless the Christian forces were united, he returned to Cyprus, where people prospered under his care.

But, he was not allowed to remain at peace. In 1277 Charles of Anjou, in pursuance of his policy in the East and under cover of the sovereign claims which he had purchased from Mary of Antioch, sent a body of troops to Acre. By the action of the Grand Master of the Templars, the Sicilian troops were admitted to the citadel, which they immediately seized, and proclaimed Charles as king of Jerusalem. To recover Acre the king led an expedition to Syria, but after a siege of four months, owing to the opposition of the Templars, the attempt was abandoned and the king returned to Cyprus. In return for the treachery of the Templars, King Hugues III destroyed their fortifies places at Limassol, Paphos, and Gastria, besides confiscating all their property in the island. Hugues III died at Tyre in 1284 and was buried in the Abbaye de la Paise, which he had himself embellished and endowed.

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

Chronological History