The Reign of Janus
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 Mamelukes, who 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.

The Rule of Janus
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.

After a 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 king’s 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 house.

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

Chronological History