James I of Cyprus


James I of Cyprus

James I of Cyprus or Jacques I de Lusignan (1334 – September 9, 1398) was King of Cyprus 1369 – 1398 and Titular King of Armenia and Titular King of Jerusalem 1382 – 1398. He was the fourth son of Hugh IV of Cyprus, and became king upon the death of his nephew Peter II. Before becoming a king, he had other offices and was known for his resistance against the Genoese invasion against Cyprus.

After Hugh IV's death, his first son Guy, Titular Prince of Galilee was already dead and his second son Peter I who reigned for 10 years was then murdered. His son, Peter II, who was not adult, reigned when he became adult. Meanwhile, Peter I's wife Eleanor of Aragon to revenge her husband's death, invited Genoese to invade Cyprus.

Since the Genoese had commercial and financial interests in Cyprus, they invaded the island in April 1373. After achieveing the takeover of the well-fortressed city of Famagusta, they arrested and held captive, Peter II and his mother Eleanor who had invited them. After they killed the nobles who had murdered Peter I, they wanted to take control of the island. After the end of the war, Eleanor succeeded the murder of John, which she claimed she was responsible for her husband's murder.

He married his kinswoman Helvis or Helisia of Brunswick-Grubenhagen (1353 – January 15/25, 1421) (daughter of Philip of Brunswick, Constable of Jerusalem and Helisia of Dampierre) in 1365. Her older? brother Johann of Brunswick-Grubenhagen (d. June 11, 1414 unmarried and without issue) was an Admiral of Cyprus and their father Philipp of Brunswick-Grubenhagen (ca 1332 – August 4, 1369/1370) was a Constable of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Their father married firstly ca 1352 Helisia de Dampierre, daughter of Eudes de Dampierre, who was their mother, and secondly in 1368 Alix d'Ibelin (1304/1306 – after August 6, 1386), who became their stepmother.James was created Constable of Cyprus, and in that office, led the war against the Genoese in 1372.

During the invasion, the other two sons of Guy, James and John, resisted to the invasion. James fought well in Kyrenia, resisting the Genoese attack, a resistance that was victorious at the end, under the command of James. However, his nephew Peter II, signed a Treaty with Genoese, who kept Famagusta and in the Treaty, James had to leave from Cyprus. James, stopped the war and left the island with a ship from Kyrenia in 1374 and went to Europe. At first he went to Rhodes, where he found no help and he was arrested by Genoese and went in Genoa as a captive with his wife. With the capture of Kyrenia in 1374, he was taken as a hostage to Genoa, where he consummated his marriage with Helvis, whom he had wed when she was twelve. Most or all of their children were born in Genoa. Due to his captivity, he was not crowned until 1385. In Genoa he lived with his wife under hard situation for 9 years, and he gave birth to his first son Janus in that city.

After Peter II's death in 1382, since Peter had no succession, the Parliament of Cyprus decided James to be the king, while he was captive in Genoa. Genoese, inorder to release him to go to Cyprus to become a king, they negotiated with him and received his signature for agreement on February 2, 1383. Under that agreement, Genoese had new privileges for commercial activities. Famagusta was still under Genoese sovereignty, something that was never accepted by either James and other kings after him and during his reign he tried to regain that city.

Until he was released, the Kingdom of Cyprus was governed by 12 nobles. After he was released in 1383, he was not accepted, as it is referred by the historian Leontios Makhairas and returned to Genoa. Some nobles opposed the return of James, lead by the brothers Perotte and Vilmonde de Montolivve, who were believing that with that situation they could become kings. James' opponents could not be beaten, until 1385. In April 1385, James came back again in Cyprus and he went to Nicosia, where he was welcomed with great enthousiasm. He was crowned in May 1385 in Saint Sophia Cathedral. After his crowning, his opponents were arrested and punished.

He was crowned as King of Jerusalem in 1389 and in 1393, Leo VI of Armenia died, and James assumed the title of King of Armenia, and was formally crowned as King in 1396. That kingdom was by now reduced to the city of Korikos, which had been in Cypriote hands since its conquest by Peter I of Cyprus. So when in 1382, Peter II died, James succeeded him, since Peter didn't have a son.He died in Nicosia.

He had twelve children:
* Janus or Jean II de Lusignan (1375 – 1432), who succeeded him as king
* Philippe de Lusignan (d. ca 1430 or 1428/1432), Constable of Cyprus, unmarried, he had a natural son:
** Lancelot de Lusignan (d. after 1450), Cardinal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
* Henri de Lusignan (d. July 7, 1427), Titular Prince of Galilee, a military leader in Egypt, killed in action at Khirokitia or Chirokhitia, married ca 1406 his cousin Eleonore de Lusignan (d. ca 1414), granddaughter of Jean de Lusignan and second wife Alix d'Ibelin, without issue, and had three bastard children
* Eudes de Lusignan (d. 1421 in Palermo), Titular Seneschal of Jerusalem, in the service of the King of Aragon, (probably) married after March 19, 1406 his cousin Loysia de Lusignan, granddaughter of Jean de Lusignan and second wife Alix d'Ibelin, without issue, without issue
* Hughues de Lusignan (d. August, 1442 in Geneva), Regent of Cyprus and Cardinal Archbishop of Nicosia
* Guy de Lusignan, Constable of Cyprus, unmarried and without issue
* an unknown daughter de Lusignan (d. 1374 in Rhodes), died young
* Jacqua de Lusignan (d. ca 1397 or 1396/1398), unmarried and without issue
* Eschive de Lusignan (d. after 1406), probably married to Count Sclavus von Asperg
* Marie de Lusignan (1381 in Genoa – September 4, 1404 in Naples and buried there), married Ladislas "le Magnanime", King of Naples and Jerusalem, Hungary and Dalmatia, etc (July 14, 1376/February 11, 1377 in Naples – of poisoning August 6, 1414 at Naples and buried there) on February 12, 1403 in Naples, without issue
* Agnes de Lusignan (ca 1382 – March 1, 1459 in Venasco), Abbess of Wunstorf
* Isabelle de Lusignan, ca 1415 married her cousin Pierre de Lusignan, Titular Count of Tripoli, Regent of Cyprus and Titular Constable and Titular Seneschal of Jerusalem (d. February 10, 1451), grandson of Jean de Lusignan and second wife Alix d'Ibelin, without issue

Upon his death, his son Janus succeeded to the throne.


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