Post-classical history

Aimery of Lusignan (d. 1205)

The second Frankish ruler of Cyprus (1194-1205) and, by his marriage to Queen Isabella I, also king of Jerusalem (1197-1205).

The eldest son of Hugh VIII, lord of Lusignan, Aimery arrived in Outremer around 1174 and married into the Ibelin clan. In 1180 he became constable of the kingdom and proposed his brother Guy as a second husband for the king’s sister, Sibyl. Aimery supported his brother’s claim to the throne against Count Raymond III of Tripoli in 1185 and against Conrad of Montferrat in 1190, but in 1192 he gave up his constableship and joined Guy on the island of Cyprus, which Guy had purchased from King Richard I of England.

Upon Guy’s death (1194), Aimery took power over the island. By 1197 he had received papal approval to establish a Latin episcopate in the Cypriot Church and obtained a royal title from Emperor Henry VI, who welcomed suzerainty over Cyprus as an extension of his own authority. Aimery was willing to recognize imperial overlordship as a protection against Byzantium, the former ruling power in Cyprus; Aimery’s new title also forestalled any claims from the mainland. In fact, with new Muslim attacks on the kingdom of Jerusalem after 1196, the barons there urged their ruler, Henry of Champagne, to come to a rapprochement with Aimery. They reached an accord in 1197 by which Aimery gained control of Jaffa, now under attack, and sent men to hold the city.

On the death of Henry of Champagne (September 1197), Aimery was advanced by the nobles, the military orders, and the German crusaders as a husband for his widow, Queen Isabella I. Aimery ruled Cyprus as king and Jerusalem as king-consort until his death in 1205, governing each realm separately. Overall, both lands enjoyed relative peace. As king of Jerusalem, Aimery commissioned theLivre au roi, a treatise on legal practices from the twelfth- century kingdom that promoted the crown’s power, although its claims were undermined by baronial jurists later in the thirteenth century.

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