Post-classical history

Hugh III of Cyprus and I of Jerusalem (d. 1284)

King of Cyprus (1267-1284) and Jerusalem (1268-1284).

Hugh of Antioch-Lusignan, as he was originally known, was the son of Isabella, sister of King Henry I of Cyprus, and Henry, brother of Prince Bohemund V of Antioch. In 1261 Hugh was appointed by his mother as regent for his cousin and namesake, the underaged Hugh II of Cyprus. In 1267 he was also confirmed as regent for the absent King Conradin of Jerusalem (1254-1268). When Conradin was executed in 1268 after his attempt to gain the kingdom of Sicily, Hugh, who by now was king of Cyprus, succeeded to the throne of Jerusalem (as Hugh I).

Hugh was the first king of Jerusalem to be actually present in the East since the 1220s, and he tried to restore royal authority weakened by decades of absentee rulers. He regained some influence over Tyre (mod. Soûr, Lebanon), which was theoretically part of the royal domain, through good relations with its lord, Philip of Montfort. However, Hugh’s other attempts to extend his authority beyond Acre (mod. ‘Akko, Israel) generally failed, partly because after 1271 his Cypriot vassals, having accompanied him to the mainland repeatedly in the 1260s, no longer agreed to serve him outside Cyprus except for limited periods. Hugh’s efforts were also undermined because his status as regent and then as king of Jerusalem was challenged by another relative of Conradin, Maria of Antioch. In 1268 the High Court of Jerusalem had rejected her claim and confirmed Hugh as Conradin’s closest living relative in the East. However, in 1277 Maria, supported by the papacy, sold her claim to Charles I of Anjou, king of Sicily and brother of King Louis IX of France. Thereafter, Charles’s representatives took control of Acre, which Hugh, frustrated at his limited authority, had effectively abandoned in 1276. Some now recognized Charles as king of Jerusalem in the hope that he would bring greater military aid against the Muslims than Hugh. Charles was particularly welcomed by the Templars, because of their close links with the papacy and the French monarchy, and by the Venetians, whose rivals, the Genoese, were based in pro-Cypriot Tyre. Hugh responded by confiscating the Templars’ Cypriot properties (1279-1282). In 1279 he landed at Tyre in a failed bid to regain Acre from Charles’s representatives. In 1283 he sent forces to Beirut and Tyre in another attempt, but he died in Tyre on 24 March 1284.

The period between 1265 and 1271 also witnessed numerous conquests by Baybars I, the Mamlûk sultan of Egypt, including Caesarea, Arsuf (1265), Saphet (1266), Jaffa, Beaufort, Antioch (1268), Montfort, and several Tripolitan strongholds (1271). In 1271 Baybars also made a failed naval attack against Limassol (mod. Lemesos, Cyprus). In response, Hugh brought troops to the mainland occasionally in the 1260s, and in 1271 he joined the Crusade of the Lord Edward of England in two major raids in the Holy Land. In April 1272 hostilities ended with a truce that lasted for the rest of Hugh’s reign.

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