King of Cyprus and titular king of Jerusalem and Cilicia (1473-1474).
James was born shortly after the death of his father, King James II (1460-1473), who had conquered Cyprus from his own half-sister, Queen Charlotte. James III’s short reign was dominated by rivalry between Charlotte, then living in exile in Italy, and Catherine Cornaro, James’s Venetian mother. These women increasingly became pawns in a broader struggle between Venice, which had arranged Catherine’s marriage to James II as a means of dominating Cyprus, and Venice’s Mediterranean rivals.
The kings of Naples hatched various schemes to gain control over Cyprus, including marriage alliances with Catherine and James II’s illegitimate daughter Charla, and also by supporting Charlotte’s claim. In November 1473 a failed anti-Venetian conspiracy backed by Naples resulted in the murder of Catherine’s uncle, Andrew Cornaro. After the death of the infant James III (August 1474), the risk of further conspiracies or invasion remained because of Charlotte’s constant appeals for help from Venice’s rivals. However, Venice gradually increased its hold on Cyprus, reducing Catherine to a mere figurehead and garrisoning Cypriot castles.
After Charlotte’s death (1487), Catherine was persuaded to retire to Venice, and direct Venetian rule over Cyprus began (1489).