Post-classical history

John I of Cyprus (II of Jerusalem) (d. 1285)

King of Cyprus and Jerusalem (1284-1285).

John was the eldest son of Hugh III, king of Cyprus (I of Jerusalem), and Isabella of Ibelin. John received his Cypriot crown in Nicosia (mod. Lefkosia, Cyprus) on 11 May 1284, but the belief that he was crowned king of Jerusalem in Tyre (mod. Soûr, Lebanon) appears to be false and does not predate the sixteenth century. Later rumors that John’s death on 20 May 1285 was caused by an incurable disease or poisoning also seem untrue.

Had he lived longer, John might have succeeded in gaining control over Acre (mod. ‘Akko, Israel), the effective capital of the kingdom of Jerusalem. However, the city was held by the representatives of Charles I of Anjou, king of Sicily, John’s rival for the throne of Jerusalem. Charles’s power had suffered a severe blow after he lost the island of Sicily to Peter III of Aragon in the uprising known as the Sicilian Vespers (1282). Charles’s death (7 January 1285) presumably gave John hope of regaining Acre in the way that his brother and successor, Henry II, eventually did in 1286.

John’s reign also witnessed a deterioration in relations with the Muslims: in the same month that he died, Sultan Qalâwûn of Egypt captured the Hospitaller fortress of Mar- gat, the first major Christian territorial loss since 1271.

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