THE HISTORY OF CYPRUS

I would like to tell you a little about the history of Cyprus. Many civilizations had passed thru the island and they all left something behind. To give you an idea here is some useful information.

7000-3900 BC NEOLITHIC AGE: The oldest settlements of the island can be seen in Choirokitia and Kalavassos area. The people were mainly inhabiting around the coastlines of the island and they were using only stone vessels.

 

3900-2500 BC CHALCOLITHIC AGE: In this period we see that inhabitants preferred the west part of the island and they started using copper.

 

2500-1050 BC BRONZE AGE: Mycenaeans from Greece came to the island after 14 B.C and Achenes from 12 B.C. Copper became the wealth of the island. The new cities Salamis, Kition, Paphos, and others were built. 

 

1050-750 BC GEOMETRIC PERIOD: There were 10 kingdoms on the island at this period.

 

750-325 BC ARCHAIC - CLASSICAL PERIOD: At this period during the invasions the Cyprus Kingdoms were under the rule of Egypt, Assyria, and Persia. We can give an example of Salamis Kingdom.

 

333-325 BC: Cyprus is now under the control of Alexander the Great.

 

325-58 BC HELLENISTIC PERIOD: After the struggles between the commanders of Alexander the Great, Cyprus becomes the Hellenic state of the Ptolemy of Egypt and belongs to Greek Alexandrine. The capital is no more Salamis Kingdom and it is Paphos.

 

58 BC – 330 AD ROMAN PERIOD: Cyprus becomes a part of the Roman Empire.  At first, it falls under the Syrian Province but later becomes a separate province under a proconsul. The proconsul- Sergius Paulus is converted to Christianity by the Apostles Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas during their missionary journeys, resulting in Cyprus becoming the first country in the world to be governed by a Christian. Massive earthquakes occur in 1B.C and 1 A.D.

 

330-1191 AD BYZANTINE PERIOD: The Roman Empire becomes divided into two parts as eastern and western. Cyprus is under the Byzantine Empire which was the Eastern Roman Empire. The capital became Constantinople.  As Cyprus is on the earthquake zone in the 4th century many cities were destroyed on the island. The capital of the island becomes Constantia. The island in 647 was invaded by Muawiya, Arabs. In 688 Emperor Justinian II and Caliph Malik sign a treaty rendering Cyprus neutral, although there were reported violations of this agreement.  As Cyprus is an island it was also attacked by pirates many times until 965 when Emperor Nicephorus Fokas ousted the Arabs from Asia Minor and Cyprus.

 

1191-1192 AD RICHARD THE LIONHEART AND THE TEMPLARS: Isaac Comnenus, the self-proclaimed governor of Cyprus, holds the Berengaria of Navarre and her fleet as hostages while they were on their way to Jerusalem on the Third Crusade. When Richard the Lionheart hears about it he immediately comes to Cyprus and defects Isaac Comnenus in Kantara Castle.  Richard The Lionheart marries Berengaria of Navarre in Limassol upon where she is crowned as Queen of England. Then, Richard sells Cyprus to the Templar Knights for the amount of 100,000 dinars but after a short while the Knights return the island to Richard The Lionheart. In turn, they sell the island to one of the Crusaders, Guy de Lusignan, for the same price who was defeated by Selahddin Eyyubi in Jerusalem.

 

1192- 1489 AD FRANKISH (LUSIGNAN) PERIOD: The Catholic Church officially takes over the Greek Orthodox Church, but the Orthodox Church exists. In this period the island is ruled by a feudal system. Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Famagusta, Bellapais Abbey in Kyrenia, and Agia Sophia Catherdral in Nicosia are built. The city of Famagusta becomes one of the wealthiest cities in the Near East.  Nicosia becomes the new capital of the island and the seat of the Lusignan Kings. The last Queen of the Lusignans, Catherine Cornaro (originally Venetian), relinquishes Cyprus to Venice in 1489, ending the Lusignan dynasty.

 

1489-1571 AD VENETIAN PERIOD: Cyprus is now ruled by Venetians as a last defensive stronghold against the Ottomans in the Mediterranean. They fortify the island tearing down various buildings in Nicosia and Famagusta to enclose the city in a small area defended by fortresses and a moat. They built strong walls around the city of Famagusta to keep the Ottomans away from entering the city.

 

1571-1878 AD OTTOMAN PERIOD: In 1570 Ottomans try to get the island from Limassol. This was not a good idea so they shift to Larnaca. They spread all around the island capture the capital but not Famagusta. The walls were so strong so the siege took them 11 months. Marc Antonio Bragadin, the Venetian commander eventually capitulates to the Ottoman commander Lala Mustafa Pasha.  Upon the annexation of Cyprus to the Ottoman Empire, the Latin clergy are either expelled or converted to Islam. Greek Orthodox faith is restored.

 

1878-1960 BRITISH PERIOD: Great Britain assumes the administration of the island under the 1878 Cyprus convention which remains part of the Ottoman Empire.  In 1914 Britain annexes Cyprus after the Ottoman Empire sides with Germany in the First World War.  In 1923, under the Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey forfeits any claim to Cyprus and in 1925 the island is declared a Crown colony. During the Second World War, Cypriot volunteers serve in the British Armed Forces. The British consider Cyprus as geographically importantly strategic as it’s in the Middle East and this is why they do not grant Cyprus the right of self-determination despite granting it.1955- 1959 the Cypriots took up an Armed Liberation Struggle for independence. 

 

1960 REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS: As a result of the Zurich-London Treaty, Cyprus becomes an independent Republic on August 16th1960. It is a member of the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth, the United Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement. One provision of the Zurich-London Treaty is that Britain retains two Sovereign Bases on the island. These bases are Dhekelia and a Akrotiri-Episkopi. The 1960 Constitution of the Cyprus Republic proves to be not viable in most of its provisions. In 1963 problems started growing with the Turkish and the Greek communities. In July 1974, a coup is staged in Cyprus by the Military junta which was in power in Greece for the overthrowing of President Makarios. On July 20, 1974, Turkish soldiers landed in Kyrenia. The country was divided into two parts by green line. Many people became refugees. The Republic of Northern Cyprus was established on Nov. 15th, 1983 where mainly the Turkish Cypriots inhabit(37% of the island) The Republic of Cyprus remained as it is.(63%)   Ledra Palace checkpoint( the first one) was opened on April 23, 2003. Cypriots living on the island after 29 years crossed over to see their friends, houses, and relatives. Cyprus entered European Union and became a member in 2004. It adopted the Euro on January 1st, 2008 as its currency, replacing the money that was in use which was called Cypriot pound for decades.