The island of Cyprus came under western rule in 1191 when Richard I of England conquered the territory from the Byzantines, its former rulers, in the course of the Third Crusade. It remianed in western hands until the sixteenth century when it was overtaken by the Ottomans in 1571. The period of most French textual production in Cyprus occurred from the 1190s until the 1470s, when the island was goverened by the Lusignan family, orignially from western France. The Lusignan family imposed many aspects of its western-grown culture upon the indigenous population, including the use of the French language for legal and literary texts, among them several historical narratives, romance histories, and chronicles.
After the fall of Jerusalem in 1291, Cyprus was the eastern-most outpost of western rulership, and as such served as an important point of interaction for other Latin colonies in the East. Many Latins who had lived in the Holy Land, and in Acre in particular, relocated to Cyprus following the Muslim victory. Among these were the Hospitallers, who brought their extensive cache of diplomatic documents with them, a collection which remains a strong witness to the use of French in both the Holy Land and in Cyprus. Furthermore, many writings which had originated elsewhere in the Outremer were then brought to Cyprus, where they were changed to fit the literary needs of Cypriot culture.
Examples of French writings are found not only among legal and literary texts, but also in such unexpected places such as funerary inscriptions found on stone tablets. A practical guide to falconry, the Livre dou Prince, was also composed in Cyprus.
• Grivaud, Gilles. Entrelacs Chiprois: Essai sur les Lettres et la vie intellectuelle dans le Royaume de Chypre, 1191-1570. Moufflon Publications: Nicosia 2009.
• Grivaud, Gilles. "Literature," in Cyprus: society and culture 1191-1374. Edited by Angel Nikolaou-Konnari and Christopher David Schabel. Leiden: Brill, 2005, 219-284.
• Edbury, Peter. The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades, 1191-1374. Cambridge: Cambridge Universtiy Press, 1991.
• Richard, Jean. “Culture Franque et Culture Grecque: Le royaume de Chypre au XVeme siecle,” in Croisades et Etats latins d'Orient. Aldershot: Variorum, 1992, study XVIII.
• Iorga, Nicolae. France de Chypre. Paris: Société l’édition “Les Belles Letters,” 1966.
• Darrouzès, J. “Manuscrits Originaires de Chypre à la bibliothèque Nationale de Paris,” Revue des Études Byzantines 8 (1950), 162-196.
• Imhaus, Brunehilde (dir.), Lacrimae Cypriae: Les Larmes de Chypre, 2 vols (Nicosia, 2004).
The floowing work is outdated, but can be accessed online so is included for orientation:
Tankerville Chamberlayne, W. Lacrimae Nicossienses.Recueil d'inscriptions funéraires, la plupart françaises, existant encore dans l'ile de Chypre, suivi d'un armorial Chypriote et d'une description topographique et archéologique de la ville de Nicosie. Paris, Imprimeries Réunies, 1894.
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