Peter II of Cyprus

Peter II of Cyprus or Pierre II le Gros de Lusignan (ca 1357 or 1354/1357 – October 13 1382), called The Fat, was king of Cyprus from January 17 1369 until his death. He was the son of Peter I of Cyprus and his second wife Eleanor of Aragon. He ascended the throne underage, at the murder of his father. He had also been a Titular Count of Tripoli.

He married by proxy in Milan on April 2 1376 and in person at Santa Sophia, Nicosia, on July/August, 1378 Valenza or Valentina Visconti (Milan, ca 1360 or 1360/1362 – in Italy, ca 1393 before September, 1393), a daughter of Barnabò Visconti, co-lord of Milan etc, and his wife Beatrice della Scala. They had one daughter de Lusignan in 1379 or 1380 who died as an infant in Nicosia soon before October 3, 1382 and was buried in St. Dominic's, Nicosia. She later married after 1383 Galeazzo, Comte di Virtú. Before Peter's wedding, he was suggested to marry a daughter of Byzantine Emperor John V Palaiologos. The suggestion was rejected for political reasons, since the Latins did not encourage a wedding of Peter with a Greek princess. The justification that was given to the Palaiologos messengers was that the king was busy with the dangers that treated Cyprus because of the Genoese invasion to the island. He was succeeded, not by his surviving sister Marguerite, but by his uncle, James I of Cyprus, since his daughter did not survive and didn't have other children.

The period of his reign featured by decline in contrast with the previous period of his father' s reign. During his reign, he lost his father's Cypriot possessions to Asia Minor. Even more Cyprus received disastrous invasion by Genoese in 1373-1374 which led to the capture of Famagusta, the most important harbour which began to decline. Important damages were caused to the other major towns of Cyprus because of the war with Genoese.

Peter II was declared as King of Cyprus after his father's murder in January 1369. However, because he was not adult (15 years old), his uncle John of Lusignan, Prince of Antioch as ruled the Kingdom as regent until Peter's adultness. However John created serious reactions, especially to queen Eleanor, who believed that he was involved to the murder of her husband. Asking for revenge, Eleanor asked military help from Europe for the punishment of the murderers of Peter I. In her secret calls to various sides, Genoese responded positive who so the whole case as a chance of their involvement to the Kingdom of Cyprus.

In 1372, he was crowned in Nicosia at the Cathedral of St. Sophia as king of Cyprus on January 6, and at the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Famagusta as king of Jerusalem on October 10 and Genoese found the chance for intervention in Cyprus, after his crowning. While his crowning as King of Jerusalem on October 12, during the ceremony of his crowning there were marked serious episodes. Protagonists of the episodes were the Venetians and Genoese of Famagusta. According to the custom, the leaders of those two colony communities of Famagusta were holding, during the ceremony, honorary two reins of royal horse. The episodes began suddenly after a conflict of who will hold the left and who the right rein and continued and became expanded during the evening of the celebration dinner and afterwise to the roads of Famagusta, where Venetians and Genoese had armed conflict with many victims and damages. For the bloody fights, Genoese tradesmen were considered responsible and they were arrested. The rest of the Genoese accused then in Genoa the arrest of their compatriot and the authority of that powerful city believed that this was their chance for intervention in Cyprus. So, they organized an expeditional force which was financed by rich Genoese. Head of the expeditional army was Peter di Campofregoso, brother of the Doge of Genoa.

Peter and his councilors in Cyprus, were believing that every military force was needed to the island to face the Genoese. For that reason they gave back Antalya to emir Teke which was captured by Peter I, after signing a treaty with him, they withdrew their forces in 1373. Peter did not lead the resistance against Genoese, but his uncles, John and James I. Oppositely, the young king, who was with his mother Eleanor on Famagusta, he only managed to lose a very important city-harbour and to be arrested as captive. Famagusta which was excellently fortified, was captured by Genoese with technique. Specifically, it was allowed the entrance of Genoese in the city supposedly for negotiations and that entrance was proved fatal.

Peter was kept as captive of the Genoese with his mother Eleanor. Genoese attacked also against Limassol and Paphos and also went inside the capital Nicosia. His two uncles John and James resisted successfully against Genoese from the St. Hilarion Castle and from the town of Kyrenia. The following year (1374), he was forced to come to a humiliated agreement with Genoese which was declaring: the remaining of Famagusta under Genoese sovereignty, the payment of huge compensations to Genoese, to give Kyrenia under Genoese sovereignty and James to leave Cyprus. James obeyed and left Kyrenia but leaving for Europe he was arrested by Genoese, despite the permission that they would not disturb him. He returned back when he became King of Cyprus.

The whole Genoese operation in Cyprus, brought them many benefits. However, before they left, they executed those who were involved to Peter I's murder as they promised to Eleanor, who after the end of the war against Genoese, organised anf killed the Prince John, who believed he was involved in the murder of her husband.

The powerful Eleanor came in conflict with Valentine after her wedding with Peter II, and also was involved in many issues and scandals. So, Peter decided to send away his mother from Cyprus. Despite his mother's protests, Eleanor went back to Spain in September 1378.

Also Peter negotiated and succeeded a peace treaty with the Sultan of Egypt. Also he built and improved the fortifications of Nicosia. He also built a royal villa in the village of Potamia and other tasks. Like his father, he creates his own similar currencies. He died on October 13, 1382 at the Palace of La Cava, Nicosia, and was buried at St. Dominic's, Nicosia.

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