The Queens of Retrovi


Queen of Cyprus (1252-1282)

Isabella of Ibelin was Queen of Cyprus and lady of Beirut from 1264 until her death in 1282. She was the daughter of Jean d’Ibelin, lord of Beirut, and of Alice de la Roche sur Ognon. As a great-granddaughter of the powerful Crusader noble John of Ibelin, she was a member of the influential Ibelin family. In 1265, the young Isabella was betrothed to the young Hugh II, King of Cyprus (1252–1267), but he died before the marriage was consummated. In 1272, at the age of 20, she married Haymo Léstrange (the Foreigner), but the marriage was short, as Haymo died in 1273. King Hugh I of Cyprus wanted to use Isabella’s status as a wealthy heiress to choose a new husband for her, but Isabella resisted and received the support of the Muslim Sultan Baibars, and the Knights Templar. After Baibars’ death in 1277, Isabella married twice more, to Nicolas l’Alleman, lord of Caesarea, and then to Guillaume Berlais. She never had any children and died in 1282 at the age of 30.


Queen of Cyprus (1165-1230)

Berengaria of Navarre was the only Queen of England to be crowned outside the British Isles. Her ship was leaving Mersin, where she had been visiting her fiancé, King Richard I, who was preparing for the Third Crusade to the Holy Land, when, due to a heavy storm, it was shipwrecked off Limassol, Cyprus. Richard came to her rescue, persecuted the island’s tyrant Isaac Comnenus, who had captured Berengaria, defeated him and took Cyprus. On 12 May 1191, in the chapel of St George at Limassol, King Richard married Berengaria and she was crowned Queen the same day by the Archbishop of Bordeaux and the Bishops of Evreux and Bayonne. According to historian Ann Trindade, “Berengaria’s long years of widowhood reveal, on the basis of record, a strong courageous woman, independent, solitary, battling against difficult political and economic circumstances, with little interest in the trappings of courtly existence, sustained by her faith in Christ and her loyalty to the See of St Peter, not afraid to assert her rights against powerful enemies, both lay and clerical.”


the last Queen of Cyprus (1454-1510)

Caterina Cornaro was the last tragic queen of Cyprus. Daughter of a powerful and wealthy family of Venice, she was married by proxy in 1468 to James II, last Lusignan king of the island. After James’ sudden death and that of her infant child, Caterina ruled Cyprus from 1474 to 1489, when she was forced by the Doge of Venice to abdicate and hand over the Kingdom of Cyprus to the Serenissima Republic. According to George Boustronios, “On 14 February 1489, the Queen, dressed in black and accompanied by the Barons and their ladies, set off on horseback. Six knights held her horse’s reins. From the moment she left Nicosia, her eyes kept streaming with tears. Upon her departure, the whole population was bewailing.”


Queen of Cyprus (1445-1483)

Charlotte was Queen of Cyprus and Princess of Antioch, as well as titular Queen of Jerusalem and Armenia from 1458 until 1464. She was the eldest and only surviving daughter of King John II of Cyprus and Helena Palaiologina. After her father’s death in 1458, at the age of fourteen, recently widowed-Charlotte succeeded to the Cypriot throne and was crowned Queen of Cyprus at St. Sophia Cathedral. She had a tenuous hold on the kingdom as her right to the throne was constantly challenged by her illegitimate half-brother James. Not long after her coronation, she married her cousin Louis of Savoy, Count of Geneva, titular King of Jerusalem and King of Cyprus from 1459 to 1462, a marriage arranged by the Genoese who promised their assistance in retaining her crown against the claims by James. After being blockaded in the castle of Kyrenia for three years, she and Louis fled to Rome in 1463, whereupon her half-brother was crowned King James II. Her attempts to regain her throne failed and Charlotte died childless in 1487.


Queen of Cyprus (1193-1246)

Alice of Champagne was a Queen consort of Cyprus between 1210 and 1218, and regent of Cyprus from 1218 to 1223. She was the eldest daughter of Henry II, Count of Champagne, and Isabella I of Jerusalem, and she married her step-brother, Hugh I of Cyprus. Upon her husband’s death in 1218, Alice assumed the regency of the island for their infant son, Henry I. Negotiations with Pelagius about the status of the Church in the Kingdom of Cyprus concluded with an agreement in 1220, according to which, on Alice’s demand, the Greek Orthodox priests were exempt from taxation and the Pope was persuaded to allow the appointment of Orthodox suffragan bishops in the four Roman Catholic dioceses. Before long however, the agreement was revised. After a debate with Philip of Ibelin, baillif of Cyprus, Alice was forced to leave the island in 1223, while her two daughters, Mary and Isabella, and son, Henry I, stayed behind. Even after her departure, Alice retained her title of regent of Cyprus, until Henry I reached the age of maturity in 1232.