In April 1191 Richard the Lionheart of England was sailing from Messina to Acre on the Third Crusade when his fleet was dispersed by a storm. A number of ships were wrecked on the Cypriot coast, one carrying treasure destined to finance the campaign, another his sister Joan and his fiancé Berengaria. At the start of May Richard landed in Lemesos and demanded that the ruler of Cyprus, one Isaac Komnenos, return the two women and the treasure (which loomed largest in his mind it is difficult to say). Komnenos, who had a reputation as a violent bully, refused, so Richard promptly sacked the city and went on to conquer the rest of the island. This was done under the leadership of Guy de Lusignan, one of Richard’s crusader generals and at the time nominal king of the crusader state of Jerusalem. Komnenos was captured and put in silver chains (since, so the story goes, he’d been promised that he would never be put in irons). While this was going on, Richard and Berengaria were married in Lemesos, he becoming king of Cyprus, she becoming queen of both Cyprus and England. Richard then proceeded to pick up the reins of his main priority – the Crusade. To raise money for this expensive endeavour, he sold Cyprus to the Knights Templar who, when they found it more bother than it was worth, passed it on to Guy de Lusignan, who became first in a long line of Lusignan rulers of the island.

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