James II of Cyprus

James II (French: Jacques; c. 1438/1439 or c. 1440 – 10 July 1473) was the penultimate King of Cyprus, reigning from 1463 until his death.

James II
James II of Cyprus.jpeg
King of Cyprus
Reign1463 – 10 July 1473
SuccessorJames III
Bornc. 1438/1439 or c. 1440
Died10 July 1473
SpouseCatherine Cornaro
IssueJames III of Cyprus
FatherJohn II of Cyprus
MotherMarietta de Patras (concubine)

Archbishop of NicosiaEdit

James was born in Nicosia as the illegitimate son of John II of Cyprus and Marietta de Patras.[1] He was a great favourite of his father, and in 1456, at the age of 16, he was appointed to the archbishopric of Nicosia. After murdering Iacopo Urri, the royal chamberlain, on 1 April 1457,[2] he was deprived of the archbishopric and fled to Rhodes on a ship of the Catalan Juan Tafures. He was pardoned by his father, and the archbishopric was returned to him.

King of CyprusEdit

In 1458, his father died, and his half-sister Charlotte became Queen of Cyprus. In 1460, with support from the Egyptian Mamluk sultan Sayf ad-Din Inal, James challenged her right to the throne, blockading her and her husband, Louis of Savoy,[3] in the castle of Kyrenia for three years. When Charlotte fled to Rome in 1463, James was crowned king. In gratitude, he made his friend and supporter Juan Tafures Master of his Household and titular Count of Tripoli.

Silver coin of James II of Cyprus showing him on horseback on one side and Jerusalem Cross on reverse. Legends: IACOBS DEI G / R IERUS CIPRI ET ARMIA

Marriage, death and successionEdit

In Venice, on 30 July 1468, seeking political support, he married a 14-year-old Venetian, Catherine Cornaro, by proxy.[4] She finally travelled to Cyprus and married in person at Famagusta in October or November, 1472.[4] James died a few months later in Famagusta, amidst some suspicion that he might have been poisoned by agents of Venice, possibly by Catherine's uncles. According to his will, Catherine, who was pregnant, became regent. The couple's son, James III, died under suspicious circumstances in 1474 before his first birthday, leaving Catherine as regent of Cyprus.[5] During her reign, the island was controlled by Venetian merchants.[5] In 1489, Venice forced her to abdicate, and Cyprus became a colony of the Republic of Venice.[5]

Illegitimate childrenEdit

Prior to his marriage, King James II had four natural children [6][7] with an unnamed mistress:

  • Eugene of Lusignan (b. c. 1468 - d. Venice, 1536), married Donna Paola Mazzara of Sicily after 1509.
  • Janus of Lusignan (d. after 1552), married (1) 1504 to N de Toro, married (2) 1547 to Virginia Cosanza dei Duchi di San Sava, with issue.
  • Charlotte of Lusignan (b. April 1468 - d. 24 July 1480 in Castel of Padua), she was either married or engaged to the designated heir of her aunt, Alonso, batard d'Aragona (1460–1510), a son of Ferdinand I of Naples. She was imprisoned by Queen Charlottte's opponents and died in captivity shortly before her twelfth birthday.[8]

He had another mistress, by the name of Eschive de Nores (d. after 1468), who married his cousin, Philippe, Titular Prince of Galilee, a natural son of his great-uncle, Henry. However, there is no record of any children with her.



  1. ^ Letts 2016, p. 252.
  2. ^ Benjamin Arbel and David Jacoby, Intercultural Contacts in the Medieval Mediterranean, p. 45, published by Frank Cass, London, Google Books, retrieved on 19 June 2009
  3. ^ "Women in the Middle Ages", Greenwood Press 2004 p. 221
  4. ^ a b De Girolami Cheney 2013, p. 16.
  5. ^ a b c De Girolami Cheney 2013, p. 17.
  6. ^ Sanudo, Marino; Stefani, F.; Berchet, G.; Barozzi, N.; Deputazione di storia patria per la Venezie (1882). I diarii di Marino Sanuto. Vol. 8. F. Visentini. p. 648. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  7. ^ Latrie, L. M. (1873). Nouvelles preuves de l'histoire de Chypre sous le reigne des princes de la maison de Lusignan. J. Baur et Detaille. p. 44. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  8. ^ Hill 1948, p. 655.


  • De Girolami Cheney, Liana (2013). "Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus". In Barrett-Graves, Debra (ed.). The Emblematic Queen Extra-Literary Representations of Early Modern Queenship. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hill, George (1948). A History of Cyprus. Vol. The Frankish Period, 1432–1571. Cambridge University Press.
  • Letts, Malcolm (2016). The Pilgrimage of Arnold von Harff, Knight, from Cologne, 1496-1499. Routledge.
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Cyprus
Title next held by
James III