Europe and the Mediterranean

 

Cyprus

RAMON LLULL IN CYPRUS

A year late, Ramon Llull received in Mallorca the news of the invasion of the Holy Land by the Kazan of Persia’s Tatar troops. He decided then (1301) to travel to Cyprus, with the desire to live at first hand the geopolitical changes that were taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean which seemed to mean the expulsion of Muslims from Jerusalem.

In Nicosia Llull debates with the “infidels” of the island (monophysites, Nestorians and others) with the permission of Henry II of Lusignan, King of Cyprus and Jerusalem. However, he fails to obtain the royal authorisation that he expected to go to convert the Sultan of Babylon and the King of Syria and Egypt. In Vita coetanea he tells the story that a priest and a servant tried to kill him with poison to steal his possessions, Llull, then, convalescent, decides to flee to the town of Famagusta in the east coast of the island, where he will work on the Llibre de natura (Book of nature). Later he settles in Limassol, in the south, where the Master of the Knights Templar Jacques de Molay welcomes him with great cordiality and offers him accommodation in his house until he recovers his health; that friendship will open the gates of Lesser Armenia or Cilicia, whose king was an ally of the Templars. In the Cypriot monastery of Saint John Chrysostom he wrote Retòrica nova (New rethoric).

CYPRUS, THEN AND NOW

Cyprus is an island of the eastern Mediterranean that is currently divided between the southwest, administered by Greece (which is predominantly Orthodox Christian), and the northeast, administered by Turkey (mostly Muslim). Its name (Kypros in Greek) is related to the word copper (cyprum in Latin) due to the existence, in ancient times, of important mines of that metal on the island. It was dominated successively by Romans, Byzantines and Arabs. Between 1192 and 1489, the Kingdom of Cyprus was ruled by the Lusignan dynasty, monarchs of French descend; among them Henry II, King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, with whom Ramon Llull had contact. At that time Cyprus was an important base for trade and political relations of Europe with Asia and East Africa.

As for the architectural heritage, in Cyprus stand out the painted churches of Troodos, declared World Heritage by UNESCO; they are nine churches and a monastery with wall paintings of Byzantine icons. Their good state of preservation is due to their isolation in the Troodos mountain range, located in the interior, where pirates would not reach in their frequent attacks on the coast.

 

Ramon Llull quotations

 
«No treasure is greater than the truth»
 

Messages about Ramon Llull

 
Ramon Llull had an extraordinary vitality: he lived over eighty years and wrote more than 250 books.
 

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