Cyprus was important to the Venetians because it was a major source of copper, a strategic location in the eastern Mediterranean for trade, and a valuable military stronghold.
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Cyprus was an important possession for the Venetians due to its strategic location in the eastern Mediterranean, which offered them a substantial trading and military advantage. According to historian, Marco Antonio Bragadin, “Cyprus was considered of vast importance to the Venetians, because it lay so near to Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt.” This placement allowed Venetian merchants to establish direct trade relations with these areas, which were rich in spices, silks and other expensive commodities that were highly prized in Venice. The island was also a major source of copper, which the Venetians used to create their coins, weapons and other necessities.
Furthermore, Cyprus provided the Venetians with a secure base in the Mediterranean from which they could launch attacks against their rivals, the Ottomans, who had invested heavily in conquering the island. The Venetians were able to maintain control over Cyprus for over 80 years after having ousted the Ottoman occupiers, largely due to their mastery of naval and military technology at the time. They used the island to launch naval expeditions against Ottoman ports and fortified it with numerous castles and fortresses to protect their interests.
Further interesting facts about Cyprus and its importance to the Venetians include:
- Cyprus was purchased for 10,000 ducats by the Venetians in 1489 from Catherine Cornaro, the last queen of the island.
- The Venetians established a highly organized and efficient administration system on Cyprus that allowed them to maintain control over the island with a small army of just 4,000 soldiers.
- While the Venetians were in control of Cyprus, they introduced many cultural and architectural influences to the island that can still be seen today, including Gothic and Renaissance styles of architecture as well as Venetian-style fortifications.
- Despite their best efforts, the Venetians were ultimately unable to defend Cyprus from the Ottomans, who successfully besieged the island in 1570 and completed its conquest a year later.
In this video, you may find the answer to “Why was Cyprus important to the Venetians?”
The video explains why Cyprus is not part of Greece and details the historical reasons behind it. Cyprus has been invaded by various empires, including the Ottoman Empire, Venetians, and the British, with the latter ultimately taking control of the island. The British chose to keep control of Cyprus even though the Greek Cypriots hoped for unification with Greece. The divide between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots also widened under British rule, leading to ethnic tensions. Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but the formation of the Republic of Cyprus was not feasible for many Greek Cypriots who wanted to establish a union with Greece, leading to violence and a pro-union coup. Turkey intervened with a military invasion in 1974, leading to the occupation of nearly 40% of the Republic’s territory and a divided Cyprus that remains unsolved 4 decades later. Uniting Cyprus with Greece was opposed by the Turkish Cypriots and the British who wanted to maintain their military bases, and Greece could not take the island by force as it was not politically stable and a war with Turkey would not be advantageous.
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The Venetian desire for Cyprus was inspired mainly by profit. The Venetians saw Cyprus primarily as a military base. Anticipating conflict, they undertook an ambitious plan of fortification. Famagusta and Nicosia were ringed with massive earthworks, cased with stone.