Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Aftermath of War: Cypriot Christians and Mediterranean Geopolitics, 1571-1625
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In the period after the Cyprus War of 1570-71, during which the Ottomans invaded and conquered Venetian-ruled Cyprus, many Cypriots chose to leave the island. Most chose to go to Italy, a favored destination since at least 1400 for waves of Christian Greeks fleeing the Ottoman Turkish advance. Large numbers attended the Greek College in Rome, while a smaller but significant number went to the University of Padua. This Cypriot diaspora played a critical role in the formation of Christian Cypriot identity, one that was built on an increased knowledge of the Greek past and was supported by the increased interest shown by Western Europeans, especially scholars in Venice, Padua, and Rome, not only in the ancient Greeks, but also in the Greeks of their own time. Using documentary and archival material from many parts of the Mediterranean, I trace many of those in this Cypriot diaspora, paying particular attention to the writings of the educated classes, and engage in prosopographical analysis to identify where Cypriot migrants went after the war, and where the evidence suggests they felt most comfortable, and how we can interpret their diverse activities, viewed keeping constantly in mind the complexity of this period in Mediterranean geopolitics, when Ottoman-Christian warfare in the eastern Mediterranean theatre, having shifted from the sea to the land, that is, to the Balkans and Hungary, was no longer so pronounced in the vicinity of Cyprus. I argue that the Ottoman invasion of Cyprus was central to the formation of a distinct Greek Cypriot identity and the single most important event for Cypriot state formation, and also that Christian Cypriots after the war found themselves in an unsettled state, with their loyalties and identities, both political and religious, tugged at in several directions. The Cypriots were pulled between several claimants. Their Byzantine heritage meant that they were part of a larger Greek Orthodox world. At the same time, from the Latin West, Catholic Savoy and Venice launched a polemical battle over who had the stronger claim to Cyprus, even at a time when neither could realistically reconquer the island; Catholic Spain and Tuscany, too, became involved in projects to recapture the island for what they called Christendom, even as the Muslim Ottomans tried to win Cypriot loyalty, and also to guarantee control of the island both by moving in thousands of Muslims, and, though the evidence is confusing, possibly Christians, from Anatolia as well, and by planting garrisons. I conclude that this period is of crucial importance for understanding developments on Cyprus much later, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and also in understanding the polemics that continue even today, in discussions of the Cypriot past and the relevance of that past to contemporary claims and counter-claims.