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Multidisciplinary approaches to food and foodways in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean

Sylvie Yona Waksman

Cyprus and the Levant

Food, wine and the Latin clergy of Lusignan Cyprus (1191‑1473)

Nicholas Coureas


In this paper the institutional role of the Latin Church and that of its clergy as producers, consumers and distributors of wine and foodstuffs will be examined and discussed. The source materials used are chiefly papal correspondence, although travellers’ accounts, Episcopal wills, the records of the clergy responsible for collecting papal taxes from Cyprus and the records of the trial of the Templars on Cyprus in the years 1310-1311 are also utilized. The records of cereals and other alimentary products, wheat, barley, beans, cheeses, livestock, oil and wine, collected as rents or tithes by the Latin Church from various estates located in the dioceses of Paphos, Nicosia, and Limassol are valuable sources, especially when they also show how such foodstuffs were then distributed. To a more limited extent Genoese documentation from Famagusta and the records of Latin diocesan and provincial synods held on Cyprus are also employed, and they are particularly useful in showing how prohibitions on excessive drinking by the clergy were not always observed. One subject not examined in this paper is the agricultural production of Hospitaller estates on Cyprus, a topic that has been dealt with elsewhere.

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1In this paper the institutional role of the Latin Church and that of its clergy as producers, consumers and distributors of wine and foodstuffs will be examined and discussed. This subject encompasses various sub-divisions of the Latin Church of Cyprus, the regular clergy, the military and monastic orders. The source materials used are chiefly papal correspondence, although travellers’ accounts, Episcopal wills, the records of the clergy responsible for collecting papal taxes from Cyprus and the records of the trial of the Templars on Cyprus in the years 1310-1311 have also been consulted. The records concerning cereals and other food products – wheat, barley, beans, cheeses, livestock, oil and wine – collected as rents or tithes by the Latin Church from various estates located in the dioceses of Paphos, Nicosia, and Limassol are valuable sources, especially when they also show how such foodstuffs were then distributed. To a more limited extent, Genoese documentation concerning Famagusta and the records of Latin diocesan and provincial synods held on Cyprus are also consulted, the latter being especially useful as evidence for the regulations Latin clergy were required to follow in the consumption of food and drink. One subject that will not be examined is the agricultural production of Hospitaller estates on Cyprus, a topic that has been dealt with elsewhere (Coureas 2013, pp. 215‑224).

Food acquisition

  • 1 Terms used include bezants, a currency of accounting, modia and rota, units of weight and metretas(...)

2Like the Lusignan crown and the Latin nobility the Latin Church owned estates on Cyprus and these produced cereals, dairy products and livestock. In a letter of 30 December 1237 sent by Pope Gregory IX to the prioress and nuns of the Augustinian house of St Mary and All Saints at Acre confirming them in their possessions, the pope referred to a donation of annual rent revenues granted by Queen Alice, the mother of King Henry I of Cyprus, with the king’s assent. These revenues included various types of produce as well as the cash sum of 1,092 white bezants, with all types of produce originating from the town and territory of Paphos. They included 42 modia of wheat, 266 metretas (ca 24 litres) of wine, 266 rota of cheese, 76 modia of beans, 19 modia of rice, 95 rota of oil and 38 rota of sugar.1 Whether these foodstuffs produced on Cyprus were consumed on the island or exported to Latin Syria as well is not recorded, but is nonetheless possible. Food shortages were experienced in Latin Syria on account of Muslim raids, especially in the later 13th century, when cereals were imported there from as far away as Sicily and southern Italy. Given the proximity of Cyprus to the coast of Syria and Palestine it would have made sense to import foodstuffs from the island to these places. This list of rents received in foodstuffs by the Augustinian house is also indicative of the types of food produced in Cyprus during the first half of the 13th century, and more specifically in the district of Paphos. Besides the standard wheat, wine and oil, these included rice and sugar, the latter being a major Cypriot export from the 14th century onwards (Schabel & Richard 2010-2012, I, d‑29, pp. 325‑328; Baldwin 2014, pp. 74, 105‑108).

3The accounts for the period extending from March 1317 to February 1318 for the casale of Psimolophou near Nicosia, a former Templar estate that was granted to the exiled Latin patriarchate of Jerusalem after the dissolution of the order in 1312, also furnishes valuable information on the revenues in kind received as well as their distribution, this time from a property of the Latin Church in the diocese of Nicosia. From the total of 3,694 measures of wheat received, 255 were paid to the church of Nicosia as a tithe, 216 to the servants of the estate, including 48 measures to four slaves from the Aegean area, 181 measures were paid to seven carpenters and 1,500 measures were sold to the bakers Behna and Hanna, clearly of Syrian origin, at a rate of just over one measure per bezant. A further 400 measures were used as seen for the next year’s crop, 404 were lent to the peasant cultivators, probably to sow lands not part of the ecclesiastical domain, and 733 measures were stored in the estate granary, leaving around five measures unaccounted for. Of the 6,584 measures of barley received, 2,000 measures were sold for 2.5 measures per bezant, 431 were advanced to the peasants to sow the next crop, 325 used to sow next year’s crop on the domain, 1,186 were stored in the granary, 900 were used as animal feed for the horses and donkeys on the estate and 994 as a payment to the servants on the estate. Of this last quantity the estate manager and scribe received 90 measures each, the juror 48, eleven soldiers, the gate keeper, the court sergeant, the swineherd, the groom and the sergeant of the village 36 each. In addition, smaller amounts were granted to the slaves from the Aegean area, those guarding the pastures on a seasonal basis, the guardian of the water mill and others (Richard 1947, pp. 140‑142).

4The receipt of smaller quantities of oats, broad beans and vetches and their distribution in a manner similar to that for the wheat and barley, clearly the main cereal crops, is also recorded. Other food products produced in Psimolophou to be expended and consumed included olives, wine, honey and cheese. The 14 measures of olives produced were expended in the curia, presumably the residence of the Latin titular patriarch of Jerusalem in Nicosia. Virtually all of the 2,226.5 metretas of wine produced were purchased by Brother Bernard de Muret, the Hospitaller brother who was appointed estate manager in 1315 during the patriarchate of Peter de Pleine Chassaigne, who had arrived in Cyprus as papal legate, and another brother named Nicholas. No tithes were paid on the wine and 344 metretas were distributed among the estate workers, the carpenter and other labourers, and the vineyard cultivators who had transported the wine to the casale of Psimolophou. Six bee-keepers on the estate were also paid 16 deniers each for the honey produced, a total expense of 2 bezants, although the specific quantity of honey is not recorded. In addition, 95 rotuli of cheese were produced, 9.5 rotuli of which were paid as a tithe to the church of Nicosia. The remainder were assigned for the needs of the patriarch’s court and the harvest. The estate also had livestock. The sum of 103.5 bezants was earned from the sale of chickens. Larger animals included sheep, goats and pigs, with the estate paying 32 sheep and eight goats by way of tithes and the resident peasants paying a further 38 sheep and eight goats out of their own livestock. Some of the goats, 43 in number, were also sold in Nicosia for 79 bezants and 18 deniers. The estate possessed oxen, and the hides of the dead oxen and of other dead beasts were sold to the Jewish tanners of Psimolophou. Of the pigs on the estate, ten were slaughtered to provide salted bacon for the patriarch’s household and one more to be eaten by the soldiers over Christmas (Richard 1947, pp. 142‑146).

5An inventory of revenues and expenses recorded for the Latin diocese of Limassol for the period running from 1 April 1367 until 31 March 1368, reveals that the secular Latin Church received revenues from the sale of foodstuffs and crops produced on its estates. The sum of 365 white bezants was acquired from the sale of barley, with serfs on lands of the church purchasing 103 bezants’ worth at various markets. In addition, the sum of 52 bezants was obtained from the sale of oats, seven and three bezants respectively from the sale of beans and vetches, and five bezants from the sale of cotton seed as animal feed. The sum of 167 bezants was acquired from the sale of carobs, harvested in abundance in the diocese of Limassol down to modern times. The estates of the Latin Church in the diocese of Limassol also earned the sum of 589 bezants from the sale of wine, which like carobs was and continues to be a major product of the Limassol district. Over half the sum, 341 bezants, came from the sale of wine originating from the casale of Pelendri, sold at various markets, as the accounts record. Another 138 bezants were acquired from the sale of wine transported to the town of Limassol and sold in the marketplaces there. Worthy of note are the 30 bezants obtained as a tithe from the wine sold by the Greek monastery of Mangana. This monastery, the largest Greek monastery in Cyprus during the Lusignan period, was located near Nicosia but clearly possessed estates practising viticulture in the diocese of Limassol (Richard 1962, pp. 86‑87).

6The accounts of 1367 for the diocese of Limassol also record the quantities of crops and foodstuffs the Latin Church received in the form of tithes or as produce from the estates of the Latin secular church in the diocese. The quantity of 827 measures of corn was obtained in 1367, 463 of which originated from estates of the Latin Church, namely the casalia of Phinikaria, Old Limassol, Agrounda and Moni and another 346 measures in the form of tithes paid in kind as opposed to cash by persons owning estates in other casalia of the Limassol diocese. An additional 17 measures of corn were obtained through an exchange when Jean d’Acre, the prior of Alaminos, gave 24 measures of barley in exchange for this corn. In regard to barley, the estates of the Latin Church in the diocese of Limassol yielded 562 measures of this product, nearly all from the casale of Old Limassol. This sum includes the small amount of 28 measures given by the serfs as a way of returning part of the grain given to them earlier on for sowing. Besides these crops, the Latin bishopric of Limassol obtained 133 measures of oats, mainly from tithes taken from the revenues in kind of various individuals owning estates, 17 measures of beans that also originated from tithing and a further five measures of vetches and lentils, also received as tithes (Richard 1962, pp. 88‑90).

7As concerns wine, the accounts of 1367 record that the Latin diocese of Limassol received by way of tithes no less than 2,087 measures. No figures are given on the royal produce, suggesting that royal estates in Limassol produced no wine but other crops instead. From knightly estates the greatest amount of wine given to the Latin Church in Limassol in tithes, 856.5 measures, originated from the estates of “monseignor le prince”, perhaps the titular prince of Galilee. The estates of three knights from Monagri yielded 339 measures of wine in tithes and the estate of James de Scandelion in Lania alone yielded 270 measures. The vines of free peasant cultivators in the diocese, located at the casalia of Silikou and Kilani, yielded 72 measures of wine in tithes and those of the Greek monastery of St George of Mangana mentioned above yielded 30 measures in tithes. Since according to the regulations of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, estates acquired by Greek churches and monasteries prior to that date were not subject to tithing, the monastery must have acquired its estates in the diocese of Limassol, at least those subject to the tithe on viticulture, after 1215 (Richard 1962, p. 91).

Food redistribution

8Besides receiving foodstuffs in tithes or rents the Latin Church also distributed them. The accounts of 1367 for the diocese of Limassol record a payment of 60 bezants made to Gilles Anselm, described as the “cook of the poor”. This refers to the 16 indigent persons fed daily by the Latin Church of Limassol, for whom there is also an entry under the alms decreed for their upkeep, although the sum in bezants for some unknown reason has been left blank. Recorded, however, were the sums assigned for payment of the Latin clergy of the diocese in kind. Totalling 2,238 bezants and 22 karoubles, the largest payment amounted to 1,670 bezants for 652.5 measures of wheat. This quantity of wheat and the sum paid were sub-divided in that 363.5 measures cost 1,090.5 bezants at the rate of three bezants per measure and 289 measures cost 579.5 bezants at the rate of two bezants per measure, the wheat in the second instance clearly being of lower quality. Smaller sums were also spent on other foodstuffs; 337 bezants and 22 karoubles on barley, 206 on beans and 25 on onions. In a separate item 14.5 bezants were assigned to the purchase of bread and wine for the Eucharist, that is for the needs of the altar and the administration of the sacrament of Holy Communion. A smaller sum of one bezant and 19 karoubles was also assigned in this regard for the wine needed to wash the sacred altars and the host used for administering Holy Communion to the laity of the Limassol diocese (Richard 1984-1987, pp. 95, 97‑98).

9Towards the end of the accounts is recorded a more analytical sub-division of the different kinds of foodstuffs granted as annual payments in kind to the members of the Latin clergy in the diocese of Limassol. These amounts varied greatly. As concerned wheat the archdeacon received 150 measures, 50 for the office of the archdeacon and 100 for the canonry, while the cantor and treasurer received 50 measures each, the two parish priors and the scribe of the church’s financial office 60 measures each and 30 measures apiece were received by the four deacons, five sub-deacons, the master chaplain and the two priests accompanying him. The cook for the poor received 36 measures and the apostolic notary a mere ten. Annual payments in barley ranging from 50 to 150 measures were made to the archdeacon, the cantor, the treasurer, the parish priors and the scribe of the finance office. Smaller quantities of beans ranging from five to ten measures were paid to the clergy mentioned above. Wine was included in such payments, with the quantities distributed ranging from 26 to 150 metretas. The archdeacon received 150 metretas, Bernard Anselm the canon and compiler of these accounts 90 metretas, the two priors 60, the four deacons, the master chaplain and the two other priests 30, the treasurer and cantor 50, the scribe 60 and the cook of the poor 36, although 26 was recorded in error (Richard 1962, pp. 105‑108).

10Those harvesting the foodstuffs received by the church directly from its estates had to be fed. Hence one of the recorded items in the accounts of 1367 for the Limassol diocese are ten bezants to pay for the bread consumed by the harvesters at the small village or presterie of Kameno Prastio, which belonged to Guy d’Ibelin, the incumbent Latin bishop of Limassol. Foodstuffs collected or earmarked for distribution also had to be transported. In an expense item for the month of November, 363 bezants in total were assigned for payment of the transportation costs required to transport quantities of wine, wheat and barley paid to the church as tithes to various destinations. Since transportation involved packaging, a distinct item of expenditure was the sum of 32 bezants 22 karoubles recorded for the purchase of sacks into which the tithes consisting of foodstuffs could be placed. Other noteworthy items in the accounts of 1367 were the 67.3 bezants the Latin Church expended to purchase livestock consumed by the royal army passing through the diocese of Limassol during King Peter I’s expedition of September 1367 against Tripoli in Syria. The livestock purchased for the needs of the troops included 13.3 bezants’ worth of chickens, 36 bezants’ worth of heifers and 18 bezants’ worth of castrated rams. One wonders why pigs were not included among the livestock purchased for the army’s needs (Richard 1962, pp. 100‑101, 104).

11The inventory of the estate of the deceased Dominican Latin bishop of Limassol, Guy d’Ibelin, prepared after his death in March 1367, shows that large quantities of wine were kept in the cellars of the bishop in large earthenware jars called “pitares”, clearly a reference to the pithoi or pitharia found in Cyprus to this day. These quantities included red and white wines as well as vinegar, although on occasion the type of wine found in the earthenware vessels is not specified. Some of the earthenware vessels were empty and others partly or completely filled with wine. Both the vessels and the wine were sold for the most part, although some of the wine found its way into the possession of Aymar, who in August 1367 succeeded Guy as bishop of Limassol. One butt (ca 384 litres) of spoiled wine of little value was distributed among the harvesters who were to harvest the wheat at the locality of Kameno Prastio, which as mentioned above belonged to the deceased bishop. One consignment of red wine amounting to 355 metretas and four quarts earned 577 bezants and 4 deniers, approximately 1.6 bezants per metreta. The vinegar amounting to 7.5 metretas was sold for five bezants and 24 deniers, approximately 1.35 bezants per metreta. As for the white wine, one consignment of 54 metretas and 3.5 quarts was sold for 126 bezants and twelve deniers, approximately 2.3 bezants per metreta. A second quantity of red wine amounting to 21 metretas and nine quarts, perhaps of better quality, sold for nearly 47 bezants, approximately 2.2 bezants per metreta, while a third consignment earned 126 bezants for 80 metretas or approximately 1.5 bezants per metreta. In general white wine seems to have been more expensive than red, although quality was also a factor (Richard 1950, pp. 117‑119).

12One type of Cypriot wine occurring repeatedly in the documentation of the Latin Church was “Maroa”. Of hitherto unknown provenance, it is first recorded on Cyprus in connection with the inquisition of 1330 against Peter de Castro, vicar of the Dominican province of the Holy Land, centred in Cyprus following the loss of the Holy Land to the Muslims in 1291. On this vicar’s orders the Franciscan brother and papal legate Arnald de Fabriciis had been incarcerated in the Dominican house of Nicosia between December 1329 and January 1330, and the records of the inquisition indicate what the prisoner was allowed to eat and drink during his confinement. The items included meat, eggs, chickens, cockerels, fish and “good Maroa wine”, although one observes that the person kept in custody was none other than a papal legate. This wine is next mentioned by the Augustinian friar James of Verona during his visit to Cyprus in 1335, when he landed at Famagusta. Among his other observations, James stated that a wine called “Marea”, clearly the same as “Maroa”, consumed on Cyprus was so strong that it could only be drunk when mixed, with a ratio of one part wine to four parts water. Despite, or perhaps because of its strength, this wine attracted the attention of the papal curia, located in Avignon during this period of time. In April 1372 a priest of Nicosia received 200 bezants in bonis grossis et legalibus (in good and legal gros coins) so as to purchase some vinum Maroali for the papal curia. Clearly this wine enjoyed such a good reputation among the 14th century Latin clergy of Cyprus that its fame spread well beyond the confines of the island (Kaoulla & Schabel 2007, pp. 170‑171 [82], 173 [105]; Röhricht 1895, pp. 176‑179; Richard 2001, p. 657, n. 67).

13The papal curia acquired sugar and spices as well as wine from the island of Cyprus, although the spices originated from farther east and were simply going to the curia via Cyprus. In the published accounts of papal tax collectors on Cyprus for the years 1357-1363 it is recorded that two quintals of sugar according to the weights and measures of Famagusta were purchased for 1,220 bezants or 287 florins and one sou, the exchange rate being four bezants and twelve deniers per florin. Additional purchases included one quintal of ginger costing 440 bezants, one quintal of pepper costing 500 bezants, one quintal of cinnamon costing 450 bezants and thirty rotuli and seven ounces of cloves costing 550 bezants and two sous. A total sum of 73.5 florins or over 300 bezants spent on packaging the spices and transporting them to the curia was itemized as follows: twenty bezants were spent on cotton, wiring, ropes and other things needed to pack the spices and transport them on board ship, thirty-five on freight charges between Famagusta and the port of Aigues-Mortes, five for unloading them and taking them to storage facilities in Aigues-Mortes and finally 13 florins for having these spices transported in carts from Aigues-Mortes to the papal curia located in Avignon (Richard 1984-1987, p. 46).


14As seen above with respect to the diocese of Limassol, some of the foodstuffs in the possession of the Latin Church were used as alms for the poor. This is also apparent from the extant records of the trial of the Templars in Cyprus in 1310, and possibly a second hearing in 1311. These hearings resulted from the arrest of the Templars in France and elsewhere and eventually led to the dissolution of the Order in 1312 on the orders of Pope Clement V. The extant court records for the trial of the Templars on Cyprus known as the Processus Cypricus and the Rule of the Templars provide information on Templar almsgiving on Cyprus. The Processus Cypricus, divided into four separate codices, contains in the first codex the depositions of non-Templar witnesses, chiefly lay persons. The knight James of Plany, who in 1310 testified before the bishop of Famagusta and Lord John of Montolif, affirmed that the Templars’ “great charitable works were done, indeed especially by the Templars, for the poor of Christ” (Gilmour-Bryson 1998, p. 58). The third codex contains the fullest account of the Templars’ own replies to the charges levelled against them, including that of not offering alms or hospitality.

15The first Templar witness to testify in the third codex was Ayme d’Oselier, the Marshal of the Templars on Cyprus. To the charge of not giving alms and offering hospitality, he responded that the order gave alms to the poor on a weekly basis in places where it had a chapel. The knight Racimbaud Blacas, the fourth Templar witness to testify, denied the charge that the Templars did not give alms, stating that the order baked bread three times a week in those places where it had a chapel, giving one tenth of the bread away in alms, and that the master and brothers of the order frequently gave away meat and money in alms as well. The English knight Nicholas of Peccia, the fifth Templar witness testifying, likewise affirmed that wherever the Order had a chapel they gave one tenth of all the bread baked, and frequently gave meat as well. The ninth Templar witness, the knight Stephen Hispanus of Portugal, also denied the allegations that the Templars did not give alms, stating that the Templars gave alms three times a week, offering one tenth of the bread baked in localities with a Templar chapel. He said that he had witnessed this “in Limassol and Nicosia and other places with Templar houses”. The eleventh Templar witness, the knight Hugo of Maly, similarly affirmed that he had seen much almsgiving being performed by members of the order. More specifically he stated that he had seen one tenth of the bread baked by Templar brothers in Nicosia and in Limassol being given to the poor three times a week (Gilmour-Bryson 1998, pp. 158, 169‑170, 173, 194).

16The twelfth Templar witness, Peter of Baneta (Pendayia?), one of the few knights possibly of Cypriot origin, also denied the charge that the Templars gave no alms. He affirmed that he had seen the brothers bake bread at their house in Limassol and offer one tenth of it in alms. He also pointed out that they gave in alms meat and leftovers from their table. The next witness, the knight John Hispanus of Portugal, also maintained that the Templars gave bread, cut meats and leftovers from their table in alms to the poor, adding that wine mixed with water (vinum lymphatum) was also given to them. This occurred every week at the house of the Temple, but where this particular house was located is unfortunately not stated. The fourteenth Templar witness, the sergeant of Garen at the castle of St. Vassi, maintained that the Templars gave numerous alms, frequently and on a large scale (multas et magnas, et frequenter). He pointed out that bread and leftovers from the table were given in alms at those places where the order had chapels (Gilmour-Bryson 1998, pp. 198, 201, 206‑207).

17Other witnesses pointed out that the Templars gave alms. Brother Peter Borden of Toulouse, the twenty-sixth Templar witness and the standard bearer of the order, stated that where the Order had a chapel they gave one tenth of the bread baked and leftovers from their table. The thirtieth Templar witness, Brother John of Lisivis, a former preceptor of the palace in Limassol and a sergeant of the order, stated that he had been in charge of almsgiving and had given alms to knights and that to the poor he had given a tenth part of all the bread cooked in the house as well as the leftovers from the table of the Templar brothers staying in the house. Overall the testimonies of the Templar witnesses, including many not mentioned above, show a remarkable consistency in affirming that the order offered foodstuffs on an organised basis, namely one tenth of the bread baked in places where it had a chapel and meat or leftovers from the table. They were offered three times a week, at least as regards food, and the recipients of the order’s charity were the poor, impoverished knights, widows, orphans and squires (Gilmour-Bryson 1998, pp. 250, 263).

  • 2 Edbury 1994, p. 126, n. 97, on the problems in establishing the identity of the witness Simon of M (...)

18In the fourth and final codex of the Processus Cypricus containing the testimonies of 35 non-Templar witnesses, Simon of Montolif, a knight of Nicosia and of Paphos, refuted the accusation that they did not offer alms and hospitality. He stated that the Templars gave alms on a large scale at their houses in Acre and on Cyprus, donating bread, money and other things to the poor. The reference to Acre in Simon of Montolif´s testimony is significant, showing that Templar almsgiving in Cyprus was not a new departure, but a continuation of a tradition that had been initiated in Latin Syria. Several others from among the non-Templar witnesses offering testimony in the fourth codices of the Processus Cypricus likewise stated that they had witnessed Templar almsgiving in Acre and Tortosa as well as on Cyprus. One of these witnesses, Brother Baldwin of Villa Ganti in Arras, who was the Dominican prior of Nicosia, stated that the Templars offered bread and wine to the Dominican brothers not only in Nicosia and Limassol on Cyprus but also in many places in France (Gilmour-Bryson 1998, pp. 415‑416, 420, 426‑429, 431, 433, 438).2 The continuation of this activity on Cyprus may have acquired added emphasis following the loss of Acre in 1291 and the order’s ultimate failure to hold the island of Ruad after 1302. These blows to its primary purpose as a fighting order may have impelled it to increase its provision of welfare to justify its existence in other ways. Even if this were the case, however, almsgiving failed to avert the dissolution of the Templars in 1312.

Over-consumption of wine by the clergy

19The propensity of some members of the Latin clergy to consume more wine than befitted them was a problem addressed in a number of ecclesiastical synods held on Cyprus. The fifth ruling of the regulations of the Church of Nicosia possibly promulgated in around 1252 under Archbishop Hugh of Fagiano explicitly admonished the clergy not to consume too much wine on pain of punishment “since drunkenness both banishes reason and stokes the flames of desire”. Archbishop Hugh was also sent the statutes promulgated in a provincial council held in 1254 in Latin Syria by Eudes of Châteauroux, Cardinal-bishop of Tusculum and papal legate to the East. In the eleventh article of these statutes Latin clergy are accused of extortion, of demanding “a dish and two containers of wine” from a bride and groom to perform the marriage ceremony. The regulations promulgated in 1313 in the synod of Nicosia convened by Peter de Pleine Chassaigne, the bishop of Rodez and papal legate to Cyprus, likewise addressed the problem of inebriated clergy. The eleventh article expressly prohibited clerics from eating and drinking in taverns except when travelling or in cases of great need, with a penalty of three days’ fasting on bread and water prescribed for transgressors as well as a fine of three sous, payable to the poor (Schabel 2001, pp. 92‑93 [A.V], 178‑179 [F. 11] and 214‑215 [H. XI]).

20The dangers of taverns for the clergy were no chimera, as is apparent from the mishap of Anthony Mansorius, the son of Abraham of Pera, who in October 1428 happened to be frequenting a tavern in Famagusta, then under Genoese occupation, with some friends. He and his companions began mingling and fraternizing with the company of a certain Bisarra, a resident of Famagusta who was at the same tavern. At some point Anthony, who was holding a knife with which to cut the bread and pasta that both parties of companions happened to be eating in this tavern to his misfortune drove the knife by accident into Bisarra’s chest, wounding him so badly that the latter died. The captain of Famagusta and his officers immediately arrested Anthony and on realising that he was a cleric they handed him over to the Latin bishop of Famagusta. The bishop had him placed in custody, but at some point Anthony managed to escape and make his way to Rome, where he asked to be granted absolution for his crime since it had not been premeditated. He was duly granted absolution by Racello de Auro de Bononia, a knight Hospitaller vested with judicial authority by the pope, so as to be able to return to Famagusta and re-acquire his clerical status and privileges without having to stand trial before a secular court. His advocate presented his appeal before the doge and senate of Genoa, who accepted it, declaring him free from every accusation (Bliznyuk 2005, no. 38 pp. 193‑196). Nonetheless, Anthony’s ordeal does justify the prohibitions expressed in Latin Church synods over clerics imbibing alcohol to excess and frequenting taverns.


21To conclude, one can state that the Latin Church of Cyprus was an important producer of wine and foodstuffs cultivated on its estates in various parts of Cyprus, and a recipient of the same from the estates of others, acquiring foodstuffs and wines through the system of tithes. In addition, the clergy were not only consumers of the foodstuffs and wines produced on Cyprus but also purveyors of the more famous products, such as the Maroa wine, to destinations outside the island such as the papal curia in Avignon. The reason for this is that the clergy possessed its own rural estates throughout Cyprus that produced cereals, oil and wine and contained livestock; the clergy received the same products through tithes from the estates of secular lords and it distributed these products, either in the form of charity or to the workers on its estates, as well as having them sent outside Cyprus to the papal curia in Avignon. Hence it played an important role in the agricultural production of Cyprus, and it is to be stressed that the island’s economy was primarily based on agricultural production from Antiquity right down to the twentieth century, with the period of Lusignan rule being no exception.


Baldwin 2014: Baldwin P., Pope Gregory X and the Crusades, Woodbridge, 2014.

Bliznyuk 2005: Bliznyuk S. (ed.), Die Genuesen auf Zypern ende 14. und im 15. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main, 2005.

Coureas 2013: Coureas N., “Hospitaller estates and agricultural production on 14th and 15th century Cyprus”, in E. Buttigieg, S. Phillips (ed.), Islands and military orders (c. 1291-c. 1798), Farnham, 2013.

Edbury 1994: Edbury P., The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades (2nd ed.), Cambridge, 1994.

Gilmour-Bryson 1998: Gilmour-Bryson A. (ed.), The trial of the Templars in Cyprus: A complete English edition, Leiden, 1998.

Kaoulla & Schabel 2007: Kaoulla C., Schabel C. (ed.), “The inquisition against Peter de Castro, vicar of the Dominican province of the Holy Land, in Nicosia, Cyprus, 1330”, Archivium fratrum praedicatorum 77, 2007, pp. 121‑198.

Richard 1947: Richard J., “Le casal de Psimolofo et la vie rurale en Chypre au xive siècle”, Mélanges d’histoire et d’archéologie de l’École française de Rome 59, 1947, pp. 121‑153; repr. in J. Richard, Les relations entre l’Orient et l’Occident au Moyen Âge (3rd ed.), no. IV, Aldershot, 1999.

Richard 1950: Richard J., “Guy d’Ibelin, O.P., évêque de Limassol et l’inventaire de ses biens”, Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 74, 1950, pp. 98‑133; repr. in J. Richard, Les relations entre l’Orient et l’Occident au Moyen Âge (3rd ed.), no. V, Aldershot, 1999.

Richard 1962: Richard J., “Le diocèse de Limassol d’après le compte de Bernard Anselme (1367)”, in J. Richard, Chypre sous les Lusignans. Documents chypriotes des archives du Vatican, Bibliothèque archéologique et historique 73, Paris, 1962, pp. 61‑120.

Richard 1984-1987: Richard J., “Les comptes du collecteur de la chambre apostolique en Chypre (1357-1363)”, Επετηριδά του Κέντρου Επιστημωνικών Ερευνών [= Annuaire du Centre de recherches scientifiques] 13‑16/1, 1984-1987; repr. in J. Richard, Croisades et États latins d’Orient, no. XV, Aldershot, 1992.

Richard 2001: Richard J., “La succession de l’évêque de Famagouste et la remise en ordre de la collectorie en Chypre (1365-1374)”, Mélanges de l’École française de Rome. Moyen Âge 113/1, 2001, pp. 637‑661.

Röhricht 1895: Röhricht R. (ed.), “Le pèlerinage du moine augustin Jacques de Vérone (1335)”, Revue de l’Orient latin 3, 1895, pp. 155‑302.

Schabel 2001: Schabel C. (ed.), The Synodicum Nicosiense and other documents of the Latin church of Cyprus (1196-1373), Texts and studies in the history of Cyprus 39, Nicosia, 2001.

Schabel & Richard 2010-2012: Schabel C., Richard J. (ed.), Bullarium Cyprium: Papal letters concerning Cyprus, 3 vol., Nicosia, 2010‑2012.


1 Terms used include bezants, a currency of accounting, modia and rota, units of weight and metretas, a unit of volume.

2 Edbury 1994, p. 126, n. 97, on the problems in establishing the identity of the witness Simon of Montolif.

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