Lusignan(lüzēnyäN`), French noble family. The name is derived from a castle in Poitou, built, according to legend, by MélusineMélusine
, in French legend, a fairy who changed into a serpent from the waist down every Saturday. She married a mortal, Count Raymond, said to be the ancestor of the house of Lusignan, and made him promise never to visit her on that day.
..... Click the link for more information. . The family was powerful in the Middle Ages and ruled (13th–14th cent.) the county of Marche. One branch was prominent in the history of the Crusades. Guy of LusignanGuy of Lusignan
, d. 1194, Latin king of Jerusalem (1186–92) and Cyprus (1192–94), second husband of Sibylla, sister of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. In 1183 he was briefly regent for his brother-in-law, who was incapacitated by leprosy, but Baldwin made Guy's
..... Click the link for more information. succeeded (1186) Baldwin V as king of Jerusalem; compelled (1192) to resign this title, he received the island of Cyprus from King Richard I of England. His brother, Amalric IIAmalric II
or Amaury II,
c.1155–1205, Latin king of Jerusalem (1197–1205) and Cyprus (1194–1205); brother and successor (in Cyprus) of Guy of Lusignan.
..... Click the link for more information. , succeeded (1194) him as king of Cyprus and was also king of Jerusalem; his descendants continued to claim the kingship of Jerusalem. In 1342 a branch of their line ascended the throne of Lesser Armenia (Cilicia); in 1375 the last Lusignan king of Armenia was overthrown by the Mamluks, and the Lusignans of Cyprus added the empty title of king of Armenia to the equally empty one of king of Jerusalem. Cyprus flourished under Lusignan rule until about 1370, but then it declined and eventually became dependent on Venice and was obliged to pay tribute to Egypt. The royal capital, Nicosia, was long a center of French medieval culture. Famagusta, however, was ceded in the mid-1370s to Genoa as security for an indemnity in return for the release of the captive King Peter II. In the next century the Lusignan rulers of Cyprus had little power. The situation changed in 1460, however, when Queen Charlotte was expelled by the half-Greek illegitimate son of her late husband. The usurper became king as James II, recovered (1464) Famagusta, and married the Venetian heiress Caterina CornaroCornaro, Caterina
, 1454–1510, queen of Cyprus. A celebrated Venetian beauty, she was married in 1472 to James II of Cyprus, who was eager to secure Venetian support. James II died in 1473, and his infant son, James III, in 1474.
..... Click the link for more information. . Their son, James III, died in 1474, and with him the Lusignan dynasty ended; in 1489 Venice took complete control of Cyprus.