A Multi-lingual Island in the Middle Ages: Cyprus of the Lusignan Dynasty


4. Uluslararası Dil, Kültür ve Edebiyat Sempozyumu, Antalya, Turkey, 17 - 18 May 2018, pp.1-18

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Antalya
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-18
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: Yes


The island of Cyprus was a meeting point in the Eastern Mediterranean in the medieval period hosting many people from different places, including pilgrims, traders, refugees, slaves, mercenaries, knights, adventurers and so on. When the Lusignan Kingdom was established in 1192 during the third Crusade, the island had experienced the existence of different civilisations throughout the ages including Greeks, Romans, the Byzantine Empire and centuries of Muslim Christian co-habitation into the 10th c. which had contributed to the rich complex cultural, religious and social identities of the island’s varied inhabitants. Established in such a culturally diversified place, the Lusignan Kingdom, the “French” speaking Catholic rulers of an island mostly inhabited by “Greek” speaking Orthodox subjects and surrounded mainly by “Arabic” speaking Muslim neighbours created a sophisticated atmosphere.  Apart from these dominant languages, different dialects and the languages of the religious and social minorities were heard on the island. This paper aims at determining the different languages that were spoken in the Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus between the 12th and 15th centuries and analysing the relationship between trade, immigration and the diversity of languages that occurred as a natural phenomenon consequent upon the connection of people having different social and religious status passing through this frequented destination in the Eastern Mediterranean. The accounts of the travellers, the memories of the pilgrims, the contemporary chroniclers and secondary literary works are the primary sources employed in this paper.

Key Words: Lusignan Kingdom, Cyprus, The Eastern Mediterranean, multilingualism, multiculturalism.