King of Cyprus and titular king of Jerusalem (1382-1398).
James was a younger son of Hugh IV of Cyprus and Jerusalem and Alice of Ibelin. In 1369 he and his brother John may have been behind the murder of their older brother, King Peter I, who was probably assassinated because of the economic and political strains caused by his overambitious war against the Mamluks. James was nevertheless loyal to Peter’s son Peter II (1369-1382), particularly during the Genoese invasion of 1373-1374. When the Genoese captured Peter II in the castle of Famagusta (mod. Ammochostos), James avoided the trap and halted the invasion, successfully defending Kyrenia (mod. Kyreneia). In a subsequent peace deal, Genoa kept Famagusta as security for a massive Cypriot indemnity, while James agreed to go into exile. However, the Genoese seized him on Rhodes (mod. Rodos, Greece) and imprisoned him in Genoa until 1383. Having been recognized as Peter II’s successor by the Cypriot High Court, he was then released, but only after agreeing to a permanent Genoese occupation of Famagusta and further Cypriot repayments.
Although James’s reign was dominated by economic problems and fruitless schemes to recover Famagusta, in the late 1380s he contributed galleys to a Christian naval league against the Turks. After the last Armenian king, Leon VI, died in 1393, James laid claim to his title. James was succeeded as king of Cyprus by his son Janus.
Edbury, Peter, The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades, 1191-1374 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
Hill, George, A History of Cyprus, 4 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1940-1952).
Mas Latrie, Louis de, Histoire de l’tle de Chypre sous le regne desprinces de la maison de Lusignan, 3 vols. (Paris: Imprimerie Imperiale, 1852-1861).