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Charlotte of Lusignan and Caterina Cornaro: The Politics of Queenship and Identity in Cyprus and Italy 1458 - 1861

TYMVIOU, MARINA (2018) Charlotte of Lusignan and Caterina Cornaro: The Politics of Queenship and Identity in Cyprus and Italy 1458 - 1861. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The thesis aims to explore and analyse the identities of two queens of the Lusignan kingdom of Cyprus, Charlotte of Lusignan (1444-1487) and Caterina Cornaro (1454-1510). In Lusignan Cyprus, there was no tradition of female queens regnant before the cases of Charlotte and Caterina. Charlotte was the only legitimate daughter of the king of Cyprus Jean II and Eleni Palaeologina. Charlotte had been raised in the kingdoms by her parents to become a queen, succeeding her father de iuris. However, she and her husband Louis of Savoy lost the throne to King Jacques II, the illegitimate brother of Charlotte, who became the de facto king of the island. Jacques subsequently married Caterina Cornaro, a Venetian noble woman without the skills of ruling a kingdom. In Cyprus she was a queen consort for a year, a regent queen for a further year before her infant son died and she became a regnant queen.

The thesis is organised into three main parts. Part I is the foundation for the subsequent two, focusing on the years that Charlotte and Caterina were queens regnant in Cyprus and their subsequent exiles. Charlotte and Caterina as queens regnant and exiled queens in the fifteenth century serve as important case studies in a wider context of gender studies and queenship in early modern Europe. In this comparative study, they are systematically analysed in parallel for the first time. Part II explores the long diplomatic battle between Savoy and Venice for the royal crown of Cyprus, reflecting on the new dimensions of the two queens’ identities after their deaths. Part III investigates the iconographies of the two queens in parallel across a long timeframe until the nineteenth century. The range and variation of the sources is considerable, encompassing historical sources and recollections like chronicles, biographies, poems, literature, operas and visual sources, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. All these sources are cross-examined and cross-analysed with an explanation of the political background during the period of time they were created. Quite how these constructed images differed from the historical queens will comprise the core of this section.

The thesis addresses the following critical questions: what were the images and dynamics of Charlotte and Caterina as queens were during their lifetimes; how those identities changed in literature and in the arts across the centuries; and how Savoy and Venice shaped those identities as part of their competitive strategies to lay claim to the royal titles of those queens?

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2020 09:38

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