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Facts about Cyprus


Area: 9,251 sq km
Capital: Nicosia
Language: Greek, Turkish
Currency: Euro
  Turkish Lira
Population: 784,301
Coastline: 648 sq km

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Ottoman Rule

The Ottoman period of rule began with some changes that most of the local population welcomed. The Catholic Church, long hated by Orthodox believers was thrown out and many of the churches were converted in to mosques. In particular, St Sophia in Nicosia, and St Nicholas in Famagusta. Now Selimiye Mosque and Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque respectively.

The Catholic church of Bellapais Abbey was handed over to the Orthodox faith, the remainder of the monastic buildings were unusedand gradually fell into a state of dereliction.

The French feudal system was radically changed, allowing former vassals to be released from theirvows of frealty and to own and inherit land.

The population of the island increased with settlement of Turks from the mainland, many of whom had been made gifts of land by the Sultan.

These favourable points were unbalanced by the system of government, which was conducted from Nicosia with two lesser offices in Paphos and Famagusta. The collection of taxes was administrated by Agas who had purchased their positions from Sublime Porte, which was the court of the Ottoman Empire. Naturally they were assiduous in their efforts to raise as much revenue as possible to cover their own expenses and still a handsome profit which in turn was paid to Contstantinople.

The Cypriots found themselves still under the yoke of oppression, ans as was to be expected, poverty and famine soon engulfed them. In the mid-seventeenth century a great plague further reduced the population to approximately 25,000.

Taxes were reduced and the Porte agreed to recognise the Orthodox Archbishops as the representative of the non-Muslim Cypriot people. This however didi not improve the overall lot of Cypriots very much, and it was not until 1754 than the Sultan agreed officially to accept the Orhodox Archbishop as the leader of the Cypriot community, granting him and his bishops certain privilages and generally in a small way improving the lot of the people.

Unrest, and Massacre

The rising of taxes was now in the hands of the clergy. For a short time system worked until once again the mercenery desire for money made the church Greedy and both Greek and Turkish peasants revolted, albeit in vain. At the beginning of 19th century it was discovered at work in secrets with the connivance of the Orthodox Archbisop of Cyprus to drive all Turks aut of Greece.

The action taken by the Turkish General of Cyprus was bloody and merciless. The Archbisop was massacred along with several Bishops and there was a purge of Christians across the island. The Ottoman Empire was now experiencing trouble within as one of its governor’s established and independent dynasty in Egypt and war with Russia continued. For almost hundert years Russia had been chipping away at the borders of the Ottoman Empire and after first gaining access through the Bosporus they were then given parts of Anatolia.

Early settlers

Expansion and trade

The Iron Age

Persian Rule

Hellenistic Period

Roman period

Byzantine rule

Three Hundred years of French Rule

Venetian Rule

Ottoman Rule

British Control

Union with Greece

The country remains divided

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