The Maronite Community of Cyprus:
Past, Present and Future
Since ancient times the majority of the inhabitants of the island of Cyprus have been Greeks, and Helleno-Byzantine culture has dominated the life of the island thanks to the resilience of the people in the face of invasion and foreign domination.(1) It is no surprise therefore, that most works about Cyprus are written about the Greek-Cypriots. However, a number of other non-Greek Cypriots have left their mark on the island and indeed on Cypriot culture. Although a great deal has been written about the Turkish-Cypriot minority, very little has been written about the Christian communities.(2) Susan Paul Pattie has written a very fine book on the Armenian community of Cyprus, but there has been very little in scholarly attention given to the Maronite-Cypriots, and even less to the Latin community.(3) Astonishingly, Matti Moosa's book, The Maronites in History, does not mention the Maronites of Cyprus at all.(4) Nevertheless, there have been 'bits and pieces' written about them in secondary literature, various traveller accounts, articles, and statistical data, and from these an attempt will be made to inform the reader of their past and present status, and future hopes and fears.
The Maronites are named after their ascetic teacher St. Maron, a Syrian hermit of the late fourth and fifth century. Maron retreated into the Mountains of Lebanon when the division of the Christian Church over the divinity of Christ threatened to split the Christian world. The Maronites left Syria proper and settled in Lebanon and elsewhere because of Arab ill-treatment. The Maronite Church is one of the largest Eastern-rite orders of the Roman Catholic Church, and conducts its services in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic. The Maronites primarily live in modern day Lebanon, where they make-up the largest Christian community.
Maronites in Cyprus
It is probable that the first Maronites came to Cyprus in the seventh century, when the Mardaites were forced from Mt. Lebanon by Justinian in 686 and settled in Satalia on the southern coast of Asia Minor.(5) It is also possible that others settled in Cyprus during the eighth century when Maronites left Syria for Lebanon, and in the tenth century when Saint Maron's Monastery on the Orontes River in Apamea was destroyed. But by the twelfth century Cyprus served as the natural asylum of the Christians in Syria, the Lebanon, and Cilicia, when the invading Muslims began to threaten the Holy Lands and the Levant. Manuscripts held at the Vatican Library reveal that in 1121 and 1141, the abbots of the Monastery of St. John Chrysostom of Koutsovendi (St. Jean de Kouzbande to the Maronites),(6) were appointed by Maronite Patriarchs.(7) More Maronites found refuge in Cyprus when the island came under the rule of Guy de Lusignan, the former King of Jerusalem. Richard Coeur-de-Lion's seizure of Cyprus in 1191, and the troubles the Templars (who bought the island from him) had on the island, came at an opportune time for Guy de Lusignan. Richard was preoccupied with his crusade and arranged for him to acquire the island and thus for the Frankish Cypriot Kingdom to be born. With the rising tide of Islam sweeping their homeland, many Maronites fled to Cyprus and established settlements in the Kyrenia Mountains in the north.
The towns of Frankish Cyprus were extremely cosmopolitan. Although Greek (or rather a Greek-Cypriot dialect) was the language of the people, French and Arabic were widely understood and spoken, while other foreign languages prevailed too, such as Latin, Armenian, Jacobite, Maronite and Egyptian.(8) Famagusta gave refuge to Maronites, Nestorians, Jacobites and Melkites, and was during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the Mediterranean. With the fall of Tripoli and Acre in the thirteenth century more refugees flocked to Cyprus, especially to Famagusta.(9) Christian prisoners taken to Cairo were released by the Sultan and allowed to go either to Beirut or Cyprus. (10) Nearly all went to Cyprus to avoid the tribute on the mainland.(11) Thus Famagusta became a centre of commerce until the Genoese seized it in 1373, and by 1394 "a great part [of Famagusta], almost a third… [was] uninhabited".(12) Legend has it that the 14th century church of St. Anne in Famagusta was originally a Maronite. It is one of the best preserved of the many churches within the walls of Old Famagusta, and the Italian styled mural paintings could still be studied into the twentieth century.(13)
The Maronites were not only concentrated in Famagusta, and in fact their primary settlements were in the Kyrenia Mountains and the Karpas Peninsula. In the Kyrenia Mountains they established the villages of Kormakitis, Karpasia (not to be confused with the Karpas Peninsula), Asomatos, and Agia Marina. In July 1325, about a year after Hugh was crowned King of Cyprus, he ordered 100 criminals to be hanged, seven of whom were from Kormakitis.(14) There is no evidence to prove that they were Maronites, but no proof either to suggest that they were intruders. In 1332, Elias de Nabinaux was chosen by Pope John XX11 to become the Latin Archbishop of Nicosia, and he attempted to convert the other Christian peoples of Cyprus, the Greeks, Maronites, Syrians and Armenians, to the Latin faith and ritual. In 1340, a council was held where Greek, Maronite and Armenian prelates agreed to adopt the creed of the Catholic faith and its statutes. This did not prevent the Greek Orthodox from following their rites, and the agreement itself was not applied to any great affect.(15)
During the Lusignan period it is estimated that the Maronites numbered between 7,000 and 8,000.(16) Hill describes it as "absurd" the claims that the Maronites numbered 182,000, that they became the principle supporters of the Lusignan kings, and that they provided Saint Louis, the King of France, with a contingent of 5,000 men for his expedition to Damietta in Egypt in 1250.(17) Recent historians assert that the Maronites occupied 72 villages during the Lusignan period.(18) This figure is only slightly exaggerated, as more reliable information reveals that in 1224 and 1350, there were only 60 Maronite villages.(19) When Venetian dominance was secured in 1489, there were almost 1,000 villages in Cyprus, over ninety percent inhabited by Greek Orthodox Christians. Father Lusignan, a historian of Venetian Cyprus, claimed that only 30 or 33 villages were Maronite.(20) Venetian rule was very harsh and it is possible that the Maronites lost half their settlements in the transfer of power from Frankish to Venetian rule. The endeavour to latinise the Maronites and the confiscation of their churches was accelerated. It is probable that many Maronites moved from isolated areas into regions inhabited by other Maronites, especially in the north-west of Cyprus.
The Coming of the Turks
In 1570, the Ottoman Empire, under Sultan Selim II (the 'drunkard'), set its eyes on Cyprus, after seizing Constantinople (1453), Syria (1516), Egypt (1517) and Rhodes (1522) in succession. On July 1, the Ottoman forces landed in Limassol and immediately the town fell, and was burnt and the surrounding villages pillaged. On July 25, Nicosia was attacked, and the Cypriot defenders held on for 48 days before being overwhelmed by the superior Ottoman numbers. So meticulous and savage was the destruction of Nicosia that according to the census taken by the Ottoman authorities two years later (for tax purposes) only 235 adult males lived there. 90 percent of the survivors being Greek Orthodox, and the remaining numbers made up of Armenians and Maronites.(21)
Dandini and the Maronite Villages
In 1596, Pope Clement VIII sent Jerome Dandini, a professor of theology at Purugia, on a mission to find out the spiritual concerns of the Maronites of Lebanon. Dandini visited Cyprus twice, first in August 1596 and again from March 19 to April 12 1597.(22) Nicosia had improved by this time, and Dandini estimated that it had 30,000 inhabitants, of who only about 5,000 were Turks.(23) He disclosed that there were 19 Maronite villages on the island, all of which had at least one or two churches, while one, Metochi, had eight. The Maronite Church in Nicosia was in such a poor state that Dandini pitied them, while the Bishop on the island had died and nobody had been appointed in his place. From Dandini's visit and writings it is evident that the Maronites were a clearly defined section of Cypriot society. However, Dandini revealed that he did not visit all of the Maronite villages, and relied on his conversations with Italians, Greeks and Maronites to find out about their settlements.(24) The 19 villages he lists are not easy to pinpoint and there are also irregularities in their interpretation by historians, particularly by C. D. Cobham.
According to Cobham, Dandini's experiences were first published in Cesena in 1656, translated in French by Richard Simon and published in 1675 and 1685, and the first English version appeared in 1811.(25) Cobham used the French translation from 1685, which means he translated from the French into English what had originally been written in Italian. Cobham interpreted Dandini's 19 villages as Metochi, Flamoudi, Agia Marina, Asomatos, Kampyli, Karpasia, Kormakitis, Tremidia, Kazafani, Vouno, Kepos, Geri, Chrysida, Agios Georgios of Attalias, Klepini, Episkopi, Gastria, Kephalovrysi, and Kato Chrysida.(26) But there was an earlier English translation of the original published in 1698, of which I have been able to obtain a copy. The following is the list as it is spelt in this edition: Metosic, Fludi, Santa-Marina, Osomates, Gansili, Carpasia, Cormachiti, Primisia, Casapifani, Veno, Cibo, Jeri near Cittria, Crensada, Attala, Cleipirio, Piscopia, Gasbria, Cefalaniseo, and Sotto Cruscida.(27) The only villages that Cobham named that are clearly those named by Dandini are: Agia Marina (Dandini's Santa Marina), Kormakitis (Cormachiti), Asomatos (Osomates), Karpasia (Carpasia), Kampyli (Gansili), Kazafani (Casapifani), Klepini (Cleipirio), Veno (Vouno), Kephalovrysi (Cefalaniseo), Chrysida (Sotto Crucida), Geri (Jeri), and Gastria (Gasbria).
The first four are well known Maronite villages well into the twentieth century, and Kampyli was half Maronite at least until 1917. Esme Scott-Stevenson, a resident of Cyprus during the first years of British rule disclosed that the Maronites: "have small colonies at Haia (Agia) Marina, Karpass (Karpasia), Assomatas (Asomatos) and Gambili (Kampyli). The most important one is Kormakitis, in the north-west end of the island".(28)
Kormakitis, the chief Maronite village well into modern times, is situated in a corner of the Kyrenia district away from the major towns, offering protection to its inhabitants from invaders. There are a number of theories as to the origins of Kormakitis' name, but the most likely is the idea that the village founders came from Kour in Lebanon.(29) Before 1191, Kormakitis was also known as Cormia, and during the Lusignan period the village was important enough to be the residence of some Franks.(30) In 1310 Aimery, who had momentarily usurped his brother's throne (King Henry II), was forced to leave Nicosia and retired to Kormakitis. The village itself, has a fifteenth century church dedicated to St. George, noted for its magnificent belfry that has richly decorated arched openings and can be seen from the surrounding villages.(31) A new larger church was later built during British rule. (32) The villagers saved the money to build this church in the course of years, while the old church was still used by the Franciscan Sisters who ran the village school.(33) In 1927, the villagers founded the Kormakitis Cooperative Society, one of the earliest of its kind on the island.(34) The region around Kormakitis had a reputation for being the best shooting-ground in the Kyrenia district.(35) In 1960, there were about 1,100 Cypriot-Maronites living in this village, by far the largest on the island.
Asomatos is a picturesque village with the second largest Maronite inhabitants in 1960 at just under 500. Its church, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, was rebuilt in 1895, again indicating the aptitude and determination of the Maronite-Cypriots.(36)
In 1960 Agia Marina had almost 400 inhabitants. It is significant, however, because of the two Maronite Monasteries in its village bounds. St. Marina, Skilloura (Skilloura is a mixed Greek-Turkish village east of Agia Marina), was the chief Maronite convent on the island, while the Monastery dedicated to the Prophet Ilias was inhabited by three Maronite monks when George Jeffery visited it in 1917, and four when Monica Bradswell visited in 1939.(37)
The village of Karpasia is near the Greek village of Myrtou and its church, dedicated to the Holy Cross, was substantially rebuilt in the late nineteenth century.(38) The chief treasures of this church are a number of accomplished paintings, and two fine old rood crosses that hang on the walls, one a seventeenth century Cypriot rustic type, and the other Byzantine in style.(39) In 1960, the Maronites numbered just under 200 in this village.
Kampyli is near to all these villages, and was half Maronite according to De Las Matrie, who travelled to Cyprus in 1879 and Jeffery in 1917.(40) By this time, the village, albeit small, was the residence of the Turkish Agha, and it seems that the increased Turkish presence, and the growth of Kormakitis, prompted the Maronites of this village to leave by the 1930s, for it was completely Turkish when Monica Bradswell visited in 1939.(41)
The other villages identified by Cobham do not have a Maronite presence in modern times, but are seemingly those Dandini meant. Kazafani, Klepini, and Vouno are all in the Kyrenia Mountains just east of Kyrenia Town. Vouno was clearly a Maronite village as the church is dedicated to St. Romanos, a saint born in Palestine to Antioch parents, and Giovanni Mariti mentions this church as belonging to the Maronites in 1769.(42) Maronites lived there at least until the late 1930s.(43) Kazafani or Casa Epiphani, meaning the village of St. Epiphanios, was literally (Casa being Casaux in Syrian and meaning a village subdivided into various hamlets) an example of the system of subdivided villages.(44) The Medieval Cypriot historian Leontios Makheras says of Kazafani: "…in the district of Casa Piphani there is a place lined with slabs full of relics, and these saints are called the Saints Manifested. And their relics dried up, and came to be set hard like stone… and these are the Three Hundred who fled from Syria".(45) The 'Three Hundred' he refers to are the prelates that fled when the Holy Land fell in the twelfth century. The link with Syria is made, and Kazafani's proximity to Vouno and Klepini seem to indicate that Maronites once lived there. On the other hand, there is no evidence that Maronites lived in Klepini, but no other village seems to fit the name as provided by Dandini. Moreover, other commentators have agreed with Cobham, and the proximity of Klepini to Kazafani and Vouno gives weight to the claim that Maronites had lived there as well.(46)
Kephalovrysi and Chrysida, both now within the large village of Kythrea, seem to be the villages Dandini spoke of as Cefalaniseo and Sotto Chrysida. Travellers as late as the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries mention a small Maronite presence in Kephalovrysi,(47) and Chrysida's very close proximity suggests the possibility of a small Maronite residence at one point. Lady Lewis, who journeyed through Cyprus in 1893, visited the famous village of Kythrea (celebrated for being sacred to Aphrodite, for the wealth of ancient artefacts discovered there, and for growing the first cauliflower) and wrote that a large colony of Maronites once lived in north Kythrea near Khytri.(48) She claimed that Maronite priests still came to officiate in the Church of St. Anthony, near Kephalovrysi, beside the famed stream,(49) which legend had it came from Asia Minor. However Gunnis, the archaeologist, traveller, and private secretary to Sir Ronald Storrs, the Governor of Cyprus (1926-1932), revealed that the Maronite church is that of St. Andronikos, which contains an icon of the Saint with a long Arabic inscription dated 1681.(50) He adds that the church was rebuilt, but does not say by whom or whether Maronites still worshiped there.(51) Geri is obviously Dandini's Jeri, and again no trace of Maronites settling here is evident, however, the remains of an old church date from the 16th century and could very-well be a non-Orthodox church given the dominance of the Latin Church during this period.(52) Gastria is a village in the Karpas Peninsula, and is clearly that which Dandini meant. The existence of a Maronite community in Gastria, given the lack of a Maronite presence in the Karpas (the 'oxtail' or 'pan handle' that points to Syria) in contemporary times, is of great interests and will be explored below. This leaves seven villages that Cobham identified, which are questionable as a number of factors lead to alternative villages being equally, and in some cases, more likely to be those Dandini meant. Two of the villages that Cobham named could easily be other villages which sound similar to them, Dandini's Piscopia (Cobham's Episkopi), and Primisia (Tremidia).
It is certain that Dandini's Piscopia is not Cobham's Episkopi, a very large and ancient village near Kolossi west of Limassol. Dandini found no Maronite church in Limassol, and in fact found no Catholic churches there at all.(53) There are no other Maronite villages identified by either Dandini or Cobham in the vicinity, and no trace that any Maronite population ever settled in the Limassol district at all. It is almost certain that Dandini's Piscopia is the village of Episkopio, a short distance south-west of Nicosia. Gunnis found that on the site of Episkopio's Orthodox Church an older building existed and that the ancient olive groves in the village had contributed to the upkeep of St. Sophia during Ottoman rule and had previously belonged to the Catholic Chapter.(54)
What adds weight to this claim is the doubts over Dandini's Primisia being Cobham's Tremedia, modern day Trimithi near Kyrenia. The villages of Kokkinotrimithia and Agii Trimithia, directly north of Episkopio, could also be Dandini's Primisia. Gunnis finds no evidence of Maronite settlements at Trimithi,(55) but says of Kokkinotrimithia: "…outside the village lies the Chapel of the Archangel Michael, a carefully constructed stone building of the early sixteenth century; it was probably once a seigneurial chapel and it is still referred to by the [Greek] villagers as 'Venatico'".(56) The 'Kokkino' in front of 'Trimithia' is Greek for red (because of the red earthed fields), and it is not implausible that this was a) simply how the Greeks called the village, or b) later added by the Greeks. It is highly likely that Greeks did live in this village as well as Maronites, if the latter ever did so. The evidence is not conclusive about Kokinotrimithia being Dandini's Primisia, particularly since there is also evidence to suggest that it could also be Agii Trimithia, a village between Kokkinotrimithia and Episkopio. The Church of Agii Trimithia is dedicated to Saints Kosma and Damianou (Cosmas and Damian), two brothers born in Arabia but who lived in Cilicia. In 526, Pope Felix IV built a church in their memory in Rome with the Saints depicted on the apse being presented to Saints Peter and Paul to Christ. They were also the patron saints of the Medici family, which had a picture painted of them in San Marco in Florence.(57) The Roman Catholic connection is apparent, but although the evidence is again inconclusive that either Kokkinotrimithia or Agii Trimithia are Dandini's Primisia, it is certain that they are more likely to be so than Cobham's Trimithi. Although Trimithi is closer to the Maronite settlements of Kyrenia, the other two possibilities are close to Episkopio and Geri.
Dandini's Fludi is without doubt not the village of Flamoudi, as claimed by Cobham. Gunnis reveals the existence of a village called Floudi near the Maronite village of Agia Marina, and this is clearly the village Dandini meant.(58)
Cobham's claim that Dandini's Crensada is the village of Chrysida, while Dandini's Sotto Crucida is Kato (south) Chrysida seems difficult to accept given that the words Crensada and Crucida are assumed by Cobham to mean the same word (ie. Chrysida). Dandini's Sotto Crucida is clearly the modern day village of Chrysida, as discussed above. What village Dandini meant by Crencada is a mystery. Dandini's Cibos (Cobham's Kebos) also falls into this category with the only evident possibilities being Sysklispos, which is close to the Maronite settlements in north-west Kyrenia, Agrokipia, close to Episkopio, and Kornokipos, north-east of Kythrea. The latter, however, is more likely to have been one of the Armenian villages, given its close proximity to the Armenian Monastery of Surp Magar (St. Makarios) near Kythrea.
Dandini's Attala is the famed former village of Attalia (or Tala) of the Karpas Peninsula, with its Monastery of Agios Georgios being the principle residency of the Maronite Bishop during the Middle Ages. This place is no longer traceable.(59)
The fact that Maronites had settled in large numbers in the Karpas Peninsula, given the residency there at one time of the Maronite Bishop at Attalia, may help to answer the dilemma that surrounds Dandini's Metosic, in Greek Metochi. The claim that it had eight Maronite churches is simply staggering. It must have been a huge village, and yet there is no such village by that name. Cobham and others have failed to state its location. The only villages with the word Metochi in their spelling are Paleometochi and Exometochi. The fact that the former is close to Agii Trimithia and Kokkinotrimithia, and the latter to Kythrea, is not enough reason to suggest a Maronite connection. No Maronite churches or settlements have been found or claimed in them, let alone eight Maronite churches. The word metochi means in Greek stock or shares (both in the sense of food stock and stock market shares), therefore there could be dozens of places in Cyprus with metochia. Most are dedicated to Monasteries - Kykko being the most famous. There is one metochi that does have a Maronite connection. The Metochi of Agios Ilias, a village in the south of the Karpas Peninsula, is part of the many metochia dedicated to the Greek-Orthodox Monastery of Kantara. Although now ruined, until the beginning of the twentieth century the Metochi of Agios Ilias had 40 houses, storerooms filled with foodstuffs, over 600 goats, beehives, dozens of workers, and fields stretching to 230 acres and beyond Agios Ilias to the surrounding villages of Ardana, Gerani, Ovgoros, Patriki, Gastria, and Monarga.(60) Two English travellers on there way to the Kantara Monastery and Castle passed through the Greek village of Agios Ilias claiming that there was a large Maronite convent in the vicinity, first Lady Lewis in 1893, and then George Jeffery in 1917.(61) Kantara means a bridge or arch in Arabic, and although the most important centre of Orthodoxy during the Lusignan and Venetian periods, it was perhaps named by the Maronites who lived in the Karpas.(62) The fact that Gastria was so clearly identified by Dandini adds weight to this claim. Recently it has been asserted that Maronites had settled in Komi Kepir, Gialousa and elsewhere in the Karpas.(63) It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Dandini's Metochi is that of the Metochi of Agios Ilias, as it is large enough to hold the eight churches Dandini stated it had, and to materially support a Monastery at Attalia, perhaps near Rizokarpaso. It is possible that this Monastery was built in the tenth century after Saint Maron's Monastery on the Orontes River in Apamea was destroyed. If this suggestion is true, it means that the Maronites lived in and around the east of the Kyrenia Mountains as well as the west, and had a large Monastery (at Attalia) in the Karpas Peninsula. A traveller as late as the 1970s commented that the Lebanese Mountains could be seen from Cape Apostolos Andreas.(64) This would have given the Maronites of the Karpas a greater desire to return to Lebanon, and it is likely that they did so when the Maronite Bishop was based in Lebanon from the late seventeenth century, or even earlier, during the Venetian period, or on coming of the Turks. From Larnaca to Beirut it is only 110 miles, while from Cape Apostolos Andreas to Latakia it is only 60 miles.
It has been suggested that the unidentified village of Attalia could be the former settlement of Attale, three-quarters of a mile north-east of the Armenian Monastery of Surp Magar north-east of Kythrea.(65) This place could only have held only but a small settlement, and there are no signs of there being eight Maronite churches. Sourp Magar originally belonged to the Copts (Egyptian Christians) and the Turks gave the Monastery to the Armenians in the sixteenth century.(66) The Maronites never occupied it, and as such, it would seem that Attalia is in fact a place in the Karpas Peninsula.
There are also a number of other villages that have been claimed to have had a Maronite presence at one point in Cyprus' past. The village of Koutsovendis, to the east of Vouno, did have a Maronite settlement at one time. When Monica Bradswell spent eighteen-months working for the island's Antiquities Department in 1939 she was told by the mukhtar of Karpasia, Mr. Markou, that the village ceased to have Maronite inhabitants when the church was left to fall into ruins.(67) Near Myrtou, at the base of a peak called Koudounos, one traveller observed there the remains of two Maronite villages, Marghi and Bedelia.(68) Jeffery discloses that there were two ruined churches in Bedelia, one dedicated to the Archangel, but cannot say whether they were Maronite. He was, however, certain that the church at Marghi was not Maronite but Byzantine as evidenced by its apse.(69) It is possible that these two villages, and Kontemenos and Panarga, both close by, were also at one stage Maronite or partly. However, suggestions that from its name the village of Maroni, on the souther coast of Cyprus, "would appear" to have belonged to the Maronites, is questionable.(70) Maroni goes back to the Late Bronze Age, when it was a major harbour, and the Maroni River served the settlement at Khirokitia.(71)
The issue of the Linobambaki (Linen-cottons), or Crypto-Christians, also helps to answer where some of the former Maronite settlements may have been, and the presence of Muslims in Kampyli and Agia Marina. In order that they be saved from persecution and oppressive burdens (tax, military service etc.) inflicted by the Ottomans, many Christians converted to Islam. This 'conversion', however, was only in outside appearance, as in private they retained their traditional religion and culture. This was particularly true of the Greeks, like the Linobambaki of Liopetri, who since the early twentieth century have returned to their original roots. Kostas Kyrris has asserted that the Muslims of Kampyli and Agia Marina were Maronite Linobambaki.(72) However, Linobambaki settlements, especially those in the Tylliria region (the 'hump' between Cape Arnaouti and Cape Kormakitis), and the large Turkish village of Lourougina, were Maronite.(73) When Dandini visited the island he would not have been told this because of the outward Islamic appearance of the inhabitants.
Under Ottoman Rule
After Dandini's visit, the vacant Maronite Archbishopric See was rectified in 1598, when the Maronite Patriarch consecrated as Bishop to reside at Nicosia Moses Anaisius.(74) The following prelate, George Maronios, seems to have been of Maronite and Roman rites, for in 1628 he was responsible for blessing the Catholics of the Kingdom.(75) However in 1636, the Franciscan, John Baptist of Todi, visited Cyprus and observed that many Maronites had converted to Islam, while others had returned to their 'ancient errors'.(76)
Perhaps the most important event for the Maronites of Cyprus during the first 200 years of Ottoman rule was the consecrating as Bishop the historian Stephen of Edhen (Alsoensis) in 1668. Two years later he became Patriarch of all the Maronites, and consecrated in his place, Luke, a Maronite-Cypriot. He would be the last Maronite Bishop to reside in Cyprus, as subsequent Bishops lived in Lebanon, leaving their people in Cyprus to their own devices. Hill's investigation into the Franciscan archives in Nicosia revealed that from 1690-1759 Latin priests administered the Maronites. After 1759, if not before, the Maronites increasingly came under the control of the Orthodox Church.(77) It was about this time that the Orthodox Church was at its most powerful, and increasingly came to control the government. Orthodox Bishops granted the Maronites dispensations for marriage and divorce, and the community considered them as their Bishops. This last claim was perhaps a reaction to the decision by the Synod of Mt. Lebanon in 1736 to cut its number of dioceses and unite Cyprus to Mt. Lebanon. The chief priest at Kormakitis took on the role of the resident Bishop.
The Orthodox Church had been responsible for collecting the taxes of the islanders, both Christians and Muslims, since 1660, but by the turn of the eighteenth century the Archbishop and the Dragoman, the governors interpreter and liaison officer with the Porte, dominated the civil administration of the island.(78) Archbishop Chrysanthos and Dragoman Hajigeorgakis Kornesios had so much power over the governor that the Ottoman garrison mutinied in 1799, and more violently in 1804 and 1806. The first time the janissaries murdered the Ottoman Vice-Admiral,(79) and were it not for the intervention of the flamboyant British Commodore Sir William Sydney Smith, commander of the Tigre, the island would have fallen to plunder and devastation at the hands of the cutthroats.(80) The second time, the Dragoman appealed to the Porte who suppressed the revolt, but in 1806 the Ottoman garrison conspired with a Turkish general from Tarsus, who laid waste to the island, desecrated churches and monasteries, and murdered Christians indiscriminately.(81) Hill argues, largely on the bases of the book by the Vicar-General of the Maronites of Cyprus, J. M. Cirilli, published in 1898 (almost 100 years after the events) that the Maronites were badly treated by the Orthodox prelates.(82) Cirilli claimed that the Maronites had been forced to pay not only their dues, but to also make-up the quota of the Greek-Cypriots.(83) There is no evidence to support this claim, but rather that the Maronites, no less than the Greek-Cypriots, were equally burdened by the excessive taxes levelled at them by the Ottoman authorities. Kornesios, however, was particularly efficient at getting his tax collectors to be stringent. Indeed even in Cirilli's time the Maronite community remembered Chrysanthos and 'Haji Iorchi' Kornesios with terror. This may have also been largely due to the atrocities committed by the invading Turkish general, since, no less than the Orthodox Christians, the Maronites would have suffered, and perhaps some of the there villagers in the north, at Klepini, Vouno, and Kazafani, perished or fled during the murderous rampage.
In 1821, the Greeks on the mainland rose in revolt against Ottoman overlordship and the repercussions by the Turkish authorities in Cyprus were brutal. The Sultan issued a firman that all Christians in the Empire should be disarmed. Although he proclaimed that the "Christian inhabitants [of Cyprus] have been guilty of the least disloyalty to our government… [and] when the Turks revolted… have joined our victorious forces, and given willing help in routing and reducing the rebels", they too were to be disarmed.(84) In his zeal to carry out his master's orders, Governor Kutchuk Mehmet disarmed "even Franks, Armenians and Maronites".(85) Kutchuk Mehmed requested powers to execute 486 Greek-Cypriot notables from the Archbishop down, but the Sultan refused.(86) The Greeks had given no cause for such savage action, but this did not stop the Governor. A campaign of terror had begun, and no Christian community was safe. Once again the Maronites suffered along with the Orthodox and other Christian groups. Many Maronites were forced to adopt Islam in order to save themselves, both from the Governors wrath and the forces of Mehmet Ali the Pasha of Egypt, who had been sent to secure the island.(87)
As peace returned to Cyprus in the 1830s, the Maronites returned to their true faith, but in the absence of a Maronite prelate, they were under the control of the Orthodox Bishop of Kyrenia.(88) The Maronites observed their festivals and celebrated Easter according to the Orthodox calender.(89) In 1840, they appealed to the French Government, who obtained a firman from the Porte that restored them to the authority of the Patriarch and Maronite Bishop of Mt. Lebanon.(90) It was not for another eight years until their bishop visited them. In the 1840s the Maronites were estimated to number only 500, but other estimates had them at between 1200 and 1500, a figure that was consistently given during the 1860s and 1870s.(91) In fact, in 1841, the Ottoman Governor, Talaat Efendi, estimated that the population of Cyprus was about 110,000, of who about 76,000 were Greeks, 32,000 Turks, 1,300 Maronites, 500 Roman Catholics (mostly Europeans) and just under 200 Armenians.(92) A recent historian claimed that the Maronites held 4 villages in the 1850s,(93) but reports at the time give the figure as five or six villages.(94) The Maronite-Cypriots were represented by a vicar-general of the Maronite Patriarch, who had little authority on the island, but did have a say on matters that concerned his community. During the Tanzimat period the Ottoman authorities established an advisory council, made-up of five Turks (including the governor), two Greeks (one of who was the Archbishop), an Armenian and a Maronite (the vicar-general).(95) A couple of years after the British acquired Cyprus, Esme Scott-Stevenson wrote that the Maronite vicar-general resides at Kormakitis: "but he is under the orders of the Bishop of Bukfeyeh (modern day Bikfayya), who lives at the convent of Kanobin, close to the cedars of Lebanon. The Bishop sends his chief secretary, Papa Gius Giagia (Arcivescovo Maronita), over periodically to visit the different convents and settlements. The last time he was in Cyprus he paid me a visit, and I thought him a most interesting and well informed man". (96) It is evident that the Maronites were largely dependent on the Bishop of Bikfayya for their spiritual needs, and as such, rather detached from the larger Maronite community in Lebanon.
At the time of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Turkish animosity against the Greeks flared to the extent that the Archbishop was insulted on the streets. The Maronite-Cypriots also felt the vengeance of the Turks, and a dispute between the Maronites of Asomatos with the khoja of a neighbouring village, probably Kampyli, left one Maronite shepherd fatally wounded.(97)
In 1878, the British Government asked for and received the island of Cyprus in exchange for promising to aid the Ottoman Empire against any future war with Tsarist Russia. Esme Scott-Stevenson lived in Cyprus during the early years of British rule, and said of the communities living on the island and the Maronites that: "There is very little or no religious fanaticism in Cyprus, the Greeks, Turks, Catholics (Latins), and Maronites living amicable together. Of the latter, there are now only about two thousand left."(98) Her estimate was high, although it is certain that in the Census of 1881 as many as 300 to 500 Maronites were classified as Roman Catholics, which numbered 1,275.(99) By the turn of the century a German scholar in Cyprus said of the Maronite-Cypriots: "A colony of Maronites in the north-west of the island promise well: they are industrious, they are on fairly good terms with the members of the Greek sister church, and are easily satisfied".(100)
During British rule of the island, from 1878-1960, the Greek-Cypriot population, numbering 80 percent, had amicable relations with all the other minority communities, until relations became strained with the Turkish-Cypriot minority in the late 1950s. The question of 'divide and rule' by the British has been covered by a number of historians with respect to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. That this policy was adopted in order to circumvent the demands of the Greek-Cypriots for greater control over their affairs and for enosis can be seen through the 1882 Constitution. The communities were separated at institutional levels through the legislature, which contained six British, nine Christian and three Muslim members. The high commissioner's deciding vote having produced a de facto Anglo-Muslim alliance, forced the majority Greek-Cypriots into opposition.(101) The manipulation of the Turkish-Cypriots by the British has been well established, but the minorities, no less then the Turkish-Cypriots, were pawns in the game of 'divide and rule'.
In the 1920s, the High Commissioner (from 1925 Governor) Malcolm Stevenson manipulated the other ethnic minorities against the majority Greek-Cypriots. The Greek-Cypriots demanded majority-rule in the Legislative Council, the removal of the 'Tribute', and the right to have a say on the budget. In his plot against the Greek-Cypriot efforts to reform the constitution, Stevenson aimed at giving positions to the Maronite-Cypriots in the Legislative Council as the non-Mohammedan element. In October 1921, Stevenson had assured Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary in Lloyd George's coalition government, that he would "for the present… leave them (the Greek-Cypriots) to their own devices".(102) In reality he planned to stir the pot of Cypriot politics.
In 1919, Stevenson had so fumed over the activities of the French Vice-Consul, Leon Guermonprez, who had registered a small number of Maronites as proteges francais, that he opined pompously: "…none of the Maronites are persons of any social standing and it is perfectly ridiculous to suppose that the [French] Consul would in private life have any social intercourse with them.(103)
Two years later he viewed them as the perfect vehicle from which he could split the Greeks in the legislature. Just before nominations for the legislature elections closed on November 3, 1921, Michael Cirilli, the Suffragan Bishop of the Maronites, and J. M. Triantaphyllides, a Maronite priest and teacher from Kormakitis, were nominated by a third Maronite for two out of the three seats for the district of Nicosia-Kyrenia. Canon F. D. Newham, the Chief Inspector of Schools, seconded the nominations; clearly, as George Georghallides concludes, Stevenson had used Newham as part of his scheme to elect the Maronites.(104) But Stevenson's little project backfired. Canon Newham was not a registered voter and according to the law the Maronites could not be nominated. This did not deter Stevenson in his "cynical manipulation of the Maronites."(105) The date for filling the nominations was extended to November 28: enough time for him to find two other Maronites to second the priests' nominations and have them duly elected in the absence of any Greek candidates.
The Maronite leadership soon realised that they really had no voice. In February 1925, the two Maronites on the Legislative Council formally requested that if the constitution was amended their community should have one elected member. Stevenson did not want to give constitutional representation to the Maronite-Cypriots because they could end up with the balance of power. Now he felt that such a say in the affairs of the island was unwarranted because the Maronites only numbered 1,350 souls!(106) They were, for all intense and purposes, hostages to British imperialism.
The perennial demand of the Greek-Cypriot majority for enosis, the union of Cyprus with Greece, was not only opposed by the Turkish-Cypriots, but also by the other minorities. It was during Stevenson's tenure that the Maronite, Armenian and Latin communities were politicised as a body with the Turks against the Greeks. Not only did Stevenson make it clear to London that these communities were opposed to enosis, but that they opposed constitutional reforms that would give the Cypriots (including themselves) a say in the affairs of the island. On November 15, 1925 for example, the Greek-Cypriots signed a memorial to be sent to the Colonial Secretary objecting to the new constitution, which safeguarded the Anglo-Muslim alliance, and requesting that democratic reforms be made in accordance with the principle of majority rule. The memorial made assurances that the rights of minorities would be respected, and hoped that the minorities would work with the Greeks in the common interests of the island's prosperity. Stevenson received the memorial on December 4, but did not send it to London until two weeks later; enough time to have the minorities write-up counter-memorials. It did not take long for the Turkish-Cypriots to do so, but Stevenson was also able to obtain a joint memorial from the acting Vicar-General of the Maronites and the President of the Roman Catholics, and another from the Armenian Archbishop.(107)
During the Governorship of Sir Ronald Storrs (1926-1932) the Christian minorities continued their opposition to the self-government demands of the Greek-Cypriots. In 1928 for example, the minorities were alerted by Greek press reports that a Greek memorial was being prepared for the Colonial Secretary. Like the previous time in December 1925, the Turkish, Armenian, Maronite and Latin Cypriots were united against any self-government cries. The Armenian Archbishop, Bedros Saradjian, stated that his community opposed any form of autonomy for the Cypriots. J. M. Triantaphyllides and the new President of the Roman Catholics, Fr. Basilio Azgarraga sent an identical message.(108) Similarly, in September 1929, in another series of memorials against Greek petitions for reform, the minority communities were united. Greek control would be "absolutely intolerable" it was claimed.(109)
Georghallides ponders why the Maronite, Armenian and Latin Cypriots would be so vehemently opposed to political reform that would give the Cypriots internal self-government. Georghallides questions whether this opposition may not be the result of church rivalry, or simply down to seeing the British as 'protectors' and being easily influenced by their attention.(110) These suggestions are plausible, but there is also another explanation. J. M. Cirilli, the Vicar-General of the Maronites in the late nineteenth century and a relation of Michael Cirilli, had written a book about the Maronites in 1898, titled Les Maronites en Chypre. He defined the Maronites animosity to the Greeks as being due to the Chrysanthos-Kornesios period.(111) It was implied that if the Greeks again had the same power as the Archbishop and the Dragoman had back then, the Maronites would be discriminated against. Although the Greek-Cypriots and the Christian minorities lived in harmony, the Christian minorities feared Greek domination, and saw self-government as one step away from enosis.
These fears continued into the 1950s when the Greek-Cypriots rose up in revolt against British domination and refusals to grant the Cypriots the right to self-determination. The Archbishop of the Greek-Cypriots, Makarios III, led an anti-colonial struggle, while Colonel George Grivas and his group EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston or National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters) led a guerilla campaign. The ramifications of a revolt of this nature were manifold. EOKA targeted the colonial police and leftists, while later the Turkish side indiscriminately murdered their own leftists and neutrals, as wells as EOKA members. On the British side, curfews, searches, arrests, beatings and hangings affected the whole island. The Maronite and Armenian Cypriots were placed in a difficult situation. For the most part members of both these communities sat on the fence and tried to keep out of the way. A number of Armenian-Cypriots did join EOKA guerillas in the mountains,(112) a staggering fact given the relatively small number of guerilla fighters and the law-abiding nature of the Armenians. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Cypriot-Maronites, particularly youths were also involved with EOKA. In a memorandum to Archbishop Makarios, dated April 1, 1958 (the three-year anniversary of the start of EOKA's struggle) the Maronite-Cypriots asked that their rights be safeguarded in any political settlement, and that in an independent Cyprus, they be allowed to elect a Maronite representative in the House of Representatives.(113) By this time, however, the situation on the island had escalated as the British solicited the support of the Turkish-Cypriot community and Ankara against self-determination. The British established an auxiliary police, almost entirely manned by Turkish-Cypriots, and a Turkish Mobile Reserve, and by 1958 the Greek-Cypriots were outnumbered by a ratio of 5 to 3 in the police.(114) When a Turkish-Cypriot terrorist organisation (TMT) run by Turkish officers from Ankara began activities, the British did little to arrest any of its members, many of whom were also in the police force.(115) The island was gripped by civil war and the minority Christian communities began to fear not Greek domination, but Turkish, in the form of partition. In fact, according to the partition line favoured by the Turkish-Cypriots, and others privately proposed by the British, the Maronite villages in north-west Cyprus would have gone to Turkey.(116) Finally in 1959, the Greek and Turkish Governments came to an understanding, which satisfied British military interests, and gave the Cypriots independence.(117)
Upon independence the Maronites and Armenians made up just over 1 percent of the population. As mentioned before, the Maronites lived in the villages of Kormakitis, Asomatos, Agia Marina, and Karpasia, and to a lesser extent in the major cities, particularly Nicosia.
According to the constitution, the Maronites and Armenians had to choose whether to be classified as Greeks or Turks; they chose the former. They had the right however, to celebrate both Greek and Turkish holidays. The Greek Communal Chamber included one member of each of the Maronite, Armenian and Latin communities.(118) Two prominent Maronite figures in the establishment were Iosif Yamakis, the Maronite representative in the House of Representatives, and Jules Josephides, a member of the High Court of Justice. Yamakis had been in the accounting business, and held right-wing views.(119) Josephides, a distinguished legal expert, had favoured self-determination for Cyprus in the 1950s, and after 1960 supported an independent Cypriot state.(120) The Maronite prelate also favoured independence.(121) The Armenian-Cypriots also supported independence, and one Armenian businessman recalled how many Armenians left in 1959: "They feared they would not be well treated. But they were wrong. It is [now] even better than under the British, [al]though the British did try to suppress the majority by helping the minorities."(122) Both the Maronites and the Armenians realised that in an independent Cyprus there would be greater scope for economic development. The 1964 Demographic Report stated gave the number of Cypriots living abroad, in Britain 41,898, Australia 9,732 Greece, 2,284 and Lebanon 825. The 825 Cypriots residing in Lebanon were almost all from the Maronite community.(123) Given the violence of the late 1950s the emigration of the Maronite community to Lebanon was minuscule, given the likelihood that some may have returned as far back as when Lebanon became independent.
Such figures are significant given the turmoil that gripped Cyprus in late 1963 and which lasted until the Turkish invasion of 1974. By this time the constitution had collapsed and Greek and Turkish extremists, who still favoured enosis and partition respectively, decided on violence rather than negotiation. Moderate Greek, Turkish, Maronite, Armenian and Latin Cypriots banded together to work for peaceful co-existence and diplomacy. One of the champions of peaceful-coexistence was Dr. Ihsan Ali, a Turkish-Cypriot doctor who became in the 1970s the political adviser of Archbishop and President Makarios.(124) His public opposition to the extremist policies of the Turkish-Cypriot leadership and Ankara, and his genuine love for humanity, endeared him to Turk, Greek, Armenian and Maronite alike.
On the eve of the Turkish invasion, Colin Thubron, a celebrated contemporary traveller, journeyed to Cyprus and visited the Maronite-Cypriots at Kormakitis. As he sat in the town coffeehouse, the villagers debated over which person's house would be most respectable for him to stay in. Speaking this "strange Arabic", Thubron observed, "filled with words from Aramaic, the language of Christ," they went at it six-to-the-dozen until a young man named Spyros offered to put him up.(125) Spyros had a distinctive limping stride and lived with his parents and sister in a small, lizard-infested dwelling.
Thubron described the Maronites as "…stocky and round-headed, but they have mixed with the true Arab and it was one of these faces which looked at me now - the eagle nose and slightly withdrawn forehead and chin of Syrian tribesman". (126) Spyros had ambitions to go to Lebanon, as "Greece is not our homeland" he said to Thubron, and when told that from Cape Apostolos Andreas the Lebanese mountains could be seen, he fell into a long contemplative silence. The Church liturgy at Kormakitis was still held in Syriac, and when Spyros played his hand-made wooden flute, the songs were of ancient Syria, according to Thubron. Spyros explained that during "these political troubles we stay silent [and] we just hope to be left alone", echoing the period of the 1950s.(127)
The distinctiveness of the Maronites is evident, and yet what is most patent from Thubron's visit to Kormakitis is that the Cypriot-Maronites are Cypriots. Spyros excitedly described how he often went to village festivals and played his flute, and would win half the prizes. Like elsewhere on the island, Thubron's duty was merely to be a grateful guest, no matter how poor his hosts were. The coffeehouse was like any other he had been to in Cyprus, and all the Maronites spoke Greek, and most, like Spyros and his sister Despina, had Greek names.(128) Thubron observed that although the Maronites acknowledge the Pope, they were closer to the Orthodox faith than to the Catholic.(129) The language that they spoke in Kormakitis, far from being a 'corrupt Aramaic' was a rather unique dialect developed through the centuries on Cyprus.(130)
Since the Turkish Invasion
In 1974, the Turkish army invaded Cyprus after a coup orchestrated by Greek-Cypriot enosis supporters and the Greek Junta in Athens toppled Archbishop Makarios. The Turkish Government stated that it wished to return the island to the previous order, but when within days the Coup leaders and the Athens Junta collapsed, the Turkish onslaught continued. On August 14 a second invasion was ordered, which expelled 200,000 Greek-Cypriots from their homes, and found the Turkish army in possession of 38 percent of the island. There are still 40,000 Turkish troops occupying the north. Although reluctant to leave, about 40,000 Turkish-Cypriots were forced from their homes in the south on the orders of the Turkish-Cypriot leadership. Almost immediately the Turkish Government shipped thousands of Anatolian settlers across to the island, and today they number more than the Turkish-Cypriot community.(131)
The Maronites, no less than the Greeks, were part of the Turkish Governments systematic policy of ethnic cleansing and Turkification, as all the Maronite-Cypriot villages are now occupied by Turkish forces (see Map at end of article). The Turkification of occupied Cyprus has seen the altering of the names of the Greek and Maronite villages (many Turkish-Cypriot villages have also been changed). The Kormakitis of the Maronites has now become Korucam (meaning grove of pines ), Asomatos is Ozhan, and Agia Marina is called Gurpinat.(132) Immediately after the war, Turkish-Cypriot policemen started living in Kormakitis.(133) As the biannual reports of the UN Secretary-General indicate, in June 1975 the Maronites only numbered 1,000 in the occupied areas. This drop from the 1960 population of about 2,200 (for this region) indicates that many Maronites fled in the early stages of the second invasion, and later in the first year of Turkish authority. By 1979 the Maronites only numbered 610, and this fell further to 389 by 1983. Between October 1979 and June 1983, the exodus of Maronite-Cypriots to the free areas was such that the Secretary-General could not provide accurate figures of the population remaining in the occupied north. By 1999 only 159 Maronites lived in occupied Cyprus, all at Kormakitis, as Asomatos, Karpasia, and Agia Marina had been depopulated.(134) It is the single largest emigration of Maronites from their homes to other parts of the island in history, and yet, not since the Middle Ages has the Maronite community numbered as much as it does now, about 5,000 in the free area, almost twice as many as in 1960.(135) By comparison, the Armenian-Cypriots are estimated to number less than 2,000, although they had outnumbered the Maronite-Cypriots in 1960 by almost 1,000.(136) Clearly, the loss of the Maronite villages in occupied Cyprus has not given rise to an exodus of Maronite-Cypriots from the island, but rather they have chosen to settle with the Greek and Armenian Cypriots in the area controlled by the Government of Cyprus. The simultaneous troubles in Lebanon may have had something to do with this. In Lebanon, they at the forefront of the ethnic conflict and as such targets, but in Cyprus they are neither. Indeed some Lebanese, whether Maronite or Orthodox, have found refugee in Cyprus during the 1970s and 1980s, even if only temporarily.
Like the Greek-Cypriots, the Maronite-Cypriots settled in the free areas are not permitted to return to occupy their homes in occupied Cyprus. The few elderly Maronites at Kormakitis live in isolation like the Greek-Cypriots at Rizokarpasso. To both the UN delivers mail and food, but unlike the Greek refugees, the Maronite refugees are permitted to visit their homes and conduct church services at Kormakitis. Until February 1998, the Maronites could do so without paying, but then the Turkish-Cypriot leadership decided that a fee would be extracted in order for them to cross at the Nicosia checkpoint. The effect has been a reduction in the overall crossing of Maronites. Nevertheless, the visits bring joy to the few elderly. As a recent reporter found, Sister Pierra Ratrioloudi, the 72-year-old nun who tends the Church of St. George, comes alive during a visit: "It is so quiet here when the children leave. It is just us and the empty houses."(137)
Although on a vastly different scale, there are many similarities between the Greek-Cypriot refugee experience and the Maronite-Cypriot refugee experience. Like the Greeks, the Maronites continue to hold onto their village identity. They still elect a village mukhtar, a position currently held at Kormakitis by Antonis Diakou, and long to return to live in their villages in a liberated Cyprus. Recently, a Washington Post journalist spent time with the Maronite-Cypriots and a young man of 25 passionately evoked his community's hopes and dreams when he stated: "I feel sad but I wouldn't be satisfied here (Kormakitis) now. When peace comes to Cyprus, I will definitely live in Kormakitis. We must be hopeful. Always we are hopeful - even when there is no hope left."(138)
Relations between the majority Greek-Cypriots and the other minority Christian groups and the Turkish-Cypriots who remained behind and those increasingly fleeing the occupied north are excellent. The Government of Cyprus covers all fees and expenses of Turkish-Cypriot pupils who attend private schools of elementary and secondary education, and grants an annual amount of £450 to each Armenian, Maronite and Latin student who attends a private secondary education school. In February 2000, the Government of Cyprus announced that it would build a new elementary school for the Maronite-Cypriots, while at the same time it would fund the construction of a home for aged Maronites. Although taking over 25 years after the Turkish invasion, it has taken this long for the Greek-Cypriots to come to terms with the protracted nature of their refugee status.
The Maronite-Cypriots continue to enjoy the rights and privileges outlined in the 1960 Constitution. The current Archbishop of the Maronites of Cyprus is Boutros Gemayel, a prominent figure in the Maronite community of Cyprus, and abroad as a member of the advisory board of The Maronite Research Institute (MARI). From 1976 to 1991, Felix Cirilli, in the tradition of his relations J. M. Cirilli and Michael Cirilli, filled the one position allocated to Maronites in the Cyprus Parliament.(139) Since 1991, the Maronites have been admirably represented by Antonis Hajirossos. The Maronites, however, have another representative in the Parliament elected on the general list. Antoniou Avraam, a well-known Maronite-Cypriot, was elected to the Parliament for the Nicosia constituency in 1991, re-elected in 1996, and again in 2002, as a member of AKEL (Anorthotiko Komma Ergazomenou Laou or Progressive Working People's Party), the Cypriot Communist Party.(140) He is also the Secretary-General of the largest trade union of Cyprus, the Pan-Cyprian Federation of Labour (PEO), and is the Chairman of the House Standing Committee on Labour and Social Insurance. The election of Avraam indicates the esteem his community is held in by Greek-Cypriots, and how ethnic barriers can be broken when ideology dictates ones intellectual and political orientation rather then ethnic and racial forces.
In January of this year, the President of Cyprus, Glafkos Clerides, and the leader of Turkish-Cypriots, Rauf Denktash, began talks in order that a political and humanitarian settlement may be reached before Cyprus joined the EU in 2004. The Greek-Cypriots have accepted the idea of establishing a Federal Cyprus, which will constitute two federal states. This had been the aim of the Turkish-Cypriot leadership before the invasion, but now, urged on by Ankara, they want nothing short of two independent states (i.e. partition). Both positions do not sit comfortably with the Maronite community. In May, Hajirossos, also the President of the Maronites Association of Cyprus, indicated that his community feared that the proposed bi-communal, bi-zonal solution would "lead to the total dissipation and eventual loss of identity for the Maronites". The Maronite villages in north-west Cyprus would likely remain under Turkish-Cypriot control. Maronite leaders have proposed to President Clerides, the UN, and other representatives of the international community, that in any settlement they should be allowed to return to their original villages, which should come within the Greek Cypriot Federal State.(141) Indeed, it is the wish of all Cypriots to return to their own homes and lands.
One commentator has rightly observed, the Maronites where and still are "treated with perfect tolerance… [and] have a standing in the life of the country out of proportion to their numbers".(142) This is not because they do not deserve this standing, in fact quite the opposite; they are an integral part of the ethnic character and history of the island, and continue to be testaments to the diverse and harmonious nature of Cypriot society.
1. I would like to thank Dr. R. S. Merrillees for providing me with copies of Jack C. Goodwin's An Historical Toponymy of Cyprus, and Biographical Dictionary of Cyprus, 1800-1920, which greatly added to the arguments presented in this article.
2. Interest in the Turkish-Cypriots developed in the 1950s, and a series of articles appeared by C. F. Beckingham coinciding with the start of a guerilla campaign by the Greek-Cypriots against the British in 1955. These include, "Islam in Cyprus", in The Islamic Quarterly, 1955, pp. 133-141; "The Cypriot Turks", in Royal Central Asian Journal, 1956, pp. 126-130; "A Cypriot Wakfiya", in Journal of Semitic Studies, 1956, pp. 389-397; and "Islam and Turkish Nationalism in Cyprus", in Die Welt des Islams, 1957, pp. 65-83. Since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, more has been written about the Turkish-Cypriots. See, Costas P. Kyrris, Peaceful Co-existence in Cyprus under British Rule (1878-1959) and after Independence, PIO, Nicosia, 1977; Namik D. Volkan, Cyprus - War and Adaption, Virginia 1979; A. C. Gazioglu, The Turks of Cyprus: A Province of the Ottoman Empire 1571-1878, Rustem, London 1990; Christos, P. Ioannides, In Turkey's Image: The Transformation of Occupied Cyprus into a Turkish Province, Caratzas, New Rochelle 1991.
3. S.P. Pattie, Faith in History: Armenians Rebuilding Community, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., 1997.
4. Matti Moosa, The Maronites in History, Syracuse University Press, NY, 1986. Moosa's study is more about the Maronite Church then a history of Maronite people.
5. J. Hackett, A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus From the Coming of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas to the Commencement of the British Occupation, AD 45-1878, Methuen, London 1901, p. 527. For the manuscripts, see, Canon V. Leroy, Les Manuscrits Syriaques A peintures Conservés dans les Bibliothèques D'Europe et d'Orient, Paris, 1964, pp. 146, 235.
6. Rev. Pere Jean Foradaris, in L & H. A. Mangoian, The Island of Cyprus: An Illustrated Guide and Handbook, Vandyck Printers, Bristol 1947, p. 23.
7. George F. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 2, Cambridge University Press, London, 1952, p. 3.
8. R. M. Dawkins, notes, for Recital Concerning the Sweet Land of Cyprus entitled 'Chonicle', Vol. 2, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1932, p. 112.
9. Pierre Dib, History of the Maronite Church, (trans.) Rev. Seely Beggiani, Maronite Apostolic Exarchate, Detroit, 1971, pp. 65, 77 (first published in French, in Beirut, 1962).
10. Philp W. Edbury, "Cypriot Society Under Lusignan Rule", in David Hunt & Iro Hunt, Caterina Cornaro, Trigraph 1989, pp. 29-30.
11. Dawkins, notes, for Recital Concerning the Sweet Land of Cyprus entitled 'Chonicle', Vol. 2, p. 91.
12. Kostas P. Kyrris, "The Jewish Community and the Rise and Fall of Some Urban Agglomerations in Cyprus Under Ottoman Rule", in Kypriakai Spoudai, 1966, pp. 175-181.
13. George Jeffery, A Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus: Studies in the Archaeology and Architecture of the Island, Nicosia, 1918 (Zeno, London, 1983), pp. 140-141; Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 2, p. 4.
14. Leontios Machaeras, Recital Concerning the Sweet Land of Cyprus entitled 'Chonicle', Vol. 1, (ed. & trans.) R. M. Dawkins, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1932, pp. 60-61.
15. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 2, p. 1077.
16. Ibid., p. 4; L. W. St John-Jones, The Population of Cyprus: Demographic Trends and Socio-Economic Influences, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London, 1983, p. 60.
17. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 2, p. 144.
18. Dib, History of the Maronite Church, p. 65.
19. Goodwin, An Historical Toponymy of Cyprus, p. 849.
20. Benjamin Arbel, Cyprus, the Franks and Venice, 13th-16th Centuries, England, 2000, CH. V, p. 203.
21. R. C. Jennings, Christians and Muslims in Ottoman Cyprus and the Mediterranean World, 1571-1640, New York Uni Press, New York 1992, pp. 256, 273.
22. R. F. Jerome, Dandini, A Voyage to Mount Libanus, J. Orme, London, 1698 (first published in 1656), pp. 19-20.
23. Ibid., p. 19.
24. Ibid., pp. 14-15. Jennings' view that Dandini was limited because he did not know Greek or Turkish is irrelevant because the Greeks in the major cities spoke Italian. See, Jennings, Christians and Muslims in Ottoman Cyprus and the Mediterranean World, 1571-1640, p. 370.
25. C. D. Cobham, Excerpta Cypria, Cambridge Uni Press, Cambridge 1908, (Kraus, New York 1986), p. 181.
27. Dandini, A Voyage to Mount Libanus, J. Orme, London, 1698, p. 19.
28. Esme Scott-Stevenson, Our Home in Cyprus, Chapman and Hall, London, 1880, pp. 92-93.
29. Jack C. Goodwin, An Historical Toponymy of Cyprus, 4th edition, 1984, p. 849.
31. Jeffery, A Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus, p. 278.
32. R. Gunnis, Historic Cyprus: A Guide to its Towns and Villages, Monasteries and Castles, Methuen, London 1936, p. 464; Hackett, A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, p. 283; Giovanni Mariti, Travels in the Island of Cyprus in 1769: With Contemporary Accounts of the Sieges of Nicosia and Famagusta, (trans) C. D. Cobham, Cambridge Uni Press, London 1909.
33. Monica Bradswell, "A Visit to Some of the Maronite Villages of Cyprus", in Eastern Churches Quarterly, Vol. III, No. 5, 1939, pp. 304-308.
34. Goodwin, An Historical Toponymy of Cyprus, p. 850.
35. Esme Scott-Stevenson, Our Home in Cyprus, Chapman and Hall, London, 1880, p. 163.
36. Jeffery, A Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus, pp. 275-276.
37. Ibid., p. 277; Bradswell, "A Visit to Some of the Maronite Villages of Cyprus", pp. 304-308.
38. Jeffery, A Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus, p. 279.
39. Bradswell, "A Visit to Some of the Maronite Villages of Cyprus", pp. 304-308.
40. Hackett, A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, p. 528; Jeffery, A Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus, p. 278.
41. Bradswell, "A Visit to Some of the Maronite Villages of Cyprus", pp. 304-308.
42. Gunnis, Historic Cyprus, p. 464; Hackett, A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, p. 528. Mariti, Travels in the Island of Cyprus in 1769.
43. Bradswell, "A Visit to Some of the Maronite Villages of Cyprus", pp. 304-308.
44. Dawkins, notes, for Recital Concerning the Sweet Land of Cyprus entitled 'Chonicle', Vol. 2, p. 58.
45. Macheras, 'Chonicle', Vol. 1, pp. 36-37.
46. Gunnis, Historic Cyprus, p. 274.
47. Mrs E. A. M. Lewis, A Lady's Impressions of Cyprus in 1893, Remington, London, 1894, p. 245; Bradswell, "A Visit to Some of the Maronite Villages of Cyprus", 304-308.
48. Lewis, Ibid, p. 245. Khytri was the grandson of Akamas, whose name is given to the cape in north-west Cyprus, which is also called Cape Arnaouti.
49. Lewis, A Lady's Impressions of Cyprus in 1893, p. 245.
50. Ibid., p. 308.
51. Ibid., p. 310.
52. Ibid., p. 466.
53. Dandini, A Voyage to Mount Libanus, p. 19.
54. Gunnis, Historic Cyprus, p. 232.
55. Ibid., p. 445.
56. Ibid., p. 276.
57. Ibid., p. 192.
58. Ibid., p. 189.
59. Hackett, A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, p. 527; Jeffery, A Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus, p. 243; Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 2, p. 3. See also, Goodwin, An Historical Toponymy of Cyprus, pp. 263, 1565.
60. Andreas P. Georgiades & Christakis A. Zographou, Agios Ilias Karpassias kai Bogazi: Barathosi, Istoria, Anthropi (Agios Ilias of the Karpass, and Bogazi: Traditions, History and People), Nicosia 2001, p. 176.
61. Lewis, A Lady's Impressions of Cyprus in 1893, pp. 312-313; Jeffery, A Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus, p. 243.
62. Kevork K. Keshishian, Romantic Cyprus, 6th edition, K. K. Keshishian, Nicosia, 1954, p. 112.
63. Georgiades & Zographou, Agios Ilias Karpassias kai Bogazi, p. 31.
64. Colin Thubron, Journey Into Cyprus, Heinemann, London 1975, (Penguin 1985), pp. 162-163.
65. Goodwin, An Historical Toponymy of Cyprus, 263, 1565.
66. Keshishian, Romantic Cyprus, p. 149-150; Pattie, Faith in History, p. 34.
67. Bradswell, "A Visit to Some of the Maronite Villages of Cyprus", pp. 304-308.
68. Scott-Stevenson, Our Home in Cyprus, p. 114.
69. Jeffery, A Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus, pp. 279-280.
70. Gunnis, Historic Cyprus, p. 340.
71. Sir David Hunt, Footprints in Cyprus: An Illustrated History, London 1982, pp. 38, 273.
72. Kostas P. Kyrris, "Symbiotic Elements in the History of the Two Communities of Cyprus", in Kypriakos Logos, Vol. 8, 1976, pp. 243-282, pp. 255, 257.
73. Goodwin, An Historical Toponymy of Cyprus, p. 849.
74. Hackett, A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, p. 529.
75. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, p. 381.
76. Ibid., p. 381.
77. Ibid., p. 382.
78. El Absassi Ali Bey, Travels in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria and Turkey, 2 Vol., London 1816, (reprint 1970), Vol. II, p. 73-154.
79. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, p. 102.
80. See Smith's letter printed by Harry C. Luke, Cyprus Under the Turks 1571-1878, Oxford University Press, 1921, 122-125.
81. Stavros Panteli, A History of Cyprus: From Foreign Domination to Troubled Independence, East West Publications, London 2000, pp. 32-33. (reissue of A New History of Cyprus published in 1984)
82. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, p. 382.
83. J. M. Cirilli, Les Maronites en Chypre, Lille, 1898. See also Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, p. 359.
84. J. T. A. Koumoulides, Cyprus and the War of Greek Independence 1821-1829, Zeno, London, 1974, p. 44.
85. N. Giorno, Roma, nella, Stamperia Cracas al Corso, num, 232, nos. 43, (trans) C. D. Cobham, Excerpta Cypria, 450-451.
86. Koumoulides, Cyprus and the War of Greek Independence 1821-1829, pp. 46-47.
87. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, pp. 382-383.
88. Ibid., pp. 382-383.
89. Hackett, A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, p. 527.
90. Ibid., p. 527.
91. De Mas Latrie, in Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, p. 383.
92. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, p. 33.
93. St John-Jones, The Population of Cyprus, p. 60.
94. De Mas Latrie, in Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, p. 383.
95. Sir Harry C Luke, Cyprus: A Portrait and an Appreciation, Harrap, London 1965, p. 83.
96. Scott-Stevenson, Our Home in Cyprus, pp. 92-93.
97. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, p. 261.
98. Scott-Stevenson, Our Home in Cyprus, p. 92.
99. Ersi Demetriadou, Contested Visions: Colonialist Politics Under British Rule, 1878-1890, unpublished PhD dissertation, New York University, 1998, p. 27.
100. Otto Maas, "Cyprus To-day", in Scottish Geographical Magazine, Vol. XVII, 1901, 292-299 & 297.
101 Hill, A History of Cyprus, pp. 418-427; Adamantia Pollis, "The Role of Foreign Powers in Structuring Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict in Cyprus", in (ed) Vangelis Calotychos, Cyprus and Its People: Nation, Identity and Experience in a Unimaginable Community, 1955-1997, Colorado 1998, pp. 85-102.
102. CO 67/204 Conf., Stevenson to Churchill, October 25, 1921, in G. S. Georghallides, A Political and Administrative History of Cyprus 1918-1926, Cyprus Research Centre, Nicosia, 1979, p. 209.
103. CO 67/192 Secret., Stevenson to Milner, July 6, 1919, in Ibid., p. 210.
104. Georghallides, A Political and Administrative History of Cyprus 1918-1926, p. 210.
105. Ibid., pp. 210, 212.
106. CO 67/214/10999/1925, in Ibid., pp. 291-292.
107. Georghallides, A Political and Administrative History of Cyprus 1918-1926, pp. 252-254.
108. CO 67/224/39101 Conf., Storrs to Amery, June 5, 1928, in Georghallides, Cyprus and the Governorship of Sir Ronald Storrs: The Causes of the 1931 Crisis, Cyprus Research Centre, Nicosia, 1985, pp. 87-88.
109. CO 67/227/39518 (part 3) Conf. (2), Storrs to Passfield, September 18, 1929, in Ibid., pp. 229-231.
110. Georghallides, Cyprus and the Governorship of Sir Ronald Storrs, p. 231.
111. Hill, A History of Cyprus, Vol. 4, p. 382.
112. Pattie, Faith in History, p. 35.
113. Stephen Xydis, Cyprus: Reluctant Republic, Mouton, The Hague, 1974, p. 490 n.
114. David M. Anderson, "Policing and Communal Conflict: The Cyprus Emergency, 1954-60", in Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, pp. 177-207, pp. 189-191.
115. C. Hitchens, Hostage to History: Cyprus From the Ottomans to Kissinger, Verso, London 1997, p. 46.
116. Ibid., p. 10; PRO CAB 134/1556, 'Untitled Map', attached to CPC(57)15, May 22, 1957.
117. Note, Strovolos, Aglangia, Trachonas, Agios Dometios, Enkomi, and Ortakoi are more or less within the capital of Nicosia. Ortakoi and Trachonas are within the occupied territories.
118. Xydis, Cyprus, p. 513.
119. Christos Leonidas Doumas, Problem of Cyprus, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1963, pp. 425, 429.
120. Ibid., p. 429.
121. Ibid., p. 255.
122. In Faith in History, pp. 109-110.
123. St John-Jones, The Population of Cyprus, p. 24.
124. Dr. Ihsan Ali, Ta Apomemonevmata Mou (My Memoirs), Zavalis Press, Nicosia, 1980. In 1970, Dr. Ihsan Ali became the political adviser to President Archbishop Makarios, a role he served under Spiros Kyprianou until his death in 1978.
125. Thubron, Journey Into Cyprus, p. 162.
126. Ibid., p. 162.
127. Ibid., pp. 162-163.
128. Ibid., pp. 162-164.
129. Ibid., pp. 162-164.
130. Rev. Pere Jean Foradaris, in Mangoian, The Island of Cyprus, p. 23.
131. Ioannides, In Turkey's Image, 1991.
132. Goodwin, An Historical Toponymy of Cyprus, p. 849.
133. Ibid., p. 850.
135. Stavros Panteli, Historical Dictionary of Cyprus, Scarecrow Press, Maryland, 1995, p. 96.
136. Pattie, Faith in History, p. 1.
137. Ayla Yackley, "Maronites Slip Through Cyprus Divide", Reuters, May 22, 2002.
139. Koudounaris, Aristedis, Biografikon Lexikon Kyprion, 1800-1920 (Biographical Dictionary of Cyprus, 1800-1920), Nicosia, 2001, pp. 145-146. Felix Cirilli lives is Nicosia and is over 90 years old.
140. AKEL is currently the largest party in the Cypriot Parliament.
141. Soteris Charalambous, Cyprus Mail, May 14, 2002.
142. St John-Jones, The Population of Cyprus, p. 60.