April 2, 2023

The Eastern Roman province of Cyprus

By littlenige

Cyprus, since the beginning of the Roman Empire’s history, was a province that belonged to the administration of the east. The capital of this eastern authority was in Antioch which was close to the modern day city of Antakya in South Eastern Turkey.

Cypriots were involved in the dynastic wars as Roman Emperor, Licinius (308 to 324AD)  obliged them to help him against Constantine the Great. Licinius fought a number of battles Constantine the Greatin North West Turkey and after his final defeat, this rendered the whole Eastern Roman state under Constantine’s control when the city of Constantinople was founded as the new capital

One of the first moves of the new emperor was to reinforce the defences of the island in order to be able to deal with the constant pirate raids. He also sent a trusted person to govern the island called Kalokairos. Kalokairos failed Constantine as he was incapable and additionally he declared himself independent hegemon (ruler) of Cyprus.

This rebellion was suppressed and Kalokairos was executed. The island tried to recover under the authority of Constantinople. However in parallel with the rebellion, Cyprus was also hit by a natural disaster as many earthquakes caused much devastation in the main cities of the island.

The successor of Constantine, Emperor Constantius took the initiative to rebuild Salamina A view of Salamisthe capital of the island.  As an honour for doing this,  the citizens of Salamina re-named the city to Constantia. After the earthquakes, starvation followed which during the 4th century wiped out the majority of the population. During the 5th century  there is no event worth of remembrance in the eastern part of the Roman Empire except some ecclesiastical issues as during Emperor Zenos rule, Cyprus was an autocephalus archbishopric.

Since the 6th century under the Emperor Justinian I, Cyprus was under military administration along with the northernRoman Empire map territories of the state and the islands of the Aegean.

The historians presume that this weird administrative unit was created in such way so that the safe islands of the Mediterranean would support economically the northern territories which suffered from barbarian raids. During Emperor Herakleios reign, Cyprus functioned as a shelter of refugees from Palestine and Egypt as a result of the constant wars of the Byzantines with the Sassanid empire. In the same period Islam started to spread in the Levant and Cyprus gradually was turned into a border province.

Source : North Cyprus Forum

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