THE MEDIEVAL PERIO - 1191 to 1571 A.D.

The Byzantine era ceased in Cyprus in the 12th century. After it was conquered by King Richard the Lionheart, Cyprus was sold to The Knights Templar who set up their headquarters at the Kolossi Castle for a year until 1192 when the Lusignans took possession of the island. The Lusignans did not arrive in Cyprus with the intention of remaining long term; they intended to make use of Cyprus’ geographical positions, and used the island as a base from which they organized crusades against the Arabs, with the intention of re-claiming Jerusalem. Years passed and they did not succeed, until Peter the First de Lusignan, King of Cyprus, took a realistic approach on their crusade attempts. He understood that Cyprus alone did not have the strength, so he set about on a journey around Europe raising awareness, funds and support for the crusade. When he arrived in London he was received by Edward the third, King of England, who wanted to help him and thus invited the Kings of Denmark, Scotland and France to give King Peter the opportunity to discuss his crusade with the four kings at the same time. The former mayor of London had arranged a banquet for the five kings. The wine consumed at this well documented banquet was Commandaria. This was significant as it was the first time Commandaria was tried abroad, and was the beginning of its popularity throughout Europe.

Sir Henry Picard, Master of the Vintner’s Company, entertaining the Kings of England, France, Scotland, Denmark and Cyprus, by A. Chavallier Taylor (1903). The mural most probably refers to the visit of Peter A king of Cyprus and the banquets when he visited London as well as other European cities to ask for financial support for the organizing of a crusade.

In Medieval banquets the guests were seated only on the one side of the table so that they could follow the spectacles presented and to make the serving easier. Cups of tin or silver, sometimes even wood, were often used and the servants presented to the guests, and serving and toasting followed according to a strict protocol. Ladies drank only from golden or silver cups. Various texts inform us of the kinds of wines presented in formal banquets. First in line came the Mediterranean wines, those of Cyprus, of Malvasia and Italy. Then followed the French. Cyprus wines are often cited first.

The mural depicted here, is a copy from the mural that is housed on the Royal Exchange in London. The Royal Exchange is owned by the Mercers Company and the Corporation of the City of London. The series of 24 mural paintings were created between 1895-1920 to decorate the walls of the inner courtyard. Each painting is approximately 22 feet tall and 11 feet wide. The mural is reproduced for the Cyprus Wine Museum by courtesy of the Joint Grand Gresham Committee.

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