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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 199



The Assizes of Jerusalem, then, although no doubt they describe what we may call the common law of the Cypriot kingdom, so far as concerned the Franks, cannot be regarded during the greater part of the period as an authoritative code ; the native population of Cyprus, like the native Syrians of Palestine, had laws and customs, such perhaps as the laws of Manuel Comnenus for which they obtained Richard's confirmation; and the city of Famagosta at a little later period, after having been for some years under the government of the Genoese, was allowed to retain the laws of Genoa. Within the feudal fabric itself, custom, or perhaps principle, was more dominant than law ; the lords of the great fiefs did not accept the rules of the high court as binding unless they had themselves consented to them ; the unity of feudal jurisprudence lay rather in ideas than in cogent uniformity. Add to this the fact that the Frank population of Cyprus showed no tendency to ordinary increase, but was either constantly diminishing or recruited by arrivals from the West, whilst the Greek population was at home, strong, numerous, and wealthy; that the Latin Church accordingly, although powerful in the protection of Rome and of the Cypriot crown, was surpassed in wealth and historical greatness by the Greek and Armenian communities ; and we cannot but conclude that in this, which is regarded as the most flourishing period of Cypriot history, there was little chance of strong government or administrative development. The Assizes of Jerusalem lay like a crystal block, a model of usages, incapable of enforcement and incapable of growth. The kings lived for the most part the life of adventurers or knights-errant, playing their part in the defence of Christendom, but still, like the great military orders and fragmentary principalities of Palestine, only as an isolated garrison in the middle of a world out of which they were being gradually driven; no more, as


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