The Italian Travellers’ View of Cyprus in Early Modern Times: Political Representations of an Imaginary Dominion

Eleftheria Zei - Assistant Professor, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete



Early modern Italian and in particular Venetian isolarii and travel texts of the 15th-17th centuries, many of which were by Venetian administrative or military officials, describe Cyprus as the final border station of a powerful Venetian maritime territory. Contemporary historians and geographers are often troubled by the contradictory information and ‘inaccuracies’ which the 16th- and 17th-century writers presented in their descriptions of the Venetian Stato da Mar and its borders, usually attributing the problem to the fact that such texts often merely reproduced information given by earlier travellers.

This paper will attempt to show that those later travel and cartographic accounts reflect the changes in the Venetian political, military and administrative perception of Mediterranean space, particularly after the loss of Cyprus to the Ottomans in 1571, acting as political representations of a virtual, but long-lost Venetian maritime territory, according to which Cyprus still remained an important Venetian stronghold.



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