History of Cyprus

Aphrodite’s Rock – Pafos, Cyrpus



My tour of the Mediterranean (Malta and Valencia earlier this spring) ends with our family holiday on the island of Cyprus this week. This is our second visit to the island. Due to the inexpensive flights on the Hungarian budget airlines, Whizz Air, Nadia booked us a week in a resort on the south coast, close to where we stayed last year. I enjoy learning the history and culture of the places I visit and as with all the places in the Mediterranean, Cyprus has a long history. The first settlers reached the island around 6000 BC. Recorded history began with Hellenic settlers forming city-states all over the island beginning in 1400 BC. One of these ancient cites, Amathous, is close to our hotel, and was founded around 1000 BC.

Also similar to other islands in the Mediterranean, a series of outside groups had control for generations through its history. The Persians (Iranians today) ruled for approximately 200 years, although they mostly left the Hellenic city-states alone and just collected taxes. Some of the most famous names in history ruled the island, at least as part of a larger empire. In 333 BC, Alexander The Great released the island from Persian control, and had it part of the Greek Empire. After his death ten years later, Ptolemy I of Egypt took over, and the Hellenistic Egypt administered the island for another 300 years.

The Romans took over in 58 BC, and one of my favorite public speakers, Cicero, was one of its first Proconsuls (like a Governor-General). The Roman General, Mark Anthony gave the island to his lover, Cleopatra VII of Egypt in 40 BC. After they died the Romans took the island back under Roman control. The Romans ruled for 600 years and built roads, aqueducts, and palaces.

The early Christian apostles came to the island from nearby Turkey in 45 AD. The apostle Paul and his local buddy Barnabas (Agios Varnavas in Greek), a Greek Jew, began converting Cypriots to Christianity. Paul is alleged to have blinded a magician for the Roman court for mocking Jesus, which convinced the Roman Proconsul to convert to Christianity and it became the first country in the world to be ruled by a Christian. The practice of Christianity grew, with even Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus, was the archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, which is one of the oldest independent churches in the world. When the Roman Empire split in 395 AD, the Byzantines took over and sent officials from Constantinople to govern the island.

The Arabs started raiding the island in 647 AD. In one battle, the wife of an Arab commander, was the Prophet Mohammed’s Aunt, fell from a mule and died on the shores of a salt lake near Lanarka. The mosque there is now a holy place in the Muslim world. The island was jointly ruled by the Byzantines and Arabs from 688 AD to 965 AD after a truce. This is very similar to today’s arrangement of both “Greek” and Turkish rule. The Byzantines took sole control of the island after that and due to the fighting, many coastal cities were destroyed and inland cities built.

Next up were the Brits, with King Richard the Lionheart (great nickname) taking over in 1184. He was here because of the Crusades and it was used as a Christian supply station for “the front” of the Crusades. He sold it to the Knights Templar (see my post on Malta) who could not afford to keep it and sold it to a French nobleman, Guy de Lusignan in 1192. He founded a dynasty that lasted until 1474. The City-States of Genoa and later Venice ruled the island until 1571.

Islam made an appearance again, this time in the form of the Ottomans, who captured the island in 1571 from the Venetians. I know a lot about Ottoman rule, as it is the same history as in Serbia. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British came back and took over in 1878, after an agreement ceded the island to Great Britian. The Brits held the island until 1960, when Cyprus gained independence. They kept the Turks and Greeks apart on the island, with a Bosnian-type representative government of 70% Greek and 30% Turk. This only lasted 14 years, as interference from mainland Greece and Turkey, resulted in the Turkish military seizing the northern 37% of the island. Greek Cypriots living in the north fled south and Turkish Cypriots in the south, moved north. The UN came in and set up the famous “Green Line”. No one crossed for almost 30 years until restrictions were eased in 2003. Today it is quite easy to cross the border and we hope to try doing our holiday here.

The island today is similar to its past, being fought over by the Greeks, in the form of a Greek culture independent and EU member Cyprus, and an Islamic side, controlled by Turkey. History repeats itself and this arrangement is similar to when the Persians and Arabs were dealing with the Hellenes or Romans/Byzantines over who got to rule the island. As I feel about all islands, it is common sense to govern them as one entity. The water is a natural border and a protective layer. However, Cyprus is closer to Turkey than it is to Greece, so I see where conflict can arise. I like the idea of a being a separate country from both Turkey and Greece, and have both communities come together as Cypriots. I don’t foresee this happening anytime in the near future.

View from top of Amathus




Kralovec Family History (Andrew John Kralovec – 1860 to1942)

Andrew Kralovec and Family (photo circa 1940?)

Readers of my blog are curious to the origin of my last name. The name sounds Slavic and I get a lot of guesses. One Czech reader did correctly recognize it as a Bohemian surname. This post is the story of my Great Grandfather who came to America. This summer I spent some time going through some old scrap books in our basement. The sources I used for this post were the 1942 newspaper (either Marinette, WI or Menominee, MI daily) obituary of my great grandfather and conversations with my father.

Andrew John Kralovec (the name was “Americanized” – it was originally Andreas) was born “in Bohemia” on July 17, 1860 and he came to the USA in 1888 when he was 18 years old. I can only guess why he left for America. At the time, Bohemia was a peaceful entity under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and they had a relatively good level of autonomy. His decision to leave changed my destiny completely.

Andrew first came to Menominee, Michigan, but moved to Odanah, Wisconsin. He lived there for 20 years from 1900 to 1920. Andrew married fellow Bohemian immigrant, Anna Rebic, shortly upon arrival.  They were wed on February 7, 1888 in Stangleville, Wisconisn. Andrew and Anna had seven children, three girls and four boys, one being my grandfather, Charles Kralovec. The other children listed in the obituary of 1942 were as follows and a bit about what my Dad remembers about them:

1)  Anna Kralovec – She remained single her whole life and worked as a nurse in Oak Park, Illinois.

2)  Mathias Kralovec – He lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin and worked as a carpenter. He didn’t have any children. My father lived with him for two weeks every summer in Green Bay.

3)  Mary (Feich) – She lived Greenwood, a small town just south of Ishpeming in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She didn’t have any children.

4)  Charles Kralovec – My grandfather, lived in Menominee. He attended Ripon College (Wisconsin) with his brother John for a couple of years. He left the school because of his lack of hearing. I will post on him more later.

5)  Jennie (Paitl) – She lived in Menominee and had several children.

6)  Frank Kralovec – He house painter in Ewen, Michigan. He married late in life and had no children.

7)  Colonel John Kralovec – He was physics professor at Kemper Military School, Booneville, Missouri for over 40 years. John had two boys, one named John Charles.

Andrew worked in a sawmill in Odanah. Lumber companies back then advertised in Europe for jobs. He was a skilled “sawyer” who could accurately determine how many boards could be cut from a log, thus avoiding waste. Odanah is a small town in northern Wisconsin on an Indian Reservation. My grandfather attended the St. Mary’s Indian School on the reservation. The big event of the day was the arrival of the train at the depot, everyone watched it to see if the inspectors would find any contraband whiskey, because alcohol was not allowed on the reservation. In 1900, not much of the Chippewa traditional life was left, my Dad said there were a couple of wigwams (tepees) left, and they got rid of those “smelly things.”

Andrew then returned to Menominee, Michigan in 1920, where he worked as a lumber grader for 14 years. At that time, Menominee, located at the mouth of the Menominee River, produced lots of lumber because of the great number of trees in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan being harvested and its position on Lake Michigan.

Andrew died in 1942 at the age of 82. He passed away quietly in his sleep. The newspaper reported that he suffered from heart disease for some time before his death.

Anna lived another 5 years after the death of her husband. She died of stomach cancer. My father remembers that she cooked all the time and always wore an apron. She always had a crock of sauerkraut fermenting in the kitchen, my father remembers the smell, and she cooked fresh bread everyday.

My father remembers a bit about his grandfather. He was a big guy, about 6-2, 200 pounds. Andrew loved to play pinochle with his brother and they were always cheating at cards. He did not speak English very well but he understood everything. His left arm didn’t move from when he tripped over the woodblock making kindling for the stove about 10 years before his death.

Andrew Kralovec (1860 – 1942)

I would have loved to have met him, but he died 25 years before I was born. It would have been interesting to ask him why he came to America. My father said that because of the language, he didn’t speak much to him. My grandfather spoke Czech, but not my father. He lived a good life according to my father, so I guess he didn’t regret coming over. I also wish the newspaper would have had a bit more about where in Bohemia he came from.

Turks Routed – Chapel of Peace

Yesterday we visited Sremski Karlovci, a small town just outside of Novi Sad. This is the heart of the Vojvodina, a region in northern Serbia that is a rich agricultural region and very Hungarian.

In the photograph you see the round yellow building to the right. This is the Chapel of Peace. On this spot in 1699, the Ottomans surrendered to the Austro-Hungarians on my wife’s birthday, January 26. The Turks controlled Belgrade and much of Vojvodina for years, but in 1697, a coalition of European armies came together to attack them. The Turks were hunkered down in the big fort in Novi Sad, Petrovardin, and had left to conquer another settlement north of the city. They ran into difficulties and attempted to flee to their winter headquarters in the Romanian city of Timisoara.

The Hapsburg Army was led by a Frenchman, Prince Eugene von Savoyen (below) was the hero. He had protected the Empire from the Turks in 1683, when they reached the farthest west they got, Vienna.

Prince Eugene - Defender of Vienna!!!!

The decisive battle that led to the Turks leaving Vojvodina and agreeing to peace terms at the spot above was on September 11 1697. Ironic that an Islamic army would have a serious defeat on this day. As I wrote, the Sultan was trying to get his army back to safety in Timisoara. They were crossing the river Tisa, near the modern Serbian city of Senta (then called Zenta) when Eugene’s army surprised them. It was a complete massacre of the Ottomans. They were trapped on a bridge and were totally unprepared. With a loss of only 500 men, the Hapsburg forces killed 30,000 Ottoman troops. There were many Serbs in the 70,000 strong force and they must have taken great pleasure in getting revenge on the Ottomans, who at the time, controlled Belgrade.

In the loot, were the Sultan’s royal treasure chest, the Ottoman state seal, and most interestingly, the Sultan’s Harem. I wonder what happened to those poor girls. This eventually led to two years later, Ottoman officials going to Sremski Karlovci and signing over huge parts of territory to the Austro-Hungarians. They gave up Transylvania, Hungary, and parts of Croatia.

On the day of the signing, there was no chapel but a round tent. Legend has there were four doors so the parties involved in the signing could come in at the same time, and perhaps, the term “round table” came into use in diplomacy circles. The Brits and Dutch were there as neutral guarantors of the treaty. The ambassadors of these countries still mark that day with a ceremony on the anniversary of the treaty signing.

Later, a Catholic church was built on the spot and recently restored. On the day we went, it was locked. A tour guide from the town was showing a group of American tourists the chapel and was complaining that the Catholic church would not allow town officials to turn it into a museum.

Front Facade of the Kapela Mira (Chapel of Peace)

It is a nice little town with a beautiful square, an excellent private high school, and a few wine cellars, so we’ll probably be back.