Queen Caterina Cornaro
Born: 25 November [St. Catherine's
Day] 1454, Venice
30 July 1468 (Venice, by proxy) and 1472 (Famagusta, Cyprus), James II
Lusignan, King of Cyprus
July 1510, Venice
CATERINA CORNARO became Queen of Cyprus through her marriage to James
II Lusignan of Cyprus. The union, engineered by her father Cav.
Marco Cornaro (B-16) and his younger brother Proc.
Andrea Cornaro (B-17) culminated centuries of influence by the Cornaro
family in the affairs of Cyprus.
of her proxy marriage in Venice in 1468, Venice created for the 14-year-old
girl the title Daughter of St. Mark. The marriage was confirmed by a
ceremony in person in Cyprus four years later.
Upon the death
of her husband, 1473 (and of her infant son Prince James III Lusignan
in August of the same year), Queen Caterina became sole ruler of Cyprus,
though under the heavy influence of Venice. After her uncle Proc. Andrea
was a victim of an unsuccessful coup attempt by Cypriot nobility in
November 1473, her father Cav. Marco was dispatched by the Venetian
government to counsel his daughter, experiencing many conflicts with
other Venetian envoys during his years there.
In February 1489,
in response to a mission from Venice headed by her brother Cav.
Proc. Giorgio Cornaro (B-29), the Queen ceded her realm to Venice,
receiving in exchange a life estate in a large domain on the Italian
mainland, centered at Asolo.
For an account of
her life at Asolo, see Pietro Bembo, Gli Asolani (c. 1495-8, publ.
1505). She is the subject of operas by Donizetti, Halevy, Bakfe, Franz
Lachner and George Herbert.
There is a late
portrait, c. 1500-5, of Queen Caterina by Gentile Bellini in the
Szepmuveszeti Muzeum, Budapest. There also survives a chalk and watercolor
portrait, 1494-5, by Albrecht
Durer, derived from a now-lost profile portrait also apparently by Gentile
Bellini. Vasari says the Queen also commissioned a portrait
by Giorgione, mounted on a white horse at a hunt.
1491, a baptismal font at Asolo Cathedral by
Francesco Grazioli with her motto "Pour Lialte' Maintenir." She also
commissioned Grazioli to design Barco della Regina
at Altivole, 1491-2.
1997-9 C. I. Gable