What I Saw

23 Feb 2024

John Locke in Famagusta

John Locke, while visiting Famagusta noted the following:

In Famagusta no soldier may serve above five years neither will they suffer them to depart before five years have expired, and there may serve of all nations except Greeks. The horsemen have a provender for their horse and land to plow and sow for their maintenance. The Venetians send every two years new rulers which they call Castellani. The town is allowed two galleys continually armed and furnished. Towards the evening we went about the town and in the great church, we saw the tomb of King Jacques, who was the last king of Cyprus and was buried in the year of Christ 1473. We also went to one of the Greek churches of Mary of the Hydria, to see a pot or a jar of stone, which is said to be one of the seven jars of water, which the lord god at the marriage of Canaa converted into wine. It is a pot of earth very fair, white enamelled and fairly wrought upon with drawn work and had on either side of it instead of handles, ears made in form as the painters make angel’s wings, it was about an ell high and small at the bottom, with a long neck and correspondent in circuit at the bottom, the belly very great and round, it held full 12 gallons and had a top hole to draw wine out thereat, the jar is very ancient but whether it be one of them or not I know not. They have a certain illness in the town twice a year. It is a certain redness and pain in the eyes, which unless it is looked after soon, it takes away their sight, so that yearly in that town they have about 20 that lose their sight.

Watercolour: Arthur Legge (1859-1942), Famagusta Harbour, 1928

© Costas and Rita Severis Foundation

The 'What I Saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.

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