The family originated in Poitou, near Lusignan in western France, in the early 10th century. By the end of the 11th century, the family had risen to become the most prominent petty lords in the region from their castle at Lusignan. In the late 12th century, through marriages and inheritance, a cadet branch of the family came to control the kingdoms of Jerusalem and Cyprus. In the early 13th century, the main branch succeeded in the Counties of La Marche and Angoulême.
As Crusader kings in the Latin East, they soon had connections with the Hethumid rulers of the Kingdom of Cilicia, which they inherited through marriage in the mid-14th century. The Armenian branch fled to France, and eventually Russia, after the Mamluk conquest of their kingdom.
The Château de Lusignan, near Poitiers, was the principal seat of the Lusignans. It was later destroyed during the Wars of Religion, and only its foundations remain in Lusignan. According to legend, the earliest castle was built by the folklore water-spirit Melusine. The lords of the castle at Lusignan were counts of La Marche, over which they frequently fought with the counts of Angoulême.
Hugh VI inherited by collateral succession the County of La Marche (1091) as a descendant of Almodis.