Category Archives: HISTORY

THE IDEA OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF ARMENIA IN THE PROGRAM DOCUMENTS OF THE HNCHAKYANS (from 1888 to 1915) – 2022-3

Summary

Ashot A. Melkonyan

In the last decades of the 19th century the majority of the Armenian national-political organizations considered the liberation of Western Armenians as their priority within the framework of the Article 61 of the Berlin Congress of 1878. The Hnchakyan party, established in Geneva in 1887, in parallel with the liberation of Western Armenia from the Ottoman yoke, in their program adopted in1888 set a goal of achieving the freedom of the Armenians living under the rule of Russia and Persia, by creating a single liberal-democratic (Ramkapet) republic.

The analyses of the numerous program documents of the Hnchakyans, and especially the articles published in the “Hnchak” newspaper, as well as the study of the practical steps of the party, testify that the leaders of the party had a thorough understanding of the difficulties regarding the liberation of Western Armenia and achieving the distant goal of creating a socialist society. They perceived the idea of Armenia’s autonomy in the context of state independence.

The evasive behavior of the “Young Turks” in issues vital to the peoples of the empire forced many to refuse close cooperation with them. Moreover, while the bloody regime of Sultan Hamid II was in power, according to many Hnchaks, the idea of an independent Armenia should not have been removed from the agenda.

Although the distrust towards the Young Turks was great, the Hnchak party, after 1908 actually bypassed the program provision about creating of a unified Armenian state in the distant future and continued to adhere to the position of preserving the unity of the Ottoman Empire. However, starting from 1912 on the days of the Balkan war, the relations between the Hnchaks and the Young Turks were interrupted.

On June 15, 1915, during the First World War, 20 famous figures from the Hnchakyans party were hanged in Constantinople by the Turkish authorities on charges of intentions to create independent, autonomous Armenia and to alienate part of the imperial lands.

The Hnchak party warmly welcomed the proclamation of the Republic of Armenia at the end of May in 1918. As it is known, the attitude of the Hnchaks towards Soviet Armenia was never hostile. Regardless of the political system, they continued to perceive the Armenian SSR as their homeland, and its status in the Soviet Union as a national-autonomous state entity.

ABOUT ASSESSING THE PERSONALITY AND ACTIVITIES OF TIGRANES THE GREAT – 2022-3

Summary

On the occasion of the 2080th anniversary of the victory of Armenia in the battle of Aratsani in 68 B.C.

Ruben L. Manasseryan

The idea of Tigranes II the Great, widespread in historical works of general nature, as a conqueror, guided by the material interests of the ruling class – “landlords”, according to Y.A. Manandyan, and “slave owners” – private and land owners, according to G. Kh. Sargsyan, is not confirmed by data on the social system of Ancient Armenia and the facts regarding the foreign policy activities of the Armenian king. Large-scale private land ownership was not formed in Armenia; more precisely, it was decisively replaced by state property (ownership). The state, represented by the tsar, acted not only as the supreme owner of the land, but also as the direct exploiter of the communal peasantry in the localities. Armenia of the era of Tigranes the Great typologically belongs to the societies of the East, in which the state (the central apparatus and the provincial administration) is the form of existence of the ruling class (military nobility).

The foreign policy of Tigranes was initially aimed at repelling the threat emanating from the expansion of the great powers: Rome from the West, and Parthia from the East. Already in 92 B.C., during the Roman-Parthian negotiations, an agreement was reached on the future division of the Middle East between the two powers along the Euphrates River. They also considered concluding a military alliance against Armenia.

Tigranes assumed of uniting the political forces in the Middle East, interested in preventing the establishment of the dominance of Rome and Parthia. As a result, he united the Middle East into a great Hellenistic power. Rome, represented by a contemporary of Tigranes, greate political thinker M. T. Cicero, highly appreciated the personality and activities of the Armenian king. Cicero emphasizes the originality of Tigranes’ personality, “hic ipse per se vehemens fuit” – “and he was powerful in himself.”

“Vehemens” is a definition meaning a combination of mighty energy and physical strength. In addition to these properties of Tigranes, Cicero notes the steadfastness, unbrokenness of his fighting spirit (animus), his determination to achieve victory after the defeat during the first stage of the war – the loss of the capital, Tigranakert, the collapse of the state and the transition of the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean under the rule of Rome.

On the banks of the Aratsani River, Tigranes inflicted a heavy defeat on the Roman army of Lucullus. Comparing the tactical actions of the parties, the level of their losses, the subsequent course of action, it should be recognized that the Battle of Aratsani was a defeat of the Romans – a very difficult and bloody one, and a victory for the Armenians. Tigranes thwarted Lucullus’ plans to capture the capital of Armenia and conquer the country, turning it into a Roman province. This is the historical significance of the battle on the banks of the Aratsani in mid-September of 68 B.C.

Tigranes, as a political figure, is characterised by his ability of combining military and diplomatic means to achieve the goal. During 32 years in active politics, the struggle on two fronts against Rome and Parthia, he made neither a single serious miscalculation, nor a single mistake. His foreign policy is an example of expanding opportunities, expanding the socio-political base – the basis of his dominance, which was the self-governing Hellenistic policy in the Middle East. Accession in Syria in 83 was his biggest diplomatic success, which resulted in the formation of the largest Hellenistic power in the Middle East, and Rome for 15 years lost hope of conquering the Eastern Mediterranean. The most important diplomatic achievement of Tigranes was the prevention of a war on two fronts in 66, against the superior forces of Rome and Parthia, which concluded a military alliance against Armenia. The agreement with Pompey in 66 meant, first of all, the abolition of the Roman-Parthian alliance. Rome recognized the existence of the Armenian state within the borders from the Euphrates to the Kura and the Caspian Sea. The peace treaty was not a military capitulation of Tigranes – the Armenian troops were not subject to any reduction, disbandment, or captivity. These actions revealed such traits of Tigranes’ personality as the ability to calmly and quickly navigate difficult situations and make clear, unexpected decisions․ It was thanks to these qualities of Tigranes as a politician that determined the final result of his struggle – the salvation of Armenia from the threat of Roman and Parthian conquest. And the result, as you know, is the main criterion in evaluating a statesman.

The activity of Tigranes represents an exceptional milestone in the history of the Hellenistic world. The existence of the state was based on the political interaction of the Armenian and Greek-Syrian societies. The principle of unity and coexistence of peoples representing the Eastern and Greek civilizations was the basis for the existence of Tigranakert, which was possible because the alienation between the peoples, between the Hellenes and the “barbarians”, as well as the alienation between the eastern communities of the city, was overcome. Two monuments were erected close to each other – both symbols of the two civilizations of the West and the East. A Greek theater was erected in the city, and a large Paradise was founded outside the city. Their coexistence reveals the world[1]historical role of Tigranakert as a center of unity and interaction between the cultures of the Hellas and the East, the Western and the Eastern civilizations. The Greek theater and the Eastern Paradise embody opposite ideas about the place of man in the world and about his destiny. In the combination of these two symbolic structures, two fundamental ideas of the West and the East were compared: the freedom of the individual (citizen) and the world harmonious whole, including a person as its constituent element.

Objectively, thanks to the efforts of Tigranes a socio-psychological inter[1]ethnic situation was formed, which was supposed to contribute to the formation of the consciousness of belonging to a new supra-ethnic spiritual community among various peoples, their unity based on the priority of universal ethical ideas. However, the coexistence of the ethnic communities in Tigranakert went not along the path of unity and harmony, but along the path of mutual alienation and deepening hostility between them – between the Hellenes and the “barbarians”.

AR FEDERATION (DASHNAKTSUTYUN) IN THE POLITICAL SYSTEM OF EASTERN EUROPEAN AND NEAR ASIAN COUNTRIES IN THE LATE 19TH-EARLY 20TH CENTURY – 2022-2

Summary

Part One։ The process of formation of parties in Eastern Europe and Near East in the 1880s-1890

Gevorg S. Khoudinyan
The profound geopolitical shifts that are taking place in Europe and the Near East as a result of the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine are expanding our understanding of the region called “Eastern Europe” before our eyes. A new environment is being created for all countries from the Baltic to the Mediterranean Sea and the Near East, which were once part of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. The second stage or cycle of crystallization of the national aspirations of the peoples of this world-wide region begins.

As a result, there was a need for a more in-depth study of the first stage of this process, in which, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, national parties were the main subjects of national aspirations of the countries and peoples of the region in the whole region from the Baltic to the Mediterranean Sea and the Near East. Therefore, the process of almost simultaneous emergence of national parties in these countries and peoples is not the result of a worldwide conspiracy, but a reflection of the objective regularity that A. Toynbee once characterized with simple concepts of challenge-response.

The author examines the national histories of national parties, which at the end of the First World War laid the foundations of statehood in the countries of Eastern Europe and Near Asia in a single channel of self-determination of peoples and the emergence of national states – giving a characteristic of each of its subjects. In the Armenian political reality, this process in 1890-1892 was led by AR Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), in Macedonia, which also fought against the
Ottoman yoke, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (1893).

It is no coincidence that it was then – in the late 1880s-early 1890s that the first circles of the Young Turks appeared in Turkish reality, which reflected the same process with the help of social Darwinist ideas of the struggle for the existence of biological species, because the pan-Islamism of the new Ottomans was gradually replaced by pan-Turkism, which was based on pagan ideas of nomadic Turkic tribes in a civilizational environment alien to them.

During the same period, the movement of the inhabitants of Crete intensified for the implementation of the so-called Megali idea of uniting the Greek population of the subject territories of the Ottoman Empire with Greece, which also included ethnic Macedonians and Albanians.

Another major center of inter-national friction contributing to the formation of national parties in Eastern Europe in the early 1890s was Galicia as the former territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The article analyzes the process of the emergence of the main Polish and Ukrainian national parties – the Polish Socialist Party (1892) and the RussianUkrainian Radical Party (1890).

At the end of the study, the political ties of the AR Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) with individual representatives of the populist movement in the Caucasus and the first contacts with Young Turk figures in Geneva in the period 1890-1897 are revealed.

THE KING AND GOD – 2022-1

The ideological foundations of royal sovereignty in the Bagratid Armenia

Ruben L. Manasserian
The coronation rite of the Bagratids went through a series of stages that marked the evolution of ideas about royal power as divine institution. Ashot I Bagratid was proclaimed king at a meeting of the highest nobility, i.e., in the adoption of the royal title, the priority was the collective will – a secular act, as an expression of divine will. In the year of 885 Ashot I Bagratid was crowned with the participation of the catholicos, who personally placed the crown on him and gave his blessing. The participation of the highest church hierarchy in the act of coronation conveyed a character of a supreme divine sanction to the investiture. In the year 961 Ashot III the Merciful introduced the rite of anointing in the coronation which meant the consecration of the power and personality of the king, endowing him with God-sent grace (Holy Spirit).

According to church ideas, the king – the anointed of God, was elevated to the rank of a sacred mediator between God and the people. The introduction of the rite of anointing in the coronation by the Bagratids also had external political goals – it was directed against the great-power encroachments of the Byzantine emperors, who monopolized the right to bear the title of Basileus. Byzantium recognized only the title of archon (prince) for the Armenian monarch. Based on this fact, a view was expressed in science by K. N. Yuzbashyan, that the Bagratids, in accordance with the great-power position of Byzantium, equated their title of king with the title of archon, in other words, calling themselves kings, they meant themselves princes. This view does not find confirmation in the rite of anointing of the monarch. Borrowing it from the Bible, Ashot III the Merciful asserted his title of king as identical to that of King David. In the justification of the right of the Bagratids to the rite of anointing, as early as the beginning of the 10th century a legend was put forward about their origin from the family of the biblical David. The origins of this legend are rooted in the history of Moses of Khoren on the conversion of prince Bagarat – the ancestor of the Bagratids into Judaism in the II c. AD.

EPIC HAYK, HISTORICAL HAYK AND HIS HERITAGE – 2022-1

Sargis G. Petrosyan
The epithets of the Armenian ethnarch Hayk Abetatsin “born in the flame” and Abetayn “fiery”, in fact, was his mythological prototype of the homonymous god. This is explained by the fact that the historical prototype of the epic Hayk bore not only the name, but also the epithets of the god Hayk, his divine patron. It is also noteworthy that in this way the opponent of the historical Hayk – Bel also bore the name of his divine patron, the main god of the Akkadian pantheon – Bel (in Semitic “Bel” – lord, – the original epithet of the supreme god of the Sumerian- Akkadian pantheon Enlil).

The historical Hayk was the head of one of the southern Armenian tribes and the king of the dual country Armi-Armana, and the historical Bel is the famous king of Akkad and at the same time the despot of all Mesopotamia Sargon. They lived around the middle of the III millennium BC. Haik’s ancestral domain was located in the north of the Western Tigris River basin, and the patrimony of his relative Kadmos Arman (Armanum) was south of the river. Kadmos was not really a grandson, but the nephew (his sister’s son) of Hayk. Therefore, his ancestral possession of Arman was also referred to as the “house of Kadmos” (Armenian “tun Kadmeai”, cuneiform “Kadmukhi”). Before confronting the Akkadian despot, Hayk and his family moved to Hark, to the north of Lake Van. Having settled there, he turned Hark into the center of the “Haykazants tribal union”. Toponym Hark does not mean “fathers”, but it means “opposing”, “overcoming”, “casting out”.

According to ancient legends, Hayk killed Bel in battle, but this is folklore. However, no doubt, quite a few enemy soldiers fell from the well-aimed arrows of Hayk and his archers, since the place of their burial-ground was called Gerezmank, that is, “Graves” (later Gerezmanakk). After the victory over Bel, in order to strengthen the state system and his own monarchical power, Hayk began to carry out various reforms. The head of the social estate of farmers (and producers in general) became the eldest son of Hayk Aramanyak, the head of the military estate became his second son Khor, and the head of the priestly estate became the third son Manawaz. Hayk also changed the custom of succession to the throne. The former was through the female line, which he replaced with inheritance through the male line. Hayk proclaimed his eldest son Aramanyak his heir. The institution of two army commanders, due to the dual system of the structure of the ancient tribes, was abolished, and instead of Aramanyak and Kadmos, he entrusted the leadership of the army to his second son Khor. He declared his patron god Hayk the Supreme God, into whose cult the cults of the main deities of other tribes of the union joined. Thanks to this, after the death of Hayk, the cult of him, as a deified ancestor, also became the part of this soldered, renewed cult.

THE QUESTION OF PROVIDING MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA BY THE UNITED STATES ОF AMERICA IN 1919 – 2021-4

Summary

Armenuhi V. Ghambaryan
The end of the First World War inspired great hopes in the Armenians scattered all over the world, and especially in the newly created Republic of Armenia. The Armenians were eagerly awaiting the decisions of the conference on the problems of the post-war world, hoping that the allies would provide an opportunity for a just solution of the Armenian question – the liberation of all Armenian lands and the establishment of a united and independent Armenia. Without the help of the victorious Powers, it was also impossible to fulfill the key tasks facing the government of the young Republic – protecting the country from external and internal enemies, ensuring the physical existence of the people and solving the food problem. Most Armenians were convinced that the United States would lead their liberation and reconstruction.

However, the historical events of 1919 confirmed that the Great Powers, regardless of the ongoing geopolitical changes, as before, guided by their own interests, continued, if not forget, then to push into the background their “concerns” about the fate of the Armenians and gradually forget the promises and readiness provide the necessary assistance. The actions of the United States in this case practically did not differ from the positions of other Powers. Moreover, if the allies
openly distanced themselves from the solution of the Armenian question and leaving the latter to the United States, offered the Americans the mandate for Armenia, the United States acted contradictory manifestations. On the one hand, the Americans expressed interest in seeing the Armenian people free and independent, on the other hand, with regard to the Armenians and, in particular, in the issue of the mandate, they pursued a “passive” and “undefined” policy. Thus, in the studied period of time, it becomes pointless to wait for decisive actions on the part of the United States – in terms of political or military intervention in favor of the Armenians in general and the Republic of Armenia in particular. By the end of
the summer of 1919, with the withdrawal of British troops from the Caucasus and, in particular, from Armenia, when the situation in Armenia became critical, the only hope was the United States. However, the petitions and statements of the Armenians about the provision of military assistance, the dispatch of troops, weapons and ammunition to Armenia remained unanswered by the United States. The efforts of the civil and military missions of the Republic of Armenia that left for the United States in the autumn of 1919 with petitions and the hope that Congress would agree to first send small troops to Armenia to ensure control over the roads delivering aid through the territory of Georgia, then recognizes the Republic of Armenia and, in the end, will accept the mandate of Armenia. The above mentioned points were also included in the resolution of Senator J. Sh. Williams, submitted to the US Senate, on the provision of military assistance to the Republic of Armenia. The hearings of a special subcommittee on this issue, created by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held from September 27 to October 10, were in fact unsuccessful. The issue of military assistance to Armenia from the United States did not receive a positive decision, and the refusal dragged on for more than six months – until mid of May 1920.

The reality that the United States did not openly respond to the provision of military assistance to Armenia, or, rather, consistently delayed a negative response, was neither an accident nor a “political hesitation”. The US policy towards Armenia was one of the vectors of a specially developed political line “Europe- East”, according to which military-state intervention in the protection of Armenians during the mentioned period was actually not on the agenda. In fact, the United States pursued a neutral policy – both economically and politically and even officially – de jure did not recognize the Republic of Armenia.

THE ARMENIAN NAMES OF NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES – 2021-3

In the light of the “North-South” antiunitary concepts

Summary

Sargis G. Petrosyan
The Indo-European tribes oriented themselves by facing the east, since for people who worshipped the sun, the East – the place of sunrise, was the sacred side of the world. Then, according to the system of binary mythological oppositions, the north – the dark side of the world, became the “left” side, and the south – the light side of the world, the “right” side.

Assyrian cuneiform sources from 722 BC mention the country of Gamirra and the people of Gamirra, Gamirrai, Gimirri, i.e. the Cimmerians. This country is located to the north of the Armenian Highlands, on the territory of present-day Georgia. In the ethnotoponym Gamirra <*gam-er, in our opinion, gam meant the North Star. In Armenian, “գամ” means “nail” and “բեւեռ” means “nail, pole”. It is known that in the mythological representations of different peoples, the Polar Star is a nail around which the firmament rotates. If this is the case, then gam-er should mean “northerner”. The ancient Armenians also called their northern neighbors “վիր-ք” – “Iberians”, and their northern country “Վիրք” – “Iberia”. This ethnotoponym is based on the Indo-European *seu-er <* seu – “left”, “north”, and -er suffix (compare gam-er). It is known that the kingdom of darkness was originally represented in the north. In ancient Armenian legends, it is said that Gushar Haykid inherited Mtin Mountain in northern Armenia. The oronym “Մթին” means “dark, gloomy” in Armenian.

As in the mythological ideas of the ancient Armenians, the mountains of the north, the left side of the world, were compared with the dark mountains of the kingdom of darkness, so the mountains of the south, the right side of the world, were compared with the clear, light mountains of the kingdom of the blessed.

Mount Savalan, located south of the ancient Armenian region of Parspatunik, is located in the north of ancient Atropatena (Iranian Azerbaijan). The oronym Saualan (<*Saual-an) is of Indo-European origin. In Indo-European *sauel “light > sun”. To the north of this mountain is the Salavat mountain pass. In Greek – pelasgus Σαλαβη “passage”. In Urartian inscriptions, the country of Puluadi is also mentioned here. The first component of this name is related both to the Armenian “փող” – “narrow passage, corridor”, etc., and to the Greek πύλη “gate” and the Greek pelasgus φύλαξ “guard, sentry, gatekeeper”. The second component of the name comes from the Indo-European *sadh – “right” > “south” (>Arm. աջ). The name of Puluadi country entirely means “Southern Passage”.

In the south of historical Armenia are the Sasun mountains, where the country of Šubria of Assyrian sources was located. This name is based on the satem reflex of the Indo-European *k՛ubh-ro. In Armenian “սուրբ” – “sacred, holy” (<*սուբր). From the same Indo-European word *k՛ubh- originates the Sumerian (borrowed) name of Northern Mesopotamia ŠUBUR (>Akkad. SUBIR, Šubari, Šubartu. etc.). Šubartu is later attested as a synonym of the name Aŝŝur//Assyria. In the north of Mesopotamia, south of Armenia, was ancient Adiabene (Greek: ’Aδιαβήνη). The name of this country consists of the components *Adi-au- (-ena/-ene toponymic suffix of the Greek language), where *adi- means “southern” (compare Pulu-adi), and *au- < in Indo-European *ai- “to spend the night, overnight”. In Armenian աւ-թ> օթ> օթեւան “lodging, dwelling, room, abode”.

ARMENIAN-BYZANTINE CHURCH CONFRONTATION IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 9TH CENTURY – 2021-2

Vardan A. Aleksanyan

The second half of the 9th century is the beginning of a new stage in the confrontation between the Armenian and Byzantine churches. At the beginning of the 860s, the correspondence of the Patriarch of Constantinople Photius (857-867, 877-886) with Catholicos Zakaria I (855-876) and the Prince of Princes Ashot I (862-887) began. The main subject of the correspondence was the relation to the Chalcedonian Cathedral and the attempts to create the Armenian-Byzantine church unity. It was a challenge not only to the Armenian Church, but to the entire Armenian people, since the hidden goal of the Constantinople throne was to create the ground for the final annexation of Armenia. For the purpose of discussing the proposal and making decisions, Zakaria Dzagetsi 862 convened a council in Shirakavan from numerous bishops and monks in the presence of the sparapet of Armenia Ashot Bagratuni. During the council, a tense struggle was waged between adherents of the Armenian faith and supporters of Chalcedonianism. Bishop Vahan (John) of Nicea spoke at it, trying to persuade the Armenians to accept the Council of Chalcedon. However, the Armenian clergy managed to diplomatically reject the proposals of the Greek Church.

Photius continued his efforts in the second period of his patriarchate (877- 886). He wrote a letter to the Prince of Princes Ashot and in various ways tried to convince the Armenian leadership to accept the Council of Chalcedon. In his answer, which was set forth by Sahak Apikuresh (Mrut), Ashot refutes the accusations against the Armenian Church and, in turn, accuses the Council of Chalcedon for being similar to Nestorianism. The content of Ashot Bagratuni’s answer demonstrates the unity of the Armenian spiritual and secular authorities in protecting the independence and independence of the national church. It is important that the Armenian nobility built their relations with Byzantium taking into account the interests of the Arab Caliphate, since the Arabs played a huge role in the region. By rejecting the proposals of the Greek Church, Armenia satisfied the age-old enemy of Byzantium, the Arab Caliphate. Having defended the independence and autonomy of their church, the Armenians fought for national identity, since religious identity was the basis of the national identity of the Armenians.

ON THE ASSOCIATIONS OF ANCIENT INHABITANTS OF THE EASTERN COAST OF LAKE VAN AND SYUNIK – 2021-2

Armen E. Petrosyan

Šiuini – the name of the third great god of Urartu, should have been borrowed from a Hittite dialect, cf. Hitt. šiu- (šiuni, šiuanni, šiuna-) ‘god’, earlier: ‘sun god’, šiuatt- ‘daytime’ < *dyeu-, from the Indo-European name of the god of daylight sky. The consideration of this theonym as the Urartian parallel of the Hurrian sun god Šimigi is linguistically impossible (I. M. Diakonoff, V. V. Ivanov). The capital of Urartu Tušpa was the worship center of this god. The Armenian name of this city, Van, is derived from the declension form Bia(i)na of cuneiform Biainili, the name of royal domain and central land of the kingdom, where-ni is an Urartian suffix and -li a plural formant). It may be thought that in earliest times this region was inhabited by a Hittite speaking people.

Šiuini (to read: Siwini) is comparable to the name of the Armenian province of Siwnik‘ (< Siwini-yā, with Arm. plural formant k‘), where the largest concentration of toponyms derived from Arm. arew/areg ‘sun’ and traces of ancient cult of the sun god have survived. The local districts Vayoc‘ jor and Vaykunik‘ (Vay-ik-uni-k‘) are probably associated with the ethnonym of the ancient inhabitants of the East of the Lake Van, the Biai people (to read: Vyāy/Vǣy, which in Armenian reflected as Vay). This people of the Van region probably moved to Siwnik‘ in the beginning of the first millennium BC, under pressure of the Urartians.

THE AGE OF SMBAT II MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE – 2021-1

Part II: deepening of the process of fragmentation of the Armenian kingdom

Arman S. Yeghiazaryan

In the 980s, important processes took place in the neighboring countries of Bagratid Armenia. The Middle Eastern regions of the significantly weakened Arab Caliphate were under the rule of the leaders of the Iranian peoples, who managed to capture Baghdad, conquer most of Mesopotamia and Syria, and approach Armenia from the south. At the same time, in the Byzantine Empire, which was at the peak of its power, the struggle for the throne sometimes resumed. Important processes also took place in Atrpatakan, where the Ravvadids, the rulers of Tabriz, were gradually gaining strength. A completely different situation developed in the Christian Transcaucasus, where such actors as the Abkhazian king Bagrat III (978-1014) and the Taik kurapalat David (961-1000) appeared.

During the reign of Smbat II Conqueror of the Universe (978-990), the process of feudal fragmentation deepened, which began during the reign of Ashot III the Merciful (953-978). In the late 970s and early 980s, kingdoms were created in Tashirk, Parisos and Syunik, as a result of which all more or less significant principalities within the kingdom of the Bagratids became kingdoms by the mid980s. Although all these new kingdoms continued to recognize the supremacy of the ruler of Ani, the unity of the state was seriously damaged.

At the same time, Byzantium, which, despite the uprisings, retained its power, being unable to directly interfere in the affairs of Armenia, tried to achieve its ambitious goals through local rulers. Among the latter, it is especially needed to mention the Taik kurapalat of David, to whom Byzantium granted vast provinces in the western and central parts of Armenia with the right to rule for life. Despite this, the viable and powerful Taik principality was condemned as an independent political entity, as David Kurapalat was eventually forced to bequeath the Taik empire. But before that, thanks to the territories received from Byzantium, he increased his military and economic capabilities and began to effectively intervene in the affairs of the Bagratid kingdom. In the end, a rather strong cooperation developed between the rulers of Taik and Ani, the result of which was the promotion of Bagrat III’s ascension to the throne in Abkhazia, and after the latter intended to march against David Kurapalat, forcing him to peace.

In the last years of his reign, Smbat II managed to stabilize the situation in the country, to some extent overcome the consequences of feudal fragmentation, and rally the local kings around him. As a result, according to Asoghik – the historiographer of the end of the 10th century, he was accompanied by success in internal and external affairs. The country was experiencing an economic upsurge, and Smbat II began to successfully expand the royal possessions in the direction of Syunik and the eastern regions of Armenia.

Although his father Ashot III the Merciful was buried in the Horomos monastery, Smbat II found his eternal rest in Ani. According to historian Asoghik, the king “… died and was buried in the same city (i.e., Ani – A. Ye.)”. The reason is that Ani, with its new and majestic appearance, was the work of Smbat II Lord of the Universe. It is no coincidence that the king ordered to bury him there. But it is not known in which part of Ani he was buried.