Part I. Strengthening of the Armenian kingdom (953-966)
Arman S. Yeghiazaryan
The reign of Ashot III the Merciful (953-978) is one of the most discussed one in the history of Armenia. This is due to the fact that during this period Ani became the capital of Armenia and gradually became the focus of the civilizational accomplishments of the Armenian people, and it was then that the collapse of the kingdom of Armenian Bagratids began.
Despite these important circumstances, the history of the reign of Ashot III the Merciful is still not fully researched. There are many questions for which the historian must find answers.
Ashot III the Merciful ascended to the throne in 953 and immediately set about choosing a new capital. The facts show that the attempt to liberate the ancient capital of Armenia, Dvin, immediately after the accession in 953, served to resolve this issue. The attempt was unsuccessful after which Kars remained the capital of Armenia for 8 years.
It should be noted that the liberation of Dvin was part of Ashot III the Merciful’s big plan to subjugate the Muslim emirates of the Arax river valley. And if the attempt to liberate Dvin failed, the rest of the plan was implemented with great success. The emirates of the Arax river valley from Dvin to Nakhijevan were subordinated to the king of Armenia, who appointed his governors there.
Until 961, when Ani was declared the capital of the kingdom of the Bagratids, Ashot III the Merciful was busy strengthening and improving the state. It should be noted that he inherited a united, powerful and developed kingdom from his father, the king of Armenia Abas (929-953) and managed to continue its further strengthening and development.
At the beginning of Ashot III the Merciful’s reign, the Hamdanids state, whose troops were defeated by the Armenian army in 959 in the southwestern border of the Armenian kingdom threatened the Armenian kingdom. For the second time the enemy was defeated in Taron canton.
Although the name “The Merciful” is attributed to him because of the beautification of the church and help to the poor and sick, it should be noted that he was also a gifted person and king.