CHAPTER 3 ARRAN IN THE PERIOD OF ARAB DOMINATION

Byzantium and its church, as well as the successors of their policy refused to become reconciled with the existence of another independent church, just beside themselves. In the second half of the thirteenth century the Pope of Rome appealed to the Armenian King Hetum of Cilicia to accept subordination to the Byzantine Church, as it was the only church authorized to rule over all the other Christian states45.

The attacks on the Armenian authentic apostolic traditions never ceased. But the Armenian eastern wing responded to this in a vigorous and effective way.

The thirteenth century was the hardest period in the Armenian history and especially for Utik and Khachen (Artsakh).

A new dIsaster originated from Central Asia: the Mongol-Tatars, who had formed a new mighty state in 1206 under Temuchin who after a few minor inspections, launched a full-scale invasion of the neighbouring countries. Khachen, as well as the whole north-eastern Armenia flourished under the Zakarian princes, new monastries, cathedrals, fortresses were being erected. After the death of Nerkin Khachen ruler Vakhtang (1214), his son – Prince Hassan Jalal (1214-1261) reigned over a large part of Khachen, attaining a certain degree of power and independence. He was praised by the medieval historiographers as the most able political dealer of the thirteenth century. In 1216 his brother Smbat erected a monumental khachkar (cross-stone) and inscribed on it Hassan-Jalal’s name, calling him a king46. The use of Arab first names at that time was common amongst the Armenians, and his name Hassan meant “handsome”. “Jalal” is also an Arabic term, meaning “glorious, supreme, majestic”. His third name, “Dawla”, derived from the word “dawlat” and meant “wealth, power, might”. The family was later known as “Jalalian”.

At one and the same time Hassan Jalal could legitimately style himself as “King of Artsakh”, “King of Siunik”, “King of Baghk”, not to mention Prince of Gardman, Dizak and Khachen, and Presiding Prince of Albania. He selected the title “King of Artsakh and Baghk”. He was a great builder too. His activity covered not only his native Khachen, but other provinces as well.(Haghpat and Kecharris). He restored and erected churches, khachkars, supported the historiographers.

The first inscription, documenting his architectural and artistic work was preserved in the Vacharr monastry not far from his palace “Darpasner” and later was found in the ruins of the church. It read, “I, who am Hassan, son of Vakhtang and Khorishah, lord of Khachen, erected this sacred church…(1229)”50. The fine monastry of Gandzasar, built near the Jalalian residence, was one of the temporal and spiritual centres of the principality. Attached in theory to the primatial catholicossate of Armenia, it was used from the fourteenth century until 1815 as the seat of the Catholicossate of Albania. The monastry, which is supposed to be of “Zvartnots-type” in the base, is characterized by richly carved decoration, with several portraits of the patron princes. It was one of the finest speciments of an Armenian thirteenth century ante-nave with the vault resting on two pairs of interesting arches, and having a central skylight rimmed by stalactite work. It was built between 1216 and 1261 by the Jalalian family.

The town of Vacharr was a flourishing centre at that time, and played an important role linking the shepherds of the valley and the highlanders. Unfortunately it was destroyed by the earthquake.

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