CHAPTER 3 ARRAN IN THE PERIOD OF ARAB DOMINATION

Hassan-Jalal Dawla promoted an agreement between the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and Mongols, in this way saving the kingdom from destruction62. If not Hassan-Jalal, Cilicia was not fated to last long, as it was the ally of the Arab Sultan Ghaseddin.

But diplomacy and connections failed to save the Khachen lord from the Mongol exisemen. Bugha and Arghun were appointed collectors of taxes. Both were famous for their deceitful nature. In 1249 Hassan-Jalal applied to Batu Khan’s son Sartakh for help. He made a journey to Karakorum, accompanied by experienced diplomat Grigor Tgha, young prince Desum, bishops Grigor and Markos63. Sartakh, who had adopted Christianity, was extremely favourable to the Christian princes. He introduced them to his father Batu Khan, who had settled near the river Atl (Volga), in the Caspian city Itl (the present day Astrakhan). Batu Khan accepted them with great respect and promised to return “their native Charabert, Akanaberd and Karrkar”64. The geographical outline of the fortresses confirmed the fact that Hassan-Jalal ruled over the whole Artsakh. These three fortresses were the key outposts, whose master could easily rule over the neigbouring borderlands too.

If Charaberd was the famous Jraberd on Tartarr and Akana was Berdavan situated near Haterk, then Karkarr was the city on the river Karkarr, which became famous by the name of Shushi since fifteenth century. A Georgian source testified that Karkarr was not only a city (city fortress) but also a province, and was situated between Khachen and Bailakan65.

The tax collector Arghun was making new plots against Hassan-Jalal and always tried to carry them out. Hassan-Jalal, tired of his persecutions, took his wife Mamkan and his only son Atabek, and accompanied by Sartakh, left for Karakorum (1255), to meet Mangu Khan and complain of the tax collector’s rudeness. This Great Khan affirmed his right to inheritance in his turn. Then Sartakh was appointed the governor of the northern territories and Caucasus, as Batu Khan was already dead66. The King Hetum of Cilician Armenia also attended the Great Khan of Mongols, who ratified the treaty with Cilicia, promising to patronize the king, of course on condition that Hetum should supply him with a certain number of men-of-arms to fight against the Arabs.Later Hetum made another journey to Karakorum, to pay a visit and enter into an alliance with the new head of the Mongol State.

After Hassan-Jalal’s second visit to Karakorum, “Arghun was called there and before Smbat (the Siunid prince) reached the court, Arghun was enchained. He was betrayed by a the treacherous Sevinch Bek and Sharapeddin,… who were eager to take his place”67. The Siunid prince justified the tax collector and he was set free and restored to his old post68.

Hassan-Jalal’s journey lasted five years. On his way back he stayed in Tabriz but sent his wife and son to Khachen. When at last he reached home, his wife was already dead. Unfortunately his friend Sartakh also soon died, poisoned by his relatives. And his enemy Arghun was thirsting for revenge.

This part of Hassan-Jalal’s history was documented in the diary of the Gospel by Hassan himself. The manuscript is kept in Matenadaran69. The Georgian King David rebelled against the Mongols in 1260. The rising was suppressed, David had a narrow escape. David’s wife, sparapet Shahnshah (Zakare’s son) and Hassan-Jalal were imprisoned by Arghun. Probably Hassan-Jalal too participated in the plot. The lord of Khachen was enchained and taken to Ghazvin, accompanied by Arghun. Rusucan, the wife of the Mongol general, tried to help her father, using her influence and relations. Arghun knew this, and hurried to solve the problem.”The holy and fair man” was decapitated at Qazvin in 1266. His son Atabek, with the help of a Persian, took out his father’s mortal remains from a well and buried in the ancient graveyard of the Jalalian family in Gandzassar. Atabek was appointed “Prince of Khachen” by Hulava Khan. Atabek was described as “holy, virtuous, modest and godly, the true son of his parents”70.

The historiographers, as was well as certain sources and inscriptions proclaim Hassan-Jalal Dawla as “Lord of Khachen, Prince of Princes, King of Aghvank, King of the land of Artsakh”. According to an unknown Persian chronologer, “Khachen is an untractable region, lost in woods and mountains. It’s one of the Arran provinces. Armenians inhabit there. The Abkhaz people (Georgians) call their ruler “King”71. Of course, the word “king” here is not used in the traditional meaning, the “king” could be only the autocratic lord of a large country. Thus, Hassan-Jalals principality, called Khachen, covered all the territory of ancient Artsakh with its provinces, from the Arax river to Gardman borders. Hassan-Jalals son Atabek-Hvane ruled in Artsakh till his death (1287). Thereafter the descendants of the Jalalian family continued their rule and preserved the tradition of national sovereignity unbroken until the late medieval period.

The thirteenth century Artsakh-Khachen cultural and artistic works played preponderent role in the development of Armenian culture on the whole. The historians are captivated not only by the remarkable culture of Armenia prior, but Armeno-Cilician as well. The story of the Armenian political, cultural and ecclesiastical revival of the period is arresting for those scholars interested in the Armenian history. This era is truely called a silver age of the Armenian culture. The revival did not cease to exist even under the Mongol domination. The fine monastry of Gandzasar, the Dadivank monastery, Khatravank, St. Tsara, Vaghuhas Capital, Horrekavank, Gtichavank monasteries are the result of the flourishing period of thirteenth century. The Dadivank monastery comprised perhaps the largest and most complete monastic group of medieval Armenia, with twenty edifices divided into three parts, used for worship, living quarters and ancillary purposes. All the Armenian monastries contained scriptoriums, where numerous manuscripts were copied and illuminated, miniature painting was flourishing. Educational institutions were functioning in all the monasteries, where, besides languages and philosophy, painting and embroidering (for virgins) were taught. At the beginning of thirteenth century the first khachcars (cross-stones) were carved in Khachen. Amongst the most famous are the two at Gtichavank, which were kept in a church specially built for that purpose. The creative originality of the Dadivank khachkars was as great as those of Gtichavank.

Close ties bound Artsakh-Khachen with Armenian provinces, centres and with Cilician Armenian Kingdom. Several Armenian and Cilician manuscripts were obtained and kept in Khachen, which, during the Mongol domination were saved and preserved by the Armenian princes. A certain cultural renaissance took place in Armenian literary activity too, which has been called “the Albanian School” of Armenian literature, and which produced historians, philosophers, scientists and codifiers of law. Historical writing was one of the most significant aspects of classical and medieval Armenian literature of the district.

No violence or power could make the Armenians, sheltered in the highlands, give up their national script. It was the national spirit that inspired the Armenians of the Albanian region. The Armenian culture on the whole was influenced by the Artsakhian, as many famous scholars of Artsakh lived in the Armenian religious centres. For a long time the Khachen priests headed the Haghpat monastery. They erected churches and monuments, copied and illuminated manuscripts in Armenia proper.

The various foreign dominations and political shifts effected the Arran (Artsakh and Utik) land ethnically. Soldiers, craftmen, administrative rulers, tax-collectors and other representatives of multinational social strata settled in the country. They were Persians, Arabs, Jews, Turks, Mongols by origin. They inhabited the cities Partav, Gandzak, Bailakan. The peasantary was predominantly Armenian, and the bearer of typical Armenian traditions, customs and dialects.

The Arab chronologer Rashid-ad-din had registered an event which took place in 1276. The successor of Hulavu Khan (1256-1265), Abagha Khan (1265-1282) visited the subjected district Arran. Once he went hunting, surrounded by his bodyguards. A rebellion broke out while he was there. The Mongol ordered his soldiers to catch and kill all those who took part in the revolt. The leader of the rebellious peasants appeared himself and submitted to the Khan72. The auther didn’t mention the nationality of the rebells. But the historian L. Babayan came to a conclusion that “The Arran district was predominantly Armenian and we won’t make a mistake saying that the disobedient rebells were probably the Armenian peasants”73.

If the Arabs, then the Turks(Seljuks) ruled in Partav and Gandzak, the different branches of Arranshahikid family were the only authorized masters of the highlands. The conquerers were unable to leave distinguishable traces on the typically Armenian environment, culture and way of life. The Khasars left some stone idols, the Arabs a tomb in Nakhichevan, the Mongols and Seljuk-Turks-nothing. They were good at destroying cathedrals, fortresses, palaces, cities and burning manuscripts instead…

It was the script and literature that preserved the nation. Though centrifugal and discordant internally, they were never broken and there could be no power bending them to its will or depriving of the national creative spirit, which continued to inspire them during the comings and goings of the foreign powers. There are numerous examples of national endeavour on the part of the Armenians and there was not a moment during the long centuries when they lost their independence, or semi-independence or control over the destiny of at least a part of their native land.

At the end of the thirteenth century Jengiz Khan’s universal domain (from India to the Mediterranean sea, from the Russian north to the Persian gulf) was undermined and divided into different states. The emergence of Havalu Khan’s state was the result of the process. This state contained Transcaucasia, Armenia and Atropateni-Azarbaijan. Ethnical migrations took place in Iran, western Armenia and eastern Byzantium. The group of Persian nation called Medes, with the addition of Arab and later Turkish elements, gave birth to the Azari ethnic group.

Chamchian noted that some people called them Persians, others-Turks74.Their language was a mixture of Median, Iranian and Turkish terms. Today this ethnicity forms the bulk of population of Azarbaijan (in Iran).

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* In the princely houses of Arran, as well as Siunik, the use of Arab first names was at that time fairly commom. “Hassan” meant “handsome”.

** Now it is situated between Armenian towns Dilijan and Ijevan.

*** “Georgian sources about Armenia”, B. page 15.

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