CHAPTER 3 ARRAN IN THE PERIOD OF ARAB DOMINATION

Sahak Sevada was succeeded by his elder son Hovhannes. As the last historiographer of “The History of Albania Dashkhurantsi wrote, “Our God the Christ chose Hovhannes, who was also called Senekerim, achieving the royal status. This way our all-mighty Lord restored the abolished kingdom”.17 The Persian King sent a throne, a light-footed horse and a royal tunic to the Albanian King Sanekerim-Hovhannes (958-1003). The representative of Byzantine Empire David Magistros presented the king “with a royal purple garb, praising and honouring that godly man, who was anointed by the patriarchal hand (probably by Catholicos Theodoros I) to glorify Jesus Christ”.18 Senekerim chose the city Parrisos as his residence, which was situated on Shamkor stream near the present day Azerbaijani Kelakend village).19 Parrisos stretched from the Mrrav mountains to the city of Shamkor, covering the whole Gardmank. The medieval Armenian historian Asoghik testified that the mother of King Abbas of Kars was the sister of Parrisos princes Senekerim and Grigor (who was blinded by the Armenian King Ashot II)20.

During that period of the ninth century Hamam-Grigor’s grandson Ishkhanik reigned in Shaki-Kambechan. He inherited the royal title from his father Atrnerseh. The sister of Georgian Prince of Princes Gurgen’s sister was Ishkhanik’s mother. Following his mother’s advice, Ishkhanik converted the Shaki- Kambachan Armenians to the Chalcedonian faith, depriving them of the Armenian origin and environment.21

The blinded Grigor was considered as the Prince Superior of Albania, his residence situated in Havkakhaghats fortress opposite Gandzassar. The descendants of Yessayi Apumusseh continued to reside in southern Artsakh. This divided up principalities of Khachen, Utik and Kambachan-Shaki had to safeguard the Armenian north-eastern frontiers. As the Armenian Bagratid kings were engaged in internal and external wars, the north-eastern boundries were left defenceless. Even the Armenian Catholicoses, due to wars, were unable to contact with the subject Albanian religious institutions. In the second half of the tenth century the Albanian Sahak Catholicos, and Gagik, his brother, who replaced him on the Catholicos’ seat, maintained close relations with the Siunid Archbishop Ter-Hakob. They reinforced centrifugal tendencies, and designed to counteract the centralizing policy of the Armenian Church. The Catholicos Anania Mokatsi (943-965) was obliged to leave for Siunik. The Archbishop acknowledged his mistakes and promised to subject to Catholicos’ will. The Albanian Catholicos Gagik was not anointed by the Superior Armenian Catholicos, so Anania Mokatsi applied to the Albanian princes and clergy calling them not to subjugate the Albanian partiarch. The Albanian nobility sent Hovnan to Armenia to be ordained. Returning to Albania Hovnan faced Gagik’s hostility. Tired and irritated with the Albanian religious turmoil, Anania Mokatsi resolved to reject both of the candidates.In 949 accompanied by his retinue, he arrived in Khachen, where in Ardakh place the Gandzassar monastry was situated. He was received by the hospitable Prince Gregory the Great. Here, he was told that the Albanian Church had a right to independence. Stressing the close links of the Albanian Church with Armenia, the Catholicos took the book “The History of Albania”(M.Kaghankatvatsi) and read the passage about the first Albanian Catholicos Grigoris, being ordained by the first Armenian Archbishop Gregory the Illuminator. Then Anania held a meeting in Gandzasar, inviting the higher clergy and secular lords of Khachen, Utik and Kambechan-Shaki. The Artsakh ruler Ishkhanik, Prince of Princes Senekerim (some years later to found a kingdom in Parrisos), son of Khachen Prince Gregory-Senekerim, Prince Vachagan of Gorroz (a descendent of Yessayi Apumusseh), eastern Armenian great prince Gurgen and many other princes and archbishops took part in the meeting. Anania unfrocked the ordained Hovhan and Gagik as both were guilty of bad conduct and gossiping. He also refused Khachen Prince Grigor’s request on behalf of Gagik to ordain him as the new Catholicos. Hurt and angry, he left Albania. Both the Siunid bishop Hakob and Albanian Archbishop Gagik died in 958. Anania visited Siunik once again. Then he left for Kapan, to prince Jivanshir’s estate and consecrated Jivanshir’s brother Vahan as an archbishop over the Siunid domain. Vahan was a bishop of Vahanavank. Anania did not succeed in visiting Artsakh as the Armenian King Ashot III(Merciful) called him to leave for the capital Ani immidiately.

The Albanian princes Senekerim and Ishkhanik sent the bishop of Khotakerats(Karkop) monastry (Armenia, near the village Khachik) David to Echmiadzin, to be ordained as an Albanian Catholicos. Anania Mokatsi had already calmed down, so he anointed bishop David as Catholicos of Albania and sent him to Parrisos23.

In Armenia Ashot IY Bagratuni(Merciful) came to throne (952-977). The capital of the kingdom was transferred to the castle Ani (previously the capital was Kars), and the Catholicos residence was transferred to Shirak ; to the village Argina which is not far from Ani. In 961 the ceremonial consecration of the city as a capital took place, Senekerim’s successor Philippos and the Albanian Catholicos Hovhannes were invited to take part in the consecration. Hovhannes arrived with his forty archbishops.

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