Some of the finest khachkars (cross-stones) of Armenia were carved in Khachen in the thirteenth century. Secular nature was typical to the carvings; soldiers, military and wordly different scenes. In order to stress the flourishing state of Khachen in medieval era, mention should also be made of its many fortresses, still partially preserved now. B. Ulubabian wrote about the architectural and artistic activity of the Jalalians, “During the first Mongol-Tatar incursions, in the midst of destruction and pillage, ravished from time and space, they continously built as if for eternity, affirming the common truth that the creative power can’t be stopped”51. The Albanian Catholicos Nerses and seven hundred bishops took part in the consecration of the monastry in 1238. The historian Kirakos Gandzaketsi, who was also there during the ceremony, stated that the monastry was “a skylike temple in glory to God the highest”52

The Russian expert of history of architecture A.L.Yakobson wrote that Gandzasar should be considered as “the encyclopedia of thirteenth century Armenian architecture”53.A professor of Byzantine architecture of Sorbon University characterized Gandzasar as the third among the five Armenian architectural monuments included in the international catalogue of architectural masterpieces, after the Church Aghtamar and Hripsime’s Cathedral in Echmiadzin54.

On the threshold of Mongol invasion of Armenia, the Khorassan Sultan Jalaleddin, persecuted by the Mongols, overran the territories of Gandzak, ravaging the land. In 1255 he captured Tpghis55. But soon he was to be defeated by the Mongol-Tatats, who were reaching Albania.

Again the dark days approached Armenia.

The mongol army under Charmaghan, crossed the river Arax and headed for Khachen, Utik, Georgia and eastern Armenia, ravaging the whole land on the way. They surrounded and soon took Ani. Kirakos Gandzaketsi wrote that they wintered in the fertile Kur-Arax vallay, the Mukhank, which “was full of material benefits – water, wood, fruit, prey”56. They launched attacks on the borderlands from here. In 1231-1232 they attacked Gandzak. The population of the city was predominantly Persian57. Most of them burnt down their houses and themselves not to leave anything to the cannibal. The whole city was destroyed, the population massacred and a small part taken captive.

Queen Tamar’s daughter, Russudan had succeded her mother on the Georgian throne. Kirakos Gandzaketsi compared her with the Assyrian Queen Shamiram for her voluptousness. Unlike her mother she was unable of ruling a country. After the death of Ivane Zakarian (1234), the Georgian army was good for nothing. The Armeno-Georgian treaty was broken. There was nobody to organize a resistence against the Mongols. “The ground was covered with dead bodies and there was nobody to lament for them and bury the corpses”, wrote Kirakos Gandzaketsi58.

The Mongols, under Molar Noyin, surrounded Shamkor, where Prince Vehram resided. Besides the rampart, the city was defended by a deep channel, dug around the walls. The Mongols filled earth into the channel and crossing it, captured the city. The population was slaughtered. Then they conquered Gardman, Terunakan, Yergevank, Matsnaberd, Charek, Getapak, invaded Taush, Karsaret, Nor Berd, Gag (Ghazakh)59 Prince Vahram managed to escape. Kirakos Gandzaketsi described in detail the Khachen massacre and Hassan Jalal’s relations with the Mongols. “He was humble and modest, merciful and attentive to the poor, godly and studious, reading the Testaments”. Hassan Jalal was an able politician as well. After trying in vain to fight the Mongols, he contrived to win their favour and maintained good relations with them. He even married his daughter Rusukan to general Charmaghan’s son Boris-Noyin. The Verin Khachen and Tsar ruler Ivane’s son Avag Zakarian had also accepted the Mongol overlordship. Hassan made two journeys to Karakorum, acting as the representative of the whole of Armenia, and obtained from their Great Khan certain privileges amounting to autonomy. In certain sources and in a Gandzasar inscription of 1240, Hassan-Jalal styled himself as “Autocratic lord and King of Artsakh country”60. But in return for the privileges, Hassan-Jalal and other Armenian princes submitted to the Mongols and led their troops in the Mongol army. They had only one aim – to save their country and the people. In 1242 the dumb Charmaghan was replaced by Bachu-Ghurchi, who formed an enormous army to clear eastern Armenia of the Seljuk Sultan Ghiasseddin Kai-Khosrov. Hassan-Jalal, Avag, Shahnshah Zakarians and other princes supported him61.

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