CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

Another disaster followed the earthquake. The shahap (mayor) of Utik and Artsakh, Khuhtughti, revolted against Sultan Masud(1134-1155), who was Melik Shah’s grandson. He intended to extend his territories and found a new large Emirate. As Mkhitar Gosh told; in 1142 he surrounded the two fortresses of Catholicos’ Kar (Catholicos’ stone) and Karapet’s Kar (Karapet’s stone), kept under siege for some time and then, capturing it, destroyed and burnt down the buildings and the churches34.

To suppress the Khughtught revolt, the Sultan sent his general Choly. The rebel was punished. Choly blinded him and then moved to Khachen, taking fortresses, destroying churches and villages, slaughtering the population on his way. Samuel Anetsi wrote, that inviting the princes of Khachen to his place, Choly imprisoned them35. In the Albanian chronicle of Mkhitar Gosh we learn that in the year 1144-1145 the Turkish Emir, “Choly, growing arrogant, turned against the region of Khachen, captured all its fortresses, demolished the churches and burned down the monastries”. In 1145-1146 Choly was back a second time, “As the fortresses he took on the first occassion did not remain in his hands…The nobles hiding in the forest caves retook them and rebelled. Angered by this, he marched against them, seeking revenge.He was not able to capture the fortresses, but he completely laid waste the entire land. The Dadivank monastry was also burned down”. In another lithograph of Prince of Princes Hasan (1182), we read that he had fought innumerable wars for forty years and had won victories over all his enemies36.

Reinforcing their centrifugal tendencies, the local Muslim rulers of Seljuk state were eager to despoil the region, and though the Armenian princes responded to this in a vigorous way, they were not always successful. Sometimes they tried to save their principalities by not only accepting the Seljuk overlordship, but also by marrying their daughters to the tyrants. This marriages excited the temper of other princes and the internal discordance began to spread all over the district. The Khokhanabert Prince Grigor, for example, had married his daughter to Toghan, who was a governor residing in Charaberd (Jraberd) fortress. Grigor’s relative Hassan was the father-in-law of another Turkmen leader. They began to joust and argue over the leadership in the region. Toghan himself tried to occupy the whole Arran with his father-in-law’s help. Prince Grigor(1147) allied to Toghan moved to the Herkan district of Artsakh, (later Giulistan Melikdom, now Shahumian district of Karabakh Republic). He settled his army at the foot of Kaitsi Tsar mount, near the Herkan (Zevu or Giulistan) fortress37. They fought a battle with Gurbugha’s son-in-law Rovad, who refused to obey. Rovad’s Turkmen army attacked from Divakhorr mount and put to sword all the enemy soldiers. Prince Grigor was also killed. His body was carried back and buried in the funerary chapel of his ancestors. Such wars were endless. Taking advantage of the turmoil, the Emir of Nakhichevan province Elktuz occupied Gandzak, then replaced the deceased Atropateni King Sultan Masud by Aslan Shah and he himself as a trustee of Sultan Atabak, ruled over eastern Armenia and Georgia.

But he didn’t succeed in subjugating the Khachen principality, as its fortresses were unapproachable, and the rulers and people disobedient.

However the continuous wars undermined the Khachen principality. In the second half of the XII century Khachen was divided up between three princely families. Each third of the land was ruled by a different line of the Siunid branch of the family. One of the lands centres was Khokhanaberd, or the palace “Darpasner” (gates), the other – Haterk and Akanaberd (on the left bank of the Tartarr river), and the third – Handaberd (in Tsar province). Parallel to the three principalities, there existed also petty domains, under the suzerainity of one of the three, maintaning the “Prince of Princes” title, which was inherited by the family, whose leader was the most influential. Thus, though the Arranshahikids had lost the royal status, they managed to preserve the “Prince of Princes” title, which enabled them to realize the defence of their country.

The XII century was the rise of the Georgian State, especially during the reign of Queen Tamar the Great (1187-1213). The royal dynast descended from the Armenian Bagratids. The Bagratid branch ruling in Sper, Taik and Kgharjk, adopted the Chalcedonian faith in the ninth century.

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