CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

As the Turks and their various Muslim vassals began to falter in the twelfth century, Georgia expanded into northern and eastern Armenia, capturing Ani, Dvin and Kars and all of Siunik, wisely placing the regions under Armenian vassal princes, and reducing to the same vassalage the rulers of Dizak and Khachen. The Armenians profited from the Georgian domination, as it enabled the survival of the state and the preservation of its autonomy, which were Armenia’s foremost concerns.

The Armenian sparapet Sargis Zakarian, being in treaty with the Georgian State, soon was raised to the rank of commander of the joint army39.

As the Armenian historian Ashot Hovhannisian wrote, “The Georgian Bagratids were considered not as conquerers but as heirs to the Armenian throne, and were supported by the whole nation. Reuniting Armenia and Georgia they referred to Armenia not as a subject state but as a family domain, which had achieved its feudal freedom by joint effort of Armenia and Georgia40.

The Armenian Zakarian dignitaries at the Georgian court (the liberators of Armenia) were the hereditary claimants of the “amirspasalar’s” and “atabek’s” positions. Sargis Zakarian married his four daughters to the princes of eastern Armenian most influented families, thus establishing close relashionship with all Armenian domains.They may be dreaming of restoring the Armenian monarchy. They liberated Gardman, Karherdz, Yergevank, Toush, Terunakan, Gagard and Shamkor41.

Sargis Amir spaslar (sparapet, military commander) married his daughter Khorishah to the lord of Nerkin Khachen (Khokhanaberd) -Vakhtang-Tangik. His second daughter Dop was the wife of Verin Khachen ruler Hasan I. The next daughter Nana married Abbas Kiurikian of Lori, and the last daughter Nargis was the daughter-in-law of Mamikonian family in Psegh. All these princes were the Armenian vassals of Georgian kings, but on the whole they were considered as the only masters of their indivisible family domains42. The lords of Nerkin Khachen descended from the Albanian king Hamam-Grigor and his son Sahak(Isaak) Sevada, whose branch originated from the Arranshahikids. The junior line of the branch resided in Haterk.

From the second half of the XII century the Artsakh Prince of Princes was the Haterk lord Hassan*(1142-1182). His son Vakhtang inherited his father’s title and domain. He had five brothers – Vasak, Smbat, Grigor, Khoidan and Grigoris.

Persecuted by the Albanian Catholicos Stepanos, one of the prominant scholars of the time – Mkhitar Gosh, was given shelter by Prince Vakhtang. Mkhitar Gosh, the condifier of Armenian law, began to write his codes of law in Heterk43. Mkhitar Gosh testified that Hassan was the ruler of the principality, and his domain was a piece of the abolished Armenian Kingdom. Vakhtang and his five brothers built in 1991 the monastry of Nor Getk for Gosh in the Aghstev valley**. They confirmed this fact in a lithographic inscription. Gosh presented the Prince of Princes with a copy of his book.

Though the Khachen principality was also reduced to vassalage as Armenia, but practically it was an independent autonomous state, ruled by a sovereign prince. In a colophon of Georgian manuscript we read that Prince Vakhtang of Khachen sent the Georgian King David a horse, in return for the fortress Gardman and a town.*** The tombstones and cross-stones of that period prove that the horse continued to be an object of warship in Artsakh.

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