Thus, the largest of the Armenian lands achieved recognition of royal status from both the Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire. It was centred in Shirak under the Bagratuni dynasty. This was followed by Dizak and Khachen in southern Artsakh under the Arranshahikids, calling itself the “Kingdom of Albania”. Prince Hamam, whose Christian name was Grigor (Gregory), was enthroned as the king of Albania. He was the grandson of Shaki and Kambechan ruler Sahl Smbatian. It’s interesting to note that after 450 years of abolishment (in 428), monarchies were restored in Armenia and Albania. The kingdoms set up on the Artsakh territories (present day Karabakh) and Iberia, subsequently integrated as vassal states in the Bagratid kingdom of Armenia.

Iran also assumed royal power, achieving recognition of royal status.

The Atropateni governor Mohammed Apshin, showed enmity to the Bagratuni inheritance, trying to create a semi-independent situation. He was looking forward to a chance to occupy Armenia and Albania (Aghvank).

Soon Basil I died and was replaced by Leo YII, (888-912), Emperor of Byzantium. He was famous by the name Leo the Philosopher. He set up a new trading route to Arabia via Armenian territory. Dvin and Partav became commercial centres connecting the two ends of the world.

Smbat I Bagratuni replaced the deceased King Ashot in 892. The Atropateni governor did not like Smbat’s and Leo’s unification and launched a sudden attack on Dvin. Smbat won a victory over him. But Afshin had taken Catholicos Gevorg hostage. The Armenian king and nobility applied to the Albanian king Hamam-Grigor, who was in good relation with Afshin, and asked for his help. Hamam obtained the freedom of the Catholicos in exchange for a great ransom.

Smbat I Bagratuni did not cease to extend the holdings of his kingdom. Soon he occupied the whole of Kura left bank territory reaching the Alanian Gates, then Partav, Tus(Tauz), Shamkor, Siunik, Nakhichevan, Bassen, Hark, Taron. The Armenian northern borders stretched from the Black sea, Kakhet, Darial to Albania1. The Byzantine Empire was closely linked not only with Armenia but with the other borderlands, even with the vassal states in the Bagratid kingdom. The emperors tried to interfere in internal affairs of these states whenever possible. It is interesting to note that Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus mentioned amongst the Armenian political figures with whom he corresponded, “the prince of Khachen in Armenia”2.

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