CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

The domain of the great Albanian Prince Sahak Sevada was a place where not only the Armenian King Ashot II, the Armenian Catholicos, Atropateni governor Yusup, but also other princes and priests, who suffered internal persecution, could take refuge if needed. The Armenian Catholicos and historiographer Hovhannes, persecuted by foreign tyrants, lived in Sevada’s palace and then in his brother Atrnerseh’s estate(Kambechan-Shaki’s king) for some time. The Armenian King Ashot II too, avoiding his cousin Ashot Shapuhians intrigues, (who was enthroned by Atropateni governor Yusup) was given shelter by his father-in-law. But soon Sahak Sevada actively antagonized his son-in-law.

Ashot Bagratuni, following some unreliable advices, arrested Vasak, prince of Gegharkunik, and kept him in Kayan castle of Dzorapor. Sevada was dissatisfied with him for the decision and revolted against him. The unevitable war was prevented by Catholicos Hovhannes.

However the Albanian prince went to Dzorapor (Tavush-Taush), captured the castle and set Vasak free. Vasak soon left for his province Gegharkunik. Sevada captured some other fortresses and drew the population to his domain. The King Ashot was in Georgia at that time.After punishing the rebellious Georgian Prince Gurgen and uniting with Georgia by treaty, he was informed about his father-in-law’s revolt and hurried to Dzorapor. He met Sevada’s enormous army (8 thousand) and was quickly surrounded by them.Ashot sent an archbishop to his father-in-law asking for conciliation and suggesting to settle the conflict as a father and son. Sevada refused to condescend, preferring to fight. With a sudden attack Ashot won a victory over Sevada and arresting him and his son Grigor mercilessly blinded them both. After this he captured Sevada’s Gardman fortress (Utik’s Tigranakert) and announced it as his own, appointing the Prince Amram (nicknamed Tslik, “a bull” in Armenian) governor of the fortress.

The population of the whole Utik revolted against the Armenian king who was awarded with the title “Shahinshah” by the Caliphate.

The enormous Caliphate presented no serious power for the newly emerging states. It already couldn’t conquer, rule over or suppress any country. All the subject countries and states were independent and self-governed. Baghdad was turned into an arena of internal political struggle. The Hamadan Arabic inheritance was gradually centralizing the power in its hands. It had settled in Msul. Egypt and Syria appeared under the Farmayi inheritance(dynast). The southern shores of Caspian Sea, Tabassaran (the present day Masandaran) appeared under the originally Persian Ale-Bouye, whose boundries stretched to southern Iran, to the Persian gulf. They soon conquered Baghdad, toying with the Caliph all the time14. This period was a peace break for Transcaucasia. After Yusup was murdered, Atropateni also presented no importance or might and caused no danger to other states. The next super-power, Byzantium was awakening from a troubled slumber and gaining might. Three victorious emperors and gifted commanders emerged from the Armenian (Macedonian) dynast. Parallel to the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the country was ruled by his father-in-law Romanos Lekabenos the Admiral (919-944) who was an Armenian himself. Hovhan Kurkuass(Gurgen) was the commander of the Byzantine army and the best general of the tenth century. He had an Armenian origin too.Kurkuass defeated the army of Russian prince Igor near Constantinople. The Russians intended to capture and pillage the city but were thrown back. It’s interesting to note that the historiographer of “The History of Albania” wrote about the Russians, “at this same period a dissident, strange tribe appeared from the north. They are called Rusik”. Probably the mentioned strangers were the soldiers of Prince Igor’s division, who penetrated to Transcaucasia through the Derbent gates. Before that the Russian mercenaries appeared with the Hunns and Khasars. Then the historiographer wrote that “moving for three hours like a wind they entered through the Caspian Sea enterance (the Derbent gates) and reached the Partav capital of Aghvank (Albania). The citizens were unable to resist and were put to the sword by them. Then they plundered the conquered town. The same Sasar (the head of the Atropateni Median Delmik tribe) surrounded them, but couldn’t do anything as they were powerful and invincible. The women of the city thought of a plan. They poisoned the Rusiks(Russians). The Rusiks found out the plot and the women were all slain with their children. They remained in Partav for six months, and leaving the empty city, went to their land”.15

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