CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

Just then a very weak and selfish person, Hovhannes-Smbat Bagratuni inherited the Armenian throne. The King Senekerim of Vaspurakan, terrified from the first Seljuk incursion, in 1021 sent his son David to Byzantium suggesting all his domain in return for an estate in far-away Byzantium. In the same way the Emperor Basil II (976-1024) had attached another part of Armenian territory, Taik, to his empire. Preserving his royal status, Senekerim moved to Byzantium, to Sebastia, accompanied by numerous countrymen, residing there safely. 72 fortresses, 8 cities, 400 villages and 115 monastries were transferred to the Byzantine Empire.

To establish close relations with the Emperor, Hovhannes-Smbat sent the Catholicos Petros (Peter) to his court. Petros was brought up and educated in Byzantium. The Emperor promised to protect the Armenian King both from internal and external enemies. The Armenian King was very glad to hear that, as he could live in peace up to his last days, even was granted with a subsidy from the state treasury. In return for this favours Byzantium maintained the legal right to inherit the capital Ani after Hovhannes-Smbat’s death.The historiographer Aristakes Lastivertsi considered this agreement as “a letter causing Armenia to perish”. The Catholicos Petros, a very greedy person, for promoting the agreement between the Armenian King and the Emperor, was bribed with much silver and valuable presents, but in fact the king had not authorized him to act like that. Thus, Peter treacherously sold the independence of his native country to the foreigners. The shrewd and artful Byzantine Emperor Basil II died in 1025. His brother succeded him on the throne. He reigned for three years, thus ending the domination of the Armenian (Macedonian) dynast of Byzantium. The bishop of Sanahin Monastry Dioskoros was chosen as the new Catholicos by Hovhannes-Smbat (the Armenian Catholicos). Peters adherents were dissatisfied, so the king suggested the Albanian Cotholicos Hovsep to mediate a peaceful settlement of the problem. A religious meeting was held in Ani. Four thousand secular lords and higher clergy took part in the meeting.Dioskovos was dethroned, and Peter re-established as the Catholicos.

In 1040 the troops of the Kurdish Emir Abulsuar of Dvin invaded the eastern Albanian provinces, which belonged to King David. The king’s army consisted of only ten thousand soldiers, so he applied to the rulers of Ani, Siunik and Abkhazia for help. David proclaimed that if they refused to support him, he would unite with the Kurds and overrun their land.An army of 10 thousand was sent to him. The Catholicos Hovsep too tried to be helpful. With his small army David completely destroyed the enormous Kurdish army.

The unable Armenian King Hovhannes-Smbat died in 1041. The Byzantine Emperor demanded Ani, laying claims to the city according to the Trebizond treaty. The Catholicos Peter and Vest Sargis did their best to enable the emperor achieve his aim.The Armenian army, under the leadership of Vahram Pahlavuni, won a victory over the Byzantine troops, who had arrived “to take” the capital. Eighteen years old Gagik, (1042-1045) son of Ashot Y, was enthroned.

The new Byzantine Emperor Monomakh did everything possible to abolish the last bit of the Armenian Kingdom. Again the Armenian King Gagik Bagratuni was demanded to fulfil the provision of the treaty. The Emperor persuaded the Kurd Emir of Dvin to attack the Armenians in return for this promising those Armenian lands which they would manage to occupy. Firstly the Armenian king destroyed the Byzantine army, then turned to the Kurds. Vest Sargis, another Armenian traitor, advised the Emperor to use deceit. Gagik was invited to Constantinople, as if to enter into the new peace treaty. The Armenian King realized that it was a trap. But the other traitor, Catholicos Petros managed to persuade and convince the king to go. The Catholicos Petros Getadardz was the richest person in all Armenia. He owned five hundred villages. He lived in such a luxury that the Bagratid kings could not dream of.

In 1045 Gagik left for Constnantinople and never came back. The Byzantines annexed Ani and abolished the monarchy of the Bagratids. Thus, at the threshold of the Turkish invasions, after 158 years of being, the Armenian Kingdom tragically ceased to exist.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37