CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

The Catholicos Petros applied to the king, “What can you give me in return for Ani and other fortresses?” The Emperor sent numerous treasures to the mean and greedy Catholicos. This was a terrible betrayal with all its consequences. And the plot was drawn and carried out by the Byzantine Emperor Monomakh. His short-mindedness and mistakes led his own country, the once powerful Byzantine Empire to destruction. The famous historian G.Herzberg wrote, “Formerly the militant population of Armenian highlands defended their country, now the Byzantine government is responsible for the defence of those dangerous borderlands, the realization of it depending upon their far-sightedness, might and means. Monomakh’s mistake was fateful… He laid the population of eastern borderlands under tribute, who were tax exempt before. The local princes were also exempted from the obligation of keeping a regular army, an army which was always ready to defend their borders.As a result of this absurd order, about fifty thousand Armenian and Georgian soldiers were freed from military service. Moreover, the Byzantine Empire was charged with a new difficult task, which, unfortunately was not carried out properly”29.

The Armenian historian Leo wrote, “The Byzantine Empire was unable to carry out its great responsibility towards the human civilization, probably because it was internally undermined. Abolishing Armenia, this vast state became unable to defend its eastern borders from the desstructive and bloody beast”.

The Seljuk-Turks, who humbled themselves before the great super-power, now seeing its broken wings, boldly invaded inside the country. In 1049 a peace treaty was signed between the Emperor and Turghil-Bek. Taking advantage of the ceasefire, Monomakh asked the resigned general Nikipor to lead the Byzantine army to Dvin and Gandzak against the Kurd Emirs. Nikipor crossed the Artsakh mountains, conquered Gandzak and reached Derbent. Dvin’s Emir Abulsuar and Gandzak’s Emir Padlunian were defeated and soon agreed to carry out their obligations. Taking Padlun’s son Artashir hostage, Nikipor returned to Byzantium.

Then, under the leadership of Alp Arslan, a full scale Turkish invasion of Armenia was launched. Ani was taken in 1064, and after the battle of Manzikert, the Byzantines were cleared from the plateau forever, and the Turks were left virtual masters of Armenia and Albania. The succesor of Alp Arslan, Malik Shah (1072-1092) established definite order in the subject countries, granting some privileges to the churches. The Khachen and Siunik princes won his favour and maintained good relations with him. After Malik-Shah’s death the Seljuk state gradually weakened. Again local principalities emerged, attacking each other and ravaging the lands.

In 1136, at night in September, a destructive earthquake destroyed Gandzak, Parrisos and Khachen. Thousands of people died under the ruins. Mkhitar Gosh described the disaster with deep sorrow30, Kirakos Gandzaketsi wrote that “the mount Alhrak collapsed and obstructed the way of the river, and a lake was formed. This lake got the name of Mariam (the Godmother), but later the new inhabitants of the district called it Giol-Giol (Blue lake)”.

The representatives of the Padlunian family resided in the administrative centre Gandzak and ruled over the lowlands. Cracking the unity of the eastern Armenian Koghmants provinces, the new masters entered into rivalry with the descendants of ancient royal dynasts, and tried to do away with them32. The Aranshahikids were forced to leave for the highlands. Some of them, as Arranshahikid Prince Oshin, emigrated from the homeland. Oshin was successful in founding a new kingdom in Cilicia (1080-1375), with its capital at Sis33. Oshin was succeeded by Hetum I, by name of which the royal dynast was called Hetumian. The motherland of Prince Oshin was the Utik Shakashen (Arshakashan) province, not far from Gandzak.

Troubled by the Kurd Emir, the Albanian Catholicos Stepanos moved to Kapan and died there in Vahanavank monastry.

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