CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

Many scholars, especially foreign (A.E. Krimski, V.F. Minorski, I.P. Petrushevski, K.V.Trever). still unaware of comings and goings of the royal dynasts in different historical periods, sometimes confuse the spheres of influences of the prior Albanian (Aghvan) Arsacid royal dynast and Armenian Albanian (Artsakh-Khachen and Utik) Arranshahikids’. In the same way they don’t distinguish the Arranshahikids from the Gardmanian Mihranids, who moved to Armenia in the seventh century and had a Persian descent. Geneological tables were drawn by the authers of “History of Albania” Hovhannes Daskhurantsi, Mkhitar Gosh, Kirakos Gandzaketsi and later by the historiographers of Artsakh Yessayi Hasan Jalalian (Catholicos of Albania, YIII century), Baghdasar Metropolitan (XIX century), Archbishop Barkhutariants (XIX century), Bagrat Ulubabian (XX century), who consider that the Arranshahikids were the immemorial dynast of the Artsakh and Utik land and descended from the Armenian patriarch Haik.

Since the times of Vache and Vachagan Arranshahik kings, the Persian court had put under their rule not only Armenian Albania, but the left bank Kura administrative units as well. Sahl Smbation is mentioned by the ancient historiographers as “ruler of Shaki”4. This fact has a historical grounding, Sahl was the ruler of Khachen and for serving the Persians (the imprisonment of Babek) he was awarded with the principality of Shaki. He could even have bought the district with the money of one million silver and join it to his family domains(Kambechan). Sahl’s son Atrnerseh was the lord of Verin(High) Khachen (present day Karvacharr-Kelbajar), who “built the fortress of Handaberd and erected a palace in Vaikunk, a hot spring which had been the site of royal baths of the old Albanian rulers”.The site of the baths is today’s Istisu health-resort in Kelbajar district. The next son of Sahl- Hovhannes Muavia (patrick-noble of Arran) ruled over Nerkin (low) Khachen. Atrnerseh had two sons, Grigor, meaning “awake”, “attentive”, “caring” and Apuset. “Grigor” was the prince’s Christian name having the Arabic form of “Hamam”, which also meant “sober”, “careing”6.

It was this Grigor-Hamam who in 887 restored the Albanian kingdom, achieving recognition by both the Arabs and Byzantines. His domain comprised the eastern shores of the Lake Sevan, from Mazra and Sodk (which his grandfather Sahl, son of Smbat had forcibly seized from the Siunid family domains)7, to Kambechan and Shaki (obtained by Sahl), as well as the whole Artsakh and Utik.

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