CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

The Khachen princes continued to fight heroically against various Seljuk chieftains and rebellious lieutenants. They fought both in Khachen and in Armenia. Vakhtang’s brother Vassak, for example, fell on the battlefield in Siunik in 1201, fighting the Turks. Thus, the defence of Armenian eastern borderlands was realized by the joint army under the Zakarians. Vakhtang died in 1212. As he had no heirs (his two sons were dead) the Atabek Ivane Zakarian, following his centralizing policy, annexed the Hatenk principality to Verin Khachen (Tsare). His sister Dop, whose husband had also died, resided there.

After the death of her husband, Vakhtang’s widow Arzu Khatun, who was the daughter of Tpghis Emir Kurd Artsruni, built the basilica of Dadivank and decorated the pulpit with miraculous covers and embroidered curtains.

With the help of his mighty brother, Dop was famed for her independent and flourishing Verin Khachen, that’s why the principality as well as the residing family was called Dopian, The principality covered a large territory; from the shores of the lake Sevan(Gegharkunik) to the Artsakh lowlands.

Even during this period the ecclesiastical conflicts between the Armenian monophysite and the Byzantine dyophysite churches did not cease to exist. The Byzantine higher clergy did not give up their political strivations, as the existence of Armenian independent country hindered their political and religious overloadship of the east. The new Greek suggestions were discussed in the Cilician Armenian religious residence of the Catholicos. The priesthood of north-eastern Armenia was also invited to take part in the meeting. But instead of arriving in Cilicia, they sent a letter, refusing to unite. At last everybody understood that by the term “unification” the Byzantine Church meant “subordination’ to their faith, and abolishment of others. As a result of the refusal, the Armenians were forced to adopt Chalcedonianism. The most prominent Armenian political dealer of the period, Zakare Amirspaslar was authorized to carry out the task. Probably certain doctrinal and liturgical differences between the Armenian and Georgian Churches hindered his centralizing policy. But the Armenian church didn’t give up its claim to represent an authentic apostolic tradition. Zakare was opposed even by his nephew Grigoris (Dop’s son) who was the head of Haghpat monastry.

Byzantium and its church, as well as the successors of their policy refused to become reconciled with the existence of another independent church, just beside themselves. In the second half of the thirteenth century the Pope of Rome appealed to the Armenian King Hetum of Cilicia to accept subordination to the Byzantine Church, as it was the only church authorized to rule over all the other Christian states45.

The attacks on the Armenian authentic apostolic traditions never ceased. But the Armenian eastern wing responded to this in a vigorous and effective way.

The thirteenth century was the hardest period in the Armenian history and especially for Utik and Khachen (Artsakh).

A new dIsaster originated from Central Asia: the Mongol-Tatars, who had formed a new mighty state in 1206 under Temuchin who after a few minor inspections, launched a full-scale invasion of the neighbouring countries. Khachen, as well as the whole north-eastern Armenia flourished under the Zakarian princes, new monastries, cathedrals, fortresses were being erected. After the death of Nerkin Khachen ruler Vakhtang (1214), his son – Prince Hassan Jalal (1214-1261) reigned over a large part of Khachen, attaining a certain degree of power and independence. He was praised by the medieval historiographers as the most able political dealer of the thirteenth century. In 1216 his brother Smbat erected a monumental khachkar (cross-stone) and inscribed on it Hassan-Jalal’s name, calling him a king46. The use of Arab first names at that time was common amongst the Armenians, and his name Hassan meant “handsome”. “Jalal” is also an Arabic term, meaning “glorious, supreme, majestic”. His third name, “Dawla”, derived from the word “dawlat” and meant “wealth, power, might”. The family was later known as “Jalalian”.

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