CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

The mongol army under Charmaghan, crossed the river Arax and headed for Khachen, Utik, Georgia and eastern Armenia, ravaging the whole land on the way. They surrounded and soon took Ani. Kirakos Gandzaketsi wrote that they wintered in the fertile Kur-Arax vallay, the Mukhank, which “was full of material benefits – water, wood, fruit, prey”56. They launched attacks on the borderlands from here. In 1231-1232 they attacked Gandzak. The population of the city was predominantly Persian57. Most of them burnt down their houses and themselves not to leave anything to the cannibal. The whole city was destroyed, the population massacred and a small part taken captive.

Queen Tamar’s daughter, Russudan had succeded her mother on the Georgian throne. Kirakos Gandzaketsi compared her with the Assyrian Queen Shamiram for her voluptousness. Unlike her mother she was unable of ruling a country. After the death of Ivane Zakarian (1234), the Georgian army was good for nothing. The Armeno-Georgian treaty was broken. There was nobody to organize a resistence against the Mongols. “The ground was covered with dead bodies and there was nobody to lament for them and bury the corpses”, wrote Kirakos Gandzaketsi58.

The Mongols, under Molar Noyin, surrounded Shamkor, where Prince Vehram resided. Besides the rampart, the city was defended by a deep channel, dug around the walls. The Mongols filled earth into the channel and crossing it, captured the city. The population was slaughtered. Then they conquered Gardman, Terunakan, Yergevank, Matsnaberd, Charek, Getapak, invaded Taush, Karsaret, Nor Berd, Gag (Ghazakh)59 Prince Vahram managed to escape. Kirakos Gandzaketsi described in detail the Khachen massacre and Hassan Jalal’s relations with the Mongols. “He was humble and modest, merciful and attentive to the poor, godly and studious, reading the Testaments”. Hassan Jalal was an able politician as well. After trying in vain to fight the Mongols, he contrived to win their favour and maintained good relations with them. He even married his daughter Rusukan to general Charmaghan’s son Boris-Noyin. The Verin Khachen and Tsar ruler Ivane’s son Avag Zakarian had also accepted the Mongol overlordship. Hassan made two journeys to Karakorum, acting as the representative of the whole of Armenia, and obtained from their Great Khan certain privileges amounting to autonomy. In certain sources and in a Gandzasar inscription of 1240, Hassan-Jalal styled himself as “Autocratic lord and King of Artsakh country”60. But in return for the privileges, Hassan-Jalal and other Armenian princes submitted to the Mongols and led their troops in the Mongol army. They had only one aim – to save their country and the people. In 1242 the dumb Charmaghan was replaced by Bachu-Ghurchi, who formed an enormous army to clear eastern Armenia of the Seljuk Sultan Ghiasseddin Kai-Khosrov. Hassan-Jalal, Avag, Shahnshah Zakarians and other princes supported him61.

Hassan-Jalal Dawla promoted an agreement between the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and Mongols, in this way saving the kingdom from destruction62. If not Hassan-Jalal, Cilicia was not fated to last long, as it was the ally of the Arab Sultan Ghaseddin.

But diplomacy and connections failed to save the Khachen lord from the Mongol exisemen. Bugha and Arghun were appointed collectors of taxes. Both were famous for their deceitful nature. In 1249 Hassan-Jalal applied to Batu Khan’s son Sartakh for help. He made a journey to Karakorum, accompanied by experienced diplomat Grigor Tgha, young prince Desum, bishops Grigor and Markos63. Sartakh, who had adopted Christianity, was extremely favourable to the Christian princes. He introduced them to his father Batu Khan, who had settled near the river Atl (Volga), in the Caspian city Itl (the present day Astrakhan). Batu Khan accepted them with great respect and promised to return “their native Charabert, Akanaberd and Karrkar”64. The geographical outline of the fortresses confirmed the fact that Hassan-Jalal ruled over the whole Artsakh. These three fortresses were the key outposts, whose master could easily rule over the neigbouring borderlands too.

If Charaberd was the famous Jraberd on Tartarr and Akana was Berdavan situated near Haterk, then Karkarr was the city on the river Karkarr, which became famous by the name of Shushi since fifteenth century. A Georgian source testified that Karkarr was not only a city (city fortress) but also a province, and was situated between Khachen and Bailakan65.

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