CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

The tax collector Arghun was making new plots against Hassan-Jalal and always tried to carry them out. Hassan-Jalal, tired of his persecutions, took his wife Mamkan and his only son Atabek, and accompanied by Sartakh, left for Karakorum (1255), to meet Mangu Khan and complain of the tax collector’s rudeness. This Great Khan affirmed his right to inheritance in his turn. Then Sartakh was appointed the governor of the northern territories and Caucasus, as Batu Khan was already dead66. The King Hetum of Cilician Armenia also attended the Great Khan of Mongols, who ratified the treaty with Cilicia, promising to patronize the king, of course on condition that Hetum should supply him with a certain number of men-of-arms to fight against the Arabs.Later Hetum made another journey to Karakorum, to pay a visit and enter into an alliance with the new head of the Mongol State.

After Hassan-Jalal’s second visit to Karakorum, “Arghun was called there and before Smbat (the Siunid prince) reached the court, Arghun was enchained. He was betrayed by a the treacherous Sevinch Bek and Sharapeddin,… who were eager to take his place”67. The Siunid prince justified the tax collector and he was set free and restored to his old post68.

Hassan-Jalal’s journey lasted five years. On his way back he stayed in Tabriz but sent his wife and son to Khachen. When at last he reached home, his wife was already dead. Unfortunately his friend Sartakh also soon died, poisoned by his relatives. And his enemy Arghun was thirsting for revenge.

This part of Hassan-Jalal’s history was documented in the diary of the Gospel by Hassan himself. The manuscript is kept in Matenadaran69. The Georgian King David rebelled against the Mongols in 1260. The rising was suppressed, David had a narrow escape. David’s wife, sparapet Shahnshah (Zakare’s son) and Hassan-Jalal were imprisoned by Arghun. Probably Hassan-Jalal too participated in the plot. The lord of Khachen was enchained and taken to Ghazvin, accompanied by Arghun. Rusucan, the wife of the Mongol general, tried to help her father, using her influence and relations. Arghun knew this, and hurried to solve the problem.”The holy and fair man” was decapitated at Qazvin in 1266. His son Atabek, with the help of a Persian, took out his father’s mortal remains from a well and buried in the ancient graveyard of the Jalalian family in Gandzassar. Atabek was appointed “Prince of Khachen” by Hulava Khan. Atabek was described as “holy, virtuous, modest and godly, the true son of his parents”70.

The historiographers, as was well as certain sources and inscriptions proclaim Hassan-Jalal Dawla as “Lord of Khachen, Prince of Princes, King of Aghvank, King of the land of Artsakh”. According to an unknown Persian chronologer, “Khachen is an untractable region, lost in woods and mountains. It’s one of the Arran provinces. Armenians inhabit there. The Abkhaz people (Georgians) call their ruler “King”71. Of course, the word “king” here is not used in the traditional meaning, the “king” could be only the autocratic lord of a large country. Thus, Hassan-Jalals principality, called Khachen, covered all the territory of ancient Artsakh with its provinces, from the Arax river to Gardman borders. Hassan-Jalals son Atabek-Hvane ruled in Artsakh till his death (1287). Thereafter the descendants of the Jalalian family continued their rule and preserved the tradition of national sovereignity unbroken until the late medieval period.

The thirteenth century Artsakh-Khachen cultural and artistic works played preponderent role in the development of Armenian culture on the whole. The historians are captivated not only by the remarkable culture of Armenia prior, but Armeno-Cilician as well. The story of the Armenian political, cultural and ecclesiastical revival of the period is arresting for those scholars interested in the Armenian history. This era is truely called a silver age of the Armenian culture. The revival did not cease to exist even under the Mongol domination. The fine monastry of Gandzasar, the Dadivank monastery, Khatravank, St. Tsara, Vaghuhas Capital, Horrekavank, Gtichavank monasteries are the result of the flourishing period of thirteenth century. The Dadivank monastery comprised perhaps the largest and most complete monastic group of medieval Armenia, with twenty edifices divided into three parts, used for worship, living quarters and ancillary purposes. All the Armenian monastries contained scriptoriums, where numerous manuscripts were copied and illuminated, miniature painting was flourishing. Educational institutions were functioning in all the monasteries, where, besides languages and philosophy, painting and embroidering (for virgins) were taught. At the beginning of thirteenth century the first khachcars (cross-stones) were carved in Khachen. Amongst the most famous are the two at Gtichavank, which were kept in a church specially built for that purpose. The creative originality of the Dadivank khachkars was as great as those of Gtichavank.

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