CHAPTER 6 A NEW ERA (KARABAKH IN 16-17 CENTURIES)

The Melikdoms flourished espesially during the reign of Shah Abbas. The Shah even allowed them to keep military forces of their own. Though defensive, the rulers and the population relied on this unprofessional army in critical situations. The historian Leo wrote, “The genealogy of the melik houses takes us to the glorious historical period, when all the princely families united under Zakare Amirspasslar”.31

The survival of the state and the preservation of its autonomy, were the foremost concerns of the meliks. It was in the five melikdoms that the desire for a national renaissance, the idea of recreating an independent, national state arose. It were the Armenian princes or meliks that were consious of their role as one of the last defenders of Armenian independence. In inscriptions and other documents they refer to themselves of representing the House of Albania or the House of Armenia, and they spoke on behalf of the intire Armenian nation, recognizing themselves as traditional leaders and spokesmen of the nation, as descendants of Armenian royal houses, as a source of continuity between the period of reassertation of Armenian independence in the ninth to eleventh centuries and the rise of new Armenian independence movement in the late seventeenth century. And at last we should like to mention that the so-called “Autonomous Region of Mountainous Karabakh” was a direct lineal descendant of the medieval Artsakh Kingdom and the Khamsa Melikdoms, whose rulers imposed a sense of unity, identity and self-awareness upon its inhabitants, which is reflected in the present-day “Karabakh Problem”, explaining the deepest roots of the question and showing from where it comes and where intends to go, and why it was the Karabakh land that became the cradle of national liberation movement.32

In the seventeenth century a certain cultural and religious renaissance took place in Armenia. The founders of this movement were two modest clergymen – the bishops Sargis and Kirakos, who met in Jerusalem and decided to create an accord of monks In 1610, in Siunik, not far from the Tatev monastery they founded the Mets Anapat (the great desert). The rules were very strict – no secular life, austerity and puritanism. The spirituality was expressed in reading the works of the scholars. Like the other monasteries of Armenia it contained a scriptorium, where numerous manuscripts were copied, illuminated and distributed among spiritual and educational institution. Hard-working and devoted religious dealers and preachers were brought up and educated here, who dispersed in different directions, founding new educational and religious institutions, where their generations were freed from ignorance and enlightened. With literacy the first seeds of national revival were sown.

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* Some historians, including those of Baku school, consider the Safavid State as Azarbaijanian originally, ethnically and militarily. (I. Petrushevski “Azerbaijan in the XVI-XVII Centuries. Selected Articles of the History of Azerbaijan”, Baku, 1949, p.233, as well “History of Azerbaijan”, volume 1, Baku, 1958, p.288).

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