ARMENIAN ROYAL DYNASTIES


     The Armenian, Hittite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian and Greek sources inform about the reign of seven major pan-Armenian royal dynasties in Armenia:

     Haykazuni dynasty (Haykians, Haykides) (2492/2107 - 331 before common era)

     Arartuni dynasty (Urartu) (about 860 - 590 b.c.e.)

     Yervanduni dynasty (Yervandians, Orontides) (about 401 - 200 b.c.e.)

     Artashesian dynasty (Artaxides) (189 b.c.e. - 52 a.d.)

     Arshakuni dynasty (Arshakians, Arsacides) (52 - 428)

     Bagratuni dynasty (Bagratides) (886 - 1045)

     Rubenian-Hetumian-Lusignan dynasty (1080 - 1375)

     Except for these, in different times in Armenia there were other local kingdoms and royal dynasties, such as the rulers of Vaspurakan, Syuniq, Vanand etc. However, the representatives of the above-listed dynasties held the title of "king of Armenia" or similar titles of pan-Armenian monarchs.

     Ararat, Urartu (Assyrian name; the Urartian name was Biaynili, i.e. the Kingdom of Van) - proto-Armenian state in the Armenian upland in the 9-6 centuries before common era, which during its apex covered the entire upland (now within the territory of Armenia, Turkey and Iran). The population of Ararat was composed of the proto-Armenian tribes of the Urartians, known under different tribal names. The lands of the Urartians, which were part of the state of Mitanni, were attacked by the Assyrians after the fall of Mitanni in the 13th century b.c.e.. In 13-11 centuries b.c.e. the Assyrian kings were in war with several large unions of the Urartian tribes (i.e. Urautri, Nairi). In the end of the 2nd - the beginning of the 1st millennium b.c.e. Ararat was going through class divisions, which has in the middle the 9th century resulted in the creation of the state of Ararat (Urartu) with the capital in the city of Tushpa (contemporary city of Van in historical Armenia). The latter underwent major construction during the reign of king Sarduri I. In the end of the 9th - the first half of the 8th centuries Ararat reached its apex. As the result of successful wars during the reign of Menua, Argishti I and Sarduri II the territory of Ararat was greatly expanded. After capturing the territories of northern Mesopotamia and northern Syria and blocking the access of Assyria to the sources of metal supply in Anatolia, Ararat brought about the weakening of Assyria. Ararat subordinated to itself the regions south of Lake of Van, as well as regions near Lake Kaputan (Urmia). Kings of Ararat also conquered vast territories on the north - southern Transcaucasia (regions of Kars and Karin-Erzurum, lakes of Chaldyr and Sevan, as well as the Ararat valley). Fortresses was built in the conquered regions: cities of Menuakhinili on the northern slope of Mount Great Ararat, Erebuni - Arin-berd hill in the outskirts of Yerevan, Argishtikhinili on the left bank of River Araks). As a result of successful wars, captured enemy prisoners and cattle were supplied to Ararat. The chronicle of king Argishti I mentions the killing and captivity of 280,512 persons. The chronicle of king Sarduri II mentions 197, 521 captives and killed. Captured enemy prisoners were used in the construction, the irrigational works, etc., and part of them with the families was settled in the lands as state slaves, as well as were transferred to the Urartian soldiers, who used them as slaves in their own estate. Sometimes the enemy prisoners were included in the Urartian army. Slaves were widely used in the economy, however the greatest bulk of producers in Ararat were the free and semi-free commoners. Sometimes they were so hardly exploited that some of them would escape to the neighboring countries. The state authority was responsible for the construction of temples, economic buildings at the royal estate (granary, storerooms for the wine etc.), reservoirs, channels, and for leading the settlement of new territories. The temples owned large agricultural land, cattle and other riches. Part of the land was owned by the aristocracy. Governors of regions were playing a significant role and were providing military contingents, which composed basis the Urartian army. During the weakening Ararat (end 8th century b.c.e.) the ruler of regions often were leading uprisings against the central authority. In the middle 8th century b.c.e. the Assyrian king Tiglatpalasar III (745-727 b.c.e.) achieved several crushing victories against the troops of Ararat king Sarduri II and captured the territories of northern Mesopotamia and northern Syria, which were part of Ararat. This was followed by the struggle for the regions near Lake Kaputan (Urmia). In 714 b.c.e. Assyrian king Sargon II conducted a devastating campaing against Ararat, which was then reigned by king Rusa I. As a result of defeats from Assyria and others, and uprisings of the rulers of regions, Ararat lost the significant part of its territory. In the 7th century b.c.e. Ararat still preserved its positions. Rusa II (685-645 b.c.e.) built here new fortresses, such as Teishebaini (hill of Karmir-Blur in the outskirts of Yerevan) and others. Ararat kings invited Scythian and Cymmerian mercenary forces in their struggle against rebellious nobility. The Scythians and Cymmerians also crushed the Phrygian kingdom in 676 b.c.e.. The strengthening of Midian kingdom brought about the rapprochement between Ararat and Assyria. However, in the beginning of the 6th century Ararat like Assyria was destroyed by Midia and was incorporated into the Midian kingdom.

     Great Armenia - An ancient state, whose territory covered the main regions of the Armenian upland. The beginning of its formation roots back to the 6th century before common era. Subsequently it became a satrapdom of the Achemenides. In the end 4th - 3rd centuries b.c.e. Great Armenia became an independent kingdom under the rule of the Yervanduni (Orontides) dynasty. During the Hellenic era Great Armenia had slavery. During 3-2th centuries Great Armenia was conquered by the Armenian aristocrat Artashes I, who before was serving the Seleucides. He first ruled as a Seleucide governor, but since 189 b.c.e. Artashes I became the king of independent Great Armenia and founded the Artashesian dynasty. He expanded the territorial possessions of Great Armenia, conducted a reform for private ownership of land and established capital Artashat (in Greek - Artaxata). Great Armenia reached its apex during the reign of Tigran II (95-56 b.c.e.), who founded new capital Tigranakert. During his rule the borders of Great Armenia considerably expanded and incorporated Tzopq (Sofena), Midia, Atrpatakan (Atropatena), Syria, Phoenicia, Cilicia and a number of other states and regions. Great Armenia became the most extensive, but internally fragile state of region, which had rich cities, centers of Hellenistic culture and important commercial routes from the Mediterranean to the east. But soon in the war with Rome Great Armenia lost almost all its new territories, and in the beginning of the 1st century a.d. the Artashesian dynasty fell. Protйgйs of Rome and Parthia reigned until the middle of the 1st century. Trdat I (since 62, officially from 66 through 80), the representative Parthian rotal dynasty, founded the Armenian Arshakian house who had the title of the "Kings of Great Armenia". In 114 Great Armenia was occupied by Rome and was declared a Roman province, but later the independent royal rule was restored in Great Armenia. As a result of connections with Parthia, the Iranian influence on the sociopolitical system, language, religion and the culture of Great Armenia strengthened. In the first centuries a.d. the slavery system began to give way to the feudalism in Great Armenia, which led to the weakening of central royal authority and strengthening of naxarars, the grand feudal lords of Armenian provinces. In order to secure itself from the encroachments of Iran, Great Armenia took the course of rapprochement with Rome. For strengthening its positions in the resisting Iran Armenian king Trdat III introduced Christianity as the official religion in the beginning of the 4th century. In the 4th century the feudal relations formed in Great Armenia. The fierce conflicts between the king and naxarars supported by the church, the feudal division of Great Armenia, as well as the war between Iran and Rome for the predominance in the region weakened Great Armenia. In 387 Great Armenia was divided between Sasanian Iran and Byzantium, which strengthened in the 4th century. In the Sasanian part the Armenian Arshakuni dynasty continued to rule until the year of 428. Subsequently, the name "Great Armenia" started to be used for the geographic territory, originally inhabited by the Armenians (e.g. in "The Geography" of Armenian scientist of the 7th century of Anania Shirakatsi).

     Lesser Armenia, region in the upper parts of rivers of the Euphrates, Likus and Halis. This territory, which in the Hittite sources was called Hayasa, was one of the aboriginal homelands of the Armenians and ancient Armenian language. Here a union of tribes was created headed by the Hays, which now is the ethnic name of the Armenians. Lesser Armenia incorporated into the Achemenide kingdom. During the times of Alexander of Macedon, Lesser Armenia fell under the Macedonian rule. It became an independent kingdom since 322 b.c.e. with the capital in the city of Ani-Kamah. At the end of the 2nd century b.c.e. Lesser Armenia was transferred under the jurisdiction of Pontian king Mithridates VI Eupatorus, who built there 75 strongholds. After his death, Lesser Armenia passed from one Roman ruler to another, with its administrative borders changing. During the rule of emperor Vespasian Lesser Armenia was incorporated into the Roman province of Cappadocia. During the reign of Diocletianus (end of the 3rd century) Lesser Armenia became an independent province of its own. Theodosius divided it into two provinces.

     Ani Kingdom - Armenian feudal state (the 60s of the 9th century - 1045) with the capital in the city of Ani (since 961). It arose as a result of the unification of Armenia by the Bagratuni royal house and the overthrow of the Arab occupation. Kingdom of Ani was the largest and most influential among the feudal states of medieval Armenia; it combined the largest part of Armenia, in particular the northern and eastern regions. Some parts of southern Armenia also were under the rule of the first Bagratunis (Ashot I, Smbat I, Ashot II the Iron). The heart of the Kingdom of Ani was the region of Shirak. The development of crafts and trade contributed to growth of cities. Strengthening feudalism caused powerful anti-feudal movements of the Tondrakians (end of the 9th - first half of the 11th centuries). The economic growth in the Kingdom of Ani was accompanied by the significant development of the Armenian culture. The historiography, philosophy, mathematics, medicine, literature and arts, architecture, stone-carving, painting (miniature), applied arts - all were developing in the Kingdom of Ani. The Bagratuni kings attempted to unify Armenia and to strengthen the central authority, but the economic, social and political conditions for this yet were not sufficient. Feudal divisions led to the formation of kingdoms of Vaspurakan (908), Kars (963), Syuniq (970) and Tashir-Dzoraget (978); all were in vassal relations with the Bagratides. Sharp class struggle, worsening of the international situation of the Kingdom of Ani, discords between the feudal lords and the highest clergy facilitated the expansion of Byzantium. In 1045 its troops captured the city of Ani and the Shirak region. The Kingdom of Ani ceased to exist.

     Vaspurakan Kingdom - Armenian feudal state of the Artzruni (Arcruni) dynasty, which was formed in 908 in the province of Vaspurakan. The Kingdom of Vaspurakan occupied the eastern shores of Lake Van; in the east of its boundaries reached Lake Kaputan (Urmiya), in the north the border reached the River Araks. The Kingdom of Vaspurakan recognized the supremacy of the Bagratide Kingdom of Ani. During the reign of king Senekerim (968 - 1021) there were about 10 cities, 4 thousand settlements (villages), 72 fortresses, 115 monasteries in the Kingdom of Vaspurakan, and the country was very densely populated. The southern branch of an important commercial caravan route went through the Kingdom of Vaspurakan. The handicraft production and trade were developed in the Kingdom of Vaspurakan. During the reign of Gagik Artzruni (908 - 943) extensive construction works were conducted in the cities of Vostan, Akhtamar, and Van. Arts and culture developed considerably; its most prominent representatives were architect Manuel and poet Grigor Narekatsi. With the development of feudal landownership and worsening of the situation of the peasantry, the social relationships became more acute. The Kingdom of Vaspurakan was caught in the anti-feudal and antireligious movement of the Tondraketsi. In the beginning of the 11th century the Kingdom of Vaspurakan suffered the attacks of Turkic tribes, who came from the east. In 1021 the Kingdom of Vaspurakan was annexed by Byzantium and ceased to exist.

     Kars kingdom - Armenian feudal state in Vanand region with the capital in the city of Kars (963 - 1064). It became independent from the kingdom of the Armenian Bagratuni after the declaration of Ani as the capital of the Bagratuni Kingdom in 961. However the kings of the Kars kingdom were vassals of the Kingdom of Ani. During the reign of king Mushegh (ruled in 963 - 984), the Kars kingdom played the role of the front line of the Kingdom of Ani in its struggle against Byzantium. The Kars kingdom reached its apex during the rule of Abbas (984 - 1029). After the invasion of Seljuk Turks in Transcaucasia (1064 - 1065) king Gagik (ruled in 1029 - 1065) yielded his kingdom to Byzantium, which used his territory for the struggle against the invasion of Seljuk Turks.

     Syuniq Kingdom, Kingdom of Syuniq - Armenian kingdom in the second half of the 10th - 12 century. It was located in province of Syuniq in eastern part of Armenia (territory of contemporary province of Syuniq in Armenia). The Kingdom of Syuniq was founded by Grand Duke Smbat Syuni, who was proclaimed king in 970. The kings of Syuniq recognized the supreme power of the Bagratides of Ani and they collaborated with them. The city of Kapan was the capital of the Kingdom of Syuniq and the Tatev monastery was the spiritual center. The Kingdom of Syuniq reached it apex in first half of the 11th century during the reign of kings Vasak I and Smbat II. In the mountainous region of Syuniq there were 43 fortresses, 48 monastery and more than 1000 villages. Agriculture and cattle-breeding were the primary occupations of population. In 1170 The Kingdom of Syuniq was conquered by the Seljuks. In 1251, during the Mongol domination Syuniq acquired statute of a special military-administrative unit - tuman - and received the right to "inja", i.e. direct subordination to the great khan.

     Cilician Armenian Kingdom - feudal principality and later kingdom, which existed in Cilicia from 1080 to 1375. It arose in the beginning of the 11th century as a result of the mass migration of Armenians from the original territory of Armenia after the invasions of the Seljuks, as well as following the seizure of Vaspurakan, Ani and Kars by Byzantium and migration of Armenians into the western regions of Byzantine Empire. In 1080 mountainous Cilicia was proclaimed an independent principality by Ruben, the proxy of the Ani kings and the founder of the Rubenian (Roubenide) dynasty. In 1097 Armenians together with the crusaders banished the Seljuks from lowland Cilicia. From the end of the 11th century until 1182 the Cilician Armenian Kingdom waged successful wars with Byzantium and defended its independence. The Cilician Armenian Kingdom reached its apex during Levon II (king since 1198). During his reign agriculture, crafts and trade were developing successfully. The cities of Sis (capital of the Cilician Armenian Kingdom), Tars, Mamedia, Adana and Ayas became large commercial, cultural and handicraft centers. Since 1266 the Cilician Armenian Kingdom waged almost continuous wars with the Egyptian sultans. In 1375 in the fight against Mameluks the Cilician Armenian Kingdom fell.

© Union of Armenian Noblemen 2004


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