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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia

 

Armenia (Hayastan)

Armenia has generally been regarded as being two regions: Greater Armenia lay to the east of the Euphrates, and Little, or Lesser, Armenia to the west of the river. Overall, Armenia is usually understood to have included what is now north-eastern Turkey, the area covered by the modern republic of Armenia, and parts of Iranian Azerbaijan. Modern Armenia is the easternmost remnants of the former state(s) barring certain districts which now lay inside Azerbaijan's borders.

According to legend, the Armenian kingdom was founded in the region of Lake Van by Haig (variously shown as Haik, Hayk, or Hay) - one of Noah's descendants. The remarkable similarity between this name and its relationship to the Armenian name for their state - Hayastan (pronounced hi-estan, with the -stan suffix being an influence of Persian overlordship) - has prompted the suggestion that the people of the state of Hayasa who occupied much the same territory close to Lake Van before the Armenian arrival were somehow related in the formation of the Armenian identity. Given the fact that the Armenians were Indo-Europeans, any relationship can only have been formed when they arrived in the area and encountered the descendants of the people of Hayasa-Azzi, but this would seem to be the likely period in which the name Hayastan was formed.

Two other legendary forefathers of the Armenians are Aram and 'Ara the Beautiful', both of whom may have been based on Aramu, potentially the first king of Urartu. The name Aramu, or the region Arme, could both be responsible for the name Armenia. It would have been Aramaeans in the Persian court who would have provided a name for the locality, and the Aramaeans knew the Armenians who lived in the Arme region, the nearest Armenian region to Aramaean lands. The Greeks picked up the name from the Persians and popularised it for all later European usage.

FeatureSome modern scholars believe the Armenians crossed the Euphrates and entered Anatolia from the east in the eighth century BC. That is entirely possible if they had migrated from the Pontic steppe - the Indo-European homeland - via the Caucasus mountains (see feature link for more on this). After all, the same route was used between 3000-2000 BC by the ancestors of the Hittites, Luwians, and Pala.

However, the story is not that simple. Features in the Armenian language show that they are related to the ancestors of the South-West Indo-Europeans and West Indo-Europeans who migrated from the steppe into areas along the Danube as far west as Budapest. The Mycenaean language seems to have been the closest to the Armenian language in terms of similarities. From this group the various tribes formed that later migrated into the Balkans in the late thirteenth century BC and into the first half of the twelfth. If the Armenians did not divide themselves from this group before they left the Pontic steppe to migrate down through the Caucasus then this provides them with an alternative route into Anatolia - if they were part of the Balkans migration then they would have crossed the Bosphorus along with the proto-Phrygians, and then gradually filtered into eastern Anatolia to settle around Lake Van.

How long it took between the large-scale migrations and the Armenian arrival in the Lake Van area is unclear, but the eighth century BC date mentioned above would seem to be fair. Whether they approached via the Caucasus or the Bosphorus, it was clearly not a hurried migration - more one of changing pasture locations each year or few years for the next available location and, during that process, gradually drifting towards Lake Van.

At the time of their arrival the region formed part of the Khaldian state known as Urartu by the Assyrians. Once there they intermarried with the local people and were able to form an homogeneous nation by the sixth century BC, following the fall of Urartu. This nation not only inherited influences from Urartu, but also from earlier populations: Mushki or Mušku (possibly, but not certainly, those same Phrygians who were mentioned above), plus Luwians, Hurrians, and the region's native Neolithic farmer culture folk. The kingdom they created extended north and west into land around the Black Sea which had previously been the home of the Kaskans and the kingdom of Kummuhu.

(Information by Peter Kessler and Edward Dawson, with additional information from The Armenians, A E Redgate (Basil Blackwell, 1998, 2000), from The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, from Europe Before History, Kristian Kristiansen, from An Historical Geography of Europe, Norman J G Pounds (Abridged Version), and from External Links: Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny.)

1115 - 590 BC

Following the collapse of the Hurrian empire of Mitanni and the Anatolian state of Ishuwa, the Assyrian empire rules much of the south of what later becomes Armenian territory until the empire is destroyed in 612 BC, while Nairi and Urartu rule much of the north between them.

The Indo-European Armenians arrive around Lake Van by the eighth century BC, filtering into Nairi and Urartu and intermarrying with the people they find there. That may also include at least one large group of Scythians who appear to be assigned the area around Lake Van around 675 BC.

Map of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Greece 1200 BC
Climate-induced drought in the thirteenth century BC created great instability in the entire eastern Mediterranean region, resulting in mass migration in the Balkans, as well as the fall of city states and kingdoms further east, but the route into Anatolia that is shown here is only one of two options that could be relevant for the proto-Armenians (click or tap on map to view full sized)

590 - 549 BC

The territory that had formed the kingdom of Urartu falls into the hands of the Medes, although the specific circumstances of Urartu's collapse are unknown. The end is violent, however, as its fortresses are burned down, apparently all close in time to one another, suggesting an organised campaign against Urartu that they are unable to resist even in their mountainside fortresses.

The Urartuan language disappears, submerged beneath the various other languages being used in the isolated mountain valleys, and the Armenian Indo-Europeans are next to emerge as a regionally-dominant force, their language apparently closely related to the Phrygian and Cappadocian being used farther west. By this stage the Armenians seem already to have formed an homogenous nation, having been settled hereabouts for up to three hundred years. Now they quickly absorb the remnants of the Urartuan kingdom.

The earliest Armenian kings are generally legendary in nature, although their stories do link quite closely with the last days of the Median kingdom's existence. The first of this dynasty of rulers to emerge very quickly after the fall of Urartu - known as the Orontids - is King Artasyrus, who marries his daughter to Astyages of Media.

? - c.570 BC

Artasyrus / Ardashir / Artakhshathra

Legendary Orontid king of Armenia.

c.570 - 560 BC

Orontes I Sakavakyats

Son. Legendary Orontid king.

c.560 - 549 BC

Tigranes Yervanduni

Son. Legendary Orontid king. Retained as satrap.

549 - 546 BC

The Persian defeat of the Medes opens the floodgates for Cyrus the Great with a wave of conquests, beginning with Cilicia in 549 BC, and over the next three years including Armenia, Caria, Lycia, Lydia, Paphlagonia, Phrygia, and Tabal (Cappadocia). The Persians use the name Armina for this land as they have gained it from their Aramaean officials.

Persian Satraps of Armina (West & East) (Armenia)
Incorporating the Satraps of Colchis, and the Alarodioi, Matienoi, & Saspeires

Conquered in the mid-sixth century BC by Cyrus the Great, the region of Armenia was added to the Persian empire. Before that it was populated largely by the Khaldian remnants of the kingdom of Urartu, who were being subjugated by the more-recently-arrived Indo-European Armenians. Under the Persians, the region was formed into an official satrapy or province which, according to the Behistun inscription of Darius the Great, was called Armina (Armenia is a Greek interpretation of the name). This name was not the one used by the Armenian natives - theirs was something along the lines of Hayas or Hayk (see above for a detailed exploration). Armina was a name provided by Aramaean court officials, which came either from the name Aramu, potentially the first king of Urartu, or the region of Arme which was occupied by Armenians.

Within the newfound Persian empire, one of its most important satrapies was Media, perhaps second only to Persis itself. Its territory extended around its capital, Ecbatana, its special position as a great satrapy apparent from the fact that Achaemenid princes were installed as satraps there. According to Xenophon, Cyrus the Great appointed his second son, Tanyoxarces, as the first Persian satrap of Media to administer Media, Armenia, and the territory of the warlike Cadusii.

The best source for the administrative affiliation and structure of the main satrapy of Armina itself is the Behistun inscription, in which two centres of gravity are clearly identified. It was Darius the Great who dispatched a military contingent against West Armina and another against East Armina, thereby marking out two zones within Armina overall. Several other ancient writers also illustrate the division, and two separate military contingents were mobilised for the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. These two areas were referred to as the minor satrapies of East Armina and West Armina. The eastern section comprised the Matienoi, who overlapped into Media in what is now known as Kurdistan, the Saspeires in Azerbaijan (roughly speaking), and the Alarodioi who may have preserved the name Urartu or Ararat. The section containing the Saspeires became a satrapy under Alexander and then very quickly a kingdom called Atropatene. The western section contained the Armenians as far as the Black Sea and a now-untraceable Paktyike.

For a short period the main satrapy of Armenia also claimed Colchis, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, as far north as the River Sal and the Don Estuary on the Sea of Azov. Colchis was formed as a minor satrapy under Armenian oversight. Taken during the Scythian campaign of 513/512 BC, this region remained under Persian control for no more than a few decades and may already have recovered its independence after the failure of Xerxes' expedition against Greece.

Persians & Medes

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from The Marshals of Alexander's Empire, Waldemar Heckel, from Alexander the Great and Hernán Cortés: Ambiguous Legacies of Leadership, Justin D Lyons, from A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire, M A Dandamaev, from Ctesias' Persica in its Near Eastern Context, Matt Waters, from Alexander The Great: In the Realm of Evergetǽs, Reza Mehrafarin, and from External Link: Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

549 - ? BC

Tanyoxarces / Tanaoxares

Son of Cyrus the Great. First satrap of Media & Kadousioi.

549 - 546 BC

Harpagus, a Median of the royal house and the main cause of the defeat of the Medes, commands Cyrus' army in Anatolia. Starting with Khilakku, captured in 549 BC, he conquers the rest of Anatolia between 547-546 BC. Taken during this campaign are Caria, Lycia, Lydia, Paphlagonia, Phrygia, and Tabal (Cappadocia), and Harpagus and his descendants reign thereafter in Karkâ (Caria) and Lykia (Lycia) as satraps of the empire, normally within the satrapy of Karkâ.

Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great freed the Indo-Iranian Parsua people from Median domination to establish a nation which is recognisable to this day, and an empire which provided the basis for the vast territories which were later ruled by Alexander the Great

As for Tanyoxarces, he is installed as the first Persian satrap of Media, the Kadousioi, and Armina. His governance of the latter, however, may be little more than an oversight role, with the Orontids seemingly handling the day-to-day business of the region. The early - legendary - Armenian king, Tigranes Yervanduni, is brought into history as the first native satrap.

549 - c.535 BC

Tigranes Yervanduni

Orontid Armenian satrap and former king.

c.535 - 515 BC

Vahagn

Orontid Armenian satrap. Existence dubious.

Claimed as an Orontid king (and therefore the satrap of Armina under Persian control, Vahagn is more likely to be Vahagn Vishapakagh, the 'Dragon Reaper'. He is a god of fire, thunder, and war who is credited with fighting the dragon Vishap.

His placement here is due to later Armenian efforts to compose a complete early king list. While the names around him have an element of believability (even though some appear to re-use Artashesid names of the first centuries BC and AD), he may fill a gap in the known 'kingship'. His successor, Hidarnes, does not claim continuity from Tigranes. It is probably not coincidental that this gap seems to occur around the time of a great revolt in 521 BC.

521 BC

Upon the execution of the Persian usurper, Smerdis, the Cyaxarid, Fravartiš, tries to restore Median independence. He is defeated by Persian generals and is executed. Embedded into the report on the rebellion of the Fravartiš in Media is confirmation that Armina belongs to the 'Great Satrapy Media', as suggested by Xenophon and documented by the Behistun inscription. The same happens in Parthawa and Verkâna whose inhabitants, as Darius the Great reports, had also joined Fravartiš. The quashing of the insurrections from Armina to Parthawa is chronologically coordinated in Persian records and occurs between May and June 521 BC. Another major rebellion in Mergu happens towards the end of 522 or 521 BC.

Darius the Great of Persia
The central relief of the North Stairs of the Apadana in Persepolis, now in the Archaeological Museum in Tehran, shows Darius I (the Great) on his royal throne (External Link: Creative Commons Licence 4.0 International)

fl c.510s BC

Hidarnes I

Orontid West Armina satrap.

513 - 512 BC

The Persians enter northern Greece, conquering Thrace south of the Danube. They hold onto it for about fifty years, possibly until they are forced out of Macedonia by Alexander I.  This territory is subjoined as a minor satrapy to the great satrapy of Sparda. Colchis, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea is taken during the same campaign and is created a minor satrapy under the oversight of Armina.

In Armina itself, Darius divides the satrapy into two minor satrapies, the western and eastern halves. It is the western section that gradually becomes the focus of a would-be Armenian kingdom, while the eastern section - which no doubt also contains Armenian settlers of perhaps two centuries' standing - today is part of Kurdistan.

fl c.490s BC

Hidarnes II

Son. Orontid West Armina satrap.

480 - 479 BC

FeatureInvading southern Greece in 480 BC, the Persians are swiftly engaged by Athens and Sparta in the Vale of Tempe, and then stymied by a mixed force of Greeks led by Sparta at Thermopylae. While Macedonia is a Persian vassal, it still supplies the Greek city states with supplies and information regarding Persian movements.

Athens, as the leader of the coalition of city states known as the Delian League, then defeats the Persian navy at Salamis, and after the Persian king Xerxes returns home, his army is decisively defeated at the Battle of Plataea and kicked out of Greece, with many of the survivors of Plataea being killed by Alexander's forces as they retreat to Asia Minor by land. This defeat also allows the Macedonians to fully regain a freedom that they may have established in 490 BC. Colchis, too, is free by now.

fl c.460s BC

Hidarnes III

Son. Orontid West Armina satrap.

fl c.400s BC

Artasyrus / Ardashir

A Bactrian. West Armina satrap.

fl 401 BC

Tiribazos / Tiribazus

Satrap of West Armina. Promoted to Sparda (395 BC).

c.401 - 400 BC

Cyrus, satrap of Asia Minor, attempts to revolt, mobilising an army and ten thousand Greek mercenaries to attack his brother Artaxerxes II. Defeat leads to his death in October 401 BC at the Battle of Cunaxa. The 'Ten Thousand' Greeks subsequently make their way home via East Armina, West Armina (where they skirmish against the untrustworthy satrap, Tiribazos), and the Black Sea coast.

Battle of Cunaxa
The Battle of Cunaxa saw the end of just one in a number of internal Persian revolts that often involved thousands of troops on either side, although in this case the presence of a large body of Greek mercenaries should have been an indicator of the future threat the Greeks would become

Orontes is the son of Artasyras, the 'King's Eye'. He must render some form of service to the Persian king at the battle. The proof of his service is the fact that he is soon given one of the king's daughters and is heading for the satrapy of East Armina.

fl c.400 - 381 BC

Orontes I 'the Bactrian' / Yervand I

Son of Artasyrus. Satrap of East Armina.

381 BC

Having intrigued against the Persian satrap of West Armina and commander of the navy - Tiribazos - during the campaign against Cyrus, King Artaxerxes II now demotes him. He is removed from Armina and is granted a very minor command in Mysia. This is subject to administration from Sparda, which may still be commanded by Tiribazos no less.

c.342 - 341 BC

The Kadousioi, who have been in revolt since the reign of Darius III, are finally brought to heel (they are later to be found in the army of Darius III). A cousin of the Persian king, Artashata Kodomannos, wins fame by killing an enemy champion and is made satrap of Armina as a reward.

c.341 - 340 BC

Artashata Kodomannos (Darius III)

Son of Arsames. Satrap of Armina. Became King Darius III.

c.340 BC

Artashata, son of Arsames and otherwise known as Kodomannos, is promoted from the position of satrap of Armina to the position of royal courier. In 336 BC he succeeds his uncle, Artaxerxes IV, as king of Persia. His epithet, Kodomannos, would appear to be made up of two Indo-Aryan elements, 'kodo-' and 'man', plus the Greek nominative suffix '-os'. It seems that the Persians were still using the Indo-Aryan nominative suffix '-as/-az' at this point. Of those elements, 'man' literally means what it says. The 'kodo-' part is less certain, but may be related to Sanskrit 'kodya', meaning 'of the people', which would make him Artashata, man of the people.

? - 331 BC

Orontes II

Son. Satrap of Armina. Killed at Gaugamela?

? - 331 BC

Tiribazus

Minor satrap of West Armina.

333 - 331 BC

The campaigning season of 333 BC sees Darius III and Alexander the Great of Macedon miss each other on the plain of Cilicia and instead fight the Battle of Issos on the coast. Darius flees when the battle's outcome hangs in the balance, gifting the Greeks Khilakku and Cappadocia, although pockets of Persian resistance remain in parts of Anatolia.

Armina is bypassed during the next move by Alexander, suggesting that it has already capitulated. Confirmation of this is supplied by the fact that Mithrenes, brother (or son) of Orontes, is satrap during the early years of Greek overlordship. The fate of Orontes himself is unknown, but death in battle seems likely.

The Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC
Alexander defeated the Persian king Darius III at the Battle of Gaugamela in Mesopotamia in 331 BC, with the victory giving him control of all the lands to the west of Iran

Alexander proceeds into Syria during 333-332 BC to receive the submission of Ebir-nāri, which also gains him Harran, Judah, and Phoenicia (principally Byblos and Sidon, with Tyre holding out until it can be taken by force). Athura, Gaza, and Egypt also capitulate (not without a struggle in Gaza's case). By 331 BC Alexander is ready for the expected confrontation with Darius III in the heartland of Persian territory, while in Macedonian-dominated Armenia a satrap is soon appointed in the form of Mithrenes, brother of Orontes II.

Argead Dynasty in Armenia

The Argead were the ruling family and founders of Macedonia who reached their greatest extent under Alexander the Great and his two successors before the kingdom broke up into several Hellenic sections. Following Alexander's conquest of central and eastern Persia in 331-328 BC, the Greek empire ruled the region until Alexander's death in 323 BC and the subsequent regency period which ended in 310 BC. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire. Following that latter period and during the course of several wars, Armenia was left in the hands of a native 'Kingdom of Armenia' which established a semi-independent existence during the course of the wars.

The best source for the administrative affiliation and structure of the Persian-era satrapy of Armina itself is the Behistun inscription, in which two centres of gravity are clearly identified. The division between West Armina and East Armina persevered during the Persian era, even as late as 331 BC when two separate military contingents were mobilised for the Battle of Gaugamela. The eastern region comprised the Saspeires people (along with others) in what is now Azerbaijan (roughly speaking). This became a separate satrapy under Alexander (initially as part of Media) and then very quickly a kingdom called Atropatene. The western section contained the Armenians as far as the Black Sea and a now-untraceable Paktyike. It is this area that became the core of the later kingdom.

Alexander the Great

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from The Marshals of Alexander's Empire, Waldemar Heckel, from Alexander the Great and Hernán Cortés: Ambiguous Legacies of Leadership, Justin D Lyons, from A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire, M A Dandamaev, from Ctesias' Persica in its Near Eastern Context, Matt Waters, from Alexander The Great: In the Realm of Evergetǽs, Reza Mehrafarin, and from External Link: Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

330 - 323 BC

Alexander III the Great

King of Macedonia. Conquered Persia.

323 - 317 BC

Philip III Arrhidaeus

Feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander the Great.

317 - 310 BC

Alexander IV of Macedonia

Infant son of Alexander the Great and Roxana.

331 - 323 BC

Mithrenes

Brother of Orontes II, vassal satrap of Armina.

331 - 330 BC

By 331 BC Alexander the Great is ready for the expected confrontation with Darius III in the heartland of Persian territory. As well as resulting in abject defeat for Darius, the battle also seems to remove from the scene Orontes II, the former native satrap of Persian-dominated Armina. By 330 BC Alexander has appointed Orontes' brother, Mithrenes, as the new satrap, with oversight by Alexander's Greek empire seemingly being minimal to the point of non-existence. Instead Armenia would seem to be treated as a trusted ally rather than a subject region.

Map of Central Asia & Eastern Mediterranean 334-323 BC
The route of Alexander's ongoing campaigns are shown in this map, with them leading him from Europe to Egypt, into Persia, and across the vastness of eastern Iran as far as the Pamir mountain range (click or tap on map to view full sized)

323 - 320? BC

The Achaemenid satrapies have largely been retained under Alexander, although Media has been divided between the smaller northern region of Media Atropatene (thereby creating the basis for the subsequent kingdom of Atropatene and removing the territory of the Saspeires from what had been East Armina), and the larger southern region, which is governed by Peithon.

Once formed, the kingdom of Atropatene continues to be ruled by members of the Persian elite, with a focus which generally mirrors the territory of modern Azerbaijan. Following the death of Alexander, Armenia itself is governed by Neoptolemus, one of Alexander's generals (only the writer Dexippus instead assigns Neoptolemus to Carmania). With Alexander no longer around to provide caution and promote inclusion, Mithrenes is sidelined.

323 - 321 BC

Neoptolemus

Greek satrap of Armenia. Killed.

321 BC

Neoptolemus is generally assessed as having caused a degree of chaos in Armenia during his brief spell in command. He also refuses to cooperate with the Macedonian regent, Perdiccas, instead attempting rather obviously to court the other side in the First War of the Diadochi (the successors - the generals of Alexander's army). Perdiccas sends Eumenes to remove his troops from his command, and the two subsequently engage in battle.

The death of Neoptolemus during that battle (in which he seeks out Eumenes in single combat) allows a native dynast in the form of Orontes III to gain control of Armenia. From this point the state is usually a vassal that is ruled by native dynasts, albeit with a great deal of outside interference.

MapKingdom of Armenia / Greater Armenia

It took the Roman defeat of the Seleucid empire at the Battle of Magnesia to enable the Armenians the freedom of declaring their own independence. The declaration cut off some southern Georgian districts from the kingdom of Iberia.

(The list covering 628-806 plugs a gap that other lists miss. Some inconsistencies remain, and other gaps have been filled where possible from other sources.)

321 - ? BC

Orontes III

King of Armenia. Murdered.

302 BC

Orontes moves the capital from Armavir to Yervandashat.

fl 301 BC

Ardoates

301 BC

The Macedonian satrap of Cappadocia, Amyntas, is killed when Ariarathes II of Cappadocia and Ardoates invade. Ariarathes recovers his uncle's throne and restores the native dynasty in Cappadocia, but he is forced to accept the Seleucid empire as his overlord. The same stipulation is now placed on the native rulers of Armenia, although they do retain a fair degree of autonomy.

c.290 - 260 BC

Sames

Son of Orontes III. Seleucid satrap.

c.260 - 228 BC

Arsames I

Satrap of Greater Armenia, Sophene & Commagene.

227 BC

Antiochus Heirax has been defeated in his campaign to wrest the Seleucid empire from his brother Seleucus II. He is forced out of Anatolia and eventually ends up in Egypt (where he is killed by robbers around 226 BC - although Thrace has also been mentioned as his final refuge). The second century AD Macedonian writer, Polyaenus, reports that Antiochus Hierax also gains refuge with Arsames in Armenia, possibly as his first port of call given its location near Anatolia.

212 BC

Armenia is divided into two kingdoms, those of Greater Armenia and Armenia Sophene. The latter includes Commagene (Lesser Armenia or Armenia Minor). Both remain vassals of the Seleucids, but Antiochus the Great is unhappy with the rule of native dynasts and Greater Armenia comes under attack, seemingly almost immediately.

c.228 - 210 BC

Unknown / Xerxes

Satrap of Greater Armenia, Sophene & Commagene. Murdered.

212 - 209 BC

Having defeated his rebellious cousin in Anatolia, Antiochus III of the Seleucid empire concentrates on the northern and eastern provinces of the empire. Xerxes of Armenia is persuaded to acknowledge his supremacy in 212 BC, while in 209 BC Antiochus invades Parthia. Its capital, Hecatompylos, is occupied and Antiochus forces his way into Hyrcania, with the result that the Parthian king, Arsaces II, is forced to sue for peace.

c.210 - 170 BC

Artaxias

? - 201 BC

Orontes IV

King of Armenia. Killed.

190 BC

Rome defeats the Seleucid empire at Magnesia. The Armenians declare their independence the following year under a native dynasty, the Artashesids.

Artashesids
189 BC - AD 62

Native Armenian rulers.

(Additional information by Naré Ghazarian, from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, and from External Links: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA, and Encyclopædia Britannica, and Diodorus of Sicily at the Library of World History (dead link), and Appian's History of Rome: The Syrian Wars at Livius.org.)

164 BC

The Arsacids in the east have been gradually extending their control over the eastern lands of former Persia, and Antiochus IV of the Seleucid empire now campaigns against them. He recovers lost income from the region and forces the defector, Artaxias of Armenia, to recognise his suzerainty. Then he founds the city of Antioch on the Persian Gulf, sets out on an expedition to the Arabian coast and, at the end of 164 BC, dies of illness at Tabae (or Gabae, probably modern Isfahan) in Persis.

? BC

Artavazde / Artavasdes I

123 - 95 BC

Artavazde / Artavasdes II

95 BC

Now a powerful state in Mesopotamian affairs, the Parthian Arsacids extend their influence further by removing Artavazde from the throne of Armenia and raising up his son, Tigranes. In exchange for this they received 'seventy valleys' according to Strabo. The two countries now remain in virtually constant contact with one another, although not always on a friendly basis.

95 - 55 BC

Tigranes I the Great

Son of Artavadze. Son-in-law of Mithridates VI of Pontus.

90 BC

Artaxias, the new king of Iberia in Georgia, may be a son of Artavastes, and therefore Tigranes' brother. During his reign, Tigranes founds the city of Tigranakert on the right bank of the River Khachenaget, on the slopes of the Vankasar and Tsitsar mountains and the adjacent plains. The city grows to cover an area of about a thousand hectares and survives until the middle of the thirteenth century AD. Then abandoned, the site is only re-inhabited in the middle of the eighteenth century.

90 BC

Armenia Sophene is reabsorbed by Armenia.

89 - 69 BC

Arsacid ruler, Mithradates the Great, launches an attack against the Seleucid empire with Aziz the Arab as his ally. The target is Antiochus X who is killed during the fighting. The weakened and distracted Seleucids also lose Harran to Armenia as Tigranes the Great conquers much of Syria between this point and 69 BC. The civil war at least would seem to be over - until Philip and Demetrius fight each other for the throne.

However, the aged Mithradates dies in this year and the Parthian empire experiences a period of destabilisation and uncertainty. The Armenians take the opportunity to reconquer the 'seventy valleys' while several successive Arsacid kings are recorded about which virtually nothing is known.

69 - 67 BC

FeatureThe imperialistic ambitions of King Tigranes lead to war with Rome, and a defeated Armenia becomes tributary to the republic following the campaigns of generals Lucullus (69 BC) and Pompey (67 BC). Seleucid Syria is lost and the Romans distinguish between Greater Armenia and Lesser Armenia, respectively east and west of the Euphrates. The latter is governed by proxy through Rome's client state, Cappadocia.

55 - 30 BC

Artavazde / Artavasdes III

49 - 47 BC

Upon Pompey's fall in 49 BC, Pharnaces, newly resurgent king of a reduced Pontus and Cimmerian Bosporus, takes advantage of Julius Caesar being occupied in Egypt, and reduces Kolkis, Armenia, and part of Cappadocia, defeating Domitius Calvinus at Nicopolis, whom Caesar subsequently sends against him. Kolkis becomes part of the kingdom, along with Lesser Armenia.

30 BC - AD 56

Competition between Rome and Parthian Persia affects Armenia, which is stuck in the middle of the two empires. The competition leads to the division of Armenia in AD 56.

30 BC

Alexander of Egypt

Armenia is protected by Rome.

30 BC

Artaxias / Artaxes II

Son of Artavadze II. Protected by Persia.

30 BC

Alexander of Egypt

Restored. Armenia is protected by Rome.

30 - 20 BC

Artaxias / Artaxes II

Restored. Protected by Persia.

20 - 12 BC

Tigranes III

Brother. Protected by Rome.

12 - ? BC

Tigranes IV

Protected by Persia.

? - 2 BC

Artavazde / Artavasdes IV

Protected by Rome.

2 - 1 BC

Eratus

Brother of Tigranes IV. Protected by Persia.

1 BC - AD 2

Ariobarzane of Atropatene

Protected by Rome.

AD 1

The threat of conflict between Rome and Parthia has been building over the question of Armenia. As a result the Romans build up a large military force in Syria. King Phraates of Parthia gives way, and negotiations which are held in this year end with the Parthians relinquishing any claims of influence in affairs in Armenia and the Romans granting recognition to Phraates as a legitimate and sovereign ruler.

AD 2 - 11

Artavazde / Artavasdes V

Son.

10 - 15

The opinion of the Parthian nobility is that their king, Vonones, has been made soft by his time in Rome and they are unhappy about his tight budgetary control. A section of the nobility sets up a rival candidate in the form of Artabanus, an Arsacid who comes from the north-east of Iran, probably Hyrcania (based on subsequent events). Vonones fends him off at the first attempt, but the second proves successful, and Artabanus is in command in AD 10. Vonones withdraws to Armenia where he is eventually placed on the throne by Rome.

11 - 14/15

Eratus

Restored.

15 - 16

Vonones

Exiled King of Parthia c.7-12. Protected by Rome. Deposed.

16 - 18

This is a Roman-led period of interregnum with Vonones as nominal ruler. During this period, in AD 17, the aged Archelaus of Cappadocia angers the Emperor Tiberius. Archelaus is summoned to Rome where he dies, possibly of natural causes (or suicide). Tributary Cappadocia now becomes a Roman province while Armenia is faced with the threat of military action by Parthia while Vonones remains in charge. Now Armenia and Lesser Armenia are recombined and handed to the elder son of Polemon I of Pontus, Artaxias III, who rules it as a client king. Cilicia is handed to Archelaus' own son to rule as another client king.

18 - 34

Zenon of Pontus / Artaxias / Artaxes III

Son of Polemon I Pythodoros of Pontus. Protected by Rome.

34

Artaxes dies without having produced an heir. Artabanus of Parthia moves to install his eldest son, Arsaces, on the throne. However, fearing that Artabanus is becoming too powerful, the nobility negotiates with Rome for someone they can see as being a more suitable candidate.

34 - 35

Arsaces of Armenia

Son of Artabanus III of Parthia.

35

Emperor Tiberius sends Phraates to Armenia. He is one of the four sons of the late Phraates IV of Parthia but he has the misfortune to die en route, in Syria. Tiridates, a grandson of Phraates IV, is sent in his place to secure the Parthian throne itself. In addition, Rome appoints Mithridates, a brother of the ruler of Iberia, as king of Armenia. An Iberian army then conquers Armenia and beats off a counter-attack by the Parthians. With the backing of a Roman army commanded by Lucius Vitellius, governor of Syria, Tiridates III is crowned supreme king in Ctesiphon, and Artabanus withdraws to Hyrcania.

35

Orodes of Armenia

Brother. Pretender.

35 - 37

Mithridates / Mitridates

Brother of Pharasmanes of Iberia. Protected by Rome.

36

Artabanus of Parthia returns with an army of Dahan auxiliaries which he has raised in Hyrcania. Tiridates' own support has evaporated because he is little more than a puppet of Rome. In the face of this new threat and with no support he flees to Syria and Artabanus is accepted by his rebellious Parthian nobility. He also agrees to restore the status quo with Rome and stay out of Armenia.

Zorsines of the Siraces tribe of Sarmatians has a fortification at Uspe when he takes part in a campaign which is being fought against the Dandarii under the direction of Mithridates himself, possibly in AD 36 or 37.

37 - 42

Orodes

Gained the throne. Protected by Parthia.

42 - 51

Mithridates / Mitridates

Restored. Protected by Parthia. Murdered.

49?

Mithridates turns against Rome so Emperor Claudius effectively dethrones him. He is determined to keep his throne, however, and teams up again with Zorsines of the Siraces. Battle is offered against his replacement but the pair are defeated.

51 - 53

Radamisto

Son of Pharasmanes of Iberia. Protected by Rome.

51

It is unclear whether Vonones returns from exile in Armenia to take the reigns of power in Parthia now that Gotarzes is dead or if this is a fresh Vonones. Either is possible. Certainly his son, Vologeses, is on the throne within the year. Vologeses II is brother to two other eventual kings - Pacorus of Media and Tiridates II of Armenia, the latter of which sees this subsidiary branch of the Arsacids take over to form their own distinctive dynasty by AD 62. Vologeses is also the father of the Tiridates I who becomes king of Armenia in AD 51.

51

Tiridates I / Trdat

Son of Vologeses II of Parthia. Protected by Rome.

53 - 54

Radamisto

Restored. Protected by Rome.

54 - 58/9

Tiridates I / Trdat

Restored. Protected by Parthia.

56 - 62

Tiridates, a Parthian prince, has been placed on the throne without Rome's agreement, and Rome and Parthia go to war. Rome enjoys some initial success and manages to impose its own vassal ruler in the form of Tigranes V, while placing other vassals in command of Armenia Sophene and Lesser Armenia. However, in the winter of AD 62 Vologases I of Parthia manages to surround a Roman army near Rhandeia (on the Arsanias, a tributary of the Euphrates) and forces it to capitulate.

59 - 62

Tigranes V of Capadoce

Protected by Rome.

62

With Armenia all but a Parthian territory, Rome is forced to accept an Arsacid ruler in the form of Tiridates II. He travels to Rome in AD 66 to receive the crown in person from Emperor Nero. However, Rome ensures it has its portion of the spoils by annexing Armenia Sophene and Little, or Lesser Armenia.

MapArsacids
AD 62 - 386

The Arsacids were formerly a branch of the Parthian rulers of the same name. They became a distinct Armenian dynasty who had their treasure-house and burial-place at Ingalova, formerly within the Bronze Age state of Hayasa-Azzi. Information about their rule is patchy in places.

(Additional information by Brigitta Davidjants.)

62 - 72

Tiridates II of Armenia / Trdat

Brother of Vologeses I of Parthia.

63

Rome and Parthia fight to a stalemate in Armenia. Rome annexes Armenia Sophene and negotiates a peace treaty with Persia whereby Tiridates lays down the crown and travels to Rome to have Nero personally hand it back as a Roman - and not Persian - gift to the Armenian princes. Armenia is protected by Persia 62-63, and by Rome 63-72.

Christianity is introduced very soon afterwards, although it doesn't become the official religion until the fourth century; Armenia is reckoned to be the oldest Christian state.

c.70

An attack by the warlike Alani tribe to the north of the Black Sea defeats an Armenian force.

In AD 72, Axidares is placed on the throne by his uncle, Osroes I, who himself is probably already on the way towards becoming a competitor for the main prize, the Parthian throne. Axidares' brother, Parthamasiris, succeeds him, also with support from Osroes. However, this interference in what Rome sees as its own sphere of influence cannot be tolerated for long.

72 - ?

Axidares

Son of Pacorus II of Parthia. Protected by Parthia.

? - 114

Parthamasiris

Brother. Protected by Parthia. Killed by Rome.

114 - 118

Seemingly out of the blue, after decades of peace, the Romans under Trajan march into Armenia and kill Parthia's king there (after he surrenders). The underlying reason, of course, is Parthia's interference in Armenia. Then they go on to occupy Mesopotamia right up to the former Elamite capital at Susa (now the Parthian capital).

Emperor Trajan and the Dacians
Trajan launched a series of wars to expand the Roman empire and conquer troublesome areas and enemies - the defeated Dacians are shown here - but many of these were unnecessary, and supplied short-term gains which were soon lost or handed back

Parthian internal conflicts come to an end in the face of this much more serious threat. The conquests are given up following the Roman emperor's death. However, Armenia is officially annexed as a Roman province by Trajan, and although Hadrian soon hands it back to be governed by nominal Parthian Arsacid rulers, it remains under indirect Roman control until the third century AD. It is one Vologeses, who rules eastern portions of Parthia in opposition to Osroes, who is now placed upon the Armenian throne.

118 - ?

Vologases I / Vagharsh

Protected by Rome. Also Vologeses III of Parthia.

134 - 136

The Alani are again showing their warlike demeanour by attacking Albania, Media, and Armenia. They penetrate as far as Cappadocia. The only way Vologeses of Armenia and Parthia is able to persuade them to withdraw is probably by paying them.

? - 140/44

Aurelios Pocoros

c.140/144 - 161

Sohemo / Sohaemus

Deposed by Parthia.

161/2 - 166

Another conflict begins between the Parthian empire and Rome, with Armenia again playing a central role in events. Vologeses IV of Parthia attacks the Roman defences and secures control of Armenia. Sohemo is replaced on the throne by Pakoros, but Rome soon recovers and regains its losses. Sohemo is restored and the Parthian empire is invaded. Vologeses is forced to cede western Mesopotamia in return for renewed peace.

161 - 163

Pakoros / Pacoros

Installed by Parthia.

163 - 180?

Sohemo / Sohaemus

Restored by Rome.

180 - 191

Vologases II / Valarsaces

Son of Vologeses IV of Parthia. Gained Parthian throne 190/3.

189

This period of rule in Armenia is not always mentioned. In 189 Vologases' son, Rev, becomes Rev I, ruler of the kingdom of Iberia in Georgia, thanks to Vologases' intervention. Around 190/193 Vologeses himself gains the Parthian throne as Vologeses V.

191? - 197

Sanatrik

197

Vologases II / Valarsaces

Restored?

197 - 238

Tiridates III / Khosrov I / Trdat

Son. Attempted to claim Parthia after its fall.

c.213 - 216

After perhaps five-or-so years of relative peace Parthian king Vologeses has to fight his younger brother, Artabanus in yet another royal rebellion. In AD 216, Rome's Emperor Caracalla asks Artabanus for the hand of his daughter in marriage, in itself clear evidence of the fact that the latter is then regarded as being the ruling monarch, even though the coinage of Vologeses continues to appear in Seleucia until at least 221/2. It would seem that Vologeses is ousted from the heartland of Parthian territory by his brother, but is still strong enough to secure a rival kingdom at Seleucia.

The fractured Parthian empire is breaking down now. With the claim to rule it already dividing the empire in two on official lines, other minor kingdoms have already started emerging or will soon do so. For the moment they probably acknowledge Parthian overlordship in name, but essentially they are probably all but independent states in their own right. At least two are known - Margiana (ruled by one Ardashir) and Persis (ruled by one Papak of the Sassanids).

224

Artabanus of Parthia has left it too late to confront Sassanid expansion within the Parthian empire. The Battle of Hormozdgān costs Artabanus his life and, with Vologeses already gone, the Sassanids are now the most powerful faction in Iran. As an Arsacid of a cadet branch, Tiridates places his own claim on the empire, but it has already been lost.

238 - 252

Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanids, comes to power in Persia and overruns Armenia. The subsequent persecution of Christians creates innumerable martyrs and kindles nationalism among the Armenians.

252 - 283

Artavazde / Artavasdes VI

Protected by Persia.

283 - 330

Tiridates IV / Trdat

Son of Crosroes. Initially protected by Rome.

301

In response to the Sassanid attacks and after being informed that Roman Emperor Diocletian has negotiated with the Sassanids to the detriment of the Armenians, King Tiridates is converted to Christianity by St Gregory the Illuminator, presumably alongside his Alani wife, Arsecid, daughter of King Kundajiq. According to legend, the conversion is due to the miraculous convalescence of the king from madness. Very soon Christianity is officially adopted as Armenia's state religion. By joining the Roman Church, the state becomes the world's first Christian nation.

330 - 339

Khosrov II the Small

Son.

339 - c.350

Tigranes VII

Son.

c.350 - 368

Archak II

Son.

368 - 370

Persia occupies Armenia.

368 - 369

Cylax (Zig)

Persian governor.

368 - 369

Artaban (Karen)

Persian governor.

369 - 370

Vahan Mamikonian

Persian governor.

369 - 370

Merujan Ardzruni

Persian governor.

370 - 374

Pap

Son of Archak II.

374 - 378

Varazdat

Grandson of Tigranes VII.

378 - 379

Queen Zarmandukht

Wife of Pap.

378 - 379

Enmanuel Mamikonian

Provisional governor.

379 - c.380

Persia controls Armenia. A joint government is formed consisting of the Persian marzban (governor), Queen Zarmandukht, and Enmanuel Mamikonian.

c.380 - 384

The joint government continues without the Persian governor.

384 - 389

Archak III

Son of Zarmandukht. m Vardandukht, dau of Mamikonian.

384 - 386

Valarchak

Co-ruler. m dau of Sahak Bagratuni.

387 - 389

The kingdom is partitioned between Persia and Rome. Rome gains Lesser Armenia to the west of the Euphrates while Persia gains Greater Armenia to the east. Archak III is granted the throne of Lesser Armenia, while another member of the Arsacid family gains Greater Armenia's throne. Attempts at independence are short-lived, as Armenia becomes the constant prey of Persians, Byzantines, Kidarites, Hephthalites, tribal Khazars, and Arabs.

Kingdom of Greater Armenia (Persarmenia)
AD 387 - 1064

The Arsacids continue to rule eastern Armenia, but with an increasing Persian dominance which eventually removes all Armenian governance.

387 - 392

Khosrov III

Arsacid.

387 - 390

Zik

Regent.

392 - 414

Vram Shepuh

Brother of Khosrov III.

414 - 415

Khosrov III

Second rule.

415 - 421

Shahpur

Heir of Perse.

421

Narses Djidjrakatsi

Provisional governor.

421 - 423

Local independent governors rule.

423 - 428

Artaxias / Artaxes IV

Son of Vram Shepuh.

Marzban (Persian Armenia)
AD 428 - 590

(Additional information from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992).)

428 - 442

Veh Mihr Shahpur

442 - 451

Vasak

King of Siunik.

451

The Fourth Catholic Council (Chalcedon) is held. Monophysitism is condemned, but the fatal disaffection of Syria and Egypt is effected (the former eventually forms the Syriac Orthodox Church which survives to the present day). Oriental Orthodoxy develops a distinctive flavour of its own under the patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt, with the majority of its adherents hailing from Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Armenia.

451 - 465

Adhur Hordmidz (Adrormizd)

465 - 481

Adhur Guschnasp (Ardervechnasp)

c.467

Oguric-speaking tribes have recently been pushed out of the Kazakh steppe by the Sabirs due to population pressures from farther east and a domino effect of tribal movement in a westwards direction. Now they make their presence felt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe. The Saragurs attack the Akatirs and other tribes that had been part of the Hunnic union. Then, perhaps prompted by the Eastern Roman empire, the Ogurics raid Sassanid-held Transcaucasia, ravaging the Georgian kingdoms of Egrisi and Iberia and also Armenia while on their way southwards.

Map of Eastern Europe AD 450-500
Soon after the middle of the fifth century AD the Hunnic empire crashed into extinction, starting with the death of Attila in 453. His son and successor, Ellac, was killed in battle in 454, and the Huns were defeated by the Ostrogoths in 456, ending Hunnic unity (click or tap on map to view full sized)

481 - 482

Sahak Bagratuni

482

General Mihran

Military occupation.

482 - 483

Vahan Mamikonian

Provisional governor.

483

General Zarmihr Karen

Military occupation.

483 - 484

Shahpur of Rayy

484 - 505/10

Vahan Mamikonian

Second rule. Provisional governor 484-485.

505/10 - 509/14

Vard Mamikonian

Brother.

509/14 - 518

Guschnasp Vahram

Dates uncertain.

518 - 548

Mjej Gnuni

548 - 552

Tan Shapur

552 - 554

Guschnasp Vahram

Second rule?

554 - 558/60

Tan Shapur

Second rule.

558/60 - 564

Varazdat

560s

A people, country, and town with the name in later Islamic sources of Belendzher or Balandzhar is mentioned for the first time by the Arab historian at-Tabari in connection with events from the 560s. Sassanid-controlled Armenia is invaded by four peoples - 'abkhaz', 'b-ndzh-r' (Bandzhar), 'b-l-ndzh-r' (Balandzhar), and the Alani.

564 - 572

Sunen

572

Vardan Mamikonian

Provisional governor.

572

Mihran Mihrevandak

Military governor.

572 - 573

Vardan Mamikonian

573

Golon Mihran

Military governor.

573 - 577

Vardan Mamikonian

577 - 580

Tham Khusru

580 - 581

Varaz Vzur

581 - 582/88

Aspahbadh Pahlev

582/88 - 588/89

Frahat

588/89 - 590

Hrattin

590

Byzantium gains power in western Armenia but this causes the fragmentation of the kingdom. Persian control continues in the east, in a reduced Marzban.

Persian Marzban of Dwin
AD 590 - 628

590 - 591

Mouchel Mamikonian

Governor.

591

Hamaraker

Governor.

591 - 603

Unknown governors

603 - 611

Sembat Bagratuni

611 - 613

Chahrayanpet

Governor in the east.

611 - 613

Chahen Vahmanzadhaghan

Governor in the west.

613 - 616

Parsayenpet

616 - 619

Namdar Guchnasp

619 - 624

Charaplaken (Sarablagas)

624 - 627

Rozbihan

627 - 628

Persian rule in Armenia comes to an end with the Byzantine war of Heraclius to recover the parts of Eastern Roman recently occupied by the Persians. The defeat of the Sassanids fortuitously frees Armenia.

A small subdivision remains in the Persian Marzban of Eastern Armenia, while the Byzantines rule the greater (western) portion of Armenia.

Persian Marzban of Eastern Armenia
AD 628 - 646

628 - 634

Varaztirots Bagratuni

634 - ?

Unknown governors

646

Armenia is fully reunified under Eastern Roman control.

Map of Eastern Europe AD 632-665
In AD 632, Qaghan Koubrat came to power as the head of an Onogur-Bulgar confederation on the Pontic-Caspian steppe, and three years later he was able to throw off Avar domination and found Great Bulgaria (click or tap on map to view full sized)

Governors of Western Armenia
AD 627 - 646

? - c.595

John Mystacon

c.595

Heraclius Crispus 'the Elder'

Magister militum. Later exarch of Africa.

627 - 635

Mzhezh / Mjej Gnuni

635 - 638

David Saharuni

638 - 643

Several 'Nakharar'

643 - 645

Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

645 - 646

Varaztirots Bagratuni

646

Armenia is fully reunified under Eastern Roman control.

Governors of Western Armenia (Byzantines)
AD 646 - 705

646 - 653

Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

Returned to power.

646 - 653

Sembat I Bagratuni

Co-governor.

652 - 653

The Islamic empire begins to threaten the region. Aided by the Eastern Romans, Armenia defends itself, but the Arab campaign continues northwards into the Caucasus under General Salman. He concentrates on the towns and settlements of the western coast of the Caspian Sea and on defeating the Khazars. A description of this campaign is based on a manuscript by Ahmed-bin-Azami, and it mentions that '...Salman reached the Khazar town of Burgur... He continued and finally reached Bilkhar, which was not a Khazar possession, and camped with his army near that town, on rich meadows intersected by a large river'.

This is why several historians connect the town with the proto-Bulgarians. The Arab missionary Ahmed ibn-Fadlan also confirms this connection, as he mentions the fact that, during his trip to the Volga Bulgars in 922, he sees a group of five thousand Barandzhars (balandzhars) who had migrated a long time ago to Volga Bulgaria. He also encounters a group of people who may tentatively be identified with the Venedi.

653 - 654

Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

Returned to power.

654

Mouchel Mamikonian / Mushegh

654

Maurianos

654 - 655

Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

Returned to power.

655

Maurianos

Returned to power.

655

Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

Returned to power.

655 - 661

Hamazasp Mamikonian

661 - 685

Grigor Mamikonian / Gregory I

686 - 690

Achot Bargatuni / Ashot II

Ashot I is unknown.

690 - 691

Nerseh Kamsarakan

691 - 695

Sembat II Bagratuni

Son of Vanaztirots Bagratuni.

695

The Islamic empire gains power in Armenia.

695 - 696

Abd Allh Hatim al-Bahili

696 - 705

Sembat II Bagratuni

Restored. Independent.

705 - 885

The Eastern Romans are expelled and the Armenians subjugated by the Islamic empire. A small Armenian principality eventually retains some nominal independence for the state.

Principality of Armenia
AD 732 - 782

732 - 745

Ashot III Bagratuni

745 - 746

Gregory II Mamikonian

746 - 750

Ashot III Bagratuni

Second rule.

750 - 751

Gregory II Mamikonian

Second rule.

751 - 755

Mushegh II Mamikonian

Brother.

751 - 754

A period of Islamic occupation occurs as the Abassids overthrow the Umayyad caliphs.

754 - 761

Sahak Bagratuni

Lord of Taron

761 - 772

Sambat VII Bagratuni

772 - 780

Interregnum.

780 - 785

Tachat / Tadjat Antzevari

785 - 806

Interregnum, leading to Bagratid rule.

Kingdom of Greater Armenia (Bagratids)
AD 806 - 1045

In the early 800s, the Eastern Roman empire slowly recovered from the first wave of Islamic expansion, as well as from other enemies. Perhaps not coincidentally, shortly after the death of the powerful Empress Irene, Armenia also began to recover. Becoming independent, the large state in eastern Anatolia enjoyed nearly two centuries of independence. Armenia became a Christian ally of Constantinople against Islamic threats, but eventually became a victim of the Byzantine recovery. The later Macedonian emperors, perhaps a little obsessed with regaining this 'lost' portion of the empire, foolishly wasted strength reducing Armenia that would have been better spent against more threatening targets such as the Seljuq Turks. Gagik II, invited to Constantinople, was imprisoned on his arrival.

(Additional information from the Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis, Farhad Daftary, and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica.)

806 - 826

Ashot IV

826 - 855

Smbat VIII

830 - 852

Bagarat II

856 - 890

Ashot I

885

Armenia is recognised as being independent by the Abbasid caliph, Ahmad al Mutamid. It is in this century that Jugha's cemetery in the Nakhchivan region of north-eastern Armenia begins to see the erection of khachkars - uniquely decorated cross-shaped headstones which are characteristic of medieval Christian Armenian art. The cemetery continues to be used until the Safavid destruction of the town of Jugha in 1605, but the headstones survive until they are deliberately destroyed by Azerbaijan's government in 2005.

Jugha Cemetery
Jugha cemetery came into use in the ninth century, when the kingdom of Greater Armenia ruled over the Nakhchivan region in which it lay, before being completely destroyed by Azerbaijan in 2005 and turned into a military zone

890 - 914

Smbat I

Captured by the amir of Azerbaijan in AD 913. Died in captivity.

915 - 928

Ashot II

928 - 951

Abas

940

Armenia briefly submits to Ali I Sayfud Dawla, founder of the splinter Hamdanids of Aleppo

951 - 977

Ashot III

977 - 989

Smbat II

989 - 1019

Gagik I

1000

Basil II of the Eastern Roman empire annexes the Armenian principality of Taik following several pleas by David of Taik for protection against marauding Seljuq tribesmen. The move offers the principality direct Byzantine protection.

1020 - 1041

Smbat III

1021 - 1022

Two further Armenian principalities are absorbed into the Eastern Roman empire. In 1021 the ruler of Vaspurakan cedes his lands to Basil II because he is unable to withstand the Seljuq Turkmen incursions. In 1022 Sempad of Ani hands over his principality to the emperor on the condition that he is allowed to continue to rule until his death. He is subsequently defeated outright by the Byzantines in 1045.

1020 - 1040

Ashot IV

1042 - 1045

Gagik II

Invited to Constantinople and imprisoned.

1045 - 1064

Armenia is occupied by the Eastern Roman empire, a domination which lasts barely twenty years.

1064

Armenia is conquered by the Seljuqs.

1080

Prince Reuben sets up the Lesser Armenian state west of Greater Armenia.

1137

The pro-Armenian policies of the Fatamid vizier, Bahram, in Egypt provoke a military revolt led by Ridwan, the new governor of Gharbiyya. Bahram is forced out of office, and after the failure of his own revolt in Qus, he is granted permission by Caliph al Hafiz to retire to a monastery where he remains until 1139. Then al Hafiz recalls him to al Kahira (Cairo) and entrusts him with the responsibilities of the vizierate, without officially appointing him to the post, until his death in 1140.

1375

The kingdom of Lesser Armenia is conquered by the Mameluke Sultans of Egypt. Having formed the last outpost of independent Armenian statehood, the surviving members of the nobility now disperse or are absorbed into the dominating Islamic cultures of the region. Within a few centuries, no Armenians have the status or background to be able to claim descent from their former kings, or to be able to make an effective claim for any hereditary kingship. It is only the seizure of Eastern Armenia by the Russians in 1828 that ensures the survival of an Armenian state in any form, albeit one that is a subject state.

1386 - 1394

The Chaghatayid conqueror, Timur, seizes Greater Armenia from his power base in Persia and massacres a large part of the population.

1405 - 1828

Timur dies and the Ottoman Turks, whom Timur had defeated in 1402, invade Armenia and by the sixteenth century hold all of it. Some of this territory is quickly captured from the short-lived Ak Qoyunlu White Sheep emirate. Under Ottoman rule the Armenians, although often persecuted and always discriminated against because of their religion, nevertheless acquire a vital economic role. Constantinople and all other large cities of the Ottoman empire gain colonies of Armenian merchants and financiers. Eastern Armenia is chronically disputed between Turkey and Persia.

Map of Anatolia and Persia c.AD 1475
The White Sheep emirate, or Ak Qoyunlu confederation, at its height controlled a great area of territory, stretching from Azerbaijan in the north to the Persian Gulf and eastern Iran (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1489

Cyprus is handed over to the republic of Venice by Queen Caterina, although the kingdom, and those of Armenia and Jerusalem, continues to be claimed by the House of Savoy through Duke Charles I, relative and successor to the titles of the deposed Queen Charlotte.

1603 - 1618

The Ottoman-Safavid War (1603-1618) is the result of Safavid Shah Abbas rebuilding Iran and ending the chaos of his father's reign. Abbas reverses the losses suffered during the previous war and increases Iran's territories even beyond their traditional borders at Dagestan in the north. It includes a scorched earth policy being pursued in Armenia which results in the town of Jugha being flattened and the medieval stone-cross cemetery falling into disuse.

1795 - 1796

The new shah of Persia, Agha Mohammad, has put an end to the dynastic struggles at home and now mounts a campaign to re-strengthen Persian positions in Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. He also launches a devastating attack on Georgia which sees Tiblisi destroyed and from which the kingdom never recovers. However, Georgia's agreement with Russia means that Catherine the Great launches the Persian Expedition of 1796. Georgia is cleared of Persians with little trouble, but with Azerbaijan also seemingly captured, the empress' sudden death means that her son, Paul, is free to cancel the expedition (resulting in a sense of injustice amongst many officers involved).

1826 - 1828

The Russo-Persian War is the last major military conflict between the Russian and Persian empires, and the first time the two have fought each other since the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813. Shah Fath Ali is still desperate for increased foreign subsidies, and is advised by British agents to reconquer the territories that have been lost to Russia. On 28 July 1826, a 35,000-strong Persian army is led across the border by Abbas Mirza, invading the khanates of Talysh and Karabakh. The khans surrender their main cities to the Persians. However, Russian military power proves too much for them and the eastern half of Armenia is taken before Persia agrees peace terms, bolstered in part by the start of the Russo-Turkish War. Russia makes Eastern Armenia a province (it subsequently also becomes known as Russian Armenia). The western section is still held by Turkey.

 
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