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: History of Armenia | : Admin | 08.01.2006, 09:35

Though we are small-size nation, not numerous, weak and repeatedly been under oppression of the foreign ruler, however our country is proud of its heroes' deeds, worthy of entering them into the annals
Movses Khorenatsi, historiogragh of V century

the blessed land where Assyrians, Persians, Hunns, Alans, Macedonians, Romans Arabs, Osmans, flooding it in torrent, - hundreds of peoples and countries were crushed, destroyed, wiped off the face of the earth, put to fire and sword by them, - where there was not a mountain which wasn't covered with blood, no stone that knocked down a person under itself, and hundreds of peoples in the neighborhood together with us were razed to the ground, were lost so irrevocably, that neither spirit from them nor name remained, - so the sacred Armenian people when lost everything: Life, empire, greatness, glory, power, army - and when it became obvious, that they could not resist this all-destroying flood, these barbarous peoples which wherever directed, inevitably passed through the Armenian land, - the nation who stared eyes at the sky, bended their head to their breast and, tightly closed their hearts, united their souls, have passed under thousand swords, through thousand fires and hitherto have kept itself, its sacred belief, its sacred law with such sincere greatness which has never been and will not be in the world.
Khachatur Abovyan, ticher, writer XIX Century

Formation of Armenian people and creation of the state.

Armenia is the most ancient country. Its territory in III-I millennia B.C. was rather densely populated with Armenian tribes, which started to be united, creating a nucleus of the Armenian state. In IX century B.C. on the Armenian uplands the state Urartu was formed with capital Tushpa. In IX-VI centuries B.C. in Urartu was created a highly developed civilization. Writing was borrowed from Assyrians, agriculture, cattle breeding, metallurgy developed in the state, numerous fortresses were under construction (one of them was Erebuny, built in 782 year B.C. in the territory of modern Yerevan). Urartu was often attacked by the enemies, in particular - Assyrians, and gradually weakening, it stopped existing at the beginning of VI century B.C. After the decline of Urartu the Armenian tribes, having mixed up with urartu people and many other tribes living on the Armenian uplands, merged into the people of ancient Armenia. In VI-V B.C. the Armenian people were formed. But Persians dominated the country. Armenia was not unitd and powerful. Only in 189 B.C after liberation from Persians, Artashes I united almost all Armenian territories and created the united Armenian empire. Artashes I declared himself the independent king of Great Armenia. The new capital - Artashat was founded which was the largest center of economic, political and cultural life of ancient Armenia for about 500 years. The dynasty of Artashesids began to reign the country (189 B.C- 20 A.D). At the end of II century the neighbouring parthian empire started war against Armenia. A part of the Armenian territory was seized. But the Armenian army under leadership of the king Tigran II (95-55 . . .), though did not win back the Armenian territories seized by parthians, yet won many territories, stretching down to Mediterranean sea - in particular, Cilicia and Phoenicia. The Armenian empire in the times of Tigran the Great became one of the powerful states of the ancient world. The capital was transferred to Tigranakert which became the center of science, arts and literatures. But the mighty power of the Ancient world - Roman Empire could not put up with strengthening of Armenia. In 69 the Roman armies under leadership of commander Lucull without declaration of war intruded Armenia. The capital - Tigranakert was also seized. Furthermore, in 68 the Roman armies tried to grasp the new territories, but, having suffered defeat from Armenians, retreated. However in 66 the numerous Roman army led by commander Pompeus again moved toward Armenia. Tigran II, having estimated conditions, suggested Pompey to conclude peace. The treaty was signed in Artashat in 66. For some time peace began to reign in the country. After the death of Tigran II his son Artashat the second ascended the throne (53-34 B.C.) who worked hard to regain power and peace and prosperity of the country. However this was interfered by an aggressive policy of Rome in the East. In the spring of 34 Romans again intruded the territory of Armenia. The king Artavazd II with the family was decapitated. But Armenian people continued fighting and restored its independence. Artashes II was proclaimed king after his father- Artavazd who continued his father's policy. But in 20 B.C the Romans having organized plot killed rtashes II, thus putting an end to the dynasty of Artashesids. Armenia though had lost the former power, still kept ability to resist. Romans did not dare to declare it a Roman province, but tried to put on the Armenian throne one of its stooges who was rejected by Armenians and banished from the country. So it went on until the 60-s of the first century A.D.

I-IV Centuries AD. Acceptance of Christianity
by Armenia. Division of Armenia between
Rome and Persia.

To resist Rome, Armenia had to be united with neighboring Parthia. So the armies of both countries expelled the Romans from Armenia. In 62 AD the peace treaty was concluded, and Trdat I was proclaimed king (63-80) whom the royal crown was handed over by the Roman Emperor. In Armenia the dynasty of Arshakids (63-428) was established. So the independence of Armenia was restored. The capital of Armenia was transferred to Vagarshapat. In III-IV centuries Armenia became feudal monarchy. The large land owners played a significant role acting as ministers who ruled the state departments. Each Ministry was independent though subjected to the central authority of the king.
In 301 under the king Trdat III the most important event of the national history was the acceptance of Christianity as a state religion in Armenia. The Armenian church was formed by its first head - Gregory the Illuminator.
In IV century the Persian king Shapuh II began war against Armenia which by small intervals lasted for over 30 years. Having failed to reach his goal by force Shapuh deceptively invited to his capital the then ruler Arshak II and millitary leader - Vasak Mamikonyan and killed them. In 364-368 the Persians destroyed many Armenian cities, whose population was mostly carried into captivity. The Armenian army led by the crown prince PAP and millitary leader Mushegh Mamikonyan rose to struggle against the enemy. And, when in 371 Shapuh II invaded Armenia again, he was defeated. However, the century contenders Rome and Persia, having come to the agreement, in 387 divided Armenia between themselves. Persia got the larger part of the Armenian territory. Though in the country still existed royal authority , however position of the country was hopeless. Cities destroyed, the economy collapsed, the government weakened. Having taken advantage of it, Persia in 428 abolished the Armenian empire. The country was broken up into a number of princedoms, all of them subject to the ruler appointed by the Persian king. So the Armenian people lost its statehood for a long time.

V-VI Centuries A.D.
Creation of the Armenian writing.
Battle of commander Vardan Mamikonyan
with Persians at the river Tghmut.

At the beginning of V century in Armenia occured an event of the exceptional importance: ingenious Mesrop Mashtots created the Armenian writing. Due to this the Armenian people managed to endure during this heavy period.
From 30 on of V A.D. down to 70-80s of IX century the basic trend of Armenian history is liberation struggle against overseas powers. People, having united under Vardan Mamikonyan, began to struggle for independence. And, when in May 451, the Persian army with groups of fighting elephants intruded Armenia, on Avarayr Plain; bloody battle took place there in which the sparapet (military leader) heroically fell . Though the fight was lost, Persians met such a persistent resistance that for some time abstained from further encroachments on religion and originality of Armenian people, and Armenia upheld its independence. But in 482 Persia sent even more numerous army to Armenia. Decisive fight took place to the south of Ararat. The Armenian army gained a brilliant victory. However the entire subsequent year the Persian army units plundered and destroyed cities and villages of Armenia. Armenians countered with sudden attacks. The Persian armies, suffering heavy toll, grew ever weaker . By the end of 484 the Persian king suggested to conclude peace. Under the peace treaty the ministers recognized only the Supreme authority of the Shakh, without intervention of officials. The military and administrative authority in the country remained under Armenian ministers. So Armenia for some time maintained its independence and was turned into a usual Persian province. In cities civil work - crafts, trade were developed. The Armenian writing and the literature considerably developed as well. However from the middle of VI century Persians again began to show the claims on Armenia. But Armenian people, having united its files, rose, and in 571 the Persians were expelled from Armenia. Having taken advantage of that defeat of Persians , Byzantium started war against Persia from Armenian territory. War proceeded for 20 years and ended with the peace treaty of 591 under which the most part of Armenian territory passed to Byzantium.

VII-XI Centuries. The Arabian conquest.
The reign of Bagratids dynasty and
restoration of the statehood in
Armenian empire by Bagratids.

At the beginning of VII century new wars between Byzantium and Persia sparked. Armenia turned into arena of continuous Persian-Byzantian wars. In the 30s of VII century on historical arena the new powerful state - Arabian Khalifat which conquered both Persia and many of the countries of the Near East came to being, and in 640-650 its army intruded into Armenia, plundering and ruining the country. As Armenia was threatened also by Byzantium Armenians had to conclude with arabs the peace treaty in 652. However arabs, not observing the treaty provisions, conquered Armenia at the end of VII century, transforming it in one of administrative units of Arabian khalifat. The country was plundered and underwent economic ruin. The Arabian sovereignty lasted for about 200 years. But the Arabian yoke did not break freedom-loving spirit of Armenian people. The Armenians again were stirred to action. In 703, then in 748-750, 774-775, 850-855 years revolts flashed. Battles were severe and bloody. They have loosened foundations of the Arabian sovereignty and paved the way toward its overthrow. Seeing that it is impossible to suppress by force the struggle of Armenian people, the khalifat had to reckon with Armenians. In 855 the deputy khalifat was withdrawn from Armenia. Ashot Bagratuny was appointed The Sparapet of Armenia. Many authorities were vested in him, and in 885 he was declared Armenian king. The Byzantian Empire also sent royal crown to Ashot. It meant that the Armenian kingdom found international recognition. The Dynasty of Bagradids (885-1045) was formed. Ashot I (885-890), and then his successor Smbat I (890-914) managed to unite many of Armenian princedoms. But Arabian khalifat could not resign itself with this. It continued the attacks. Under Ashot II (914-929) Armenian princes, jointly gained a brilliant victory in the battle, on the shore of Lake Sevan. Armenian army was commanded by Gevorg Marzpetuni. The following years the enemies suffered some more resolute strikes and in 925 arabs were finally driven from the country. The country was given full independence, it enjoyed peace again and the people were engaged in creative work. In times of king Ashot III (953-977) the capital was transferred to Ani. Economic and cultural rise of Armenia proceeded also under Smbat II (977-990). Though the Bagratids tried to reunite Armenia into a single state, however controversies among princedoms proved to be stronger, and the country split up into some minor states. So in 908 the Vaspurakan kingdom arose and existed till 1021. In 963 the Kars Kingdom was created which existed for about hundred years.The Lori kingdom arose and in 987 - the Syunik kingdom which existed till 1170. Feudal discords of Armenia had an adverse effect on social and economic development of the country, preservation and strengthening of statehood, maintenance of the peace. The king Gagik I (991-1020) tried to restore unity of the country. He managed to have many of the kingdoms obey the central authority. These years Armenia experienced economic and cultural blossoming. Agriculture developed, crafts and trade prospered, the magnificent architectural ensembles were erected by unsurpassed mastership of medieval Armenian architects. At the end of X and the beginning of XI centuries Armenia achieved high level of development. But peace period lasted relatively short. In X century Turkish nomadic cattle breeding tribes were united under the leader Seldzhuk. In XI century seljuk-turks flooded Central Asia, intruded Iran, and in 1047 intruded Armenia, ruining and plundering the country. They took most of the Armenian provinces, occupied Ani. But Armenia, having united with strengthened Georgian kingdom, started the liberation war against seljuk-turks. At the beginning of XIII century the whole northeast Armenia was almost released. In Armenia the princedom of Zakharids which included the majority of areas of Armenia was created.The inroads of seljuk-turks detained historical development and progress of Armenia for about 100years. For all that since the second half of XII century, new socio-economic rise of the country begins.

XI-XIV Centuries. The Cilician Kingdom.

As a result of persecutions many Armenians had to abandon the native territories. They settled both in Mesopotamia, and in Asia Minor, but many Armenians came to Cilicia situated on the coast of Mediterranean sea. Having settled in Cilicia, Armenians began to struggle for independence. Prince Ruben in 1080 based the Armenian princedom in Cilicia, known in history as princedom of Rubenids. The cilician armenian princedom, to uphold its existence, had to struggle both against powerful Byzantium, and Seljukian Sultanate, and the crusaders menacing from Europe. Under prince Levon I (1129-1137) Armenians taking advantage of contentions between Byzantium, crusaders and the neighboring seljukian princedoms, managed to strengthen the princedom and to obtain political independence. This kingdom got even stronger under Levon II (1187-1219) who in 1198 was proclaimed the king, and capital of the state became the town of SIS. The population of the genuine Armenia considered restoration of Cilician kingdom to be the restoration of the lost statehood. The Armenian Catholicos moved to Cilicia as well. But the country lived surrounded by enemies. Mongols began the campaigns to Asia Minor, and in Egypt the Mameluk Turks who in 1266 intruded Cilicia were settled. Rich cities of the country were plundered. In 1285 Egyptian mameluks again intruded Cilicia. Levon III (1270-1289) had to conclude peace under which undertook to pay the big tribute to the Egyptian sultan. Inside the countries large feudal lords started to separate from central power, thus weakening defensibility of the state. The Egyptian sultan who in 1335 intruded Cilicia took advantage of it and grasped a number of territories. The country appeared in a ring of enemies. In 1370 mameluks, then Turkmens and armies of the Halep Emirate attacked Cilicia and in 1375 subdued it. The last Cilician king Levon VI was caught captive and carried to Cairo.
At the beginning of XIII century the powerful state of nomads of Mongols was formed, which started to win the lands both in Europe, and in Asia. A part of the Mongolian troops was directed to Transcaucasus. As Zakarids princedom was weakened following feuds, therefore the Mongols easily managed to win Armenia. By 1243 the Mongols had subdued almost all Armenia. The Mongol invasions were accompanied by looting, slaughter and abducting into captivity. The big, blossoming cities were destroyed, fortresses fell. The country experienced heavy economic decline. People began to emigrate from the country. The Mongolian state based on violence and robbery, could not exist any longer, and declined in 1344 . But Armenia continued to remain the arena of continuous wars and robberies. In 1386 from Central Asia through Persia to Armenia Leng Timur's hordes intruded. In 1394, 1399 and 1403 he repeated the attacks, wreaking death and destructions on his way. Cities and villages of Ararat valley, Syunik and other areas were plundered. Monasteries collapsed, manuscripts were burnt. But even destroyed and plundered Armenia over long years continued to be the apple of discord and arena of wars between various tribes and the countries.

XV-XVIII Centuries. A Conquest
of Armenia by Osman Turkey and
Persia. Russian- Armenian relations.

In Asia Minor there was a Turkish Osmanli state whose armies in 1474-75 intruded the western areas of Armenia. In 1502 Persia also occupied a part of Armenia. In 1512 the Turkish-Persian wars which, at certain intervals, lasted for over a century. In 1555 the peace treaty was concluded under which Armenia was divided between Turkey and Persia . But Turks were not satisfied with it and in 1578 started a new war against Persia . In 1604 when the turkish army began to close in on Persians, the Persian shah, receding, made Armenians move to Persia to leave the Turks only deserted lands. The urkish-Persian wars with small breaks proceeded till the 30s of XVII century. Under the treaty made in 1639 Armenia for the second time was divided between Turkey and Persia. East Armenia found itself under authority of Persia, Western - Osmanli Turkey. Armenian people groaned under the yoke of aggressors, but disasters and the tests which were accrued on Armenian people, could not break its freedom-loving spirit, its will toward restoration of statehood. Over those years numerous Armenian delegations addressed for the help to different European states, but these references did not give any results. In 1701 Israel Ori the political leader of Armenian liberation movement , referred for help to Russia. Russians at first agreed, but then refused, being afraid of consequences of war with Turkey which was patronized by England and France . Having lost hope for the aid from the outside, Armenians started to create insurgent groups for struggle against Turks and Persians. In June, 1724 the turkish troops intruded the rarat valley and besieged Yerevan. The defence of Yerevan became one of the heroic pages of history of Armenian people. Turks managed to grasp city but thus they lost about 20 thousand persons. 1725-26 Turks intruded in Syunik, but received repulse from groups supervised David - Beck and Mkhitar Sparapet. The Persian shah David - Beck recognized authority and concluded with him an alliance . So Armenians managed to suppress isolated raids of enemies, but to shake off their yoke was not possible. At the beginning of 1801 Georgia which was the neighbour of Armenia joined Russia. In 1804 began the Russian-Persian war, lasting till 1813 . Since 1806 the Russian- Turkish war . Russian army twice (in 1804 and 1808) tried to seize the Yerevan fortress, but it failed as the fortress was fortified by the French and English military experts who helped both Turks and Persians. In 1813 was signed the Gyulistan peace treaty under which Persia refused some Armenian territories. But in July, 1826, breaking the peace treaty it intruded Armenian territory with 60-thousand army. The II Russian-Persian war began. In all the country voluntary groups which helped Russian army to drive Persians out of Armenia started to be recruited. Sanguine fights at Oshakan, in Sardarapat occured, and in 1827 the Yerevan fortress was taken. On February, 10, 1828 was the Turkmenchai peace treaty according to which East Armenia was transferred to Russia, and the Armenians driven to Persia were authorized to return to east Armenia. In April 1828 war between Russia and Turkey began and had a victorious outcome for Russia. The Andreapol peace treaty was signed. But under influence of the European powers Russia was compelled to return to Turkey the provinces of Kars, rdagan, rin, ush, Bayazet and other previously occupied areas. The western Armenia still remains under the osman yoke.
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