the Principality of Greater Sophene constituted two bishoprics: of Sophanene or Marnopolis and of Martyropolis. The royal princedom of Ayrarat was the diocese of the chief bishop of the Monarchy, styled 'Bishop of Armenia' and later bearing the title of Katholikos. From the point of view of precedence, the bishops ranked with the princes and the chief bishop with the king. The 'dynasticization' of the Church was further enhanced by the existence, at the beginning, of episcopal dynasties, like the Gregorids, who made of the office of chief bishop something like a hereditary fief and who, moreover, were great territorial princes in their own right, as successors of the dynasty of the high priests of Armenian paganism. The sources show a steady increase of episcopal sees in Armenia: 17 in 450, 24 in 505, 30 in 555 (242).

17. No picture of Armenian society in the Arsacid and the subsequent medieval period would be complete without at least a passing reference to the ethos of its most representative stratum, the nobility (243). The two salient characteristics of this entire class can be said to have been pride and prowess. The numerous instances of these characteristics, as found in the pages of the historians, relate, however, almost exclusively to members of its princely layer. Their pride, more particularly pride of birth, their memories of their common origin--natural Ebenbürtigkeit--with the Crown and of their anterior status as sovereigns, made it impossible for the princes to regard the King of Armenia as anything more than a primus inter pares; all this rendered their subordination to him precarious and made themselves prone to rise in arms against him (244). Among themselves, all this was conducive to feudal warfare, with which Armenian history is replete. On a milder level, it implied a

Studies in Christian Caucasian History, p. 139. The Social Background of Christian Caucasia

Continue to page 140
Return to Table of Contents Page