Armenia and Georgia

by Cyril Toumanoff


Also see this article's Bibliography

[page 593]

1. The term 'Transcaucasia' for the regions south of the Caucasus range derives from a geo-political conception wholly alien to the period covered in this chapter. These regions are designated here as cis-Caucasia or, simply, Caucasia; cf. C. Toumanoff, 'Introduction to Christian Caucasian History: the Formative Centuries (IVth-VIIIth)', Traditio XV (1959), 2, 6-7.


1. H. Focillon, preface to J. Baltrusaitis, Etudes sur l'art médiéval en Géorgie et en Arménie (Paris, 1929), p. viii.

2. In the fourth century B.C.

3. Pompey imposed Roman suzerainty upon these kingdoms in 66-64 B.C.


1. The conversion of Armenia took place in 314, under Tiridates III; that of Iberia occurred, under Mirian I (III), in 337; cf. P. Ananian, 'La data e circostanze della consecrazione di S. Gregorio Illuminatore', Le Muséon LXXIV (1961), xxx ff.; C. Toumanoff, 'Christian Caucasia between Byzantium and Iran: New Light from Old Sources', Traditio X (1954), 124 ff.

2. By that treaty, in 298, the Great King ceded to Rome the suzerainty over Armenia and Iberia.

3. For the genesis and structure of Caucasian society, see C. Toumanoff, 'Introduction to Christian Caucasian History', I and II Traditio XV and XVII (1959-61). The situation was similar to that in the Holy Roman Empire after the Peace of Westphalia, except that the German princes, hardly any of whom was of dynastic origin, did indeed owe their rights to a concession of the Crown, whereas the rights of the Caucasian princes antedated those of the Crown and any concession on its part was a legal fiction. For the international status of the Armenian princes, placed under Roman suzerainty in 298 and 387 ('satrap' is the Roman bureaucratic misnomer, see


Procopius, De aed. III, 1, 18-23, where their ceremonial vestments are described). Sent to them by the Emperor, these insignia included the red boots, 'which only the Roman and the Iranian emperors have the right to wear'. They were more splendid than those sent to the vassal kings of Lazica.—-The dynastic aspect of the princes was expressed by the Armenian terms ishkan, nahapet and (tanu)te'r and the Georgian terms mt'avar and sep'etsul; their feudal aspect, as dukes, by the Armenian nakharar and the Georgian erist'av. The margravial vitaxae went by the Armenian title of bdeashkh and the Georgian pitiakhsh. The differentiation of the Arab period between the greater princes and the lesser ones, their vassals, came to be expressed by the titles of ishkhan and nakharar respectively. Princely cadets had the title of sepuh. The lesser nobles were designated by the term azat in Armenian and aznaur in Georgian.


1. The political weight of these houses is best illustrated by the size of their cavalry contingents, placed at the service of their suzerain, the King of Armenia and, later, the Great King: Gogarene and Arzanene, 4500 and 4000 horse respectively; Ingilene, 3400; Artsruni, Bagratids, Mamikonids, Sophene, 1000 each; Kamsarakan, 600; Siunia, at a later period, 9400 horse; cf. C. Toumanoff, 'Introduction', II, table V. The number of the princely states varied at different epochs. There were some fifty states belonging to some thirty dynasties in the Arsacid monarchy; after its abolition, the number decreased to forty-two states and twenty-seven dynasties, c. 400; thirty-four states and twenty dynasties, c. 500; and to some twenty states and thirteen dynasties, c. 800; ibid tables II and III.—Though of local provenance, many dynasties devised for themselves exotic antecedents: the Bagratids claimed Hebrew origin, which later evolved into the celebrated Davidic tradition, the Mamikonids deduced themselves from the Emperors of China, and the Artsrunis from the Kings of Assyria.

2. Surnames in the genitive plural often figure in the princely nomenclature of Armenia; C. Toumanoff, 'Introduction', I, p. 73.


1. This writer agrees entirely with N. H. Baynes, 'Rome and Armenia in the Fourth Century', EHR, XXV, 625-43, E. Stein, Histoire du Bas-Empire, I (Paris, 1959), 205-6, and S. Der Nersessian, Armenia and the Byzantine Empire, p. 6 regarding the date of the partition of Armenia. The date 384, proposed anew by J. Doise, 'Le partage de l'Arménie sous Thoédose Ier', Revue des Etudes Anciennes, XLVII (1945), 274-7, is contradicted by the sequence of events in Faustus of Buzanda, 5.35-44; 6.1. Cf. C. Toumanoff, 'Iberia on the Eve of Bagratid Rule: An Enquiry into the Political History of Eastern Georgia between the VIth and the IXth Century', Le Muséon, LXV (1952), 1, n. 5; Christian Caucasia, p 131, n. 80.—The recently discovered new version of the Narratio de rebus Armeniae attributes the founding of Theodosiopolis to Theodosius I, linking it to the partition of Armenia, whereas Procopius would assign both events to the reign of Theodosius II; cf. G. Garitte, La Narratio de rebus Armeniae. Edition critique et commentaire (Louvain, 1952), pp. 27, 67-9; C. Toumanoff, 'Christian Caucasia', p. 131.

2. Among the princes of the former kingdom were the scions of the Arsacid dynasty, destined to play a considerable role in Byzantine history in the sixth and seventh centuries; C. Toumanoff, 'Introduction', I § 12.


1. With the deposition in 428 of St. Isaac, in whose family the position of chief prelate of Armenia had become quasi-hereditary, and under the Iranian nominee who replaced him, the Church of Armenia, hitherto a dependency of Caesarea (in Cappadocia), broke with its mother-church. After that event, the chief bishops of Armenia began to style themselves Katholikoi. This was doubtless done in imitation of the Katholikoi of Seleucia-Ctesiphon who had, by 424, evolved from mere 'Representatives General' of Antioch to be the heads of national Syro-Iranian Christianity (soon to become Nestorian in doctrine); cf. G. Garitte, Narratio, pp. 56-7; C. Toumanoff, 'Christian Caucasia', § 21.

2. The historians of this 'Golden Age' of Armenian literature included Agathangelus and Faustus of Buzanda (fifth century, though possibly translations of earlier works in Greek or Syriac), Lazarus of P'arpi and Eliseus (fifth-sixth centuries); to this age also belonged the hagiographer Koriun and the theologian Eznik of Koghb (fifth century) and possibly the philosopher David the Invincible.


For the chronology of this monarch adopted here and his identification with the Gurgenes of Procopius (Bell. pers, 1. 12. 1-13; 2. 28. 20) see C. Toumanoff's review of E. Stein's Histoire du Bas-Empire, II, in Traditiio, and 'Iberia on the Eve of Bagratid Rule', Le Muséon, LXV (1952).


1. See C. Toumanoff, 'Christian Caucasia', §§ 31-5, and, for this ecclesiastical title, see above p. 599, n. 1. In choosing it, Iberia, like Albania later on followed the example of Armenia. Later in the middle ages, Abasgia (West Georgia), following the East Georgian example, also had a Katholikos at the head of its ecclesiastical organisation.


1. For the facts and the chronology of the abolition of the Iberian monarchy, see C. Toumanoff, 'Iberia on the Eve of Bagratid Rule', I. The curtailment of the powers of Vakhtang Gorgasal's successors was mistaken by Procopius (Bell. pers. 2. 28. 20-1) for the abolition itself.


1. The principate of Iberia and its chronology, as well as the identity of Guaram of Cholarzene-Javakhet'i with the Gorgenes of Theophanes of Byzantium and John of Ephesus are discussed by C. Toumanoff in 'Iberia on the Eve of Bagratid Rule'.

2. DR, 104.


1. G. Garitte's critical edition of the Narratio de rebus Armeniae (see above p. 598, n. 1) and his commentary on this text make it necessary to revise some hitherto accepted notions of Armenian religious history down to the eighth century; cf. C. Toumanoff, 'Christian Caucasia'. The formation of the national Armenian (Monophysite) Church was connected with that of the national calendar.—See the following note.

2. Cf. C. Toumanoff, 'Christian Caucasia', pp. 37-40. Anxious to separate its Christian vassals from the Empire, the Sassanid government tended, after 519, to patronise Monophysitism in Caucasia. Accordingly, Stephen I's Iranophile policy entailed the installation as Katholikos of a Monophysite: Cyrion (Kyrion) I. When, however, the latter gave up Monophysitism for Catholicism, he came into conflict with his former co-religionist, Abraham of Iranian Armenia.


1. Armenian and Georgian forms of the same praenomina differ occasionally, thus: Atrnerseh and Adarnase, Bagarat and Bagrat, Gurge'n and Gurgen, Smbat and Sumbat, Nerseh or Nerse's and Nerse.


1. C. Toumanoff, 'Introduction', II, p. 12, no. 14 and n. 228.—The comes Obsequii Mezezius, who was proclaimed Emperor by the armies in Sicily upon the murder of Constans II in September 668 and was killed at the beginning of 669, belonged to the same princely family.

2. 'Abkhazia' renders the narrow sense of Ap'khazet'i, that is, the north-westernmost province of West Georgia; 'Abasgia' translates the same word in its broad sense of the medieval kingdom coestensive with West Georgia; cf. C. Toumanoff, 'Chronology of the Kings of Abasgia and Other Problems', Le Muséon, LXIX (1956), 73.

3. Several Caucasian dynasties claimed the title of Albania: (1) the Mihranid princes of Gardman, set up by Heraclius as presiding princes of (cis-Cyran) Albania and, from 821/2, their Siunid successors, whom the expanding Shrvanshahs, Muzafarids of Azerbaijan, Bagratids of Lor'i, and Shaddadids reduced to the territory of P'ar'isos on the Albanian- Siunian border; (2) the dynasty founded at the end of the ninth century in Shakki and Heret'i, in trans-Cyran Albania, which however was ultimately superseded by the rulers of Kakhetia; and (3) the Bagratids of Lor'i who, by virtue of holding some Albanian lands, regarded themselves as kings of Albania.


1. The so-called 'Letter of Photius' to the Katholikos Zacharias regarding the union with the Byzantine Church is apocryphal, as has been shown by G. Garitte, Narratio, pp. 370-5; cf. C. Toumanoff, 'Caucasia and Byzantine Studies', Traditio XII (1956), 410 and n. 7. It exists only in Armenian and is based on the prototype of the Armenian text (now lost) of the Narratio. Another part of this document purports to be Photius' letter to Ashot V of Armenia.


1. DR, 596.


1. This was the age of the historians like Sebeos (seventh century), Leontius (Ghevond, eighth century), Pseudo-Moses of Khoren (late eighth century), the Katholikos John VI (d. 931), Moses of Kaghankaytuk' or of Daskhuren and Thomas Artsruni (tenth century), Stephen Asoghik of Taraun (eleventh century), Aristakes of Lastivert (d. 1071). The 'Armenian Pindar' Gregory of Narek (d. 1010) and the polyhistor Gregory Pahlavuni (d. 1058) also flourished at that time.


1. DR, 746, 749-53.

2. DR, 761.


1. DR, 780.


1. DR, 809.

2. See below: p. 621.

3. DR, 813.


1. DR, 833.


1. Martha of Georgia took the name of Mary on marrying Michael. She was known as Mary of Alania, her mother, Bagrat IV's second wife, having been a princess of Alania-Ossetia. Mary subsequently married Nicephorus II Botaneiates.


1. Georgian historiography has erroneously called David 'the Second', though he was the third of that name among the Bagratid sovereigns.

2. Georgian knows no distinction of genders; accordingly, Thamar as a reigning sovereign was entitled mep'e (that is, king or queen regnant). This has sometimes been erroneously interpreted by modern historians as her having been proclaimed a 'king'.


1. The historians included: Gregory the Deacon (seventh century), Leontius of Ruisi (Leonti Mroveli, eighth century), Juansher (eighth-ninth century), Sumbat son of David (eleventh century), Arsenius the Monk (the biographer of David III), the two Historians of Thamar, the Historian of George IV, and the Meschian Chronographer (fourteenth century). The works of some of these, and of others, came to form the Georgian Royal Annals (K'ar'lis Ts'khovreba).


1. He was a son of the Prince of Erzerum. His conversion to Christianity, at his father's instance, and the subsequent founding of the Georgian line of the Seljuqs in Imeretia (West Georgia) bear witness to the spiritual and cultural influence of Georgia upon its Islamic neighbours—a peaceful counterpart of the Georgian Crusade. For the Imeretian Seljuqs, see C. Toumanoff, 'The Fifteenth-century Bagratids and the Institution of Collegial Sovereignty in Georgia', Traditio VII (1949-51), 181-3.

2. The most important princely houses were at that time the Mkhargrdzeli-Zachariads of Lor'i, Jaqelis of Meschia (Samts'khe), Dadianis of Mingrelia, Sharvashidzes of Bakhazia, T'orelis of Javakhet'i, Orbeli-Kakhaberidzes of Racha, Orbelianis of Surami. The latter's cousins, exiled under George III, had come to reign, under the protection of the Atabegs of Azerbaijan and, later, the Mongols, in the Armenian principality of Siunia.

3. The system of collegial sovereignty is to be distinguished from the universal practice of co-opting the heir. For this sytem and for the reasons for counting George the Illustrious as the Sixth, as well as for the order of succession followed here, see C. Toumanoff, op. cit., Traditio VII (1949-51).


1. D. M. Lang, 'Georgia in the Reign of Giorgi the Brilliant', BSOAS, XVII (1955), 74-91. This study made it necessary to revise the traditional conception of that reign; cf. also W. E. D. Allen's review of Lang's Studies in the Numismatic History of Georgia in Transcaucasia, in BSOAS, XVII (1956), 379-81. Lang does not seem to accept the above order of succession and the implications of collegial sovereignty.

2. For 1405 as the year of George VII's death and Constantine I's accession, see C. Toumanoff, 'Fifteenth-century Bagratids', p. 174.


1. New Armenia has also been called Lesser or Little Armenia, Armeno-Cilicia, and Sisuan. In transcribing Armenian names, the classical pronunciation of Armenian is followed throughout this study, although in New Armenia the language was affected by the phonetic development of western Armenian, whereby the surd consonants are pronounced as sonant and vice versa. For this reasons, the Rubenids are sometimes referred to as "Rupenids' or 'Rupenians'.


1. DR, 1431.


1. The earlier title of the Rubenids was that of 'Prince', which was later interpreted in the peculiarly medieval-Armenian (as well as early-medieval Western) sense of 'Baron'. Some historians compute the ordinal numbers of the neo-Armenian sovereigns from the coronation of Leo, the Princes being given a different numeration. This, to be sure, has the sepulchral inscription of the last king in its favour; but the system adopted here helps to avoid confusion. The case of the Bagratid Kings of Armenia is different, because the ordinals of the earlier presiding princes are those of family heads.


1. This was the epoch of the historians like Matthew of Edessa and Samuel of Ani (twelfth century), Vardan the Great (d. 1271), Kirakos of Ganja (d. 1272), the Constable Smbat of Armenia (d. 1276), Stephen Orbelian of Siunia (d. 1304), Thomas of Metsop' (d. 1446) and others. Religious poetry reached great heights with the Katholikos Nerses IV the Gracious (d. 1173), and theology in the works of Nerses of Lambron (d. 1198). This epoch is known as the Silver Age.


1. The latter faction found support and sympathy in the clergy of Old Armenia, reconciled with foreign rule.

2. Oshin I is considered by some to have been a brother of Leo IV.

3. In the course of this campaign, the Mongols ceded Jerusalem to their Georgian allies, who kept the city for a year (1300) and who, for some time thereafter, enjoyed certain rights with regard to the Holy Sepulchre; see M. Tamarati, L'eglise géorgienne des origines jusqu' à nos jours (Rome, 1910), pp. 436-7 (and the sources cited therein).


1. John de Lusignan, who was Regent of Armenia for his brother Guy, is regarded by some historians as King Constantine III, with the resulting change in the numeration of the subsequent rulers of that name.

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