The 13th and 14th centuries were characterized by conflicts within and among certain Caucasian naxarardoms. In some cases these conflicts pertained to families (e.g., the Georgian Bagratids, the Zak'arean/Mxargrcelis, the Kaxaberijes of Racha, the Orbelean/Orbelis, the Arcruni/ Mahkanaberdelis, the Jaqelis), in other cases, to the "naxarardoms" of the Church(es). The conflict within the Georgian royal family was extremely serious and must be mentioned not only as an example of centrifugalism at the very pinnacle of authority in Christian Caucasia, but also because of its devisive ramifications. On his deathbed, king Giorgi Lasha Bagratuni (d. 1223) was promised by his sister Rusudan that Giorgi's child son David Lashaean would receive the throne on his maturity. Rusudan (d. ca. 1245) then became "king" of Georgia. Rather than honoring the pledge made to her late brother, Rusudan instead banished and imprisoned David Lashaean and enthroned her own son (also named David). While co-optation of the heir hardly was a new feature in Georgia, its almost inevitable result was the polarization of the nobility into two hostile camps. Eventually the authority of the "usurper" David Rusudanean was challenged by the matured embittered David Lashaean. Between 1250 and 1258, Georgia thus had two kings simultaneously. The line of David Lashaean occupied the throne in Tiflis until 1289, but from  1291 to 1318 a system of collegial sovereignty existed in Georgia whereby Lashaean kings were forced to share the realm with co-kings—their very sons, or candidates from the rival line of David Rusudanean (1).
Hostile relations among prominent families had at their base disputes over land. From the order of Kirakos Ganjakec'i's narration, one might (incorrectly) assume that the amirspasalar Awag Zak'arean was the first Armenian prince to surrender to the Mongols (1236) and consequently his holdings were not disturbed by the conquerors (2). However, Kirakos' junior contemporary, Step'annos Orbelean, placed the submission of Elikum Orbelean before that of Awag (3), and the point is revealing and crucial. For the Armenian Orbeleans, prior to the  invasions, had been clients of the Iwane-Awagids, yet from Step'annos' account it appears that the Orbeleans (with Mongol approval) had expanded their holdings at Awagid expense, at the time of the conquest itself. Enmity over the Orbelan expansion may have accounted for Elikum's death, as Step'annos suggested (4), and enmity marked Zak'arid-Orbelean relations for some decades to follow. Elikum was succeeded by his polyglot brother Smbat.
...But after Elikum['s death] the tun (House) of Awag treated the Orbelean tun with great jealousy, and enmity especially Awag's wife. They wanted to disperse and persecute Smbat and his brothers and to destroy the surviving children. They [the Awagids] seized their patrimony while [the Orbeleans] wandered about in concealment, here and there until the compassionate love of the Creator willed to restore and strengthen the Orbelean tun through Smbat...(5)
The significance of the underlined "especially Awag's wife" appears to have escaped modern scholars. Curiously, it appears that the line of Gonc'a, daughter of the duke Kaxaberi of Rach, descended from a Georgian branch of the Orbeleans (6). Consequently, Gonc'a's enmity toward Smbat may have had elernents of an intra-family feud. It is interesting too (and similarly unremarked by scholars) that the Awagid-Orbelean land dispute resulting from the Mongol conquest has been carried over into the sources more than once, and in more than one way. For example, in relating one and the same story—how Smbat Orbelean aided a fugitive monarch—Step'annos Orbelean mentions the incident as occurring on Smbat's land, whereas the History of K'art'li describes the same territory as "the land of atabek Awag"(7).
The importance and severity of the [Kaxiberije]-Awagid—Orbelean feud led Smbat to the Far East on two occasions, for protection and confirmation of "his lands." The first visit (ca. 1252) resulted in Smbat's vindication (8). But the  Awagids were unwilling to accept this verdict, and plotted to destroy Smbat:
Now while these [events] were so [unfolding] that wicked Satan started stirring up envy and inciting the tun of Awag and the Georgian grandees [against Smbat]. Awag had died in the year 1250/51 (699 A.E.). His wife had a daughter named Xoshak', and ruled all of his princedom. They assembled in Tiflis near Arghun, for the great Khan had designated him vezier and pasghaz (overseer) over all the lands, i.e, commander of all and ruler of the royal taxes and the great diwan. [It was he] who made a census of all the lands in 1254/55 (703 A.E.). With numerous bribes they requested Smbat's destruction and that he not be able to hereditarily transmit his country. Arghun did not dare accede to this request, but he did take away from Smbat many places, and severely oppressed the remainder. (9)
Smbat made a second journey to the Far East ca. 1257, and had his rights reconfirmed (10). Meanwhile, Gonc'a Kaxiberje-Awagean had married the Georgian king, David Lashaean.  The birth of their son Demitre created a Bagratid-Xaxaberije-Awagean link. The struggle of families was by no means over, however:
...Now Smbat planned, with the other princes to become the "adopted father" of Awag's tun; by order of Hulegu-Khan they had Gonc'a drowned in the sea, and he, Smbat, ruled over all of Awag's princedom. He gave Awag's daughter Xoshak in marriage to the great sahipdiwan Xoja [brother of the historian Juvayni]...This occurred in 1269/70 (718 A.E.) (11).
According to Step'annos, the Georgian monarch David Lashaean and Smbat were on the best of terms: "King David so loved Smbat that he considered him his equal, and placed the little boy Demitre in his hands, giving his son to him" (12). Once again the enmity of families has left  its imprint in the literary sources, creating a contradiction. According to the History of K'art'li, it was to Sadun Arcruni, not to his rival Smbat, that Xoshak' and care for the Awagid holdings were entrusted (13). Nor does the same work dwell on the close relations between the king and Smbat (14).
Allegedly Smbat extracted a concession from king David. He convinced the king to destroy a document relating to the time of the expulsion of the Orbelis from Georgia (because of their involvement in the abortive rebellion of 1176/77). Whether the Armenian Orbeleans were able to reclaim the old family possesions in Georgia is unclear from the sources, though Smbat's "exceeding delight" at  the king's action, reminiscent of Elikum's "heartfelt thanks" to Aslan noyin strongly suggests that some partial restitution was made to the Orbeleans (15).
 According to Step'annos, the preeminence of Orbeleans in Caucasian affairs continued after Smbat "passed from this world in a chariot of angels"—probably murdered while in Tabriz (1274) (16). Smbat's heir, his younger brother Tarsayich supposedly enthroned Demitre "with great effort" as king of Georgia (17). But the History of K'art'li describes matters differently. Sadun Arcruni's great influence is noted, while Tarsayich Orbelean is not even mentioned:
During this period Sadun Mahkanaberdeli had become stronger than all his contemporary princes, since Abaqa liked him. And [Sadun] started to be caretaker of all Georgia's affairs, because [the king] had entrusted [to his care] lord atabek Awag's daughter, while Xoshak' had given him the ejibdom.
Then all the didebuls of Georgia assembled and took the royal Demitre to the Horde. They went to Shahnsah's son, Iwane, the mandat'urt'-uxuc'es, and he too went to the Horde where they saw to it that Demitre received the reign... [Abaqa-Khan] gave the entire kingdom to him, excepting [the lands of] Sargis Jaqeli. He sent him back to Sadun whom king Demitre made atabek. (18)
 According to the History of K'art'li, Sadun was made atabek by the new Georgian monarch, and upon his death (d. 1281/82) his son Xut'lubugha Arcruni received Sadun's property and the office of spaspeti (19). Step'annos Orbelean wrote the following:
...[Arghun-Khan] liked king Demitre greatly. He gave Demitre the entire land of Armenia, the tun (House) of Awag and the tun of Shahnshah and of the Gagec'ik' and the sons of atabek Sadun...
...Then Demitre returned [to the Caucasus] with great joy and all the azats and grandees of Georgia and Armenia with him. When he reached Sharur, Tarsayich came before him and magnified the king with great honor and royal gifts. [Demitre] took him to his Awagean country, Ayrarat, and greatly entreating him, forced him to be atabek over his entire lordship, from Tiflis to Ani and Kars. He also entrusted Tarsayich with his young sons, Dawit' and Manuel whom he raised and kept. Thereafter Tarsayich held the atabekate of the land of Armenia and did many things to lighten [the lot of] the harassed Armenian people." (20)
King Demitre "sent his little son David to the house of atabek Awag so that he would grow up there and have a  share in the property of the royal line" (21). The Orbeleans are not mentioned here. The sources themselves are in conflict over who was the more important naxarar in this period, but what is important here is the evidence of conflict among the families. Indeed, within the Orbelean family itself quarrels arose among the children of Tarsayich after his death (1290) (22).
Conflicts among the secular lordly families were paralleled by conflicts among the clerical nobility. As the history of the Armenian Church in this period has been studied in elaborate detail in Ormanian's Azgapatum, here we shall note only some of the major divisions which led to unlimited conflict and rivalry. First, there were religious differences within the two branches of the Zak'arid family itself. Though Zak'are remained true to Armenian Monophysitism, his brother Iwane "converted" to Georgian Chalcedonian Orthodoxy. Nor was Iwane an exceptional case. Many Armenians,  especially those living and working in Georgia or in the Armeno-Georgian borderlands had come under the influence of Chalcedonianism.These Armenian Chalcedonians performed the Greek rite in the Armenian language. The sources contain frequent allusions to rancor and enmity between Armenian Monophysites and Armenian Chalcedonians (23) The disputes occasionally took the form of land disputes between monasteries (24).
Second, Roman Catholicism began to have an impact on Armenian religious affairs. In the 13th century, for complicated reasons, the Cilician Armenian monarchy and kat'oghikosate and certain circles in Greater Armenia began encouraging the idea of religious union with Rome (25).  In 1316 at the Council of Adana, union was made (26). But although a number of vardapets and bishops agreed to union, others rejected Latinophile policies outright (27): During the tenure as kat'oghikos of Yakob Ssec'i (1327-41, 1355-59) , Sis and Ejmiacin broke over the issue (28). But by that time the Dominicans had won over to Catholicism the influential Yovhannes K'rhnec'i of southern Siwnik', who began attracting to Catholicism his former fellow classmates (29). The fight against the Armenian Catholics of K'rhna preoccupied the Armenian Church leadership for much of the 14th century. During the reign of Yakob Ssec'i, matters had deteriorated to the point that the Cilician kat'oghikos supported K'rhna's efforts against Ejmiacin (30).
 A third source of conflict came from the very existence of the kat'oghikosate (or anti-kat'oghikosate) of Aght'amar. The kat'oghikosate and its jurisdiction were denounced and "nullified" by the kat'oghikosate of Sis in the early 12th century, but this did not put an end to Aght'amar's independent development (31). Kat'oghikos Grigor Anawarzec'i (1293-1307) attempted, unsuccessfully, to bring Aght'amar into allegiance with Sis and Ejmiacin (32). In 1408/9 the noted cleric and scholar Grigor Tat'ewac'i removed his diocese of K'ajberunik' from communion with Aght'amar, but the general anathema imposed on the kat'oghikoi of Aght'amar remained in effect until 1441 (33). The kat'oghikosate of Aght'amar continued its existence until 1895 (34).
 Given the numerous sources of conflict within and among families, and within and among religious institutions, the foreign rulers of Armenia in the 13-14th centuries did not have great difficulty keeping the naxarars divided—it was the natural state of affairs.
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