During the eleventh to fourteenth centuries, Armenia was subjected to a number of attacks and invasions by Turco-Mongol peoples. The most important of these were the invasions of the Seljuks in the second half of the eleventh century, of the Khwarazmians (1225-1230), and of the Mongols (1223-1247). At the end of the fourteenth century, an already exhausted Armenia was devastated again by the Turco-Mongol armies of Timur-Leng. During the four centuries examined in this chapter, important changes took place in the demographic, economic, and sociopolitical history of the Armenian highlands. If at the beginning of the eleventh century Armenians constituted the majority of the population in many areas, at the end of the fourteenth century there were few areas where Armenians were still the majority. If in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries Armenia's economy and trading situation was to be envied, at the end of the fourteenth century, the Armenian highlands were so unsafe that caravan traffic practically ceased. If at the beginning of the eleventh century the nakharar (lordly) system prevailed across large areas of the highlands, at the end of the fourteenth century nakharar practices were confined to inaccessible mountain regions.
 Although the invasions differed from each other in participants, severity, and consequences, they had certain similarities. Each successive wave pushed before it, brought along with it, or dragged in its wake thousands of virtually uncontrollable nomadic warriors. Their interest lay solely in plunder and in securing pasturage for their enormous herds of sheep. When totally unchecked, such nomads devastated the cities searching for loot. They destroyed the countryside and the complex irrigation systems, turning cultivated fields into pasturage; and they reduced the possibilities for internal and international trade by infesting the trade routes between cities and attacking caravans. In scholarly literature, this unrestrainable element is referred to as Turkmen, and it is contrasted with those forces among the nomads interested in the establishment of stable forms of government and a sedentary or semisedentary existence. Centralizing forces within the various Turco-Mongol states to arise in the eleventh to fourteenth centuries were obliged to support a very delicate balance. On the one hand, the warlike Turkmens were the best, most determined fighters, and therefore necessary for victorious expeditions. On the other hand, their impulse to destroy and move on had to be fought—often literally—by those wishing to maintain authority. The Turkmens were the bane not only of the sedentary Christian Armenians and Muslims of the Middle East, but also of many rulers of stable Seljuk and Mongol states. In the end, this balance proved insupportable. The Turkmens brought down each of the Turco-Mongol states their vigor had given birth to.
Armenian sources for the history of Armenia in the eleventh to fourteenth centuries include literary histories such as those by Aristakes Lastiverttsi (Aristakes of Lastivert) (d. ca. 1073), Vardan Areveltsi, Kirakos Gandzaketsi (Kirakos of Gandzak) (both d. ca. 1271), Stepanos Orbelian (d. 1304), and Tovma Metzopetsi (Thomas of Metzop) (d. 1446); chronicles by authors such as Matthew of Edessa (d. ca. 1140) [an epitome is available online in the 13th century Smbat Sparapet's Chronicle], Samvel Anetsi (Samuel of Ani) (d. ca.1180), and Mkhitar of Ayrivan (d. ca.1290); as well as inscriptions and colophons. [The Armenian texts of many of the sources mentioned above are currently available online at Classical Armenian Historical Sources.] Among important foreign sources are the thirteenth-century works of Ibn al-Athir, William of Rubruck, Juvaini, Ibn Bibi, Bar Hebraeus, and the fourteenth-century Rashid al-Din, Abu'l Fida, Qazvini, the Georgian Chronicle, Ibn Battuta, Johann Schiltberger, and Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo. [Thanks to Google Books, free downloads in .pdf format are available for the following sources: Johann Schiltberger, Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo.]
The Seljuk invasions of Armenia began in the early 1040s. For some twenty years before that date, however, Turkic bands had been raiding parts of eastern, northeastern, and southern Armenia. From 1020 to 1040  these incursions were made by Turkic elements serving in the army of the Persian Dailamites of Azerbaijan and by nomadic Turkmens themselves often displaced by the Seljuks of Iran. Driven by a desire for booty and captives, relatively small bands of Turkmens (sometimes fewer than 5,000) were able to wreak havoc on many unfortified places in Armenia. In addition to superior military effectiveness, several political and demographic factors explain the ease with which the invaders gained control of the Armenian highlands. Among these were the shortsighted policies of the Byzantine Empire toward the Armenian princes and their lands, divisions among the Armenian lords, and the demographic expansion of Turkic peoples.
From the late tenth century on the Byzantine Empire had followed a policy of removing prominent nakharars from their native lands, absorbing those lands in the structure of the empire, and giving the nakharars in exchange lands and titles elsewhere. The decision of many lords to leave was frequently the result of coercion, though throughout the tenth to eleventh centuries there were also pro-Byzantine factions within the Armenian kingdoms, supporting Byzantium's aims. Already in 968 the southwestern district of Taron was annexed. In 1000, a large area embracing Tayk, Karin, and Manzikert (to the north of Lake Van) was annexed to the Byzantine Empire. In 1021 King Senekerim Artsruni of Vaspurakan ceded his kingdom to the empire and moved to Cappadocia. He was followed in 1045 by King Gagik II of Ani and King Gagik-Abas of Kars (1064). The Byzantine policy of removing important lords from their Armenian lands and settling them elsewhere (principally on imperial territory, in Cappadocia and northern Mesopotamia) proved shortsighted in two respects. First, it left eastern Asia Minor devoid of its native defenders. Second, it exacerbated Armeno-Greek ethnic tensions by the introduction of thousands of Armenian newcomers into Cappadocia. The empire compounded its error by disbanding a 50,000-man local Armenian army, ostensibly to save money. As a result, the land was left defenseless as well as leaderless. This imprudent military decision subsequently was to have an impact on the Byzantine Empire itself, since with the Armenian lands vulnerable, Byzantine holdings in central and western Asia Minor were open to invasion.
The demographic expansion and westward movement of Turkic peoples in the tenth to eleventh centuries was another important factor in the invasions of Asia Minor. In the tenth century Armenia's eastern neighbor, Azerbaijan, was becoming increasingly populated with Turkmens of the Oghuz tribe, coming there across Central Asia and  northern Iran. The Oghuz and other Turkic people also were invading and migrating across southern Russia to areas north of the Caucasus. In the eleventh century, as the Oghuz and others invaded Asia Minor, so to the north the Kipchak Turks were occupying the central steppe regions, from the Carpathian to the Altai Mountains.
In about 1018, at the very time Byzantium was trying to induce King Senekerim Artsruni of Vaspurakan to exchange his lands, Vaspurakan was under attack from Turkic peoples serving the Muslim emirs of Azerbaijan. Around 1021 the area from Nakhichevan to Dvin was raided by Turkmen Oghuz serving in the Persian Dailamite armies. From 1029 onward, Turkmen groups began raiding various parts of Armenia from the direction of Azerbaijan to the east as well as from northern Mesopotamia. These initial attacks in the period from 1016-1018 to 1040 bore the nature of plundering expeditions and were carried out by nomads not under direct control of the Seljuks. This situation changed, however, after 1040. In that year two Oghuz brothers, Tughril-Bey Muhammed and Chagri-Bey Daud of the family of Seljuk conquered the Ghaznavid kingdom of Iran and established the Seljuk Empire.
After the Seljuk conquest of Iran in 1040, Armenia became a conscious target of Turkish invasion, for several reasons. First, as a result of Turkmen successes in the preceding period and from espionage, the Seljuks knew that the Armenian lands were undefended. Second, Tughril-Bey, head of the Seljuks, was facing a dilemma with the Turkmens, which he solved temporarily by deflecting them to Armenia. After capturing the Iranian cities of Rey (1042) and Ramadan (1043), he closed them to the Turkmens to prevent them from laying waste the central provinces of Iran. Thousands of disgruntled nomads therefore headed for Azerbaijan, whence they entered Armenia. Armenia, a Byzantine possession, became a magnet for the newly Muslim nomadic Turkmens who could satisfy their lust for booty and gain religious merit by attacking Christian infidels. This was the effective military strategy of the Seljuk leadership: first to encourage or compel the Turkmens into an area to pillage and terrorize, then to send in troops more loyal to themselves, to take control. In 1042 some 15,000 Turkmens from the Urmia area attacked and looted Vaspurakan and defeated Byzantine forces near the city of Arjesh on the northeastern shore of Lake Van,  while yet another group was raiding around Bjni in the northern district of Ayrarat.
Once again, in 1047, Tughril had difficulties with the Turkmens. In that year he formed an army of 100,000 Turkmens from Khorasan, entrusting it to his brother, Ibrahim Innal. The intention was for Innal to unite with the Turkmens already in Azerbaijan and to invade Armenia. At the same time, Tughril was able to rid the center of the Seljuk Empire of the Turkmens, whose presence in Iran was a steady drain on its resources. Thus from the mid-1040s to about 1063, detachments of Turks, more or less controlled by Seljuk sultans and their generals, penetrated deeper into Armenia, destroying numerous cities and devastating entire districts: Ani (attacked, 1045), Vagharshavan in the western district of Basen (1047), the Mananaghi district of western Armenia (1048), Ardzin in the northwest (1048-1049), Baiburt (1054), Melitene/Malatia in the southwest, Co1onea in the northwest (1057), Sebastia/Sivas (sacked, 1059), Ani (captured, 1064), Kars (1065), and Caesarea (1067), to mention only the better-known sites.
The Seljuks did encounter some resistance from Armenians as well as from the Byzantine Empire. For example, in 1042, Khul Khachik Artsruni of Tornavan attempted a heroic but futile resistance against 15,000 Turkmens in Vaspurakan. In 1042-1043, an unspecified number of Turkmens raiding Bjni in northeastern Armenia were defeated by King Gagik II Bagratuni and Grigor (Magistros) Pahlavuni. In 1053 the Armenians of Surmari destroyed an army of 60,000 Turks. It is important to note that during this very period, 1040 to 1070, the Armenian kingdoms and principalities simultaneously were under attack from Byzantium, which seemed oblivious to the danger facing it. Thus in 1044, when Turkmens were raiding and pillaging the Armenian countryside, Byzantium disbanded a local defense force of 50,000. In 1064-1065, the Byzantine Empire succeeded in bullying King Gagik-Abas of Kars to cede to it his kingdom; however, before the empire could claim it, the Seljuks under Alp-Arslan (Tughril's nephew) had snatched it away. Armenia's enmity toward the Byzantine Greeks was further aroused by Byzantine attempts to force the Chalcedonian issue again. This led to bloody race riots and assassinations on both sides. Consequently, all segments of the Armenian population did not respond in a uniform way to the Seljuk invasions. Indeed, some few Armenians saw the anti-Byzantine Turks not as the agents of God sent to punish Armenians for their sins, but as an excellent vehicle opportunely available to themselves for vengeance against the Greeks. The contemporary  non-Armenian sources in particular accuse the Armenians of siding with the Turks, deserting from the Byzantine armies sent to defend Armenia, and even joining the enemy.
The Seljuks also encountered resistance from ambitious individual commanders of the Turkmens, unwilling to subordinate themselves to Seljuk authority. For example, in 1049, 1052 to 1053, and later in the mid-1080s, the Seljuk "regular army" was warring against Turkmen rebels in Asia Minor, a situation that exacerbated the chaos. In 1070-1071, in what is regarded as a battle of major significance in world military history, the forces of the Byzantine army were defeated by the Seljuks under Alp-Arslan at Manzikert on the northern shore of Lake Van. With that defeat, the Byzantine Empire ceased playing a role of importance in the affairs of central and eastern Asia Minor. While it appears that most of historical Armenia had been subjected to sack by 1070-1071, in several remote mountain areas small Armenian principalities continued to exist throughout the eleventh and twelfth centuries, although encircled by inimical forces and under perpetual attack. These areas comprised districts in northern and northeastern Armenia (Gugark, Siunik, and Artsakh), plus southern and southwestern Armenia (parts of Vaspurakan and Mokk and Sasun). Consequently, it would be incorrect to speak of the Seljuk conquest as being fully consummated in the eleventh century. Some few parts of Armenia never succumbed.
The Seljuk invasions acted as a catalyst on Armenian emigration. In the eleventh century, the Byzantine government had followed a policy of removing powerful Armenian lords and their dependents from their native Armenian habitats and settling them to the west and southwest. Thus, Cappadocia and Armenia Minor (Pokr Hayk), areas that centuries earlier had hosted sizable Armenian populations, suddenly became re-Armenized on the eve of the Turkish invasions. The invasions themselves quickened the tempo of Armenian emigration and extended its range in a southwesterly direction (into Cilicia) and northward (in Georgia). The nakharars, relocating as they did with sometimes large forces, occasionally were powers to be reckoned with. Several such powerful and ambitious nakharars carved out for themselves principalities over an extensive area stretching from Cilicia on the Mediterranean, southward to Antioch, eastward to Edessa, northward to Samosata, to Melitene/Malatia and elsewhere.
Armenian historical sources describe the period of the Seljuk invasions as one of chaos, accompanied by widespread destruction of human life and property. Some few areas were able to spare themselves  by making agreements with the Seljuks, but the generalized fate of Armenia's cities was sack (sometimes more than once), frequently accompanied by the massacre and/or enslavement of part of the population. Survivors of the invasions in some areas faced starvation, since the Turkmens often destroyed crops and cut down fruit-bearing trees in the surrounding villages. The situation of shock and confusion that many cavalrymen or azats (the "gentry") found themselves in, dispossessed from their lands, was described by the late-eleventh-century author Aristakes Lastiverttsi (Aristakes Lastivertc'i):
The cavalry wanders about lordlessly, some in Persia, some in Greece [Byzantium]; some in Georgia. The sepuh brigade of azats has left its patrimony and fallen from wealth; they growl wherever they happen to be, like lion cubs in their lairs (AL, 1985).Members of the azatagundk hayots, the cavalry of Armenia, clustered around successful bandits such as Gogh Vasil or Philaretus Varazhnuni, in lands southwest of Armenia. Others found a warm reception in Georgia. Many remained in their own neighborhoods, living in caves and making sorties against the Turkmens whenever possible. During the fifty-odd years of the invasions (ca. 1020s-1070s), according to Lastiverttsi, the Armenian chroniclers, and the later Turkish epics (the Book of Dede Korkut and the Danishmend-name), Armenian churches were looted and some were converted to mosques. The period of the invasions also had a devastating effect on international trade crossing the Armenian highlands. Not only had the majority of Armenia's cities been sacked, but the unsettled conditions rendered caravan traffic unpredictable and dangerous.
The death of Alp-Arslan in 1072 brought welcome changes for the Armenians. Alp-Arlan's son, Ma1ik-Shah (1072-1092) unlike his father and great-uncle Tughril, was less a nomadic warlord than a cultured, benevolent governor. Under the tutelage of a farsighted and prudent vizier, Nizam al-Mulk (1063-1092), Malik-Shah moved to restrain Turkmen depredations against his Christian and Muslim subjects. Iran was the center of the empire of the Great Seljuks, and it was Iranian rather than Turkic culture that the young sultan and his successors promoted. The Seljuk Empire of Iran, proclaimed in 1040, lasted little more than one hundred years. It, in turn, was destroyed by another wave of Turkic nomads, the Kara Khitai. In Asia Minor a variety of states  arose during the late eleventh and twelfth centuries, virtually independent of Iran and often inimical toward each other. The most important of these were the Danishmendid state centered at Sebastia/Sivas, the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum (or Iconium) centered at Iconia/Konia and the state of the Shah-Armens centered at Khlat.
Policies of the rulers of these states were conditioned by military, demographic, and economic factors. In 1070-1071, the same year as the Byzantine disaster at Manzikert, the Seljuk general Atsiz captured Jerusalem. This event became the impetus for the First Crusade, which was to halt Turkish penetration westward. By 1099 Europeans had established principalities in Edessa, Antioch, and elsewhere in the Levant, strengthening the hands of both Byzantium and Cilician Armenians. Throughout much of the twelfth century, the Turkic states of Asia Minor were dangerously encircled by Christian powers: Georgia to the north, Byzantium to the west, and the Crusader states and Cilician Armenia to the south and southwest. Thus the activities of the new overlords of eastern Asia Minor were conditioned by the military might of their neighbors. Another conditioning factor was the centrifugalism that quickly manifested itself among the different Turkic overlords. Indeed, prior to the establishment of Seljuk control over much of the Armenian highlands by the late eleventh century, the proliferation of small, sometimes mutually hostile, Muslim emirates had begun. In the east, embracing parts of eastern Armenia, Caucasian Albania/Aghuania, and Azerbaijan was the emirate of Gandzak (ruled independently from 1148 to 1225). In the south, in the areas of Diarbekir and Khlat, the holdings of the Muslim Marwanid emirs quickly were confiscated by the Artukids of Aghdznik (1101-1231) and the Seljuk Shah-Armens of Khlat (1100-1207). In the west, the Danishmendids (1097-1165) ruled a large area including Sebastia/Sivas, Caesarea, and Melitene/Malatia. In the northwest were the emirates of Karin/Erzerum (ruled by the Saltukids, 1080-late twelfth century) and Kars (ca. 1080-1200). From 1118 Erzinjan and Tephrice/Divrigi belonged to Mangujek, founder of yet another dynasty. The ruling dynasties of these states sometimes were joined together by marriage ties or sometimes united to fight a common enemy (usually Georgia to the north). But more often they were at war with each other. Throughout the twelfth century, the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, centered at Konia in the west, was trying to gain control over the above-mentioned states. This did not happen until late in the century.
Another factor conditioning the behavior of the new overlords was their own status as a numerical minority. During and after the conquest,  Turkic rulers and Muslim state-supported institutions expropriated the lands and properties of scores of lords and churches. They also became the new legislators or promulgators of law. Nonetheless, they had to contend with the reality of an overwhelmingly Armenian Christian population in eastern Asia Minor and a Greek population in western Asia Minor. In the twelfth century especially, a modus vivendi of sorts had developed between the rulers and the ruled. Matthew of Edessa, for example, describing the situation in the time of Malik Ismael ibn Yaqut (1085-1093), wrote that "everyone ruled his patrimony in his time." According to Vardan Areveltsi, when the Shaddadid Manuchihr ruled Ani-Shirak, he recalled from exile Grigor Pahlavuni and restored his holdings. Furthermore, Armenians, Greeks, and Georgians serving in the armies of the Shah-Armens and the sultans of Rum also received iqtas, originally conditional landholds that quickly became hereditary. The intermingling of cultures and institutions between the conquerors and the conquered was paralleled by intermarriage between the two peoples. It was through the gradual merging of newcomer and settled, the conversion to Islam of the previously Christian population, and the supplemental influx of invading Turkmens in the thirteen to fifteenth centuries that Asia Minor metamorphosed from being Greek, Armenian, and Christian to being Turkish and Muslim.
The establishment of Muslim political overlordship over an Armenian Christian population in eastern Asia Minor did not immediately lead to widespread conversions to Islam. This was to occur in the twelfth and succeeding centuries. But during the time of the Seljuk invasions, Armenian Islamization seems to have been limited to those obliged to convert to save their lives and to the tens of thousands of Armenian women and children forcibly removed from their homes and sold on the slave markets of the Middle East. In this early period too, several influential Armenian nakharar women were sought after as brides by Seljuk rulers. Presumably many of them converted. Subsequently, after the establishment of Seljuk political control, other Armenians converted, be they young Armenian boys, gulams, absorbed into the Seljuk military schools, or the skilled Armenian bureaucrats and artisans who dominated many important positions within the various Turkish states and who figure prominently in Turkish epic literature. Martyrologies of the twelfth century also point to considerable voluntary conversion, prompted by the elevated status in the newly developing society converts could enjoy and especially by financial inducements. The result of this conversion,  forcible or voluntary, was the creation with time of a distinct group—almost excluded from the Armenian sources as "renegades" but apparently not yet fully accepted by their new Muslim coreligionists either, who in their writings usually style them as "Armenians." Despite conversion by some, most Armenians remained true to their own distinctive form of Christianity. This fact, coupled with the reality of an Armenian majority in eastern Asia Minor, led to a certain "Armenization" of the Seljuks. Not only did Armenians of different faiths—Apostolic, Orthodox, Muslim—constitute the bulk of the population in eastern Asia Minor during the Seljuk domination, but fairly quickly an Armeno-Turkish community came into existence through intermarriage. Intermarriage occurred not only between the families of Armenian civil servants and Turkish lords but at the very pinnacle of the state. By the thirteenth century few Seljuk sultans of eastern Asia Minor lacked an Armenian, Georgian, or Greek parent or grandparent. Evidence even suggests that the great warlord and founder of the Danishmendid emirate, hero of the Turkish epic (the Danishmend-name), emir Malik Danishmend himself, was a Muslim Armenian. Judging from the many clearly Armenian names of his comrades-in-arms who waged holy war against the Byzantine Christian "infidels," the same was true of his inner circle. Danishmendid coinage usually was stamped with the sign of the Cross and/or a bust of Christ. The hereditary rulers of the powerful emirate of Khlat in southern Armenia styled themselves Shah-i-Armen (Persian for "king of the Armenians") and married Armenians. Armenization was not solely an ethnic process, but a cultural one as well. Seljuk architecture took some of its inspiration from Armenian architecture. In the eleventh to thirteenth centuries, many of the structures themselves were designed and built by Christian and Muslim Armenians.
The late twelfth century was a period of great brilliance in the history of central and eastern Asia Minor. In 1207 the Seljuks captured the port of Atalia on the Mediterranean; in 1214 they acquired Sinope on the Black Sea, thereby opening their state to world trade. As a result, revenues available to the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum increased dramatically, leading to a quickening of cultural and architectural development throughout Asia Minor. With the aid of the Georgian Bagratid dynasty, a small Byzantino-Georgian "empire" of Trebizond was established in 1204, becoming another important center for international exchange. Historians regard the early thirteenth century as the time when four  societies—the Sultanate of Rum, Georgia, Trebizond, and Cilicia—achieved the pinnacles of their development. This was a period of economic and cultural interaction and dynamism.
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