Kirakos Ganjakets'i's

History of the Armenians


[151] However, a conflict arose since some said that [Lewon] should be buried in the royal city of Sis, while other said [the burial should be] at the monastery called Akner, since the king greatly loved that monastery because of the goodness of its discipline and its marvellous prayers. Now some did not think that monastery a proper site for it was located near the border and there were many enemies around it. "Perhaps," they said, "they will come, remove his body and burn it with fire because of the many grudges they have against him." Finally, they all united. They took [Lewon's] body and buried it in the city of Sis, while his heart and intestines were taken to the monastery called Akner.

Thus did the valiant, ever-triumphant King Lewon repose in piety.

The kat'oghikos and the princes brought the son of the lord of Antioch, named prince (brindz) and gave him in marriage the daughter of King Lewon, thus making him their king. The youth's name was Phillip and the queen's name was Zabel. When [g188] [Phillip] had ruled the kingdom for four years, his father deceived him and took from him the crown of King Lewon and the [152] royal paghat (? tent) which they erected on special occasions, and other treasures of gold and silver. As soon as the princes saw that the man was not loyal to the kingdom, they arrested and held him until he return the crown and treasures. But his father gave neither the one nor the other, and did not aid his son in any way. And they left him there [in prison] until he died.

The great prince Kostandin convinced the kat'oghikos and some of the other grandees to enthrone his own son, Het'um, a physically robust and handsome lad. But the queen did not consent to being the wife of a child. She defied him and went to Seleucia, to the Franks there; for her mother was of Frankish nationality, and from the island of Cyprus.

Kostandin took all the troops and besieged the city until they unwillingly surrendered the queen. Kostandin took her and married her to his son, to whom she bore children. The woman was extremely pious and sensible—a lover of all God-fearing and poor folk—who constantly fasted and prayed [g189].

Once his son Het'um had taken the rule of the kingdom, the great prince Kostandin himself assumed all the concerns of the kingdom, arranging everything wisely. Some he made obedient with affection, while the disobedient were eliminated, making some into fugitives, killing others. He made friendship [153] and union with the sultan of Rum, whose name was 'Ala al-Din (Aladin), who had many lands under his control. Kostandin did the same with all the neighboring peoples, and pacified the lands everywhere.

He established his eldest son, Smbat, as general and made the other son prince of the kingdom. And all the monks in the country were unconcerned about their physical necessities, for he himself gave them everything they needed, so that they might occupy themselves with prayers and worship.

The country became filled with skilled and unskilled men who assembled from all sides fleeing the destruction wrought by the T'at'ars who had come from the northeast and overthrown the entire world.

After this, kat'oghikos Yovhannnes also died, having occupied the throne for eighteen years. The great prince with the king seated lord Kostandin on the throne of Saint Gregory. He was a virtuous mild man of blessed behavior, who conducted [g190] himself with goodness and regulated the order of the Church with orthodoxy. Kostandin was revered by all peoples, not only by Christians, but also by Tachiks.

[154] Once it happened that the three sultans went to the borders of the city called Hrhomkla on the Euphrates River where the throne of the kat'oghikosate was located. The kat'oghikos went out to see them. As soon as the sultans learned of his coming, they themselves hastened before him and brought him to the army with great honor. They erected a fine altar for him, in the midst of their altars. On one side was the altar of Melik' K'eml who ruled Egypt, on another side was the altar of Melik' Ashrap' who ruled most of Armenia and Mesopotamia, as well as the altar of their brother's son who ruled Damascus. Thus honoring him greatly for many days, they released him with many presents [including] villages and dastakerts, for God glorifies those who glorify Him, both in this world and in the next.

Het'um's reign began in 673 A.E. [1224/25] [g191].


10. A brief section on the history of Aghbania/Aghuania is presented below.


At the beginning of the first [section of this] history we placed [accounts of] the holy Illuminator of the Armenians, blessed Gregory, coadjutor of the apostle, martyr, and thrice-blessed [155] apostles Thaddeus, Bartholemew, and James-Judas, and through [Gregory's] prayers we have reached this far. Now for the second section [we begin with] a chapter on the illuminators of the Aghbanian areas, since they are our relatives and coreligionists, and especially since many of their leaders were Armenian-speaking, their kings obedient to the kings of the Armenians and under their control, their bishops ordained by Saint Gregory and his successors, and their people remained with us in orthodoxy. For these reasons it is fitting to recall the two peoples together. Therefore we will begin by concisely describing their leaders up to the point where we left off.

They say that the initial cause of the illumination of the eastern areas was the blessed Eghishe (pupil of the great Thaddeus the Apostle) who, after the death of the holy Apostle went to Jerusalem to James, the brother of the Lord, received [g192] ordination as bishop from him, and then went to the land of Iran eventually reaching the land of the Aghbanians/Aghuans. He came to a place called Gis and built a church there, and he himself was martyred there, though it is not known by whom. His body was thrown into a well with other corpses and it remained there until the time of pious King Vach'agan the last.

[156] Here are the kings of the Aghbanians/Aghuans from the line of Hayk, descendants of Arhan whom the Parthian Vagharshak set up as overseer and prince of those areas. First Vach'agan, Vach'e, Urhnayr. The latter came to the great king of the Armenians, Trdat, and to Saint Gregory and was baptized by him; and Saint Gregory gave to King Urhnayr a man from among his deacons who had come with him from Rome, and whom [Gregory] had ordained as bishop. Vach'agan, Marhawan, Sato, Asa, Esvaghen. In the days of the latter king, the venerable Mesrop made alphabets for the Armenians, Georgians, and Aghbanians/Aghuans. [Then] Vach'e [ruled]. Yazdigert, king of Iran, who destroyed the holy Vardaneans forcibly made [Vach'e] a mage, but subsequently he left magianism and his kingdom with it, became an ascetic adhering to a severe discipline, and reconciled himself with God against Whom he had sinned. Then the pious Vach'agan ruled, whom we recalled above. He heard that they had thrown blessed Eghishe['s body] into a well and he ordered that all the bones found [in the well] be removed. They removed them and piled them into heaps. The pious king prayed to God that the bones of Saint Eghishe be [g193] revealed. A fierce wind arose and scattered across the face of the plain all the bones except for those of Saint Eghishe. Thanking God, the king gathered them up and distributed [the relics] throughout his realm.

[157] Then holy Shup'haghishoy became bishop. However we are confused about his placement, for the man who wrote the history of the Aghbanians [translator's note: See the History of the Caucasian Albanians by Movses Dasxuranci, C.J.F. Dowsett trans. (London 1961). A more recent English translation is available on another page of this website: Movses Dasxurants'i's History of the Aghuans.] places his name in the time of the pious Vach'agan, proof of which being the canons which Vach'agan established with all the bishops of the Aghbanians, writing: "I Vach'agan, king of the Aghbanians, and Shup'haghishoy, archbishop of Partaw." Elsewhere this name is not found again among the ranks of the bishops. But as we have found it, so we have written it.

Then lord Matt'e, lord Sahak five [years], lord Movses six [years], lord Pant seven [years] lord Ghazar eight [years]. Then the blessed youth Grigoris, son of great Vrt'anes brother of Yusik, grandson of Saint Gregory whom the great king of the Armenians Trdat sent and who was killed on the plain of Vatean as a martyr of God, [was patriarch]. His body was brought and buried at Amaras. Later, during the time of Vach'agan, relics were discovered among which were those of the blessed Zak'aria, father of John the Baptist and of Pantalemon the great martyr for Christ who was slain in the city of Nicomedia in the time of Maximianos [and whose relics] Saint Gregory had taken with him.

[158] Then lord Zak'aria [ruled], ten years, [followed by] lord Dawit' for eleven years, and lord Yovhannes (who also was bishop of the Huns), twelve years, lord Eremia, thirteen years. In Eremia's time the venerable Mesrop created the Aghbanian/Aghuanian alphabet with great effort. Lord Abas [ruled] for fourteen years. The Council of Dwin wrote to Abas that he should recite the formula "Holy God, immortal, Who Was crucified" and "of one nature, divine and human." Lord Viroy for thirty-three years. He was a prisoner for many years at the court of Xosrov, the Iranian king, but after Xosrov's death he was freed and came to his own country. He freed the Armenian, Georgian and Aghbanian prisoners from the Xazar Shat' (son of Jebu Xak'an who had enslaved the land). He built six cities named after Shat': Shat'arh, Shamk'or, Shak'i, Shirvan, Shamaxi, and Shaporan. Lord Zak'aria [who ruled for] fifteen years, saved the great city of Partaw from slavery by his prayers. Lord Yovhan [ruled for] twenty-five years. Lord Uxtanes, twelve years [g195]. [It was Uxtanes] who cursed the Aghbanian naxarars for their foul mixed marriages, and all of them died. Then lord Eghiazar [ruled for] six years. Lord Nerses [ruled for] seventeen years. While [Nerses] was bishop of Gardman, he convinced a certain woman named Spram, the wife of an Aghbanian prince, that if she had him ordained kat'oghikos of the Aghbanians, he would do whatever she wanted. The woman was steeped in the Chalcedonian heresy. [159] She entreated the bishops to ordain Nerses Bakur as kat'oghikos of the Aghbanians.

After some time had passed, the heresy which she had conceived within her became apparent. As soon as she was reprimanded by the bishops and priests, she began persecuting many of them. The spiritual leaders of the Aghbanians/Aghuans assembled and anathematized her and wrote to the kat'oghikos of the Armenians, Eghia, to aid them.

Eghia wrote [a message] to the head of the Tachiks, Abdlmelik', to the effect that "The [religious] leader of the Aghbanians and a woman here want to place their land in rebellion against you, for they are assisting the Greeks." Abdlmelik' commanded Eghia to go to Aghbania and dethrone him and to send him and the woman to court with their feet bound and thrown onto camels like freight, so that they would be the objects of derision for all the troops.

Eghia and the king's eunuch went to the city of Partaw and executed the royal order. While they mocked him thus with dishonor, Nerses died bitterly from exasperation, eight days later [g196]. All the Aghbanians naxarars and all the bishops gave [160] pledges before the eunuch with the royal command and seal that they would not ordain an Aghbanian kat'oghikos without the order of the Armenian kat'oghikos.

Then Eghia ordained for the Aghbanian [patriarchal] throne lord Simeon, who removed the disturbance caused by Nerses. [Simeon] reigned for one and a half years and established canons with seven provisions.

Lord Mik'ayel [reigned for] thirty-five years. He summoned the prior of Mak'enots'ats' [monastery], Soghomon, and cursed those who had married their relatives in the third degree. These were generally eliminated. They also anathematized the Georgian [spiritual] leader T'alile, for he had authorized the illegal marriages. Then lord Anania [ruled for] four years. Lord Yovsep' [ruled for] seventeen years. In the fifth year of his reign the two hundredth year of the Armenian Era was completed [751/52]. Lord Dawit' [ruled for] four years. [Dawit'] freed Church lands and ornaments. He died of poisioning. [Another] lord Dawit' [then ruled for] nine years. He sold Dastakert and Sahmanaxach' to the infidels. Lord Matt'eos [ruled for] one and a half years; he too was given poison to drink and died from it. Lord Movses, one and a half years; lord [g197] Aharon two years; lord Soghomon, half a year [Editor K. Melik'-Ohanjanyan has inserted this patriarch from the list Kirakos was using, i.e., the list in Book III of Movses Dasxurants'i's History of the Caucasian Aghbanians]; lord T'eodoros [161] four years; lord Soghomon, eleven years; lord Yovhannes, twenty-five years. [Yovhannes] moved the kat'oghikosate to Bardak which was their summer residence when it was removed from Partaw. Lord Movses [ruled for] one half year; lord Dawit', for twenty-eight years. It was [Dawit'] who blessed the impious marrage of the lord of Shak'i. Now the prince's lay brother asked [Dawit']: "Whence do you come, lord?" And [Dawit'] replied: "From your brother's house." Then the prince said to Dawit': "May your tongue, which blessed this not speak, and may your eye dry up." And this very thing happened immediately, nor was [Dawit'] cured until his death.

Then lord Yovsep' [ruled for] twenty-five years. In his third year, the three hundredth year of the Armenian Era was completed [851/52].

Lord Samuel [ruled for] seventeen years. He assumed the dignity [of kat'oghikos] by himself, but was later dethroned by Georg, kat'oghikos of the Armenians, and forced to undergo a second ordination in Dwin.

Lord Yovhan [ruled for] eight and a half years. He was court-bishop of the Armenians. While Georg was in captivity, [162] Yovhan went to the land of the Aghbanians and was ordained there without the permission of lord Georg. But when the Aghbanian princes ransomed back lord Georg, he removed Yovhan from the dignity [of the kat'oghikosate]. The Aghbanian princes beseeched Georg as a favor to accept Yovnan, and so he ordained him again.

Lord Simeon [ruled for] twenty-one years; lord Dawit', five years; lord Sahak, eighteen years; lord Gagik, fourteen years. In [Gagik's] fourth year, the four hundredth year of the Armenian Era was completed [951/52] [g198].

Lord Dawit' from the episcopate of Kapaghak [ruled for] seven years [Translator's note: this sentence was added from the list appearing at the end of Book III in Movses Dasxurants'i's History of the Caucasian Aghbanians.].

Lord Dawit' [ruled for] six years. He was ordained by the Armenian kat'oghikos Anania.

Lord Petros [ruled for] sixteen years. Lord Movses (who had been director of Parhisos monastery) [ruled for] six years. Then lord Markos, a man of God, [ruled, followed by Yovsep', another Markos, followed by lord Step'annos. Then lord [163] Yovhannes [ruled for] fifty years, followed by lord Step'annos for one and a half years. He died in his youth. In 588 A.E.[1139] during the reign of lord Grigoris, the great kat'oghikos of the Armenians, there had been no leader of the Aghbanian patriarchal house for twenty-five years.

There remained one lad from the kat'oghikosal line named Gagik (son of Georg, grandson of Karapet) whom they nourished and educated. When he reached maturity, vardapet Grigor T'ok'aker's son, Dawit' Alawka's son, and others from the land of the Aghbanians wrote a letter of entreaty to Grigoris, the great patriarch of the Armenians who at that time was in the West. And they sent a man with the letter so that he be ordained [g199] bishop and so that Grigoris send them one of his own bishops and give the command to ordain the young Gagik for the patriarchal throne of the Aghbanians, so that the leaderless country not be lost.

The patriarch ordained the man sent to him. He also ordered the bishop of Karin to go to the land of the Aghbanians and to ordain the Aghbanian kat'oghikos.

The bishop of Karin, Sahak, and the other bishop ordained an additional twelve bishops, according to the dictates of [164] Scripture, and then they ordained Gagik as kat'oghikos, naming him Grigores after the kat'oghikos of the Armenians.

During those days, fog and locusts unexpectedly filled all the mountains and plains, and a great earthquake occurred which destroyed the capital city of Gandzak. By the grace of God, the newly-elected kat'oghikos was saved, but the great vardapet Grigor died along with a countless multitude of men, women and children who were killed under the buildings which collapsed on them.

Demetre, the king of Georgia, came and took to his country everything he found [at Gandzak], as booty, including the city gates.

Alharak Mountain also crumbled and the small valley which ran along it was blocked so that a lake was formed, which exists to this day [g200].

After eight years, a luminous comet appeared which was a symbol of the famine, destruction by the sword and captivity which befell the country.

When kat'oghikos Gagik had attained perfection in spiritual [165] knowledge, he passed from the world, and once more darkness settled in those parts.

Then lord Bezhgen [ruled. It was he] who left his order and took a wife. He was followed by lord Step'annos, for twenty years; after him lord Yovhannes [ruled] for twenty years. He constructed a magnificent church in the Miap'or district at the monastery called Xamshi, and was alive in our own time. Then [the patriarchal throne was occupied by] lord Nerses, [Yovhannes'] brother, a man with a meek and good character who was ordained in 684 A.E. [1235].


11. Concerning the coming of the T'at'ar army and the putting to flight of the king of the Georgians.


In 669 A.E. [1220], while the Georgians were feeling proud of their conquests—for they had triumphed over the Tachiks and wrested from them many districts of Armenia—suddenly, unexpectedly, many detachments of well organized soldiers burst through the Darband Gate, came to the land of the Aghbanians, and then passed to the lands of the Armenians and the Georgians. Whatever they found on their way they put to the sword—man [g201], [166] beast, even down to the dogs. They were not at all concerned with taking expensive clothing or anything else, except horses. They quickly came to the city of Tiflis (Tp'xis), once more descended into the land of the Aghbanians to the borders of the city of Shamk'or. False information arrived concerning [the Mongols], to the effect that they were mages and/or of the Christian faith, wonder-workers, and that they had come to avenge the Christians from the tyranny of the Tachiks. And it was said that they had with them a portable tent-church, as well as a miracle-working cross, and that they would bring an ephah of barley and put it before this cross and all the troops would take from it and give it to their horses, yet the supply would not be exhausted, for when all of them had finished taking, the original amount remained. The same was true for their own food. Such were the false rumors that filled the land. Therefore the inhabitants of the land did not fortify themselves in, to the point that one lay priest took his people and even went before them with hooded crosses. The enemy put them to the sword, one and all. Thus finding many people unconcerned, [the Mongols] destroyed and ruined numerous places. Then they secured their bags and baggage in the marshy, muddy place which lies between the cities of Partaw and Belukan, a very safe place which they call Beghamej; and they destroyed many districts with brazen attacks [g202].

[167] Then Lasha, king of the Georgians, and the great hazarapet Iwane mustered troops to go to war against [the Mongols]. They descended to the plain called Xunan, for the enemy force was located there; and they fought one another, the former putting the enemy to flight. However, because the enemy had made an ambush, they fell upon the Georgian troops from behind and began to destroy them. Those [Mongols] who were fleeing likewise turned on them, and trapping them in the middle, they dealt great blows to the Christian troops. The king and all the princes fled. The enemy gathered booty from the troops and took it to their camp.

Once again the king of the Georgians mustered his troops, this time more than before, and wanted to battle with the enemy. But [the Mongols] collected their wives, children, and all their bags and baggage, and wanted to pass through the Darband Gate to their own land. But the Tachik troops who were in Darband did not allow them to enter. So [the Mongols] crossed the Caucasus mountains (Kawkas) at an impassable spot, filling the abyss with wood, stones, their goods, horses, and military [g203] equipment, and thus crossed over and went to their own land.

The name of their leader was Sabada Bahatur.

[168]


12. The defeat of the troops in the borders of Gandzak.


Subsequently, after some time had passed, another force of Huns, called Qipchaqs (Xbch'ax) came through the land of the Georgians to King Lasha and to the hazarapet Iwane. [The Qipchaqs wanted Lasha and Iwane] to give them a place to live and [in return] they would serve [the Georgians] loyally. However, [the Georgians] did not agree to accept them.

So [the Qipchaqs] arose and went to the residents of the city of Gandzak where they were received joyfully, since the people there had been placed into great straits by the Georgian army which ruined their lands and enslaved man and beast. [The people of Gandzak] gave [the Qipchaqs] a place to dwell within the confines of the city and aided them with food and drink so that with their help they might resist the kingdom of the Georgians. The Hun troops halted there and settled in.

Then Iwane mustered troops and arrogantly went against them. He greatly boasted that he would exterminate them and [g204] the city as well, placing his trust in the multitude of his troops and not in God Who gives the victory to whomever He pleases.

[169] When the two groups clashed, the barbarians calmly emerged from their lairs and put to the sword the wearied and [God-]forsaken Georgian army. They arrested many and put the remainder to flight. There was a great destruction of the Christian troops on that day. So many were abandoned by the protection of God that one bad man [i.e., a poor fighter] was able to capture many brave and experienced warriors like a shepherd leading his flock before him. For God had removed His aid from their swords and did not assist them in battle. [The Qipchaqs] brought the honorable men [of the captives] and sold them for some clothing or food. Iranians bought them and tormented them with unbearable tortures, demanding such quantities of gold and silver that it was impossible to pay. And many of them died in prison.

[The Qipchaqs] seized, among others, Grigor (son of Haghbak, brother of brave Vasak) and his brother's son Papak'; for Vasak had three sons: Papak', Mkdem, and Hasan (called Prhosh), brave and distinguished men who had caused all the Tachik troops to quake with fear. They killed Papak' in battle. As for Grigor, they arrested him and tormented him with numerous tortures to make him deny Christ, but he did not do so. On the contrary, he insulted their deceiving law-giver Mahmet and their [170] loathsome faith even more. [Grigor's captors] grew angry and dragged him naked over the earth and lacerated his entire body with thorns and so tortured him that he gave up the ghost because of the beatings, receiving a martyr's crown from Christ. These men were from Xach'en district of a prominent family, Christians, orthodox, and of Armenian nationality.

The impious Iranians oppressed many other captives with various tortures, keeping them hungry, thirsty, and naked. Now the Christians in the city of Gandzak displayed much benevolence toward the captives, buying back some and freeing them, feeding and clothing some, burying the dead and performing similar good deeds.

But after some days had passed, the great hazarapet Iwane once again mustered troops and went to wreak vengeance on those who had destroyed his troops. He attacked them at an unexpected moment and put the barbarians to the sword. He captured their booty and enslaved their children, taking both to his land.


13. Vardapet Mxit'ar, where he was from and what sort of man he was.


This renowned and very learned man was from the city of [171] Gandzak, the son of Christian parents who had given him an education in Scripture. When he reached puberty, he was ordained a celibate priest. Having served many years as a priest, he wished to become learned in the deeper meaning of Scripture and the profound proverbs contained therein. Mxit'ar met vardapet Yovhannes (called Tawushets'i) who at that time was renowned for his learning. At first for a while he lived a lay life, then, separating from his wife, he pursued a religious calling, and being very knowledgeable in Scripture, he earned the title of vardapet. Mxit'ar stayed [with Yovhannes] for many years, studying [g207].

Vardapet Yovhannes was peripatetic, travelling from place to place preaching the Word of God and exhorting good conduct for mankind. He regularized many features in the ritual and religion of the Christians, for even at that time in various places, people were breaking fast on Saturdays and Sundays of the holy Forty Days of Lent. Yovhannes ruled that the fast should be held as on the other days of the week but that they celebrate on Saturday the martyrs of God and on Sunday the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ and offer mass. In this way every place established the fifty day fast, whereas before some maintained it while others did not.

Mxit'ar, after remaining and studying with this man and [172] others had earned the title of vardapet. But still not satisfied, he went to a place in the West [in Cilicia] called Seaw (Black) mountain to the vardapets who were teachers there. He did not disclose to them that he too was a vardapet, but instead profited a great deal from their knowledge. He then went to the city of Karin. There he met the pious Christian prince named K'urd, who was estranged from the king of the Georgians. He became acquainted with him and loved by him like a father. After this Mxit'ar returned to his own land [g208].

The renown of his learning spread throughout all the lands and many pupils studied doctrine with him. Harassed by the Tachiks (at the instigation of Step'annos, kat'oghikos of the Aghbanians), Mxit'ar went to the land of Xach'en to Vaxt'ank, the prince of Hat'erk' and his brothers who greatly honored him. He stayed there a few years.

Then prince K'urd returned to his patrimony, coming to the land of Kayean and Mahkanaberd. The queen of the Georgians named T'amar gave him many honors, returning to him his patrimonial holdings, and many others besides. [K'urd] was the father of Sadun and Dawit', grandfather of Sherbarak', Sadun's son.

[173] Now upon learning that the prince had returned to his patrimony, Mxit'ar went to him on account of the earlier unity and friendship they had toward one another. And Mxit'ar dwelled in the monastery called Getik in the Kayean district, situated on the right bank of the great river named Aghstev.

The director of the monastery was a vardapet named Sarkawag, his own pupil, who received [Mxit'ar] with joy and attended him himself. [Mxit'ar] remained there a long while [g209].

Then a severe earthquake occurred which ruined many places, overturning the tall structures. Among the casualties was the church of Getik, which was so devastated that it was impossible to restore it. The residents were in a quandry about what to do and wanted to disperse, not only because of the collapse of the church, but because they were being harassed by their neighbors. For a certain prince named Sargis had transferred his village from its [original] location and built another village near the monastery. Thereafter there were numerous disagreements between the two groups and constant accusations.

But the blessed vardapet prevented the group [members] from thinking about separating from each other. Instead he wanted the congregation to remain together, and to request a [174] new abode. So they went united to the great prince Iwane, brother of Zak'are, general of the Georgians, sons of the sister of pious prince K'urd, who at that time ruled the fortress of Kayean and the district. They acquainted him with their problem so that he give them a place where they could transfer their monastery. Iwane commanded them to see where a suitable site existed; and, travelling about, they found a charming spot, a hollow by the foot of two mountains which stands at its head. They named the place Tandzut valley. In this valley there [g210] was a village with a small brook crossing through it [a brook] which flowed more copiously on the right side in a wooded glen, with plenty of water. They decided that this spot was suitable.



14. Concerning the building of Nor (New) Getik.


The marvellous vardapet and his monks then began work on the construction of a monastery and church in the above-mentioned Tandzut valley, by order of the great prince Iwane. They built a beautiful wooden church which was consecrated in the name of saint Gregory.

Present at the consecration of the church was the blessed [175] vardapet Xach'atur Taronats'i, director of the holy congregation of Haghartsin, a holy, virtuous man renowned for his learning, especially for his musical knowledge. He made the holy congregation which he directed sparkle though prior to his coming it was desolate and withered. The king of the Georgians, Giorgi, T'amar's father, especially esteemed Xach'atur. And he gave to the church, under his own signature, two villages, Abasadzor and Tandzut, and a vineyard in Mijnashen. And by all the saints he [g211] placed a curse on anyone who dared to shear these properties from the monastery. [Xach'atur] brought to the East the xaz [musical notation system] which was not yet spread throughout the lands, and he thereby gave form to the formless melodies, making them rational. He came and wrote and instructed many, then took rest from difficult labors. [Xach'atur] passed to Christ and is buried on the western side of the church.

At Nor Getik, at the head of the monastery, they also built a smaller church in the name of Saint John the Baptist, the ordainer of Christ, the greatest fruit of womankind. Then they began on the foundation of the glorious church built with dressed stones and [crowned] with a heavenly dome, a marvel to the beholder. [Construction] was begun in 640 A.E. [1191], four years after Salahadin took Jerusalem, and it was completed in five years, during the disturbance of Greek Easter.

[176] Now regarding Easter there was much dispute and argument with the Armenians among all peoples, especially the Georgians, for they brazenly said that the false [date] was the correct one. The accursed Iron had corrupted [the date] at the court of the impious Justinian because he was not invited to the council held in Alexandria regarding the designation of [the date of the celebration of] Easter and other feasts. Following the completion of the two hundred year [calendar] of Andreas, [the celebration of] all feasts was confused for a period of nine years because they were [g212] unable to correctly maintain his [calendrical] system. However a certain wise man named Eas protested and called to himself learned men from all peoples: Phineas the Jew, Gigan the Syrian, Adde the Cappadocian, Elogs the Greek, and many others. They began counting the years from the bottom up. Finding a stable system, they created a five hundred year cycle which was perpetually accurate. They took this to emperor Justinian who ordered Iron [to examine it]. Iron was jealous of the skill of the talented people involved [in creating] the calendrical system and because he was not invited, and so he wanted to spoil things somehow. He changed April fifteenth to the sixteenth, and the sixth to the fifth, deceitfully claiming that everything was right except for that. The sixteenth was not incorrect, but as for the fifth, for ninety-five [177] years continuously it caused them to err, taking Easter along with the Jews earlier than was correct, since for them [Easter] was the fifth [Sunday], while for us it was the sixth, as happened [on this occasion].

Now because of this argument between Armenians and Georgians, Queen T'amar and sparapet Zak'are sent some one of the great Georgian princes and likewise one of the Armenians to Jerusalem prior to Easter, to learn the truth. The verdict was to be given by the radiant lamp on the Holy Sepulcher of Christ which, they say, at the request of Gregory Illuminator of the Armenians (with no assist from human hands or tangible fire), is lit up by the command of God each Easter. It happens to this day [g213].

However, the overseers of the city, who were Tachiks, asked the Christians: "When is your Easter?" Those who were Greek and other denominations replied: "This Sunday." But the Armenians said: "Not this Sunday, next Sunday." Now the Tachik overseer was a wise man and so ordered all the lights in that temple extinguished, the doors closed and sealed with his ring, and he forbade anyone to enter, in order to determine which group was right.

[178] Now when the day arrived and had passed into evening, they awaited the illumination of the lamp. When it did not light up, the prince ordered all except the Armenians to be insultingly removed and severely beaten as ignorant and false people. When a week passed and the next Sunday (which the Armenians had said was Easter) arrived, while they were praying at the tenth hour, [divine] inspiration came upon them and at once the lamp lit up without human hands touching it. The Armenians were jubilant. Once more the Tachiks beat the others, and everyone praised the wisdom and faith of the Armenians while they derided and jeered at the Greeks in all the cities under Tachik rule. The men who had been sent by the Georgian monarch and by the general observed this [g214], returned and related what they had seen. The great general Zak'are rejoiced as did all the Armenians in the [Georgian] army. And the true faith of the Armenians was strengthened further.

In this year the renowned and joyous church of Getik was completed. It was built by vardapet Mxit'ar with his religious community with the aid of Vaxt'ang Xach'enats'i, lord of Hat'erk' and his brothers Grigor, Grigoris, Xoydan, and Vasak and other pious princes, Dawit' and Sadun (the sons of K'urd) as well as their sister named Arzu xat'un [179] (Vaxt'ang Hat'erk'ets'i's wife).

This woman did much to help. She and her daughters made a beautiful curtain of the softest goats' hair as a covering for the holy altar, a marvel to behold. It was dyed with variegated colors like a piece of carving with pictures accurately drawn on it showing the Incarnation of the Savior and other saints. It astonished those who saw it. Beholders would bless God for giving women the knowledge of tapestry-making and the genius of embroidery, as is said in Job, for it was no less than the altar ornaments [g215] Beseliel and Eghiab fashioned [Exodus 36.1]. Nor is it bold to make this statement, for the same spirit moved them both. Not only did the woman make a curtain for this church at Getik, but for other churches as well—Haghbat, Makaravank', and Dadivank'; for she was a great lover of the Church, and very pious.

The pre-consecration festival at Getik was conducted with great throngs of people attending. Among those present was Yovhannes, the bishop of Haghbat, a virtuous and blessed man as well as a multitude of priests and servitors. And they consecrated the church in the name of the blessed Mother of God.

[180] They also constructed a beautiful parvis of dressed stones for the church. The great general Zak'are and his brother Iwane provided much support, for they held the princeship of the district and they so loved the holy vardapet (for in confession, Zak'are was his spiritual son). They gave the church [extensive] land bounded by streams [extending] from mountain to mountain, as well as a mine in Abasadzor, and Zoradzor in the district of Bjni, and Ashawan above the monastery.

They themselves also built a village close to a small lake of immense depth, naming the village after the lake Tzrkatsov (for in it swam many marsh-loving, mud-loving reptiles) [g216], as well as another smaller village below the monastery which they named Urhelanj. They also built many other chapels in the name of blessed Apostles and the holy Hr'ip'sime.

Because Mxit'ar loved deserts and uninhabited places, he made his home distant from the monastery. There he built a small wooden church in the name of the Holy Spirit. In his old age he built a church as a mausoleum for himself above the monastery on the right. It was made with dressed stones and lime and named for the Resurrection of Christ.

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