Bagratuni Dynasty

Bagratuni Dynasty

Royal house
p1 = Kingdom of Armenia
flag_p1 = Rubenid Flag.svg
s1 = Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia
surname = Bagratuni Dynasty
estate = of Armenia
coat of arms =
country = Armenia
titles = King, prince
founder = Ashot Bagratuni I
founding year = 861 AD
nationality = Armenian
The Bagratuni or Bagratid royal dynasty of Armenia ( _hy. Բագրատունյաց Արքայական Տոհմ or "Bagratunyac Arqayakan Tohm") is a royal family whose branches formerly ruled many regional polities, including the Armenian lands of Syunik, Lori, Vaspurakan, Vanand, Taron, and Tayk.

Early history

The Bagratid family first emerged as naxarars, members of the hereditary nobility of Armenia. Their holdings were in the region of Sper, in the Chorokhi valley. As early as 288-301, the Bagratid prince Smbat held the hereditary Armenian titles of Master of the Horse and t'agatir, or coronant of the King. [Movses Khorenatsi. "History of the Armenians". Translation and Commentary of the Literary Sources by R. W. Thomson. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1978 Appendix A. Primary History, pp. 358-359, 362, 365-366]

According to Prince Cyril Toumanoff, the earliest Bagratid prince was chronicled as early as 314 AD. In the eighth century, a later Bagratid prince (also named Smbat) revolted against the Arab Caliphate. The revolt was defeated, but was successful enough to set the stage for Georgian and Armenian independence.

Certain, generation by generation, history of the family begins only in the 8th century. The later Bagratids also claimed descent from King David of the Hebrew Bible. The claim is given no credence by modern scholarship, but was accepted in its day and lent prestige to the family. Their pretense, however, although without presenting a continuous line between them, was made through one Smbat, reputedly the ancestor of the Bagratids (Bagratuni) of the Caucasus States, "An unusual occurrence is recorded to have taken place during the 4th governor of Judah's (an unnamed Babylonian army-commander) administration, starting in 582 BC when King Hraceay (Hratchea) of Armenia, while visiting the Babylonian emperor, to whose court he had come to pay homage as one of his vassals, for reasons unknown but to himself asked for a certain Jewish captive prince, Sumbat, to return with him to Armenia. He did, and King Hraceay (Hratchea) of Armenia, gave him a pension and an estate at Sper.

Bagratids in Armenia

The Bagratid Princes of Armenia are known as early as 1st century B.C. when they served under the Artaxiad Dynasty. Unlike most noble families on Armenia they held only strips of land, as opposed to the Mamikonians, who held a unified land territory. These are the earliest Bagratid princes in Armenia prior to the establishment of the kingdom, as mentioned by the Union of Armenian Noblemen.
Ashot I was the first Bagratid King, the founder of the Royal dynasty. He was recognized as prince of princes by the court at Baghdad in 861, which provoked war with local Arab emirs. Ashot won the war, and was recognized as King of the Armenians by Baghdad in 885. Recognition from Constantinople followed in 886. In an effort to unify the Armenian nation under one flag, the Bagratids subjugated other Armenian noble families through conquests and fragile marriage alliances. Eventually, some noble families such as the Artsrunis and the Siunis broke off from the central Bagratid authority.cite book | last = Herzig, Kurkichayan | first = Edmund, Marina | title = The Armenians: Past and Present in the Making of National Identity | publisher = Routledge |year= 2005 | pages = p. 43] Ashot III the Merciful transferred their capital to the city of Ani, now famous for its ruins. They kept power by playing off the competition between the Byzantine Empire and the Arabs. They assumed the Persian-influenced titles of the King of Kings in both Armenia and Georgia. To note, there are inscriptions on some churches of Ani citing Armenian kings as Shahanshahs of the Armenians and Georgians. However, with the start of the 10th century and on, the Bagratunis broke up into different branches, breaking up the unified kingdom in a time when unity was needed in the face of Seljuk and Byzantine pressure. The rule of the Ani branch ended in 1045 with the conquest of Ani by the Byzantines.

The Kars branch held on until 1064. However, the longest to last were the Bagratids of the Armenian region occupied by the principality of Lori (Tashir-Dzoraget) who were the only Armenian Bagratid kings to issue coins. The dynasty of Cilician Armenia is believed to be a branch of the Bagratids, later took the throne of an Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia. The founder, Roupen I, had an unknown relationship to the exiled king Gagik II. He was either a younger family member or kinsman.Ashot, son of Hovhannes (son of Gagik II) was later governor of Ani under the Shaddadid dynasty.

ee also

*List of Bagratuni rulers of Armenia
*Zakarid Armenia
*The city of Dvin


*"Sebeos' History"
* John Mamikonean's History of Taron"
*"Aristakes Lastivertc'i's History "
*"Kirakos Gandzakets'i's History of the Armenians"
*Vahan Kurkjian - The Bagratid Dynasty — The Bagratuni


*Prince Cyrille Toumanoff, "Manuel de généalogie et de chronologie pour l'histoire de la Caucasie Chrétienne (Arménie-Géorgie-Albanie)". Edizioni Aquila, Roma, 1976. - still remains the only account of the family generally available in the West, although its scientific standard has been criticized as very low.
*"The Families of the Nobility of the Russian Empire", Volume III, Moscow, 1996. - contains the latest research available in Russian, compiled by Georgian scientists, some of them Bagratids themselves.
* [ Armenian Nobility Site]
* [ Robert Bedrosian's History Page]


* R. H. Hewsen. "Armenia: A Historical Atlas", 2001 ISBN 0-226-33228-4

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