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In the course of the eleventh century large numbers of the Armenian population left their homeland and migrated west and southwest of the Euphrates, to regions already settled by Armenians at an earlier period. The first important wave of emigrants accompanied the kings of Vaspurkan, Ani, and Kars, and other minor rulers whose lands had been seized by the Byzantine emperors and who had been granted, in return, domains in Cappadocia and Asia Minor. A second wave followed the conquest of Armenia by the Selchukid Turks and the disaster of Manzikert in 1071. It is probable that by far the greater number of those who fled the Turkish domination sought refuge in the cities and regions of the Taurus, the Anti-Taurus, and northern Syria held by Armenian chieftains, where they were joined towards the end of the century by some Armenians of Cappadocia who moved southward after the death of the last Armenian kings. A considerable number still remained, however, north of the Taurus; according to the Gesta when the crusaders approached Caesarea of Cappadocia (Kayseri) they entered “the country of the Armenians”, and when they reached Comana and Coxon they were welcomed by the Armenian population of these cities.

In order to secure the defense of their eastern borders, the Byzantine emperors had appointed some Armenians as governors of important cities, entrusted them with the command of their armies, or ceded large tracts of land to them. But gradually, taking advantage of the unsettled conditions of these outer regions and the weakening of the central authority, some of these chieftains had broken the ties that bound them to the empire. At the time of the First Crusade there were many such chieftains, some in key positions, who gave important assistance to the Latin armies. The governor of Melitene, Gabriel, was an Armenian of the Greek Orthodox faith whose daughter Morfia married Baldwin of Le Bourg. The Armenian Constantine was lord of Gargar. Tatoul had been appointed governor of Marash by Alexius Comnenus and was confirmed in this position by the crusaders. Ablgharib (Abu-l-Gharib) was master of Bira (Birejik). At Edessa, where the Arme­nian element was particularly numerous, the governor was Toros, son-in-law of Gabriel of Melitene, who had received the title curopalates from Alexius Comnenus.

However, the most important chieftain in these parts had been Philaretus, whose authority, at the time of his greatest power, between 1078 and 1085, had extended over a vast area which com­prised the cities of Melitene, Marash, Edessa, and Antioch. After the death of Philaretus, the remnants of his armies gathered around Kogh Vasil, ruler of Kesoun and Raban, who for a time also held Hromgla. Among those who fought at his side was Dgha Yasil, whom he adopted and who succeeded him.

The Armenian possessions in Cilicia, which were to endure much longer than these ephemeral principalities, were at first far less important. Here also the Armenian immigration had begun at a fairly early date. The historian Mkhitar of Ayrivank records that in the first years of the tenth century fifty noblemen of Sasoun, fleeing from the Turks, had crossed the Taurus; doubtless they were accompanied by their followers as well as by their families. By the latter part of the century the Armenians of Cilicia and northern Syria were sufficiently numerous to warrant the appointment of a bishop at Tarsus and of another at Antioch. This increase in the population coincided with the Byzantine reconquest and, according to Bar Hebraeus, the Byzantines stationed the Armenians “in the fortresses which were in Cilicia, and which they took from the Arabs.” No names of Armenian officials are recalled, however, before the second half of the eleventh century, when the population had been further increased by the arrival of new immigrants from Cappadocia and Armenia. When in 1067 the Turks, having pillaged Iconium, were returning home by way of Cilicia, Romanus Diogenes, in order to stop them, sent the commander of Antioch, the Armenian Khachadour, to Mamistra, but there is no mention of any local Armenian chieftain. There may have been an Armenian governor at Tarsus before 1072, for according to the Cilician Chronicle, whose account differs from that of Matthew of Edessa, the anti-catholicus George came there, seeking the protection of Kakig, son of Kourken. Nothing further is known about this Kakig, and a few years later, in 1079, the governor of Tarsus was Ablgharib.

Ablgharib belonged to a family which had long been in the service of Byzantium. His grandfather, Khoul Khachig, prince of the region of Tornavan in the province of Vaspurkan, was a vassal of the Byzantine emperors; his father, Hasan, had served under Michael V; and Ablgharib himself had received the governorship of Tarsus from Michael VII. Ablgharib also held the two important forts of western Cilicia, Babaron and Lampron, which he ceded later to one of his generals, Oshin, founder of the powerful feudal family of the Hetoumids.

Some modern historians have identified Oshin I with the general Aspietes, whose exploits are told by Anna Comnena, and with Ursinus, mentioned by Radulf of Caen and Albert of Aix (Aachen), and have credited him with all their deeds. But as Laurent has convincingly proved, there are no valid grounds for this identification and very little is known about him. According to Samuel of Ani, Oshin had left his hereditary possessions in the region of Ganja in 1073, had come to Cilicia accompanied by his family and his followers, and had wrested Lampron from the Saracens. But the Armenian sources that are closer to the Hetoumids speak of him merely as one of the faithful chieftains of Abl­gharib to whom the latter ceded Lampron, while Matthew of Edessa and the Cilician Chronicle mention him only in passing, together with two other princelings who came to the assistance of the crusaders when they crossed the Taurus.

The early history of the rival family of the Roupenids is equally obscure. Samuel of Ani considers Roupen I a relative of the last Bagratid ruler, but he was, in all probability, a chieftain of minor importance who, some time after the death of king Gagik (1071), had settled in the region of Gobidara, where we find his son Constantine in the last years of the eleventh century. It was this Constantine who, by seizing, in 1091, the castle of Vahka on the Gok river, laid the foundations of Roupenid rule in Cilicia. We do not know the actual extent of his possessions. The historians speak in vague terms of his capture of many castles from the Turks; he probably had control over part of the mountainous region south­west of Vahka, perhaps as far as the Cilician Gates, for the Cilician Chronicle in referring to a letter sent by Constantine and Toros of Edessa to the crusaders seems to imply that the peaceful passage through Podandus was due to the influence of these two men.

Constantine, Oshin of Lampron, and Pazouni, as well as the monks living in the Black Mountains, in the Taurus, provisioned the crusaders during the siege of Antioch, and they all welcomed as liberators the Christian armies who had come to fight against the Moslems. These feelings are reflected in the colophons of contemporary Armenian manuscripts; the scribes hail the “valiant nation from the west” whose arrival shows that “God has visited his people according to his promise”, they speak again of “the valiant nation of the Franks who . . . through divine inspiration and the solicitude of the omnipotent God took Antioch and Jerusalem.” The crusaders, too, were happy to find a friendly popula­tion and at first rewarded the services rendered to them, but the cordial relations lasted only as long as the interests of both parties did not clash.

In order to obtain a clear idea of future development in the Armenian principality, one should consider the outstanding geographical features of Cilicia. The Armenian possessions, though limited, were of strategic importance. A son-in-law of Oshin who had succeeded Ablgharib at Tarsus was not able to hold it against the Turks, but the fortresses of Babaron and Lampron, erected on crags at the foot of Bulgar Dagh, could not be taken. Thus the Hetoumids commanded the southern exit of the Cilician Gates, the route which led directly to Tarsus. Vassals of Byzantium, to which they remained faithful, they do not seem to have had marked ambi­tion for territorial expansion. In the long struggle with the Roupenids, which came to an end only through the marriage of Hetoum I to the daughter and heiress of Leon II, the Roupenids were almost always the aggressors, and when the Hetoumids attacked it was usually within the framework of Byzantine invasions and not as an independent act. The aim of the Roupenids, on the other hand, was to become masters of Cilicia.

The Cilician plain is divided into two main parts: the lower or western plain stretches from the foothills of the Taurus to the sea, and is watered by the Cydnus, Sarus, and Pyramus; its principal cities in the medieval period were Adana and especially Tarsus; Seleucia was its chief port. The upper or eastern plain is separated from the western and the sea by the ridge called Jabal Nur. The city of Mamistra commands the passage of the Pyramus on its way from the upper to the lower plain; Anazarba and Sis are farther north on tributaries of the Pyramus. To the east the plain is limited by the range of the Amanus, and it is here that Cilicia was more vulnerable, for the passes which lead into Syria are broader and shorter than the famous Cilician Gates.

The policy followed, with varying fortunes, by the Roupenid princes was determined to a great extent by the configuration of the land. It was an absolute economic necessity to descend from the mountain strongholds into the arable lands of the plain; to have control of the large cities which were situated on the trade routes; to reach the coast and have an outlet on the sea. To protect them­selves from attacks from the northwest and west complete control of the Cilician Gates was essential, and this brought them into conflict with the Hetoumids; to safeguard their eastern borders control of the passes of the Amanus was essential, and this brought them into conflict with Antioch. But their principal adversary during the entire twelfth century was Byzantium, to which Cilicia belonged.

Toros I (1100-1129), the son and successor of Constantine, proceeded carefully. He refrained from taking part in the struggle between the Greeks and Latins over the possession of the principal cities of the plain, and captured only Anazarba. He strengthened that city and made it the seat of his barony; he erected a church dedicated to St. George and St. Theodore on the ruined remains of which part of his dedicatory inscription is still visible. He remained on good terms with the Byzantines in spite of the seizure of Anazarba and the plunder and destruction of Heraclea, where he killed the sons of Mandale to avenge the murder of king Gagik. His chief concern, however, was to maintain friendly relations with the Latin princes who had been enlarging their possessions at the expense of the Armenians.


In 1098 Baldwin of Boulogne became master of Edessa, following the murder of Toros by the populace. In 1104 Tatoul of Marash, after successfully resisting the attacks of Bohemond I and his kinsman Richard of the Principate, was forced to cede the city to Joscelin I of Courtenay. Between the years 1115 and 1118 Baldwin of Le Bourg seized the domains of Dgha Yasil and those of Ablgharib, lord of Bira; he imprisoned Constantine of Gargar in the fortress of Samosata, where he died; he captured Ravendan near Cyrrhus, and the territories ruled by Pakrad. Thus, with minor exceptions, all the Armenian possessions outside Cilicia passed into Latin hands, and it must have become evident to Toros I that if he wished to remain free and master of his lands, he would have to be careful not to antagonize his powerful and ambitious neighbors.

Therefore, realizing the weakness of his position, he pursued a cautious policy. His land had been plundered by the Moslems in 1107 and again in 1110/1111 when a larger army descended on Anazarba without meeting any resistance. Toros kept aloof also from the battles fought against the Turks in 1112/1113 within his own territories, but in 1118 he took part in the siege and capture of ‘Azaz by Roger of Antioch, sending a contingent of troops under the leadership of his brother Leon. Toros gave assistance also to Arab, one of the sons of Kily Arslan I, when Arab revolted against his brother Mas'ud. Masud was the son-in-law and ally of Gumushtigin Ghazi, the Danishmendid, which was probably the principal reason for the Danishmendid invasion of Cilicia early in the reign of Leon I (112 9-1137). While Gumushtigin Ghazi was invading from the north, Bohemond II of Antioch entered Cilicia from the east. The reasons for the break with Antioch are not known; the anonymous Syrian Chronicle reports that Armenian brigands had been plundering the lands of Gumushtigin Ghazi and that Bohemond had suffered similarly. The two invading armies, unaware of one another’s advance, met in the plain north of Mamistra, and Bohemond was killed in the encounter. While the Franks, deprived of their leader, hastily retreated, Leon occupied the passes and killed many of the fugitives. Gumushtigin Ghazi withdrew without pur­suing Leon, but returned the following year (1131), seized several forts, and imposed a tribute on the Armenians.

Leon did not long remain inactive. In 1132, taking advantage of the fact that both GiimUshtigin Ghazi and the Franks were occupied elsewhere, he seized Mamistra, Adana, and Tarsus, and he followed these conquests in 1135 with the capture of Sarvantikar, a fortress built near the point of convergence of the northern routes that crossed the Amanus. His growing power, and especially the foothold he had gained on the Syrian border, alarmed the Franks; the combined forces of Raymond of Poitiers, the new prince of Antioch, and Baldwin of Marash, with contingents sent by king Fulk of Jerusalem, entered Cilicia. Leon, assisted by his nephew Joscelin II of Edessa, was at first able to withstand their attack, but finally was surprised in an ambush and was taken to Antioch. His captivity lasted only two months. The menace of a Byzantine expedition, directed against Antioch as well as Cilicia, probably hastened his release and, according to Cinnamus, the Latins and Armenians even established some kind of alliance against the Greeks.

As soon as he was set free, Leon rushed to the western borders of Cilicia and laid siege to Seleucia in the vain hope of stopping the Greek advance, but was soon forced to raise the siege. In a rapid march across the plain John Comnenus recovered Tarsus, Adana, Mamistra, and finally Anazarba, Leon’s only point of stiff resistance. John also took Tall Hamdun and, without pausing to pursue Leon and his sons, who had fled to the mountains, marched on Antioch. The conquest of Cilicia was completed in the winter of 1137-1138; Vahka fell in spite of its strong position and the prowess of a nobleman called Constantine; the fort of Raban and the surrounding areas were also seized. Leon, his wife, and two of his sons, Roupen and Toros, were carried in chains to Constantinople, and Armenian rule in Cilicia seemed destroyed for ever.

Very little is known about internal conditions during the Byzantine occupation. The Greek garrisons do not seem to have been very strong, for even before John’s return to Constantinople, while he was besieging Shaizar, the Selchukid Masud had seized and held Adana for a short time, carrying some of its inhabitants as captives to Melitene; and in 1138—1139 the Danishmendid emir Muhammad took Vahka and Gaban and various localities in the region of Garmirler (Red Mountains). But, with the captivity of Leon I, the center of Armenian resistance was destroyed; the only strong princes who remained in Cilicia, the Hetoumids and their allies, were vassals of Byzantium and always faithful to their suzerain. John crossed Cilicia peacefully at the time of his second expedition to the east (1142). When, after his death and the departure of his son Manuel, Raymond of Antioch captured some of the castles along the Syrian border, the Armenians of that area took no part in the battle, nor did they when the Byzantine forces sent by Manuel defeated Raymond.

However, the situation was soon to change. Leon’s younger son, Toros, had been allowed to live at the imperial court after the deaths of his father and his brother Roupen. He was then able to make useful contacts and to escape, probably in 1145. Neither the circumstances of his escape nor those of his arrival in Cilicia are clearly known; legendary and romantic stories distorted the facts and several traditions were already current in the following century. Toros probably came by sea to the principality of Antioch and entered Cilicia secretly. A Jacobite priest, Mar Athanasius, is reported to have led him by night to Amoudain, a castle on the river Pyramus, southeast of Anazarba, and from there he proceeded to the mountainous region which had been the stronghold of his family but which was still held by the Turks. He lived there in disguise, and little by little rallied around him the Armenians of this eastern section of Cilicia. His brother Stephen (Sdefane), who had been living at the court of his cousin Joscelin II of Edessa, also joined him, and in the course of a few years Toros recovered Vahka, the castles in the vicinity of Anazarba such as Amoudain, Simanagla, and Arioudzpert, and finally Anazarba, the seat of the Roupenid barony. These conquests were probably completed by 1148, the date given by Michael the Syrian and Bar Hebraeus for the beginning of Toros H’s reign.

Toros and his small band had fought with great courage and energy, and the general situation in the Levant had favored him. His Latin neighbors had not fully recovered from the destruction of Edessa and the losses suffered during the siege of Antioch; above all, the growing power of Nur-ad-Din forced them to concentrate their efforts on the defense of their own principalities. Joscelin II of Edessa, the most powerful Latin prince of this area, was Toros’s friend, and the ties between the two cousins were further streng­thened when Toros married the daughter of Simon of Raban, one of Joscelin’s vassals.

Toros had also been free from Moslem attacks. The armies of ‘Ain-ad-Daulah, Kara Arslan, Masud, and Nur-ad-Din had seized the territories once held by Kogh Yasil, but they did not enter Cilicia. Toros was thus able to strengthen his position. About the year 1151 he took Tall Hamdun and Mamistra, imprisoning the governor, Thomas.

If the immediate neighbors of Cilicia were too busy to interfere with Toros’s progress, Byzantium could not allow him to keep the cities still claimed by the empire. In 1152 a Byzantine army under the command of Manuel’s cousin Andronicus Comnenus, supported by contingents from the Armenian chieftains of western Cilicia, besieged Mamistra, Toros sallied forth under cover of darkness, routed the Byzantine army, and took many prisoners. Andronicus fled to Antioch and from there returned to Constantinople. Among the prisoners were three of Byzantium’s principal Armenian allies: Oshin II of Lampron, Vasil of Partzapert, and Dikran of Bragana; Oshin’s brother, Sempad of Babaron, was killed in battle. Oshin was released after he had paid half of a ransom of 40,000 tahegans and left his young son Hetoum as hostage. A marriage was negotiated between Hetoum and one of the daughters of Toros, who agreed to forego the remainder of Oshin’s ransom, counting it as his daughter’s dowry.

Toros II was now master of a large section of the plain. No new expedition was sent to Cilicia; Manuel tried instead an indirect method of defeating Toros. At Manuel’s instigation Mas'ud of Iconium invaded Cilicia; he demanded that Toros recognize him as his suzerain and that Toros return to the Greeks the cities he had captured. Toros agreed to do the first, and since this was the only condition which directly interested Masud, he withdrew without further resort to arms. However, after Toros raided Cappadocia in the winter or early spring of 1154, Masud was quite ready to listen to Manuel’s renewed request, which was accompanied by costly gifts. The Moslem armies met with severe reverses. Toros’s brother Stephen, assisted by the Templars of Baghras (Gaston), surprised the general Yaqub in the Syrian Gates, killed him, and routed his men. A terrible plague of gnats and flies decimated the Selchukid forces before Tall Hamdun, and the remnants of the army were destroyed by Toros on his return from a raid into enemy territory that had reached as far as Gabadonia.

The Byzantine plans had failed once again. Toros established cordial relations with Masud’s successor Kilij Arslan II. When Stephen seized Coxon and Pertous, and supported the Christian population of Behesni, who had been aroused by the cruel treatment of their new governor, Toros recovered Pertous by a ruse and returned the city to Kilij Arslan. On his part Kilij Arslan, anxious to rally forces against Nur-ad-Din, made every effort to maintain peace with his Christian neighbors, and even sent ambassadors to Toros, as well as to Antioch and Jerusalem, with the idea of forming an alliance.

Seeing that he could no longer count on the Selchukids, Manuel turned to the Latins; he promised Reginald of Antioch to defray his campaign expenses if he would march against Toros, but once again, Byzantium did not obtain the desired results. For, having seized the castles of the Amanus taken by Toros from the Greeks, Reginald ceded them to the Templars, their previous owners, and when Manuel failed to send the promised sums, Reginald reversed his stand, allied himself with Toros, and the two princes raided Cyprus (1155). Toros remained on good terms with the Latins, and in 1157 took part in the allied attack on Shaizar and Harim.

Byzantium did not immediately react to the plunder of Cyprus; the expedition prepared in great secret a few years later (1158) took Toros and Reginald completely by surprise. Warned by a Latin pilgrim, Toros had barely time to flee to a small castle built on an almost inaccessible crag called Dajig. The Byzantine armies swept through the Cilician plain without meeting any resistance. Reginald, fearing the emperor’s revenge, proceeded to Mamistra dressed in a penitent’s garb, and humbled himself before Manuel, promising to remain his vassal and to cede the citadel of Antioch. Shortly thereafter Toros also arrived dressed as a penitent; the Templars and Baldwin III, who in the meantime had come from Jerusalem, interceded for him. Toros promised submission; he presented to the emperor abundant supplies and horses for the army, and received his pardon; Manuel is said even to have bestowed upon him the title sebastos.

Cilicia was once again under Byzantine domination. As in the days of Leon I, no sooner had Roupenid control extended into the plain than Byzantium had intervened. But the disaster this time was not complete. Toros II was free, his cavalry was still intact, and he retained his mountain strongholds, for Manuel realized that it was more important to have him in Cilicia, as a vassal who could take part in the fight against the Moslems, than in Constantinople as a captive. We thus see Armenian contingents in the Graeco­Latin expedition against Nur-ad-Dln in 1159, and, the following year, among the allied troops led by John Contostephanus against Kilij Arslan.

A break between the Greeks and Armenians, which might have had serious consequences, occurred in 1162. The governor of Tarsus, Andronicus Euphorbenus, invited Stephen to a feast, and when the latter’s body was found the next day outside the city gates, Andronicus was accused of the murder. Toros and Mleh immediately took up arms to avenge their brother; they massacred the garrisons of Mamistra, Anazarba, and Vahka. But in the face of the constant Moslem menace it was most important to maintain the alliance between the Christian forces. King Amalric of Jeru­salem assumed the role of mediator, as his predecessor had done; Andronicus was recalled and replaced by Constantine Coloman. Nor did Manuel raise any objections the following year when Toros helped the barons of Antioch to install Bohemond III, and to expel Constance, who had appealed for help to Coloman. Toros continued to fight side by side with the Greeks and the Latins. He joined the allied forces against Nur-ad-Din (1164) and he and his brother Mleh were among the few leaders who escaped the disaster of Harim.

We have little information about the internal affairs of Cilicia during this period. The Byzantine occupation had no doubt strengthened the position of their Armenian allies of western Cilicia, but after his return from Harim and perhaps after his successful raid on Marash, when he captured four hundred Turks, Toros felt sufficiently strong to attack Oshin of Lampron. The struggle between the two princes alarmed the catholicus, Gregory III, whose family was allied to the house of Lampron, and he sent his brother, Nerses the Gracious, to bring about a reconciliation. It was during this journey to western Cilicia that Nerses met Manuel’s kinsman Alexius Axouch at Mamistra; this encounter proved to be the starting point of the negotiations between the Greek and Armenian churches, which were to last several years without success.

The see of the catholicus had been transferred in 1151 to Hromgla (Qalat ar-Rum), a fortified position on the Euphrates north of Bira. Ever since 1125 the head of the Armenian church had been residing at Dzovk, but his position had become almost untenable after the conquests of Masud and particularly after the capture of Duluk. The catholicus Gregory, seeking refuge elsewhere, had gladly accepted the offer of Hromgla made to him by Beatrice, the wife of Joscelin II of Courtenay, at that time a prisoner of the Turks. Hromgla seems to have been given at first “in trust”, but later the catholicus purchased it from Joscelin III for 15,000 tahegans; the official deed of transfer was kept in the archives of Hromgla, so that — adds the Cilician Chronicle — no member of the Courtenay family should ever claim the castle.

Toros II had accomplished a remarkable piece of work. He had reestablished the Armenian barony of Cilicia, and, although the territories over which he had control were limited and he was a vassal of the Byzantine emperor, he had laid foundations on which his successors could build. His work was almost undone, however, in the years immediately following his death (1168), by the actions of his brother Mleh, whom, a few years earlier, Toros had expelled from Cilicia. Mleh had gone to the court of Nur-ad-Din and had been appointed governor of Cyrrhus. As soon as news of the death of Toros reached him, he invaded Cilicia with the help of Turkish contingents provided by Nur-ad-Din. A first attempt to seize power there proved unsuccessful, though he took numerous prisoners; he was preparing to return with larger forces when the Armenian nobles ceded the barony to him in order to avoid further bloodshed. The regent Thomas fled to Antioch, and Toros’s young son Roupen II was carried for safety to Hromgla, where, however, Mleh’s agents succeeded in killing him.


From the outset Mleh antagonized the notables and the population by his rapaciousness and his wanton cruelty. His ambition and his confidence in the support of his powerful friend Nur-ad-Din encouraged him to undertake at once the extension of his possessions. Using as a pretext the repudiation by Hetoum of his wife, who was Mleh’s niece, he beleaguered Lampron, but in spite of a long siege he was unable to capture this strong position; so he turned to the east and wrested from the Templars the castles of the Amanus. With the help of Turkish forces he seized Adana, Mamistra, and Tarsus (December 1172—January 1173), routed the hastily assembled army of Constantine Coloman, made him a prisoner, and sent him to Nur-ad-Din, together with other prominent captives and much booty. Mleh’s growing power disturbed the Latins, already aroused by such acts as the seizure and robbing of count Stephen of Sancerre in 1171, while he was proceeding from Antioch to Constantinople. Mleh’s hold over the castles of the Amanus constituted a direct threat to the principality of Antioch. Bohemond III and some of the neighboring barons marched, therefore, against Mleh in the spring of 1173, but apparently were not successful at first. When news of the conflict reached Jerusalem, Amalric decided to intervene in person, though he invaded Cilicia only after Mleh had eluded his repeated attempts to meet with him personally. Avoiding the difficult mountainous regions, Amalric advanced through the plain, destroying the villages and setting fire to the crops as he progressed. But Mleh was saved once again by Nur-ad-Din, who created a diversion by marching against Kerak. Amalric hastened back to Jerusalem; the other Latin forces probably withdrew at the same time, and Mleh remained master of Cilicia.

The death of Nur-ad-Din in May 1174 spelled the end of Mleh’s fortunes. When they no longer had reason to fear Nur-ad-Din’s intervention, the Armenian nobles rebelled, and killed Mleh in the city of Sis, which had become his residence. They chose as his successor Roupen III (1175—1187), the eldest son of Stephen, who, since his father’s death, had been living with his maternal uncle Pagouran, lord of Babaron.

True to the ideas which had guided most of his predecessors, Roupen reverted to the policy of collaboration with the Latins, and he strengthened these ties in 1181 by marrying Isabel, the daughter of Humphrey III of Toron. He had already taken part in the expedition against Harim, and the withdrawal of the Frankish troops before they had attained their goal must have been a bitter disappointment to the Armenians, for whom the Moslems were then the chief enemy. The Turkoman tribes of Anatolia had been crossing the northern borders for some time. Roupen tried to rid his land of these marauding groups; he killed a large number of them, and took many prisoners and considerable booty. Kilij Arslan II complained to Saladin, who, in the fall of 1180, entered Cilicia. He established his camp near Mamistra, made rapid raids in different directions, and withdrew only after Roupen had promised to release the Turkoman prisoners and to return the booty he had taken. Roupen made his peace with Kilij Arslan, and we find the two fighting side by side at the time of the revolt of Isaac Comnenus, who, late in 1182, after the seizure of the imperial throne by Andronicus, had returned to Cilicia. It was probably during this period that Roupen recovered Adana and Mamistra, which had once again been taken by the Byzantines. As for Tarsus, still in Greek hands in 1181, it had passed later to Bohemond, who sold it to Roupen in 1183.

The Byzantine forces in Cilicia were now depleted and the moment seemed opportune to Roupen to overthrow their Armenian allies, the rival house of Lampron, to whom Roupen was related through his mother. Hard pressed by Roupen’s siege and no longer able to count on Byzantine help, Hetoum of Lampron appealed to Bohemond III. Officially Roupen and the prince of Antioch were allies, but Bohemond resented the cordial welcome extended by Roupen to the Antiochene barons who had disapproved of his marriage to Sibyl and had fled to Cilicia. Moreover, any increase of Roupenid power was always viewed with suspicion by the princes of Antioch. Under cover of friendship Bohemond invited Roupen to a banquet and, after imprisoning him, invaded Cilicia. However, Bohemond was able neither to relieve Lampron, nor to capture a single town or castle, for Leon, to whom Roupen, his brother, had succeeded in sending a message, and other Armenian barons, valiantly continued to fight. Seeing that his efforts were fruitless, Bohemond, having kept Roupen prisoner for a year, decided to release him. Pagouran of Babaron, related both to the Hetoumids and to Roupen, acted as intermediary; he sent several hostages including his own sister Rita, Roupen’s mother. Roupen promised to pay a ransom of 1,000 tahegans and to cede the castles of Sarvantikar and Tall Hamdtin, as well as Mamistra and Adana. But soon after the ransom had been paid and the hostages had been returned, he reconquered all that he had ceded, and Bohemond was not in a position to retaliate beyond making a few ineffectual raids.

The barony was thus in a strong position when Roupen III transferred the power to his brother Leon II (1187) and retired to the monastery of Trazarg. The menace of the recent alliance between Isaac Angelus and Saladin, and the more immediate threat of the Turkomans, led to a rapprochement between Leon and Bohemond. Large bands of these nomads had again been crossing the northern borders, advancing almost as far as Sis and laying waste on all sides. Leon could muster only a small force, but he attacked them with such energy that he routed the bands, killed their leader Rustam, and pursued the fugitives as far as Sarvantikar, inflicting heavy losses on them. The following year (1188), taking advantage of the troubled condition in the sultanate of Rum that preceded the death of Killj Arslan II, Leon turned against the Selchukids. A surprise attack on Bragana was unsuccessful, and the constable Baldwin was killed, but Leon returned two months later with a larger army, killed the head of the garrison, seized the fortress, and marched into Isauria. Though we find no specific mention of it, Seleucia must have been captured about this time, for the city was in Armenian hands when Frederick Barbarossa came in 1190. Proceeding northward, Leon seized Heraclea, gave it up after payment to him of a large sum, and advanced as far as Caesarea. It is probably about this time that Shahnshah, brother of Hetoum of Lampron, took, on behalf of Leon, the fortress of Loulon, covering the northern approach to the Cilician Gates, and fortified it.

On the eve of the Third Crusade the Armenian barony of Cilicia could be considered one of the vital Christian states of the Levant, and its strong position was particularly noticeable at a time when the Latin principalities, reduced almost exclusively to the three large cities of Antioch, Tyre, and Tripoli, were hard pressed by Saladin. The letters sent in 1189 by pope Clement III to Leon II and to the catholicus Gregory IV Dgha are a clear indication of this, for, while previously the Armenians had been asking for help, now it was the pope who urged them to give military and financial assistance to the crusaders.

When Frederick Barbarossa approached the Armenian territories, Leon sent an embassy composed of several barons, with presents, ample supplies, and armed troops. A second embassy, headed by the bishop Nerses of Lampron, arrived too late and returned to Tarsus with the emperor’s son Frederick, the bishops, and the German army. Barbarossa’s death made a profound impression on the Armenians; we find it recorded in the colophons of many manuscripts written during these years in Cilicia. It was a particularly cruel blow for Leon, in whom Barbarossa’s presence and influence had bred high hopes of obtaining the royal crown which he so greatly desired. Nerses of Lampron claims that Frederick had promised this “in a writing sealed with a gold seal,” but when Leon asked for the fulfillment of the promise, the German leaders demurred, stating that, since the emperor was dead, they could not act.

Leon participated in the wars of the crusaders; his troops were present at the siege of Acre, and he joined Richard the Lionhearted in the conquest of Cyprus. He was intent, at the same time, upon insuring the security of his own realm, and some of his actions undertaken for this purpose ran counter to the interests or aspira­tions of his neighbors. In 1191 he captured the fortress of Baghras, taken from the Templars by Saladin and dismantled after the arrival of the Third Crusade, and he refused to cede it to the Templars. This brought to a head the growing antagonism between Leon and Bohemond III, and the possession of Baghras was to be one of the principal points of contention in the long struggle between Cilicia and Antioch. For the moment Leon was the stronger of the two. Annoyed by the fact that Bohemond had signed a separate peace with Saladin and had complained to him of the seizure of Baghras, annoyed also by Bohemond’s continued delays in repaying the sums lent to him in 1188, Leon hatched a plot to seize Bohemond and to free himself of the suzerainty of Antioch. Soon after the death of Saladin he invited Bohemond to Baghras and seized him, just as several years earlier Bohemond himself had made prisoner Leon’s brother Roupen III. His attempt to annex Antioch was unsuccessful; though many of the nobles were favorable to Leon, the citizens set up a commune which took an oath of allegiance to Raymond, Bohemond’s eldest son, and messengers were sent to the other son, Bohemond of Tripoli, and to Henry of Champagne, ruler of Jerusalem. Leon took his prisoners to Sis, where Henry came to negotiate Bohemond’s release in the spring of 1194. Bohemond renounced his rights as a suzerain, and in return for this was allowed to go back to Antioch without paying a ransom; Leon retained Baghras and the surrounding territory. To seal the new friendship, a marriage was arranged between Leon’s niece Alice, the heiress-presumptive, and Bohemond’s eldest son and heir, Raymond.

Although Leon had not attained his ultimate purpose, that is, mastery or at least suzerainty over Antioch, his position was stronger than it had been before, and he pressed with renewed energy his claims for a royal crown, seeking the assistance of the two most powerful rulers of the time, the pope and the German emperor. The embassies sent to Celestine III and to Henry VI met with success; in 1197 the imperial chancellor, Conrad of Hildesheim, left for the east, taking with him two crowns—one for Aimery of Cyprus, another for Leon. Aimery was crowned in September, but Leon’s coronation was slightly delayed, partly through political circumstances — Conrad had gone directly from Cyprus to Acre—partly for religious reasons. The emperor demanded merely to be recognized as Leon’s suzerain, but the pope required submission of the Armenian church to Rome, and this created considerable difficulty; there was marked opposition not only from the clergy of Greater Armenia, but from the majority of the clergy and the people of Cilicia. John, archbishop of Sis, was sent to Acre, and shortly thereafter a delegation headed by Conrad, archbishop of Mainz, arrived at Sis.

The bishops called together by Leon at first refused the papal demands, and are said to have agreed to them only after Leon told them that he would submit merely in word and not in deed. But the conditions listed by the historian Kirakos deal with disciplinary regulations rather than with matters of dogma. One may wonder whether the first demands, against which the Armenian bishops rebelled, did not directly concern their creed, and whether these demands were not later abandoned, leaving only the clauses to which the bishops, carefully selected by Leon among those more favorable to Rome, could truthfully subscribe. This hypothesis gains strength from the fact that in the subsequent correspondence exchanged between pope Innocent III and his successors on the one hand, and the Armenians on the other, there is no direct reference to any of the points of dogma which separated the two churches, and which had proved such serious stumbling blocks in all the attempts at union between the Greeks and Armenians. Both king and catholicus are lavish in their expressions of respect and submission to the papacy, but this submission must have been considered by them as the homage due to a suzerain lord, and the respect due to the suc­cessor of the apostle Peter. Some minor new usages were introduced into the liturgical practices, but there were no basic changes. In a letter written to the pope in 1201 the catholicus Gregory VI tact­fully and discreetly explains that the Armenian faith remains what it had always been "without any additions or deletions”. The union with the church of Rome is not a conversion, but a union within the universal church to which they all belong, since the regeneration through baptism has caused all men to become the sheep of the same fold, namely the church of the living God.

Leon II was crowned with great solemnity in the cathedral church of Tarsus, on January 6, 1198, in the presence of the Syrian Jacobite patriarch, the Greek metropolitan of Tarsus, and numerous church dignitaries and military leaders. The catholicus Gregory VI Abirad anointed him and the royal insignia were presented by Conrad of Mainz. There was great rejoicing among the Armenians, who saw their ancient kingdom restored and renewed in the person of Leon.

The Armenian historians and the scribes of contemporary manuscripts also refer to a crown sent by the Byzantine emperor, Alexius III Angelus. But there does not seem to have been a separate coronation ceremony, for the crowns sent by Byzantium, for instance, to the kings of Hungary or to petty rulers, had a symbolic and honorific character, and were not intended to show the promotion of a prince to the dignity of a king. The evidence concerning the date is contradictory, some placing it as early as 1196, some as late as 1198.24 In 1197 Leon sent an embassy to Constantinople composed of Nerses of Lampron and other dig­nitaries, and it has been said that the purpose of this embassy was to thank the emperor for the crown that Leon had received. But neither Nerses nor the other contemporaries who speak of this embassy refer to a crown; all of the discussions centered on religious questions, and the sending of the embassy was the last of several fruitless efforts to achieve a union between the two churches. Whatever the actual facts concerning the Byzantine crown may have been, it is evident that Leon was much more anxious to be crowned by the western emperor, for this put him on an equal footing with the Latin princes of the Levant.

The succession to Antioch was the main problem of Leon’s reign. Raymond had died early in 1197, and in accordance with the feudal laws his son Raymond Roupen, Leon’s great-nephew, became Bohemond’s heir. The barons had sworn allegiance to Raymond Roupen, but his succession to Antioch was opposed by Bohemond’s second son, Bohemond of Tripoli; by the Templars, who could not forgive Leon for keeping Baghras; and by the commune, which was hostile to any Armenian interference. The war of succession, which began after the death of Bohemond III in 1201 and was to continue for almost a quarter of a century, concerned Antioch even more than it did Cilicia and has been discussed elsewhere in this volume. Suffice it to say here that, in spite of momentary successes, Leon’s plans were defeated in the end; Raymond Roupen, crowned prince of Antioch in 1216, was ousted three years later by his uncle, Bohemond of Tripoli, and all hope of Armenian supremacy over Antioch was lost.

Syrian affairs also involved Leon in warfare with az-Zahir of Aleppo and the Selchukid Rukn-ad-Din Sulaiman II, whom Bohemond of Tripoli had summoned to his aid. In 1201 he repulsed a Selchukid invasion of Armenia, but he was less successful two years later when he had to confront the Aleppine forces on the banks of the Orontes. Hostilities broke out again late in 1205. Leon made a surprise attack on Darbsak, and although he could not take the fort, he laid waste the surrounding territory and inflicted heavy losses. Az-Zahir sent fresh contingents and assumed their command in person in the spring of 1206. Victorious at first, Leon had to retreat before the superior forces when the Antiochene armies joined the Moslems. An eight-year truce was signed, but in 1208—1209 az-Zahir and the Selchukid Kai-Khusrau I, whom Leon had befriended earlier and received at his court, made a sudden attack and seized the fort of Pertous.

However, these were minor reverses and Cilician power was at its apogee during the reign of Leon II. His kingdom extended from Isauria to the Amanus. He had become master of Lampron by seizing and imprisoning Hetoum, whom later he freed and sent as his ambassador to the pope and to the emperor. A skilled diplomat and wise politician, Leon established useful alliances with many of the contemporary rulers. Through his second marriage he became the son-in-law of Aimery of Lusignan, king of Cyprus and Jerusalem; his daughter by his first marriage, Rita (“Stephanie”), was wedded to John of Brienne, king of Jerusalem; his niece Philippa married Theodore I Lascaris, emperor of Nicaea. In spite of the difficulties caused by the wars of the succession to Antioch and by the religious problems, Leon maintained, on the whole, his good relations with the papacy. He gained the friendship and support of the Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights by granting considerable territories to them. To the Hospitallers, already established in Cilicia in 1149, he gave Seleucia, Norpert (Castellum Novum), and Camardias, thus constituting a march on the western borders of Cilicia and thereby protecting the country from the Selchilkids. He also ceded castles in the Giguer and along the Antiochene frontier. The Teutonic Knights received Amoudain and neighboring castles. The master of the order may even have resided in Cilicia for a while; Wilbrand of Oldenburg, who describes in great detail the ceremonies of the feast of the Epiphany held at Sis in 1211, saw him riding next to the king.

Commerce was greatly developed during the reign of Leon II, who granted special privileges to the Genoese and Venetian merchants. The important land routes that crossed Cilicia brought there many products from Central Asia, and these, in addition to local products, were exported or exchanged for the wares of the European traders. Corycus and especially Ayas (Lajazzo) had good harbors; moreover, many of the inland cities were connected with the sea through navigable rivers.

The transformation of the Armenian court, following the pattern of the Frankish courts, proceeded at a more rapid pace after Leon came to power. Many of the old names of specific functions or the titles of dignitaries were replaced by Latin ones and the changes in nomenclature were often accompanied by changes in the character of these offices. The ancient feudal system of Armenia was also gradually modified in imitation of western feudalism; the barons lost some of the independence which the nakharars had enjoyed and were bound by closer ties to the king. Finally, in matters of law, the authority of the Latin Assizes constantly increased until the Armenians fully adopted the Assizes of Antioch, translated by the constable Sempad during the reign of Leon’s successor.

Leon died in 1219. He had named his young daughter Isabel as his rightful heiress and had released the barons from their oath of allegiance to Raymond Roupen. But the latter had several strong supporters and he tried to seize the power with their assistance. He was de­feated, however, after a few initial successes, and died in captivity. To avoid further complications, the regent, Constantine of Lampron, decided to find a husband for the young princess; his choice fell on Philip, the fourth son of Bohemond IV of Antioch. The joint rule of Isabel and Philip lasted only a short while; Philip’s disdain for the Armenian ritual, which he had promised to respect, and his marked favoritism to the Latin barons angered the Armenian nobility; he was deposed, imprisoned, and died in captivity through poisoning.


Despite her determined resistance Isabel was next married to the regent’s own son Hetoum, and the long antagonism between the two powerful feudal families of the Roupenids and the Hetoumids of Lampron was thus brought to an end (1226). The early years of Hetoum I’s reign were relatively peaceful. Relations with Antioch, though strained, did not lead to hostile acts, for Bohe-mond IV was beset by too many difficulties to resort to arms.[ There was greater unrest along the Selchukid border. In 1233 Kai-Qobad I invaded Cilicia and imposed a tribute upon the Armenians. Selchukid troops entered the country again (1245­1246), after Hetoum had acceded to the Mongol general Baiju’s demand and delivered to him the wife and daughter of Kai-Khusrau II, who had sought refuge at the Armenian court at the time of the Mongol attack on Iconium. Though helped by the Armenian baron, Constantine (II) of Lampron, the regent’s namesake, in revolt against king Hetoum, Kai-Khusrau could only seize a few forts which the Mongols, some years later, forced him to return.

The Mongols were the most serious menace, and it was Hetoum’s realization of this that had forced him to betray the laws of hospitality and to send a deferential message to their general Baiju. The Mongol hordes had swept through Armenia and Georgia, far into Anatolia, and Hetoum early recognized that only an alliance with them could save his kingdom. Consequently he sent his brother, the constable Sempad, on an official embassy to Kara­korum. Sempad left Cilicia in 1247 and returned in 1250 with a diploma guaranteeing the integrity of the Cilician kingdom, and the promise of Mongol aid to recapture the forts seized by the Selchukids.

In 1253 Hetoum himself set out to visit the new Great Khan Mongke at Karakorum. He was the first ruler to come to the Mongol court of his own accord, and was received with great honors. The assurances given by Mongke’s predecessor Goyuk were renewed and expanded; Mongke further promised to free from taxation the Armenian churches and monasteries in Mongol territory.40 Hetoum's dominating idea was not merely to preserve his own kingdom and to obtain protection for the Christians under Mongol rule, but to enlist the Khan’s help in freeing the Holy Land from the Moslem,

Hetoum returned in 1256 encouraged by these promises and laden with gifts. On his way out he had passed through Greater Armenia; on his return voyage he remained much longer there, receiving visits from many of the local princes as well as from the bishops and abbots. Leon II had considered himself king of all the Armenians, and had stamped this title on some of his coins, but this was the first time that a ruler of Cilicia had come into direct contact with the population of the mother country.

Hetoum tried to win the Latin princes over to the idea of a Christian-Mongol alliance, but could convince only Bohemond VI of Antioch. For his part, he remained faithful to the clauses of the understanding with the Mongols. He visited several times the court of the Il-khans and gave his military assistance whenever it was needed. Armenian troops fought side by side with the Mongols in Anatolia and in Syria, and the successes of the Mongols enabled Hetoum to recover, in addition to the Cilician forts taken by the Selchukids, some of the territories which had once belonged to Kogh Vasil.

Thus the Armenians at first benefitted from their alliance with the Mongols. Hetoum was also successful in his encounters with Kilij Arslan IV, whom he defeated in 1259, and with the Turkomans established on the western borders of Cilicia. He routed their bands, mortally wounded their leader Karaman, and freed the region of Seleucia from their attacks (1263). But the Armenians were soon to experience the counter-effects of their alliance, especially when, after the defeat of Kitbogha at ‘Ain Jalut and the loss of Damascus and Aleppo, Mongol power weakened in Syria; they were to be among the principal victims of the formidable enemy of both Mongols and Christians, the Egyptian sultan Baybars.

Hetoum tried to negotiate with Baybars, and embassies were exchanged, but the sultan made excessive demands and Hetoum, seeing that war was imminent, went to Tabriz to seek Mongol help. However, Baybars precipitated his action; the Mamluk armies and their ally Al-Mansur II of Hamah invaded Cilicia, passing through the Amanus Gates instead of trying to force a passage through the Syrian Gates (1266). The Armenians, commanded by the constable Sempad and the two young princes, Toros and Leon, resisted valiantly, but they were hopelessly outnumbered. Toros was slain, Leon and Sempad’s son Vasil, surnamed the Tatar, were taken prisoner, and the enemy armies devastated the entire country for twenty days without meeting further resistance. They sacked Mamistra, Adana, Ayas, Tarsus, and smaller localities; at Sis they set fire to the cathedral and forced the treasury, taking all the gold that had been assembled there. They slaughtered thousands of the inhabitants and carried many more as captives to Egypt. When Hetoum returned he found his country in ruins, and distraught by this fatal blow and by his personal sorrow, he waited only for the return of Leon from captivity to abdicate and seek solace in a monastery.

Baybars imposed very heavy conditions; the Armenians were forced to cede all the forts of the Amanus and their conquests along the Syrian border, with the exception of Behesni. Leon was set free only when Hetoum had been able to obtain from Abagha, after repeated requests, the release of Baybars’ favorite, Shams-ad- Din Sungur al-Ashkar, captured by the Mongols at Aleppo.

Cilicia was now surrounded by the Moslems; Antioch had fallen, the Templars had abandoned Baghras and the neighboring forts, the road thus lay open before Baybars. The Mongols were the only allies who could give effective assistance against the Egyptians, even though their position was much less strong than it had been at the time of Hulagu. When Leon was freed, Hetoum, therefore, took him to Abagha in order to have him recognized as his heir, and after Hetoum’s abdication (1269) Leon returned to the court of the Il-khans to have his title confirmed. Leon III believed, as his father had, in a Mongol-Christian alliance which would save the Holy Land; he made repeated pleas to the western powers; Abagha also sent envoys to the popes and to Edward I of England, without any success. It is not certain that common action was possible or would have been successful, but in the absence of any concerted opposition the Mamluks were free to continue their conquests, to seize, as they did a few years later, all the Latin possessions in Syria and Palestine, and in the latter part of the fourteenth century to destroy the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia.

The wars waged by Baybars elsewhere gave Leon III a few years’ respite at the beginning of his reign, and he tried to heal the ravages caused by the Mamluk invasion. New privileges were granted to the Venetian merchants in 1271; Ayas was rebuilt and became again an active commercial center, Marco Polo, who visited it in 1271, speaks of it as “a city good and great and of great trade”, adding that “all the spicery and the cloths of silk and of gold and of wool from inland are carried to this town”. As the Egyptians captured the Syrian and Palestinian sea ports the im­portance of Ayas grew; it was one of the chief outlets to the Mediter­ranean for the goods brought from Central Asia, but its importance and wealth made it at the same time one of the principal targets of the Egyptians.


Mamluk attacks began again in 1275; in a rapid but devastating raid they advanced as far as Corycus. At the same time the Turkomans entered Cilicia from the west and, though repulsed, continued to raid the border lands year after year. Internal dissension and revolts of some of the barons created further difficulties for Leon during these years when there was almost no direct Mongol assistance. The invasion of Syria in 1281 was the most serious undertaking by the Il-khans in these parts since the death of Hulagu; the Armenians fought at the side of the Mongols, but the Egyptian sultan Kalavun, having won the neutrality of the Franks, was able to defeat the Mongol and Armenian forces.

Lawless bands of Mongols, Egyptians, Turkomans, and Kurds pillaged Cilicia; they set fire to Ayas and looted the warehouses abandoned by the population, who had fled to a new fortress built out in the sea. The emissaries sent to Egypt by Leon to ask for peace were detained as prisoners until the master of the Templars intervened. Another factor may have been instrumental in modify­ing the Egyptian attitude: the new Mongol Il-khan, Arghun, was favorable to the Christians; Leon had gone to his court to pay his respects, and Kalavun may have feared Mongol intervention. A ten-year truce was signed on June 6, 1285; the conditions were ex­tremely onerous — an annual tribute of one million dirhems—moreover, numerous privileges were granted to the Egyptians. The peace won at such high cost was to be broken before the ten years had elapsed.

After the fall of Acre and Tripoli, when Egyptian armies had reached Homs, Hetoum II, who had succeeded his father Leon III in 1289, tried to appease them by offering a large sum of money; the sultan al-Ashraf accepted this, merely postponing his invasion until he had completed the conquest of the Frankish territories. In the spring of 1292, he marched on the patriarchal see of Hromgla. The citadel resisted for thirty-three days and was finally taken by assault on May 11. Terrible slaughter followed; many of the monks were killed, others were carried into captivity together with the catholicus Stephen IV himself. The Egyptians looted the churches and the residence of the catholicus; they destroyed or stole the precious relics and church treasures. The capture of Hromgla was celebrated as a great victory; the sultan wrote to the qadi Ibn-al-KhuwaiyI to announce the event; he was received with special honors at Damascus, and for seven days the trumpets con­tinued to sound in the cathedral and candles burned all through the night.

The Egyptians did not immediately enter Cilicia, but in May 1293 the army stationed at Damascus received orders to march on Sis. Ambassadors were sent in great haste by the Armenians; they were forced to cede the remaining fortresses on the eastern front — Behesni, Marash, and Tall Hamdun, and to double the tribute they had been paying theretofore.

The murder of the sultan al-Ashraf late in 1293, the troubled reign of the usurper Kitbogha, and the famine and plague which spread in Egypt and Syria gave a breathing-spell to the Armenians. Hetoum, who had abdicated in favor of his brother Toros III in 1292, was urged to return two years later. He strengthened the ties with Cyprus — the only other Christian kingdom surviving in the Levant — by giving his sister Isabel in marriage to Amalric, the brother of king Henry II. He also tried to revive the Mongol alliance and set out to visit the Il-khan Baidu. While he was waiting at Maragha, where he was able to save from destruction the Syrian church erected by Rabban Sauma and to protect the Nestorian patriarch Mar Yabhalaha III, Ghazan wrested the power from Baidu. Hetoum went to pay him homage. From Ghazan he received the assurance that the Christian churches would not be destroyed, and it is probable that he also received the promise of military assistance. On his return to Sis in 1295 he arranged a marriage between his sister Rita and Michael IX, the son and associate of Andronicus II Palaeologus; in order to establish an alliance with the Byzantine empire, he went in person to Constantinople, ac­companied by his brother Toros. But during his absence another brother, Sempad, who had won the support of the catholicus Gregory VII and of pope Boniface VIII, seized power (1296).

Cilicia was torn by this internal strife. Hetoum, returning from his fruitless journey to obtain the support of the Mongols, was intercepted near Caesarea by Sempad, and imprisoned together with his brother Toros; Toros was strangled and Hetoum partially blinded. Sempad was overthrown by his younger brother Con­stantine, who freed Hetoum but retained the power (1298). A year later Hetoum, having recovered his sight, resumed the kingship for the third time and exiled his brothers Sempad and Con­stantine to Constantinople, where they died.

These fratricidal wars and the discords which reigned also among the Mongols encouraged the Egyptians to invade Cilicia once again. In 1298 their armies sacked Adana and Mamistra and took eleven fortresses. Among these were Marash and Tall Hamdun, which the Armenians had ceded some years earlier, but which they had apparently recovered in the meantime.

Hetoum still counted on the Mongols to defeat the Egyptians, and it seemed, for a short time, that his hopes were to be fulfilled. The Syrian expedition led by the Il-khan Ghazan, whom Hetoum joined at the head of 5,000 men, routed the Mamluk army near Homs in December 1299. But Ghazan departed shortly after and the Egyptians recovered Syria. A second campaign in 1301 was seriously hampered by bad weather, and the third expedition, in 1303, ended in disaster. The Mongol forces were decimated, many of the soldiers were drowned in the flooded waters of the Euphrates; Hetoum retreated with the remnants of the Mongol army and went to the court of Ghazan before returning to Cilicia.

The road to Cilicia again lay open before the Moslems. Already in 1302 the emir of Aleppo had made a rapid raid, burning the harvest and gathering vast booty. In July 1304 the Egyptians took Tall Hamdun, which Hetoum had recovered after the Mongol victory of 1299. They returned to Cilicia the following year and, although the Armenians, helped by a company of Mongols who had come to collect the annual tribute, inflicted heavy losses on them, they were defeated after the arrival of fresh Egyptian troops. Marino Sanudo summarizes in graphic terms the unhappy state of the country. "The king of Armenia,” he writes, “is under the fangs of four ferocious beasts—the lion, or the Tartars, to whom he pays a heavy tribute; the leopard, or the Sultan, who daily ravages his frontiers; the wolf, or the Turks, who destroy his power; and the serpent, or the pirates of our seas, who worry the very bones of the Christians of Armenia.” The difficulties increased when the Mongols were converted to Islam, for then the Armenians not only lost all hope of assistance but were subjected to religious persecution.

In 1305 Hetoum abdicated in favor of his nephew Leon IV and once again retired to a monastery, but Leon’s reign, already troubled by internal strife, in particular the opposition which the pro-papal policy of Hetoum and the catholicus had stirred up, came to an abrupt end on November 17, 1307. The Mongol emir Bilarghu treacherously killed Hetoum, king Leon, and about forty of the dignitaries and nobles who accompanied them.

The Armenian barony, later the kingdom of Cilicia, fighting against tremendous odds, had not only maintained its existence for over two centuries, but had attained an important position during the reign of Leon II and part of that of Hetoum I. It had valorously played its part in the crusades, continuing the struggle, together with the kingdom of Cyprus, after the destruction of the other Christian realms of the Levant.


The history of constant warfare, invasions, destructions, and plunder, briefly sketched above, may tend to obscure the very real cultural achievements of the period, which can only be recalled here in a few words. Along with original histories, literary works, and theological writings, we find numerous translations from Greek, Syriac, and even Arabic, but the most significant are the translations from Latin which appear for the first time in Armenian literature. Various members of the house of Lampron figure prominently among the authors of this period, both as original writers and as translators, and it is worthy of note that some of them, like the constable Sempad, were laymen.

The Armenian rulers founded and endowed numerous monas­teries. It can be seen from the ruined remains, as well as from literary evidence, that these monasteries and churches, and even the military constructions, did not compare favorably with the splendid monuments erected in the past in Armenia proper, but some of the foundations of this period are interesting from a dif­ferent point of view, for instance, the hospital founded by queen Isabel, where she herself often tended the sick and the poor. If architecture did not develop greatly in the Cilician kingdom, the minor arts on the other hand attained a degree of excellence. The illuminated manuscripts of this period, which rival in quality the best products of medieval art, are also outstanding witnesses of the remarkable resilience of the people, for many of the finest examples were produced in the most adverse circumstances, and at times when the very existence of the country was threatened.