Matthew of Edessa (Armenian: Մատթեոս Ուռհայեցի, Matteos Uṛhayetsi; born in the second half of the 11th century – 1144) was an Armenian historian in the 12th century from the city of Edessa (Armenian: Ուռհա, Uṛha). Matthew was the superior abbot of Karmir Vank' (Red Convent), near the town of Kessoun, east of Marash (Germanicia), the former seat of Baldwin of Boulogne. He relates much about the Bagratuni Kingdom of Armenia, the early Crusades, and the battles between Byzantines and Arabs for the possession of parts of northern Syria and eastern Asia Minor. Byzantine authors such as Joannes Zonaras and Anna Comnena were well versed in their particular spheres, but uninformed regarding Edessa and neighboring lands which are treated by Matthew.
Matthew of Edessa
|Born||Second half of 11th century|
A man of strong convictions, Matthew was born in Edessa sometime in the second half of the 11th century and was a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He was a determined opponent of the Greek church and as well as the Latin church. Matthew was especially bitter against Frankish settlers, whose avaricious and imperious rule and ingratitude he condemns in his work. He was probably slain during the siege of Edessa by Zengi, atabeg of Mosul in 1144.
Matthew's work, Zhamanakagrutyun (Armenian: Ժամանակագրություն), or Chronicle, which he probably began writing in 1113 and completed before 1140, is written in a dialect of Western Armenian and is rather chronological, covering two centuries from the second half of the tenth through the second half of the twelfth. In an article published in 1971 by Armenian academician Levon Khachikyan, the author established that one of the sources Matthew used to write his work was that of an 11th-century vardapet named Hakob Sanahnetsi (Hakob of Sanahin).
He remains the only primary source of certain information about the political and ecclesiastical events of his time and area. The literary and historical knowledge of Matthew was limited, and some of his chronological data is disputed by modern scholars. Matthew was also a fervent Armenian patriot, lamenting the martyrdom of his people and exalting their heroic deeds. To him, scholars and readers are indebted for the record of two documents of importance — a letter from the Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimisces, to King Ashot III Bagratuni and a discourse delivered in the cathedral of Hagia Sophia, Constantinople, in the presence of the Emperor Constantine X Ducas by Gagik II, the exiled Bagratuni king, concerning the doctrinal divergence between the Greek and Armenian churches.
Barda (Azerbaijani: Bərdə) is the capital city of the Barda Rayon in Azerbaijan, located south of Yevlax and on the left bank of the Tartar river. It was the capital of Caucasian Albania perhaps since the end of the fourth century, Barda became the chief city of the Islamic province of Arran, the classical Caucasian Albania, remaining so until the tenth century.Battle of Didgori
The Battle of Didgori was fought between the armies of the Kingdom of Georgia and the Great Seljuq Empire at the narrow place of Didgori, 40 km west of Tbilisi, on August 12, 1121. The large Muslim army, under the command of Ilghazi ibn Artuq was unable to maneuver, and suffered a devastating defeat due to King David IV of Georgia’s effective military tactics.
The battle at Didgori was the culmination of the entire Georgian-Seljuk wars, and led to the Georgians’ reconquest of Tbilisi in 1122. Soon after that David moved the capital from Kutaisi to Tbilisi. The victory at Didgori inaugurated the medieval Georgian Golden Age and is celebrated in The Georgian Chronicles as a (Georgian: ძლევაჲ საკვირველი dzlevay sak'virveli lit. the "miraculous victory"). Modern Georgians continue to remember the event as an annual September festival known as Didgoroba ("[the day] of Didgori").Battle of Harran
The Battle of Harran took place on May 7, 1104 between the Crusader states of the Principality of Antioch and the County of Edessa, and the Seljuk Turks. It was the first major battle against the newfound Crusader states in the aftermath of the First Crusade, marking a key turning point against Frankish expansion. The battle had a disastrous effect on the Principality of Antioch as the Turks regained territory earlier lost.Davtak Kertogh
Davtak Kertogh (Davtak the Poet) was a 7th-century Armenian poet, the first secular writer in Armenian literature. He is the author of "Elegy on the Death of the Great Prince Jevansher", dedicated to the first Sassanid Persian prince of Caucasian Albania, who accepted Christianity and was murdered.
The only surviving poem by Kertogh is written in alphabetical acrostic verse.Gregory of Akner
Gregory of Akner or Grigor Aknertsi, Grigor Akants, Akanc was a 13th-century Armenian historian and author, known for his valuable work named History of the Nation of the Archers. Aknertsi moved from Eastern Armenia to Cilicia in the years of 1265 or 1266, where he joined the Akner monastery.Hervé Frankopoulos
Hervé (Greek: Ἑρβέβιος, Ervevios; Italian: Erveo), called Frankopoulos or Phrangopoulos (Greek: Φραγγόπουλος, "Son of the Frank"), was a Norman mercenary general in Byzantine service during the 1050s.
According to Amatus of Montecassino, Hervé and other Norman mercenaries fought for the Byzantine Empire under George Maniakes against the Muslims in Sicily in 1038-1040. Between 1040 and 1043, he took part in the campaign against the Greeks of Apulia and received the city of Avellino (1042/3). At about 1050, he appears as the leader of the Norman mercenaries under Nikephoros Bryennios the Elder and one of the Greek's two chief lieutenants. In the same year, he and Katakalon Kekaumenos were defeated by the Pechenegs near the Danube.In 1056, he demanded the high court title of magistros from Emperor Michael VI Stratiotikos (r. 1056–1057). Refused, he withdrew to his estate in the Armeniac theme. From there, he gathered a following of 300 Normans, and in the spring of 1057 he marched into eastern Asia Minor, around Lake Van. There, he possibly aimed to set up a state for himself and entered into wars with the Armenians and the Seljuk Turks. After initial success, he was captured by a ruse by the emir of Ahlat, Abu Nasr.Hervé was shipped back to Constantinople in chains, but there he was apparently reconciled to the Byzantine emperor: a surviving seal records his having received the title of magistros, and the positions of vestiarites and stratelates of the East in the army of Emperor Isaac I Komnenos (r. 1057–1059). In circa 1063, however, Matthew of Edessa records that the Turks of Amida bribed a certain "Frankabol", to avoid battle. Whether this was indeed Hervé is uncertain, but he was executed by Emperor Constantine X Doukas (r. 1059–1067) shortly after. He was possibly the founder of the late Byzantine Phrangopoulos family.Hovnatanian
The Hovnatanian family (Armenian: Հովնաթանյաններ, Hovnat'anyanner) was a prominent Armenian family of painters. They include five generations from 17th to 19th centuries. Hovnatanians are originally from the village of Shorot, Yernjak district in Nakhichevan (now Şurud village in Julfa Rayon, Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan).
They were based on Nakhichevan, Yerevan, Tbilisi, Ejmiatsin, Saint Petersburg and Persia. Most of their works are dedicated to Christianity like other works of their era.
The surname derives from Hovnatan, the Armenian equivalent of Jonathan.Hrach Bartikyan
Hrach Mikayeli Bartikyan (Armenian: Հրաչ Միքայելի Բարթիկյան; Russian: Грaч Миха́йлович Бартикян, also transliterated as Hratch Bart'ikyan; July 7, 1927–August 17, 2011) was an Armenian academician and specialist on Byzantine and Armenian studies. The author of over 200 books, articles and monographs, he was a full member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences and headed its Medieval Studies department. He was also a member of several academic institutions, including the Greek Academy of Sciences, the Tiberian Academy of Rome Byzantium Research Fellowship of Greece and is an honorary member of the Greek Civilization Establishment.Ilghazi
Najm ad-Din Ilghazi ibn Artuq (died November 8, 1122) was the Turkmen Artukid ruler of Mardin from 1107 to 1122.John I Tzimiskes
John I Tzimiskes (Greek: Ἰωάννης Α΄ Τζιμισκής, Iōánnēs I Tzimiskēs; c. 925 – 10 January 976) was the senior Byzantine Emperor from 11 December 969 to 10 January 976. An intuitive and successful general, he strengthened the Empire and expanded its borders during his short reign.John Mamikonean
John or Hovhan Mamikonyan (in Armenian Հովհան Մամիկոնյան), was a 10th-century Armenian noble from the Mamikonian dynasty, author of the History of Taron, which is a continuation of the account of Zenob Glak. John is not known from any source other than his History, and in the colophon self-identifies as the 35th bishop of Glak after Zenob.Mkrtich Naghash
Mkrtich Naghash (Armenian: Մկրտիչ Նաղաշ 1394 - 1470) was an Armenian painter and poet.Oshin of Lampron
Oshin of Lampron (Armenian: Օշին Լամբրոնացի - Oshin Lambronatsi) was an Armenian nakharar. Historical sources mentioned that he was a lord of a fortress near the city of Ganja (modern-day Azerbaijan), who migrated in the early 1070s to Cilicia and founded the House of Lampron that ruled the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia in the 12th and 13th centuries.
According to Cyril Toumanoff, Oshin was a member of the Pahlavuni clan.
Disappointed with the inability of the Byzantines to protect him against the advance of the Seljuk Turks, Oshin fled west from his fortress near Ganja to Cilicia in 1072. The 12th century chronicler Samuel of Ani wrote about Oshin's departure from his ancestral lands: "...with his brother Halgam, with his wife and other nobles. Carrying his wealth and the finger of the holy apostle Peter, he entered Cilicia and captured from the Muslims the fortress of Lampron, at the foot of the Taurus Mountains toward Tarsus." His kinsman, Abu'lgharib Artsuni, governed Taurus and Mopsuestia in the name of the Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. He ceded to Oshin two forts in western Cilicia, Lampron and Barbaron at Tarsus near the Cilician Gates. While Samuel of Ani implies that Oshin seized Lampron from Muslims, other Armenian writers closer to the Hethumids suggest that Oshin was merely a faithful chieftain of Abulgharib who later ceded the castle of Lampron to him. Matthew of Edessa and Sempad the Constable mention Oshin only in passing. The Emperor had no objection to seeing the Armenians becoming a buffer between him and the invading Seljuks; and confirmed Oshin, together with two other Armenian leaders who had established themselves in the Taurus, Ruben and Gogh Vasil, in their positions by bestowing on them the imperial title of sebastos.Oshin has been identified by historians such as Steven Runciman with general Michael Aspietes, whose exploits were told by Anna Comnena in her Alexiad as well as with Ursinus mentioned by Ralph of Caen (in Gesta Tancredi) and Albert of Aix. Historian Joseph Laurent argued that Ursinus, Aspietes and Oshin were all different people in his article Arméniens de Cilicie: Aspiétès, Oschin, Ursinus from the journal Revue des Études Arméniennes; however, Christopher Macevitt found the links between Ursinus and Oshin persuasive and compelling. In September 1097 when Baldwin of Boulogne took Tarsus from Tancred who had recently captured the city, Oshin/Ursinus sent ambassadors to Tancred advising him to attack Mamistra. Oshin was thus in a position to support either Baldwin or Tancred. Once the Crusaders moved on to Antioch, Oshin provided them with provisions, eager to have them leave Cilicia.Philaretos Brachamios
Philaretos Brachamios (Greek: Φιλάρετος Βραχάμιος; Armenian: Փիլարտոս Վարաժնունի, Pilartos Varajnuni; Latin: Philaretus Brachamius) or Vahram Varajnuni was a distinguished Byzantine general and warlord of Armenian heritage, and for a time was a usurper against emperor Michael VII. Philaretos is attested on seals as taxiarches (commander of an infantry regiment), as well as protospatharios and topoteretes (deputy commander) of the Tagmata of Cappadocia, then as magistros and doux (duke), and finally as kouropalates and doux.Senekerim-Hovhannes Artsruni
Senekerim-Hovhannes Artsruni (Armenian: Սենեքերիմ-Հովհաննես Արծրունի), also known variously as Senekerim-John, Sennecherim or Sennacherib-John, known in Byzantine sources simply as Senachereim (Greek: Σεναχηρείμ), was the sixth and last King of Vaspurakan, from the Artsruni dynasty. In 1021/22, he surrendered his kingdom to the Byzantine emperor Basil II, receiving in return extensive lands in the Empire, and the governorship of Cappadocia.Shahamir Shahamirian
Shahamir Shahamirian was an 18th-century writer and philosopher, notable figure in the Armenian liberation movement and a wealthy Armenian merchant in Madras. Shahamirian was born in New Julfa, Iran. He then moved to India where he became an affluent merchant. In 1771, Shahamirian found the first Armenian printing press in Madras. In 1772 Shahamirian published the first work of Armenian political philosophy. He promoted the vision of a state, a revolutionary idea in the 18th century among Armenians.Terter Yerevantsi
Terter Yerevantsi (Armenian: Տերտեր Երևանցի; c. 1290, Yerevan – c. 1350, Crimea) was a medieval Armenian priest, scribe and poet.Thoros of Edessa
Thoros (short in Armenian for Theodoros; Թորոս կուրապաղատ, T'oros the Curopalates; d. March 9, 1098) was an Armenian ruler of Edessa at the time of the First Crusade. Thoros was a former officer (curopalates) in the Byzantine Empire and a lieutenant of Philaretos Brachamios. He was Armenian but practiced the Greek Orthodox faith.
The Chronicle of Matthew of Edessa records that "Thoros son of Hethum" was installed as governor of Edessa by Tutush, who had defeated and killed emir Bouzan in the year 543 of the Armenia era (26 Feb. 1094 - 25 Feb. 1095). According to Sturdza, Hethum [I] was descended from the Pahlavouni, an important family in Caucasian Armenia. He conquered land to the east of that conquered by his fellow Armenian Rupen. Steven Runciman calls Thoros the "son-in-law" of Gabriel of Melitene.Around 1094, the Seljuk emir of Damascus, Tutush I, captured Edessa and established Thoros as governor. Thoros immediately tried to take control of the city for himself; when Yaghi-Siyan, emir of Antioch, and Ridwan, emir of Aleppo, took refuge in Edessa after being defeated by Malik Shah I, Thoros tried to take them captive and ransom them. The other Edessan nobles did not agree with this and they were freed. Thoros then fortified Edessa and cut off the citadel, garrisoned by Turkish and Armenian troops. The Turks and Ortoqids besieged the city for two months, but were unable to capture it even after breaking through the walls. The Turks withdrew and Thoros was recognized as lord of the city.
As a Greek Orthodox Christian, he was not well loved by his Armenian subjects in Edessa. He resisted attacks from the Seljuks, but in 1098 had to ask for help from the crusaders, who were occupied at the siege of Antioch.
Baldwin of Boulogne had come to Edessa rather than participate in the siege, probably looking to carve out some territory for himself, and had captured Turbessel. Thoros invited him to Edessa and made an alliance with him in February 1098. Baldwin gradually convinced Thoros to adopt him as his son and heir, but having done this, Baldwin attacked Thoros' officers and besieged him in the citadel. Thoros agreed to let him have the city and made plans to flee with his family to Melitene, but shortly afterwards, on March 9, Thoros was assassinated by the Armenian inhabitants of the city, possibly at Baldwin's command, and Baldwin became the first count of Edessa.Ukhtanes of Sebastia
Ukhtanes of Sebastia (Armenian: Ուխտանես Սեբաստացի, Ukhtanes Sebastatsi) (c. 935-1000) was an Armenian historian and prelate.
Educated at the Monastery of Narek under the tutelage of its founder Anania, he eventually attained to the bishopric of Sebastia (c. 970-85) and probably also of Urha (post-985). Ukhtanes is principally known for his History in Three Parts, which consists of History of the Patriarchs and Kings of Armenia, History of the Severance of the Georgians and Armenians, and On the Baptism of the Nation Called Tzad.
Medieval Armenian historians and chroniclers