Muslim conquest of Armenia

The Arab conquest of Armenia was a part of the Muslim conquests after the death of Muhammad in 632 CE.

Persian Armenia had fallen to the Arab Rashidun Caliphate by 645 CE. Byzantine Armenia was already conquered in 638–639.

Islamic expansion

After Muhammad's death in 632, his successors started a military campaign in order to increase the territory of the new Caliphate. During the Muslim conquests, the Arabs conquered most of the Middle East.

Mohammad adil rais-Invasion of Anatolia and Armenia
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Armenia in 638.

Towards the year 639, under the leadership of Abd ar-Rahman ibn Rabiah, 18,000 Arabs penetrated the district of Taron and the region of the Lake of Van and put the country to fire and sword. The Arab warriors were poor and ill-armed, but reckless and inflamed with an intense fanaticism until then unknown among ancient peoples.[1]

On January 6, 642 the Arabs stormed and took the city of Dvin, slaughtered 12,000 of its inhabitants and carried 35,000 into slavery.[1] Prince Theodorus of the Rshtuni family confronted the Arabs, and came out victorious by liberating the enslaved Armenians.[2]

Bishop Sebeos recorded the history of the Arab conquest. In his History of Heraclius, he wrote of the sad fate of his country. He said,

"Who can tell the horrors of the invasion of the Ishmaelite (Arab), who set both the land and the sea ablaze? [...] The blessed Daniel foresaw and foretold like misfortunes. [...] In the following year (643), the Ishmaelite army crossed to Atrpatakan (Azerbaijan) and was divided into three corps. One moved towards Ararat; another into the territory of Sephakan Gound, the third into the land of Alans. Those who invaded the domain of the Sephakan Gound spread over it, destroying, plundering and taking prisoners. Thence they marched together to Erevan, where they attacked the fortress, but were unable to capture it."[1]

Armenia within the Caliphate

Theodorus Rshtuni and other Armenian nakharars (lords) accepted Arab rule over Armenia.[2] Constans II, the Byzantine Emperor, sent occasional reinforcements to Armenia, but they were inadequate. The commander of the city of Dvin, Smbat, confronted by the fact that he could no longer hold out against the Islamic army, submitted to Caliph Omar, consenting to pay him tribute. In 644, Omar was assassinated by a Persian slave and was replaced by Caliph Uthman. The Armenian acceptance of Arab rule irritated the Byzantines. Emperor Constans sent his men to Armenia in order to impose the Chalcedonian creed of Christianity.[2] He did not succeed in his doctrinal objective, but the new Armenian prefect, Hamazasp, who regarded the taxes imposed by the Muslims as too heavy, yielded to the Emperor. The Caliph thus ordered the massacre of 1,775 Armenian hostages then in his hands, and was about to march against the Armenian rebels when he was assassinated in 656.[1]

Armenia remained under Arab rule for approximately 200 years, formally starting in 645 CE. Through many years of Umayyad and Abbasid rule, the Armenian Christians benefited from political autonomy and relative religious freedom, but were considered second-class citizens (dhimmi status). This was, however, not the case in the beginning. The invaders first tried to force the Armenians to accept Islam, prompting many citizens to flee to Byzantine-held Armenia,[3] which the Muslims had largely left alone due to its rugged and mountainous terrain.[4] The policy also caused several uprisings until the Armenian Church finally enjoyed greater recognition even more than it experienced under Byzantine or Sassanid jurisdiction.[5] The Caliph assigned Ostikans as governors and representatives, who sometimes were of Armenian origin. The first ostikan, for example, was Theodorus Rshtuni. However, the commander of the 15,000-strong army was always of Armenian origin, often from the Mamikonian, Bagratuni or Artsruni families, with the Rshtuni family having the highest number of troops at 10,000. He would either defend the country from foreigners, or assist the Caliph in his military expeditions.[2] For example, the Armenians helped the Caliphate against Khazar invaders.[5]

Arab rule was interrupted by many revolts whenever Arabs attempted to enforce Islam, or higher taxes (jizya) to the people of Armenia. However, these revolts were sporadic and intermittent. They never had a pan-Armenian character. Arabs used rivalries between the different Armenian nakharars in order to curb the rebellions. Thus, the Mamikonian, Rshtuni, Kamsarakan and Gnuni families were gradually weakened in favor of the Bagratuni and Artsruni families.[2] The rebellions led to the creation of the legendary character, David of Sassoun.

During Islamic rule, Arabs from other parts of the Caliphate settled in Armenia. By the 9th century, there was a well-established class of Arab emirs, more or less equivalent to the Armenian nakharars.[5]

At the end of this period, in 885, the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia was established with Ashot I, a Christian king, as the first monarch. The Byzantine Empire and the Abbassid Caliphate's willingness to recognize the existence of the kingdom stemmed from the need to maintain a buffer state between them.[6] Particularly for the Caliphate, Armenia was more desirable as a buffer rather than a province due to the threat of the Khazars, who were allied with Byzantium.[7] Ashot's regime and those who succeeded him ushered in a period of peace, artistic growth, and literary activity. This era is referred to as the second Armenian Golden Age and is manifested in the magnificent churches built and the illustrated manuscripts created during the period.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Kurkjian, Vahan M.A History of Armenia hosted by The University of Chicago. New York: Armenian General Benevolent Union of America, 1958 pp. 173-185
  2. ^ a b c d e Kurdoghlian, Mihran (1996). Hayots Badmoutioun (Armenian History), Volume II (in Armenian). Hradaragutiun Azkayin Ousoumnagan Khorhourti, Athens, Greece. pp. 3–7.
  3. ^ a b Waters, Bella (2009). Armenia in Pictures. Minneapolis, MN: Learner Publishing Group. p. 25. ISBN 9780822585763.
  4. ^ Blankinship, Khalid (1994). The End of the Jihad State: The Reign of Hisham Ibn 'Abd al-Malik and the Collapse of the Umayyads. New York: SUNY Press. p. 107. ISBN 0791418278.
  5. ^ a b c Herzig, Kurkichayan, Edmund, Marina (2005). The Armenians: Past and Present in the Making of National Identity. Routledge. pp. 42–43.
  6. ^ Inc, Ibp (2013-09-01). Armenia Country Study Guide Volume 1 Strategic Information and Developments. Washington, D.C.: Int'l Business Publications. p. 45. ISBN 9781438773827.CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  7. ^ Hussey, Joan Mervyn (1966). The Cambridge Medieval History: The Byzantine Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 607.

Amatuni (Armenian: Ամատունի) is an ancient Armenian noble family, known from the 4th century in the canton of Artaz, between lakes Van and Urmia, with its center at Shavarshan (latter-day Maku), and subsequently also at Aragatsotn, west of Lake Sevan, with the residence at Oshakan.

Armenian Oblast

The Armenian Oblast or Armenian Province (Armenian: Հայկական մարզ, Russian: Армянская область) was an oblast (province) of the Caucasus Viceroyalty of the Russian Empire that existed from 1828 to 1840. It corresponded to most of present-day central Armenia, the Iğdır Province of Turkey, and the Nakhichevan exclave of Azerbaijan. Its administrative center was Erivan (Yerevan).

Artsruni dynasty

The Artsruni (Armenian: Արծրունի; also transliterated as Ardzruni) were an ancient noble (princely) family of Armenia.

Bagratuni dynasty

The Bagratuni or Bagratid (Armenian: Բագրատունի, Armenian pronunciation: [bagɾatuni]) royal family ruled many regional polities of the medieval Kingdom of Armenia, such as Syunik, Lori, Vaspurakan, Vanand, Taron, and Tayk.


Begtabegishvili (Georgian: ბეგთაბეგიშვილი), Begtabegov or Bektabekov (Georgian: ბეგთაბეგოვი, Russian: Бегтабеговы, Бектабековы) was a Georgian noble family of Armenian origin.

The ancestors of the family fled the Muslim conquest of Armenia and removed to Georgia in the seventeenth century. They were originally known as Shanshean-Martirozashvili (შანშეიან-მარტიროზაშვილი), and possibly also as T’aniashvili (თანიაშვილი). The king Teimuraz I elevated the family to a princly dignity (tavadi), reportedly in 1633, and granted its head the hereditary office of mdivan-begi, i.e., royal secretary, whence the dynastic name adopted by the family. The early 17th-century head of the house, Begtabeg, was a notable copyist who created one of the best manuscripts of the medieval Georgian epic The Knight in the Panther's Skin by Shota Rustaveli (Manuscript H-54, Georgian National Center of Manuscripts).The Begtabegishvili were listed among the Georgian nobility in a special document attached to the Russo-Georgian Treaty of Georgievsk of 1783. They were the grandees of the second class under the Princes Baratashvili. After the Russian annexation of Georgia, the family was confirmed in the princely rank (knyaz) by the Tsar’s degrees of February 25, 1826 and December 6, 1850. Their official title was "Bagtabegov, Princes of Georgia" with a corresponding coat of arms (pictured). The best known 19th-century members of this family were the major general Solomon Begtabegov (died May 6, 1860) and Alexander Begtabegov (1819-1876), participants of the Caucasian War.

February Uprising

The February Uprising (classical Armenian: Փետրուարեան ապստամբութիւն, reformed: Փետրվարյան ապստամբություն, P'etrvaryan apstambut'yun) was an anti-Bolshevik rebellion by the nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation which started on February 13 and was suppressed on April 2, 1921 by the recapture of Yerevan by Bolshevik forces.

History of Armenia (book)

The History of Armenia (Armenian: Պատմություն Հայոց, Patmut'yun Hayots) attributed to Movses Khorenatsi is an early account of Armenia, covering the legendary origins of the Armenian people as well as Armenia's interaction with Sassanid, Byzantine and Arsacid empires down to the 5th century.

It contains unique material on ancient Armenian legends, and such information on pagan (pre-Christian) Armenian as has survived. It also contains plentiful data on the history and culture of contiguous countries. The book had an enormous impact on Armenian historiography.

In the text, the author self-identifies as a disciple of Saint Mesrop, and states that he composed his work at the request of Isaac (Sahak), the Bagratuni prince who fell in battle in 482.

Kingdom of Artsakh

The Kingdom of Artsakh (Armenian: Արցախի թագավորություն), was a medieval dependent Armenian kingdom on the territory of Syunik, Artsakh (present-day Nagorno-Karabakh), Gardman and Gegharkunik. Contemporary sources referred to it as the Khachen. The royal house of Khachen was a cadet branch of the ancient Syunid dynasty and was named Khachen, after its main stronghold. The kingdom emerged when Hovhannes-Senekerim acquired the royal title in 1000.The kingdom was under the protectorate of the Bagratuni kings of Armenia.

Artsakh maintained its sovereign rulers, though in the early 13th century they accepted Georgian, then Mongol suzerainty. They lost the royal title after the assassination of Hasan-Jalal (1214–1261) by the Ilkhanid ruler Arghun, but continued to rule Syunik as a principality, which from the 16th century comprised five Armenian melikdoms and lasted until the early 19th century. The descendants of the kings of Syunik played a prominent role in the history of Syunik as far as the 20th century.

Kingdom of Sophene

The Kingdom of Sophene (Armenian: Ծոփքի Թագավորութիւն) was an ancient Armenian kingdom. Founded around the 3rd century BC the kingdom maintained independence until around 90 BC when Tigranes the Great conquered the territories as part of his empire. An offshoot of this kingdom was the Kingdom of Commagene, formed when the Seleucids detached Commagene from Sophene.

Kingdom of Syunik

Kingdom of Syunik (Armenian: Սյունիքի թագավորություն), also known as the Kingdom of Baghk and sometimes as the Kingdom of Kapan, was a medieval dependent Armenian kingdom on the territory of Syunik, Artsakh (present-day Nagorno-Karabakh), and Gegharkunik. Ruled by the Siunia dynasty, the town of Kapan was the capital of the kingdom.

Kingdom of Vaspurakan

Vaspurakan (also transliterated as Vasbouragan in Western Armenian; Armenian: Վասպուրական, (Vaspowrakan) meaning the "noble land" or "land of princes") was the first and biggest province of Greater Armenia, which later became an independent kingdom during the Middle Ages, centered on Lake Van. Located in what is now called eastern Turkey and northwestern Iran, the region is considered to be the cradle of Armenian civilization.

Medieval Armenia

Western Armenia had been under Byzantine control since the partition of the Kingdom of Armenia in AD 387, while Eastern Armenia had been under the occupation of the Sassanid Empire starting 428. Regardless of religious disputes, many Armenians became successful in the Byzantine Empire and occupied key positions. In Sassanid-occupied Armenia, the people struggled to preserve their Christian religion. This struggle reached its culmination in the Battle of Avarayr. Although the battle was a military defeat, Vartan Mamigonian's successor, Vahan, succeeded to force the Persians to grant religious freedom to the Christian Armenians in the Nvarsak Treaty of 484.


Nairi (Armenian: Նայիրի in TAO or Նաիրի in RAO) was the Assyrian name (KUR.KUR Na-i-ri, also Na-'i-ru) for a confederation of tribes in the Armenian Highlands, roughly corresponding to the modern Van and Hakkâri provinces of modern Turkey. The word is also used to describe the Armenian tribes who lived there. Nairi has sometimes been equated with Nihriya, known from Mesopotamian, Hittite, and Urartean sources. However, its co-occurrence with Nihriya within a single text may argue against this.During the Bronze Age collapse (13th to 12th centuries BC), the Nairi tribes were considered a force strong enough to contend with both Assyria and Hatti. The Battle of Nihriya, the culminating point of the hostilities between Hittites and Assyrians for control over the remnants of the former empire of Armenian (Indo-European) Mitanni, took place there, c. 1230 BC.

Nairi was incorporated into Urartu during the 10th century BC.

Nairi (Armenian usages)

During the late 19th century rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire, the word "Nairi" or "Nayiri" (Armenian: Նայիրի in TAO or Նաիրի in RAO) came to be used as a synonym for Armenia among Armenians who came to see the Nairi (see also Mitanni, better known to Armenians as Aram-Naharin), a people located in the wider area of the Armenian Highlands during the Late Bronze Age, as their remote ancestors.

In 1916, Vahan Terian published a collection of poems entitled Land of Nairi (Armenian: Yerkir Nairi), in which he used Nairi in place of Armenia. Likewise in 1923, Yeghishe Charents wrote a satirical novella entitled Land of Nairi, using Nairi as a synonym for Armenia. Another writer, Hayastan Yeghiazarian, used Nairi Zarian as his pen-name, replacing his first name, Hayastan (the Armenian word for Armenia since the Late Middle Ages) with Nairi.

Prehistoric Armenia

The modern territory of Armenia has been settled by human groups from the Lower Paleolithic to modern days. The first human traces are supported by the presence of Acheulean tools, generally close to the obsidian outcrops more than 1 million years ago. Middle and Upper Paleolithic settlements have also been identified such as at the Hovk 1 cave and the Trialetian culture. The sites of Aknashen and Aratashen in the Ararat plain region are believed to date to the Neolithic period. The Shulaveri-Shomu culture of the central Transcaucasus region is one of the earliest known prehistoric cultures in the area, carbon-dated to roughly 6000 - 4000 BC. The Shulaveri-Shomu culture in the area was succeeded by the Bronze Age Kura-Araxes culture, dated to the period of ca. 3400 - 2000 BC. The Kura-Araxes culture was then later succeeded by the Trialeti culture (ca. 2200 - 1500 BC).

Principality of Hamamshen

The Principality of Hamamshen was a small principality established in about 790 century by Armenians who fled the Arab invasions of Armenia and the creation of the Muslim Arab ruled state of Arminiya.

Satrapy of Armenia

The Satrapy of Armenia (Armenian: Սատրապական Հայաստան Satrapakan Hayastan; Old Persian: Armina or Arminiya, a region controlled by the Orontid Dynasty (Armenian: Երվանդունիներ Yervanduniner; 570–201 BC) was one of the satrapies of the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC, which later became an independent kingdom. Its capitals were Tushpa and later Erebuni.


Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Armenian: Շուպրիա; Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Hurrian kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in what is now known as the Armenian Highlands, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. The capital was called Ubbumu. Some scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of the Middle Assyrian Empire in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu. The name Subartu (Sumerian: Shubur) for the region is attested much earlier, from the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC), although the term during Sumerian times appears to have described Upper Mesopotamia (Assyria).

Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Armenians.Shupria is mentioned in the letter of Esarhaddon to the god Assur. Esarhaddon undertook an expedition against Shupria in 674, subjugating it.

Treaty of Batum

The Treaty of Batum was signed in Batum on June 4, 1918, between the Ottoman Empire and the three Transcaucasian states: the First Republic of Armenia, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and the Democratic Republic of Georgia. It was the first treaty of the First Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and had 14 articles.

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