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The Armenia of the Bagratids (Bagratuni) and Artzruni
Along with its break-up in the ninth century, the compact Arab empire also saw a weakening of its power in Armenia.

Meanwhile, a very important change had taken place in the ranks of the Armenian aristocracy.

The house of Mamikonian, which had played a leading role in the political life of Armenia, actually governing as sovereigns without titles during certain periods, disappeared from the scene towards the end of the eighth century.

The Arabs used harsh reprisals to crush the insurrection led by Mamikonian in 774, and the whole family was wiped out.

Once the Mamikonians had disappeared from the scene, the Bagratids began their ascendancy.

They had a more flexible approach to the Arabs.

One of the oldest and most influential dynasties of Armenia, never yet exposed to The hazards of struggles for power, the Bagratids had, since the times of Artashes I, by tradition and by acquired right, held the title of t"agatir, that is, crowners (of the king) while the Mamikonians had held the title of sparapet, commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Unlike the feudal possessions of the Mamikonians, which occupied a practically continuous strip starting from the regions of T"aron, west of the lake of Van, and ending in the area around Mount Ararat and Mount Aragatz to the north east, the fiefs of the Bagratids were spread a little everywhere throughout Armenia and were later to extend even further into the Iberian kingdom (present-day Georgia).

Another family of nakharar, one of the few that survived the repression, were the Artzruni, whose dominions lay to the east of the lake of Van.

On account of their less drastic attitude towards the Arabs, both the Bagratids and the Artzruni were able to profit from the confiscation and dismemberment of the property of the Mamikonians and other dynasties allied to them and enlarge their own possessions. The Bagratids assumed the role of representatives and promotors of this new conscience.

At practically the same time, in 888, a Bagratid branch of the Tayk" (Tao) lineage, near the borders between Armenia and Georgia along the river Djorokh (Coruh), created the Iberian kingdom of the Bagratids. This was to have an extremely long life, lasting more than 1,000 years, thanks to the geopolitical situation in Georgia, which was more favorable than Armenia"s. The new kingdom unfortunately collapsed in 1045.

The foundation of the Bagratid kingdom in Armenia emerged from the revolt of Prince Smbat Bagratuni about halfway through the eighth century. Despite the partial failure of the insurrection, at the end of which Smbat was captured and sent off to Baghdad, the growth of Byzantine power under the young dynasty of the Macedonians (of Armenian origin) forced the Arabs to adopt a more moderate policy, ensuring a certain equilibrium in Armenia and, thus, greater guarantees of safety for Arab interests.

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Writer: Hasmik Muradyan
Editor: Eugenia Melkonyan
 Date Added: Wednesday August 02, 2006 07:46:53 

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