The famous dynasty of Bagratuni has played crucial role in the history of ancient Armenia in the period from VI to VII centuries BC. The appearance of this dynasty in Armenia goes back to the cuneiform period of our history, known as Urartu. Even then, this family has played a significant role in public life, uniting tribes and people of the Armenian highlands in IX. BC. It was then that the aristocratic family, which formed the core of the Urartian nobility and went into the early days of feudalism in Armenia, began to form. These are the representatives of the Urartian nobles whose names end with the suffix “uni” – Artsruni, Rshtuni, Khorkhoruni, Syuni, Bagratuni, etc.
There is a version in literature according to which Bagratuni is attributed to biblical origin of the king-psalmist David and his son Solomon. The source of this version is the message of the Armenian historian of V century Khorenatsi, who telling about his patron Sahak Bagratuni, gives explanations on the origin of his family.
After the fall of the kingdom of Arshakids in 428, Bagratuni continued to remain as one of the most influential feudal families in Armenia.
During the V-VI centuries Armenia has remained divided between the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) and Persia. In this difficult period, Armenians have kept their traditions and their culture because of the courage and resilience of the people. Tremendous help to this great invention was the creation of Armenian alphabet by the scientists Mesrop Mashtots in the beginning of V century.
Feudal system was penetrated in both parts of divided Armenia, it gradually broke up into many principalities and by the end of VII century there were already about fifty of them. The most influential of them were principalities of Mamikonyan, Bagratuni and Artsruni.
Since mid-VI century a gradual expansion of the Byzantine Armenia begins. By the beginning of VII century, the eastern border of the Byzantine Armenia reached Lake Van. Persia weakened and was crushed by the Arabs in the VII century. The formation of the Arab Caliphate – a powerful military-feudal state, has been a long time historical reality.
Under the power of Arabs in the VIII-IX centuries, princely family Bagratuni has gradually united under his rule a great part of Armenia, in particular its eastern region. The first kings of Bagratuni (Ashot I, Smbat I, Ashot II the Iron) had also ruled some parts of South Armenia.
The founder of the royal dynasty of Bagratuni was Ashot I Bagratuni, who died in 891. In 861 Baghdad court has declared him as “the prince of princes.” He subdued Armenian feudal lords, gained the support of the Armenian Church, and in the mid 880-s defeated the Arab armies. After that, in 886, competing with each other Arab Caliph and the Byzantine emperor sent Ashot I the crown, thus recognizing the independence of Armenia. And in the future Armenian rulers ensure the independence of its possessions, skillfully playing on the contradictions between powerful neighbors.
Ashot II the Iron (ruled 914-928) in 921 defeated the Arab armies on the shores of Lake Sevan and liberated from the Arabs large part of Armenia. Ashot II took the title “king of kings”, recognized by Baghdad.
Ashot III the Merciful (953-977) built a strong standing army. In 961 the king moved his residence from Kars to Ani. Armenian medieval state is known in history as the Kingdom of Ani.
Feudal disunity led to the formation of separate Armenian kingdoms – Vaspurakan (908), Kars (963), Syunik (970) and Tashir Dzoraget (978), were in the vassal relations with Bagratuni family.
In 1045 after Armenian was captured by the Byzantine Empire, the existence of Bagratuni dynasty collapsed.
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