Andrew Andersen

 

ARMENIA AND CILICIA FALLING TO THE MONGOLS, TURKS AND PERSIANS

1235 1535

 

 

 

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In the second quarter of the 13th century the South Caucasus and Asia Minor faced the invasion of the Mongols. By the year 1250, most of the area fell to the Mongols including Georgia, all Armenian lands of the South Caucasus and Central Anatolia.

 

The Mongol rule was accompanied by devastation of the land, destruction, mass murder and extremely high tribute imposed on the population. Armed resistance and uprisings were put down with extreme cruelty. Cilicia happened to be the only Armenian-inhabited country that managed to withstand Mongol conquest.

 

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By 1337 the Mongol domination collapsed, however the Mongols were succeeded by various Turkic invaders. Most of the Old Armenian lands fell under Kara-Koyunloo and later Aq-Koyunloo. Other areas of Armenia and Anatolia were incorporated into other Turkic domains. The Kingdom of Cilicia desperately fighting against the Turks and Arabs, lost most of its eastern provinces to the Turks by 1335. In 1375 the remainder of once prosperous kingdom was conquered by the Mamlyuks of Egypt.

 

In 1392-1404 all Armenian lands faced Turco-Mongolic invasions under the leadership of Tamerlane that happened top be the most devastating cataclysm in the last 300 years. Armenian, Georgian and Greek cities and towns of the area were ruined, Many thousands of Armenians were slaughtered. Many more thousands flee to Western and Eastern Europe as well as Africa and Asia.

 

 

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The death of Tamerlane in 1405 resulted in almost immediate fall of his empire. After that, Ottoman Turks and Egyptian Mamlyuks became the two dominant powers in the Middle East turning the area into Turco-Arab realm.

 

By the middle of the 15th century, West European Crusaders completely lost the 350 years-long battle for Palestine and Syria and were forced to evacuate all their possessions except Cyprus and other Mediterranean islands.

 

By the same time, East Roman Empire lost all her possessions except the capital city of Constantinople and some other smaller enclaves. In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks becoming Istanbul, the capital of the strongest, rapidly expanding Muslim empire and ending East Roman era.

 

By the middle of the 15th century, most of the Armenian feudal aristocracy was already destroyed, their lands taken by Turkoman, Tatar and even Kurdish nomadic military nobility. Thus the Armenian Apostolic Church remained the only major force cementing Armenian people and keeping them apart from the new conquerors and settlers from Central Asia. The transfer of the throne of Catholicos of all Armenians to Echmiadzin (near Yerevan) in 1441 enhanced the importance of the Ararat valley and the city of Yerevan as the new center of the Armenian lands.

 

By 1516, the expanding Ottomans put all Western Armenia under their control. 14 years earlier, Eastern Armenia fell to Shah Ismail who was the founder of the Azeri Safavid dynasty that turnedIran into a new Islamic power of the area. The Safavid-Ottoman wars of 1514 1535 resulted in border changes as a result of which more Armenian lands were incorporated into the Ottoman Empire.

 

Several Armenian provinces remained for a while parts of Georgia that was in process of feudal fragmentation. The Armenian-inhabited province of Tashir was part of the Georgian Kingdom of Kartli. Smaller provinces of Kars, Karnipor and Valashkert were parts of the Atabaghty of Samtskhe (Southern Georgia) until the year of 1545 when Samtskhe was absorbed by the Ottomans. The only remaining relict of Armenian statehood was for some time surviving in the mountains of Artsakh (Karabakh) where five tiny Armenian princely states (Dgheraberd, Dizak, Gyulistan, Khachen and Varanda) managed to keep their independence until the late 18th century.

 

 

 

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