History of Armenia

History of Armenia


The Armenian Highlands are located in the Northern border of Western Asia between Small Asian Plateau and Iranian Plateau, between the plains of the Black Sea and Mesopotamia. The people of Armenia have been formed and have created their statehood in the Armenian Highlands and have created their unique culture. The Armenian Highlands nearly totally coincide with the Armenian historical motherland. As the Armenian Highlands were located in the centre of the route of strategic trade and they were rich in a number of recourses, managed to have a great power and ambitions. The creation of the state and its maintenance was not stable. For the first time we learn of the country Armenia from the Sumerian cuneiforms of 3rd century B.C. The word “Haya” is connected with the suffix “stan”, which means country. Hayk was the strongest and the most famous leader of Armenia. In his honor the country was called Hayk’s country. Hayk had lived in the foothills of Ararat; he had travelled a lot and had assisted in the building of the Babylonian Tower. After coming back into the Highlands he defeated Babylon’s King Bell. It was 2492 B.C. According to the cuneiforms of Assyrian Babylon of 13-12th century B.C. Armenia was called Nayiri (country of rivers). Due to the archeological excavations we are acknowledged about the Kingdom of Ararat. The proof of those times are the ruins of Erebouni castle, which are present in nowadays’ capital of Armenia–Yerevan. The castle of Erebouni has been built in 782 B.C.–13 years before the building of Rome. The first century B.C. is called a golden century in Armenia. Culture and art were developed during this century. The first unified kingdom of the Armenian Highlands that is mentioned in the Bible is known as the Kingdom of Ararat. It was a powerful rival of the Assyrian Empire. In the 6-4th centuries B.C. Armenia was under the supremacy of Persian Achaemenid Dynasty. Two years before the Hellenic era the Dynasty of Artashes origins there. Mets Hayk* came to the peak of its power in the days of Tigran the Great (the Second) in 95-55 B.C. Tigran the Great was a major statesman and a general. Though in the days of Tigran the Great the Kingdom of Armenia was great, it reached the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, it became a battlefield between Iran and Rome as a result of which Armenia became a buffer state. The most difficult period for the Armenians was the first century A.D. During those times the state influence of the Parthian slowly got worse. The influence of the Romans became powerful for two and a half centuries, who asserted their power in that region. Thus, Armenia became the enemy of Rome. The Armenian dynasty of Arshakuni started from that time on and continued for four centuries. The activity of Armenians started during that time. Many ancient castles and towns were rebuilt during that time. The most important thing during that era was that culture and science were developed. The town of Vagharshapat was built there. And from this town Christianity began to spread all over the world: the Armenians were the first to adopt Christianity in 301. According to the decree of Milan, Christianity was adopted in Rome in 313. As compared to other countries Armenia was the first one. According to the legend the people who taught Christianity in Armenia during the first century A. D. were two apostles of Jesus Christ–Bartholomew and Thaddeus. Due to the hard work of St Grigor during that time, King Trdat the Third adopted Christianity as a state religion. Until that time the most famous religion was Zarathustra; Paganism was not few either. In 387 Armenia lost its statehood: one part became a part of Byzantium and the other one became Persia’s part. There has been one important war in the history of Armenia. And that was the battle of Avarayr in 451. During that battle there were one hundred thousand people in the Armenian troops, of which 66 thousand were warriors of the ministerial regimen and the other 34 thousand were home guardsmen. The troops of the Sasanid Persia consisted of 214 thousand people. Despite of it the Armenians managed to defeat. At the beginning of the 5th century Mesrop Mashtots created the Armenian alphabet, the Bible was translated into Armenian, the literature developed and the main style of church building was consolidated. The 5-6th centuries were the era of the development of literature and architecture.

The Armenia of the Middle Ages

Armenia of Bagratuni – the Armenian Kingdom of the Middle Ages

After the invasion of the Arabs in the 7th century the Sassanid Persia started to destroy. Armenia went under the influence of the Arabian Caliphate during that time. It could control Armenia. After struggling for a long period of time the Armenians could defeat. In 859 Ashot Bagratuni became the king of Armenia. He was called the king of kings. In 885 king Ashot was recognized as the king by the Arabian caliphate. Economy, culture and politics of Armenia were developed at the beginning of the 9th century. From the first half of the 9th century there appeared the dynasty of Bagratunies. The re-establishment of the important role in the world trade launched the growth of a number of cities. The building of churches began to prosper. The castle of Ani became famous in the 5th century. Ani was called the city of one thousand and one churches. The city was surrounded by walls; there were very many gardens there. The population of the capital Ani was one hundred thousand: it was the biggest one in Europe with the number of its population. At the end of the 10th century, from the Eastern part of the country the Armenian Highlands were invaded by the Byzantine Empire and Seljuk tribes. In the 11th century the kingdom of Bagratuny began to perish slowly. The Seljuk tribes and Turkey got stronger at that time. From the 11th century they began to have their influence on the Northern part of Armenia. As a result of the invasions by the Mongol Empire, Lenk Timur Empire and others, the country was ruined and lots of Armenian emigrated. After the Kingdom of Bagratunies a new Armenian kingdom was created in the Southern part of the Mediteranean Sea. It was the kingdom of Cilicia. This kingdom has existed for almost 300 years (from 1080 to 1375). Armenians appeared in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in 96-95 B.C. The Kingdom of Cilicia slowly grew stronger in 1198 and it was recognized as a sovereign kingdom by Byzantium and crusaders. After the fall of the Tatar Empire the invasions to Armenia by other barbarians didn’t stop. The troops of Lenk Timur and Shah Abas invaded Armenia at that time. In 1639 Western Armenia and Eastern Armenia of Turkey became part of Persia. Such condition continued from the 19th century to the 20th century. In the result of the repeated rivalry between the Osman Empire and Iran Armenia was divided into two countries–Armenia of the Turkish territory and Armenia of the Persian territory. In the 10- 12th centuries Armenia was in good terms with Russia. The reason for that was the struggle between Turkey and Persia. According to the contract of Gyulistan in 1804 a part of the Historic Armenia–Artsakh became part of Russia. According to the contract of Turkmenchay in 1828 Yerevan caliphate of Eastern Armenia became part of Russia. At the end of the 19th century the Genocide of Armenians started by the Osman Turkey. During that genocide there were known the resistances of the regions of Sasun, Zeytun and Van. The genocide of 1915 is the event that cannot be forgotten. One and a half million people were killed during that genocide. The rescued people spread all over the world, a part of them got shelter in Eastern Armenia. On May 28, 1918 Armenia became an independent state. In 1920 Armenia entered USSR. In 1991 Armenia got independence again and it is an independent state until now. The majority of Armenians are Christians, the main direction is Armenian orthodox church. 90 percent of Armenians belong to the Armenian Apostolic church.
Armenian church is a very conservative church. The churches that are alike the Armenian church are the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Syrian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of Ghpti. There are some catholic, evangelic and protestant believers in Armenia. There are some representatives of Yazidi belief, Muslim and Judaism.

*big part of Armenia

the material is taken from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Armenia

translated from Armenian into English by  M.Vardanyan