The Armenian Civil War of 1021



Tara Andrews writes:

The period from the accession of Abas I in 929 to the death of Gagik I shortly before 1021 is widely considered to be the apogee of independent Armenia.

But then...

Gagik I of Armenia died shortly before 1020 (the date of his death has not been firmly established). Soon thereafter, probably in 1021 but possibly earlier, his sons and joint heirs Yovhannēs and Ašot began to dispute the succession. Their dispute resulted in a short civil war that drew in most of the regional powers, including the kingdoms of Georgia and of Vaspurakan. The neighbouring kings and princes, together with the ecclesiastical leadership of Armenia, brokered a settlement between the brothers that left Yovhannēs in control of the city of Ani and its immediate surroundings, while Ašot ruled the kingdom outside Ani; it was agreed that if either brother died, the kingdom was to be re-united under the other. This settlement seems to have played to the strengths of both brothers—Yovhannēs is portrayed as intelligent but physically weak, while Ašot was the warrior to whom the defence of the kingdom as a whole could be entrusted.

This excerpt is from her brilliant dissertation on Matthew of Edessa's Chronicle, which includes a detailed study of the text and outlines a computational approach for making a critical edition. The critical edition is particularly challenging in this case, not only because there are at least 42 extant manuscripts, but also because they all post-date the 16th century (the text itself having been originally composed in the 12th). This is an extremely intensive and innovative project that is still ongoing a decade after her dissertation was submitted, and that you can follow here.

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