The Kingdom of Artsakh

Here is the concluding paragraph from Robert Hewsen’s article, The Kingdom of Artsakh (1983):

The Kingdom of Artsakh under one name or another, lasted from about 1000 A.D. to 1266—a period of over 250 years. I have traced its background and origins, and have followed its echoes down to the nineteenth century. I have also briefly sketched its political and dynastic history, but I have only begun to penetrate the subject. The kingdom also has its social history, as well as its ecclesiastical and cultural development, all of which need further investigation. What I have attempted to do here, following the guidelines of this conference, has been to demonstrate how the apparently insignificant dynasts and petty states of post-Bagratid Armenian served as a source of continuity between the period of the reassertion of Armenian independence in the ninth to eleventh centuries, and the rise of a new Armenian independence movement in the late-seventeenth century. This continuity between medieval and modern Armenian history is remarkable as much for its longevity as for its fragility—especially when we consider that the descendants of the "Kings of Arc'ax" played a prominent role in Karabagh during the period of the Armenian Republic, and even after the establishment of Soviet Power, when as recently as 1965, a certain Nikolai Semyonovich Melik-Shakhnazarov—a direct descendant of Antiochus, Prince of Siwnik of the time of St. Gregory the Illuminator, was First Secretary of the Communist Party of Highland Karabagh and as such, we may be sure, firmly in control of the land of his ancestors. This so-called "Autonomous" Province of Highland Karabagh, an Armenian-inhabited enclave within the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic, is in direct lineal descendant of the medieval Kingdom of Arc'ax. A loose end in Armenian geopolitical history, its very existence is a testimony to the significance of the medieval kingdom, whose geography and whose rulers together imposed a sense of unity, identity and self-awareness upon its inhabitants, all reflected in the present-day "Karabagh Question" which has yet to be adequately resolved.

I wonder what Robert Hewsen would have thought about the recent step toward finally resolving the "Karabagh Question" by Armenians who believe it to be a dumb plot of land hindering our nation's progress.


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