UNIARTS
ARMENIAN CONTINUING HISTORY

 
Sempad II, The Conqueror, (Diezeragal), (977-990 A.D.)
His Meritorious and Glorious Enterprise: The Construction of Ani-City
 
Ashod III, the good-hearted king of Armenians died, establishing the everlasting memory of a gentle and valorous personality of Armenian History, - we wrote in our last 1994 issue of this book. - The people granted him the so much coveted attribute of Voghormadz: that means the Pious Man. The Compassionate, the merciful, the Charitable Man. Indeed, for all his peaceful activities, select and humanizing behavior and constructive propensions he has been the compassionate, the merciful and the charitable man who ever existed in our national Armenian history. By his orders the construction of Ani-City begun with great excitement, becoming so famous historically for its extraordinary architectural structure, as well as for its magnificent temples of Christian worship.
 
After his death, his three sons inherited the Pakradounis' throne: Sempad, Gagik and Gorgen (called Guirigueh by his familiars). Unfortunately, all these brothers grew scornfully against each other! The eldest son, Sempad, was sacred king in the city of Ani the same day his father died, thinking to take in hands the power as soon as possible, and prevent unexpected troubles in similar cases.
 
Current year: 977 A.D.
 
Sempad's brother Gagik moved to his own residence, far from the Ani-City, preferring separate life-action and the pursuit of his own intentions. The third son of Ashod, of the second brother of Sempad, named Gourgen, was appointed as governor general of Kukark region, where he declared himself king, founding the first Gourigian kingdom.
 
Sempad being a peaceful man and more fond of arts and education, didn't interfere in whatsoever manner to resolve the dismemberment of the dynasty caused by the inattentive behavior of his brother, and left him to act freely on his way. Time and money shortage didn't permit the late King Ashod to complete the construction of the walls of Ani-City. The Citadel - the only fortress inside the walls - however was the great realization during his days of glory.
 
Sempad, his son, considering all this lamentably insufficient for the defense of the city, decided to improve a major and promising project endowing the City of Ani with double ranked walls and churches showing an architectural splendor and beauty. 3000 meters long, 11 meters high and 1 meter large walls surround the city, beginning too close to Akhourian river and ending at the Zaghgatzor plain, comporting huge and admirable fortifications, with large water filled trenches at their bottom, serving as obstructive means against any undesirable intruder during fighting or, more likely, for irrigation purposes during peace time. Round-shaped and high towers and other guardhouses were
built all along the walls, in order to facilitate the far distance observing possibility. So, later Ani-City became the preferred and the most evaluative commercial and intellectual center of the Near East. With the arrival of new immigrants the city grew up enormously. Many chroniclers indicate the presence of 1 million inhabitants in and all around the city. Should it take place an invasion by any enemy, all these people could find shelter behind the thick walls with all their families and transportable wealth and goods.
 
THE BASILICA OF ST. MARY
 
Soon after the walls and some churches were built, Sempad II ordered the construction, in the center-city, of an immense and respondent basilica dedicated to the Mother of God, St. Mary, the Holy Virgin, for whom all Armenians in general entertain a devoted worship. Tiridate, (or Dertade), the then living and famous architect was appointed for the realization of this religious building's project. He accepted willingly his duties to conduct usefully the expensive operations.
 
After the placement of the foundation, the architect proceeded to the erection of the church following his conceptions about the external and internal perfection, specially adorning the façade by dark-red colored stone squares reaching the acute points of the roof, and upholding the high dome supported by enormous columns and solid vaults. Sempad II personally ordered from India a beautiful and extraordinarily ornamented candelabre to be hung down from the dome, and capable to contain 12 liter of burning oil during the religious ceremonies.
 
The name of the architect Tiridate was so famous that he was invited to Constantinople, in order to repair the dome of Aya Sophia church, heavily damaged by an earthquake. All the magnificent buildings constructed by Tiridate in our country, are savagely destroyed by high-degree quakes or by stupid and vagabond vandals.
 
THE POLITICAL SITUATION
 
While Sempad II was busy to decorate conveniently and honorably the city of his father, in the nearby town of Kars died the king Moushegh I (A.D. 984), leaving his powers to Abbas II who reigned as long as until 1029 A.D.. Abbas was a careless and life enjoying, foppish person during his youth, but once under the weight of the royal crown, he changed his character and consequently became a serious and thoughtful man. The most important and socially advantageous activity ever accomplished by this extraordinary man, was the establishment of order and quietness all around his kingdom, in the region of Vanant. Brigandage, looting, murders and disorder were some organized gangs of all kinds banned every day's business for some member of the population; morality and remorse atrociously.
 
Groups of outlaws, silly intruders and pitiless ambushers imposed their laws to kill and plunder irresponsibly innocent people or unaware travelers. There were awful complaints and lamentations at home and in the streets about what was happening in the streets, and nobody was sure for his life and for his properties.
Abbas II begun to act rapidly, actively and with a special program, asking the help of many militiamen, aiming to purge the evil among the inhabitants and drive all the lawless scoundrels out of boundaries. A regiment of selected and well-trained young men, heavily armed and wearing specific red-color clothes watched intensively squares and streets, and all corners of the city to catch the malefactors, and sentence to death every person possessing stolen goods, or merely molesting quiet and innocent citizens. According to the assertion of a contemporary historian then living, (Assoghik), everybody could get out of his house and circulate in the streets surely and safely, even holding a precious treasure in his hands.
 
REBELLION OF VART SKLEROS
 
In the last period of Sempad's life, the Byzantine world showed some disturbances by the rebellion of Vart Skleros. On the throne of Byzance, Emperor Basil the Macedonian, the son of an Armenian immigrant considering himself as from the Arshagouni origin (4th century), declared war against the Bulgarian king Samuel (also an Armenian from the Terjan region), who threatened resolutely to conquer Constantinople.
 
Bitterly dissatisfied with the bad behavior and the intrigues of the emperor, Vart Skleros installed his headquarters in the Kharbert region, then soon declaring himself emperor (976 A.D.) Armenian military men preferred the sovereignty of Vart Skleros, who, little by little conquered and dominated a great part of Asia Minor. To capture and punish the rebel Skleros, a new general was mandated from Byzance. That man was Vart Phocas. Thinking the situation could be dangerous for himself, and for Constantinople itself, the Byzantine emperor sent the general Vart Phocas to subdue the rebel and, meanwhile, he considered propitious to enter in agreements with prince David, the active governor of Dayk region: David was a kin relative to Sempad II, the Pakradouni.
 
12,000 heavily armed men of David were sent to fight the forces of Vart Skleros. Facing each other during a skirmish, Vart Phocas kicked Vart Skleros down from his horse, giving the sign of victory, and contraining all his soldiers to escape in the nearby woods and mountains. (A.D. 979).
 
On one side, even if David could boast for all advantages favoring his political position in the region, the dissensions between little governors and vallas-kings have been very harmful in regard of Christian communities, on the other hand. Indeed, all these agitations have served pretext for the dominators, the Arabs, to create new struggles on the confines of Armenia and Georgia (Vrasdan).
 
THE REIGN OF SEMPAD DIEZERAGAL (The Conqueror)
 
Sempad II was called Diezergal (The Conqueror) by the Armenian historians, perhaps because of his constructive aims and propensions, or because of his imperative influence over all the little kings reigning in the region (Caucasus). His fame grew enormously and for a long time among all these people, continuously rivalizing and unwisely fighting each other.
It is said that generally Sempad avoided wars and social troubles, preferring "to buy the peace" by the power of money - no matter who could be the "seller," a Christian chief or an Arab Emir. He was fund of arts and constructive life, intending stubbornly to realize the most extraordinary project he could ever conceive: to create the marvelous city of Ani with its one thousand and one churches, and militarily inexpugnable citadel of Pakradounis' Reign, rallying around him all the nation's material, intellectual and cultural wealth.
 
With all these appreciable activities, however, Sempad's life's last years were deeply saddened because of some mysterious murders and killings. His renown and fame were tarnished somehow, when treading all decency and ecclesiastical laws he engaged a strange marriage with his niece, his sister's daughter. Sempad and Gagik never knew the advantages of mutual reconciliation, so they anxiously lived in political dissension since the crowning days. Gagik could never appreciate his brother's system of "buying the peace with money" instead of facing the enemy valorously.
 
Many suspicious and pessimistic writers assert Gagik could have killed his brother Sempad by poisoning him in his eatings or drinkings...No children for Sempad.
 

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