|Hovanness - Sempad
The Rival Sons of Gagik I, and The Invasion of Seljukids (A.D. 1020)
|The Pakradouni king, Gagik I died in A.D. 1020. After 30 years of
intense activity, reforming social structures and giving Armenia its
genuine figure, in some manner rivaling other neighboring nations.
He was father of five: 3 boys and 2 females. According to the rules
of the kingdom, his first-born son succeeded him to the throne. Unfortunately,
Hovanness-Sempad, Gagik's eldest son, was not the right man, as it
is said, in the right place, and in the right time. Bodily he was
a stout man, a little bit sluggish, naïve in behavior and, neglecting
the military life, so much that, even if the contemporary historians
for his cleverness and exceptional activeness admired him, he thought
a nation's happiness consisted only in good and peaceful neighborhood.
However, in troubled times as were his reigning years, all those abovementioned
qualities were merely insufficient for a man who ought to be more
strenuous, more characterized for social commitments and have singular
aptitudes for dealing with everyday problems, and have necessarily
some authoritative expertise in military life.
|His brother, on the contrary, was enthusiastically vivid, valorous
fighter and excessively vaunting and ambitious. His name was Ashod.
Ashod could be considered the only proper man to continue his father's
work, and perhaps enlarge and perfect it a little more
once on the throne of his father, an intensifying rivalry surged between
the two brothers. Calling to obedience all his partisans who shared
his ideas, Ashod received supplemental support from his brother-in-law,
(husband of his sister Khoushoush) king Senekerim of Vasbouragan,
and came to besiege the city of Ani. But Hovanness-Sempad was no more
inactive. Stunned about what was going on, he ordered his 60,000 men
army to get out of the walls and reach the battlefield. Even so, he
became powerless. Consequently, the Vrazi consul proposed to Hovanness
Sempad to help him in some way, saying:
|- Sir, let me go and capture Ashod and bring him here.
- Ashod is a brave man, Hovanness said, how could you do such a thing?
- If you wish, I can bring his horse also with him, said the consul.
- Don't scorn the lion's whelp, if you didn't see him yet, responded Hovanness.
|A terrible conflict begun between the two armies of two brothers.
Then, in the bloody skirmish, the consul said, strongly crying.
|- Who is Ashod? Let him come up and manifest himself.
|Ashod came forward and a ferocious battle took place, and Ashod
quickly holding his own sword, struck a heavy blow on the head of
the consul and split it into two. The royal army of Hovanness was
obliged to withdraw till the Akhourian river where thousands of people
were drowned, giving an easy victorious issue for Ashod. Despite his
victory, Ashod was unlucky to realize his dream. The inhabitants of
Ani were more fond of their weak and inglorious sovereign than of
that stubbornly rough man. Then came the turn of influential princes
as Vahram Bahlavouni, and other ecclesiastical personalities to intervene
and find a compromise between the two brothers, thinking such uncertain
situation could lead nowhere. The best solution to take was: to split
the kingdom into two parts: Ani and Shirak region would be given to
Hovanness and the eastern parts of Araradian region would be given
to Hoovanness and the eastern parts of Araradian region would undergo
to Ashod's authority. In case of Hovanness' heirless death, Ashod
would appropriate the throne and all the wealth of the royal family.
|As consequence of this agreement, many new regions and counties
were created on the spot: Ani, Kars, Koukark, Sunik, Eastern Ararat,
Vasbouragan, causing this way the weakening of the whole nation and
more later preparing the way to a fatal and inevitable dispersion.
However, Ashod was completely dissatisfied with this agreement. He
planned an insurrection against his brother, with the collaboration
of Vrasdan and Abkhazia's kings. These northern peoples had many old
and unsolved disputed claims with the Pakradouni's dynasty. During
a trip in those northern regions, Hovanness-Sempad was intercepted
and captured by his enemies. But soon he was liberated, under the
obligation to yield three strongholds of his own. Ashod's madly behavior
opened the way to other unthinkable and undesirable damages. He also
cowardly elaborated a plot in order to harm his elder brother: Feigning
illness, in the village of Talin, he sends messengers urging his brother
to his bedside asking consolation. Unaware of Ashod's imposture, Hovanness-Sempad
soon willingly runs to see his brother: At the visit time, the fraudulent
Ashod orders his brother's arrest, abandoning him into the hands of
prince Abirad and ordering to conduct him into the secret and thick
woods of the region and to kill him in the wilderness, far from any
|This man, nevertheless, refusing to harm anybody by any order even
coming from a high leveled wealthy person, decided to conduct the
prisoner to the employees of the royal palace, declaring he couldn't
kill a man selected and crowned king by God. He thought he never could
prefer the reign of a mad man like Ashod instead of Hovanness
|Seljoukids in Armenia
|During the Hovanness-Sempad's first years of reign, nobody was aware
that something terrible was on the way and would soon arrive in the
region, where except Armenians, lived other foreign peoples, like
Arabs, Persians, and Byzantines. At the end of 10th century, about
A.D. 1019, two brothers, Seljik and Chakar, wealthy clan chiefs forcibly
being expelled from the southern region of Siberia, just transiting
the nearby Turkestan, emerged with all their camels and cattle eastbound.
It is said that all these people were Nestorian Christians, who perjuring
their faith switched into Islam, fearing retaliation or something
like that from other surrounding nations. In a period of 20 years,
they subdued Turkestan, Afghanistan, and Persia. Arriving near the
boundaries of Bagdad, they conquered it (1037), where their conductor
Doughril Bek took the royal appellation of Khalifa, declaring himself
King of West and of East.
|During their first invasion into Armenia, (A.D. 1019), Vasbouragan
region was conquered and then, two years later, they aimed Sevan Lake
region, sending there a battalion of irregular fighters. Sevan region
was the property of Bahlavouni dynasty.
|In those days, a messenger of misfortune laments and warns the responsibles
and the population that enemies are coming and devastating everything
on their way. Vahram and his brother Vassak try to face all these
freebooters, with the only aid of 500 soldiers. Nevertheless, they
fight strenuously against the huge multitude of the invaders. Just
in the middle of the bloodshed, a gigantic black man named "seven-headed
wolf", emerged out from the fighters, threatening Armenian fighters.
The commander Vassak gave him a fatal blow on his head with a heavy
sword, killing him on the spot. Soon all the invaders vanished, fleeing
everywhere, but leaving destruction and desolation behind them.
|King Hovanness fearing the worse during all these dreadful events
asked the support of the neighboring Byzantine forces, by an agreement
of friendship and signing a contract, which would be the most shameful
in the Armenian history, causing to our nation troubles and losses.
|Emperor Basil II
|Emperor Basil II, the famous man nicknamed "Killer of Bulgarians",
just ending a war against the valorous people of Bulgaria, tried to
face Armenians. Opposing his forces were Vrasdan and Abkhazia with
the collaboration of Armenia. Persecuting the Vrazis and the Abkhazians,
the emperor came to the city of Trebizonde, on the Black Sea, A.D.
1021. Then the king of Armenians Hovanness-Sempad, willing to reinforce
the friendly ties with the emperor, sent his messenger to him, the
Catholicoss Bedros (named Kedatarz) who reached Trebizonde during
the month of December. The Armenian bishop and the other delegates
were honored with great reception. Bishop Bedros was a clever man.
In Greece he had attended famous schools, receiving a high ranked
education, consequently being a fervid partisan of Greek influence
|An agreement was signed between the two parts. According to this
new contract, Basil II promised protection to Hovanness-Sempad against
his enemies, inside or outside. Armenia was claiming in return the
possession of the city of Ani by the Crown of Byzance after his death.
This was not, truly, an agreement. It was a fictitious procedure easily
conceived by the sly emperor obliging the Armenian king, embarrassed
by annoying troubles, to yield to his requirements. This treacherous
contract remained a mysterious business event, because all the historians
ignore till now who was the true author of this unthinkable and silly
crime perpetrated against our most beautiful city, constructed and
embellished heavenly by the cooperation of all Armenians. The Catholicoss?
The king himself, or the Byzantine emperor? The truth is that this
free trade irresistibly ended tragically with the sale of the city
of Ani. We will see that later how
|Victoriously satisfied, Basil II of Byzance, with a special permission,
allowed Armenians to celebrate the Christmas and the Blessing of Water
according to their rituals (A.D. 1022), being himself present at the
ceremonies. Something unusual was happening there, because of the
extreme hate that Armenian and Greek people had for each other. Our
historians relate that during the ceremonies, when the Armenian Cross
and the Holy Oil touched the water, the river miraculously stopped
to flow for a while and the area all around was illuminated by a bright
and sparkling light. Bedros was named Kedatarz, which means turner
of the river.
|In possession of the treacherous agreement, Basil II completing
his trips, returned to Constantinople. In A.D. 1025 he died in December.
Constantine, his brother, succeeded him. Before his death, according
to our historians, the monarch called his brother near the deathbed
and remitted to him the famous agreement recommending taking care
of Armenians against their enemies. Constantine reigned three years
(A.D. 1025-1028). He never would keep that city-saling document he
inherited from his brother. On his turn, at the moment of his death,
he wished to have any Armenian at his bedside and who could take away
that document. A priest named Kirakos came urgently to the royal palace
to whom was remitted the historical declaration of sale of the city
|-Take this document to the Armenian king and tell him: The emperor
is dying, he is made from the earth, he will return to be earth, take
back your document and give your kingdom to your son, and your son
to his son.
|Kirakos was a dishonest man. Instead of announcing the king about
the redeemed agreement, he hid the document at home, in order to sell
it later to the following emperor Mikhail. And so he did. It is said
that all this history is not but simple fiction and never and authentic
fact. Because, the truth is that Mikhail instead of calling anybody
to help him to plan any solution of the problem, before dying he could
easily tear and destroy the document, in case he could be afflicted
with any remorse or contrition.