UNIARTS
ARMENIAN CONTINUING HISTORY

 

CONSTANTINE I - TOROS I THE PRINCES. THE MANDALIAN BROTHERS

CONSTANTINE I (1095-1100)

Constantine I disposed of his ancestral properties. He captured numerous castles from the Byzantines and the Turks. His chief aim was the capture of "Vahka" castle. He expertly captured that stronghold from the Byzantines, which for 70 years became the seat of the Rubinian dynasty. In light of these successes by the Rubinians, the other Princes slowly became allies with them, especially Gogh Vasil of Kesoon.

CRUSADES

As the Seljuks Turks were at the gates of Constantinople, the Byzantine ruler Alexander I asked the Pope to declare a crusade against the Muslims. In 1097 an army of 300,000 gathered in Europe, with the aim of liberating Jerusalem from the Muslims. They had on their uniforms a large cross and as such became known as the crusaders. When through the Balkans they reached Constantinople, the Byzantines became alarmed at the size of their army and worried that they might even capture their own lands. Regreting his original decision,the emperor became enemies with the crusaders.

The crusaders' large army crossed the Bosphorus straits into Asia Minor. It faced and severly defeated the army of Kelej Aslan. It then entered Cilicia on its way to Jerusalem having chosen this route because it was controlled by friendly Armenians.

ARMENIANS AND THE CRUSADERS

Because of religious and political reasons, the Armenians provided a very warm welcome to the crusaders. They provided food, shelter, weapons and soldiers for the coming expedition.

When in 1098 the crusaders layed siege to the city of Antioch and were faced with a severe famine, Constantine I sent food and supplies, there and saved the crusaders. In gratitude, Kopres, the commander of the crusaders bestowed many princely titles on Constantine I. Henceforth the Rubinians kept the title of Baron. The crusaders were not only interested in the liberation of the holy lands. Some of them stayed behind and created the Principalities of Yetesia, Antioch and Tripolis.

The friendly disposition and assistance of the Armenians became well known throughout Europe. The Pope sent many congradulatory letters to Constantine. The main benefit of the crusaders to the Armenians was the defeat and eviction of the remaining Turks in Cilicia.

Constantine married his daughter Jocelyn to the ruler of Yetesia and thereby forged an alliance with him.

TOROS I (1100-1123)

Constantine was succeeded to the throne by his son, Toros I, who became one of the best known rulers of Cilicia by his bravery, intellect and political saviness. Up until the reign of his father, the rulers of Cilicia were situated in the mountains. Realizing his need for agricultural lands, Toros I descended on the plains of Cilicia. His well armed forces captured the fortified city of Anarzapa and reached the Mediterranean Sea.

WAR WITH THE TURKS

During this time, Toros was tending to the development of his lands by building castles, monasteries and churches. He was busy improving culture and trade.. The Turkish rulers of Persia had by this time reached the banks of the Euphrates river. From there they entered the land of Cilicia. They captured the lands around Anarzaba and destroyed and looted them, however the city of Anarzaba was able to holdout. The Turks also entered the lands of Gogh Vasil. This elderly Prince confronted the Turks around the marshlands and defeated them soundly. He returned some prisoners along with liberated areas to Toros in 1107. However, the Sultan of Igonia, Melik Shah (1107-1116) did not want to tolerate a Christian state in the area and hence entered the kingdom of Toros with a substantial army. During bloody mountainous warfare and after many casualties, the armies of Toros headed by his brother Levon were able to drive the Turks out of Cilicia.

TOROS AND THE KOMS BAGHDIN

The Emir of Mosul had invaded Yetesia. Toros went to his aide since he had married an Armenian princess. He was able to drive the Turks out and free Yetesia (Ourfa). In 1118, Baghdin became the king of Jerusalem and left the borders of Cilicia. On numerous occassions Toros and Gogh Vasal were forced to take up arms against the crusaders who now wanted to rule Cilicia. Meanwhile the Byzantine ruler who also mistrusted the crusaders sided with Toros and gave him the fortress of Gizisdra.

TOROS AND THE MANDALIAN BROTHERS

One day while accompanied by his guards, Toros paid a visit to the fortress of Gizisdra and its rulers, the Mandalian brothers. The Mandalian brothers greeted him warmly and presented him with gifts, but did not want to surrender the fortress to him. Toros left the fortress but hid his soldiers in nearby forests. The next morning, the residents of the fortress came out to tend to their work. At this moment, Toros' soldiers rushed the gates and captured the fortress along with the three brothers. Toros ordered the Mandalians to bring Gagik I's sword and clothes. When he saw the tainted clothes of Gagik and the sad shape of his sword, Toros was moved to tears. He gave a severe beating to these murderers and asked them to reveal the location of the treasures. One of the brothers managed to free himself from his captors and threw himself from the walls of the fortress. The second brother asked Toros what he would tell the Emporer now that he was torturing its subjects. Toros answered by saying, "What will you say to the Armenian people for murdering their beloved king?" Then he lifted his weapon and struck the brogher in the head and killed him. He then took the third brother as his prisoner to Vahka Castle. He also took with him all the treasures and portraits of Mary that belonged to Gagik.

Toros passed the next decade in peace and built many castles, monasteries and churches. Near Sis he built the famous Drazark monastery. Henceforth it became the Rubinian dynasty's royal cemetary. Toros became so famous in Europe that Cilicia was sometimes known as the "Land of Toros".

 
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