Greater Armenia


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Greater Armenia

 

an ancient state whose territory covered the main areas of the Armenian Highland. Its earliest formations date from the sixth century B. C Subsequently, it became a satrapy of the Achaemenids. In the late fourth and the third centuries B. C. it became an independent kingdom under the rule of the Ervanduni dynasty (the Orontids). Slaveowning relations developed in Armenia during the Hellenistic period. At the end of the third and beginning of the second centuries B. C., Greater Armenia was conquered by the founder of the Armenian dynasty, Artaxias I (Artashes), who was in the service of the Seleucids. He ruled at first as a Seleucid strategus, but after 189 B. C. he became king of the independent state of Greater Armenia and founded the Artax-iad (Artashesid) dynasty. He enlarged the domains of Greater Armenia, carried out a reform that strengthened the right of private ownership of land, and founded the capital, Artaxata (Artashat). Greater Armenia reached the height of its power under Tigranes II (95–56 B. C.), who founded a new capital, Tigranocerta (Tigranakert). Under his rule the boundaries of Greater Armenia were significantly enlarged to include Sophene, Media, Atropatene, Syria, Phoenicia, Cilicia, and a number of other states and regions. Although internally unstable, Greater Armenia became the largest slaveowning state in the Hellenistic East. It had rich cities—centers of Hellenistic culture—and the most important trade routes from the Mediterranean to the East. But Greater Armenia soon lost almost all of its conquests in war with Rome, and at the beginning of the first century A. D. the Artashesid dynasty fell.

Until the middle of the first century A. D. , Greater Armenia was ruled by appointees from either Rome or Parthia. Tiri-dates I (who ruled from A. D. 62—officially from A. D. 66—until A. D. 80), a representative of the Parthian ruling family, founded the dynasty of the Armenian Arsacids, who bore the title “Kings of Greater Armenia.” In A. D. 114, Greater Armenia was occupied by Rome and proclaimed a Roman province, but royal power in Greater Armenia was subsequently restored. As a result of links with Parthia, the Iranian influence on the social and political structure, language, religion, and culture of Greater Armenia was strengthened. In the first centuries A. D. the disintegration of slaveowning relations, the rise of feudalism, the weakening of the central monarchical power, and the strengthening of the nakharars (the leading feudal lords in the Armenian regions) began. In order to protect itself against Iranian encroachments, Greater Armenia carried out a rapprochement with Rome. In order to strengthen his position in the struggle against Iran, the Armenian King Tiridates HI introduced Christianity into Armenia as the official religion at the beginning of the fourth century A. D. In the fourth century A. D. feudalism was fully established in Greater Armenia. The sharp conflicts between the king and the nakharars (in which the church also involved itself) and the feudal fragmentation of Greater Armenia, as well as the struggle between Iran and Rome for primacy in the East, weakened Greater Armenia. In 387 it was divided between the Iranian Sassanids and Byzantium, which had grown stronger in the fourth century. In the Sassanid zone the Arsacids continued to rule until 428. Thereafter the term “Greater Armenia” was used to designate the basic inhabited area of the Armenian people (for example, in the Geography of the seventh-century Armenian scholar Ananiia Shirakatsi).

REFERENCES

Manandian, la. A. Tigran II i Rim. Yerevan, 1943.
Manandian, la. A. O torgovle i gorodakh Armenii v sviazi s mirovoi torgovlei drevnikh vremen (V v. do n. e.-XV v. n. e.), 2nd ed. Yerevan, 1954.
Istoriia armianskogo naroda, part 1. Yerevan, 1951.
Istoriia SSSR s drevneishikh vremen, vol. 1. Moscow, 1966.
Vsemirnaia istoriia, vol. 2. Moscow, 1956.

A. I. BOLTUNOVA and G. KH. SARKISIAN

References in periodicals archive ?
After the fall of Greater Armenia in the 11th century, Armenians settled along the great trade routes connecting China and India with Russia, the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea.
At the same time the Armenian meliks, encouraged by Russia, gathered an army in Karabakh against Ottoman Turkey, which had by that time already occupied the entire territory of historic Greater Armenia to the west.
Following the Seljuk invasion of Greater Armenia, Armenians emigrated to the south-west where they founded the Cilician Armenian kingdom.
By consecrating a few others (particularly from his own family) during his lifetime Grigor not only secured continuity, but also endowed the incumbents with the independence required to negotiate with rulers in Greater Armenia, Cilicia, and Egypt on behalf of their community, while at the same time maintaining a deferential unity regarding his own primacy.

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