The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Thondracians), members of a heretical, antifeudal, popular movement in medieval Armenia, active from the 830’s or 840’s to the mid-11th century, with its center in the village of Thondrak, north of Lake Van. The founder of the movement, Smbat Zarekhavantsi, called for an end to the church’s activity in Armenia and urged the people not to recognize church rituals. The Thondraki movement was supported by Paulicians who had taken refuge in Eastern Armenia and who influenced Thondraki ideology.

Behind the religious doctrine of the Thondraki there was a protest of the toiling masses against social inequity. Thus, it was not only the Christian feudal lords, both secular and religious, who united against the Thondraki, but also the Arab emirs, who were Muslims. The movement spread through Ararat, Shirak, and Si-unik, as well as the Armenian regions that were subject to the rule of Byzantium—Taron, Khark, and Mananali—where it assumed the character of a national liberation struggle against Byzantine expansion. After suffering a series of defeats at the hands of Byzantium in the 970’s, many Thondraki were forcibly resettled in Thrace. The Thondraki continued to resist Byzantium on the eve of its conquest of the Bagratid dynasty in 1045. The movement spread to cities as well (including the Bagratid capital of Ani), encompassing new strata of Armenian society: the middle-level clergy and petty feudal lords. Three schools of thought developed within the movement. The most radical elements preached atheism, questioned the existence of life after death, and denied the immortality of the soul.

In the mid-11th century Grigor Magisdros (Pahlavuni), the governor of Vaspurakan and Taron, succeeded in eliminating the Thondraki movement.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.