Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia – A Hub of Armenian Culture
Though the Armenians have lived in the Cilicia region for centuries, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was only established there in the 11th century. In the years of the aggressive campaigns of Hittite kings and Tigran II the Great, migrants traveling with the armies have settled in Cilicia, bringing along their lifestyle and culture.
Various world powers of the antique world have controlled Cilicia at different times, including the Egyptian pharaohs, Persian kings, Alexander the Great, and Arab caliphs. In 1080, Prince Ruben I proclaimed the sovereignty of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.
Since the 11th century, Cilicia has been developing and turning into a civilized and well-maintained region that served as the center of Armenian political and religious life for three centuries. Princes, warriors, architects, artists, monks, craftsmen, and common people moved to Cilicia from Armenia that had been conquered by the Seljuqs. With their ancient knowledge and skills, Cilicia became a pearl of the region in less than a century and established itself as a powerful state resisting the offensives of Arabs, Seljuqs, and Byzantines.
The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia fell in 1375 under the pressure of the Egyptian mamluks who seized and devastated Sis, the capital of the kingdom. However, some accounts recount that a prince named Constantine has ruled over the fragments of the once powerful country for additional 48 years.
Sheltering in mountain fortresses, Constantine wasn’t capable of withstanding the mamluks indefinitely. And in a 1424 fight, Cilicia disintegrated completely, though Armenians continued to live there until 1923. In the years of WWI, local Armenians attempted to resurrect the sovereignty of Cilicia, but to no avail due to the close presence of the Ottoman Empire.
These days, Armenians live only in the vicinity of the Musa Dagh mountain. And only ancient chronicles and Armenian inscriptions on preserved ruins of temples and fortresses testify to the past Armenian presence in Cilicia.
Lords of the Mountains: The Foundation of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia