The Khachen Principality and the Hasan-Jalalyan Dynasty

The Khachen Principality

The Mongol invasion caused a social and economic catastrophe in Armenia. The peasantry was exterminated or expelled. The aristocracy broke up and economically weakened. Cities were deserted. The ethnic integrity of Armenia was violated by the influx of nomadic Turkic and Kurdish tribes, as well as due to the exodus of the country’s indigenous Armenian population.

In 1386, the troops of the Central Asian despot Tamerlane rushed to Armenia. Repeating their invasion the next year and then in the 90s, the Timurids ravaged almost all the regions of Armenia. In the 15th century, the Turkoman Black and White Sheep hordes (Aq Qoyunlu and Qara Qoyunlu) ruled in Armenia.

Despite the devastating invasions, the Armenian princes of Artsakh retained their political autonomy. While most of the feudal families of Armenia gradually disappeared, two branches of the Vakhtangyan-Aranshahik family continued to rule in Khachen.

Medieval manuscripts show that in the 14th-15th centuries, the descendants of Grand Prince Hasan Jalal Vakhtangyan, who called themselves Hasan-Jalalyan in honor of their famous ancestor, remained in power in Lower Khachen.

The reign of Turkmen ruler Jahan Shah Karakoyunlu (1437-1467) led to relative calm in the lands of Eastern Armenia. Jahan Shah gave his consent to the return of the Supreme Catholicosate of the Armenian Apostolic Church from Sis in Cilicia to St. Etchmiadzin in Armenia in 1441. He also granted a group of Armenian feudal lords – first of all, the princes of the provinces of Artsakh and Syunik – the title “melik”, literally meaning “king” in Arabic.

By the end of the 16th century, the Khachen Hasan-Jalalyan clan had established the Gulistan and Jraberd principalities, thus creating the foundation for the future union of the five Armenian principalities of Artsakh — Gulistan, Jraberd, Khachen, Varanda, and Dizak.

Alaverdi II Hasan-Jalalyan, who died in 1813, was the last sovereign prince of Khachen with the full title of melik. His descendants ruled the Khachen district until 1920 as beks.

It is noteworthy that Hasan-Jalalyans have not only retained civil authority in the Khachen principality but have also secured the title of the Armenian Catholicos in the Holy See of Gandzasar until 1815.

After the abolition of the Aghvank Catholicosate of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Hasan-Jalalyans were represented in the Armenian church hierarchy as the metropolitans and bishops of the newly-formed Karabakh Eparchy.

Flag of Khachen
Coat of arms of Khachen

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