Armenia and Khazars – What Textbooks Are Silent About

Armenia and Khazars

In the Armenian chronicles, Khazars belonging to the Turkic-speaking family are referred to as “Khazirk” (“խազիրք”). The first mention of them is found in Movses Khorenatsi’s records.

Having appeared on the political arena in 650, the Khazar Kaganate or Khazaria (the state on the map below, had an area of 3 million square kilometers in 850) existed until 969. In those years, Armenia has been repeatedly subjected to destructive raids by the Khazars.

At the end of the 8th century, the elite of the Khazar state adopted Judaism and an anti-Arab policy, supporting the caliphate’s enemy Byzantium and fomenting anti-Arab sentiments and uprisings in Armenia.

In the 9th-10th centuries, diplomatic relations were established between the Bagratids and Khazar Armenia, as well as between the Khazaria and the Vaspurakan (Artsruni) kingdom.

At the same time, the increasing power of Byzantium in parallel with the weakening of the Arab caliphate made the former the main rival of the Khazars in the south. For a successful confrontation against Byzantium, Khazaria sought to establish allied relations with the kingdom of the Bagratids.

In history textbooks, only fragmentary information is given about the Khazars, and there is no information about diplomatic relations between the Armenians and the Khazars, although they had a direct influence on the political relations between Armenia and Byzantium.

Arshaluis Zurabyan

Khazar Khaganate, 650–850

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