Armenian Historiography in the Era of Developed Feudalism

In this period, there were significant achievements in science, particularly in the historiography of Movses Khorenatsi. Armenian historians were based on classical historiography, especially the principles and methods developed by Movses Khorenatsi.

Political realities, the coexistence of the centralized Bagratid kingdom and local authorities became the reason for the emergence of two important directions in historiography.

The first defended the idea of the integrity of the state and sought to establish agreement between princes and kings. Historians representing the second direction tried to substantiate and justify feudal separatism and the emergence of local kingdoms.

In Armenian historiography, a third direction also emerged, which set itself the goal of creating a “universal,” that is, a general history that would give an idea of the origin of mankind and the course of its development.

Representatives of the first trend reinforced the traditions of “Armenian histories,” while the principle formed in the previous century was preserved – the historian began his work from the place where the previously written history had ended.

Ovannes Drasxanakertci was the first historian in this direction. He received an excellent education, was the Catholicos of the Armenians, held this post for more than a quarter of a century, and had at his disposal rich and reliable materials.

Especially valuable is the final part of his “History of Armenia,” where he appears as a participant and witness of events (the second half of the 9th – the first quarter of the 10th centuries).

Aristakes Lastivertsi dedicated his work to the Armenian history of the 11th century, while Kirakos Gandzaketsi outlined the history of Armenia up to his days – the 1260s.

Tovma Artsruni’s work, “History of the House of Artsruni,” is a richly detailed history of the dynasty, devoted to Vaspurakan. The work, concluding with a description of the events of the early 10th century, was later continued by historian Ananun Artsruni.

Stepanos Orbelian’s “History of the Region of Sisakan” is also a history of a local kingdom, but its significance extends far beyond Syunik.

The author of the history of his native region narrates it, touching upon events not only in Armenia but also in the entire Near East region, which means that it is valuable from the perspective of the history of neighboring countries.

Evidence of the expansion of the frames encompassing historical reality in Armenian historiography is the formation of the traditions of “Universal Histories.”

The core of these works was undoubtedly the history of the native land, but with the reflection of the general panorama of events known at that time. A series of universal histories begins with a work written in the early 11th century by Stepanos Taronetsi Asoghik. The second attempt at outlining a universal history belongs to Vardan Aygektsi in the 13th century.

Also appearing are works of a new genre – chronologies. Historical novels of this type cover large time spans but only delve into detail for those periods that relate to events contemporary to the author.

The wide geographical coverage of the chronologists and their references to the realities of neighboring countries are of interest.

Leading places among Armenian chronographs belong to Matteos Urhayetsi, Samuel Anetsi, Mkhitar Anetsi, and Smbat Gundstablu, a prominent political and judicial figure of Cilician Armenia.

In the 13th and subsequent centuries, brief descriptions of historical events – small chronologies – become prevalent. Being important primary sources, they also testify to the impending decline of historiographical thought in Armenia.

Margarjan A.

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