The history of Cappadocia dates back to 5,000 BC. Throughout this time, the region was at the crossroads of civilizations, alternately part of the Hittite, Persian, Roman, and Ottoman Empires, and other states, and served as the arena for numerous wars.
Cappadocia (Greek: Καππαδοκία, Latin: Cappadocia, Armenian: Գամիրք, Turkish: Kapadokya, Persian: کاپادوکیه, Katpatuka — “Country of beautiful horses”) is a historical name for a territory in eastern Anatolia, in the territory of modern Turkey (part of the provinces of Nevşehir, Kayseri, Aksaray, and Niğde), used from ancient times until the present day.
The main rivers of Cappadocia were Halis (now Kızılırmak) and Iris (now Yeşilırmak) with a high-water tributary Lycus (modern Kelkit). The historical regions of Anatolia that surrounded Cappadocia were: Pontus to the north, Lesser Armenia to the northeast, Mesopotamia to the east, and Syria and Cilicia to the south.
Many researchers consider the indigenous inhabitants of Cappadocia to be Armenians and Phrygians. Byzantine policy towards the Armenians played an important role in the history of Cappadocia.
Bordering on Lesser Armenia to the northeast and Greater Armenia to the east, Cappadocia has long experienced the demographic influence of the Armenian nation, but during this period it became particularly significant.
The Byzantine Empire, in the context of its struggle with the Baghdad Caliphate, engaged in the forcible resettlement of Armenians from Armenia to Anatolia. There was also a significant emigration from Armenia, which was captured by the Arabs, caused by the same war.
Resettlement to Byzantine territories was mainly to Cappadocia (7th-9th centuries), as well as to Mesopotamia, Cilicia, and Syria.
“For example, the Byzantine general Leo in 688 AD ravaged 25 districts of Armenia and expelled 8,000 families to Anatolia. In 747, 751, and 752, Armenians were resettled to Anatolia from Melitene and Carina (Erzerum).
The peak, caused by the aggression of Byzantium and the invasion of the Seljuks, came in the 11th century. For example, in 1020-1021, Emperor Basil II resettled 15,000 Armenian families from the Van region to Sebasteia (Anatolia).”
The Byzantine emperors, having destroyed the Kingdoms of Vaspurakan, Ani, and other Armenian kingdoms, granted the Bagratids, Artsrunids, and other royal and princely dynasties new domains within the empire.
These rulers consolidated power as Byzantium itself weakened, and along its eastern border arose Armenian principalities on lands inhabited by Armenians, including in Cappadocia.
One such vassal state was the Kingdom of the Artsrunids, which arose in Sebastia between 1016 and 1020 during the reign of Senekerim when this ruler, along with a third of the entire population of his Vaspurakan region, left his lands and resettled in the upper reaches of the Halis River.
This was the first vassal Armenian kingdom to emerge in Cappadocia, which included Sebastia, as well as a number of cities and districts between the Pontic Mountains and the Euphrates. Byzantium hoped to use it as one of the barriers against the Seljuks.
Armenians titled Senekerim as “King of Armenia”, while Constantinople only granted him the title of “patricius” (11th rank in the Byzantine governmental hierarchy), “military commander” of Cappadocia or “Duke of Mesopotamia and Strategos of Cappadocia”.
After the death of this ruler in 1026, his successors continued to expand the state until it was captured by the Seljuks in 1080.
In 1045, the Bagratid Kingdom was established in Cappadocia. It was founded in 1044, when after capturing the kingdom, Constantine Monomachus granted its ruler, Gagik II, two cities (or even castles) — Pizu and Koloneia.
Gagik II extended his power to Caesarea, Tzamandos and Havartanek, obtaining them as a dowry for the granddaughter of King Senekerim, daughter of David Artsruni. This vassal state lasted until 1079 when Gagik was killed by Greek feudal lords.
The Kingdom of Tzamandos arose in 1065 from the lands granted to Gagik, the king of Kars, son of Abas, in exchange for lands he had lost. These were the cities of Tzamandos (formerly Kidn) and Larissa. This state existed until the assassination of Gagik by the Byzantines in 1081.
In addition to these three Armenian kings, numerous Armenian princely families resettled to these lands along with their vassals and subjects. An important source on this topic is the work of Smbat Sparapet.
The Arab historian Abu Al Faraj mentions Armenian settlers of the 10th century in Sivas as follows: “Sivas, in Cappadocia, was dominated by Armenians, whose number had increased so much that they became vital members of the imperial army.
Armenians were used in strongly fortified fortresses, recaptured from the Arabs, as sentries. They distinguished themselves as experienced infantry soldiers in the imperial army and continually fought with outstanding courage and success among the Romans, in other words, the Byzantines.”
As a result of further military campaigns by Byzantium, the settlement of Armenians continued both in Cappadocia and eastwards – in Cilicia and in the mountainous regions of northern Syria and Mesopotamia – up until the era of the formation of the Crusader states.
Armenian-Greek Kings of Cappadocia:
- Ariarathids (350—95 BC)
Ariarathes I (independent king: 331—322 BC) Ariarathes II (301—280 BC) Ariaramnes (Ariamnes II; 280—250 BC) Ariarathes III (250—220 BC) Ariarathes IV Eusebes (220—163 BC) Ariarathes V Philopator (163—130 BC) Orophernes Nicophor (usurper; 160—156 BC) Queen Laodice (widow of Ariarathes V; 130—129 BC) Ariarathes VI Epiphanes Philopator (130—116 BC) Ariarathes VII Philometor (116—101 BC) Ariarathes VIII (101—96 BC; not from the Ariarathid family, son of Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus)) Regent Gordias (101—96 BC) Ariarathes IX (96—95 BC) Ariarathes VIII (second term; 95—86 BC)
- Ariobarzanids (95—36 BC)
Ariobarzanes I Philoromaios (95—62 BC) Ariobarzanes II Philopator (62—52 BC) Ariobarzanes III (52—42 BC) Ariarathes X (42—36 BC) Archelaus (36 BC — 17 AD; did not come from the Ariobarzanid family). His wife — Glaphyra
In 17 AD, Cappadocia became part of the Roman Empire.
- Armenian rulers and kings
Senekerim Artsruni (1022—1026). David, son of Senekerim (1026—1065). Atom, son of David (1065—1083) Abusahl, brother of Atom (co-ruler: 1065—1083)
by Alexander Bakulin
Translated by Vigen Avetisyan