Land Law In The Armenian Kingdom Of Cilicia

In Cilicia, the Armenian feudal lords would receive the right to land ownership by inheritance and become landowners according to the traditions of Armenian princely law.

In Cilicia, there were 70 large and small principalities that were inherited by family elders. Each of these principalities had their own fortresses, army, and banner. In the 13th century, there were 400 fortresses in Cilicia, of which 112 were mentioned by Smbat Gundstabl.

The baron was the sovereign ruler in his possessions but recognized the king as his overlord. The Church was also a large landowner – like the feudal lords, it had its own land and great influence in domestic and foreign policy.

Disputes that arose within the framework of land law were regulated not only on the basis of domestic state law but also by an arbitration decision, which was final and subject to immediate execution.

In this area, there is an interesting example connected to the life of Queen Zabel’s guardian Konstantin Hethumyan. He left his land that he had inherited from Smbat Gundstabl to Paperon and the castle of Corycus he had conquered in war to his youngest son Oshin.

Konstantin’s son Smbat was offended because he was the eldest son and, according to traditional Armenian law, had to inherit all his father’s possessions. A serious conflict arose between father and son, for the resolution of which they addressed the author of the legal treatise “Livre des Assises” (“Assizes of Jerusalem”) Count Jean Ibelin (Count Jaffa).

The arbiter made this decision – since the Corycus castle was military booty, Konstantin had the right to leave it to whomever he desired, while his eldest son would receive only hereditary lands. This became a precedent, after which patrimonial lands and lands inherited in a different way would be distinguished in law.

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