Levon the Great – King of Cilicia – The Armenian Rubenid Dynasty

Levon the Great - King of CiliciaLevon II (Armenian: Լեւոն Բ Մեծագործ, crowned Levon I, French: Léon II; 1150–1219) was the first king of Cilician Armenia from the Armenian Rubenid dynasty. He reigned from 1187 to 1219.

The rule of Levon II coincided with the time of the Third Crusade led by Frederick I Barbarossa. His contemporary was another major figure of this era – Salah ad-Din.

During the reign of Levon the Great, Cilicia has experienced an era of economic and cultural flourishing, being one of the most significant Christian countries in the Middle East. World forces such as the Holy Roman Empire, the papacy, and even the Abbasid Caliph vied for influence over Cilicia.

Everyone wanted to be the first to recognize the Prince of Cilicia Levon II as the legitimate king. As a result, on January 6, 1198, in the city of Tarsus, he was crowned and proclaimed the king of Cilicia.

Representatives from both Christian and several Muslim countries attended the coronation of Levon II, thus highlighting the significant position that Cilicia das acquired.

In 1187, Jerusalem was taken by Saladin, which caused a new crusade. Frederick Barbarossa who led the German militia marched through Cilicia. The crusaders lost their way in the mounts of the Taurus, and the Armenians came to help.

Frederick then sent three honorary embassies to Levon II. In his speech before his army, as the Armenian historian Vardan reports, Frederick announced that Cilicia deserves to have its king.

Левон Великий Рубинян Levon the Great Rubinyan

Painting by Raphael Azizyan

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