Chapter 6 - The Armenian Inquisition (1045-1047)

Werson

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Chapter 6 - The Armenian Inquisition (1045-1047)

It had been merely a month since Gagik had returned from his successful campaign, when he received the news about Grigor's death. The man who had crowned and supported him throughout his tumultuous ascension to the throne, Sparapet (commander-in-chief) of all his armies, succumbed one night to the passing of time, leaving behind a grief-stricken Gagik to ponder on who could possibly ever fill his shoes.

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The death of Sparapet Grigor Pahlavuni, January of 1045

There were many Naxarar (nobles) who ambitiously eyed the role of the late Grigor, for the prestige it carried, as well as the vast commanding power of the title could transform any men into the second most powerful person in the kingdom.

The question of who to appoint became increasingly difficult for Gagik, as his spymaster Zakare had recently been victim of murder. Mayor Zakare was not the brightest man, but he had been loyal enough to Gagik to keep him as his master of secrets. If he had been murdered, he must have discovered something important, perhaps a plot by the Naxarar to oust him or in support of the Greeks.

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With Zakare and Grigor gone, King Gagik lacked anyone he could truly trust the safe-guarding of the realm on, and thus convened a meeting with the royal council, where he abolished the title of Sparapet, reforming the Armenian military into a more localized system akin to that of the Byzantines to the West. The King would therefore become the commander of all military forces in the kingdom, while each Naxarar would become commander of the armies under his land, allowing for a faster mobilization of the army as needed. They would also be responsible for providing a certain percentage of these men to the King to safeguard the capital of Ani at all times. These Naxarar retinues would be comprised of heavy cavalry and horse archers, akin to the famous Parthian Cataphracts of the East, and act as a highly mobile, standing army ready to attack or defend at all times.

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Depiction of a typical Armenian soldier of the new Naxarar retinues
Queen Theopiste's condition meanwhile had not been improving, afflicted by dysentery and other ailments, she had become a bit more temperamental than usual, being easily annoyed by the constant flux of men coming in and out of Gagik's court. One especially irksome figure was the humble chancellor Tachat, who had become a permanent presence in the court of Ani. Normally Gagik would not comply with such requests, but seeing the poor state of his wife, he agreed to remove Tachat from his court upon her request, hoping it would alleviate some of her pains.

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While Tachat was initially indignant over such a petty action by his King, he soon found out that he was assigned a much more important mission to carry out in the East. The chancellor was to travel to Nishapur in Persia, seat of the Seljuk Turks, hoping to dissuade Tughril-Beg from any incursions into Armenian territory, and to establish friendly diplomatic relations that could perhaps lead to monetary gains in the future through the opening of new trade routes. Proving his worth as chancellor, Tachat was quick to become friends with the Turkic lord, putting in a good word for King Gagik.

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The great diplomatic skill of chancellor Tachat

His removal from court however did little to alleviate Queen Theopiste's affliction, and she perished soon after while attending "chamber business." Gagik had never been too fond of her, even if he was eternally grateful of her family's sacrifice to aid his safe return to Armenia, and the Naxarar were mostly glad to rid of this "foreign" Queen as they called her, more Greek than Armenian.

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The passing of Queen Theopiste, April of 1046

Still lacking an heir to pass the throne upon his death, King Gagik scrambled to find a new wife that could carry his children. He saw no better way to honor the memory of his former Sparapet and father figure, Grigor, than by uniting their bloodlines, marrying his daughter Mara. Renowned across the realm for her beauty, this marriage would cement his ties with the most powerful land-holder in the realm, Mara's younger brother, Grigor II, as well as please the Naxarar who clamored for a native Queen to rule alongside him.

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Queen Consort Mara Pahlavuni, May of 1046

Seeking to consolidate his realm further, he assembled a meeting with his brother-in-law, the emir of Dvin. Emir Šawur had seized the city of Dvin during the reign of Gagik's father, and in order to appease him and avoid any further incursions at the time, was offered Gagik's sister hand in marriage. Šawur resented his overlord and younger nephew Elî, and was looking to strike free of his reign.

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Emir Šawur and his wife Mara, lord of Dvin

Gagik was looking to reconquer the city of Dvin, and asked for his brother-in-law's support. Šawur, a very pious man, could not side with a Christian over his own Muslim nephew, but agreed to stay out of the conflict if Gagik waged war on his nephew. If Gagik won the war, he'd submit to his rule and continue as lord of Dvin under Gagik, but if he lost, the now weakened Emir Elî would be an easy target to overthrow as he assumed the role of Shaddadid Emir.

The armies of Gagik and Elî met in the fields of Khachen, where the inexperienced Emir, expecting the forces of his uncle to reinforce him, were quickly subdued by the better commander Gagik.

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The Battle of Artsakh, October of 1046

Defeated, the young Emir retreated South into the lands of the Rawaddid Emirate, hoping to recruit some Kurdish tribesmen into his cause. Largely unsuccessful and occupied with their own affairs, Elî failed to recruit any significant amount of Kurds to his army. Holding up his part of the ordeal, Emir Šawur opened the gates of Dvin upon Gagik's arrival, surrendering the city to the Armenian king. After six long months of skirmishes, Elî finally surrendered Dvin, adding another victory to King Gagik achievements.

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King Gagik's victory over the Shaddadis, May of 1047

Having been responsible for the deaths of countless Armenian souls, the Naxarar of Armenia would not easily accept Šawur into their ranks. Gagik was well aware of that, but with the help of his sister Mara they organized a faux-conversion ceremony, where Šawur would publicly give up his faith in Allah to embrace the Apostolic Church of Armenia. Šawur was warned by Gagik to not be caught secretly practicing Islam, for if he was outed as a secret Mohammedan, he'd be forced to put him to the sword for his past crimes and lack of repentance.

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Armenia in August of 1047, with the newly independent principalities of Bardzr Armenia and Taron in display

As this faux-ceremony took place, a three year war between Byzantine Emperor Katakalon, Konstantinos successor, and a league of nobles seeking independence came to an end. This league led by Doux Alusian and Doux Tornik was a grave loss for the Greeks for it reversed decades of progress in the annexation of Armenia.

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The Byzantine rebel leaders

Although victorious against the Empire, the troubles of Doux Alusian were far from over. Born and raised an Orthodox Greek, Alusian struggled to connect with his subjects, for the lands of Bardzr (Upper) Armenia, were an overwhelmingly Armenian populace of Apostolic faith.

King Gagik hoped to exploit the situation by gathering support from his brethren in Alusian's realm to expand his Kingdom, and thus sent Catholicos (patriarch) Sion II to speak with the clergy of Bardzr Armenia to plot against the Doux. Taking advantage of his absence in Ani, the local clergy demanded an audience with King Gagik, where they exposed the corruption of Sion, who had been conspiring with some lower Naxarar to oust the young Grigor II from Varazhnunik and expand the power of the Apostolic Church, akin to what the Pope in Rome had done with the Papal States.

Outraged, but not surprised by the turn of events, King Gagik sent Grigor II himself to arrest the wicked priest, putting an end to the farce that was his reign as Catholicos. The populace was of course outraged, for Sion had been a popular figure among the peasants, promising them lands and tax exemptions if his plots came to pass, and now looked toward Gagik, lacking the guidance of the Catholicos.

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The arrest of Catholicos Sion II, September of 1047

With renewed zeal to restore the prestige and status of the Church, a small sect of devout Christians started a hunt for heretics, apostates, and corrupt clergy like Sion, culminating in the capture of Naxarar Šawur while he prostrated toward Mecca, showing his secret devotion to Allah and exposing the faux-conversion he had undergone months earlier.

His council implored Gagik to release Šawur in order to keep the peace among his vassals, but the clergy grew restless. If he had been so harsh as to imprison the highest ranking member of the Church, he couldn't impose a softer punishment on the Mohammedan. After days of deliberation, he agreed to the execution of Šawur by this militant sect. His three children, as well as Gagik's sister Mara were taken under interrogation as well, in order to prove they too weren't secret Muslims. After a couple of hours, and a bit of interference by Gagik, they were finally released, unable to find any lack of faith for the Church in his infant children or his wife Mara. Gagik's nephew, Fezl who was only five years old would now be the overseer of Dvin, with his mother Mara as regent.

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The death of Naxarar Šawur, October of 1047
With Sion and many members of the clergy imprisoned, and the execution of Šawur and some of his followers, the clergy set their eyes on liberating their brethren from the clutches of Doux Alusian. If King Gagik wished to keep their support as spiritual leader, he'd have to make a move before Alusian could solidify his position over the realm of Bardzr Armenia.

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Werson

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stnylan

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It was probably bound ot happen - him being outed as still a Muslim. Makes for awkward family dynamics and whatnot .
 
Chapter 7 - Holy War (1047-1048)

Werson

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Chapter 7 - Holy War (1047-1048)

Surrounded by Arabs to the South, and their former Byzantine overlords on every other direction, the small Principality of Taron would be hard pressed to remain independent for long. Seeing the renewed fervor for the faith in Ani, the zealous Naxarar Tornik met with King Gagik to discuss annexing his realm to the Kingdom of Armenia.

Tornik would gain protection by Gagik just like any other landholder in the kingdom, so long as he subjected to the contributions of taxes and men the other landholders were supposed to provide, as well as to bolster the royal Naxarar retinues. The Principality of Taron enjoyed a privileged position right at the crossroads of Armenia, Asia Minor, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. Ruled for generations by the Bagratids, this became the perfect opportunity for Gagik to recover the lands lost nearly a century ago to the Byzantines. The distance from the capital to Taron was vast, and being forced to cross Byzantine territory to access it was a dangerous task of itself, but Gagik would stop at nothing to return Armenia to greatness.

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The annexation of Taron, October 1047
The following month, Naxarar Tornik would meet with Gagik once again in Ani, this time to debrief the king on the potential weaknesses of his former ally, Doux Alusian. Pointing out flaws in his defenses, as well as the numerically inferior amount of men at his disposal, Tornik would prove instrumental in the upcoming invasion of Upper Armenia.

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The Doux of Upper Armenia and his mercenary commander, Rostislav

Or so Gagik thought, but Doux Alusian had made some new friends since the last time he met with Tornik. A roving band of Rus warriors had made its way to his realm, ferried over from Tmutarakan in the Crimea, bolstering the forces of Alusian by nearly 2000 men, and thus outnumbering the Armenian armies. Their leader, Rostislav was a brilliant warrior, said to have acquired a zealous hatred for non-Orthodox Christians and heathens alike as his village had been razed to the ground by nomads somewhere along the Pontic Steppe when he was only a child.

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The Battle of Kars, December of 1047

Rostislav would accompany the Doux and lead his armies throughout the mountainous passes of Armenia. Against his better judgement, the Rus commander was ordered by Alusian to attack and break Gagik's forces near Kars, before they could step into his realm. His experience fighting in the steppes however did not prepare him for the kind of warfare waged in the peaks and valleys of Armenia, and despite putting up a brave fight, his army was routed, losing over half of its total forces, among them many of the Russians.

This costly defeat opened a clear path for Gagik to reach Karin, capital of Doux Alusian, which promptly fell due to the lack of leadership from the defenders. This was a costly loss for the Doux, for his wife, two daughters, and one of his sons was captured after the walls fell.

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The Siege of Karin, March of 1048

Soon after Karin fell, Gagik received a large shipment of supplies and coin from his vassals in Armenia, which came as a surprise to him for he had not asked for reinforcements. It seemed the kingdom's clergy had gone around every city and Naxarar court to request new funds to support Gagik's "holy war" as they were calling it.

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King Gagik's "Crusading" war chest
Not all of the Doux' family had been captured however, for his older son Basileios had managed to escape during the turmoil of the siege. He had travelled North to Tao, where he had gathered some new forces to join his father's army. There they made their stand.

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The Battle of Tao, April of 1048

The battle was a particularly bloody one, where both sides lost as much men. Gagik once more proved his worth as a commander, taking part in not one, but two duels. The first with the son of the Doux, who proved to be a fool as he charged at the front of his father's army. No match for the Lion of Armenia.

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The death of Basileios, oldest son and heir of Doux Alusian

The second duel, as luck would have it, was with the Doux' second in command, a monster of a man by the name of Paschalios, who's fame as a warrior was perhaps only exceeded by Gagik's himself. Despite being far more skilled in swordsmanship than the late Basielios, he too fell to Gagik's spear.

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The death of Commander Paschalios, Doux Alusian's second in command

As he watched the Russian mercenaries desert him, Alusian fell to his knees, lamenting the loss of his oldest son as well as his best friend. Knowing full well of the capability for cruelty Gagik was becoming famous for, he feared for the safety of his remaining family members imprisoned in Karin and promptly surrendered to the Armenian monarch.

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The Kingdom of Armenia, May of 1048
With the annexation of Taron and reconquest of Karin, the Doux of Upper Armenia now vastly weakened, and the Shaddadid Emirate pacified for the time being, perhaps it was time King Gagik revisited the King of Khachen, and put and end to the rebellious Sub-Kingdom once and for all...

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Werson

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It's a good thing the King was able to spare his sister and her children.
Just barely. The bloodlust of this new Apostolic sect is truly scary. Let's hope they don't lead Gagik into a war he can't easily triumph in.
I sense that you will be hard-pressed by the ERE.
Well, thus far it has been plagued by rebellions in the East, and Normans in the West. Sicily is slowly being conquered by William "Iron-Arm" and his descendants.
It was probably bound ot happen - him being outed as still a Muslim. Makes for awkward family dynamics and whatnot .
Sawur didn't catch on to the whole "not in public" thing, apparently.
Well, Šawur kept practicing Islam in secret, the jury is still out on how the clergy discovered him in the act. Some say it was maybe Mara, his own wife, that outed him in order to become the regent of Dvin, becoming the sole parent to her children, thus ridding them off the Islamic influences of their father. Of course, we might never know ;).
 

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Just barely. The bloodlust of this new Apostolic sect is truly scary. Let's hope they don't lead Gagik into a war he can't easily triumph in.

I think that's all religions in the HIP. The default setting for priests is hunt heretics. In my Jerusalem game, they kept dragging people to me to be branded apostates. I mostly let them go.
 

stnylan

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Another bloody little affray - very Caucasian. Armenia is slowly but surely growing into the local neighbourhood bully :D
 

Werson

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I think that's all religions in the HIP. The default setting for priests is hunt heretics. In my Jerusalem game, they kept dragging people to me to be branded apostates. I mostly let them go.
You are absolutely right. I often forget to assign my councillors to a task, so they stay on the default one. Works out great for RP purposes though.
Another bloody little affray - very Caucasian. Armenia is slowly but surely growing into the local neighbourhood bully :D
Pretty much, although the big bad Turks are slowly encroaching...
 
Chapter 8 - Interbellum (1048-1050)

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Chapter 8 - Interbellum (1048-1050)

As Armenia prospered and expanded with every passing year thanks to Gagik's brilliant leadership, the Byzantines suffered the opposite fate. With a regime change nearly every year, constant raids by the Normans, Arabs, and Pechenegs, and uppity peasants revolting every other month, the Empire was slowly collapsing on itself.

King Gagik had already benefited greatly from the Greek's decline, reconquering Karin from the rebellious Alusian, while peacefully annexing Taron from a fellow Armenian rebel. Connecting Taron to the rest of the realm was one of Gagik's highest priorities, but attacking the Empire, even in such a weakened state, would be disastrous for Armenia.

As luck would have it however, a humble man from Manazkert by the name of Tachat had come to Ani, asking for the king's support in an upcoming rebellion. Inspired by Armenia's recent territorial gains, the people of Manazkert had hoped to liberate themselves from the Greeks in the name of King Gagik.

This was a tempting proposal for Gagik, but he had enjoyed peace with the Empire since his escape from Konstantinos prison, and with the Seljuk Turks encroaching on his territory once more, he could not afford to anger the empire.

Tachat was thus left on his own against the might of the Empire, his rebellion swiftly shut down. Despite their victory against the rebels, due to the unrest the Empire encountered itself in at the time, their punishment was light, with many of the participants able to return to their previous lives, perhaps to revolt again in the future...

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The Peasant Rebellion of Manazkert, April of 1049

King Gagik instead focused on internal affairs, bringing his nephew Fezl to Ani so he could receive an education worthy of a proper Armenian. The boy was only five when his father was burned at the stake, and thus had only faint memories of him. By bringing him close, Gagik would be able to steer his future into becoming a loyal vassal of the realm, separating him from his fellow Kurds that populated his court in Dvin.

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The dated policy of creating sub-kingdoms had become a failure by the time Gagik had assumed the throne in 1041, and while his policies had brought an end to Siwnik, the Khacheni sub-kingdom still retained its independence in the province of Baghk. Just as Gagik had started to assemble his forces to take the remains of Sevada's kingdom, the old man passed away. Realizing the threat of a stable Armenia at its borders, Senekerim-Hovhannes II made the journey to Ani, where he gave up his crown to become a vassal to the Armenian king.

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The late King Sevada and his son, the last Khacheni King, August of 1049

While the realm had been in a near constant state of warfare since the ascension of King Gagik II, most of the warfare had been conducted in the outskirts of the realm or in foreign territories, allowing the populace to enjoy the relative peace, able to prosper in ways they hadn't since the days of King Gagik I, nearly 30 years prior. This stability allowed the peasants to organize festivals and celebrations, as well as promoting travel and trade between distinct communities, for the roads were well guarded and free of raiders, making the King popular among the lower class.

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Following the peaceful integration of Khachen, King Gagik convened a council meeting, hoping to discuss the next course of action for the Kingdom. While the peasantry loved the King for the peace he provided them, the Naxarar were kept happy by their inclusion into the policy-making of the Kingdom, able to give their insights and suggestions.

The council was conformed by the most powerful of nobles, including the lords of Taron and Khachen, the loyalist Pahlavunis, and the representative of the Apostolic Church and leader of the inquisition, Manuel. The sub-kings of Tasir and Vanand did not enjoy a spot on the council due to the higher degree of autonomy they possessed compared to the rest of Naxarar, a policy Gagik'd seek to amend in the near future.

Unlike her predecessor Theopiste, Queen Mara had taken a more active role in the everyday ruling of the kingdom. She had adopted a policy of traveling across the many cities and villages of Armenia, fostering this new cultural renaissance and funding many of the festivals organized by the peasantry. Loved by the lower class even more than the king himself, she was easily able to acquire information from the people and thus enjoyed the position of Spymaster.

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The Armenian High Council

The Queen had heard rumors about a great general in Tarnovo, who fed up with the constant raids by the northern nomads, staged an uprising in Bulgaria. Mara suggested that with the Imperial forces occupied in the Balkans, the provinces of Western Armenia could easily be reconquered.

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The Bulgarian Uprising of 1049

Chancellor Grigor Pahlavuni suggested an incursion North into Georgia, to help the newly crowned Queen put down the rebels that had been ravaging her kingdom for over three years. Grigor argued that doing so could earn King Gagik a powerful ally to the North that could aid if the Turks or Greeks ever came knocking.

Steward Tornik, well aware of the power rebels could have due to his origins as one, agreed with Grigor, but pointed out that doing so would put the relationship with the sub-kingdom of Tasir in jeopardy, for sub-king Davit had recently entered the war, hoping to enforce his claim on the Kingdom of Georgia.

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The Georgian War of Succession, 1049

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The three faction leaders in Georgia

Senekerim of Khachen did not agree with his fellow council members however. His lands bordered those of the Shaddadid Emirate to the East, and the Rawaddids to the South, and instead argued to expand the Kingdom in those directions, hoping to expand the buffer zone between his lands and potential enemies.

He further elaborated on his point by speaking about Gagik's nephew, the young Fezl, who had been quick to adapt to Ani and the Armenian people, leaving behind his defunct's father Kurdish past. Being a Shaddadid himself, Gagik could push his claim on the emirate, bringing it into the fold.

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Fezl Shaddadid, a proper Apostolic Armenian boy

Court Chaplain Manuel fervently agreed with the Khacheni lord, proclaiming the full support of the Armenian Church in such an endeavor. Why battle fellow Christians when you can put a few Mohammedans to the sword? He also elaborated on his argument by pointing out the incompetence of its new ruler Enusirwan, who enjoyed a decadent, sinful life.

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The new Emir of Arran

Manuel also brought to the attention of the council the matter of a sect of Paulician heretics who had been moving into Armenia from the South. It seemed the Rawaddids had recently implemented harsher taxes on the dhimmi (non-muslims) and when the Paulicians of Tabriz refused this new tax they revolted and were subsequently exiled by the Emir.

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A Paulician rebel (on foot) attacking a Rawaddid tax collector and his men.

With every member of the council having argued their stance, it was now up to King Gagik to decide the best course of action. Preferring to avoid the ire of the Greeks, as well as not wanting to spill the blood of his people for some foreign Queen, Gagik announced his plans to push his nephew's claim on the Shaddadid Emirate. Once that was taken care of, they could focus on the heretics plaguing the Southern border.
 

stnylan

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At the end of the day the Greeks may be annoying, but there are bigger fish to fry
 
Chapter 9 - King of Kings (1050-1051)

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Chapter 9 - King of Kings (1050-1051)

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The monastery of Goghtn

With the loss of Dvin only three years earlier, and the recent death of Emir Elî, the Shaddadid Emirate had long passed its glory days. The new Emir, Enusirwan, was ill-prepared to lead his realm, having enjoyed a life of luxury and sin before his ascension to the throne, as well as lacking any arms training.

This weakness was perceived even by the peasants, who following the examples of previous rebellions in Taron and Manazkert, successfully attained independence from their Muslim overlords. With the Shaddadids' governor and his men banished from Goghtn, the lower class, who lacked any know-how about ruling, now controlled the land. A savvy businessman named Tachat was chosen as their leader, elevating him to a status similar to a Naxarar. Hardly having participated in the armed revolt, his lack of involvement in battle made him seem weak to his subjects, who now looked to overthrow him.

An astute man, Tachat quickly realized this plot, and having gotten accustomed to the luxuries of ruling, looked towards Ani and Gagik, joining the realm as the newest member of the Armenian nobility.

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Peasant ruler Tachat

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The annexation of Goghtn, May of 1050

King Gagik himself traveled to Goghtn to legitimize Tachat's right to rule the province in his name, dissuading any would-be rebels from rising. The annexation of Goghtn not only expanded Gagik's realm further, but was quickly discovered to be where the Paulicians from the South had been congregating, leading to the swift arrest of their leader before their militant faith might have incited an attempt to disrupt Bagratid rule.

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Trdat Kuchka, leader of the Paulician heretics

Gagik had hoped to give Kuchka to the Rawaddid Emir on the South, who he had caused so much trouble for, but Seljuk armies had just ousted him from Tabriz, ending the fledgling emirate and any reward they might have paid for Kuchka. This recent expansion by the Turks had enlarged their realm to the borders of Armenia. Fortunately for the Armenians, it had only been four years since Gagik's chancellor had established diplomatic ties with the Turkic lord, earning his friendship, and convincing him to steer clear of Armenia and instead set his eyes on the Levant.

This had brought Gagik much needed relief, for he now faced pressure from the inside of his council. Despite the great skill-set of Queen Mara, the rest of the council was still not convinced it was wise to have a woman sit among men and discuss politics and warfare. Using the lack of heir to the throne of Armenia, Queen Mara was pushed off the council on the concerns that her role as spymaster was affecting her fertility, citing her stressful job as the chief reason Gagik had still not fathered any children.

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Despite her objection to such claims, Gagik still retired Queen Mara from the council, assigning the role to Tachat of Goghtn, whose upbringing as a peasant would be quite effective in manners of intrigue, easily able to blend into the populace if needed in order to spy or follow any would-be plotters.

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With his council appeased, and the Seljuks avoiding any raids into Armenia, King Gagik saw fit to finally engage the remnants of the Shaddadid Emirate. Unable to convince his bannermen to raise arms in the defense of their realm, Enusirwan left Arran with what little men he had toward Dvin, hoping to arrive and siege the city before Gagik could meet him in battle. His plan was to retake Dvin and execute his kin, Gagik's nephew Fezl, whose claims to Arran had been the reason for the war. He foolishly thought the death of Fezl would put an end to the war, but was unaware that Fezl did not rule from Dvin, but instead was receiving an education in Ani. His plan was doomed from the start.

Gagik's forces came to head with Enursiwan's in Baghk, just outside of Goghtn, were his forces were quickly defeated by the superior numbers of the Armenians. While the battle took place, Gagik's sister Mara, regent of Dvin, led her armies toward Arran in order to lay siege to the city.

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The Battle of Baghk, September of 1050

With no support at home, the defeated Emir traveled South toward the Seljuk capital in Persia, hoping to persuade Shahanshah Tughril-Beg to attack the Armenians and defend his realm. Enursiwan never did make it to Isfahan, having been intercepted near Tehran, and imprisoned by its Emir for having looted some supplies from a nearby town during his journey.

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The Emir's long journey South comes to an end, December of 1050
Preferring to avoid the bloodshed of a long siege, the city of Arran quickly surrendered to Gagik, who allowed the Muslim nobles and their entourage to leave the city unharmed and with all their possessions despite objections by Court Chaplain Manuel.

Fezl was then crowned ruler of Arran in Ani, putting an end to the 100 year reign of the Shaddadid Emirate over Arran. All of Gagik's expansion had previously been to reconquer lands mostly populated by Armenians, but Arran and its vicinity had been ruled by Mohammedans for so long that the people identified as Muslim Azeris, and not Christian Armenians. The integration of these people would not be an easy task for Gagik or his successors.

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The new Ishkhan (prince) of Arran

King Gagik saw fit to end Catholicos Sion's imprisonment by banishing the corrupt priest to a desolate and remote monastery in Arran to proselytize among the heathens. Sion, who knew nothing of their tongue or costumes, would go on to live a miserable, lonely rest of his life in the ruins of the Goghtn Monastery as his attempts to convert the unbelievers proved futile time and time again.

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While Gagik had entered the gates of Arran to crown his nephew prince, King Davit's campaign in Georgia was also entering its final stages, having ousted the young Queen and taken the crown. All that stood in his path to become King was but the ragged remains of the rebel forces.

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The Kingdom of Georgia, December of 1050

With the last of the rebels imprisoned or beheaded, King Davit "the Old" had brought an end to the Georgian War of succession, vastly enlarging his realm to the size of his suzerain Gagik's. He had organized a luxurious ceremony in Lori to celebrate his victory, paid by the coffers of the defeated Queen Martha and her followers. This ostentatious display of wealth greatly upset his supporters in the Georgian nobility, who had funded his campaign hoping for a reward once he obtained the crown, and instead got to see Davit spent what should've been theirs.

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While his realm could easily challenge Armenia's role as major power in the Caucasus region, the long war had devastated Georgia and made the people weary of war, assuring Davit's loyalty to Ani for the time being. At least for now, King Gagik could enjoy the prestige of ruling over the Kingdoms of Armenia and Georgia, even if he had become wary of Davit's growing power.

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The Kingdom of Armenia in February of 1051
 
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Werson

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At the end of the day the Greeks may be annoying, but there are bigger fish to fry
I like to think of the Greeks as more of a great whale, so big its easy to attack without retaliation, but not worth the trouble because its too resilient. These Armenians would rather fish in the Caspian than the Mediterranean, preferring an Eastward expansion.
Has the king managed to father any children?
He hasn't, and your concerns were also shared by his council :p I think the constant warring had not left much time to do the WooHoo.
 

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Maybe the issue is not with the Queen ... :D
 
Chapter 10 - The Shirvani Crusade (1051-1052)

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Chapter 10 - The Shirvani Crusade (1051-1052)

After a series of victories against the Bulgarian rebels in the Balkans, commander Georgios of the Byzantine Empire was able to overthrow the throne, placing himself atop it. Despite his great skill as a general, he'd soon come to find out imperial politics and the intrigue of court were every bit as bloody as any battlefield.

Perceiving the change of regime as weakness, the Pechenegs and Normans forged an alliance, agreeing to invade the Empire simultaneously, set to conquer the imperial provinces of Bulgaria and Southern Italy. The Byzantine Empire was in for some tough years ahead as this coalition would wreck havoc on the Greeks for years to come.

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The Emperor and the invading leaders, July of 1051

The following months would see an increased movement of people across Armenia's Eastern border, mostly Christians fleeing persecution from the chaos taking place in the Sháhdom of Shirvan. It's previous monarch, Sháh Kubad had passed away at the age of 59 despite his great health, with the court physicians attributing it to severe stress. He had been arranging a peaceful annexation of his realm into the larger Seljuk Empire, guaranteeing his family's reign over the region and avoiding a potential massacre by the Turks, but upon his death it all fell through.

His death left a young Salman as the new Sháh, whose regency council was quick to exploit the situation for their own gain, raiding the royal coffers and passing laws that imposed harsher Jizya taxes on Christians, the local Shirvani lords were growing rich and unruly.

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The Shirvani Sháh Salman, August of 1051

Refusing to convert or pay the increased taxes, many (Caucasian) Albanians would seek refuge across the border in the newly conquered lands of Arran whose populace suffered the opposite fate as them, a Muslim people ruled by Christians. Resentment was quick to arise within the Mohammedans who were now forced to compete with the new arrivals in the markets and fields of Arran. Fearing an open rebellion by his Muslim subjects, Gagik agreed to meet with the leader of the migrating Albanians, hoping he could dissuade any further migrations into his land.

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The Albanian Chiefs arriving in Arran, September of 1051
The meeting was brief, for the chiefs had already decided not to stop the migration of their peoples unless King Gagik complied to their request: Subdue and conquer the Shirvani Sháhdom, bringing Christian rule once again to Albania. Then, and only then, would the chieftains comply with Gagik's request, swearing fealty to him. The Albanians were devout Christian Apostolics like the Armenians, and thus their inclusion in the realm, if Shirvan was conquered, would be a far easier challenge than thousands of refugees pouring across the border.

An invasion of Shirvan would be an overly ambitious task, greatly endangering the amicable relationship between Armenia and the Seljuks, who had already set their eyes on the declining Sháhdom. Despite this, the High Council, led by Court Chaplain Manuel, urged Gagik to take the Albanians on their offer, with hopes of extending the Armenian Inquisition's reach to the Azeri heathens.

War was declared the following month, in October of 1051, with Gagik expecting no opposition from the corrupt Shirvani nobles, akin to how the war against the Shaddadid went down. These expectations were soon shut down as word about a band of marauding Bulgarians, the exiled remnants of the Bulgarian uprising in the Balkans, had been hired by the young Sháh. Despite still holding greater numbers, the Armenians would face stiff resistance from these battle-hardened Bulgarians in the upcoming months.

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The Armenian and Shirvani armies, with the Azeri troops on the South and the Bulgarians on the North

Determined to cause as much damage to Gagik as possible, the Bulgarians quickly took command of the Shirvani forces, laying siege and conquering much of Arran before the Armenians could assemble. By the time Gagik arrived to relieve the city the Bulgarians had already entrenched themselves in the walls. What followed next was a bloody affair, with the Bulgarians not surrendering even after the walls were breached. Svetislav called a retreat of his forces, delving deeper into the city. Not caring for the Muslim populace of the city, the Bulgarians urban warfare greatly devastated Arran, racking up thousands of civilian death, leaving the city in flames.

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The Battle of Arran, January of 1052

Despite their defeat at the hands of Gagik, Sháh Salman's council continued the war, even gaining support from the Hashimid Emirate of Derbent, who agreed to join the war by annexing his lands to the Shirvani Sháhdom and being named regent for the young Salman. His forces were not numerous, but they boosted the morale enough to dissuade a quick surrender.

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King Gagik's new combatant, Emir al-Mansur II, February of 1052

With a year to settle peace in his new realm, and upon hearing of the disastrous battle in Arran as well as the inclusion of the Hashimids into the fray, King Davit proclaimed independence from Ani, ceasing all tax and men contributions to Armenia. Much unrest followed as the vital provinces of Lori and Gardman seceded the kingdom of Armenia and were incorporated into Georgia, greatly damaging Armenian war efforts, as many of the soldiers under Gagik who hailed from these regions were recalled to Georgia by Davit.

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The Georgian Kingdom secedes, March of 1052

Despite his great martial skill, Emir al-Mansur was unable to stop Gagik's advance toward Shirvan, who promptly laid siege to the city and surrounding areas, forcing the young Sháh to flee in order to avoid capture.

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The Siege of Shirvan, June of 1052

Unwilling to surrender even with their armies nearly depleted and their capital captured, the armies of al-Mansur and Svetislav once again met the Armenians in Arran, where they finally capitulated after their forces' annihilation.

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The Second Battle of Arran, July of 1052

With Salman's defeat, the entirety of the Shirvani Sháhdom was now under the reign of King Gagik, bringing thousands of Azeri Muslims and Christian Albanians to the fold. The Albanian chieftains met in Shirvan to kneel before their new King, pledging their allegiance from that day onward. King Gagik wished to allow the Mohammedans to retain much of their previous rights, but the Armenian Church quickly stepped in and with the support of the Albanian clergy, vowed to bring the hammer of the inquisition down on the unbelievers.

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The Armenian Inquisition enters the Kingdom of Shirvan

Being quite a distance from the capital, the newly acquired territories of Shirvan would prove challenging to rule from the court of Ani, and thus Gagik divided the land into four provinces for easier administration. Two of these provinces were granted to the loyal houses of Vagharshak and Avag, raising their status to Naxarar status in the provinces of Shirvan and Abšaran. The territories of Layzan would be granted to Kapriel, Gagik's most able commander, from where he would oversee the whole of the Kingdom in the name of Gagik as Ishkhan or prince of Shirwan. The last province, Maskat, would remain in the hands of the Kasránis, ruled by a cadet branch who had converted to Christianity a few years prior.

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The new Naxarar of Armenia
Upon his return to Ani, King Gagik was delighted to discover a wee child in the arms of his Queen, previously unaware of her pregnancy, Princess Mariyam was conceived before Gagik's departure toward Shirvan. Queen Mara had attempted to contact Gagik during his campaign to tell him of the news, but the constant shuffling around the Shirvanian countryside left most envoys unable to deliver her letters.

While her birth brought much joy to Gagik and Mara, the inheritance rules of Armenia meant the Kingdom was still without an heir, only allowing for males to hold the throne. While unorthodox, on the orders of Gagik the council quickly amended the rules, allowing for females to also hold the throne if no male heirs are present. The question of Armenian succession was now thankfully put to rest.

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Mariyam Bagratuni, heiress to the Kingdom of Armenia

Only 10 years since his return from imprisonment in Constantinople, King Gagik II had managed to restore the rump Kingdom of Armenia into a the prominent power in the Caucasus region, stretching from the Eastern edges of Asia Minor all the way to the Caspian Sea. While the hostile Greeks, Georgians, and Turks still represented a threat to Armenian hegemony, King Gagik II had ushered a new Golden Age for the Armenians during his reign.

Far from being complacent however, King Gagik vowed to bring the kingdom of Georgia on its knees, punishing the treacherous Davit for seceding in times of peril. Doux Alusian still retained lands to the West, and Armenians all over the Byzantine Empire clamored for liberation by the Lion of Armenia. Gagik's campaigns were far from over.

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The Kingdom of Armenia, August of 1052

While Gagik had been growing his realm in the East, the Byzantines continued their decline under Emperor Georgios, with the Balkans set ablaze by the Pecheneg nomads, Georgios had no choice but to surrender the provinces of Karvuna to Yazi IV, a Manichean Khan. The losses against the Normans in Italy had also been increasing during his reign, and while the war was still raging in those provinces, Byzantine defeat was almost certain.

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The Byzantine Empire in 1052, with the loss of Karvuna and much of Sicily fallen to the Normans in Apulia
The Turks in the East were faring far better, with the Seljuk Emperor having finished his conquest of Persia and Transoxiana, his armies marched unto Mesopotamia and the rich city of Baghdad.

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The Seljuk Empire in 1052

 
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