Cilicia: The Rubinian Kingdom of New Armenia

Armenians had a bold idea of re-establishing a new Armenian kingdom on the shores of the Mediterranean. On the Arax River’s shores, their homeland, thousands of kilometers away, disappeared due to Turkic tribe invasions.

It was the Armenian version of New England (The United States), New France (Canada), and Prussia. The core difference was that Armenia didn’t have a motherland it could depend on. It resembled Moscovian Russia, which rose after Kievian Russia fell under Turkic pressure.

During the Rein of the Bagratuni Kings, the number of Armenians in Cilicia was minimal, in the first half of the 11th century. But after the fall of the Christian Cultural City Ani under the Caliphate occupation, Armenian noblemen sought Byzantine refuge in the Tauros mountains.

These Armenians were blessed with a great leader, Prince Ruben, a close relative to King Gagik II. He founded the Kingdom of Cilicia, without the support of the Byzantine Empire, on the contrary, he declared rivalry.

The Byzantine Empire supported the birth of this new Kingdom because these self-governed Armenian Areas would pay taxes and defend their borders against Arab Invasions.

Location, Name Meaning, Capital of 4th Kingdom of Armenia

  • A small number of Armenians used to live in Cilicia ever since the days of Tigranes the Great.
  • Cilicia is the ancient Roman name for the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea. The southeastern region of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).
  • The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia flourished in the region between 1080-1375.
  • King Ruben moved the Capital from Tarsus to Sis.
  • Cilicia was also known as Little Armenia or Armenia Minor

Among the other values ​​shown by the Armenian nation towards the Christian republic and the church, there is a merit that is very rare and deserves special mention.

When the Christian princes and armies were on their way to liberate the Holy Land, no other nation and people came to their aid with such ferocious force and determination as the Armenians.

Be it with warriors and horses, be it with food and advice. With all their strength and with the most outstanding courage and loyalty, they helped the Christians during these holy wars.

Gregory XIII, Pope (Ecclesia Romana, 1584)

The new Armenian state And the Crusaders

The First Crusaders were exhausted and in very bad condition. They had been on the march for almost three months and most of them were sick or wounded. They had no food, no horses, and no supplies.

When they reached Nicea, they asked Armenians for help and were indeed accompanied by an Armenian convoy through Asia Minor. (W. Stevenson, The First Crusade, The Cambridge medical History, V, p.286)

This helped strengthen the Armenian ties with the European Christian Noble houses especially in Jerusalem. They often had marriages with European warriors and were deeply influenced by their religion, politics, and culture.

The Armenian language was influenced by the French Languages, it borrowed some French words. Trading with Europe improved as goods from Venice and Genoa were brought to the East through Cilician Armenia, and Armenian Carpets entered Europe.

The last Armenian king of Cilicia was Levon VI Lousinian. He passed away in in 1393, in France and is buried at St. Denis Cathedral of Paris. The title “King of Armenia” passed to the kings of Cyprus, thenceforth to the Venetians, and later to the house of Savoy.

How Did Armenia Fall and become Turkey?

The last king of Armenia, Levon VI Lousinian, found himself ruling a very hopeless country, that was conquered by the Egyptian Sultan, Melik El Ashraf, and Turkmen warlords Davoudbashi and Boubekir.

The Egyptian Sultan was determined to make this last Christian government vanish from the Asian shore. He was only going to spare them in case they converted to Islam. Armenians refused to convert. They were attacked by 30 thousand enemy soldiers.

Sis Failed in 1375, and King Levon was taken to Cairo, tempting him to regain his power by conversion. He refused. He was eventually released and moved to Rome, then Spain, then, France.

Cilicia remained under Egyptian Rule, until the 16th Century when it became part of the Ottoman Empire, whose rule lasted until 1921.

What Happened to Cilician Armenians?

Armenians in Hadjen and Zeitoun had many privileges because of their heroism. Very few remains of churches, monasteries, schools, and forts built by Armenian Princes can be traced today in the mountainous regions of Cilicia. Sometimes gold coins are also found with Armenian inscriptions.

Most Armenians were either deported, migrated, or went through the awful atrocities of the Armenian Genocide, which resulted in the annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.

Rubenid Royals of Armenia

  • Roupen I – 1080-1095
  • Constantine I , Son of Roupen I- 1095-1100
  • Thoros I , Son of Constantine I- 1100-1129
  • Constantine II, Son of Thoros I, died a few months after his father, probably poisoned.
  • Leo I, Son of Constantine I-1129-1137
  • Thoros II , Son of Levon I, Years of Struggle
  • Roupen II , Son of Thoros II (1169–1170)
  • Mleh (1170–1175)Son of Levon I, Years of Struggle
  • Roupen III Son of Thoros II (1175–1187)
  • Leo II , Son of Thoros II, Years of Struggle
  • Isabella (1219–1252)

What is Cilicia called today?

Today Cilicia is part of Turkey (Southern Anatolia) including renamed regions of:

  • Mersin, 
  • Adana, 
  • Osmaniye, 
  • Hatay 
  • Antalya

Garo Kotchounian

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