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7-08-2015, 21:08

Armenia resurgent, byzantium expectant (850–1045)

In 850, Caliph al-Mutawakkil (847–61) sent Abu Sa‘id Muhammad bin Yusuf to Armenia to collect the so-called ‘royal taxes’. Although these were apparently paid, relations between representatives of Abu Sa‘id and the principal Artsruni and Bagratuni princes deteriorated rapidly and all parties took up arms.66 In 852, Bugha al-Kabir embarked on a series of ruthless campaigns to quash Armenian resistance. The principal noble families were targeted and many leading members were either killed or captured and despatched to the Abbasid capital, Samarra. A few, however, escaped. In 853 or 854, Gurgen Artsruni sought refuge with Gregory Bagratuni, prince of Sper.67 Gregory had recently captured an unidentified Byzantine fortress called Aramaneak. When the Byzantine ‘general of the east’ – an Armenian rendering of strat¯egos t¯on Anatolik¯on – attempted to recover Aramaneak, both princes opposed him. He was so impressed by Gurgen’s courage that he informedMichael III (842–67), who invited Gurgen to Constantinople. Gurgen declined but he did persuade Gregory to return the fortress and also fought against Bugha’s troops when they attacked ‘the Greek forces in their fortresses’. This is the first recorded contact between an Artsruni prince and Byzantium for many generations. Significantly it took place in Sper while Armenia was in turmoil. Nor was this the limit of Byzantine ambitions. In 858, after Gurgen had returned to Vaspurakan, he was confronted byGregory Artsruni at the head of Abkhazian and Iberian troops.68 Having failed to attractGurgen, it seems that Byzantium had switched its attention to a second displaced Artsruni prince and backed his bid to seize Vaspurakan. Although Gregory was unsuccessful, the imperial administration evidently had a strategic vision which extended far beyond those districts adjacent to imperial territory. Therefore when Photios became patriarch of Constantinople in 858 and re-established contact with the Armenian church, he did so in the context of renewed Byzantine engagement across Armenia. The sequence and chronology of the letters exchanged between Photios (858–67, 877–86) and several Armenian correspondents, including CatholicosZacharias (855–76), remains contentious, as does the authenticity of one of Photios’ letters to Zacharias.69 Collectively the correspondence attests Photios’ determination to heal the long-standing confessional breach. The council of Shirakawan, convened in 862 by Zacharias, represents the first fruits of Photios’ initiative. 70 Canons 13 and 14 respectively condemn two groups: firstly, convinced monophysites who masquerade as Chalcedonians, for personal gain; and secondly, those who have apparently accepted Chalcedon, but still cannot help themselves from adopting the traditional Armenian charge – that the council’s ruling on the unity of Christ’s person was, in fact, Nestorian. As Jean-Pierre Mah´e puts it, ‘le cas pr´evu ´etait la conversion de monophysites au dyophysisme et non l’inverse.’71 The aftermath of this council is unknown but just before his deposition in 867, Photios observed in an encyclical letter that ‘today, the covenant of the Armenians worships purely and in orthodox fashion the Christian faith.’72 By the time Photios was reappointed patriarch on 26 October 877, conditions had altered dramatically. His ‘spiritual brother’ Zacharias had died and the prince of princes, Ashot Bagratuni, was now entrenched as the preeminent client of the caliph and wary of Byzantine initiatives. Although Photios made considerable efforts to engage with Ashot, sending conciliatory letters addressed to ‘your most eminent piety’, despatching a relic of the True Cross and even reporting that relics of the three most revered Armenian saints had been found in Constantinople, he was unable to recover lost ground.73 The final letters chart the breakdown in discussions with Ashot and his spiritual advisers. Both sides reverted to their traditional positions, defining and rebutting in meticulous detail the doctrinal errors of the other. Although these letters are not dated, the heavy defeats suffered by the Byzantine forces atMelitene in 882 and Tarsus in 883 provide a likely terminus ante quem (see above, p. 297). Around 925, Patriarch Nicholas I Mystikos (901–7, 912–925) reflected that Photios had pursued ecclesiastical reconciliation with Armenia without success, implying no correspondence on this subject between the churches in the intervening forty years.74 Frustratingly there is no evidence for contacts with the feuding members of the Artsruni house in Vaspurakan after 858. A little more is known about relations with the extended Bagratuni family. Photios acknowledged Ashot Bagratuni’s concern for his recent travails and joy at his restoration in 877, suggesting contact before he had regained the patriarchate.Moreover Ashot learned about the discovery of the Armenian relics during an embassy from Basil I (867–86) in 878. In spite of these initiatives, it was not Ashot, prince of princes, who was appointed kouropalat¯es but his cousin Ashot, prince of Taron, at an unspecified date before 878.75 In a final letter, Photios described the Taronites who inhabited Fourth Armenia as orthodox.76 It may well be the case that Ashot was rewarded for his orthodoxy. Alternatively the relative proximity of Taron to imperial territory may have influenced the appointment. Either way, Byzantium developed ties simultaneously with several Bagratuni princes. Three decades of ambitious military and ecclesiastical initiatives beyond the eastern frontier, lasting from 854 to 883, were followed by an era of consolidation. Little-known figures, controlling districts much closer to imperial territory, were induced to acknowledge imperial sovereignty. After the accession of Leo VI (886–912), Manuel, lord of Degik, was given a written guarantee of immunity, taken to Constantinople and appointed pr¯otospatharios.77 At the same time, other Armenians were appointed to separate commands along the frontier, usually organised around individual fortresses, and encouraged to expand into adjacent districts. Thus Melias (or Mleh in Armenian) was first appointed turmarch of Euphrateia and Trypia.78 In 908, he captured the kastron of Lykandos and became its kleisouriarch. He then advanced to Tzamandos and constructed a kastron. Later he annexed Symposion. In 915 he was appointed strat¯egos of the newly-created theme of Lykandos. Melias’ lordship thereby gained an administrative and legal identity within theByzantine state. The network of themes created piecemeal along the eastern frontier reflected the local achievements of men such as Melias. Inevitably there were losers as well as winners. For every Melias, there were figures like Ismael ‘the Armenian’, kleisouriarch of Symposion, who was killed by raiders from Melitene. It would be wrong, however, to assume that this time of consolidation on the frontier coincided with any break in relations with Armenian princes beyond the frontier. Again, several isolated references indicate continued contact with key Bagratuni princes. After Ashot, prince of princes, had been crowned king on 26 August 884 by Catholicos George II (877–97) using a crown brought from the caliph, Basil I acknowledged him as his ‘beloved son’.79 Leo VI addressed Ashot I’s son Smbat I Bagratuni (‘the Martyr’) (c. 890–913) in the same way after he succeeded his father in about 890, sending him ‘fine weapons and ornaments and clothing embroidered with gold and cups and chalices and golden belts studded with gems’.80 In 892 Smbat captured the city of Dvin and sent its commanders to the emperor in chains, although it seems that this campaign was his own initiative rather than a joint operation.81 When the prince of Taron, Krikorikios (‘little Gregory’), captured his two cousins in battle in the mid-890s, Smbat wrote to Leo VI, interceding for their release.82 Evidently he believed that the emperor could influence the actions of Krikorikios and in this he was proved right. This incident is reported in chapter forty-three of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus’ De administrando imperio, whose importance has long been recognised.83 It describes how several members of the princely family of Taron across two generations were drawn into the political and cultural orbit of Byzantium; the titles, marriages and properties variously granted to them; and the consequences of such engagement for the very existence of the principality. The chapter ends with the patrikios Tornikios offering to cede his territories to the emperor, Romanos I Lekapenos (920–44). Although Tornikios died before completing this transfer of sovereignty, he left a will – a Byzantine rather than an Armenian custom – devising the same. His cousins complained to Romanos, who agreed to exchange his inheritance for Oulnoutin, a strategically placed kastron in the west of Taron. This chapter reveals much else besides, not least the collection and retention of information gained during diplomatic exchanges; a legal dispute between different members of an Armenian family over title to their property in Constantinople, encouraged if not inspired by the imperial authorities; and complaints to Romanos from three other Armenian princes over payments made to Krikorikios. It is worth remembering, however, that this chapter affords a partial view of diplomatic relations with one particular princely house and the territorial rights conceded to Romanos. The following three chapters trace imperial claims to the Qaysid emirate of Manzikert, to specific districts and kastra around Theodosioupolis and to the kastron of Ardanuji in Klarjet‘i; they do not supply an exhaustive account of relations with every Armenian princely house. A better impression of the range of Armenian contacts is supplied by the protocols for imperial correspondence preserved in the Book of ceremonies.84 The list, which has been dated to between 918 and 922, identifies not only the prince of princes of Greater Armenia and the prince of Vaspurakan, ‘who now is honoured as prince of princes’, but also seven other Armenian princes. Yet arguably even this list does not do justice to the range of potential correspondents. It identifies only the leading representative of each princely house, but, as we have seen in respect of Taron above, several members of the same house could be in direct relationship with the emperor. In addition to the activities of Armenian commanders on the frontier, and diplomatic links, Byzantium could also intervene directly using its military forces. A Byzantine force attacked Theodosioupolis as early as 895, whilst in 915 Ashot II Bagratuni (‘the Iron’) (914–c.928), son of King Smbat I ‘the Martyr’, returned from exile in Constantinople at the head of a Byzantine army, intent on re-establishing himself in the districts previously held by his father.85 In the event, neither campaign was followed up but such apparently isolated actions need to be placed in the context of heavy Byzantine defeats in the Balkans, at Bulgarophygon in 896 and Anchialos in 917. Only after peace had been achieved in 927 were Byzantine forces redirected to the east.86 Thereafter key fortresses under Arab control were systematically targeted.Melitene capitulated in 934 and Theodosioupolis in 949, both after years of persistent pressure and blockade. At the same time, every effort was made to ensure that neighbouring Armenian or Iberian princes were not antagonised. Conceivably this strategy was devised after two early reverses. In 922 when a Byzantine army attacked Dvin, it was opposed by the same Ashot II ‘the Iron’ who had benefited from imperial support seven years before.87 Only in exceptional circumstances did an Armenian prince fight against imperial troops. Arguably his own interests had been prejudiced by this advance. Secondly, an attempt was made in 923 to seize control of Ardanuji, located beyond the frontier in Klarjet‘i, by infiltrating troops under the guise of a visiting diplomatic mission.88 Although this kastron had been offered to Romanos I Lekapenos by its prince, the threat by neighbouring Iberian princes to make common cause with local Arabs precipitated a rapid withdrawal. Frustratingly it is at this very moment, with Byzantium poised to utilise all three approaches – administrative, diplomatic and military – that our source-material peters out. There is sufficient evidence, however, to confirm that the eclipse in Bagratuni power – epitomised by Smbat I’s murder in 913 and perpetuated by the long confrontation between Ashot II ‘the Iron’ and Smbat’s nephew, also called Ashot – forced Byzantium to reappraise its position and recognise Gagik Artsruni as the pre-eminent figure.89 Shortly after the death of Catholicos John V in 925, Gagik I Artsruni (908–c.943) wrote to Nicholas I Mystikos, seeking to secure the succession for his preferred candidate through a ceremony in Constantinople.Nicholas’ reply, addressed to Gagik ‘prince of princes’, was uncompromising in its defence of orthodox belief, maintaining that Gagik’s candidate would need to be instructed in sound doctrine and ecclesiastical government.90 At the same time Nicholas noted the ‘confession of friendship’ by which Gagik was ‘attached to our Christ-loving emperor and to our most holy church of God’; his own orthodoxy was not at issue. This relationship had practical implications. According to Ibn al-Athir, in 931 the lord of Vaspurakan, Ibn al-Dayrani (the Arabic version of [Gagik] son of Derenik) proposed and participated in a joint campaign with Byzantine forces against the Qaysid amirs.91 During the Artsruni ascendancy, Byzantium retained ties with other noble houses. The leading Bagratuni after 929, Abas, held the title of magistros, reflecting both the continuing demise of his family’s fortunes and a closer link to Byzantium than many commentators have credited.92 A letter written in about 933 by Theodore Daphnopates to the bishop of Siwnik‘, reprimanding him for teaching monophysite doctrine, reveals the spread of Byzantine interest eastwards.93 Yet it is clear that Byzantium did not enjoy a monopoly of influence across Armenia. Mindful of recent Sajid intervention and devastation, Armenian princes remained wary of Muslim powers to the east and south, however ephemeral these proved to be. Thus when Saif al-Dawla, the future Hamdanid amir of Aleppo, marched north through the Bitlis pass to Lake Van in 940, several Armenian princes responded to his summons and submitted, including one of Gagik’s sons and Ashot, son of Krikorikios, prince of Taron.94 Although the sources contradict one another over the course of his campaign and the identity of the Artsruni client, they confirm that Armenian princes were prepared to recognise the sovereignty of an enemy of Byzantium if they believed this would serve their own interests. Ibn Hawqal offers a second example, listing those Armenian princes who paid tribute to the Sallarid ruler of Azerbaijan, Marzuban, in 955 and the considerable amounts due.95 It is unclear whether such sums were actually remitted or whether this liability lapsed after Marzuban’s death in 957, but the principle, however shortlived, seems established. By contrast, there is no evidence that Byzantium imposed any financial burdens upon its Armenian clients. In the event, Saif al-Dawla did not develop a bloc of Armenian support. His victories over Byzantine forces provoked a series of counter-offensives. The successes enjoyed by Nikephoros Phokas after 955 drew Byzantium southwards, into Cilicia and northern Syria, away from active military engagement in Armenia (see below, p. 517). As observed above, campaigns across Armenia had been directed against those emirates and their bases which historically had posed the greatest threat. This strategy concluded with the capture of Theodosioupolis in 949. Although the military focus shifted south, it seems that the nexus of relationships with Armenian princes and clerics continued to be maintained and developed. Admittedly there is very little evidence of Byzantine involvement in Armenia between 935 and 976, but it is during this period that significant confessional tensions emerged within the Armenian church. Catholicos Anania I (943–67) reasserted his authority over the dissident see of Siwnik‘ at the council of Kapan in 958, but was succeeded by Vahan I of Siwnik‘ who ‘wished to develop friendship and agreement with Chalcedonians’.96 Vahan I was deposed in 968 by the council of Ani and sought refuge with the king of Vaspurakan, Apusahl Hamazasp (953/8–72). Byzantine influence in these events may be inferred. A colophon records the visit of a priest named Pantaleon to Constantinople in January 966 at the command of Apusahl Hamazasp, ‘king of kings of the house of Armenia’.97 The colophon adds that this occurred in the time of Nikephoros, ‘emperor of the Greeks, valiant and virtuous, victorious in battles against the heathens’. Pantaleon returned safely ‘through the power of the Holy Cross and the prayers of the Holy Apostles and the grace of both our kings, Nikephoros and Hamazasp’. Not only was Apusahl in direct contact with Constantinople; in the eyes of the author, Nikephoros II Phokas (963–9) enjoyed joint sovereignty with the Artsruni king. Nor is this the only evidence of continued Byzantine engagement. Whilst the four chapters devoted to Armenian and Iberian affairs in the De administrando imperio largely recount past episodes rather than present circumstances, their very inclusion is significant. In 966 or 967, after the death of its prince, Ashot, Taron came under Byzantine control. Two years later, Bardas Phokas, nephew of Nikephoros and doux of Chaldia and Koloneia, advanced to Manzikert and destroyed its walls.98 Thus within fifteen years of the compilation of this work, Taron had been incorporated into the empire and the potential threat posed by Manzikert neutralised. In 974, John ITzimiskes (969–76) travelled to Armenia.According to our only source, the twelfth-century Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa, King Ashot III Bagratuni (‘theMerciful’) (953–77) assembled all the leaders of the countries of the east, including Sennacherim, lord of Vaspurakan, and their forces.99 Having opened lines of communication with Ashot, the emperor advanced to Mush in Taron and camped outside the fortress of Aytsik‘.His forces came under overnight attack, although the circumstances and outcome are obscure. At some point thereafter, Tzimiskes was handed a letter, apparently from Catholicos Vahan I. This detail is hard to interpret, given Vahan’s deposition six years before. The two leaders then made a treaty whereby Ashot III ‘theMerciful’ supplied 10,000 troops in return for notable gifts. Several elements in this account – specifically the leadership role accorded to Ashot, the skirmishes at Aytsik‘ and Vahan’s letter – may reflect a Bagratuni spin or a conflation of different episodes. Scholars have generally interpreted Ashot’s attendance upon the emperor at the head of a large army as a defensive precaution. Yet his conduct also befits a loyal client, responding to an imperial summons and supplying military assistance at a designated location. Tzimiskes’ subsequent letter to Ashot ‘shahanshah [originally a Persian royal title, ‘king of kings’] of Great Armenia and my spiritual son’, describing his victorious campaign of 975 into Syria and Lebanon, then becomes apposite.100 The degree to which Armenian princes had been drawn into the orbit of Byzantium can be seen through their involvement in the rebellions which erupted against Basil II (976–1025) and Constantine VIII (1025– 8) after 976. Bardas Skleros had the support of Gregory and Bagarat, sons of Ashot, prince of Taron, and Zap‘ranik, prince of Mokk‘, whilst Bardas Phokas exploited his relationship with the Iberian prince David of Tao – forged while he was doux of neighbouring Chaldia – to win him to Basil II’s cause.101 In addition to the title of kouropalat¯es, David received substantial territorial concessions, including the districts of Karin and Apahunik‘, recently prised from Arab control. The personal ties with Bardas Phokas which caused David to fight for Basil II later prompted him to join Phokas when he rebelled against Basil in 987. All three survived these confrontations. Gregory Taronites, doux of Thessaloniki and magistros, fought against Samuel of Bulgaria (987/988–1014) after 991 and was killed in 995.102 Zap‘ranik manglabit¯es was charged in 983 by Basil II and Constantine with transporting a relic of the True Cross from Constantinople to the monastery of Aparank‘.103 David kouropalat¯es retained possession of all the lands granted to him previously although these now reverted to the emperor after his death.104 It is striking, however, that neither Gregory nor Zap‘ranik remained in their ancestral districts and that David continued to exercise authority only in the knowledge of inevitable imperial intervention. Contemporary relations between the churches reveal a similar pattern of increased engagement. As Byzantium pushed eastwards, and significant numbers of Armenians came, or were transferred, within its borders, the respective hierarchies increasingly overlapped. An exchange between Metropolitan Theodore of Melitene and Samuel of Kamrjadzor, responding at the behest of Catholicos Khach‘ik I (973–92), confirms that confessional tensions were developing at a local level.105 Another exchange, between Khach‘ik I and the metropolitan of Sebasteia, occurred in 989.106 Complaints of oppression and torture in Sebasteia were combined with observations that the Armenian bishops of Sebasteia and Larissa, and other priests, had removed themselves from the Armenian church and accepted Chalcedon. Yet neither of these sees had previously been described or treated as Armenian. By contrast eleven new suffragan bishops under the metropolitan of Trebizond had been created by the 970s, including those of Mananalis, Oulnoutin and Basean, confirming a simultaneous extension eastwards by the imperial church.107 This fluidity was recognised by contemporaries. Sargis was appointed catholicos of Armenia in 992 at a council convened by King Gagik I Bagratuni (‘the Great’) (989–c. 1017) at which there were bishops ‘from this country of Armenia and from the side of the Greeks’.108 Little is known about the contemporary actions or attitudes of leading members of the Bagratuni and Artsruni houses. Significantly, however, the deposit of the relic of the True Cross at Aparank‘ during Easter 983 was attended by the three Artsruni brothers then ruling Vaspurakan, Ashot-Sahak, Gurgen-Khach‘ik and Sennacherim-John. Their presence at this isolated, mountainous site so early in the year for the arrival of an imperial donation implies respect for – and close relations with – Byzantium. Gregory of Narek asserted in his description of the ceremony that the divine will is clear: it is that the empire of the Romans, spread out like the sky across the vast surface of the whole world, will gather in its ample bosom innumerable multitudes, as a single flock in a single place, a single synod and a single church, the one bride in the bridal chamber, the one beloved in the single dwelling place . . . the one spouse under the one tent of the Covenant.109 His support for Basil II seems unequivocal. David kouropalat¯es of Tao died on Easter Sunday, 31 March 1000. Two sources allege that he was poisoned when receiving the eucharist, although one adds that he survived this attempt and was smothered instead.110 Arguably this reflects a confessional spin, since David ‘died’ in a spiritual sense when taking wine mixed with water in the eucharist. Basil II was quick to take advantage.111 He marched north from Tarsus, meeting and rewarding several prominent princes, including Sennacherim-John of Vaspurakan. He then moved east to the plain of Vagharshapat, but Gagik I ‘theGreat’ failed to attend, ‘reckoning it a diminution’, and Basil thereupon returned via Ult‘is in Tao and Theodosioupolis to Constantinople. Gagik may have viewed David’s death as an opportunity to revive Bagratuni hegemony, an ambition that submission to Basil II would have compromised, if not thwarted; other princes had been compelled to lead or contribute large numbers of troops for operations against Bulgaria. Alternatively he may have been influenced by ecclesiastical opinion; both Catholicos Khach‘ik and his successor Sargis I (992–1018) were steadfast in their opposition to the imperial church. Whatever the cause, Basil II was prepared to consolidate his gains and bide his time. After more than a century of regular dealings with Armenian princely houses, Byzantium was keenly aware that times of political flux after the death of the leading prince offered the best opportunity for direct intervention, as the rival claimants looked for outside support. Basil could afford to wait. When George I (1014–27) succeeded his father Bagrat III as king of Georgia in 1014, Basil II asserted his claim to certain districts previously ceded to David of Tao and then Bagrat.112 George rejected this claim and resisted an attempt to occupy them. Basil waited until Bulgaria had been pacified. In 1021 he travelled east, expecting to receive George’s submission; but George did not attend. Further negotiations failed and both sides took up arms. Although there is no evidence that any Armenian princes joined George in defying Basil II, he had arbitrated between John-Smbat III and Ashot IV Bagratuni (‘the Brave’) following the death of their father, Gagik I ‘the Great’, probably in 1017, and had intervened in their subsequent confrontation.113 Arguably John-Smbat now saw an opportunity to gain imperial backing. In January 1022, Catholicos Peter I (1019–58) attended upon Basil II at his winter quarters in Trebizond, bringing with him a will from John-Smbat III appointing him as his heir.114 This underpinned the Byzantine claim to Ani after his death in 1041. John-Smbat and Ashot were therefore pulled back into the imperial orbit indirectly through the conduct of King George I of Georgia. Sennacherim- John Artsruni, however, exchanged his ancestral lands of Vaspurakan for territories in Cappadocia, including the cities of Sebasteia and Larissa, after being attacked by Turkish forces from Azerbaijan. Although conventionally dated to 1016 or early 1017, it may have occurred as late as 1021. After the collapse of a rebellion byNikephoros Phokas andNikephoros Xiphias in late summer 1022, it is significant that Basil II campaigned beyond Vaspurakan, attacking the city of Her.115 Although both Sennacherim-John Artsruni and John-Smbat III had come to terms with Basil II by January 1022, this did not deter Nikephoros Phokas from soliciting support from other family members. It is unclear, however, how far they responded to his appeal.116 In the event, Phokas was assassinated on 15 August 1022, possibly by the son of Sennacherim-John Artsruni. Basil then moved quickly, inflicting a sharp defeat upon George I on 11 September 1022 and coming to terms with him shortly afterwards. Evidently Abkhazian, Georgian and Armenian princes were still tempted to participate in a rebellion fomented in the east by a member of the Phokas family. Basil II was aware of the threat. His persistent involvement with Armenia, and the extension of the empire’s frontiers to incorporate first Vaspurakan and ultimately Ani, should be seen in the context of, and as a response to, these rebellions. During the tenth century, a large number of small ‘Armenian’ themes were created, consisting essentially of a fortress and its surrounding district. 117 By contrast, the themes of Taron (966 or 967), Vaspurakan (c.1021) and Iberia (1022) were organised around existing Armenian principalities ceded to the empire. Tellingly, these were not broken up. Whilst the sigillographic evidence reveals considerable fluidity in the combination of high military commands across these themes during the eleventh century, there is presently little evidence for sustained administrative down-reach within them.118 No more than a skeleton administrative structure can be traced, suggesting that existing social and political structures continued to be employed.119 This ‘slim-line’ Byzantine presence would prove to be inadequate when faced by sustained Turkish assault after 1045.120 Basil II’s campaign of 1022 did not mark an end to military operations. In 1023 or 1024 the fortified town of Archesh on Lake Van was captured by Nikephoros Komnenos whilst nearby Perkri was taken in 1035.121 These were both granted separate thematic status but this is unsurprising, seeing that they had never formed part of Vaspurakan and had been captured from the ‘Persians’.122 Separate themes ofManzikert (after 1000) and Artzike had also been created.123 This string of small themes fulfilled a long-cherished strategic aim, expressed in the De administrando imperio, that if these kastra were in imperial control, ‘a Persian army cannot come out against Romania’.124 They also deterred Ashot IV ‘the Brave’ fromexpanding southwards into former Artsruni territory. The literary sources reveal almost nothing about the reigns of John-Smbat III Bagratuni and Ashot IV ‘the Brave’ between 1022 and 1041. Contemporary inscriptions and colophons, however, confirm ongoing relations with Byzantium, and the numismatic evidence is persuasive. From the reign of Nikephoros II Phokas, Armenia switched from a silver-based coinage to a gold- and copper-based coinage, using exclusively Byzantine issues. During the excavations at Ani, several thousand Byzantine copper coins were found, both loose and in hoards.125 In 1979, some 3,539 of Constantine VIII’s nomismata, equivalent to almost 50 pounds of gold, were unearthed at Nouchevan, near Dvin.126 The epigraphic evidence is no less valuable in the historical reconstruction. An inscription at Khtskawnk‘, dated 1033, refers to ‘the reign of Smbat shahanshah, son of Gagik shahanshah, who had adopted the beloved boy Sargis, during the time of the three kings of the Romans, when he received the triple honour anthypatos, patrikios, vest¯es and doux of the east’.127 Aristakes records that John-Smbat’s son, Erkat‘, died young.128 This inscription confirms that he had designated Sargis as his successor, and that Sargis had received imperial sanction. By the time of his death, however, John-Smbat III had apparently changed his mind. A colophon dates the completion of a Gospel book to 1041, ‘when Yov[h]an[n]¯es [that is, John-Smbat III] king of Armenia was translated to Christ and gave his kingdom to his nephew Gagik’.129 The complex sequence of events between 1041 and 1045, concluding with the Byzantine occupation of Ani, therefore originated in a familiar context, a time of political transition.130 Instead of developing ties with both Sargis and Gagik, however, Byzantine policy after 1022 seems to have anticipated only the succession of Sargis. Gagik’s unexpected accession thwarted these plans and with Constantine IXMonomachos (1042–55) embroiled in George Maniakes’ rebellion (see below, pp. 599–600), Gagik II Bagratuni enjoyed two years’ respite.131 In 1044, however, he was induced to visit Constantinople where he was detained and offeredMelitene in return for Ani.132 Initially he refused but when the forty keys of Ani were produced, proving treachery on the part of Catholicos Peter, he abdicated and received lands in Cappadocia. Although the leaders of Ani then resolved to entrust their city either to Gagik’s brother-in-law, David Dunats‘i or to Bagrat IV, king ofGeorgia (1027–72), the approach of another Byzantine army precipitated the final surrender of the city.