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NEW RELEASE: Kirakos Gandzaketsi's History of the Armenians


Kirakos Gandzaketsi's History of the Armenians is a primary source for the study of the Armenian highlands in the 13th century. This lengthy work, which has survived in 65 chapters, is divided thematically into sections. Part I is a summary of Armenian church and political history from C4th to 12th. Part II describes political and military events in the 12thcentury, both in Eastern Armenia and in the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia. Part III contains a biographical list of the Catholicoi of Aghuania. Finally, the author described the events of his own day: the period of the Zak'arids, the Mongol invasions and domination, and their impact on the Armenians and other peoples of the Middle East.

 

 

“Of the Armenian historians of the Mongol conquests Kirakos of Gandzak is without question the most important. His account is much fuller and more detailed than that of his contemporary Vardan Areveltsi and over Grigor of Akner. He enjoyed the advantage of writing from personal experience of the invasion, in the course of which he had been captured by the Mongols and forced to serve them as one of their secretaries. Writing ca. 1241 he interrupts the narration of events to give, for the benefit of posterity, a brief description of the appearance, customs and speech of the invaders. The importance of this word-list, one of the earliest monuments of the Mongol language, has long been recognized; but the data on the beliefs and practices of the Mongols, which supplement and amplify our information from other sources, are also of great value.”

—John Boyle, Central Asiatic Journal

 

“In the course of its long history, Armenian culture has had several periods of revival and decline. The cultural revival which reached its peak in the 10th century was followed by a decline, due to the wholesale destruction of learning upon the onslaught of Seljuk and Mongol invasions of the Armenian homeland. Eyewitness accounts are given by the historians Aristakes Lastivertci and Kirakos Gandzaketsi. Although designated as a History of Armenia, the 13th century historiography of Kirakos Gandzaketsi represents an important source for the medieval history of Asia Minor, especially for the Mongol invasions. Unlike his predecessors, Kirakos utilized inscriptions preserved on monuments or on monastery walls as sources for his history. While writing on Mxitar Gosh and on the famous monastery of Getik, he relied on the inscriptions that he found on the walls pertaining to the construction work, the builders, and those who contributed to the erection of the monuments. There is no doubt that Kirakos, enriched with vast and contemporary sources, became one of the indispensable authors of the Middle Ages…”

—Zaven Arzoumanian, Medieval Armenian Culture