The History of the Tartars: Flower of the Histories of the East
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Translated by Robert Bedrosian
The History of the Tartars [The Flower of Histories of the East] first appeared in 1307 in the city of Poitiers. Book I is a geographical survey of fourteen countries of the Far East, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, and parts of the Near East. Book II is a brief account of Muslim military history, including the rise of the Saljuqs and Khwarazmians. Book III, the longest, describes the early history of the Mongols, information on the Great Khans, the Il-Khans of Iran, and Mongol warfare in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus to ca. 1304. Book IV contains Het’um’s suggestions to Pope Clement V (1305-14) on initiating a crusade to retake Jerusalem and parts of Cilician Armenia, Lebanon and Syria from Muslim powers, using the combined forces of the Europeans, Cilician Armenians and Mongols.
Het’um, born sometime in the mid 1240s, was a son of prince Oshin, lord of Korikos in Cilician Armenia. Though biographical details of his early life are lacking, his family clearly enjoyed great influence in Cilicia. His father, Oshin, was the younger brother of King Het’um I (1226-69) and of the kingdom’s Constable, Smbat Sparapet (commander-in-chief of the army). Of the author’s own children, several were also deeply involved in Cilician affairs of the late 13th century: Baudoin became governor of Tarsus; Constantine became Constable; Oshin became regent of Cilicia during the reign of Levon III (1305-07); and daughter Zabel was the wife of King Oshin.
This work was translated by the renowned Armenologist Robert Bedrosian, who received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1979, specializing in ancient and medieval Armenian history, and went on to have a decades-long successful career in computer programming. These books respect Armenia’s great literary and cultural legacy, as well as Robert’s lifetime contributions to Armenian history, literature and culture.