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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311

XVIII: The Kingdom of Cilician Armenia,   pp. 630-659 PDF (12.6 MB)

Page 658

fangs of four ferocious beasts — the lion, or the Tartars, to whom
he pays a heavy tribute; the leopard, or the Sultan, who daily ravages his
frontiers; the wolf, or the Turks, who destroy his power; and the serpent,
or the pirates of our seas, who worry the very bones of the Christians of
Armenia."49 The difficulties increased when the Mongols were converted to
Islam, for then the Armenians not only lost all hope of assistance but were
subjected to religious persecution. 
 In 1305 Hetoum abdicated in favor of his nephew Leon IV and once again retired
to a monastery, but Leon's reign, already troubled by internal strife, in
particular the opposition which the pro-papal policy of Hetoum and the catholicus
had stirred up, came to an abrupt end on November 17, 1307. The Mongol emir
Bilarghu treacherously killed Hetoum, king Leon, and about forty of the dignitaries
and nobles who accompanied them. 50 
 The Armenian barony, later the kingdom of Cilicia, fighting against tremendous
odds, had not only maintained its existence for over two centuries, but had
attained an important position during the reign of Leon II and part of that
of Hetoum I. It had valorously played its part in the crusades, continuing
the struggle, together with the kingdom of Cyprus, after the destruction
of the other Christian realms of the Levant. 
 The history of constant warfare, invasions, destructions, and plunder, briefly
sketched above, may tend to obscure the very real cultural achievements of
the period, which can only be recalled here in a few words. Along with original
histories, literary works, and theological writings, we find numerous translations
from Greek, Syriac, and even Arabic, but the most significant are the translations
from Latin which appear for the first time in Armenian 
49 Quoted by Henry H. Howorth, History of the Mongols, III (1888), 579. 
 50 Tchamitch, without giving his source, says that the Armenians, who were
angered by the changes that Hetoum, king Leon IV, and the catholicus wished
to introduce into the Armenian ritual, in order to conform to Roman usage,
aroused Bilarghu against Hetoum and Leon and thus caused their death (History
of the Armenians, III, 311). He has been followed by most modern historians,
but this interpretation of Bilarghu's action does not rest on any text known
so far. The Armenian sources recall the murder very briefly without giving
a specific reason (RHC, Arm., I, 490, 664; Khachikian, Colophons, pp. 55—56;
Hakopian, Short Chronicles, I, 88, 89, 99; II, 188, 512—513), or say
that Bilarghu wished to become master of Cilicia (RHC, Arm., I, 466). Jean
Dardel (RHC, Arm., II, 16—17), the Moslem sources (al-Maqrizi, Histoire
des sultans mamlouks, II, ii, 279; the continuation of Rashid ad-Din, cited
in RHC, Arm., I, note I; the Tarikhi Oldjaitou, cited in RHC, Arm., II, 16,
note 3), and the Latin sources ("Les Gestes des Chiprois," RHC, Arm., II,
867—868; the "Chronicle of Cyprus," cited in Howorth, History of the
Mongols, III, 771) give different reasons, but nowhere is there the slightest
hint that the Armenians who were opposed to Hetoum and Leon for religious
reasons were in any way responsible for their murder. 

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