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Armenia and the Crusades

Tenth to Twelfth Centuries

The Chronicle
of
Matthew of Edessa

Translated from the Original Armenian


with a Commentary and Introduction by

Ara Edlllond Dostourtan


Foreword by
Krikor H. Maksoudian

National Association for Annenian Studies


and Research
ARMENIAN HERITAGE SERIES

University Press of Amertca


Lanham New York London

Copyright 1993 by the

National Association for


Armenian Studies and Research
University Press of' America~ Inc.
4720 Boston Way
Lanham, Maryland 20706
3 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8LU England
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
British Cataloging in Publication Informatioll Availahle
Copublished by tIITangclllcnt with lhc
Nutional Association for Armenian Studies and Research

Library of Congress Cataloglng-In-Publlcatlon Datil

Matthew, of Edessa, 12lh cent.


[Patmowt' iwn. English)
Amlcnia und the Crusades : tenth to twelfth centuries : the Chronicle
of Matthew of Edess'l I translated from the original Armenian with a
commentary and introduction by Ara Edmond Doslourian ; foreword
by Krikor H. Maksoudian.
p. em. - (Armenian heritage series)
By Matthew of Edessa, continued by Grigor Erels'.
Includes bibliographical referenccs and index.
1. Armcnia-History-Turkic Mongol domination, 1045-1592.
2. Armenin-History-Bllgratuni dynasty, 885-1045. 3. Islamic
.Empire-History-7S0-1258. 1. Dostourian, Ara Edmund.
II. Orifor, Erets', 12th cent. III. Title. IV. Series.
DS186.M3713
1993
956.6' 20 I3--<:lc20
92-39679 eIP
ISBN 0-8191-8953-7 (cloth: alk. paper)

TM

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of


American National Standard for Infonnation Sciences-Permanence
of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39,48-1984.

Dedication
To my mother Zepure (nee Panikian) of Bardizag
(Constantinople/Istanbul), who nurtured me in the
culture of my forebears and in the proper use of the
Armenian language;
To my father Levon of Yaraisar-Shghni (Sepasdia/
Sivas), who inculcated in me a love for and devotion to
the native soil of my ancestral homeland;
To Mary (Mariam) MeIjian (nee Aahjian), a loyal
daughter of Edessa (Urha1Urfa), who inspired me in
the writing of this tome.

Table of Contents
Foreword by Krikor H. Maksoudian

ix

Preface

xi

Acknowledgments

xv

Introduction

Text, Part I

19

Text, Part II

83

Text, Part III

181

Text, Continuation

241

Notes, Part I

283

Notes, Part II

307

Notes, Part III

335

Notes, Continuation

351

Glossary

361

Maps:
Historic Armenia During the Medieval Period
Cilicia, Syria, and Palestine, 1012th Centuries

363
364

Select Bibliography

365

Index

367

Foreword
The Chronicle of Matthew of Edessa and that of his continuator,
Gregory the Priest, are indispensable sources on the period from the
mid-tenth to the mid-twelfth centuries. The renowned Seljuk
specialist Claude Cahen puts Matthew in the same class with
Michael the Syrian and Anna Comnena, calling him an "illustrious
writer" of Christian faith: The Chronicle serves as a primary source
not only for Armenian, but also for Byzantine, Crusader, Syriac, and
Islamic history, including otherwise unknown facts and documents.
Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, western scholars
have frequently cited Matthew's work, using partial French translations of excerpts by Chahan de Cirbied (1811 and 1812) and particularly by E. Dulaurier (1850). In 1858 Dulaurier published the entire
text, but left out certain sections. The works of both of these authors
appeared before the editio princeps (Jerusalem, 1869), which was
based on two manuscripts, and the complete edition of Vagharshapat
(Etchmiadzin, 1898), based on five manuscripts and the readings of
the Jerusalem text.
After more than thirteen decades, the French translation, long out
of print and out of date, remains the only translation available to the
western reader. The scholarly works that appeared in the past one
hundred and thirty years and the important advances in Byzantine,
Armenian, Crusader, Syriac, and Islamic studies make the notes of
Dulaurier's work obsolete. The accuracy of the translation also leaves
much to be desired.
The need for a new translation of Matthew's Chronicle was felt for
a long time, and Dostourian has come forward to fill that gap. Unlike
Dulaurier, he has used the Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin) text, which
contains much better readings, and has refrained from leaving out
any sections. Moreover, being a native speaker of Armenian and a
former seminarian, he has a much better command of Matthew's
language, which is the classical idiom mixed with words and
'Claude Cahen, "Historiography of the Seljuqid Period," Historians of
the Middle East, Bernard Lewis and P. M. Holt, eds. (London, 1962),78.

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

expressions characteristic of the twelfth century spoken Armenian.


Dostourian also had the good fortune of having at his disposal
linguistic works on Middle Armenian, the vernacular in Matthew's
time, and the scholarship of the past century and a half.
The scholar of Armenian, Byzantine, or Middle Eastern history
may expect more copious notes on Matthew's Chronicle than what
Dostourian has provided. He has restricted his comments mostly to
explain the text to the western reader with no background in
Armenian, Byzantine, or Middle Eastern history. An attempt other
than that would have meant a voluminous work, which would have
taken several decades to complete. Thus, the value of the present
volume lies particularly in the translation of the Chronicle.
Very Rev. Dr. Krikor H. Maksoudian

Zohrab Information Center


Diocese of the Armenian Church
New York, New York
September 1991

Preface
The Chronicle of Matthew of Edessa is considered by scholars to
be a primary source of major importance for the history of the Near
East during the period of the early Crusades (tenth to twelfth centuries). The present work is the first translation of the Chronicle
from the original Classical Armenian into English. Three other
translations have been published: French, Turkish, and Modern
Armenian. Only the present work and the Modern Armenian
translation are based on the most complete and accurate text available. Therefore, this English translation of the Chronicle should be
of great benefit to those scholars working in the field of medieval
Near Eastern history who are not familiar with the original language.
The number of extant manuscripts of Matthew's chronicle is not
large. Moreover several of these manuscripts are incomplete. The
oldest surviving manuscripts date from the late sixteenth/early
seventeenth centuries, while the most recent were copied in the
nineteenth century. A number of libraries in the world have manuscripts of the Armenian historian's work, either complete or fragmentary: The Matenadaran (Manuscript Library) located in the Republic
of Armenia, the library of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem,
the Bibliotheque Nationale of Paris, the library of the Mekhitarist
Fathers of Venice, the library of the Mekhitarist Fathers of Vienna,
the Armenian Hostel in Rome, the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and
the British Museum in London.
The first published text of Matthew's chronicle was the French
edition prepared by E. Dulaurier (Matthew of Edessa, Chronique,
Paris, 1858). This edition, based on the three manuscripts found in
the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, contains several gaps (see, for
example, Part I, section 48, note 4; Part II, section 54, note 2;
Continuation, section 7, note 3), which were due no doubt to deficiencies in the available manuscripts. The French historian appended an
introduction and copious notes to the translation.
The first published text of Matthew's chronicle in its original
Armenian language appeared in Jerusalem in 1869 (Matthew of
Edessa, Patmut'iwn [History], Jerusalem, 1869). The editor (whose

xii

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

name is not given) states in the preface that the two manuscripts on
which he based the text are full of inaccuracies, and therefore he had
to rely on the Dulaurier text in several cases. This edition is inaccurate in some passages and contains many gaps. ~e only. other
published text of the Chronicle in the original Armeman was Issued
in Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), Armenia, in 1898 (~atthew. of
Edessa, Zhamanakagrut'iwn [Chronicle], edited by M. Mel~-Adanllan
and N. Ter-Mik'ayelian). This text is based on six manuscnpts found
in the library of the Holy See at Etchmiadzin (since incorporated into
the Matenadaran in Armenia). According to the editors, the best
manuscript was chosen as the basis for the text, while variant
readings from the others were incorporated in the footnotes. The
Jerusalem text was examined, and its variants and differences were
cited in the footnotes.
At the present time there are two translations of Matthew's
chronicle in addition to Dulaurier's. A Turkish translation by H. D.
Andreasyan (Vekaye Ndmesi [952-1136] ve Papaz Grigor'un Zeyli
[11361162], Ankara, 1962) is based wholly on that of Dulaurier and
includes Dulaurier's notes along with some additional notes by the
Turkish historian M. H. Yinanch. A translation into Modern
Armenian has been prepared by H. Bart'ikyan (Matthew of Edessa,
Zhamanakagrut'iwn, Yerevan, 1973) and is based on the Etchmiadzin
text cited above. This Armenian scholar has taken great pains to
render the original text into polished Modern Eastern Annenian.
Moreover he has prepared an extensive introduction together with
notes and commentary. Understandably this translation is oriented
to an Armenian-speaking audience.
The Etchmiadzin text published in 1898 has been used in the
preparation of the present translation. Armenian terms have been
transliterated into English according to the Library of Congress
system. Of the variants which have been incorporated into the
Etchmiadzin text, only those which appreciably alter the meaning of
a passage have been noted in the footnotes. The introduction, notes,
and commentary have been prepared for the educated layman rather
than the specialist and are designed to elucidate various parts of the
text (geographic place names, historical personages, etc.), as well as
to compare the Chronicle's narrative of events to those provided by
other contemporary historians and chroniclers of the period. It is
hoped that they will provide the educated layman with a tool for a
b~tter. understanding both of the contents of the text and the
hlstoncal context in which it was written.

PREFACE

xiii

The present translation has been prepared with two audiences in


mind: those scholars in the field who need to rely on a straightforward and accurate translation of Matthew's chronicle and the general
public interested in the nalTative as well as the history of the period.
The translation does not pretend to be based on a definitive critical
text, as no such text exists; however, the text used is the most
accurate and complete available. Great care has been taken to give
a clear and precise rendering into English without losing the flavor
of the Chronicle's original language and style.

Acknowledgements
The present work would not have been possible without the help
and inspiration of a number of people. It was my mentor and
advisor, Professor Peter Charanis of Rutgers University, who
proposed the idea of my translating Matthew of Edessa's chronicle as
a dissertation topic for a doctorate in Byzantine history. From the
inception of the work in the fall of 1962 to my completion of the
degree in 1972, Professor Charanis patiently encouraged and gently
prodded me, for which I am ever grateful. I only regret that he did
not live long enough to see the publication he initiated and so
inspired. Professor Ernest McDonnell, also of Rutgers University,
made some helpful comments and suggestions on the final form of the
dissertation.
I am indebted to Professor Isidore Twersky of Harvard University, through whom I obtained a teaching and research associateship
at Harvard for the year 1968~1969, which enabled me to write the
major portion of my dissertation. Professor Robert Thomson, Mesrob
Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard, gave me
invaluable assistance in my translation work. I am also indebted to
Professor Thomson for his helpful comments and suggestions on the
introduction, commentary, and notes.
The Board Chairman of the National Association for Armenian
Studies and Research (NAASR), Manoog S. Young, as well as the
Board of Directors, graciously consented to take on the responsibility
of publishing this work, for which I am very appreciative. I have
special thanks for Dr. Barbara J. Merguerian, NAASR's Director of
Information and Publications, who painstakingly edited, prepared,
and proofread the manuscript and made many helpful suggestions.
I would like to express my gratitute to Professor Hagop Nersoyan
of the University of Dayton and to the Very Reverend Dr. Krikor H.
Maksoudian of the Diocese of the Armenian Church for their very
helpful comments and suggestions. Lastly, my thanks to Janice
Chase of Carrollton, Georgia, for typing the final manuscript.
Ara Edmond Dostourian

Introduction
Very little is known about the life of Matthew of Edessa except for
the meager information contained in his chronicle. The dates of his
birth and death cannot be ascertained, although it is doubtful that
the Armenian chronicler lived beyond the year 1136, when his work
ends. The Armenian historian M. Ch'amich' suggests that Matthew
died in the siege of Edessa by the Turkish ruler Zengi in 1144 but
gives no basis for this assertion. Most probably Matthew spent the
latter days of his life in Kesoun and was in that town when the
Danishmendid ruler Amr-Ghazi laid siege to it in 1136. Matthews
native city was Edessa. According to his own testimony he was a
monk, l and he probably resided in one of the monasteries in the
vicinity of the city. He was a priest of lower rank and not a vardapet
(doctor). However, as can be discerned by his writing, he was
energetic and dedicated in the task which he undertook, the compilation of his chronicle. 2 Like most of his contemporaries, Matthew
perceived reality through religious eyes-that is, he believed that all
events occur through the foreknowledge and intervention of God.
The Chronicle, by its very nature, lacks homogeneity. The first
part, describing the events of the years 952 to 1051 A.D., is based on
the sources of others; the second, 1051 to 1101, on eyewitnesses living
in Matthew's time; and the third, 1101 to 1136, on Matthew's own
observations along with those of some others. A certain Gregory the
Priest continued the chronicle to the year 1162. According to the
lMatthew might have been the superior of a monastery rather than an
ordinary monk. The Armenian text uses vanakan and vanats' erets which
could mean "monk," or "monk of a monastery," or "superior of a monastery."
2S ee Part II, section Ii Part III, sections 1, 2, 3.
J

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

speculations of the French historian E. Dulaurier, Gregory was a


pupil of Matthew and probably had some influence with the residents
and commander of Kesoun, the town in which he lived.
Matthew wrote his chronicle at the turn of the twelfth century, a
turbulent period in the history of the Near East. The once powerful
'Abbasrd empire had pretty much disintegrated. Arab and Turkish
dynasties parceled out and ruled areas which were once part of a
united Muslim empire. The Seljuk Turks were firmly ensconced in
Persia and Iraq and were steadily encroaching upon the Anatolian
possessions of the Byzantine empire. The Latin West was beginning
to take a keen interest in the Near East and had already gained a
foothold in the Levant by bringing under its control a narrow strip of
the territory on the eastern littoral of the Mediterranean. The
Armenians, who very recently had been in the process of establishing
a number of independent states in eastern Anatolia, had been
thwarted by Seljuk invasions and Byzantine intrigue and therefore
had begun to shift their activities to upper Mesopotamia and Cilicia.
Georgia was in the process of gaining a prominent position in
Caucasian affairs through the efforts of a new dynamic dynasty.
Matthew's chronicle deals with the interplay of these various forces;
it opens with the Byzantine empire's resurgence in the mid-tenth
century, goes on to describe the Seljuk advance in the eleventh, and
ends with the arrival of the Latin Crusaders in the late eleventh and
early twelfth centuries. In the process the struggle of the Armenians
to maintain their independence is narrated, as well as the interplay
of these Oriental Christians with the Byzantines, Arabs, Turks,
Syrians, Latins, and Georgians.
In dealing with Matthew as a historian, one should discuss not
only his handling of sources and approach to historical writing, but
also the Armenian chronicler's language and style, weltanschauung,
and attitude towards other peoples. As a medieval chronicler of
average sophistication, Matthew lacks a distinctive style. Rather,
both as to grammar and vocabulary, he writes in the language of the
people. There is a significant chasm between his style and that of
classical Armenian authors. Matthew's writing takes on a dynamic
quality in its description of events and people. His prose is weighted
with the figurative language so common to Near Easterners. The
flourish does not, however, diminish its power. Moreover the
Chronicle abounds in vivid descriptions of events which Matthew
considers significant and which he wishes to impress upon the minds
of his readers; examples are the presentation of the first appearance

INTRODUCTION

of the Turks in Armenia (Part I, section 47), the account of the sack
of the opulent city of Arlsn (Part I, section 92), the narration of the
fall of Ani to the Seljuks (Part II, section 22), and the description of
the death of a Georgian warrior at the hands of an Annenian hero
(Part I, section 10). Another element in Matthew's chronicle which
needs to be mentioned here is the folk epic, one of the traditional
genres of classical Armenian literature. Two very good examples of
the Armenian chronicler's use of this genre are the accounts of the
battle of Khach'ik and his sons with the Muslims (Part I, section 82)
and the conflict between T'ornik and Philaretus (Part II, sections 60
and 61).
In analyzing Matthew's basic philosophy, there is a tendency to
oversimplify the Armenian chronicler's viewpoints and attitudes.
Indeed some scholars have characterized Matthew as simple-minded,
intensely nationalistic, deeply suspicious, and hateful of foreigners,
as well as superstitious and credulous. There can be no doubt that
some of these attitudes can be found in his work. However, Matthew
is too complex an individual to be presented in such oversimplified
terms. His motives for writing the Chronicle are simple and clear:
to provide instruction concerning the manner of God's intervention in
history, either to punish humans for their wickedness or to reward
them for their righteousness. To use the author's own words:
It is because of all this that I, Matthew of Edessa, a monk,

spared no efforts and left this work as a record for those who
enjoy studying chronicles so that, when they begin to inquire into
past events, they may be able more easily to learn about the
times and the epochs. These persons shall also learn about the
terrible misfortunes which occurred in those times and, once
again bringing these things to mind, shall remember the divine
wrath which we received from God the righteous judge as a
penalty for our sins. Because of these many calamities-namely
the destruction of the Christians and the reprimands which our
Lord God brought upon us by means of an infidel nation-we did
not wish that such threats and warnings of God be forgotten by
us. Now it is essential to heed the admonition of our God
ceaselessly and at all times. (Part II, section 1).
Writing within the prophetic framework of the Old Testament,
Matthew warns his readers throughout his work that destruction
came upon Israel when her people strayed from the path of righteousness. Numerous examples are given of divine wrath falling upon the
Christians because of their recalcitrance: God punished the Christians because of their sins, using the Turks as an instrument of his

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

wrath (Part II, section 49); a famine is brought upon the people of
Edessa because they sinfully killed their leader T'oros (Part II,
section 130); God punishes the Greeks because of their treachery
against the Franks (Part ill, section 5). Although a theological
motive permeates the work, Matthew strives to present historical
events as accurately as possible.3
Like most medieval chroniclers Matthew is steeped in religious
thinking which is sometimes noncritical. In this respect he is no
different from the contemporary Byzantine, Syrian, or Latin chroniclers. In keeping with the medieval world view, Matthew interprets
all natural phenomena either as omens of impending danger or as
miracles showing the glory and might of God. Examples of this
religious orientation can be seen in the description of the failure of
the lamps in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to burn due to
heretical thinking on the part of the Byzantine Christians (Part I,
section 43); the miracle of the blocking of a river by the Armenian
catholicos Peter (Part I, section 50); the incident of the preservation
of the Syriac Gospels after having been cast into a fire many times
(Part II, section 2); the "red snow" which brings famine and death in
its wake (Part IT, section 10); the incident in which lightening strikes
the fortress of Vahka, presaging the death of the Annenian prince
Constantine (Part II, section 128); and the appearance of a comet
foretelling that a great ruler will reign over a vast empire (Part III,
section 32).
Matthew has been styled as a super patriot, a passionate
adherent of the Armenian church, and a denouncer of all things
foreign, whether pertaining to an alien religious tradition or an alien
cultural background. This view of Matthew does not bear up under
close scrutiny. In the first place, to call him a super patriot or
chauvinist is to attribute to him a nineteenth century concept of
nationalism which was foreign to the Middle Ages. Instead of
allegiance to a state, peoples' loyalties were based on an attachment
to a local area or to a religious community. It cannot be denied that
Matthew has strong feelings for the cultural and religious heritage
to which he belongs, but the same can be said of most of the writers
and thinkers of the time. Can anyone deny that Bar Hebraeus,
Michael the Syrian, Anna Comnena, Michael PselluB, and William of
Tyre are partisan writers? And while a number of the Byzantine and
Arab historians do not evince as intense a feeling for their religious
3See Part III, section 3.

INTRODUCTION

and cultural tradition as do the aforementioned writers, it must not


be forgotten that these individuals came from the more cosmopolitan
background of universal states encompassing many different
nationalities and cultural traditions, in contrast to peoples like the
Armenians and Syrians who had to battle against overwhelming odds
in order to keep their respective traditions intact.
Thus, Matthew is no more or no less partisan than many of his
contemporaries. In fact in many instances the Armenian chronicler
puts aside his partisanship and portrays individuals in a fair and
accurate manner, to the point of praising and eulogizing his enemies.
Matthew condemns his own people when, in his opinion, they have
acted in a criminal fashion. He is quick to judge the actions of the
famous people of his time: the Byzantine emperor Tzimisces is
condemned for the means he used to obtain the imperial throne, as
well as for some aspects of his personal life (Part I, sections 8 and
18); an Armenian nobleman, Sargis, is denounced because of his
perfidiousness towards his own people and because he instilled in the
Byzantine emperor, Constantine Monomachus, the idea of forcing the
king of Ani, Gagik, to give up the Armenian throne (Part I, sections
74 and 84); the Byzantine general Philaretus is condemned as a
betrayer of his own people and as a superficial Christian because he
took control of Edessa and killed a number of Armenians in the city
(Part II, sections 60 and 77); the Armenians of Edessa are severely
criticized for killing their commander Taros, who was of the Byzantine Orthodox faith rather than a communicant of the Annenian
church (Part II, section 118). It is interesting to note that the
individuals in each of the above illustrations, except for Sargis, have
also been praised by the Armenian chronicler when the occasion has
arisen: Tzimisces is eulogized for his good relations with the
Armenians and for his attempts to capture Jerusalem on behalf of the
Christians (Part I, sections 17 ff.); Philaretus is given credit for
avenging the killing of the Armenian commander of Antioch (Part II,
section 66).
Matthew has been portrayed as a passionate adherent of the
Armenian church who despised the other Christian traditions,
especially the Byzantine. The fact is that he has a clear understanding of Christian unity and brotherhood. While he voices deep concern
for the sufferings and affiictions of Armenian Christians, this does
not prevent him from sympathizing with the plight of the other
Eastern Christians (Greeks, Syrians, and Georgians) as well as the

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Latins, during the onslaughts of the Muslims (Part I, section 30; Part
II, sections 2, 110, 111; Part III, section 8).
Matthew has come under special criticism for his alleged spiteful
attitude towards the Byzantine church. An analysis of his statements
on that subject does not bear this out. It is true that he hurls
invectives at the Byzantine church, but only when that church, in his
opinion, strays from the Orthodox faith (Part I, section 43) or tries to
compel his people to follow the Byzantine tradition (Part II, sections
14, 30, 57). On the other hand, he has a very high regard for his own
church and considers its faith to be pure and orthodox (Part II,
sections 30 f). Under these circumstances, can Matthew be labeled
any more of a religious fanatic than his Byzantine coreligionists?
Matthew is generally consistent in his attitude towards the alien
peoples with whom the Armenians were in contact during this period.
He is very critical of those he considers to have worked against the
interests of both his own people and those of the other Christians
inhabiting the area. He eulogizes and praises all individuals,
including Muslims, who act benevolently towards the Christians. In
spite of his deep devotion to the Armenian church, Matthew does not
allow his loyalty to interfere with his allegiance to the universal
church of Christ (including Greeks, Latins, Syrians, and Copts). Of
all the neighboring peoples, he seems to be most concerned about the
Greeks. In essence the relationship between the Greeks and Armenians was more than a neighborly one during this period. The
Byzantine empire's very existence and preservation depended in large
part on the cooperation between the two peoples. It is no wonder
that Matthew condemns policies that created disharmonies between
the two Christian peoples but praises efforts to strengthen their
relationship and cooperation. Thus, when the Byzantine rulers
attempt, successfully in the end, to annihilate the Armenian states
in eastern Anatolia, they are condemned in no uncertain terms (Part
I, sections 84, 92; Part II, section 13). Moreover, whoever threatens
the empire and its unity is likewise condemned, whether it be an
individual rebel or an outside invader (Part I, sections 28,81; Part IT,
sections 57, 90). On the other hand, Matthew appears to contradict
his profession of loyalty to the empire when he severely castigates the
Greeks for their treacherous attitude towards the Latin Crusaders
(Part III, sections 4, 5). Perhaps Matthew here is following the Latin
sources which maintain that the Greeks were treacherous in their
dealings with the Crusaders, rather than the Byzantine sources
which state the opposite view (cf. Part III, section 4, note 4).

INTRODUCTION

The Annenian chronicler's attitude towards the Latins is much


more ambiguous than his attitude towards the Greeks. In dealing
with the Latins, Matthew appears confused about their motivations.
When the Latins fll'st appear, he has nothing but praise for them and
expresses the hope that they will deliver the Christians from the
Muslim yoke (Part II, sections 109, 110, 111, 117, 118). However, he
gradually becomes disillusioned and begins to blame them for the
ruin and destruction of all the Christians of the East (Part III,
sections 30, 40, 47). Yet in other instances he has nothing but praise
for the Latins (Part III, sections 55, 58), asserting that unlike the
Greeks these Western Christians stood by the Annenians to the very
end.
Matthew's attitude towards the Muslim Arabs and Turks is
unique. Although he has no love or sympathy for the Islamic religion
(Part II, section 15; Part III, section 86), his views concerning the
Arabs and Turks are open-minded. A tendency to sympathize with
the Arabs rather than Turks may be explained by the fact that the
Turks were the chief ravagers of Armenia. Nevertheless, although he
roundly condemns the Turks for the destruction of his homeland and
singles out their leaders for their wicked and bloodthirsty nature
(Part II, sections 28, 48; Part III, sections 54, 76), the Armenian
chronicler has nothing but praise and gratitude for a number of
Turkish commanders and rulers, chief among them Malik-Shah (Part
II, sections 54, 56, 58, 86, 92, 103; Part III, sections 21, 36). Such
praise is showered upon these Turks by Matthew because of their
benevolent attitude towards his people and the other Christians.
On the other hand, Matthew's view of the Syrians and Georgians
is less sharply delineated. Although the references are scanty, in
most cases he sympathizes with their struggle to maintain their
respective religious and cultural traditions. Moreover, he is especially grateful to the Georgians for protecting the Armenians at a
time when their country was disintegrating due to the onslaughts of
the Turks (Part ill, sections 94, 104). In summary one can say that
Matthew's attitude towards the various peoples with whom the
Armenians came into contact during this period does not display a
consistent viewpoint in reference to each group. In fact his assessment fluctuates in accordance with the thoughts and actions of the
peoples in question. However, if there is a consistent aspect in
Matthew's attitude towards the neighboring peoples, it lies in his
unreserved commitment to the welfare of the Byzantine empire, the
Armenians, and the other Eastern Christians.

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

It is not easy to deal with the question of Matthew of Edessa's


sources or the manner in which he utilizes them. There is practically
no information available concerning the sources which he uses, except
the following statement made by the author himself:

As for us, with our limited knowledge and intelligence we have


investigated these events with as much lucidity as possible,
consulting a number of histories that were written in various
places and transmitted to us as records by their authors. We
have collated all the material contained in these histories with
the greatest care. Moreover, we have obtained facts from
respectable people, who were knowledgeable in the events and
calamities in question and, being free of error, were well versed
in history and chronology. We also have had interviews and
interrogations with old people who were well infonned of the
events of past years. (Part III, section 3).
Matthew gives no information on either the histories or the people he
consulted. However, by comparing the Chronicle with the contempo~
rary and non-contemporary sources dealing with the area in question,
we can obtain some indication of the way in which he utilized his
material.
Matthew's work covers a period of over two hundred years. There
is no homogeneity to the Chronicle, for the fIrst part (952-1051) is
based on non-contemporary sources, while the last two parts (10511101 and 1101-1136) are based on contemporary sources as well as
the author's conversations with various individuals and his own
experiences. 4 There are a good number of contemporary and noncontemporary sources dealing with the events covered by the
Annenian chronicler's work. These include Armenian, Greek, Syriac,
Arabic, Latin, and Georgian sources. A brief treatment of these
historical works and their relative merits hopefully will provide the
context for a discussion and analysis of the manner in which
Matthew dealt with the sources at his disposal.
The Annenian historians dealing with the events covered by
Matthew are numerous. Thomas Msroni (tenth century) wrote a
history of the Artsruni dynasty which ruled the Armenian state of
Vaspurakan in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries. Many of the
events this writer related are corroborated by the Arab historians of

4trhe continuation of Matthew's chronicle to 1162 by Gregory the Priest


is likewise based on contemporary sources and the latter's own observations.

INTRODUCTION

the period. Thomas dealt with the history of the Artsroni dynasty
from early times through the appearance of the Seljuk Turks in
Vaspurakan in the early eleventh century. Stephen Asoghik
(eleventh century) wrote a world history which in its third part deals
with the history of Armenia and the neighboring states from the
reign of Ashot I to that of Gagik I (885-1020). Aristakes of Lastivert
(eleventh century) has aptly been called the "Armenian Jeremiah" for
his account of the events in Armenia from 1001 to 1072, in which he
lamented the impending destruction of his native land by the Seljuk
Turks. Aristakes devoted a good portion of his history to the Seljuk
penetration of eastern Anatolia through the battle of Mantskert
(Manzikert, 1071); he is less successful in analyzing facts and events,
tending to attribute them to divine providence.
Four thirteenth-century Armenian historians have produced
useful accounts of some of the events included in Matthew's chronicle.
Stephen Orbelian, a scion of the famous Orbelian family, wrote a
history of Siwnik', one of the provinces of Greater Armenia. This
work includes a history of the Orbelian dynasty which ruled the
region for centuries, as well as a description of the area's topography
and geography. Vardan Vardapet (Areveltsi), in his history of
Armenia and the surrounding regions, provides an especially valuable
account of the period of the tenth to thirteenth centuries, with
emphasis on the relations between the Armenians and the neighboring peoples (Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Mongols,
etc.). 5mbat Sparapet (the Constable), a scion of the Hetumids of
Cilician Armenia, wrote a chronicle of the events in Cilicia and the
neighboring regions in the period 951-1272, which was continued to
1336 by others. The work presents a comprehensive view of the
political and socioeconomic relations of the Cilician state with the
neighboring states and peoples. Kirakos of Gandzak (Ganja) wrote
a history of Armenia in two parts: the first part a short presentation
of events in Armenia from St. Gregory the Enlightener (fourth
century) to the Mongol invasions (thirteenth century) and the second,
more valuable, section on the Mongol invasions of Armenia (12411266) and their political, social, and economic effects on the land, its
people, and the surrounding areas. 5

It is believed that Matthew died soon after his narration ends, in 1136;
therefore he could not have utilized these Armenian historians. It has been
suggested that some of his information on the tenth and early eleventh
centuries was based on the lost Chronicle of one John of Banahin.

10

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

There are a number of Byzantine historians and chroniclers, some


of them contemporaries of Matthew, who shed light on the events
covered in the Chronicle. Theophanes Continuatus, an anonymous
chronicler of the tenth century, wrote a work continuing the history
of the eighth century author Theophanes into the period from 813 to
961. Leo Diaconus (tenth century), who accompanied Basil II on his
Bulgarian campaigns, wrote a history dealing with the events of 959
to 975 (the wars of Nicephorus Phocas and John Tzimisces against
the Arabs, Bulgarians, and Russians). His work is based on his own
observations and those of other eyewitnesses. The history of Michael
PselIus (eleventh century), whose political standing at the imperial
court enabled him to present an intimate picture of the events of the
time, continues Leo's work and covers the years 976 to 1077. Michael
Attaleiates (eleventh century) wrote a history of the events of 10341079, thus paralleling the later years covered in Pselius's work. John
Scylitzes (eleventh century) compiled a chronicle of the period from
811 to 1079 which is of greatest value for the events of the eleventh
century. Nicephorus Bryennius (eleventh-twelfth centuries) wrote a
history dealing with the events covered in the latter part of Psellus's
work (1070-1079). His attempts to immortalize the deeds of his
father-in-law, the emperor Alexius, are none too successful. Anna
Comnena (eleventh-twelfth centuries) wrote a work called the
"Alexiad" which covers the years 1069-1118, in great part the reign
of her father, the emperor Alexius, in which she extols the virtues of
her father and presents his achievements in the best light possible.
George Cedrenus (eleventh-twelfth centuries) compiled a world
history based on Theophanes and other chroniclers; for the period
after 811 he uses Scylitzes and brings his narration to the year 1057.
John CinnamuB (twelfth century), who was imperial secretary to the
emperor Manuel I Comnenus, wrote a history of the period 11181176, continuing the "Alexiad of Anna Comnena. John Zonaras
(twelfth century), who was commander of the imperial bodyguard,
compiled a chronicle from the creation of the world to 1118. Michael
Glycas (twelfth century), a historian, theologian, and poet, wrote a
chronicle covering the same period as Zonaras. Nicetas Choniates
(twelfth-thirteenth centuries) wrote a chronicle dealing with the
invasions of the empire during the Third and Fourth Crusades (11891204).6
lt

6It is doubtful that Matthew knew or used any of these Byzantine


sources.

INTRODUCTION

11

Three Syrian chroniclers have narrated events recorded by


Matthew in his work. The author of the Anonymous Chronicle deals
with the history of Edessa and its environs during the fIrst half of the
twelfth century; the abundance of intimate detail and the familiarity
of the author with the topography of Edessa indicate that he must
have been contemporary to the events he describes and probably an
eyewitness to some. Michael the Syrian (twelfth century), who wrote
a world history from the creation to 1196, provides the most complete
compilation the Syrians have left; the great abundance of information
in the history compensates for the author's defects in historical
methodology and analysis. The Syrian chronicler's comments on the
Greeks, Turks, and Latins are deeply colored by his profound concern
for the preservation of his people and their Christian faith. Bar
Hebraeus (thirteenth century), a Syrian scholar noted for his encyclopedic learning in science and philosophy, wrote a history of the Near
East from the creation to his time. His work contains important
information on the Armenians and other peoples of the Caucasus. 7
There are numerous Arabic authors who have written about
events covered in Matthew's chronicle. Yahya of Antioch, a Coptic
Christian (eleventh century), wrote a very valuable chronicle dealing
with Byzantine-Muslim relations in upper Mesopotamia in the ninth
century. Ibn-al-Athrr (twelfth-thirteenth centuries) wrote a history
of the world from the creation to his time. His work is especially
important for the history of upper Mesopotamia during his lifetime.
Abu-I-Feda (thirteenth century), who was a historian of the Ayyubrd
dynasty, wrote a history of the world, basically a compilation of other
authors. Two less noteworthy writers of the twelfth-thirteenth
centuries are Kamal-ad-Drn and Ibn-al-Qalanisi, chroniclers of
Aleppo and Damascus, respectively. Their works deal with the
histories of their respective cities, as well as events in northern Syria,
during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.8
To the Eastern sources should be added certain Latin historians.
Fulcher of Chartres (eleventh-twelfth centuries), who accompanied
Baldwin I, is considered to be the most dependable historian of the
First Crusade. An intelligent and keen observer, he was meticulous
7The works of Michael and Bar Hebraeus were written later and could
not have served as sources for Matthew.
8Matthew could not possibly have utilized the Arabic sources (except
perhaps for Yahya of Antioch), for the Armenian chronicler is believed to
have died soon after his narrative ends, in 1136.

12

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

in his chronology and endowed with an unusual talent for describi~g


events. Another historian of the First Crusad~, Albert of Arx:
(eleventh-twelfth centuries), falls far short of hIS contemporary
Fulcher besides being quite hostile to the native Christians. Perhaps
the out~tanding Latin historian of the Crusades is William of Tyre
(twelfth century), who wrote a history of the Latin Levant from !0~9
to 1184. He was a native of the East and knew Greek and ArabIC, m
9
addition to being a fine Latin stylist.
There are two groups of Georgian historical sources: those outside
the Georgian Annals and those contained in the Georgian Annals.
Some of these Annals deal with events covered by Matthew's
chronicle, especially those incidents pe~aining to Georgian-Armenian
and Georgian-Turkish relations. A portion of the Georgian Annals
has been translated into Annenian and is known under the name of
the Armenian Chronicle.
In comparing Matthew's narration with the Armenian, Greek,
Syrian, Arab, Latin, and Georgian chroniclers of the same period, we
can arrive at only tentative conclusions about the similarities and
differences between his narrative and the accounts of the other
sources. These conclusions in no way indicate the specific sources
used in compiling his work. Matthew's narration of events is most
similar to the principal Syriac and Armenian sources, especially
Michael the Syrian, Asoghik, and Aristakes (Part I, section 8 and
note 3, section 16 and note 7, section 56 and note 2; Part II, section
8 and note 3, section 74 and note 7, section 85 and note 2), thus
indicating that the Armenian chronicler was familiar to some extent
with the Syrian and Armenian writers who dealt with the events
which he also related. On the other hand, Matthew does not always
agree with the Greek sources, especially in the recording of minor
det~ils (Part I, section 91 and note 5; Part IT, section 64 and note 3,
sectIOn 91 and note 1). This might indicate that he was not too
familiar with the Greek sources, except perhaps in certain instances
as in his description of one of the Pecheneg attacks on Constantinopl~
~ an event far removed from him (Part II, section 90 and note 3), or
hIS ~reatment of the emperor Basil's Bulgarian campaign (Part I,
sectIons 37 and 46). When it is a question of the Franks, Matthew
9Again,. Matthe~ could not possibly have utilized William's history, for
~he Armeman chromcler had completed his narration by 1136. However
~ hads been suggested that some of his information on the Crusades wa~
ase on Fulcher of Chartres' Gesta Francorum.

INTRODUCTION

13

tends to agree with or follow the Latin sources rather than the Greek
or Syriac (Fart Ill, section 4 and note 4; section 18 and note 2, section
105 and note 2). What this indicates is difficult to say, except that
the Armenian chronicler might have relied on some Latin sources for
events pertaining to the Franks, especially outside upper Mesopotamia. 10 There is no evidence that Matthew had any firsthand
information on Caucasian events, specifically those pertaining to
Georgia and its relations with the neighboring Muslims. Perhaps his
narration of these events (Part III, sections 83 and 84, section 98 and
note 2) was based on Armenian sources, although this must remain
a matter of conjecture. A further point to be noted here is that the
Armenian chronicler relates a number of events pertaining to the
decease of various Byzantine, Muslim, and Frankish mIers, giving
details on the manner of their deaths which differ substantially from
those of other sourcesll (Part II, section 132 and note 1; Part III,
section 95 and note 6, section 102 and note 4).
It is evident that Matthew is rather inconsistent in his handling
of sources. In spite of his contention that he thoroughly investigated,
weighed, and analyzed his materials (Part II, section 1), the Armenian chronicler has not always been correct in his chronological and
factual presentation (Part I, section 1 and note 6, section 2 and note
6, section 3 and note 4, section 5 and note 4, section 16 and note 3,
section 23 and note 2, section 35 and note 2, section 36 and note 1,
section 44 and note 3; Part II, section 5 and note 7, section 51 and
note 1, section 68 and note 1, section 69 and note 1). Nevertheless,
in other instances he has accurately described the events he relates.
In keeping with the mentality of a medieval chronicler, Matthew
tends to be credulous and exaggerates a great deal (Part I, section 9
and note 3, section 18, section 48; Part II, section 109), but such
shortcomings are offset by a not infrequent judicious presentation of
events and individuals.
Since medieval chronicles are basically simple catalogues of events
in chronological order, very little or no emphasis is placed on
lOOn events pertaining to the Franks in upper Mesopotamia, it is quite
evident that Matthew relied on his own observations, eyewitnesses, and
others of that region. As to the specific Latin sources on which the
Armenian chronicler might have relied, there seems to be no definite
indication.
llActually all the sources differ on the details concerning the manner
in which these rulers died. It is indeed surprising that there should be so
much disagreement on the details.

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

14

interpretation and analysis; yet many chroniclers, including Matthew,


have in some instances attempted to interpret events and analyze
individual motivations. In the case of the Armenian chronicler, such
interpretations and analyses has been minimal and rather perfunctory. For example, no cause has been given for the first Turkish
invasion of Armenia (Part I, section 48); the Armenian king's promise
to hand over Ani to the emperor Basil (Part I, section 50 and note 2);
the Armenian catholicos Peter's departure from his see (Part I,
section 66, and note 1); the decision of Gagik to wear mourner's
gannents (Part II, section 23); or the empress Eudocia's desire to
have Diogenes installed on the imperial throne (Part II, section 51).
Although Matthew shows little evidence of a thorough analysis of
events in his work, he does in some instances reflect a solid grasp of
the materials and sources he is utilizing. He is particularly thorough
in presenting and explaining the critical situation of the Byzantine
empire in 1080 (Part II, section 73). Matthew appears to be the only
source to give a reason for the withdrawal of the Franks from Edessa
in 1110-1111 (Part III, section 47 and note 1). Only Matthew is
specific as to the motivation behind Maudud's assassination in
Damascus (Part ill, section 63 and note 3). His analysis of Baldwin's
election as King of Jerusalem in 1118 is particularly incisive (Part
III, section 75). Such a treatment of materials as this shows that the
Armenian chronicler was able occasionally to subject his information
to some measure of critical analysis that would not be expected in a
strictly chronological catalogue. On this basis, his remark on the
utilization of sources 12 occasionally does ring true.
Turning to the question of whether it is possible to discern any
unique or specific contribution which Matthew of Edessa has made
to the historiography of the period, two definitive and one guarded
statements can be made. Unquestionably his work contains material
yrhich ~ther sources lac~. Likewise a fresh, personal interpretation
IS prOVIded. However, m reference to his correcting and amplifying
other sources, the verdict is a qualified one.
In numerous instances Matthew presents material and information not con~ai~ed in the other sources: for example, the letter the
emperor TZlmlsces sent to the Armenian king Ashot13 (Part I,
l2See Part III, section 3.
e French ~i~torian E: Dulaurier, for good reasons, maintains that
tho
e er W 8s..ongm~lly wntten in Greek and was kept in the Bagratid
arc lYes at An1, 1ater It was translated into Armenian.

Ih'17ft

INTRODUCTION

15

sections 19 and 20) or the defense of Armenian Christianity made by


the Armenian king Gagik before the emperor Romanus (Part II,
sections 31-41). The work is especially valuable for the copious
fll'sthand information presented on Edessa and the neighboring areas
of upper Mesopotamia. Matthew's information on areas outside his
immediate section of the country is in many cases correct, perhaps
indicating that he had access to reliable non-Armenian sources.14
Matthew's chronicle is sprinkled with fresh insights and details;
a mere perusal of the commentary will easily confirm this.
Matthew's viewpoint enriches the historiography of the period and
area in question, for his chronicle truly reflects the frustrations and
aspirations of his people. Since the seventh century the Armenians
had played a very important role in the Byzantine empire, especially
in the defense of its territories against outside invaders. If the
Annenians had continued to play this essential role, perhaps the
empire ultimately would not have succumbed to the Turks. Yet this
was not the case, for in the eleventh century the asswnption of direct
rule over the Armenian kingdoms by the Byzantine emperors led to
such a deterioration of relations between the Armenians and the
Greeks that the Seljuks found easy entry into Anatolia, the heartland
of the empire. Not surprisingly Matthew considers the Greeks as the
basic cause for the deterioration of relations between the two peoples.
The Armenian chronicler views the Franks initially as the instrument
for the deliverance of his people from the Turkish yoke. He is soon
disappointed in this hope when he discovers that the Franks, far from
helping the Armenians, are intent on pursuing their own interests,
even to the point of causing hann to these eastern Christians.
The contributions Matthew makes in the correction or elaboration
of the contemporary and non-contemporary sources are not as clearcut as in the two aforementioned cases (Greeks and Franks). With
a major emphasis on his native area of upper Mesopotamia, Matthew
relates events occurring in three other areas: eastern Anatolia and
the Balkans, the Caucasus, and southern Syria and Palestine. These
areas are dealt with in great detail by the Armenian chronicler; in
fact the coverage of these areas is no less than that of upper
Mesopotamia. Thus Matthew must have had access to non-Armenian
sources in order to have written about these areas. 15 Perhaps he
consulted eyewitnesses and other individuals.
14What these sources are cannot be ascertained.
150ne can only speculate on the identity of these sources.

16

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

In several instances Matthew mentions details and facts about


events in these areas which either do not agree with the other
sources or are not contained in them (Part II, section 90 and note 3,
section 91 and note 1; Part III, section 18 and note 2, section 20). In
these cases the Armenian chronicler either was misinformed about
this material or had access to sources and individuals which the
others did not. A fairly strong case can be made for the latter view
in those instances in which Matthew provides a rather detailed and
lengthy narration of an event, for how could he go into so much detail
(unless of course he was misinformed or simply contrived the
narrative)? Thus one can conclude that, if the correctness of the
details presented by him concerning the events outside upper
Mesopotamia (details which are at variance with the other sources)
are verifiable, then Matthew can be considered to have made an
important contribution in regard to correcting and amplifying the
non-Armenian sources of the period.
In summarizing Matthew's place in the historiography of the
medieval Near East, it can be said that the Armenian chronicler
holds a unique position among the writers of the period. This is
partly due to the location of Matthew's native city of Edessa, at the
crossroads of a region traversed, conquered, or settled by the large
number of the peoples who have helped to shape the history of the
area. Another explanation is Matthew's Armenian background,
which places him and his people in a special relationship to each of
these peoples: the administration and maintenance of the Byzantine
empire rested on the cooperation of Greek and Armenian; the
Armenian church owed a great debt to Syrian Christianity, which
linked the destinies of the two peoples in the struggle to maintain
their common Orthodox (Monophysite) faith; both positive and
negative relations between Arab and Armenian went back to the
domination of the Umayyad and 'Abbasid empires; the Turk had
recently invaded eastern Anatolia and thus threatened the very
existence of the Armenian people; Latin and Armenian came in close
contact with one another in Cilicia and northern Syria in a relationship marked by both cooperation and conflict; and Georgian and
Armenian had been living in close proximity in the highlands of
eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus for nearly two millennia and had
interpenetrated one another's cultures.
None of the other contemporary historians or chroniclers has
Matt~ew's ability to view the interaction ofthe various peoples of the
area In such a comprehensive and integrative manner.

TEXT

A History written by Matthew the Distinguished Priest of the


Edessenes, concerning the Bagratid Kings and Many Others,
beginning at the date 400 (951 A.D.) and ending in the year
611 (1162 A.D.).l

Part P
1. In those days, in the year 401 of the Armenian era [952-953],3

there was a severe famine in many places. In the southern regions,


in the land of the Muslims, 4 there was much suffering, above all in
Mesopotamia. Due to the severity of the famine there was anguish
and turmoil in many places, and especially in the renowned metropolitan see of Edessa,5 which the Armenian king Tigran had founded. 6
The famine stayed in that country for seven years, and the slaughter
caused by that famine was very great. In the country of the Muslims
there was much mortality, and many Christians died because of the
dreadfulness of the famine. After two years locusts, numerous as the
sands of the sea, came over that region and devastated the land. The
famine increased greatly. Many went mad, and attacking one
another mercilessly and savagely, devoured each other. The princes
and nobles fed upon seeds and berries, and many animals died.
Many villages and regions became uninhabited, and nothing else has
been built to the present day.
2. In the year 407 of the Armenian era [958-959] the nation of the
Arabs 1 collected troops in Edessa and throughout the region of the
Edessenes, and with a tremendous army crossed over the great
Euphrates River and went against the fortified town2 which is called
Samosata. The RomanS general who was called the paracoemomenus,' a mighty and brave man, went forth in battle against them.
[The two armies]5 clashed with one another at the gates of the town,
and on that day the Muslims struck down the Roman forces and
caused a great slaughter near the gates of the town. Mer a few days
the town of Samosata, which is near the town of Edessa, was
captured. 6

20

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

3. In the year 408 of the Armenian era [959-960] the Ro~an


emperor Romanus 1 collected troops and came against the MuslIms.
Crossing the vast Mediterranean2 Sea with ships, he passed over to
the large island called Crete. In a severe battle he captured it from
the forces of Egypt, 3 for the nation of the Arabs had possess~d all t~e
islands and all the coastal regions for four hundred years. In this
same year the Armenian forces slaughtered I:Iamdan, the Muslim
general.ll
4. In the year 410 of the Armenian era [961-962] the Arabs
captured Anazarba1 and Aleppo from the ruler of Egypt and caused
2
much slaughter, more of the Christians than of their own nation.
5. In this same year the general of the Armenians gathered
together the marzpetakan regiments, l comprising forty-five thousand
brave men, separate from the royal regiments. All the princes of
Armenia gathered before the holy patriarch2 Anania3 so that they
might anoint Gagik, the son of Ashot, to the kingship as his former
ancestors had been anointed; for he had not as yet occupied the royal
throne of Armenia and the crown had not been placed upon his head.'
6. Prevailing upon his most praiseworthy lordship John, the
catholicos of the country of the Albanians, l they summoned him and
with him forty bishops. With solemn majesty they summoned Philip,
the king of the Albanians, a pious and saintly man, the son of
Goghazgak, the son ofVach'agan, [former] kings of the country of the
Albanians. On that day there was a formidable and large assembly
in the city of Ani, which at this time was the capital of the Armenians. In this year Gagik, the son of Ashot, was anointed king as his
ancestors had been anointed and occupied the throne of the former
kings of the Armenian nation. There was great rejoicing throughout
all Armenia, for the people witnessed the reestablishment of the royal
throne of Armenia as it had existed among their ancestors. Especially they rejoiced over the bravery of Gagik, because he was valiant
and also a warrior. On this day he conducted a review of his troops
comprising one hundred thousand select men, [all of them] wellequipped, renowned in combat, and very valiant; for like lion cubs
and young eagles they could muster up strength for battle. When all
the surrounding peoples and all the kings of the nations, [Le.] the
Abkhazes,2 Greeks, Babylonians,S and Persians,'heard this, they sent
largess and expressions of friendship together with expensive gifts in

PART

21

recognition of the majesty of the Armenian kingdom. Mer this the


Albanian king Philip, his lordship the catholicos John, and the
bishops and troops who had come with the king and the patriarch
were sent back with costly gifts and expressions of friendship to the
country of the Albanians; this country [at one time] was the see of the
holy apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew,s who also were the first
patriarchs of Greater Armenia.
7. After two months had gone by, the Roman emperor Romanus
died and left two sons, Basil and Constantine, sons of the senior
Romanus. In the year 412 [963-964] Nicephorus 1 became emperor
over the Greek nation. He was a kind, saintly, and pious man, filled
with every virtue and uprightness, victorious and brave in all battles,
compassionate to all the Christian faithful, a visitor to widows and
captives, and a protector of orphans and poor people. He gathered
together a tremendous anny of troops and, crossing over the vast
Mediterranean Sea, came against the Muslims2 and was ready for a
heated combat. First he moved against Cilicia and with a great
victory captured the renowned city of Tarsus. Passing on he captured
Adana, Mamistra, and the famous Anazarba, bringing frightful and
heavy slaughter upon the Muslims up to the very gates of the city of
Antioch. Then the emperor Nicephorus turned back very victorious,
and with innumerable captives and much booty he came and entered
the imperial city, Constantinople. He kept the sons of Romanus,
Basil and Constantine, near him in the palace with great honor and
in magnificent splendor.
8. In the year 418 of the Armenian era [969-970] there was a
certain man convicted to die who was on the island used as a prison;
his name was Tzimisces. 1 The wicked and abominable empress2
secretly sent for him, and as if by order of the emperor removed him
from the island and brought him to Constantinople without the
emperor's knowledge. Secretly she made a pact with him to kill the
emperor Nicephorus, and she promised to be his wife and to install
him on the imperial throne. He agreed to do the bidding of the
wicked empress. The saintly emperor Nicephorus was seated on his
throne in the evening and was reading the Holy Scriptures by lighted
candles. The empress came and embraced the emperor and [at the
same time] tightened the strap holding the sword which was near
him. Then, rising up, she went to her accomplice in crime and with
her own hands gave him the deadly sword to be used for the shedding

22

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

of the blood of the upright emperor. Going forth, Tzimisces secretly


rushed into the emperor's chamber. The emperor, seeing him, said:
"Crazed dog, what do you want here?" Bravely rising up, the
emperor pulled at his sword and saw that it was very strongly held
[by the strap]. At that moment Tzimisces fell upon him and
ruthlessly and savagely butchered the very benevolent emperor,
cutting him into three parts. The slain emperor, covered with his
own blood, gave up his life to Christ through a bitter death. They
saw that the emperor was clothed in a goat's hair shirt next to his
skin, which shirt was hidden by the purple, and that the spilled blood
shone upon the faces of the assassins of this man of God. His body
was buried in a stately tomb near those of the [other] saintly
emperors. 3 Thus the wicked Tzimisces occupied the throne of the
Greek empire, and he reigned over and held Constantinople and
brought under his rule all the confines of the Roman empire. He took
away from the wicked empress the sons of the emperor Romanus [and
sent them] to Vasakawan in the district of Handzit'.4 Basil and
Constantine were brought to Spramik, the mother of the illustrious
Mkhit'ar, so that the empress might not give them poison and thus
kill them. Because of this unjust death [of Nicephorus], the emperor
Tzimisces was in deep grief, plagued by a guilty conscience.
9. At the beginning of the year 420 ofthe Armenian era [971-972]
King Gagik died peacefully. Then there developed an antagonism
and great conflict between the two sons of King Gagik, between John
and ABhot. l John was older than Ashot and wise and very intelligent,
but unsteady and sluggish in body, weak in battle, and uneducated.
On the other hand, Ashot was the younger, but courageous, brave
and mighty, and invincible and victorious in battle. Nevertheless,
John seized the throne of the Armenian kingdom, while Ashot roamed
about with his troops, ravaged many places, and harassed the city of
Ani. He went to Senek'erim,2 the king of Vaspurakan and son of
Abusahl, who was the son of Ashot, the son of Derenik, the son of
Gagik, Artsruni by lineage, [all of these being] descendants of the
Assyrian king Adrammelech.3
10. .Obtaining troops ~~~ Senek'erim, Ashot went over to Gurgen,
the pnnce of Andzewats lk, 1 and moving forth with his troops, he
came and reached the Mountain of Varag2 and entered the Monastery
3
of the
4 Holy Cross. He prostrated himself before the cross which bore
God and the icon of the Holy Theotokos,5 and he gave a donation of

PART I

23

thirty thousand dahekans 8 to the Monastery of the Holy Cross from


the gold of the Arabs, which he had brought from the city of Baghdad
and which had been given to him by the caliph. Moreover, Ashot had
a chest made for the holy relic and had it decorated with precious
stones and pearls. Mter this he himself came to the royal capital,
Ani, accompanied by many troops. When John heard of the coming
of his brother Ashot, he commanded that the battle trumpet be
Bounded, but he himself sat on his throne and did not move, for he
was unskilled in battle. The city of Ani having been roused, forty
thousand foot soldiers and twenty thousand horsemen went forth in
battle against Ashot. Then a certain prince from the forces of the
Georgian king came to King John on a mission, for the mother of
John and Ashot, Queen Katramide, was the daughter of the Georgian
king, George. 7 This Georgian prince said to King John: "0 King John,
command that Ashot merely be pointed out to me, and I shall take
him prisoner and bring him before you in chains." For that prince
was a brave man and invincible in battle. King John said to him:
"Behold, Ashot is a mighty man; how will you be able to bring him
before me?" The Georgian prince said: "I shall capture him alive on
his horse." John then said to him: "Do not scorn the lion cub until
you see it." When the two armies came face to face, a prince from the
Abkhazes, crying out in a shrill voice like an eagle, provoked Ashot
and said: "Whoever ABhot may be, let him come forth," When Ashot
heard this he became ferocious like a leopard, and, bothS having
incited one another, they raced towards each other. The Georgian
prince threw a spear at Ashot. In turn Ashot, quick as lightening,
ducked and then struck him on his helmet with a steel sword and
cleaved his mail-clad body down to the feet; the Georgian fell to the
ground with his entrails [exposed]. On that day a severe battle
occurred, and the enemy was turned in flight towards the city until
the fleeing [troops] were unable to enter the city, but instead fell into
the Akhurian River. Thus Ashot turned back very victorious. Mter
a few days the Bagratids, the Pahlavids,9 and all the other noble
families from the race of Hayk10 serving in the army decided to bring
about peace between John and Ashot. So the holy patriarch Peterll
and all the princes came before Ashot and, taking a solemn oath,
made him king of all Armenia, that is of the country outside [of Ani].
John was made king within the city of Ani, [and it was agreed that]
if John died Ashot would become king of all Armenia. Thus peace
was reestablished in all of Armenia.

24

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

11. In this period Abas 1 resided in Kars 2, having royal sovereignty


there by order of his lord, the Armenian king Gagik} and also
Gurgen4 ruled over the country of the Albanians, for they were of the
lineage of Armenian kings and were subject to the house of Shirak.5
AB for King Ashot, he was never able to enter the city of Ani until the
day of his death [i.e., his funeral].

12. In this period a certain Apirat, who was an illustrious


Armenian prince and also a son of Hasan, fearing King John because
of the alliance he had previously made with Ashot, rebelled and fled
from him and went to the city of Dvin, l to the Persian general Abu'lUswar,2 and with him twelve thousand horsemen. Abu'I-DswAr
honored him for many days. At that time certain slanderers approached the emir and said: "Such a man, invincible, mighty, and
with many troops, has come to you and shall bring destruction upon
you and the whole country of the Muslims." Then Abu'l-Dswar,
becoming vengeful in his heart, unknown to the other troops,
summoned Apirat on the pretext of having a friendly conversation
with him and secretly did away with this brave man, one mighty and
renowned in all of Armenia.
13. A certain prince, Sari by name, who was the general of the
illustrious prince Apirat, taking Apirat's wife and children and
cavalry forces, went to the city of Ani. King John very strongly
regretted the unjust death of Apirat, the Armenian prince. The
Armenian king gave lands and high positions to Apirat's sons,
Apljahap, Vasak, and Sari, and to all their troops.
14. In this period the ruler of the Delumk'l collected troops and
unexpectedly came and reached the Armenian district of Nig, 2 near
the stronghold of Bjni. Vasak, the commander-in-chief of the
Armenians, with his beloved son Gregory and with other illustrious
noblemen, was making merry [in his castle]. Vasak looked at the
stony road, and 10, a man was coming in haste up the road on foot.
Upon seeing him, Vasak said: "This man is a bearer of bad news."
The man arrived at the gates of the fortress of Bjni and, raising an
outcry, said: "The whole district ofNig has been enslaved." At this
the brave general Vasak roared like a lion and, rising up, put on a
coat of mail; seven noblemen did likewise, and as they arrived other
cavalry forces [did so also], The noblemen formed behind Vasak. The
brave and illustrious Philip rushed [to his side] and with him George

PART

25

Ch'ortuanel and certain others. These were brave men and invincible
in battle. Vasak was unable to be patient of heart until the troops
gathered together, for there were as many as five thousand men
under him. Boastful of his strength, he went forth like a lion with
five hundred men into the district of Nig and entrusted his home of
Bjni to his son Gregory. When Vasak arrived at a monastery, he and
all his troops took communion and sincerely confessed their sins to
Jesus Christ. On the road, coming up to a village, they saw that the
infidels had completely destroyed it, and that these Muslims had
surrounded the church and were ruthlessly slaughtering the faithful
who were inside. When brave Vasak saw this, he roared like a lion
and fell upon the infidel forces. Three hundred of their men were
slaughtered, and the remaining fugitives took refuge with the main
infidel force.
Then moving forth, the main bulk of the Armenian army came
against the infidel forces; when the Armenians saw the Muslim army
to be very numerous and without measure, anticipating death
together, they began to take courage in battle; like wolves among
goats or like eagles in a flock of young birds they courageously went
into battle, wounding many and felling their bodies to the ground.
Then there arose a champion from the infidel forces, a dark Ethiopian
and a brave man, who was called "Ewt'n Gayl,"3 because whatever
seven wolves were able to accomplish among sheep and among their
flock, this man was able to accomplish that much more among troops
in a battle. Lo the Ethiopian, from whose coat of mail sparks flew,
came forth like a thundering cloud and, crying out, sought after
Vasak by name. Then brave Emran looked and saw him, for he was
advancing like a fuming mountain and, turning to Vasak, he said:
"Here is an invincible and brave man, the like of whom has never
been born on earth." Vasak said: "0 lion-hearted and brave Emran,
why are you frightened at his sight? Lo, I shall go forth against him
and give to him the gift that David gave Goliath, the blasphemer of
God." 4 At that moment the ferocious Ethiopian advanced, hurling his
lance at brave Vasak so that he might hang him on the end of that
weapon. But being quick, Vasak ducked and with a steel sword
struck the crest of his [attacker's] helmet and cleaved in two the
brave Ethiopian, whose members lay sprawled on the ground. Thus
the Armenians were given courage in the battle and in the impossible
task. As the combat grew intense and the sword wounds multiplied,
brave Emran disappeared; for the nobility strayed from one another
due to the extensive and difficult battle, and thus were unable to see

26

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

the deaths of their compatriots.


15. Then brave Vasak, being left alone, turned about and, going
forth like a ferocious lion, passed through the midst of the infidels,
for he was exhausted by the hard battle. He ran and went up the
mountain called Serkeweloyl and rested under the protection of its
rocks, [safe] from the many harassments of the battle; then, some
villagers who had fled saw him. One of them, who was like the killer
of Cain,2 came forth and found him sleeping, [exhausted] from his
affiictions. [The villager] struck him hard and threw him from a
high rock. In this manner brave Vasak the Pahlavid died.
16. The following event took place in the year 421 of the Armenian
era [972-973]. The Roman general, the domesticus 1 called Melias,2
going forth with many troops, came against the Muslims and defeated
them in different places with the help of Christ. He came and
reached the city of Melitene, and harassing it with much suffering by
depriving it of food and water, compelled the place to submit to him. s
Going forth from there, he came and with great rejoicing descended
upon the town of Tigranakert, which is also named Amida,' situated
on the Tigris River. The Muslim forces rose up in battle against the
Roman troops, and a severe battle was fought near the area outside
the town of Amida. The Muslim forces turned in flight before the
Roman troops and, many of them having been slaughtered, entered
the town. The Roman troops encamped by the banks of the river, at
a place called Awsal,5 two bowshots from the town. Mter a few days
the divine-rebuking wrath of God came forth from the heavens, and
a violent wind rose up to such an extent that the land shook from the
severity of the sound; because of the force of the wind, the dust of the
land flew upwards and spread over the Christian troops. The dust,
having thickened, covered man and beast and caused all the baggage
to fall into the river. Covered by the dust, man and beast were
blinded; and all eyes, having been shut by the dust caused by the
divine-rebuking wrath of God, were cut off from the light. All the
Roman troops were surrounded and were unable to find a way out of
the situation. When the infidel forces saw the execution of God's
wrath against the Christians and knew that the God of battle was
with them, they struck at the Christian troops and, ruthlessly slaying
with the sword, slaughtered them mercilessly. There were as many
as fifty thousand men, but few were able to flee from the edge of the
sword; thus the greater part of the troops were slaughtered. The

PART I

27

Muslims took prisoner the domesticus and other prominent Roman


officers. When the infidel chiefs saw the demise of the Roman troops,
being frightened, they became very alarmed and said: "All this blood
of the Romans which we have shed will not benefit us, for the
Romans will come and destroy the Muslims. Come, let us become
friends and make an alliance with the Roman commander and his
officers, and let us obtain an oath from them and let them go in peace
to their country. II While they were reflecting upon this, news of the
assassination of Nicephorus, the Roman emperor, reached them.
Then the infidel chiefs sent the forty Christian officers to the caliph,6
to the city of Baghdad, and all of them died there. 7 The domesticus
wrote a letter to Constantinople and expressed doleful maledictions
to the [new] emperor,s saying the following: "We have not been
judged worthy to enter into the blessed ground of the grave according
to the custom of the Christians, but rather we have become inheritors
of the accursed ground and grave of evildoers. We do not know you
who occupy the throne of the Roman empire. Yet our death and the
blood shed at the gates of the town of Amida-indeed our death on
alien soil-Christ our God will hold you responsible for on the Day of
Judgement if you do not wreak vengeance on the town of Amida.
When this letter reached the emperor Tzimisces in Constantinople
and he learned about all this, he became provoked with great anger
and filled with an all-encompassing rage. In the same year he
collected troops from the West.s Going forth heavily armed, he was
like an ignited fire 10 and made war on the Muslims, intending to
penetrate into Armenia.
1I

17. In that period all the Armenians of royal lineage, noblemen


and princes, and all the eminent personages of the East1 gathered
before the Armenian king Ashot2 the Bagratid: Philip, the ruler of
Kapan;3 Gurgen," the king of the Albanians; Abas,6 the lord of Kara;
Senek'erim,8 the lord of Vaspurakan; Gurgen, the lord of Andzewats'ik'7; and also the whole house of Sasan.s This army, comprising as
many as eighty thousand men, encamped in the region of Hark'.s
Messengers of the Roman emperor came to this gathering and sawall
of Armenia in readiness, gathered in one place, and they went and
related it to the emperor Tzimisces. Of the Armenian princes, Leon
the philosopher and Stat Tomets'i went with the Roman messengers,
and with them other bishops and vardapets;lo these personages
established friendship and peace between the Roman emperor and
the Armenian king Ashot. Then the emperor Tzimisces moved forth

28

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

with a fonnidable army and reached the Armenian district of Taron, 11


descending to Mush before the fortress of Aydzik' .12 On the first
night the Roman troops endured much harassment from the infantry
forces of Sasan. The Armenian princes and vardapets came to the
Roman emperor and presented to him the letter of Vahan, the
Armenian catholicosP The emperor received the letter and those
who brought it with great honor. He confirmed the treaty of
friendship with the Armenians and asked for troops from Ashot to
come to his aid. Ashot gave the emperor anned troops of the
Annenian nation, as many as ten thousand warriors. The emperor
also asked for food and provisions. Ashot gave him everything he
desired. In turn the emperor sent the Armenian vardapet Ghewond
and the bishops and princes [who had come to him] back to Ashot,
laden with splendid gifts.
18. Tzimisces, also called Kyr John,1 victoriously and full of rage
made war against the Muslims and filled the whole land:! with
slaughter and blood. He razed to the ground many towns and
impregnable fortresses, three hundred of them, right up to the
confines of the city of Baghdad. But he did not ravage Edessa
because of the monks who lived on a neighboring mountain and
within the confines of its territory; these numbered as many as
twelve thousand. He went forth and, full of rage, reached the town
of Amida. The lord of the town was a woman who was a sister of
3
~amdan, the Muslim emir. In fonner times the emperor had sinfully
fornicated with her and because of that he was unable to capture
Amida. The woman, getting on top of the ramparts of the town, said
to the emperor: "You come against a woman in battle, don't you
consider this an insult to yourself?" The emperor said: "I have sworn
to destroy the ramparts of this town so that its people might be
freed." The woman of the town said: "Go down and destroy the
bridge which is over the Tigris River, and by that you will have
fulfilled your oath." The emperor did this and, taking much treasure
of gold and silver, left Amida because of its woman and because
Tzimisces was from the region of Khozan,4 from the place which today
is called Ch'mshkatsakk',5 and the woman was from the same area;8
for in that period the Muslims ruled many areas. Then the Greek
emperor moved forth and went through the country of the Muslims,
shedding blood right up to the confines of the city of Baghdad; moving
about the interior of the country, he marched towards the city of
Jerusalem. At this time the emperor Tzimisces wrote a letter to

PART I

29

Ashot the Armenian in the following manner.


19. "Ashot, shahnshah 1 of the illustrious Annenians and my
spiritual son. Listen and understand how many wondrous things God
has done for us and the astonishing victories [he has given us]. It is
impossible to comprehend the graciousness of God and the aweinspiring benevolence which the Lord has created for his inheritance.
In this year under the aegis of our imperial majesty we have chosen
to infonn your eminence, 0 Ashot Bagratuni, our son. We are
making known to you these things as one who is a Christian and both
faithful and beloved to our imperial majesty, so that you might rejoice
in and glorify the awe-inspiring greatness of Christ our God and
might know how much God has aided the Christians at all times; for
because of that assistance we made tributary to our imperial majesty
all the eastern lands of the Persians. 2 Also [you will learn] how we
removed the relics of the holy patriarch Jamess from Nisibis, a town
controlled by the Muslims, obtained tribute due us from them, took
away captives, and finally departed. Because of the arrogance and
pride of the AmYr al-Mu'minin,4 the ruler of the Mricans6 whom the
Arabs call the Maghrib [Arabsl,a this man came against UB with
numerous forces and for a while put our troops in danger. However,
we defeated them with the great strength and assistance of God, and,
humiliated, they turned back like our other enemies. Then we moved
into the interior portions of their country and devastated many
regions with the sword. Mter this we swiftly departed and set up
winter quarters and paid all our cavalry forces.
"In the month of April we directed ourselves towards Phoenicia and
Palestine and advanced into these areas; moreover, we pursued the
abominable Mricans who had come to the region of Syria. Rising up
with all our troops and going forth, we came to Antioch and passed
through all the [former] regions of our empire; taking innumerable
captives and imposing tribute, we brought these areas to submission
and then reached the city of Homs. The inhabitants of the region,
who were tributary to us, came forth and received us with munificence. We reached Baalbek,7 which is also called Heliopolis, that is,
the Town of the Sun, eminent, awe-inspiring, heavily fortified, and
opulent. The townspeople came against us in battle, but our
innumerable troops harassed them and slaughtered them with the
edge of the sword. Mter a few days we laid siege to the Town of the
Sun, and our troops took many captives, both children and girls;
moreover, they seized treasures of gold and silver and also many

30

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

animals. Going forth from there, we advanced to the great city of


Damascus and were intent on laying siege to it. However, the
governor of the city was an old and sagacious man, and he sent to our
imperial majesty and with many gifts beseeched us that the inhabitants of the city not be taken into captivity and not be put into
servitude like those of Baalbek, also asking that we not devastate his
region like theirs. The townspeople brought many costly gifts: many
horses, splendid mules, beautiful harnesses of gold and silver, and
tribute gotten from the Arabs in the amount of forty thousand
dahekans of gold. They obtained officers from us and gave us a
written statement to the effect that they would perpetually be
servants of our imperial majesty from generation to generation. We
appointed as commander of Damascus a certain person called Turk',
an illustrious man of Baghdad who entered our service with five
hundred horsemen and came to believe in Christ. He had formerly
served our imperial majesty. The Damascenes made a sworn pact
that they would ceaselessly give tribute to us and would honor our
imperial majesty and also would fight against our enemies. Because
of all this we did not besiege their city.
"Going forth from there, we went to the Sea of Galilee, where our
Lord Jesus Christ had performed a miracle with one hundred and
fifty-three fish. We were intent on laying siege to the town of
Tiberias also, but the townspeople came in submission to our imperial
majesty and brought us many gifts like the Damascenes had done
and also tribute in the amount of thirty thousand dahekans, not
counting many other valuable presents. They requested that one of
our commanders be put over them and gave us an affirmation of
loyalty as had the Damascenes, promising to be subject to us
perpetually and to give us tribute ceaselessly. On that basis we left
them free of enslavement and did not plunder them because the
region was the native land of the holy apostles. We felt the same
way about Nazareth where the Theotokos, the Holy Virgin Mary,
heard the good tidings from the angel. We also went to Mount Tabor
and climbed up to that place where Christ our God was transfigured.
While we remained in the place, people came to us from Hamla and
Jerusalem to beseech our imperial majesty, looking for compassion
from us. They asked that a commander be appointed over them and
became tributary to us, swearing to serve us; all of these things
which they asked we indeed did. 8 We also were intent on delivering
the holy sepulcher of Christ our God from the bondage of the
Muslims. We established military commanders in all the areas which

PART

31

had submitted and become tributary to our imperial majesty; these


were Baisan (called Decapolis),9 Genesareth,10 and Acre (also called
Ptolemais), and by a written statement they undertook to give tribute
ceaselessly from year to year and to serve us. We went up to
Caesarea, which is on the coast of the great Mediterranean Sea, and
they also submitted and came under our rule. If the abominable
Mricans had not fled to the coastal fortresses where they had taken
refuge because they feared us, by the assistance of God we would
have stood in prayer at the holy places of God.
"When we heard that the coastal inhabitants had fled, we then
brought to submission the upper part of the country,l1 subjecting it
to the rule of the Romans and establishing a commander there. We
brought under our control [many towns], besieging and assaulting
those which did not submit; having captured them, we went by the
coastal route which leads directly to the famous, renowned, and
heavily fortified town of Berytus, which today is called Beirut.
Assaulting it, we captured the town after a violent struggle and we
took prisoner one thousand Micans, including Na~ir, [the general of]
the Amir al-Mu'minrn, and other very distinguished chiefs. In that
town we placed a commander and from there we intended to pass on
to Sidon. But when the Sidonites heard of this, they sent to us the
elders of their town. They came in great fear and beseeched our
imperial majesty, asking that they be made tributary to us and serve
us perpetually. We listened to their supplications and fulfilled their
desires, taking tribute from them and appointing a commander over
them. Going forth from there we went to Jubail,12 an ancient and
impregnable fortress; assaulting it, we captured the place and led its
inhabitants into captivity. Laden with much booty and captives, we
passed through all the coastal towns on a rough and narrow road
over which other cavalry troops had never passed, indeed a slim,
confined, and poor road. Along this route we found attractive towns,
which were well-populated, and impregnable fortresses over which
the Muslims were guardians. We laid siege to all these and razed
them to the ground, carrying off the inhabitants into captivity.
"Before we reached Tripoli, we sent a cavalry force of the thematic
and garrison troops13 into the deme called K'areres,14 because we
heard that the abominable Mricans were ensconced in that place. We
commanded that an ambush be set up and thus we turned the defile
into a death trap for the Mricans; [needless to say] our troops did as
we commanded. So two thousand of the enemy came out of hiding
and advanced against our troops, who either killed great numbers of

32

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

them or took them prisoner, bringing them before our imper.ial


majesty. In the same manner, whenever our troops met .up ~lth
fugitives they captured them. We completely destroyed Its vmeyards olive groves and orchards, and we ravaged and ruined all of
its di~tricts. The Mricans who were there dared to go forth in battle
against us. We attacked them and slaughtered all of the~ to th.e la~t
man. Iii After this we captured the great town of Chuel, WhICh IS
called Jabala/6 also Valania/ 7 and Saone/ 8 and even the renowned
Burzuya19 itself. Thus there remained nothing up to Ramla and
Caesarea, neither sea nor land, which had not submitted to our
imperial majesty through the strength of the Uncreated God; for we
subjected to our imperial majesty all the lands right up to Babylon20
and made their inhabitants our servants. In this way our imperial
majesty moved about this country for seven years at the head of a
large army. We devastated the towns and districts, and even the
Amir al-Mu'minin21 did not dare go forth against us from Babylon
or send cavalry to the aid of his troops. If there had not been
excessive heat and a route devoid of water to those places which are
near that city-which even your majesty knows [to be a fact]--our
imperial majesty would have advanced right up to Babylon; in any
case we chased the Amir al-Mu'minin22 to Egypt and we were
completely victorious through the grace of God who gave us our
crown. 23

20. "Thus all Phoenicia, Palestine, and Syria have been freed from
the bondage of the Muslims and have acceded to the rule of the
1
Romans. Also the great Mount Lebanon has submitted to our rule;
all the Muslims who were found there, [comprising] a very great
number, we have taken captive and handed over to our cavalry
forces. We have governed Syria humanely and benevolently; we have
removed as many as twenty thousand persons from there and
resettled them in Jabala. You can clearly see that God gave a victory
s~ch as has never occurred before. In that town of Jabala we
dIscovered the holy sandals of Christ our God, in which he had
roamed ab?ut wh?n he was on earth. We also discovered the picture
of aUf SaVIor, whIch ha? be.en pierce~ through in times past by the
Jews, blood and water ISSUIng from It immediately' [one could also
see] the spe~r wound on it. In that town we als~ discovered the
ven~ra~le haIr of ~he head of the precursor, John the Baptist;2 and
takmg It, brought It for safe keeping to our capital protected by God
In the month of September, with the blessings of God, we brought ou~

PART I

33

forces~

sustained by divine grace, back to Antioch. Now we have


informed your majesty concerning all this, so that you might admire
these deeds we commanded and thus glorify the great benevolence of
God. You should also realize how many good things have been
accomplished in these times and how great the number of these has
been. For the rule of the holy cross of Christ has been expanded, the
name of God being praised and glorified throughout these places [we
conquered]. Our empire has prospered because of the greatness and
strength of God, whose praises are on our lips. This empire God
brought to submission and placed under our aegis, for which the Lord
God of Israel be blessed forever.
21. "From the report! of Leon, the protospatharius 2 of DerjanS and
military commander of Taron,4 we have learned that the fortress of
Aytseats',5 which you have taken for yourself, you have not given up.
Now we have written to our commander not to take the fortress and
not to seize the grain which you had agreed to deliver, because at
present we have no need of it. However, have the chrysobull,6 which
we sent, given to our commander, so that he may send it back to our
imperial majesty. In turn you shall receive remuneration for your
trouble and your crops in equal proportion to what you sowed, all of
good quality."
22. On another occasion the emperor wrote to the Armenian
vardapet1 Leon, in this manner: "To our great philosopher Pandaleon, l pleasing and beloved to our holy majesty, greetings. We charge
you that on your return from the Muslims you be found in the holy
citr or in Slesin, S after you have been to the shahnshah ABhot, our
spiritual son, and have moderated his anger against us, and after you
have taken Bagrat to Pap Hancawats'i and done the same to 5mbat4
Tornets'i, the protospatharius. So make an effort to be in our capital
protected by God, for there we plan to conduct a splendid celebration
in honor of the [newly discovered] sandals of Christ and holy hair of
John the Baptist. Furthermore, we would be very pleased if you
would speak with our sages and philosophers; in this way you would
delight us a great deal. May God be with us and with you, and the
Lord Jesus with his servants." When the Armenian vardapet Leon
heard this, he went forth and came to Constantinople, where a
magnificent celebration in honor of the [newly discovered} sandals of
Christ and hair of the holy precursor was conducted. On that day
there was great rejoicing in Constantinople; and the Armenian

34

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

vardapet, in the presence of the emperor, discoursed with all the


sages of the Romans, showing himself invincible [in debate] with the
Greek doctors, for he answered to everyone's satisfaction all the
questions put to him. He and his mentor were lauded with much
praise, and high and respectable honor was shown him by the
emperor through splendid gifts. Thus, rejoicing greatly, Leon
returned to Armenia, to the illustrious house of Shirak.
23. After many battles and victories which the emperor Tzimisces
had pursued, the fear of death and the terrible judgement of God fell
upon him. Bringing to mind the unjust death of the righteous
Nicephorus and the innocent blood [shed by his own hands], he
lamented and wept and sighed with grief. Then he resolved to lead
a virtuous life, so that perhaps by repenting, the blood which was
unjustly shed by him might be wiped away. He had held the
imperial throne of the Greeks for only seven years. While he was
remembering all this, he thought of a brilliant idea and one which
was in keeping with the will of God. He sent to Vasakawan, in the
district of Handzit, and had brought to him Basil and Constantine,
the sons of the emperor Romanus whom he had taken to Spramik out
of fear of the wicked empress, because she was very malicious. When
Basil was brought to Constantinople, Tzimisces assembled the
important magnates of the empire of the Greeks, and an imposing
ceremony took place in the emperor's palace. At that time the
emperor Tzimisces with his own hands took the crown from his own
head and placed it upon the head of Basil. Then he seated him on
the imperial throne and prostrated himself before Basil, handing over
to him the entire empire of the Greeks. 1 Mter he gave Basil his
ancestral throne, he himself went into solitude, and putting on the
monastic habit, went and lived in a monastery. He, who yesterday
was an emperor and today was living with the poor, ended his life in
voluntary poverty, so that he might inherit the blessings of the Holy
Gospels and might payoff his debt for what he had done to the
innocent person of Nicephortls. 2
24. At the beginning of the year 424 of the Armenian nation [975976] Basil1 reigned as father of all. He was the son of the senior
Romanus, the son of Constantine, and one of good lineage among the
Greeks. This man Basil, the brother of Constantine, was a very
illustrious [ruler]. He reigned upon the imperial throne ofthe Greeks
and brought many rebels to submission. He had a good reputation

PART I

35

among all the living; he was merciful towards widows and captives
and rendered justice to the oppressed.
25. In this period a slaughter of Annenian troops took place in the
district of Andzewats'ik', in the camp known by the same name,
because of the treachery of the brave man Ablgharib. 1 For the rnler
of Andzewats'ik', whose name was Derenik,2 removed Ablgharib, a
mighty and brave man, from the generalship of his troops, putting in
his place a certain nobleman Sarkis. Mighty Ablgharib was hurt a
great deal. So he became an intelligence man for the forces 3 of the
infidels and made known to them all the means by which the
Armenians might be taken by surprise [and defeatedJ, saying the
following: "I shall not go forth in battle against you; now go forth at
night and come against our army; there shall be a signal for you [to
attack] my tent which is of ordan red,4 and my tent will stand pitched
on a hill and my troops will be with me." The infidel forces came
upon the Armenians at an unexpected hour, while the ruler [of
Andzewats'ik'] and his troops were making merry. On that night the
infidel forces fell upon the Armenian troops and caused a great
slaughter, many warriors and illustrious brave men dying. This was
regrettable, for the battle was not fought at an opportune time.
Derenik was taken prisoner. Moreover, no one dared pass under
Ablgharib's tent, for he was near his tent and ready with his troops.
Then Derenik was taken to the town of Her [by the infidel forces].
26. On that day Varag and all the other monasteries invoked
grievous and strong anathemas upon Ablgharib. Hermits and monks,
stirred up against him, excommunicated and expelled him from the
church of God. However Ablgharib, coming to his senses, wept, for
he was a man of faith and a fearer of God and so he greatly regretted
the shedding of the blood of the brave Armenian troops. Then he
began to ask questions concerning Derenik, namely in what fortress
in the town of Her he was imprisoned. He was informed that the
emir Abii'I-Hajji 1 had freed Derenik from his chains and always took
him to play ball in the maydan 2 outside the town of Her. When
Ablgharib heard this, he was very happy and, secretly sending to
Derenik, said the following to him: "At a certain hour I will be at
that place; with all your strength ready yourself, mount a choice and
swift horse, and in this way try to reach me." One day Abu'l-Hajji
went forth accompanied by many of his noblemen to play ball, and
with him also were a thousand men equipped with weapons.

36

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Ablgharib, on the other hand, was waiting in ambush with fifty men.
Derenik asked the head groom for his swift horse, and he gave him
his equipment. Then the Armenian ruler pushed forward the group
[in which he found himse1f], directing it to the place where Ablgharib
was hidden in the wooded gardens of Her; then, vehemently spurring
on his horse, he left the group behind and thus escaped. The emir
Abl1'lHajji and his troops, seeing this, very angrily pursued him.
Derenik, trusting in God, bravely went and took refuge with
Ablgharib. However, a certain Ethiopian from the infidel forces, a
brave and mighty man, pursued and came upon Ablgharib. Ablgharib roared like a lion and, falling upon him, savagely struck him and
cut the Ethiopian in two, splitting him from the head to the groin.
When the infidels saw this, they turned in flight. Then Ablgharib
signaled his brave men and, pursuing the emir Abii'l-Hajji, caught up
with him. Intent on taking the emir from his horse, he pursued him
up to the gates of the town. The emir, like lightening, entered
through the gates of the town of Her. Then Ablgharib struck the iron
gates of the town with a steel axe and broke through the iron,
pushing the axe clear through to the other side. This axe has
remained unextricated until the present time and has been fixed in
place like a bolt. In this manner brave Ablgharib freed Derenik from
captivity. This event took place in the district of Chuashs in
Annenia, in a village called Bak, bordering Vaspurakan.
27. At the beginning of the year 425 of the Annenian era [976-977]
God summoned the holy Armenian patriarch, Anania, to himself. 1 In
the presence of a great throng the most excellent and blessed Vahan2
was consecrated to the see of the Annenian catholicate. His lordship
John, the catholicos of the Albanians, presided over the assembly.
So, in this year, by order of Anania and the Armenian kings John
and ABhot,S his lordship Vahan occupied the patriarchal see of
Armenia, located in the renowned town of Argina. 4
28. In this period a certain wicked magnate called Scelerus1
rebelled against Basil, the Roman emperor. Gathering forces made
up of a large number of deceitful and wicked men, he gave the
country of the Romans over to the sword. With many troops he came
and entered Armenia, and this man, alienated from God, caused very
great slaughter there. The Armenian forces went against him and by
a great victory vanquished that wicked magnate and, slaughtering
his troops, caused him to flee. 2 But Scelerus did not dare return to

PART I

37

the land of the Romans; rather he had hopes of escaping to the


Muslims, and so this wicked man went and entered the city of
Baghdad.s Leaving that place after three years, he came and died in
the land of the Romans, among his own people.
29. In the year 432 of the Armenian era [983-984] the holy
Armenian patriarch Vahan died, having occupied the see of St.
Gregory for five years.! His lordship Stephen,2 a godly man endowed
with all the good virtues which are in Christ Jesus, was consecrated
to the see of the Armenian catholicate. He was installed as Armenian patriarch by the order and blessing of his lordship Vahan. His
lordship John, catholicos of the Albanians, once again presided over
the assembly [which consecrated Stephen]. This all took place during
the reigns of the Greek emperor Basil, the Armenian kings John and
Ashot and Senek'erim; this Senek'erim was the son of Abusahl, who
in turn was the son of Ashot, son of Derenik, son of Gagik, of the
Artsruni dynasty from the lineage of Sarasar.

30. During these times the wicked and abominable Persian tyrant
Mamlan, the chief emir of the infidels,! collected troops and, rushing
forth in his ferociousness like a bloodthirsty serpent, came against
the Christian faithful, intending to bring much slaughter upon
Annenia. He came, advancing with a formidable and innumerable
army, and filled the mountains and plains with his troops. Shaking
from fear of this wicked man, the whole land trembled, for he
enslaved many areas by sword and fire. Burning down churches, he
deprived them of the blessings of God and spoke many blasphemous
words to the heavens above, to the Most High. At that time one
witnessed the great and frightful destruction of the Christians by the
terror caused by that wicked beast, for the wrath of his deadly poison
was shed upon the faithful like venomous bile. With a very great
army he came and reached the district of Apahunik', 2in the land of
the curopalatesS David,4the Georgian prince. This emir wrote a letter
to the pious and saintly man of God, the curopalates David, threatening him with strong words and saying the following: ItO David, you
who are a man abominable, wicked, and decaying in your old age, let
no one deceive you; for if you do not immediately send me ten years'
tribute, the sons of your noblemen as hostages, and a written
statement promising to serve me, I will come against you, arriving
quickly with my great might, and who will be the one who shall save
you from my hands? For I will bring upon you severe and harsh

38

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

suffering, a abominable and bitter old man.". With many such


threats he fulminated against him. ~en DavId re~d the letter
the wicked chief Mamlan, he rejected It because.of It~r harsh tone,
then he wept before God and beseeched Him, saYIng: Arouse your
strength, Lord, and remember what you ~id to Rabshakeh and to
Sennacherib the wicked king of the Assynans. He also spoke such
words of widkedness, my Lord Jesus Christ; do not overlook those
faithful to your holy name."5

0:

31. Then he commanded his troops to gather together, his


noblemen and all his cavalry forces, including Vach'e, Tewdat, P'eron,
and other Armenian troops; also included were three thousand
infantry with bows and two thousand five hundred horsemen. The
wicked Mamlan was encamped in the district of Apahunik', in a
village called Khosans, with two hundred thousand men. Rising up,
David went against the ferocious beast Mamlan; at the same time he
prescribed prayers, entreaties, and supplications with much beseeching for the whole country, all in order to ask God for aid. Then David
went and encamped at the borders of the district of Apahunik.' and he
appointed Kannrakel, a brave man, with eight hundred horsemen as
night guard. He himself passed the entire night praying to God. In
the morning watch a certain man from the infidel forces, who was the
chief of Mamlan's troops, approached with one thousand horsemen.
32. On that night the two sides clashed with one another. The
light of the moon was intense, and at that time there appeared a
little rain upon the mountains, and they [the troops] all glistened
with lightning like the flames of a fire. When the infidel forces saw
the spectacle, they thought all that was an immense number of
Christian troops and so they turned completely in flight. Karmrakel,
seeing that they turned in flight, feU upon them with the sword and
ruthlessly slaughtered them as one would cut down a cedar grove.
He captured the wife of Mamlan and his war horse and immediately
sent them to David, at the same time announcing to him the good
news that Mamlan had been struck down. The curopalates was still
praying to God; and when he heard all this, he was amazed. Then
pursuing with aU their troops, the Armenians put the infidel force~
to fligh~, causing a severe slaughter. They took a very great number
of captives and booty of gold and silver. So the wicked Mamlan
humiliated, returned to his country and became very arrogant
towards God and did not look to heaven at all, nor did he offer his

PART I

39

unworthy prayers to God. 1


33. Mter a few years some noblemen entertained malicious
thoughts concerning the saintly and righteous prince, David,
intending to assassinate him. These malicious noblemen were similar
to Cain and other murderers. Moreover, they persuaded the
archbishop of Georgia, Hilarion, to join them in their evil plan. This
Hilarion crucified God for the second time, for he mixed poison in the
life-giving body and blood of Christ and thus turned the source of all
life into the source of death. Mter the celebration of his homicidal
divine liturgy, he placed a portion of the sacrament mixed with the
deadly poison in the mouth of the saintly prince, in the presence of
God inside the church. The pious prince David, knowing this, said
nothing, but taking an antidote, did away with the pain in his body.
However, the wicked bishop Hilarion still persisted in his evil design
and entered the prince's bedchamber while the pious David was
sleeping in a deep slumber; then, taking his pillow from under his
head, he placed it over David's mouth and, throwing himself upon
him with great force, the archbishop cruelly smothered the pious
curopalates. A few years later, the emperor Basil seized the wicked
bishop Hilarion, tied a great stone to his neck, and threw him into
the sea, as well as the other noblemen who had intrigued with him.
Thus perished these men who indeed were worthy of all sorts of
maledictions, for the curopalates David carried the emperor Basil's
patronymic,l and because of that, Basil killed these noblemen. 2
34. In the year 434 of the Armenian era [985-986] his lordship
Stephen, the Annenian patriarch, died1 ; and his lordship the blessed
Khach'ik 2 was consecrated as his successor, for Khach'ik was an
illustrious man and one versed in the Divine Scriptures. A letter
came to him from the Roman metropolitan Theodore, who occupied
the metropolitan see of Melitene; for Theodore was a knowledgeable
man and erudite in the understanding of sacred books. The Armenian vardapet Samuel wrote a well-reasoned answer and one with wellchosen words to him, Indeed, this letter came to be accepted by all
those hearing it; moreover, it was held in high esteem by the Roman
metropolitan Theodore and by the Armenian catholicos Khach'ik. 3
35. During the epoch of the Armenian era, in the year 435 [986987], a certain magnate rebelled against the emperor Basil. This
Roman magnate was Bardas Phocas1 and he devastated the greater
portion of the Roman empire; moving about, he went through the

40

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

land, killing and enslaving as he went. The Roman forces gathered


against him and drove him into the country of the Muslims, whence
2
he returned after one year and was killed by the emperor Basi1.
36. In the year 437 of the Annenian era [988-989] there took place
a violent earthquake throughout the whole world, and Saint Sophia
in Constantinople collapsed. In this year the emperor Basil was
intent on making the Bulgars subject to his empire. Therefore, he
sent to Ali Osman, l the king of the Bulgars, and to all the princes of
the country to come and prostrate themselves before his imperial
majesty. However, they did not heed the commands of the emperor
Basil.
37. Then the emperor Basil gathered together troops from all the
lands of his empire and, full of rage, invaded the country of the
Bulgars, ravaging the land with the sword and enslavement. On the
other hand the Bulgar king, Ali Osman, gathering together an army,
came against Basil with many troops, and a violent battle was fought
on both sides. The Bulgar king defeated Basil and turned all of his
troops in flight right up to Constantinople. Much booty and captives
were taken from Basil's forces, and the emperor himself entered
Constantinople humiliated. '!Wo years after, the emperor Basil once
again collected troops and went against the Bulgar king, seeking
vengeance. Meeting up with the Bulgar forces, he put them to flight
and drove them before him. Basil harassed the country of the
Bulgars with famine, sword, and enslavement, and then he turned
back and entered Constantinople with great rejoicing. 1
38. When the year 440 of the Armenian era [991-992] began, the
Annenian catholicos, his lordship Khach'ik, who had occupied the see
of the Armenian patriarchate for six years, died;l so his lordship
Sargis,2 who was a man erudite in the knowledge of the divine
precepts, was consecrated as his successor. He was pleasing to God
and to men and was imbued with virtuous behavior; moreover, by his
luminous doctrine he enriched the church of God.
39. In this same year the forces of Egypt, called the Maghrib
Arabs/ entered the territory of the city of Antioch and devastated the
entire region. The Roman forces gathered together against them in
battle. When the two forces met one another, the Egyptians put the
Roman troops to flight and took captive their chief officers, carrying

PART I

41

them off to Egypt. 2 Two years after, the great Roman nation went
forth and with many troops came against Armenia. Bringing the
sword and enslavement, the Romans mercilessly fell upon the
Christian faithful and passed through the land, killing savagely like
a poisonous serpent, in this manner being no different from the
infidel peoples. When the Romans entered Armenia, the forces of the
Armenian noblemen gathered against them. When the two armies
met, they clashed savagely, each side bravely fighting the other; thus
both sides fought without one side being able to vanquish the other.
At that time one witnessed violent slaughter on both sides. However,
when the fierce battle grew intense, the Roman forces were defeated
by the Armenians; and thus the Romans, narrowly escaping and
humiliated, turned in flight towards their country.
40. In this same year the Muslim emir, called "Long-Hand, "1 went

forth and with many troops subjected the territory of Edessa to


devastation and enslavement, and thus very great aftliction was
brought upon Edessa. The emir crossed over the great Euphrates
River and subjected that side which is on the confines of Armenia;
then he returned victoriously to the country of the Mricans. 2
41. It happened at the beginning of the year 446 of the Armenian
era [997-998] that a certain comet arose in the heavens and it became

visible with a horrible and dreadful appearance, bright and marvellous.


42. In the year 449 of the Armenian era [1000-1001] a [solemn]
alliance and peace was made between the emperor Basil and the
Armenian king Senek'erim1 In this same year the death of the
marzpan Sahak, lord of Varazhnunik',2 took place.
43. In the year 455 of the Armenian era [10061007] the emperor

Basil gathered troops from all the lands of his empire and, moving
forth, went against the country of the Bulgars. He spent much time
in that country, conducting an extensive war. In those days a great
disturbance took place in the city of Constantinople and in the whole
empire of the Greeks, because on the important feast day of Easter
the Greeks had fallen into error concerning the celebration of the holy
day of the resurrection, [that is to say] of Easter. All the doctors of
the Greek nation wrongly abolished the true precepts of the Divine
Scriptures and adopted the false and fraudulent calendar of the

42

MATTHEW OF EDESS A

1
adverse [and opinionated] Irion. These Greek s would not accep t the
authenticated calendar of the eminent Andrew, but rathe r transf erred
the Easter full moon from Sunday to Satur day and celeb rated Easte r
on the following day, which should have been celeb rated after eight
days.2 Thus the whole Greek nation fell into error conce rning Holy
Easter, and much affliction fell upon the holy churc h of Const antinople and especially upon the divinely-established city of Jerus alem,
for, puffed up with arrogance, these Greeks had trans ferred Easte r
to the day of Palm Sunday. So the Greek nation on this matte r acted
contrary to all the [Christian] nations and especially to Chris t, for
this nation of philosophers warred again st the Holy Spirit . On that
Easter the lights of the lamps in the holy sepulc her which conta ined
God, in the city of Jerusalem, would not burn, becau se the Greek s
adhered to a false opinion and thus celebrated their Easte r illega lly.
On that day the infidel peoples who were in the city of Jerus alem ,
when they witnessed the Easter of the Chris tians inside the Chur ch
of the Holy Resurrection, slaughtered with the sword all the
Christians, as many as ten thousand persons; thus the holy sepul cher
of Christ was filled with the blood of those praying. To this day their
bones fill the grotto there in the weste rn section of the city of
Jerusalem; these bones are now called liThe Relics of the YOWlg
People." Now this was the situation the [would-be] intell igent sages
of the Greeks brought about,

. 44. When the emperor Basil had conquered and taken over the
kI~~om of the. Bulgars, he returned to Const antino ple with great
r~OlC1ng.. Heanng about all this slaughter, which had taken place on
t OccaSIon of the celebration of Holy Easte r, he summ oned all the
Willfully they began
~agde.sfliof the Greeks and asked them the cause.
. ,
In I erent ways to misle d th
e emperor With Irrele vant answ ers
a
Th
d answers and under stood that
maske
their
ized
recogn
~
th e emper;
a~~t~ee~e a,nderroneous. Now for a long time Basil had heard
skillful in the ~manl v;rdapets, namely that they were invinc ible and
books. He knew of Josep h the
abbot of the M nowte gefo!the holy
'
'1 d f J
onas ery a ~ndzayut ~,a~
ohn, whose surna me
0
was Kozern.2 So he wrote the
to him in Constantinople so t~ell1an ~mg John. to send these men
a rom t em he mIght learn the true
cause of the contro vers'
feaat day of] Easter. H y and t~ correct [method for calcu lating the
agree to go,
!>ut rather by a let~r c~:;~:~dt ~Be vardapets wouldandnotconta
ining an
In-depth analysis, they eXPlain:t~:legant words
whole matte r to the empe ror.

PART I

43

Nevertheless, the clergy, being opposed to all this, did not agree with
the letter, until once again the emperor Basil sent to Armenia to the
shahnshah Johns and to his lordship the Armenian catholicos Sargis;
through a firm request he had the Armenian vardapet Samuel, a
clever and invincible man, brought to him and had him seated in the
imperial court to speak to the Greek doctors. The Greek savants
used all the books of their tradition against Samuel, but they were
unable to move him from the truth. Then Samuel began with the
first day of creation and came to the most recent day on which this
event had occurred and before the savants he verified all the correct
reasons for the celebration of Easter, using the writings of the
theologians. Basil agreed with all the words said by Samuel.
However, the Greek savants said to the emperor: "0 sovereign
emperor, command to have brought here the eminent Hebrew doctor
who lives on the island of Cyprus, a skillful man and one erudite in
the calendar and in all the sciences since his childhood." So Basil
sent to Cyprus and brought over Moses, the Hebrew doctor. He, an
eloquent and imposing man, stood in the imperial court before the
emperor Basil; he began to discourse on the principles of the
calendar, shaming all the Greek savants and proving them in error,
while praising the words of Samuel, the Armenian vardapet. After
this the emperor was very vexed with the Greek doctors, depriving
them of their privileged positions; on the other hand, he sent the
Armenian vardapet back to Armenia with splendid gifts.
45. During the reign of Basil, the Greek emperor, and in the year
452 of the Armenian era [1003-1004] a certain star, appearing in the
form of fire, arose in the heavens, an omen of the wrath of God
towards all living creatures and also a sign of the end of the world.
There was a violent earthquake throughout the whole land, to such
an extent that many thought that the day of the end of the world had
arrived. Like the time of the flood all living creatures shook and
trembled, and many fell down and died from fear of the intensity of
this wrath. After this outpouring of God)s wrath a plague, called
khouik,t came upon the area and) spreading through many regions,
reached Sebastia. This plague clearly manifested itself on men's
bodies and, because of its harshness, many had no time to make their
confession or take communion. Man and beast diminished from the
land, and those remaining quadrupeds roamed about the countryside
without anyone to take care of them.

44

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

46. In the year 460 of the Armenian era [1011-1012] the emperor
Basil collected troops and went against the country of the Bulgars.
He conquered their kingdom and very fiercely devastated many
1
regions with the sword. He subjected the wh~le West to plunder and
enslavement and exterminated the entire kmgdom of the Bulgars,
forcing AliOskhan,2 who was a brave man and k~ng of ~he Bulgars: to
drink poison. In this manner Basil took the kmg'ss hfe and, takmg
his wife and sons, brought them to Constantinople.
47. When the year 467 1 of the Armenian era [1018-1019] began,
the divine-rebuking wrath of God was awakened against all the
Christian peoples and against those worshiping the holy cross, for a
fatal dragon with deadly fire rose up and struck those faithful to the
Holy Trinity. In this period the very foundations of the apostles and
prophets were shaken, because winged serpents came forth an~ w~re
intent on spreading like fire over all the lands of the Chnstlan
faithful. This was the first appearance of the bloodthirsty beasts.2
During these times the savage nation of infidels called Turks
gathered together their forces. Then they came and entered Armenia
in the province of Vaspurakan and mercilessly slaughtered the
Christian faithful with the edge of the sword.
48. The news of this event reached King Senek'erim. Thereupon,
his eldest son David, gathering together forces of the noblemen,
advanced against the Turkish camp, and the two armies clashed
violently in a horrible battle. Until that time the Armenians had
never seen Turkish cavalry forces. When they encountered these
Turks, armed with bows and having flowing hair like women, they
found them strange-looking. The Armenian troops were not accns~omed to resisting arrows. Nevertheless, they bravely attacked the
mfidels, fully unsheathing their swords from the scabbard; thus the
courageous Armenian army bravely rushed into battle and killed
many of the infidels. However, the infidels, shooting arrows, hit and
wound~~any of the Armenian troops. Seeing all this, Shapuh1 said
to DaVId: Turn back, 0 king, from before the enemy, for the greater
part of our troops have been wounded by arrows. Let us withdraw
and defend ourselves against these weapons we see in the hands of
the. infidels by preparing other types of garments which will resist
theIr arrow~." But Davi?, being conscious of his high rank, becam.e
w:ogant WIth great pnde and did not heed Shapuh's advice to
WIthdraw from the battle. Then Shapuh, irritated by this, ran after

PART I

45

David and, striking his back with his fist, vehemently forced him to
turn back. For Shapuh was a brave and mighty warrior, besides
which he had raised and educated David and, because of all this did
not fear him. In this manner Shapuh forced David to withdraw
together with his troops. The Armenian forces went back to the city
of Ostan and related everything to King Senek'eriro, telling him
about the appearance of the infidels. 2 When Senek'erim heard this,
he became greatly distressed. He neither ate nor drank, but rather
became pensive, grief-stricken, and passed the whole night sleepless.
Sitting down, he examined the chronicles and utterances of the
divinely-inspired prophets, the holy vardapets, and found written in
these books the time specified for the coming of the forces and
soldiers of the Turks. He also learned of the impending destruction
and end of the whole world. In these books he found written the
following: "At that time they will flee from the east to the west, from
the north to the south, and they will not find rest upon the earth, for
the plains and the mountains will be covered with blood";3 and this
is what Isaiah said: liThe hoofs of their stallions are unfaltering." 4
49. After this Senek'erim resolved to hand over the land of his
ancestors to the Greek emperor Basil and in its stead to obtain
Sebastia; so he immediately wrote to the emperor. When the
emperor Basil heard this, he rejoiced greatly and gave the Armenian
king Sebastia. In turn Senek'erim handed over the land of
Vaspurakan to the emperor, including seventy-two regional fortresses
and four thousand four hundred villages and the monasteries; he did
not give up, but kept, one hundred and fifteen monasteries where
prayers were said for him. 1 He gave all of this in writing to Basil.
Then the emperor asked the Armenian king to send him David in
royal splendor; so Senek'erim sent his son and with him the sons of
the noblemen; the bishop, his lordship Eghishe; three hundred packmules, laden with treasure and various articles; and also one
thousand Arabian horses. With such a splendid train David entered
Constantinople. The city was stirred up and everyone came to meet
him. The streets and palaces were decorated and the populace
strewed money on him [as he went forth]. The emperor Basil rejoiced
greatly when he saw David and, taking him to Saint Sophia, made
him his adopted child, and the populace honored him as the
emperor's son. Mter this Basil gave David many gifts and sent him
back to his father, and he gave Senek'enm Sebastia with its innumerable surrounding districts. Senek'erim, going forth with his whole

46

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

household and people,2 came to Sebastia; and thus Armenia was


abandoned by its kings and princes.s

50. In the year 470 of the Armenian era [1021-1022] Basil went
forth to the East with innumerable forces, demanding Ani and Kars
from the Armenian king. John,l the son of Gagik, resolved to hand
them over since he was a cowardly person.2 Mter this Basil returned
to his country and wrote to George,S the Georgian king, to come to
him in submission, which the king neither accepted nor undertook to
do. 4 So the emperor came against him in battle. The Georgian forces
in turn went against him; and ~at and Zoyat, brave men and
brothers of Liparit,5 vehemently clashed with Basil's forces until ~at
was killed, for his horse became caught in a muddy place and the
brave Georgian perished there. Then the Georgian forces turned in
flight; and Basil's troops, pursuing, slaughtered them. The emperor
stayed there for three months until he had brought the Georgians to
submission and after this he wintered in Trebizond. His lordship
Peter,6 the Armenian catholicos, and the holy vardapet John Kozern
went to the emperor Basil, carrying with them many religious objects,
and the emperor received them with great honor. When the great
feast day of the baptism of our Lord arrived, the emperor honored his
lordship Peter and the Armenian vardapets; he had them seated in
a higher position than the Greek prelates and, in the presence of his
lordship Peter, ordered the water be blessed. When the catholicos
poured the miwron 7 of the holy oil into the water and blessed it with
the Holy Cross, 8 an intensely brilliant fIre appeared upon the water
and the river became blocked up at one place and would not flow. 9
When the emperor and his troops saw this, they became terrified, and
Basil, bowing down, poured the blessed water upon his own head
under the guidance of his lordship Peter. After this the Armenian
catholicos returned to Armenia laden with splendid gifts.1o Mer a
while Basil in tum secretly went to Antioch, accompanied by three
faithful men. Going up to the Black Mountains to a place called
Paghakdziak,l1 he received Christian baptism from the superior and
spiritual leader of the place and henceforth became like an adopted
father of the Armenian nation. , . ,12
51. In the year 471 of the Armenian era [10221023] his lordship
Sargis, the Armenian catholicos, died, and his lordship Peter1 was
installed in his place as patriarch. In the same year a certain
powerful magnate of the Greek nation, Nicephorus, surnamed

PART I

47

ICrookneck,"2 rose up against Basil and summoned the Georgian king


George and the sons of Gagik3 to ally themselves with him. Out of
fear of this magnate David4 went over to him with the Armenian
forces, and thus Basil was greatly alarmed. The emperor sent
supplications to David so that he might extricate himself from this
dangerous situation. On the other hand, Crookneck had a great
liking for David and promised to install him on the throne of the
Armenian kingdom, but David did not wish to break the pact he had
with Basil. One day David went to Nicephorus's house on the pretext
of inquiring about a disturbance, and Nicephorus, coming forth,
embraced him and begged him to go back. But David signaled his
men, and they immediately killed Crookneck;5 and his forces, having
been scattered, fled. Basil, hearing this, rejoiced greatly and gave
Caesarea,s Camndaw, and Khawatanek'7 with their surrounding
districts to David as gifts. After this the emperor with many troops
angrily marched against the Georgian king George, and a violent
battle was fought before the fortress of Dziawik'.B Fleeing, George
took refuge in this impregnable fortress and enrolled himself as a
vassal of Basil, giving the emperor his son as hostage. Mter this
Basil went to Persia and encamped before the gates of the town of
Her, and it was summertime. One day a violent snowstorm fell upon
the camp and the troops did not know what to do. So they turned
and fled from this very dangerous situation, and in the meantime the
land became flooded because of the enormous quantity of water.
When the troops came to one place, they were unable to pass because
of the mud and, gathered together here, did not know what to do.
Then the emperor commanded Borne of the infantry be slaughtered;
thirteen thousand men were slaughtered and were filled into that
place, and the troops passed over them. Going forth from here, Basil
wintered in Melitene. 9
52. In the year 471 of the Armenian era [1022-1023], during the
reign of the Greek emperor Basil, a fearful and horrible omen
appeared in the heavens and the wrath of God fell upon all living
beings. On the third day of the month of October, at the third hour
of the day, the upper firmament of the heavens was torn apart from
east to west; and thus the blue sky was cleft in two. A dazzling light
fell upon the earth from the northern portion of the sky, and the
whole land shook with a tremendous movement. Before the light
abated, a horrible roaring and reverberating sound fell upon all living
creatures. Then the sun darkened and the stars appeared as in the

48

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

night The whole land was filled with moumi;:, a~::he:ding~{~~~


tears' all the peoples cried out to God. Then, er
e~ a~ .
rinc~s and noblemen gathered together by order of t e
eman
~in John and came before the holy vardape~ John Kozern , who was
~
d reliaiouB man and indeed filled WIth the knowledge of the
a pIOUS an
o
Arm'
.
me to
apostolic and prophetic books. When the
eman pnnces ca
question him and to learn about the miraculous appea.rance ~nd t~e
omen they saw the holy vardapet John prostrate on hIS face In grIef
and ~eeping bitterly. When they questioned hi~, he answered them
painfully and with heart-rending groans and SaId:
"0 children listen to me. Misfortune and disaster have come to all
mankind, for 'today is the thousandth year of the imprisonment ?f
Satan, which our Lord Jesus Christ had brought about by. hIS
crucifixion and especially by his holy baptism in the Jordan RIVer.
Now Satan has been released from his imprisonment according to the
testimony of the vision of the evangelist John, who was told by the
angel of God that Satan would be imprisoned for one thousand years
and then would be released from his imprisonment.! La, today Satan
has been released from his thousand- year imprisonment. This is the
year 478 of the Annenian era [1029-1030]; add to it the first five
hundred and fifty two years, which comes out to one thousand and
thirty years; then subtract thirty years for the period before the
baptism of Christ, and you have 1000 years at the present. Now,
because of the fulfillment of this prophec~ the rending of the heavens
came about. Henceforth no one will be able to stand firm in the faith
of Christ and in the commandments of God, patriarch or vardapet,
bishop or priest, abegh ay 2 or monk, prince or people. Princes will
band together with thieves, brigands, and plunderers, and judges will
take bribes and give unjust verdicts. Monks will forsake the
wilderness and monasteries and, trifling with worldly pursuits, will
roam about the streets and among women. They will scorn prayers
and forsake the discipline of their monastic life, delighting in the
ways of the world and pursuing the praises of men. They will take
~at delight iJ.l dia~olic songs, becoming arrogant towards their
fne~ds and ~aymg: I know about harmony and melody and you do
not. F~r thIS reason they will destroy the rituals of the churches.
There WIll be many despisers of learning, slothful and idle chatterers,
grumblers and accusers; and nowhere will the truth appear among
men,. for they wi~l be stubborn, selfish, despisers of friends, slanderers, mformers, hars, prideful, ambitious, presumptuous, conceited,
greedy, drunkards, and lechers. My children, henceforth the

PART I

49

glorification of God by mankind will cease, and truth will not appear
among men. On the contrary, abominable and loathsome princes will
become rash and fall into error. They will forsake their concern for
the construction of buildings and for the successful outcome of their
undertakings;3 instead they will evermore dally in drunkenness
because of their love and desire for that evil and abominable disease.
The patriarchs, bishops, priests, and monks will be more avaricious
than pious. My children, henceforth the will of Satan shall be
executed among the sons of man more than the will of God. By
means of unworthy celebrants, which henceforth shall be the rule,
God shall vent his anger upon all living creatures, especially upon
those who celebrate the divine liturgy, since Christ shall be sacrificed
by the unworthy and distributed to the unworthy. Our Lord Jesus
Christ shall be wounded more by unworthy priests than he was by
his torment and crucifixion at the hands of the Jews, since Satan has
been freed from his thousand-year imprisonment in which Christ had
bound him. My children, I disclose all of these things to you, weeping
and lamenting with an oppressed heart, because many will be pulled
away from the faith, boastfully denying Christ. Thus it is because of
all these iniquities that darkness has taken hold of all creation,lI The
holy Armenian vardapet spoke in this manner concerning the
execution of the divine wrath. Moreover, he discoursed on many
other misfortunes which would befall the faithful; 10, all of these
things indeed came about, one after another, by the eruption of the
ferocious and savage nation of the Turks, those wicked and abominable children of Ham. 4

53. In this same year of the horrible omen [about which we have
spoken], the saintly Roman emperor Basil died,lhaving occupied the
imperial throne of the Romans for fifty-eight years. 2 While he was
still alive, he summoned his brother Constantine and placed the
imperial crown on his head. He then installed Constantine on the
imperial throne and prostrated himself [before his brother]. Basil
entrusted his whole empire to Constantine and drew up a will in
reference to Annenia, which directed the new emperor to watch over
that nation with paternal care. Moreover, Basil entrusted to
Constantine the Bans of Senek'erim-David, Atom, Abusahl, and
Constantine-and also all the princes of the Armenian nation,
enjoining his brother always to deal benevolently with the Christian
faithful. Basil reigned over the Romans for fifty-eight years. He led
a holy and chaste life and, having sincerely confessed his sins, went

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

'U
d as buried next to the other sam Y
an
to sleep in Ch~st Jes?-sd
memory (of his life and deeds].
emperors, leavmg behm a goo
1
. k' g Senek'erim also died,
54. In this same year the Armema? m
the former
and he was taken to the c~mete~ ofhlS :~~:s~~:~~ee:; of the Holy
Armenian kings were buned at ~r~~> a
tors The royal sover.
. ldest son
Cross' there he was buried next 0 16 ances
eignt; of the Armenian nation was transferred to hIS e
d
Da\'id, because he was an illustrious and honorable man an one
having a fearful reputation throughout the land.
.

':I

55. In this same year the Georgian king George also died, and ~is
son Hagrae was installed as his successor, reigning over the entIre
country of the Georgians.
56. Now in this same year Constantine, l the brother of Basil,
reigned over the whole empire of the Romans. Constantine w~s a
kind and pious man, compassionate towards widows and captIves,
and lenient towards all those guilty of crimes. For he had all those
imprisoned released from their chains and also ordered the prison of
the condemned-which Basil had built and which he had indeed filled
up with Greek magnates-burned to the ground. Out of fear for his
throne, Basil had secretly strangled the most illustrious personages
of the Greek nation; their bodies, still clothed, were hanging by their
necks on iron hooks. When Constantine saw this, he wept for them
and ordered that they be buried and the prison burned to the ground.
He found fault with his brother, saying: "When one is to die, why
does he have to die so cruelly, since life itself is material and
tra.nsitory anyway?" Constantine peacefully occupied the throne of
the Roman empire and benevolently governed all the faithful of God. 2
Hav.ing occupied the throne of the empire for four years, he died in
ChnBt Jesus, after having sincerely confessed his sins' thus leaving
behind a good memory [of his life and deeds], he joined his ~cestors.
Ind~d there was great sorrow in the country, which had been
depnved of such an emperor. While Constantine was still alive he
had given his daughter Zoe in marriage to the illustrious magn~te,
Romanus, because he did not have a son. So Romanus3 occupied the
throne of the Roman empire, and the whole land submitted to him.
57. In the year 479 of the Armenian era [1030-1031] the Roman
emperor Romanus collected all the forces of the country of the

PART I

51

Greeks. He marched forth with an army and reached the country of


the Muslims, and he came and encamped against the impregnable
fortress called 'Azaz, near the city of Aleppo. The Muslim forces
gathered together with a very great army and came against the
emperor Romanus. The emperor, becoming frightened, did not go
forth in battle against the Muslim forces and thus was cowardly and
vacillated;l for he was a weak and timid person, besides being very
malicious and a notorious blasphemer of the Orthodox faith. 2 Because
of all this, his troops were in disagreement with him and so they
resolved to abandon him during the battle in the midst of the Muslim
forces and to flee from the combat so that the wicked emperor would
perish. Then one of the chiefs of the army, who was called Abukab
and who had formerly been the tent-guard of David the curopalates
of the Georgians, warned Romanus of the perfidiousness of his
troops.s When the emperor heard this, he became greatly frightened
and, rising up, fled during the night, accompanied by the nobles of
his court. Hearing of the emperor's flight, the Muslim forces pursued
the Roman army and caused a severe slaughter, as many as twenty
thousand men; thus the Roman forces were scattered over the whole
land.' After fourteen days a certain peasant from the town of
Cyrrhus5 discovered the emperor Romanus, who had taken refuge
among some trees; he had grown so numb from the cold that he
seemed to be dead. Leaving his work, the peasant took the emperor
to his home, cured him, and brought him back to life; however, he did
not know who Romanus was. After a few days the peasant took the
emperor and sent him off with some men. When Romanus reached
the city of Marash, the remnants of his forces gathered around him
and took him to Constantinople. After a number of days had gone by,
the emperor summoned that peasant and made him commander of
the district of Cyrrhus and then, thanking him, sent him back to his
home with splendid gifts.
58. At the beginning of the year 480 of the Armenian era [10311032] the emir of the city of Edessa, whose name was Shabal, died.
In this period two emirs resided in Edessa, Shabal and 'Utair. There
were three citadels in the city of Edessa; two citadels and two
quarters of the city belonged to Shabal, while one citadel and one
quarter of the city belonged to 'Utiar. Now each was resolved to
destroy the other. So one day 'Utiar invited Shabal to dinner, taking
him outside the city to a place called the Monastery of Archich, where
there was a stone column right opposite the citadel. Both men had

52

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

placed each of their forces in an amb~s~, u~~own. t,o ?ne an?ther.


When Shabal signaled his forces to kIll Utal.f, UtIDr s ImmedIate~y
came forth and killed Shabal. Then 'Utair gathered togeth?r hlS
troops against the chief citadel belonging to Shabal and was Intent
on taking it by assault, A certain Salman was the ~oIll;ma,:der of ~e
upper citadel, and in a severe assault 'Utair pu\ hlm In ~lre stral~s.
Being weak, Salman sent to Na~ir-ad-Daulah, the chlef,Mushm
emir who resided in Maiyafariqin, and handed over the cltadel of
Ede;sa to him. Na~irad-Daulah in tum sent the prefeceBal-al-Ra'is
to the citadel of Edessa with a thousand horsemen and had Salman
brought to him, together with his wife and children, giving Salman
splendid gifts. Thus 'Utair was able to do nothing; so he feigned an
accord with the prefect Bal-al-Ra'ls, secretly resolving to kill him,
When Bal-al-Ra'is heard this, while both men were seated at a
banquet outside the city, he killed the emir 'Utair and seized control
of the whole city of Edessa.
However, when the wife of'Utair saw that her husband had been
killed, she bravely rose up agai~st Bal-al-Ra'is and, raising a black3
standard, made an appeal to all the Arabs, saying: "The Turkish
nation has come and seized the ancestral city of the Arabs' and they
have killed my husband, the emir 'Utair." In this way she was able
to gather together many troops and, going forth, came against Bal-al~'IB. When Nii~irad-Daulah heard this, he came against the Arabs
wlth many troops. 'Utair's wife marched against Na~ir-ad-Daulah
and in a violent battle turned him in flight; then she came and
descended ~pon the prefect Bal-al-Ra'is, launching a formidable
assault agamet the citadel. Being weak, Bal-aI-Ra'rs was not able to
?nd a way.out of the situation; so, sending to Na~ir-ad-Daulah, he
~nf0:med hl~ of the dangerous situation he was in and said: "I am
l~ due stralts and with me all of Kurdistan,lI Not being too strong
hlmself, Ni.i~i~ad-Daulah sent Salman to the citadel of Edessa and
had Bal-a~-~als, bro~ght back to his town of Maiyafariqin. Neverthe~ss, 'Utalr s WIfe dld not cease battling against Salman day after
t a~h Fi.;;lly Salman, exhausted by her assaults, sent to Samosata
o t e h~an commander Maniaces,6 also called George Salma~
wro
. emperor
h' eht 0 1m
' . and said'. IIlfyou can 0 bt
am f rom the Roman
~d::68.1~:ltiona~d thellcommand of, a district for me, I will deliver
h
0 your ands. When Mamaces heard this he became ve
Rappy and solemnly promised that he would obtain for him from t~
oman emperor all that he ask d
.,
children hereditary lands and a hie or~ ~vmg to him and to his
gh posltion. So Salman summoned

PART I

53

Maniaces and handed over the citadel of Edessa to him. The Roman
commander went forth with four hundred men and at night secretly
came to the gates of the citadel. Since Salman knew of his coming,
he took the keys of the citadel and went to Maniaces; then he
prostrated himself before the Roman commander and turned over the
citadel to him. On the same night Salman took his wife and children
and passed over to Samosata.
When the Muslims heard of the coming of Maniaces, they set up
a formidable resistance against the Roman commander; numerous
companies of troops gathered against Edessa, and as the Muslims
attacked the city, many of their number who lived there left. But the
Syrians fortified themselves in the Cathedral of Saint Sophia; for,
because of their women and having much gold and silver, they did
not dare enter into the citadel, being afraid that their possessions
would be seized. Nevertheless, a few days after, many of them
together with all their possessions perished by fire. Those who
remained took refuge in the citadel with Maniaces and were thus
saved. For the Muslims had organized a great assault against the
Cathedral of Saint Sophia, placing a catapult against the northern
wall and vehemently bombarding the church until it was completely
demolished; then, throwing fire inside, they had burned many to
death, and thus innumerable possessions and provisions belonging to
the city's inhabitants had been destroyed. After this episode all the
Muslims were roused and came against Maniaces. Yet the Roman
magnate, trapped in the citadel of Edessa with four hundred men,
displayed tremendous courage. The most eminent emirs arrived from
their respective territories6 to the city of Edessa, from Egypt and from
the whole country of the Babylonians. Even Shabal of Harran, who
had been wounded by one of Maniaces' servants, a man called Uzar,
came; this man had come in the capacity of a messenger and thus
was without suspicion and, when he approached the emir, attacked
him, striking him upon the shoulder with an axe; then this servant
of Maniaces rushed to the moat of the town with the rapidity of an
eagle and took refuge in it, but his horse perished because of a severe
wound. [Here are the other distinguished Muslims who marched
against Edessa]: the emir Salil1 came from Aleppo, Mahmud from
Damascus Muhammad from Horns, al-'Azlz from Egypt, 'All from
Manbij, 'Abouliah from Baghdad, Quraysh from Mosul, Na~irad
Daulah from Maiyafariqin, 'All from Amida, Bashlr from JazlratIbn-'Umar 7 Al.mad from Khlat', Zura8 from Balish,9 ~usain from Her,
, ~.
af
Ct' h 10
Kutana from Salmast, Ahi8 from Arzan, Ahvar rom eSlp on,

54

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Ahlu8 from Basra,l1 Vreayn8 from Kerkeser,12 Shavar from ~isibis,


and forty more emirs. All these emirs gathered together ag~mst the
citadel of Edessa and harassed it throughout the summer wIth many
assaults,
59 After a number of days the Muslims resolved to burn down the
entir~ city and then withdraw. However, the inhabita.nts, b! means
of many entreaties and bribes, prevented them from domg this. They
said that the Romans, surrounded by Muslim territories, would not
be able to hold Edessa, but in a short time would be forced to
abandon the city and flee, everyone returning to his own countr)r.
These words sounded reasonable to the Muslim emirs. So, after
many harassments and assaults, all the Muslim forces returned to
their respective lands. Maniaces, ensconced in the citadel of Edessa,
fought on, while the natives of the city and the surrounding region
continued to fight back day and night. At one point Maniaces and his
men were put in dire straits, for the provisions of the citadel were
exhausted; thus they were forced to go into the houses of the city in
order to look for provisions.! At this time the emperor sent for
Salmlln and, taking him and his sons, elevated them to high positions
and gave them command over many districts, and so they became
Christians. Every year the emperor sent reinforcements to Edessa,
and he had a fortress built in his name, calling it Romanopolis. 2
Nevertheless, the Arabs of the adjoining areas harassed the Roman
forces a great deal along the route from Samosata to Edessa. Every
year an innumerable amount of Christians were slaughtered; words
d? not B~ce to relate how the bones of those that perished appeared
plIed up hke a heap of stones, Thus Maniaces was in great danger.
So the emperor Romanus resolved to bring provisions into the city on
the backs
of men. During the night sixty thousand Roman provision
3
bearers came and, passing over the Euphrates River, advanced
towards Edessa. Now there was not one village in the surrounding
co~n~7side except for Ltar:~ When the Romans reached Parsur, I)
ShlPlP fell upon-t?em aud, pursuing them right up to Desnadzor,7
slaugh~ered th.e SIxty thousand provision bearers. Edessa was in
such dtre str~lts as this until the city became strengthened and
finally v~nqU1shed the enemy. Then the emperor made peace with
t~e M~8hm~, ~nd so tranquillity reigned in Edessa and the persecution 0 Chnst1a~s ceased., This all took place during the reign of
~~ Ba~atum an~ dunng the patriarchate of his lordship Peter,
e rmeman cathohcos. Nevertheless, in the reign of Tughrul~ the

PART I

55

sultan of the Persian empire, 9 the city of Edessa was captured by the
10
Mu;slims. Final~y, after all the afflictions, hardships, and torments
whIch brave Mamaces had endured, Romanus replaced him and gave
the command of Edessa to Abukab, the tent-guard of David the
curopalates.
60. At the beginning of the year 481 of the era of the Armenian
calendar [1032-1033] there was a severe famine throughout the entire
land. Many people died because of this famine and many sold their
women and children for want of bread. Because of the intensity of
the hardships, whenever one spoke, he yielded up his soul. In this
manner the land was consumed by famine.
61. In the year 484 of our era [1035-1036] the emperor Romanus
died1 because of a perfidious plot by his empress. For this impious
woman gave the emperor poison to drink, thus killing him. 2 So
Michae13 was installed on the throne of the Greek empire by order of
his empress, 4 who was the daughter of Constantine.
62. In this period king David, the son of the Annenian king
Senek'erim, died and passed on his hereditary sovereignty to his
brother Atom. This Atom was filled with virtue, justice, and saintly
conduct in Jesus Christ; moreover, he was imbued with gentleness
and graciousness, was compassionate towards the afflicted, a
supporter of the poor, a protector of monks, and [last but not least]
a builder of churches and monasteries.
63. In the year 484 of the Armenian era [1035-1036] the Muslims
marched forth with many troops and came against Edessa. They
passed over to the other side of the great Euphrates River and, by the
sword and enslavement, subjected the whole land to devastation.
Many Christians were led into captivity to the country of the
Muslims. Moreover, the Muslims ravaged Alar1 and Sewawerak. and
filled the fountains and water-conduits of these towns with blood.
Because of all this severe slaughter, the land flowed with the blood
of the Christians. In this same year the Roman forces gathered
together and came against the Muslims, and their general was the
brother2 of Michael the Roman emperor. With a large number of
horsemen he reach~d the town of Melitene, but he became frightened
and did not go up against the Muslims in battle. When t~e ~uslim
troops heard this, they returned to their own country. ThIS IS what

56

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

the Roman troops did; and they did not dare enter the territories of
the Muslims, rather they peacefully withdrew in order to return to
their own country. On their return they plundered the Christians
more than the Muslim army had. s
64. At the date of our calendar marked by the year 485 of the
Armenian era [1036-1037] the sun darkened with a frightful and
horrible appearance. For, as it became dark at the crucifixion of
Christ, in the same manner the sun's light was hidden and darkness
clothed it. The luminaries of the heavens turned gloomy and black,
and the whole sky was stretched out like a vault in darkness. The
sun became blackened at midday and all the stars appeared in toto
as they would in the middle of the night. The darkness and gloom
grew intense, all creatures cried together, and all the mountains and
hills resounded. The mountains and all the rocks, shaken [to their
foundations], trembled; the vast large Mediterranean Sea, moving
back and forth, billowed, and all mankind mourned and wept. It
happened that, when mankind sawall this, it was horror-struck with
fear as if dead. At that time the son wept for his father and the
father wept over his son. Boys terrified with fear fell into the laps of
their parents. Mothers, afllicted with a severe consumption as if by
fire, wept before their sons. In such a manner all creatures were
horror-struck and were beset by fear, and they could not find an
escape. Frightened by the horrible omen, they were altogether
stupefied and horror-struck.
At that time the Armenian patriarch, his lordship Peter, and King
John sent eminent men to John the holy Armenian vardapet, l called
Kozern, so that they might learn from him the interpretation of this
extraordinary omen. For he was a holy man and admired for his
austere conduct, an interpreter of the Old and New Testaments of
God, and filled with doctrinal graces. Indeed those who were sent to
the Annenian vardapet-Gregory Magistros, son of Vasak; the
eminent Sargis of the race of Hayk; and also many Armenian
noblemen and priests-were sent so that they might learn about the
second appearance of this fearful omen. When they went to the
Armenian vardapet, they found him prostrate and in deep sorrow,
and his gannent was drenched in tears. Because of the profuseness
of his weeping and the heavy groans which arose from his mouth, no
one dared to ask him anything. For they saw that he was in deep
mourning and in tremendous grief and was ceaselessly shedding tears
and beating his breast. At this point the Armenian princes sat next

PART I

57

to the vardapet John and up to the sixth hour of the day they did not
dare say anything or ask about the fearful omen; all those who had
come to him [merely] wept together.
Then, when the Armenian vardapet saw the lamentation of all
those who had come, opening his mouth, he began to speak, while
groaning and shedding many tears. He wept over all the nations of
the faithful; he wept over the priestly order, over the destruction of
the purity of the holy sacrament; he wept over the church of God and
over the dissolution of the divine precepts which had been kept by the
church. Then he began to speak to the Annenian princes in the
following manner:
'0 my illustrious sons, listen to these words of the distressed and
grieved John. For today the thousand years of the torments of the
crucifixion of Christ have been completed and also the releasing of
Belial, who had been confined by the Savior in the Jordan River, [has
come about]. This is what was shown to us by the first omen forty
years before, as we predicted, and now once again the omen has
repeated itself; for first the heavens were rent and the earth became
obscured. In this year the luminaries became darkened and also all
of creation; for henceforth all the nations who believe in Christ will
walk. in darkness. Also henceforth the institutions of the church of
Christ will be obscured by all the nations of believers. They will
slacken from fasting and prayers and will no longer believe in the
future life. Fear for the judgement of God will be scorned, and true
faith will disappear from all the nations. Piety will grow weak;
people will loath the precepts of God and will be hostile to the words
of the Holy Gospel of Christ. Everyone will put themselves in
opposition to the holy precepts of God and will scorn the words of the
holy vardapets and will disregard the commandments of the canons
of the holy patriarchs. Because of this, many will fall from the
heights of faith and will stay away from the doors of the holy church;
because of the negligence of fasting and prayers, they will become
blind to the true religion. Many will come under the yoke of
anathemas, for they will not accede to the divine counsel of the words
of the holy prelates. Sons will be cursed by their parents because
they do not obey them, and parents will be tormented by their
offspring. The compassion of love for friends will fade from fathers
and from their children. Henceforth many schisms will enter the
church of God because of the negligence of the patriarchs; for they
will become feeble and weak and will not inquire into the faith,
rather they will become brainless as fools. For the sake of silver they

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will forsake the faith, and benedictions will diminish from the house
of God. The fear and the horrible dread of God's judgement on that
fearful day, which is to come about, will disappear and be abolished
from all minds.
IIPeople will forget the recompense of the upright and of the
sinners, for they will be sinful and covetous of the evil way. With
longing they will go to the meeting place of sin, for the land will be
polluted by the kings, princes, and prelates. The prelates and princes
will become open to bribery, liars, and perjurers and, [falling] into the
hand of bribers, shall pervert their judgments of the rights due to the
poor. Because of this, God will be even more angry at them, since
they exercise their leadership and power with partiality and not
according to [the will ofJ God. They will rule over the destinies [of
.men] with absolute power, rather than directing and teaching them
in the fear of God as the holy apostle Paul commanded. The princes
and the judges will become whoremongers rather than godly men.
They will scorn holy marriage and cling to the disease of harlotry and
will glory in the ruin of people like themselves. They will honor
traitors and thieves and will unjustly seize the possessions of
laborers; (finally] they will be more strict in their judgments than is
necessary in order to carry out justice.
"My dear children, henceforth the doors of the holy church will be
closed because of the disputes between the spiritual leaders, and the
holy institutions [of the church] will be abolished from every nation.
Because of avariciousness, they will ordain many unworthy people
and will bring all the defiled ones into the priesthood. Then the
divine liturgy of Christ will be in the hands of unworthy priests; and
many will undeservingly take communion from them, not for
salvation but for the condemnation and destruction of their souls. In
some places and among different nations there will be found tme
celebrants of the holy mystery of Christ, through whom God will have
mercy on the world. My children, they will hurt the saintly and
virtuous; they will turn away the pure from the priesthood because
they do not have money and will not ordain them. As we said forty
years ago, when the other omen appeared, many will fall away from
their faith and religion, and the clergy will grow slack in their
religious practice. They shall become lecherous, longing after
perversions, and will take great delight in diabolical songs. Monks
shall flee from the wilderness and scorn the holy company of hermits.
They will scorn and dishonor the habits of former religious people.
They shall become confounders of order and piety and shall eschew

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the psalm-singing of God. All these things shall take place, my


children. Because of this, the spiritual leaders of the cOWltry will be
fIlled with avariciousness. They will promote all those fallen and
separated from the grace of God the Son and will bring them into the
priestly order. All the rejected ones they will place over the people
of God as chiefs and leaders. They will not know what they do, for
they will be blinded by the intensity of their avariciousness.
"I have even more to say concerning all these things. For henceforth Christ will be pierced with a great wound by Wlworthy priests
even more horribly than his crucifixion and suffering at the hands of
the Jews; for whatever is lacking in the Jews will be supplied by
these unworthy priests. The following words will be heard: 'Friend,
why have you come to this marriage banquet?' Then, tying his feet
and hands, they will throw him into the darkness outside, and that
which he gathered will be heaped upon him for his destruction. 2 My
dear children, all this will take place in the final days, since Satan
has been released from his thousand-year confinement in which
Christ kept him through his crucifixion. Nevertheless, there will
appear true believers in Christ who will stand against Satan in
combat. For Satan's goal is to battle against the saints who,
protected by the precepts of God, persist in the norms of the true
confession of Christ our God and exist in different nations. Henceforth there will take place invasions by the infidels, the abominable
forces of the Turks, the accursed sons of Ham, against the Christian
nations; and the whole land will be consumed by the sword. All the
nations of the Christian faithful will suffer through famine and
enslavement. Many regions will become uninhabited. The power of
the saints will be removed from the land and many churches will be
destroyed to their foundations. The mystery of the cross of Christ
will be annulled; and, as wickedness increases, the feast days of the
saints will be suspended. Sons will be incited against their fathers
and fathers will hate their sons. Brothers will rise up against one
another and will attempt to destroy each other by homicide and
bloodshed; they will disavow the compassion and love of brotherliness; the blood of their brotherly bond will dry up, and by acts such
as these they shall become as the wicked. The land will be thrown
into confusion by wicked nations; bloody dew will cover the plants of
the fields, and the land will be ravaged by the sword and enslavement for sixty years.
"Then the valiant nation called the Franks will rise up; with a
great number of troops they will capture the holy city of Jerusalem,

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

and the holy sepulcher which contained God will be freed from
bondage.3 After all this the land will be tormented with the sword
and enslavement for fIfty years by the forces of the Persians, and this
suffering shall be seven times more than that which the faithful had
formerly endured. Thus all the nations ofthe Christian faithful will
be terrified. Because of the tremendous amount of harassment, the
Roman forces will despair and will suffer much death and slaughter
at the hands of the Persians. Their choice soldiers will be killed by
the sword and enslavement, until the Roman forces finally give up all
hope of salvation. But, after some4 years, they will begin gradually
to strengthen themselves, and the remnants of their fanner regiments
will be found everywhere. Year by year they will advance gradually
and establish themselves as rulers in various lands and regions. At
that time the Roman emperor will be awakened as if from a sleep
and, like an eagle, rapidly come against the Persians with a very
great army, as numerous as the sands of the seashore. He will march
forth like a burning fire, and all creatures will tremble in fear of him.
The Persians and all the forces of the infidels will flee to the other
side of the Pyramus River. Then the Roman emperor will completely
rule over the whole country for many years. He will restore the
whole land and lay the foundations for [future] prosperity; and in
that way it will be renewed as it was before the flood. 6 The offspring
of men and beasts will multiply, and the springs will gush forth with
water. The fIelds will produce more than before. From then on
famine will come upon the country of the Persians for many years, to
such an extent that people will attack and devour one another. Out
of fear of the might of the Roman emperor many Persian chiefs will
leave their towns and regions and, without warring, flee to the other
side of the Pyramus River. All their accumulated treasures of gold
and silver collected for many years, that is the entire mass of their
treasure-an amount immeasurable like dust and pebbles-the
Romans will take from Persia and carry off to their country. All the
infants, little girls, and women will be carried off in bondage to the
country of the Romans. Persia will be devastated and made desolate
by the Roman forces, and the whole sovereignty of the land will be
firmly under the aegis of the Roman emperor." 6 The holy vardapet
John spoke these things in this manner. After this he let the
Armenian princes go, sending them away in peace, and so they went
back to their own country.
65. In this period1 the Armenian prince Gandzi collected troops

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and, going forth, captured from the Persians the town of Berkri, 2
located in the East. He slaughtered the whole town in toto and
consumed the forces of the Muslims with the sword. For many days
he battled against the citadel and put its occupants in dire straits,
many perishing in the moat. However, during these assaults the
Armenian troops were negligent and in a heavy state of intoxication.
Khetrik, who was the emir of the town of Berkri, seeing the disorderly state of the Annenian troops, sent a message to his townspeople to
come to his aid. The infidels gathered together and came forth and
found the Armenians totally unprepared [for battle]. In the morning
they attacked the Christian forces and severely slaughtered them.
On that day the distinguished Armenian prince, Gandzi, was killed,
and his son Tachat inherited his lands. In this way Gandzi and all
his forces perished in the town of Berkri. 3
66. At the beginning of the year 486 of the Armenian era [1037
1038] his lordship Peter, the Annenian catholicos, secretly left his see
and went to Vaspurakan because of some difficulties. For the king,
all the lords, and the military magnates of Armenia would not heed
the divine precepts of God. 1 His lordship Peter was in Vaspurakan
for four years and stayed in the Monastery of Dzor, 2 which the holy
patriarch Nerses 3 had built. There was incalculable sorrow in
Armenia due to his leaving the patriarchal see. Then King John and
all the Armenian lords wrote a deceitful letter to his lordship Peter,
saying that they were obedient to his precepts and followers of the
enlightened doctrine which he expounded. They wrote this letter,
taking a solemn oath, and they set up as mediators the Roman
commanders, who had come to the country as military governors. His
lordship Peter was deceived by their false oath and returned to his
see. When he was about to enter the city of Ani, his lordship Peter
was put in prison for a year and five 4 months by order of King John.
The king sent to the Monastery of Sanahin5 and had brought back the
distinguished Dioscorus, the superior of that monastery. He came
and was set up as the adversary of his lordship Peter. Dioscorus was
installed as catholicos on the patriarchal see of the Armenians for one
year and two months, but not in accordance with the will of God.
Because of all this, this eminent orator Dioscorus became very greatly
deceived and lost the immeasurable respect which he had [in the
past], and there was no one who would accept ordination from him,
which indeed was the prerogative of the holy see. His name was not
proclaimed in the churches with the other patriarchs, for he was

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regarded as unworthy of that honor. Thus there was great sorrow


throughout Armenia. The bishops, priests, and chief prelates were
not present at his consecration. He in turn, defying everyone,
ordained unworthy people to the episcopate. Also he called to his
side all those who, because of their public sins, had been removed
from their positions by former patriarchs. On the other hand, the
bishops and vardapets of Annenia excommunicated the king and all
the Annenian lords because of the antagonisms which had developed
within the church. Then the king and the Armenian princes,
trembling from fear of these anathemas, became willing to return his
lordship Peter to his see, but for many days he did not take it upon
himself [to go]. Everyone asked him for forgiveness, but he absolutely refused. Then the king and all the Armenian princes wrote a
letter to the Albanians and summoned his lordship Joseph, the
catholicos of the country of the Albanians, so that he might come and
intercede on their behalf and install his lordship Peter in the city of
An1. 6
67. In the year 487 of the Armenian era [1038-1039] a great
assembly of bishops, chief prelates, monks, vardapets, noblemen, and
princes took place in the city of Ani, as many as four thousand
persons. The elderly Joseph, catholicos of the Albanians, presided
over this assembly. The assembly brought much grief upon Dioscorus, for it vehemently condemned him, refused to honor him, and
deposed him from the patriarchal see. All those ordained by
Dioscoms were excommunicated and not one of these was allowed to
perform his priestly function. His lordship Peter was installed as
Dioscorus's successor on the patriarchal see, and thus peace was
reestablished in the holy church of Armenia. Dioscorus went back to
Sanahin, his monastery, very much ashamed of what he had done. 1
68. In the year 489 of the Armenian era [1040-1041] a comet with
a brilliant appearance became visible. It appeared in the western
portion of the sky at the beginning of the evening and moved along,
following a backward path. It touched the Pleiades1 and the moon
and then, turning towards the west, disappeared.
69. In the same year the Bulgars rose up against the Romans.
The Roman emperor Michael collected troops from the whole empire
of the Greeks and with a very great army went against the Bulgars.
Full of rage he devastated and enslaved many regions and, sword in

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hand, reached the borders of the Bulgar kingdom. The forces of the
Bulgars in turn gathered together against the Greek emperor. On
that day a severe slaughter took place. The Bulgar forces defeated
the Roman troops and caused them to flee, pursuing them with the
sword. On that day all the plains were covered with blood, and the
emperor Michael took refuge in Constantinople. Thus the Bulgars
strengthened themselves at the expense of the Greeks, recaptured
their own country, and were delivered from servitude to the Romans.
70. In this same year the Armenian king Ashot Bagratuni,1 the
son of Gagik and the brother of John, died. He left behind his Bon,
named Gagik,2 who was fIfteen years of age. ABhot was brought to
the city of Ani and was buried in the vaults of former Armenian
kings. During his lifetime Ashot did not enter the city of Ani except
on the day of his death because John greatly feared him, for he was
a brave and mighty man. Mter the death of Ashot the Armenian
forces grew slack and scorned the art of war. They became subject
to the Roman yoke, they reveled in drunkenness, and they took
delight in citternsS and in the songs of singers. They departed from
the unity [they had maintained] with one another and they no longer
came to each other's aid. They [merely] shed tears for the land which
was being put to the sword, weeping together for its destruction and
at the same time delivering up one another to the sword of the Greek
nation; they thus despoiled their kin and went over to the side of
their enemies.
71. In this period the great emir of the Persians, Abu'l-Dswar,l
collected troops from the nation of the infidels, as many as one
hundred and fIfty thousand. Full of rage he came and attacked the
Christians. With venomous wrath he entered the country of the
Albanians into the region held by David Anhoghin2 and brought much
affiiction to the faithful. David, fearing the enormous number of the
infidel forces, did not go forth in battle. On the other hand, the
wicked Abu'l-Uswar captured many districts and four hundred
regional fortresses. Remaining there for one year, he brought the
greater part of the country under his subjection and was intent on
marching against David. David, being powerless, sent to King John,
who reigned in Ani, and said to him: "Abu'I Uswar has captured all
the regions of Armenia and is coming against me. If you do not aid
me, I will go to him in submission, will serve him as a guide, and
thus bring desolation upon your district of Shirak..lIs When John

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

heard this, he sent four thousand men to David. Likewise David sent
to the ruler of Kapan,4 and he in turn gave him two thousand men.
In this manner he threatened the king of the Abkhazes,6 and that
king sent four thousand men to his aid. Then David himself collected
his troops, as many as ten thousand, and sent to the catholicos of the
Albanians, saying:
"This nation of infidels comes against us because of our Christian
faith and they are intent on destroying the ordinances of the worshipers of the cross and on exterminating the Christian faithful. It is
fitting and right for all the faithful to go forth with their swords and
to die for their Christian faith. Now gather together all the Armenian bishops who are in the country of the Albanians and come to our
camp so that you might die with us."
The catholicos did all this, and with two hundred bishops his
lordship Joseph went to the camp of the Christians. He wrote to the
superiors of the monasteries to come together with all their monks
and join the Christian forces. He brought together all the priests and
deacons of the country of the Albanians and proclaimed throughout
all the regions, saying: "If there be any man or woman desirous of a
martyr's death, 10, the opportunity [for such a martyrdom] has
presented itself to us at this time. Whoever is devoted to Christ 7 let
him immediately come to us." Having heard this, fathers with their
sons and mothers with their daughters came to the camp of the
faithful. The plain was completely filled with a very great throng,
like [huge] flocks with their lambs.
Having learned of this, Abul-Uswar mocked at all that was taking
place, and advanced and came against the forces of the Christians.
Then David commanded that it be proclaimed to the bishops, monks,
and priests that each one take in his hands as his weapon of battle
only a cross and the Gospels of Christ and with these march against
the swords of the enemy. So the whole camp took up the cross and
the Gospels; the forces of the wicked approached, and the multitude
of priests stood opposite them. David, in turn, with twenty thousand
brave men went against the infidels. When the two armies engaged
one another in combat, the priests in unison raised their voices to
God, weeping. The land resounded with their voices, and they said:
"Arise, Lord, help us and save us for the glory of your holy name."
The forces of the faithful then plunged into the midst of the army of
the infidels as one would plunge into the sea and disappeared [among
them]. Then the priests in unison moved the Christian cross back
and forth and, going towards the enemy, fell upon them. A burning

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zeal took hold of them and they struck at the infidels, and the infidels
in toto turned back in flight. The Annenian forces pursued them
sword in hand and for five days frightfully slaughtered the infidel
troops to such an extent that the plains and mountains were covered
with blood. They seized innumerable treasures of gold and silver and
much booty, while the remaining Persian troops, narrowly escaping
with their lives, naked and barefooted, took refuge in their own
country. The country of the Albanians stank. because of their filthy
corpses. In three days David had control of all the districts which the
infidels had formerly captured and with splendid gifts sent away all
the troops who had come to his aid. From the booty [he had taken]
he distributed many articles to the bishops, priests, and to all those
who had come to him, and then sent them away. Thus peace was
reestablished.
72. In this same year a certain wicked and evil prince from the
noblemen of Senek'erim went to the Greek emperor and severely
denounced Atom and Abusahl, the sons of Senek'erim, saying: "They
are intent on rebelling against you and thus causing you annoyance
and trouble." The emperor Michael, having heard this, believed these
falsely spoken words. He sent his acolyth 1 to Sebastia with fifteen
thousand men to bring them to him so that they might not escape,
and the acolyth reached the city of Sebastia with his troops. When
the sons of Senek'erim heard this, they became stupefied and at the
same time frightened. They saw that the prudence of the acolyth was
not equal to theirs and thus were afraid to go with him.
73. Then prince Shapuh said to Atom and Abusahl: "Do you wish
me to scatter the Roman forces throughout the fields?" As he said
this, he put seven coats of mail one on top of the other and struck
them with his sword, breaking off pieces of the iron mail. The sons
of the Armenian king said: "Let it not be this way, rather we will go
with those summoning us." They gave many gifts to the Roman
general and went with him to Constantinople. Upon entering the
city, they went weeping to the tomb of the emperor Basil and threw
the paper containing the oath given to them on it.! Then they said:
"You have brought us to the country of the Romans, and they
threaten us with death. 0 our father, vindicate us before our
accusers!" The emperor Michael, hearing such wisdom, marvelled
greatly and ordered the denouncer done away with.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

74. In the year 490 of the Armenian calendar and era [1041-1042]
the Armenian king John died and was buried in the city of Ani in the
vaults of former Armenian kings. He was the brother of Ashot, the
son of Gagik, who in turn was the son of Ashot, 1 son of 5mbat, son of
Ashot the Iron of Bagratid lineage. When the nation of the Romans
heard of his death, the emperor Michael collected troops. He came
to Armenia and devastated it with the sword and enslavement. For
John, while he was alive, had given to the Romans a written
statement declaring that after his death Ani would belong to them;
in return for this promise he received gifts from the Romans for
:fIfteen years and also a high rank} After the death of John one of the
princes of Armenia, a perfidious man named Azat3 Sargis' of the
lineage of Hayk, infonned the Romans that he would give them
Annenia as a gift. He seized the treasury of the former Armenian
kings and carried it off to the Abkhazes and ensconced himself in a
fortress. He brought under his control many country towns5 and was
intent on reigning over the Armenians. But the Bagratid dynasty
would not accept him, for he was of the lineage of Hayk. 6
75. In this same year there was much slaughter in Armenia
because of David Anhoghin, high official of the Armenian king John.
Rising up against the Armenian kingdom, he subjected many regions
to the sword and to enslavement, and with many troops came and
passed into Armenia; for, having left the country of the Albanians, he
had come against Armenia. These regions were burned [and
devastated] by his troops, who caused much suffering and innumerable fires there. After this he returned to the country of the Albanians
to his own home.
76. In this same year for the second time the Romans marched
against Armenia, and because there was no commander for the
Arm.enian forces, many places submitted to the Romans; now, because
of this, great destruction was brought upon Armenia. At that time
one hundred thousand Roman troops gathered against the royal city
of Ani and encamped before its gates. The remnants of the Armenian
forces gathered around the great commander-in-chief Vahram
Pahlawuni1 and begged him to go forth in battle against the Roman
army, for the Roman forces had come to battle against them with
violent blaspheming and many insults. So the Armenian forces
became filled with rage; and, furious with wrath like ferocious beasts,
thirty thousand men, both foot soldiers and horsemen, went forth in

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total battle array towards the gate called Tsaghik. 2 Like lightening
they threw themselves upon the Roman troops and turned in flight
those very arrogant and haughty forces, pitilessly slaughtering them
with the edge of the sword. The Akhurian River,which was located
nearby, was turned into blood. Because of the cries of the ferocious
Annenian troops, the fugitives were unable to flee, but rather stood
stupefied and were delivered to the mercy of the sword. This was a
very frightful day for the Roman forces, for out of twenty thousand
men only one hundred remained. Then the saintly and distinguished
commander-in-chief, Vahram Pahlawuni, interceded and with many
supplications made entreaties to the Armenian forces through a
deputation; he was barely able to get them to agree to allow the
Roman troops to withdraw [unhannedl. In this way the remnants of
the Roman troops were saved. No longer did the Roman forces seek
to capture the city of Ani; rather they turned back humiliated and
went to Constantinople to [the emperor] Michael.
77. At that time a lad eighteen years old, named Gagik, l from the
same scion of the Bagratids, appeared. He was the son of King
Ashot, who was the son of Gagik, son of Ashot,2 son of Abas, son of
5mbat, son of Ashot the Iron. This lad Gagik was very wise, pious,
and religious. All the Armenian lords assembled before the patriarch
his lordship Peter, and Gagik was anointed king over all Armenia by
the grace of the Holy Spirit and at the behest of the distinguished
prince;s thus at his behest the virtuous and illustrious Peter4 anointed
Gagik. This [distinguishedl prince was of the lineage of Hayk and a
Pahlavid by descent. His name was Gregory like his ancestor, and
he was of the lineage of Saint Gregory.s He shone forth as a second
Samuel, he who anointed David king over all Israel. 6 This prince,
who was very pious, religious, and invincible among learned men,
made Gagik king over Armenia. Using his wisdom, he endeavored to
establish on a finn base the throne of the kingdom of the Armenian
nation and begged God to aid him, as well as the Pahlavid dynasty.
78. At that time Gagik, supported by his troops, seized Sargis and
subjected him to various kinds of tortures, until against his will the
Annenian king obtained control of the fortresses, districts, towns, and
his entire hereditary treasury, all of which Sargis had seized. At this
time, because of the benevolent will of God, the Roman forces became
pacified, and they no longer continued to seek after the city of Ani
and to make war upon the Armenians. By that time, through the

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grace of the Holy Spirit, two successful years of the reign of Gagik
had gone by. Indeed, in these days King Gagik collected troops, and
went and marched through the country of his ancestors, bringing all
the rebellious to submission and fiercely pushing back his enemies.
Going forth with a great number of troops, he encamped in the
province of Ayrarat in order to wreak vengeance upon the nation of
the south.! Then the illustrious prince Gregory, the son of Vasak
Pahlawuni, prepared for battle and, going forth with his troops,
encamped near the Hrazdan River not far from the great fortress of
Bjni. The infidel forces came against the Armenian troops and a
severe battle took place. The Armenian troops defeated the Persian
forces, causing a great slaughter on the banks of the Hrazdan River
and taking prisoner the Turkish chiefs, after which the remnants [of
the infidels] fled to Persia.
79. At that time, inspired by evil thoughts, the Greeks once again
were stirred up [against the Armenians] through the treachery and
hypocrisy of the deceitful Christian, David Anhoghin. It has become
necessary for us to change his name and call him Dawit'/because he
put the Christian peoples into the abyss of tribulations. He himself
became afflicted in spirit because of his calumny and was delivered
up to eternal torments in the abyss of destruction.
80. In this same year the Roman emperor Michael! collected troops
from the whole empire of the Greeks and also from those Armenian
forces who were under Roman rule, in Sebastia, Taron, and all
Vaspurakan. With a very great army Michael came to the West and,
enslaving the whole country of the Goths, 2 brought to submission
those that had rebelled. He compelled the whole country to submit
to him and then returned to Constantinople. A short while after this
the emperor Michael died.
81. His nephew, who already was made caesar, reigned in his
place.! He occupied the imperial throne no longer than four months,
for he had a malicious mind and thus became the cause of his own
undoing, as it is written in Scripture: "He who digs a pit for his
companion will fall in it himself."2 Indeed he became so arrogant that
he was not conscious of his actions; for he even dared to cut the hair
of Zoe, the daughter of the emperor Constantine, as one would do to
a whore, a~d then exiled her to an island in chains. Also he seized
the patriarch of Constantinople3 and put him in a prison in chains,

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because he wished his family to inherit the imperial throne; indeed


this whole family was corrupt and wicked and very destructive for
the empire. Mter a few days help came to the patriarch from God;
disguising himself, he escaped from prison and, fleeing, took refuge
in Saint Sophia. The entire city of Constantinople was stirred up
against the caesar, and there were frightful combats within the city.
On that day a severe conflict and slaughter occurred on both sides,
and the entire city was overflowing with blood; even Saint Sophia
was inundated with a great amount of blood. Finally the patriarch
was victorious over the caesar, who was seized and blinded.
Moreover, his whole family was exterminated, and the empress Zoe
was brought back to Constantinople with great pomp.4
82. In the same year the illustrious Armenian prince Khach'ik was
killed together with his young son, named Ishkhan, both in the
province of Vaspurakan. The inhabitants of Her and Salmast1
gathered together and invaded the district ofT'onrawan,2 The news
reached Khach'ik that the infidel forces had entered his territory, He
was a brave man and always victorious in battle and from a highborn
lineage with the militancy of an eagle. However, he now had become
old and left behind the military life; so, sighing heavily, he was
indeed sorry, for his eldest son, the brave Hasan, and [his other son]
Chnchghuk together with their troops were in the West, accompanying the emperor Michael. Yet the Armenian prince Khach'ik was
unable to resist the opportunity and, going forth with seventy men,
came against the infidels; but his son Ishkhan he kept at home, for
he was a boy of fifteen.
When Khach'ik came upon the infidels, he saw that they had many
troops. He cried out to his men and, joining battle, vehemently
attacked the infidels and felled many to the ground. Then he saw
that his young son had gotten away from [the place] where he was
kept and had come to the battle. Now, when Khach'ik saw this, he
became very disturbed, for Ishkhan was only a boy and also very
handsome. Ishkhan rushed forth like a lion cub and vehemently
joined the combat. Catching up with him, Khach'ik took hold of him
and sent him home. However, escaping, the son joined the battle
once again and did so bravely, though quite foolishly. When the
enemy learned that he was the son of the brave man Khach'ik,
surrounding the boy, they seized and killed him. Seeing this,
Khach'ik lost his strength and the sword fell from his hands. When
the infidel forces saw this, they roshed upon Khach'ik and seized and

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

killed him. Then the remnants of the Armenian troops turned in


flight towards their homes.
After a few days the sons of Khach'ik returned from the West.
They had learned of the death of their father and young brother, and
they came dressed in black and wept profusely. Th~n Has~n
summoned a Kurdish chief who inhabited a region bordermg on hIS.
Giving him a thousand dahekans, he said to him: "Go to Her and
Salmast and say that the district ofT'onrawan and the whole COUI~try
round about is devoid of inhabitants. Tell them not to stand by Idly
while flocks of sheep with their shepherds aimlessly roam about."
The Kurdish chief went and did what Hasan had asked. So the
infidels gathered together, as many as fifteen thousand men, and
came and entered that district. The Kurdish chief then came and
related this to Hasan and Chnchghuk. Hasan in turn gathered his
troops and five thousand men and, raging like a wounded beast,
rapidly came against the army of the infidels. With an anguished cry
Hasan called out to the front line of the infidels and said: "Let the
man who killed my father Khach'ik come forth." A certain robust
Negro came forth and, crying out, said: "I am the one who killed the
lion-hearted Khach'ik and here I have his war horse and garment and
his standard and sword." Seeing all this, Khach'ik's son Hasan wept
and, unsheathing his sword, rapidly came into the midst of the
infidels like a lion. Striking the Negro, he cut him in two and felled
him to the ground; then, taking the horse and standard, Hasan
returned unharmed. Chnchghuk, the brother of Hasan, calling out
in the same manner, said: "Who is the one who killed by brother
Ishkhan? Let him come out in the open so that I might see him." A
b7ave Persian came forth and, crying out, said: "I am the one who
killed Is~an,. an~ here ~e his white horse, bright-colored standard,
~d sword. L~e hghtemng Chnchghuk came against him and killed
him; then, takmg the horse and standard he returned to the side of
Hasa~. After this Hasan cried out to his 'troops and bravely rushed
forth mto battle. The Annenian troops turned the enemy in flight
B?d slB~ghtered fo~. thousand of their men. Mter this the Armeru~, With ~uch reJOicing, turned back and at the same time took off
their mourmng garments.

10~j ~ the beginni1ng of the year 492 of the Armenian era [1043-

onoma~hus, also called Constantine, reigned over the


ans. In thiS year the Romans were forced to endure a severe
war, for the general Maniaces, who formerly had captured the city of

Rom

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Edessa, collected troops against Monomachus. He put a crown on his


head, gathered under him all the western regions of the empire, and
obtained support for himself among the inhabitants of all the Roman
lands. Out of dread and fear of him the entire West gathered under
his banner, for he was strong and brave in battle. Then the emperor
Monomachus collected troops, aU the Greeks and others from the
forces of Annenia and, rising up, went to the lands of the West
against Maniaces, who through his prowess sought after the imperial
throne. Because of Maniaces, great fear fell upon the Roman forces.
However, before the two side met in battle, the anger of God fell upon
the forces of the western regions, and the ever-victorious Maniaces
died unexpectedly;2 [only then] was this danger removed from the
empire's midst and peace reestablished. All the rebels fled, while
some were subdued, and the emperor returned to Constantinople. 3
84. In this period the wicked Sargis began to hatch his malicious
plots. Suggesting the following to Monomachus, he said: "Summon
Gagikl before you in Constantinople on the pretext of friendship and
then through trickery take the city of Ani from him." When the
emperor Monomachus heard this, he became very happy, and the
seed of malice aimed at the destruction of the Armenian kingdom
began to grow in his heart. He wrote a letter to Gagik, the Annenian
king, including with it a very solemn oath; he was so outrageous that
[with this letter] he sent to the Armenians the Christian Gospels and
a relic of the holy cross of Christ, as a proof and a guarantee [of his
sincerity]. In this manner he summoned the Armenian king on the
pretext of friendship and of meeting with him.
When Gagik heard this, he refused to agree to this duplicity, for he
well knew the perfidiousness of the Romans. However, the perfidious
Sargis and the other noblemen who had advised Monomachus came
to Gagik and encouraged him to go, saying: "0 king, why are you
afraid to go after such an oath, confirmed by the dispatch of the
Gospels and the holy relic of Christ, has been given. Have no fear
concerning us, for we will die for you." They made his lordship Peter
guarantor [of their sincerity] and on that day took a very solemn
oath. The holy sacrament of the body and blood of the Son of God
was brought forth and a pen was dipped in the vivifying blood; then
the patriarch and all the Armenian princes signed the written oath
[with this pen]. Only then did the Armenian king Gagik go to
Constantinople to the emperor Monomachus. Very excited, the whole
city came to meet the Armenian king with great pomp. He was taken

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

to the emperor as was fitting for a king, and Monomachus honored


him for several days. Then the apostate and perfidious men, who
before had taken the solemn oath with the blood of God as a
guarantee, sent the forty keys of the city of Ani to the emperor
Monomachus and with these a letter stating that the city of Ani and
the entire East2 was his. The emperor summoned Gagik. and, placing
the keys of the city3 and the letter before him, said to the Annenian
king that Ani and the entire East had been delivered into his hands.
Gagik, recognizing the perfidious deed of these men, wept profoundly
and said: "Christ will judge between me and those who were
deceitful to me." Then King Gagik said to Monomachus: "I alone am
lord and king of Armenia; therefore, I will not deliver Armenia into
your hands, for you have deceitfully brought me to Constantinople."
For thirty days Gagik persistently refused to yield, but when he could
not find a way out, only then did he deliver Ani into the hands of the
Romans. MonomachuB in return gave the Armenian king KalanPeghat and Pizu;4 moreover, he did not allow Gagik to return to the
city of Ani, but had his ancestral lands placed under the control of
the Romans.
Thus Gagik became an alien among the cruel and malicious nation
of the Greeks. Nevertheless, wherever the Armenian king went, he
caused the nation of the Greeks much distress through his various
deeds which brought disgrace upon them; for, because he was a king,
he was feared by the Romans. Yet Gagik always nurtured profound
grief in his heart for [having lost] his ancestral throne, which the
apostate and perfidious nation of heretics had treacherously seized. 5
85. Now at the beginning of the year 493 of the Armenian era
[1044-1045] the emperor Monomachus collected troops from the whole
country of the Greeks and sent them as a formidable army to the
East in order to take control of the city of Ani. He appointed the
paracoemomenus,lwho was a eunuch, as commander. At the head of
many troops, this man came and reached the gates of Ani. The
emperor was intent in establishing this eunuch as governor of
Armenia in place of the brave Gagik, whom he no longer allowed in
the East. However, the Annenians who were in Ani refused to give
up the city, but vehemently clamored for their king and blasphemously insulted the Romans. Then all of Ani in toto rose up in battle
close by the gates of the city. The Armenians turned the Roman
forces in flight and pursued them, slaughtering them [as they went];
moreover, they completely annihilated the Roman camp. Then the

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Armenian forces very victoriously returned to the city of Ani. On the


other hand, the Roman troops, humiliated, went back to their own
country, while the paracoemonenus wintered in Aght'ik'.2 When the
Armenian forces learned that King Gagik would no longer be coming
to the East and recognized the perfidiousness of the Armenian lords,
all of Armenia wept to the last man. All the inhabitants of the city
of Ani assembled where the tombs of all the former Armenian kings
were located and wept over the abandoned Armenian nation [now
bereft of a ruler]. They wept for their royal throne and, deeply
lamenting, wept for their king Gagik. Moreover, they wept for the
Bagratid dynasty and invoked grievous curses against those who had
betrayed Gagik. However, when the inhabitants of the city and all
the Armenian forces realized that they were powerless, they submitted; then, writing to the Roman commander, the paracoemomenus,
they took an oath to submit to him and summoned him to the city of
Ani. So Ani was delivered into the hands of the Romans, and the
power of the Bagratid dynasty, being dislodged [in this manner],
collapsed.
86. In the year 494 of the Armenian era [1045-1046] the violent
wrath of God fell upon all creatures. For the Lord God looked upon
his creatures with anger, and a fearful and horrible earthquake took
place. The whole universe trembled in toto according to the words of
the prophet, who said: "Who looks at the earth and causes it to
tremble?" 1 At this time all of creation shook in this same manner.
In the district of Ekegheats'2 many churches were shaken and
collapsed to their very foundations. The town called Erznkas was
completely demolished. The earth was torn open, and men and
women sank. into deep abysses; and for many days the sounds of their
screams issued forth from these places. It was summertime, and day
after day during that period the earth'shook. We are incapable of
describing the wrath and turmoil which God brought upon all of us
living creatures because of our sins. During this same summer there
was darkness and gloom upon the earth to such an extent that the
sun and moon took on the appearance of blood, although, when the
vault of the sky appeared, it was clear.5
87. In this same year during the days of autumn the Roman forces
moved forth and went against the city of Dvin. As they engaged in
combat, the wrath of God fell upon the Roman troops, and they were
defeated by the infidels and turned back in flight. Much slaughter

74

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

of Christians took place, and many of the Roman troops fell by the
sword or were taken captive. Among those Christians who were
killed in this great battle at the city of Dvin was the illustrious
Armenian commander-in-chief Vahram, together with his son
Gregory.
88. In this same year a great calamity, having its origin in Persia,
befell the Christians. There arose and came forth three men from the
court of the sultan Tughrul1 -Poghi, Puki, Anazughli2 -and with
many forces reached the country of the Muslims. s Taking countless
prisoners, they came and encamped on the banks of the Arean River"
in the territory of Mosul. Then the commander of Mosul, called
Kuraysh, [who also happened to be] the lord of that city, collected
troops and came against them with his Arab forces; a violent battle
was fought on both sides. However, the Turks defeated the Arab
forces and put them in flight, taking their women and children into
captivity. At that point the Muslim emir Kuraysh hoisted a black
standard and with a shrill cry entered into the ranks of the Arabs,
collecting a great number of troops and once again coming against the
Turks. He defeated them in a severe battle, and took back those of
his people taken captive [by the enemy] and also their belongings.
The Turks fled to Paghin and caused much slaughter in many places;
in the region of T'lkhum a heavy massacre of Christians took place.
Taking very numerous captives, the Turkish forces turned in the
direction of Persia and soon reached the Annenian town of Archesh.
A Roman commander, who was the catepan5 Stephen, resided there.
The Persian emirs sent much booty to the Roman commander so that
he might allow them to pass through, for they were going back to
their own country. However, he became arrogant and went forth in
battle against the Turks. Then the Turks defeated the Roman troops,
slaughtering them severely and, taking the catepan Stephen prisoner,
brought him to the town of Her. After many tortures Stephen died
at the hands of the infidels. They then flayed the skin of his body
and, filling it with grass, hung it from the ramparts. When his
people heard of this, they came and bought the body and skin for ten
thousand dahekans. 6
89. In the year 495 of the Armenian era [1046-1047] the Roman
emperor Monomachus collected troops and appointed an illustrious
Roman nobleman, who was called a telarches 1 and was a eunuch, as
commander of these forces. The telarches came against the city of

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Dvin with a formidable army and innumerable troops and encamped


before its gates. It was the winter season, and because of the severity
of the cold and the whipping force of the copious rains, he was unable
to do anything; so, withdrawing undefeated, he marched and went
back to the country of the Romans.
90. When the year 496 of the Armenian era [1047-1048] began,
once again the telarches came and descended upon the city of Dvin
with many troops. He caused much suffering and anguish in that
area and, despoiling all the Muslims with the sword and enslavement, peacefully returned to the country of the Greeks. 1
91. In this same year of the Annenian era a certain patricius1
named Tornices,2 who was from the city of Adrianople,3 a brave and
mighty man and also a warrior, rebelled against Monomachus. He
collected troops from all the western regions and from the country of
the Goths. With a fonnidable army he came against Constantinople
and plunged the city into great anguish and distress. The emperor
did not dare go forth in battle, and the inhabitants of the city became
so exhausted by the rigors of the siege that they blocked up one of the
gates of the city with stone materials. Tornices made such a frightful
assault that he completely demolished the Church of the Holy
Anargyri, which is situated outside this city; also he threw into the
Mediterranean all the riches" of the great Church of the Holy
Martyrs. The emperor Monomachus and the whole aristocracy of the
city of Constantinople, being in dread and fear, could not find a way
out of the situation, nor were they able to stand up to the bravery of
'lbrnices. So the patriarch, all the aristocracy, and the emperor
conceived of a perfidious plan to defeat Tornices. They signed a
horrible and false oath, and deceitfully swore to Tornices that they
would make him caesar and that after the death of Monomachus he
would become emperor. They wrote in the following manner and
sanctioned their perfidiousness by an oath, saying: "We have found
in the books that after the death of Monomachus you will occupy the
imperial throne. II The patriarch, priests, and aristocracy went to
Tornices and in his presence reiterated the oath. Then an alliance
was made and peace reestablished, and being reconciled in this
manner, they brought him to Constantinople. However, after a few
days they denied their oath and disavowed God as their witness; for
it is customary for the Roman nation to do away with all the
[dangerous] nobles of the empire through feigning an oath. After this

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

they blinded the valiant man Tornices.

92 In the year 498 of the Armenian era [1049-1050], during the


rei~ of the emperor Monomachus, who perfidiously and. by a false
oath took away the Armenian kingdom from the BagratId dynasty,
and in the pontificate of his lordship Peter, the Armenian cathol.icos,
a calamity-a sign of the wrath of God-came forth from PersIa at
the behest of the sultan Tughrul. Two generals, who were called
Ibnihim and Kutulmish, went forth from his court with many troops
and at the head of a fonnidable army came against Armenia, because
they knew that, being in the hands of the Romans, the entire country
was abandoned and unprotected. For the Romans had detached and
removed the brave and mighty men from the East and in their place
had attempted to maintain eunuch generals, both in Armenia and the
East. In this year the forces of the infidels reached the renowned and
populous Armenian town called Artsn, and found the town unfortified
and filled with a countless multitude of men and women and also an
innumerable quantity of gold and silver. When the townspeople saw
the infidel forces, they went forth in battle together, and a violent
and horrible combat was fought around the confines of the town. The
two armies hacked away at each other for the greater part of the
day,! and the fields became filled with blood, for there was neither a
place to flee nor aid [from anywhere]; thus the Armenians could only
entertain the hope of death. Because of the great number of the
infidels, the troops of the town became wearied and turned in flight.
The infidels in turn fell upon the town with the sword; then they put
the whole town to the sword, causing severe slaughter, as many as
one hundred and fIfty thousand persons. It is of no avail to say much
about the gold, silver, and silken brocades [which the enemy
plundered], for the quantity of these cannot be put in writing.
However, we have often heard the following related by many in
reference to the chorepiscopus 2 Dawt'uk:8 when Ibrahim seized his
treasury, forty camels departed from his treasury house and eight
hundred oxen [Yoked together] in sixes went forth from his household.
At that time there were [in Artsn] eight hundred churches where
divine liturgy was celebrated. By such a harsh end and cruel
annihilation the magnificent and well-favored town of Artsn was put
to the sword.
How will I, while weeping, at the Bame time be able to relate the
death of the nobles and priests, who remaining unburied, became food
for the beasts; or the illustrious ladies, who with their sons were led

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into slavery to Persia [to remain there] in perpetual servitude! This


was the beginning of the misfortune of the Armenians. Listen and
pay attention to this account of the end and decay of the East-by
slow degrees, year by year; for this Artsn was the fIrst town which
was captured from the Armenians and put to the sword and enslaved.4 When the emperor Monomachus heard this disastrous news,
he sent troops to the East and appointed Cecaumenus6 Gregory, son
of Vasak, and Liparit, brother of the brave man ~at, as commanders
of his troops. They arrived in Armenia with many troops in order to
do battle with the Persian forces.
93. In this same year the Greek emperor Monomachus wrote a
letter to his lordship Peter, the Armenian patriarch, to come to him
in Constantinople. His lordship Peter was willing to come on his own
volition. However, he thought to himself and said: "Perhaps the
Romans will never again allow me to go back to the East." So he
named his lordship the most praiseworthy Khach'ik1 as his successor
to the patriarchal see. In the same way he made provision for the
miwron, the blessed oil used for consecration in the Armenian rite;
he stored the miwron in the Akhurian River in iron urns weighing as
much as four hundred litras,2 since perhaps otherwise it might fall
into the hands of the Romans. This miwron remains stored in this
manner up to the present time. All of this was done during the
night, near the gates of the city of Ani. Then Peter departed,
accompanied by the noblemen attached to his household-three
hundred illustrious men equipped with arms, one hundred vardapets,
bishops, musicians, monks, and priests-all riding splendid mules,
and [finally] two hundred domestics on foot. In the retinue of his
lordship Peter were found the following [eminent personages]: the
first and most distinguished of all, the vardapet Bulghar; the most
praiseworthy Khach'atur, the chancellor; Thaddeus, who as a writer
was a man without compare; George K'arneghets'i; John K'arneghets'i; Matthew Haghbatats'i; Mkhit'ar Bnayrets'i; Tiranun
Kapanets'i, the philosopher; Mkhit'arik; Vardan Sanahets'i; Barsegh
Bashkhatats'i; his very venerable and eminent lordship Eghishe;
Barsegh, his brother; George, surnamed Julahak'dzag; his lordship
Ep'rem; his lordship Anane; and finally his lordship Khach'ik. Now
all these men were doctors and philosophers and were erudite in the
Old and New Testaments of God. His most praiseworthy lordship
Peter, accompanied by these men on his journey, arrived in Constantinople. When they heard of his arrival, the whole city was stiITed

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

up and came to meet his lordship Peter. Then, accompanied by very


important personages, he was conducted to Saint Sophia with great
pomp and there was met by the emperor and patriarch, 3 after which
he was taken to a magnificent palace. The emperor ordered an
amount of money be given to his lordship Peter [in order to provide
for his expenses]; so on the first day he was given a kentenarion. 4 On
the second day his lordship Peter went to the imperial palace to visit
Monomachus. When the emperor heard of his coming, he went forth
to meet him and ordered his lordship Peter seated on a golden throne
of which, at the time of the patriarch's departure, his lordship
Eghishe himself had taken possession. Indeed the servants of the
emperor were trying to take it from him, but he refused to give it up.
When Monomachus saw this, he asked why he refused to give it up.
Then Eghishe answered and said: "0 emperor, this is a patriarchal
throne and no one is worthy to sit upon it except his lordship Peter."
When the emperor heard this, he regarded these words which his
lordship Eghishe had spoken reasonable; then the emperor said:
"Leave to him this apostolic throne." Then after this Monomachus
said to his lordship Eghishe: "This throne is worth one thousand
dahekans, keep it for your lord [the catholicosJ so that no one else
may sit upon it." With such honorable treatment as this his lordship
Peter remained in Constantinople among the Romans for four years;
from day to day more and more praise and honor were accorded to
him while he was in the midst of the Greeks. Whenever he went to
the palace of the emperor, his crosier was carried before him; moreover, when the emperor saw him, he would prostrate himself before
the catholicos and would command his nobles to go forth to present
themselves to his lordship Peter. After four years Monomachus and
the patriarch gave many gifts, consisting of treasures of gold and
brocade, to his lordship Peter. The emperor also gave insignias and
high positions to the noblemen of Peter's household and elevated his
sister's son, his lordship Anane, to the rank of syncellus. 6 The
Armenian patriarch was given all sorts of precious garments and
then was sent away in peace and with very great largess. However,
he was not able to go to the city of Ani, but went and lived in the city
of Sebastia, near the son of Senek'erim, in great splendor.
94. Now, when the Greek forces came to the East, Cecaumenus, l
Aaron,2 and Gregory,3 the son of Vasak, summoned to their side the
Georgian prince Liparit and they arrived at the fortress called
Kaputru, in the district of Arjovit. 4 When the Turkish forces heard

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this, they withdrew, while the Roman troops encamped in Arjovit.


Then the infidel forces came against the brave man Liparit. He had
appointed his sister's son Ch'ortuanel, a mighty man and a warrior,
to be commander of the night guard. The infidel troops began to
battle in the night, and the sound of the combat reached Liparit, his
men crying out: "Come to us, for the infidel forces have surrounded
us." Then Liparit said: lilt is Saturday and it is not lawful for us
Georgians to go forth in battle on this day." At that moment
Ch'ortuanel, like a lion, was striking against the front line of the
infidels in the night. While he led his men on, an arrow hit his
mouth and went out through the back of his neck; so in this way
Ch'ortuanel, a brave and mighty man, died. When Liparit heard of
the death of Ch'ortuanel, becoming ferocious like a beast, he went
forth in battle and drove all the infidels from the plain, changing it
into a great bloody marsh. 5 When the Roman forces saw the bravery
of Liparit, betraying him, they abandoned the Georgian in the midst
of the infidels and fled, so that he would not gain the reputation of
being valiant. When the infidel forces saw that, they turned back,
united in battle against the Georgian troops. As the battle grew
intense, Liparit shouted like a lion into the midst of the infidels, and
at that moment one of the Georgian troops standing behind him
struck and cut the two tendons of his horse with a sword. 8 When
Liparit learned of this, he turned back very quickly and struck and
killed him. Then, dismounting, Liparit sat on the banks of the river
upon his shield and cried out, saying: "I am Liparit." Then the
Turks slaughtered many of the Georgian troops and put the rest to
flight. They took Liparit captive and brought him to Khurasan7 to
the sultan 'fughrul, for he had previously heard his name and knew
of all his brave deeds. He remained with the sultan for two years
and performed many valiant deeds in various places. Now there was
an Ethiopian, a mighty and courageous man, and both he and Liparit
were brought before the sultan to fight a combat. Liparit defeated
and killed the infidel Ethiopian. Then the sultan freed him and with
many gifts sent him to the Romans. 8 So Liparit came to Constantinople. When the emperor Monomachus saw him, he was exceedingly
happy and sent him home to his wife and children with splendid
gifts. This same Liparit was the brother of liat and Zoyat, a
Georgian by nationality, and descended from a mighty family.9
95. In the year 499 of the Armenian era [1050-1051] the country
of the Greeks was shaken by violent disorders and many provinces

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

were devastated by the sword. Many horrible events and fearful


things took place because of the rapacious and wickedly abominable
nation of the Pechenegs, l those perverse and bloodthirsty beasts. Fo;
the nation of Serpents2 went forth and pushed against the Magyars,
4
and the Magyars in turn pushed against the Uzes and the Pechenegs; then the latter two were provoked against the empire of the
Romans and brought much affliction upon Constantinople. Even
illustrious aristocrats were led into captivity. I am unable to relate
the sorrowful calamities which the Roman Empire endured in that
year, for the Pechenegs savagely and mercilessly enslaved the nation
of the Greeks. The emperor, being afraid, did not go forth in battle,
for the enemy forces were innumerable and countless. Mter
remaining for a number of days, the Pechenegs went back to their
own country, and finally peace was reestablished in the Roman
empire.
96. When the year 500 of the Armenian era [1051-1052] ended,
venomous slanders were brought before the emperor Monomachus.
There were perfidious persons who spread slanderous rumors about
the illustrious Armenian princes who resided in the area around
Paghin, saying that they were disobedient to the emperor's commands
and were intent on rebelling against him. So Monomachus sent to
Paghin a general with troops, who unjustly poured his poisonous
malice upon the innocent. This general fiercely began to ravage the
whole region and deprive all the princes of their privileges, for he was
an abominable and malicious man and Satan's commander; the name
of this man was Peros. He was intent on taking prisoner the
illustrious princes, who were the sons of Abel: Harpik (a brave and
mighty man), David, Leon, and Constantine-all four being brothers;
also he was intent on doing the same to other princes. So the princes
secretly conferred together and decided that each would remain
ensconced in his fortress until the emperor could be informed of the
devastation of the region by this wicked Peros. Together they made
an agreement that on that Saturday each would occupy and hold his
fortress. However, one of the conferees named T'orosak the lord of
l
T'lpagh, disavowed the agreement and informed the wicked Peros
that all the princes had agreed among themselves not to heed his
summons [to submitJ. The sons of Abel did not know of this and, as
they had agreed formerly, on Saturday they occupied the great
fortress called Arkni, which is near the district of T'lkhum' in the
meantime all the other conferees heeded Peros's summons.' When

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Peros heard what the sons of Abel had done, he collected many troops
against the fortress of Arkni. However, when the general saw the
ruggedness of this fortress, he was greatly amazed and was unable
to assault it, for it was high and seemed impregnable to an enemy
[attack]; thus it was inaccessible to him. Then Peros conceived of a
malicious plan and said: "If anyone will bring the head of Harpik to
me, he will receive a great amount of gold and silver and also power
and high rank from the emperor." When Harpik's comrades and old
friends, who were with him in the fortress, heard this, they conceived
of a wicked idea similar to that of the fratricides Judas and Cain.
Not far from the fortress and right opposite it was a spot, and Harpik
had taken some men and gone forth to guard this place. For three
days he dared not sleep at all, and then these perfidious men said to
him: "My lord, why don't you sleep, for 10, we this day are ready to
die for your person." Believing them, he slept, for he was very
fatigued; now, when he was in a deep sleep, one of his relatives came
up and cut off the head of the mighty and valiant man Harpik, and
in the same night his head was delivered to the catepan Peros.
Nevertheless, the murderers gained nothing [from this betrayal]
except imprecations. Then Peros ordered Harpik's head put on a pole
and brought before the gates of the fortress. His brothers, seeing him
at daybreak, recognized him and immediately opened the gates.
Throwing ashes on their heads and weeping, the three brothers came
forth and fell down before the severed head of Harpik. They
lamented to such an extent that even all the troops in the camp
bemoaned and wept. In this manner Peros took possession of the
impregnable fortress of Arkni and took the brothers of Harpik- the
sons of Abel-to the emperor Monomachus in Constantinople. When
the emperor and all the Greeks saw the brothers, they were amazed
by their formidable appearance; for they were redoubtable in
appearance and even at the shoulders surpassed the Greeks in
stature. Because of their magnificent demeanor, the emperor did not
punish them, but commanded that they be transferred to a~ island.
Such was the fate of David, Leon, and Constantine, vahant and
mighty men and illustrious Armenian princes.

Part II
1. Now up to this point, by laborious investigation, we have
discovered and written down the materials of the past hundred years,
arranged in chronological order; having examined these materials for
a very long time, we have grasped their significance. We have used
materials from very many observers and hearers who were born in
times long past, from those who read the historians of these times
and were eyewitnesses of all these happenings and afflictions which
the Armenians endured because of their sins.1 Lo, many times I have
thought about writing down the violent events of these past times,
namely the horrible punishment which the Annenian nation endured
at the hands of the long-haired and abominable Eghimnats'~',2 the
nation of the Turks, and their brothers, the Romans. Because of all
this, it became necessary for me to investigate this matter [of the
destruction of the Armenian kingdom], always thinking about my
plan in terms of a great work. So I collected documents 3 and,
collating them, wrote down a narration of events up to the point we
have reached here, events concerning the three nations, 4 the patriarchs, and various other nations and kings; all these events which I
narrated before and which I have yet to narrate mark the beginning
of the destruction which took place in the days of our fathers, who
themselves witnessed these very same events many times with their
own eyes. These events were my very special preoccupation, and for
eight years I applied myself to incessant investigation, hoping to
bring all this to light and record it so that its memory would not be
lost to the inexorable harshness of time and thus be forgotten. It is
because of all this that I, Matthew of Edessa, a monk, spared no
efforts and left this work as a record for those who enjoy studying
chronicles so that, when they begin to inquire into past events, they

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may be able more easily to learn about the times and the epochs.
These persons shall also learn about the terrible misfortunes which
occurred in those times and, once again bringing these things to
mind, shall remember the divine wrath which we received from God,
the righteous judge, as a penalty for our sins. Because of these many
calamities-namely the destruction of the Christians and the reprimands which our Lord God brought upon us by means of an infidel
nation-we did not wish that such threats and warnings of God be
forgotten by us. Now it is essential to heed the admonitions of our
God ceaselessly and at all times. Once again we find ourselves
inflicted with the same chastisement for our sins, a chastisement
which we received for that which we justly deserve. Now I, Matthew
of Edessa, the superior of a monastery, have eighty years more [of
history] to relate to you by dint of my labors.
2. In the year 502 of the Armenian era [1053-1054] a fearful and
horrible omen appeared and a very calamitous event took place in the
city of Antioch. This phenomenon, which seemed awe-inspiring and
marvelous to those observing it, appeared inside the sun. The
phenomenon became an awful sign and a cause of perturbation for all
the Christian faithful, to whom God by violent threats now manifested his fearful judgement. The cause of this calamity was the
following. In the city of Antioch there were many Syrians who had
gold and silver, and possessed wealth and all types of affiuence.
When their children went to the church of their faith, l five hundred
boys seated on mules went forth. [Because of all this] the Romans
were very envious and harbored a deep hatred against them. Now
one of the important personages of the Syrian nation possessed many
slaves, and this became the pretext for bringing him to trial before
the Roman patriarch. 2 [Threatening him] with an [unfavorable]
verdict, the Romans converted him to their faith and by his own
volition rebaptized him. Thus this important personage, who had
forsaken his faith, now became an enemy to the great Syrian nation.
Also at that time the Syrians were subjected to many difficulties
because they were beginning to get into controversies with the
Romans concerning their faith every day. 3 The Romans became so
insolent that they were not even conscious of their actions for the
.
'
patnarch went so far as to order the [Syriac] Christian Gospels
burned. When they placed the Gospels of God in the fire, a voice
came forth from the Gospels and they escaped the flames of the fire.
They put the Gospels in the fire a second time, and once again [the

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Gospels] escaped the flames of the fire. Indeed, becoming enraged,


they insolently dropped the Holy Gospels into the fire for the third
time, and once again [the Gospels] came out unharmed. When they
repeated this act for the fourth time, then the Holy Gospels ignited
in the midst of the fire; in this way the Holy Gospels of Christ, our
God, were burned by the Romans in the city of Antioch. Now, when
the Roman patriarch and all his people returned to the church from
the spot where the burning had taken place, they were filled with
great exultation, as if they had been victorious over a wicked enemy.
When they entered the Church of Saint Peter, the whole place
resounded with a crashing noise, and a violent tremor shook the
entire city of Antioch. On another day fire fell upon the Church of
Saint Peter from heaven, and like a lamp the entire church flared up
from its foundations. The stone burned like a woodpile, and the
rising flames reached up to the sky. The ground of the sanctuary was
torn open, and the sacramental table sunk into the hole made there;
the bright gem which the emperor Constantine' had placed in Saint
Peter, along with two hundred thousand pieces of gold which had
always remained upon the holy altar to serve as a light during the
night, was swallowed up by the earth and never found again. Four
other [Roman] churches were burned by this fire from heaven along
with Saint Peter, but no church of the Armenians or Syrians was
harmed.
When this happened, the inhabitants of the whole city of Antioch
were horror-struck and stood in fear and trembling. Then everyone
began to pray, all the inhabitants of the city weeping and with heavy
groans beseeching God. The Roman patriarch went forth, accompanied by priests, deacons, other clerics, and a great crowd of men and
women, including old people and children; they processed through the
city, dressed in ecclesiastical garb and carrying magnificent religious
objects. When they reached the parade grounds of the Romans at the
place where a small bridge was built over a mountain torrent, the
whole ground suddenly reverberated, and there occurred an earthquake in the middle of the day at the sixth hour. At that moment the
earth was torn apart and, opening wide, swallowed up the entire
crowd of clergy and people into its depths, more than ten thousand
persons. For fifteen days the sounds of their cries came forth from
the depths of the abysses. Finally they suffocated, for the earth
closed over them, and to this day they remain buried there. Thus,
because of their many sins, the inhabitants of the city of Antioch
suffered these calamities at the hands of God, the righteous judge.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

It is not even worth remembering the wicked deeds which the


ecclesiastics and the Greek faithful of all ranks committed in the city
of Antioch. The smoke of their wicked deeds rose higher than that of
Sodom and Gomorrah,6 and thus their fate proved that they indeed
deserved the punishment they received. For in Sodom and Gomorrah
the fire came down in order to kill the evildoers, while in the sinful
city of Antioch the same evildoers were exterminated and killed by
fire and abysses opening up; yet the inhabitants of this city still
persisted in their impious beliefs. Professing piety, they nevertheless
perfonned the deeds of unfaithful and wicked men, for they took
delight in impure acts which are odious to hear and very disgusting
to relate. What shall I say of these evildoers when the Savior
considered it a grave sin for us to even look at a woman? Moreover,
what shall I say of the rampant sodomy, a sin for which the Lord
himself made the city of Antioch pay the penalty?6
3. In the year 503 of the Armenian era [1054-1055] a venomous
and deadly windstorm came upon Armenia, for the Persian sultan
Tughrul\ descending from his throne, came with a formidable army
as numerous as the sands of the sea. Moving forth with innumerable
forces, he reached Armenia and, descending upon the town called
Berkri, captured it by assault, devastating it with a frightful
massacre. Rising up like a flaming black cloud, he came forth and
advanced, carrying before him a deadly hailstorm. Surrounding the
town called Archesh, he subjected it to a violent assault for eight
days. Because of the enormous number of troops, the inhabitants of
the town wearied of the harsh siege and thereafter with loud
supplications came in submission, bringing as a token of their
obedience many gifts of gold and silver and also of horses and mules.
With solemn entreaties they began the process of concluding peace
and said: "0 conquering sultan, go and take the town of Mantskert,
and then we and all Armenia will submit to you."
When the sultan Tughrul heard this, all these words pleased him
a great deal. Going forth with an enormous number of troops, he
reached the town of Mantskert and was like a serpent filled with
every wickedness [conceivable]. He encamped before the walls and
encircled the town and, stopping at a place called K'arglukh,210dged
there [temporarily]. At the break of dawn he ordered the battle
tru:n~et sou~ded. La, one could witness the frightful day and bitter
affhctIOn which came upon the Christians when he invested the town
of Mantskert. For, when the sounds and noises of the combatants'

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trumpets gave forth, the sounds of the combatant troops caused the
ramparts to shake through and through. What shall I now say
concerning this town full of Christians who courageously fought as
combatants, the whole population of the town fighting together, and
who resisted the unceasing assaults [of the enemy]? The commander
of the town was the Roman general Basil, the son of Abukab,3 a kind
and pious man. He strengthened the entire town [by recruiting]
courageous men and women, and in the name of the emperor
promised all of them honors and high positions; thus day and night
he never ceased encouraging and exhorting the whole town.
Nevertheless, the infidel forces did not cease their assaults for
many days and began to dig under the ramparts so that they might
thus capture the town. When the troops of the town heard this, they
dug in their direction and captured all the sappers and even the
sultan's father-in-law, whose name was Osketsam;4 they then took
them on the ramparts and killed them. When the sultan saw this, he
was deeply offended and so sent to Baghesh and had brought to him
the catapult which the emperor Basil had constructed for [the walls
of] Her, a terrible and awe-inspiring machine weighing fifteen adil.5
When this frightful catapult was set up, all the inhabitants of the
town trembled, and the first ones struck by it were three sentinels
and a sentry of the advanced guard who was thrown into the town.
Then a priest appeared in the town and hastily set up a catapult to
oppose the one the infidels had and with the first rock struck the
enemy machine and smashed its tie beams.
Thus the town was given new strength and courage, for the
inhabitants had been beset by fear. After a few days the infidels
reinforced the catapult and made it inaccessible on all sides and
began to hit the ramparts with very large rocks. All the inhabitants
of the town were terrified and trembled in fear. Then Basil cried out
to them and said: ItWhoever is able to go forth and burn down that
catapult will receive much largess of gold and silver and many horses
and mules from me and honors and a high rank from the emperor.
If he is killed by the infidels and has a relative or son, all that will
go to him. It Then a FrankS came forth and said: "I will go forth and
burn down that catapult, and today my blood shall be shed for all the
Christians, for I have neither wife nor children to weep over me. He
asked for a strong and fearless horse and put on his coat of mail and
placed his helmet on his head. Taking a letter, he attached it to the
end of his spear and, putting three bottles of naphtha in his bosom,
went forth as if he were a courier. With the prayers of all the
1t

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MATTHEW OF EnESSA

Christians and the assistance of God he went in the direction of the


infidel forces. When the infidel troops saw the letter on the end of
his spear, they took him for a courier and said nothing. I.t w~s
midday and, since it was extremely hot, everyone was sleepmg ~n
their tent. Coming up to the catapult, the Frank. stopped before It.
The infidels thought that he was admiring the hugeness of the
machine; however, at that moment he took hold of one of the bottles
[of naphtha] and threw it against the catapult. Then, [quick] as an
eagle, he circled around the catapult and threw another bottle
against it. He came around once again and hit the machine with the
third bottle. The catapult burst into flames, and the Frank fled.
When all the troops in the infidel camp saw what he had done, they
pursued him, but the Frank reached the town unharmed.
The catapult was burned to the ground; all the Christian faithful
were extremely happy, and the Frank was honored with largess by
all the townspeople. When the emperor Monomachus heard of this,
he sent for him and elevated him to a high rank. Even the sultan
marvelled greatly at what the Frank had done and asked to see this
person who had accomplished such a courageous feat, so that he
might give him gifts; however, the Frank refused to go. Then the
sultan became very angry and once again ordered the digging to
commence, so that the walls might be torn down. The townspeople,
in turn, took courage against him, paying no heed to his [war]
machines. Making hooks of iron, they pulled out the sappers and
with these killed them. When the sultan saw this, he stopped the
[digging] and became very chagrined. Then the townspeople took a
pig and, placing it in the catapult, hurled it into the sultan's camp.
Then all the inhabitants of the town called out and said: "0 sultan,
take that pig for your wife, and we will give you Mantskert as a
dowry." When the sultan heard this, he became filled with anger and
had thos~ ;-rho had brought him to Mantskert decapitated. Then,
very humIhated, the sultan returned to the country of the Persians,
and thus through the mercy of God the town of Mantskert was
delivered out of the hands of the abominable nation of the Turks.7
4. In the year 504 of the Armenian era [1055-1056] the Roman
emperor M~nomachus died.! He had occupied the throne of the
Rom~n empIre for forty years. His sister-in-law Theodora who had
the btle of ~lector, reigned in his place. She was the sister of Zoe2
and was, samtly, chaste, and very virtuous. She commanded that all
her subJects be dealt with benevolently, especially widows and

PART

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89

captives. She ordered all those injured to be recompensed and their


rights returned and commanded all those imprisoned to be freed. She
freed from prison the Armenian princes who were the sons of Abel
and the brothers of Harpik. She removed them from the island [on
which they were imprisoned] and, honoring them highly, allowed
them to go back to their ancestral country to the fortress of Arkni,
admonishing them to never again work against the empire. In this
same year the catepan Peros was replaced and Melissenus was
appointed in his stead. He [the latter] was a benevolent and
reputable man, merciful to widows and captives, one who brought
prosperity to the land, and a person endowed with all kinds of noble
qualities. Now Theodora occupied the imperial throne for two years
and three months and then was taken up to Christ, after having
sincerely confessed her sins. Mter this Michael the Elder3occupied
the imperial throne for seven months.
6. In this period a certain Roman magnate, whose name was
Comnenus,l appeared upon the scene. Going forth with a formidable
army, he came against Constantinople; encamping on the Asian side
of the Mediterranean Sea,2 he sought [to take over] the Roman empire
by force. This all took place in the year 505 of the Armenian era
[1066-1057]. At this time the emperor Michael gathered troops from
all the lands of the West and, transporting the entire host across the
Mediterranean to Chrysopolis,3 came against Comnenus. On that day
a great and formidable battle was fought between the Christians, for
each side inflicted a severe slaughter on the other, and the blood of
many of the faithful was poured over the land. Then Comnenus, full
of rage, roared like a lion and, advancing and shattering the forces of
the Roman emperor, completely turned them in flight with the sword.
All the Roman forces were mercilessly slaughtered by the sword and
were trapped to the last man on the coast of the vast Mediterranean
Sea. As locusts paralyzed by the wind, in the same manner the
Roman troops became paralyzed by the severe combat. Some fell into
the Mediterranean and died, while many others perished by the edge
of the inexorable sword. On that day one hundred and fifty thousand
warriors of the Roman anny died. Comnenus took prisoner all the
chief officers to the last man and so gained control of the whole
empire.
Now, when the aristocrats who were in the palace sawall these
disastrous events and the shedding of so much blood, they resolved
to give the imperial throne to Comnenus, for he had brought great

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

sorrow upon the Greek nation. Then the patriarch and all the
aristocracy of Constantinople, going forth to meet Comnenus, swore
allegiance to him and installed him on the throne of the Roman
empire. Mter this peace was reestablished in the empire of the
Greeks. However, in this same year there was much devastation and
pillaging in the land, for the people loyal to Comnenus and those
loyal to Michael ravaged one another's regions. In this way Inuch
devastation was caused until the imperial throne was finnly in the
possession of Comnenus.
At that time the new emperor issued an edict throughout the whole
land and thus brought peace to the empire. Comnenus even went so
far as to honor those who unwittingly had taken Michael's side more
than those who had fought on his side. 4 Now, before Comnenus's
victory, the Roman magnates Pizshonit and Liparit had come to the
aid of Michael. When they reached Gergetha,6 hearing that
Comnenus was triumphant, they fled in the night and said to one
another: "We discovered our error in Gergetha. "S However, after a
few days they went to the emperor and he honored them highly.
Comnenus ordered that money be minted in his name and that he be
represented on the coin with a sword strapped to his shoulder, with
the caption: "By the sword I gained control of the imperial throne."
Comnenus was not liked because of these words and also because he
committed various perfidious acts against the Christians.
After some time the emperor collected a formidable army of troops
and was intent on making war against the Pechenegs. Marching
forth, he crossed over the great Danube River and advanced forward
in order to ravage the whole West. At whatever place he reached, he
roared like a savage beast, giving vent to his evil nature, and through
whatever place he passed, caused much blood to be shed. There was
great lamenting in the whole West and especially in the country of
the Bulgars. Now it was the summer season and the divine-rebuking
wrath [of God] fell upon the forces of Comnenus, a dreadful calamity
which words do not suffice to recount and which indeed his forces
deserved. For a cloud arose from the West and came over the caxnp
of Comnenus, and it was such a black cloud and one of horrible
appearance that no one dared look at it. There were crackling sounds
and thunder, and flashing lightening appeared. Then very large
hailstones began to fall and, striking and smiting the camp, heavily
showered upon all the troops. One after another the troops fled, not
being able to find an escape. When the emperor saw this, he was
filled with anger and against his will turned back like a fugitive;

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:jDoreover, all his troops were completely scattered throughout the


:jDountains and plains. At the Roman camp one could witness the
}1.orrible calamity which these troops suffered because of the many
l:Jlows they had received. Countless people lost their way and
disappeared, fathers from their sons, sons from their fathers, brothers
from their brothers; even the emperor lost his way together with
t;hree of his men, until he reached the Danube River and was found.
"When he reviewed his troops, the greater part of them had perished
due to the wrath of heaven. It is of no avail to speak of the horses
9nd mules, gold and silver, and other baggage [which were lost], or
even the battle equipment. 7
From then on Comnenus realized that all this divine~rebuking
~rath [of God] had fallen upon the Christians because of his
iniquities, for by his sins he had angered God. So, coming to
Constantinople, he prostrated himself before God and asked forgive:o.ess for his sins, and the Lord heeded his supplications. From then
on he sought to leave the imperial throne and with fasting and
vveeping take up the life of a penitent.
6. In the year 507 1 of the Armenian era [1058-1059] Comnenus
ynade Ducas2 emperor; for, because of those acts of which we spoke
before, Comnenus realized that God was not pleased with his reign,
since he had shed the innocent blood of the Christian faithful. Also
one side of his body had become paralyzed, and when he saw that the
divine~rebuking wrath [of God] had fallen upon him, he resolved to
put on the monastic habit and enter a monastery. So he sent to the
territories adjoining the Muslims, to Edessa, and had brought to him
the dux3 of the city, whose name was Ducas, for he was of a very
illustrious family. Taking his own crown, Comnenus placed it on the
head of Ducas and prostrated himself before him; then he installed
Ducas on the imperial throne and he himself went into solitude and
became a monk. Ducas ruled the empire of the Greeks despotically,
compelling all the disloyal4 to submit to him. So there was rejoicing
a.mong all the Greeks because of Ducas's [elevation to the throne].

7. In this same year his most praiseworthy lordship Peter, the


Armenian catholicos, who was the spiritual head of the Armenian
::nation and a pillar of the holy church, died. After occupying the
patriarchal see for forty-two years,! he joined his ancestors. His
blessed lordship Khach'ik, who was the son of Peter's sister, was
Consecrated as his successor to the patriarchal see. This man was

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

filled with all kinds of pious virtue and had acquired a reputable
name' moreover he was endowed with apostolic and prophetic graces.
His l~rdship Peter was buried in the city of Sebastia, in the Monastery of the Holy Cross, with a great crowd in attendance.
8. In this same year of the Armenian era the nation of the infidels
once again attacked the Christian faithful. Lo, a certain great and
mighty emir named Dinar arose and came forth from Persia and,
accompanied by many troops, unexpectedly came with violent force,
perfidiously concealing his evil [intent]. He passed unharmed
through many places and, marching forth, went and reached the
famous and renowned city called Melitene; for this city had been
pointed out to the Persians for a long time as having measureless
wealth of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, and brocades.
Moreover, the city was unfortified. On the march he captured
Rasaw and totally massacred [its inhabitants] with the sword. Then
he went and passed on to Melitene. The commander of the infidel
forces was the son of Liparit,2 who had made an alliance with the
Persians.
It was the winter season at the beginning of Lent when the emir
besieged the city of Melitene, all because of its celebrated reputation
by which the fame of its splendor had spread throughout all Persia.
Like a black cloud he completely surrounded the city on all sides.
When the townspeople saw this calamitous situation, men and
women, the aged and children, together turned in flight, but there
was no place to flee. At this moment the concern for friends and the
hope of life became absent from the minds of all; because of the
calamitous situation, fathers forgot their sons, and sons, their fathers;
mothers wept over their daughters, and daughters over their
mothers; brothers over their brothers, loved ones over their loved
ones. Then, fleeing over the spacious fields surrounding the city, the
townspeople fell into the midst of the enemy. When the infidels saw
them, they stopped for a moment and marvelled at the immense
population of the city, for they were a countless number like the
sands of the sea. The infidels did not dare attack the city until the
townspeople had left. Finally they assaulted the city with their
weapons bare~1 and soon all their swords were totally applied to the
work of.sheddmg blood; thus after a short while the whole city was
filled WIth blood. Melitene rippled with blood from one end to the
other, and there was no one left to pity the aged or the children. In
that place one could see the bodies of illustrious and distinguished

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people who had fallen and were wallowing in [pools ofl blood; children
were cut up into pieces while on the laps of their mothers; and blood
and milk, mingling one with the other, coalesced. Who is able to put
down in writing the divine-rebuking wrath [of God] which the city of
Melitene endured on that day, for instead of sweet dew all the plants
of the green field were covered with blood? Mter so much shedding
of blood and taking of captives, the emir had marched before him
distinguished and beautiful ladies and boys and pretty girls-all who
were to be led into captivity; also a countless treasure of gold and
silver [was carried before him]. Rising up, he marched forth rejoicing
and began the journey back to Persia and, crossing over the Euphrates River, wintered in Handzit'. At this time the Roman forces
pursued the Turks but, when they reached them, did not dare give
battle, but peacefully returned to Roman territory.3
9. When the autumn season arrived, the infidel forces entered the
region of Taron and occupied the foot of the Taurus Mountains near
Sasun. When the mighty and brave Armenian prince T'oplik, l the
son of Mushegh, heard this, he collected troops from the whole
district of Sasun and went against the infidel forces. The infidel
troops sounded the battle trumpet and in a body went forth in battle.
It turned out to be an awe-inspiring and fearful day, for the two sides
clashed with one another like a pack of lions. Then brave T'ornik
roared and, calling out to his right flank, overtook the left flank of
the infidels and victoriously shattered it. Turning his eyes to the
Monastery of the Holy Precursor, he vehemently cried out and said:
"0 Monastery of Glak, 0 Holy Precursor, aid me and make this day
an illustrious one for the faithful." Stirring up one another as a body,
the Armenians attacked the infidels and, capturing men and all types
of booty, led them all into captivity. The remnants of the infidels,
having experienced a narrow escape, humiliated, returned to Persia.
Brave T'ornik, in turn, with great rejoicing returned to Sasun,
thanking God for delivering the numerous inhabitants of the city of
Melitene from servitude to the wicked nation of the Persians.2
10. In this same year and in the same winter there appeared a
fearful and astonishing omen, a horrible sign of the great wrath [of
God] against the Christians; for this turned out to be a prediction for
the destruction of the Christian faithful. Just as a putrid smell
betrays a rotting corpse/in the same way, before the destruction [of
the Christians], there appeared evil omens upon the earth, as for

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

example a south wind. On a certain day, when dawn was breaking


and everyone was going forth from his home, people noticed in the
clear atmosphere that red snow had fallen on the ground and it
covered the four corners of the country, the east, the west, the north,
and the south. The snow began to fall on a Monday and without
interruption came down for sixty days; it fell during the night, and
during the day thickly covered the face of the countryside, but the red
snow fell for only one day. In that year very many quadrupeds-animals, beasts, and birds-perished. Because of the severity
of the heavenly wrath, they were unable to find food for themselves
and, being altogether prevented from [roaming in] fecund areas, were
forced to take refuge with their enemies. Thus everyone ruthlessly
and mercilessly slaughtered them; for there were various bands of
animals and various groups of birds in the streets and they entered
into homes. At this time one witnessed the terrible destruction of
animals and birds all because of the sins of men. On the other hand,
those who were compassionate fed them in their homes throughout
the winter months and then peacefully let them go; each of these
individuals was impelled by compassion for [the sorrowful lot of]
these animals. The great emir Naj)ir-ad-Daulah, who resided in the
town of Maiyafariqin, commanded that forty k'or 2 of wheat, barley,
millet, and all sorts of grain be scattered over the plains and
mountains for the birds, as well as a great amount of hay and straw
for the animals; in this manner many animals and birds were able to
survive because of this abundance [of food].
11. In this same year a severe famine took place throughout the
whole land and many perished by a cruel and violent death because
of this famine; for, because of the abundance of snow, rain did not fall
on the land, and thus there was no harvest and many productive
areas became sterile. On the other hand, at the beginning of the next
year there was plenteousness and abundance of all types of foodstuffs, so much that one mod yielded one hundred mod. 1
12. At the beginning of the year 508 of the Annenian era [10591060] a horrible disaster and fatal calamity befell the Christian
fa~thful, so mu~h so that we are unable to relate that terribly bitter
mIsfortune whICh took place in this year. For all the Persians
became stirred up and, rising up, went forth with a very large army,
like th7san~s of the sea. ~hey marched forth and came against the
Armeman faIthful. Many dIstricts were devastated by the sword and

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enslaved by three of these i.mpious beasts who had come forth from
the court of the sultan Tughrul; they were three emirs, Samuk, ,ArnrKafUr, and Kijaziz-evil men and more bloodthirsty than ferocious
beasts. With troops dressed in black and standards symbolizing
death, they reached the populous and renowned city of Sebastia.
They bellowed and fulminated, intending to vent their violent anger
upon the Christian faithfuL Moreover, they had made up their minds
to capture Atom and Abusahl, the sons of the Armenian king
Senek'erim. When the latter heard about the coming of the infidel
forces, they fled to Gabadonia, l and many other princes went with
them. On the day of the barekendan2 of Vardavar3 the numerous
infidel forces encircled Sebastia, and thus the entire city was
completely besieged on all sides. Wielding the sword, all the enemy
troops entered the city, and countless persons were cut down and
received severe wounds; moreover, streaming blood covered the
ground, a sight which appeared frightful to onlookers. The bodies of
illustrious personages were heaped up on the ground like piles of
forest wood, and the surface of the ground was covered with blood
because of the great number of corpses.
The city of Sebastia was unfortified, but the infidels at first did not
dare enter it, for they saw a great number of domed churches painted
white and thought that they were the tents of the enemy troops.
However, when they learned [that they were mistaken], they then
became the agents of God's wrath against the Christians and mercilessly and ruthlessly slaughtered large numbers of the city's population. Together with countless booty and men and women captives,
they led boys and girls into slavery and seized and carried off from
Sebastia treasures of gold and silver without measure, precious
stones and pearls, and also brocades; for this city was the residence
of the Armenian kings. Thus that day was a calamitous and disastrous one for the inhabitants of Sebastia, because in a short period
the city and the plain [on which it was situated] became filled with
blood. The river which passed through the city, instead of being
clear, had turned a reddish hue. Many persons perished by fire.
Many great and illustrious persons had fallen, mortally wounded, and
were covered with blood and lying in the midst of pure and venerable
corpses; moreover, because of the whiteness of their bodies, they
glistened like the stars. What shall I say about the priests and
deacons and about the six hundred churches which were in the city,
for all were destroyed by the sword? Many maidens, brides, and
distinguished ladies were led into captivity to Persia, and within a

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

short time Sebastia became like a burned-out hut. The infidel forces
stayed in Sebastia for eight days,. and then, marc~ing forth, went
back to Persia with countless and mnumerable captives.
13. Who is able to recount in detail the calamitous misfortunes
and repentant laments of the Armenians, events which they endured
at the hands of the wicked, bloodthirsty, and savage Turkish forces,
all because of their abandonment by their false guardians, the
effeminate and despicable Greek nation? For the Greeks, gradually
disbanding our brave soldiers, removed them from Armenia, taking
them away from their towns and districts. Removing the throne of
the Armenian kingdom, they in effect destroyed it and thus demolished the protective wall which was provided by its troops and
generals. The Romans thus turned the boasting of their bravery into
that of irrevocable flight; in this way they were like the shameful
shepherd who, when he saw the wolf, fled. Also the Romans
endeavored to destroy the traditional fortified defenses of Armenia by
tearing them down and thus brought on the assault of the Persians
with the sword, regarding all of this as a victory for themselves.
Moreover, they shamelessly tried to guard Armenia with eunuch
generals and troops at a time when the Persians came upon an
abandoned East. In that period the infidels were strengthened to
such a great extent that in one year's time they reached up to the
walls of Constantinople. They seized the whole Roman empire, its
coastal towns and its islands, and caused the Greeks to be bottled up
in Constantinople like prisoners. When the Persians seized Armenia
from the Greeks, all malicious acts against the Armenians by the
Romans ceased.
However, after this the Romans contrived to war against the
Annenians in another way; they began to criticize their religious
beliefs. Thus, scorning warfare, battles, and combats, they sought to
bring disorder into the church of God. They willfully eschewed war
with the Persians, while they endeavored to destroy and rout out the
faith of the true believers in Christ; for, whenever they discovered a
brave and mighty man, they blinded him or threw him into the sea
and drowned him. Their only care and desire was to remove all the
Armenian princes and brave commanders from the East and, carrying
them off, to force them to settle among the Greeks. They transformed
brave young men into eunuchs, and instead of the tightly forged coats
of mail, which are worn by brave men, they gave them loosely
hanging garments, which were wide and long; instead of steel

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helmets they put battle headgear on them not made of metal, and
instead of an ironclad covering for the shoulders [and neck] they gave
them a wide neckerchief. These eunuchs spoke meekly and softly just
like women and ceaselessly pondered over the los8 of brave young
men. Thus, because of them, all the faithful were subjected to
servitude in Persia.
14. During this period the emperor Ducas conceived of the
malicious idea of removing the patriarchal see of Saint Gregory from
the Armenians and destroying it. So, as we said before, he began to
attack and criticize various aspects of the Armenian faith. Especially
when his lordship Peter died, the Romans attacked the holy see,
intending to abolish it and to compel the Armenians to adhere to the
impious faith as set forth at Chalcedon. 1 At this time the Romans,
seeking the immense treasure of gold and silver belonging to his
lordship Peter, the Annenian catholicos, subjected many people to
torture in Sebastia; they brought to Constantinople the person
consecrated to the patriarchal see, his lordship Khach'ik., together
with his bishops and also his most praiseworthy lordship Eghishe,
keeping them there in exile for three years. Thus in this period
many misfortunes fell upon the Armenian faith. Finally the
Armenian kings and princes, Gagik of Ani, Atom and Abusahl-sons
of Senek'erim, worked hard and were barely able to get them freed.
Mter all these events the patriarchal see was transferred to T'awblur,2 and his lordship Khach'ik resided there three years, occupying
the patriarchal see for six years altogether.3
15. In the course of the year 511 of our era [1062-1063] an evil
scourge of an odious and bitter mien spread and extended over the
Christian faithful. For, during the autumn season in the month of
Areg,l a calamity came forth from the Persian court. Three great and
illustrious men, Slar-Khorasan,2 Chmchm, and Isulv,3 came forth from
the court of the sultan Tughrnl. Shedding much blood, they came
against the Christian peoples. Reaching the territory of Paghin with
many troops, full of rage they shed the blood of many faithful with
the sword and enslaved the whole area. Going forth from there, they
came like deadly serpents and reached the territory of T'lkhum and
Arkni and found the entire region unprepared [for war]. When they
saw the whole land and region unfortified, they were exceedingly
glad. So, like bloodthirsty wolves or crazed dogs, with an inexorable
sword they attacked the entire region, intending to slaughter its

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

inhabitants to the last person. The whole land was prosperous and
filled with men and animals, and the entire region was heavily
populated. On Saturday the fourth of Areg, at the eighth hour, the
vast plain was filled with blood, captives, and merciless slaughter-something we are not able to relate. There were many and
innumerable people who were burned [to death]. There was no one
in the entire region who was able to escape the edge of the sword,
and on that day many were martyred.
Mter having related this extensive enslavement and countless
slaughter, I shall make mention of the true priest of God, Christopher, and of his sons T'oros and Stephen, who were martyred
together with all the people; for when this priest saw the immense
number of the infidel forces, he gathered together the whole village
in the church-men and women with their children-and then began
to celebrate the divine liturgy of Christ and gave' communion to all
the people. The infidel troops surrounded the church, and the
faithful, who had communed, came out of the church one by one to
the bloodthirsty beasts; they, in turn, butchered the Christian
faithful. When Christopher and his sons were the only ones remaining, they went down on their knees before God and, giving thanks to
Him, kissed one another farewell; then they went forth and received
a martyr's death, having sincerely confessed their sins in harmony
with Jesus Christ. When the emir4 who resided in the town of Amida,
the son of Na/3ir-ad-Daulah, learned of this horrible and calamitous
event, he wrote to Slar-Khorasan and made an alliance with him; he
commanded all the captives of the region in which he lived to be sold,
for he was benevolent and merciful towards the Christian people.
Moreover, he issued an edict throughout the whole land, which
commanded people to buy captives, and it was carried out. However,
when the captives were brought to Amida to be sold, many perished
as martyrs at the gates of the town [in spite of the emir's edict]. At
that moment a light with a fiery appearance was seen descending
upon them from heaven.
16. Who is able to relate the happenings and ruinous events which
befell the Armenians, for everything was covered with blood'
moreover, the hoofs of the enemy horses wore down the mountain~
and hills. Beca~se of the great number of corpses, the land stank,
and all o~ PerSIa was filled with innumerable captives; thus this
whole ~a~lOn o~ beasts ~ecame drunk with blood. All human beings
of ChnstIan faIth were In tears and in sorrowful affliction, because

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God our creator had turned away His benevolent face from us. All
this happened because of our sins and evil ways, and thus God
delivered us up to the wicked and very savage nation of the Turks,
according to the words of the prophet who said: "0 God, you rejected
us, ruined us, were angry at us, and [did not] have pity on us; you did
not go forth with our forces, you made us turn back from our
enemies, and thus our enemies plundered us; you delivered us like
sheep to the slaughter and scattered us among the heathen." 1 Mter
such calamitous events as these had taken place, the infidels brought
an immense number of captives to Persia, carrying them off in groups
like flocks of birds. When the infidels [in Persia] saw them, they
were amazed and questioned them, saying: "Why did you become
enslaved, [allowing yourselves] to be in such an unprepared state,
and why were you unable to have foresight, either by ear or through
a sign, so that you might have fled from uS?" The captives answered:
"We were unable to realize anything. II Then the infidel women said:
"La, this was the sign of your destruction; when in the evening your
cock crowed and your cattle and sheep squatted to defecate, this was
the sign for the [impending] calamity. II The captives answered: "All
that had happened to us many times in our country, but we were
never able to realize that it was a sign for us of the [impending]
calamity. II
17. After all these calamitous events we have spoken about, the
terrible news reached the emperor Ducas. Collecting troops, he
appointed the illustrious magnate called Francopoulos l as general and
sent him with many troops to the territory of T'lkhum. These forces
came and reached T'lkhum with great strength. The dux of Edessa,
whose name was Dawatanos and who was a valiant and mighty man
in battle and renowned throughout the land, also gathered together
forces. Collecting troops from Edessa, Gargar, and ~:Ii~n-Ma.n':lllr, he
moved forth against the Muslims with these forces [and intended] to
avenge the blood of the Christians which had been shed. Going forth
with many troops, he encamped on the plain of T'lkhum. When all
his troops saw the tremendous amount of slaughter which had taken
place here, they wept profusely. When the forces of the Turks
learned of the coming of the Roman troops, they fled to Persia. Then
Dawatanos roared like a lion at the Muslims and assaulted the town
of Amida, especially since at that time the townspeople had poisoned
and killed the great emir $a.i'd-ad-Daulah, the son of Naf3ir-adDaulah.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

When the townspeople heard of the coming of the Roman forces,


they secretly sent ten thousand dahekans to Francopoulos. So
Francopoulos secretly made a pact of friendship with the Muslims.
Dawatanos, hearing of this, heaped abuses upon Francopoulos. When
the Romans reached the gates of the town of Amida, at the place
called "Gate of the Romans, the infidel forces engaged in combat.
On the other hand, Francopoulos treacherously turned the battle over
to Dawatanos, while he himself together with his troops remained in
the rear, separated from the conflict; moreover, he had sixty thousand
cavalry troops with him. When the combat began, a certain brave
man from the infidel forces, whose name was Hechn-Pshara/ did a
very destructive thing to the Roman troops; quick as an eagle he
broke through Dawatanos's front line and wreaked havoc within the
Roman ranks. When Dawatanos saw this, he cried out for his horse,
saying: "Give me my Kamam." 3 When Pshara rose up and came
forth, Dawatanos fell upon him like a lion. Directing his spear at
Pshara's heart, Dawatanos tore through his armor, the lance coming
out from the other side of his body; then both men fell from their
horses. The two armies were clashing together, and in the process
Dawatanos was killed on the same spot, while Pshara lay dead with
the spear in his body. When the townspeople learned that
Dawatanos had died, they rose up in a body and made a sortie. Then
one of Dawatanos's troops, whose name was Tavar, went to Francopoulos and accused him of being the cause of the dux's death. When
Francopoulos heard this, he attacked the infidels and severely
slaughtered them at the gates of the town, as many as fifteen
thousand men; then he returned to the country of the Romans.'
II

18. In this same year a certain Hehnuk with five thousand men
went against the Kurds in the region of Amida, near a place called
Chepu-Shahar. Seizing a considerable amount of booty consisting of
sheep, cattle, horses, slaves, and many other things, he came to the
fortress called Sewerak (Sewawerak). A man who was the chief of
the Kurds and whose name was Khalid, together with his three sons,
pursued and overtook Hehnuk. When Hehnuk and his forces saw
this, they turned back in flight. At that moment the divine-rebuking
wrath of God fell upon them, for the forces of Amida arrived and
caused much slaughter, freeing all the men and captives [Hehnuk
and his troops had taken].
19. In this same year Francopoulos went to the city of Erzurum

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and there came upon the Turkish forces which had pillaged the
territory of T'lkhum, and both sides engaged in combat with one
another. Francopoulos defeated them and slaughtered all the
Turkish forces, killing their emir who was called Yl1suf; moreover, he
seized countless booty and delivered innwnerable captives out of their
hands. When the emperor Ducas heard of the death of Dawatanos,
which was treacherously caused by Francopoulos, he summoned him
to Constantinople and drowned him in the sea by tying a rock to his
neck and throwing him into the Mediterranean.
20. In the year 513 of the Armenian era [1064-1065] the Persian
ruler Alp Arslan, l brother of the sultan Tughrul, who after the death
of his brother occupied the throne of the state, collected troops from
the Persians, the Turks, and from all of Khl1zistan2 right up to Sijistan. 3 Going forth full of rage and with a formidable army, he surged
ahead with venomous onslaughts and moved forth like a river
swelling up with tempestuous rage and like a beast crazed by its
bloodthirsty nature. He went forth and reached Armenia; and then
with a very large amount of troops entered the country of the
Albanians, subjecting them to the sword and enslavement. He
caused countless deaths of Christians, so much so that no one is able
to relate the calamitous events of this disaster to the Christian
faithful; for they bitterly tasted death at the hands of the crazed and
pernicious nation of the Turks. Because of the tremendous number
of Turkish troops, all the plains were covered with their forces, and
thus all ways of escape were closed off. Lo, in this place the words
of the Savior were fulfilled, who said: "Woe to those who are
pregnant and who give suck in those days"'; for many priests, monks,
chief elders, and illustrious princes tasted violent death and became
food for the beasts and birds. Mter such a great calamity the sultan
sent to the king of the Albanians Kvirike5 and demanded his daughter
in marriage; out of fear the king gave her to the sultan. Then the
sultan made a perpetual pact of peace and friendship with him, after
which he sent the king of the Albanians Kvirike, the son of David
Anhoghin, back to his town of Lori with great honor and many gifts. 6
Going forth from that place, the sultan entered Georgia with his
formidable army and, full of ferocious rage, subjected its inhabitants
to the sword and enslavement. Descending from there, he encamped
in the district called Jawakhk'7 and vehemently besieged the town of
Akhalk'alak. By a violent assault he captured Akhalk'alak and
mercilessly slaughtered all the inhabitants with the sword down to

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

the last man and woman, butchering all the priests, monks, and
nobles. The whole town was filled with blood, and t~e Turks led
innumerable young boys and girls into captivity to PersIa; moreover,
they took [with them] treasures of gold, silver, precious stones, and
pearls, amounting to an incalculable sum.
21. In this same year the sultan very victoriously went forth and,
[having the reputation ofl being the venomous serpent of the
Persians, came and entered Armenia; he became the instrument of
the divine-rebuking wrath of God upon this eastern people and forced
the entire Armenian nation to imbibe his bitter rancor. He spread
the flaming fire of death to all the Christian faithful and filled all
Armenia with blood, the sword, and enslavement. Going forth, the
sultan came like a threatening black cloud and, descending upon the
royal city of Ani, surrounded it completely on all sides like a vicious
serpent.
22. When the population of the city saw this, they trembled in fear
and prepared to battle against the Persians with [as] much strength
[as they could muster]. The infidel forces on their part, full of rage,
made a savage assault and pushed the Roman1 forces back into the
city, forcing them to regroup within its walls; thus by their formidable assault the Persians put the city in great danger. At that
moment, from dread of these vicious beasts, all the Christian faithful
trembled and shook, and fathers began to weep over their sons and
sons, over their fathers; mothers wept over their daughters and
daughters, over their mothers; and brothers wept over their brothers;
and lovers, over their lovers. Thus the whole population of Ani was
in great danger, and the assault grew even more intense, so much so
that the whole city quaked. Because of these prolonged assaults, the
entire city began to pray and fast, and with tears and groans together
they cried out to God to deliver them from these ferocious beasts. For
Ani was a very populated city, filled with tens of thousands of men,
women, aged, and children; this city evoked the admiration of those
who gazed upon it; even the innumerable [infidel] forces thought that
the greater part of the population of Armenia was contained within
its walls.
In this period there were in Ani one thousand and one churches
where div~ne liturgy was celebrated. The city was built on steep
rocks, .whic~ rose up on all sides, and was surrounded by the
Akhurlan RIver, but about a bowshot away there was an accessible

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place on one side which the infidels had demolished with a catapult.
Mer besieging the city for many days, the infidels still were unable
to enter it and soon became discouraged and lifted the siege. On the
other hand, the wicked Roman governors, whom the emperor had
appointed as guardians of Armenia-Bagrat, father of 5mbat, and
Gregory, son of Bakuran, a Georgian-began to intrench themselves
deep inside the upper citadel. On that same day the sultan and all
the Persian forces, including his whole army, were about to pull back
in full force, intending to return to Persia. When the townspeople
saw the entrenchment of these apostate guardians of Armenia [in the
citadel], they broke rank and each man in his own right fled for no
reason at all, the whole city being obscured by a cloud of dust [rising
from the feet of those fleeing]. The important personages of the city,
in tears, went and fell on their knees before the graves of the fanner
Annenian kings, deeply lamenting with tearful eyes and saying:
uRise up and see [the condition ofl your ancestral land.
When the infidel forces sawall this confusion [among the Christian
faithful], they went and related it to the sultan, but he would not
believe them. Nevertheless, when the infidel troops saw the
ramparts undefended, they entered the city in toto and, taking a
child from its mother, brought it back to the sultan and said: "Let
this be as evidence for you from the city that we have captured AnL"
When the sultan heard this, he was greatly amazed and said: "Their
God has delivered the impregnable city of Ani into our hands this
day." Then he turned around with his army and entered the city of
Ani. All the infidel troops had very sharp knives, one in each hand
and the third between the teeth. Armed in this manner, they began
to mercilessly slaughter the inhabitants of the entire city, cutting
down great numbers of them like green grass and piling up their
bodies, one on top of the other, like heaps of stone. In a short time
the whole city was filled with blood. All the important Armenian
princes and noblemen were brought before the sultan in chains.
Beautiful and respectable ladies of high birth were led into captivity
to Persia. Innumerable and countless boys with bright faces and
pretty girls were carried off together with their mothers. Many
saintly priests were burned to death, while others were flayed alive
from head to toe, enduring painful wounds, all of which was horrible
to those witnessing it.
One of the nefarious infidels climbed to the top of the holy
cathedral and pulled down the very heavy cross which was on the
dome, throwing it to the ground. Then, entering through the door
II

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

which gave access to the dome of the cathedral, he hurled down the
crystal lamp onto the floor of the cathedral, causing it to be extinguished; 5mbat the Conquero~ had this lamp brought from India
along with an indeterminate quantity of precious objects, and it
weighed twelve litras and was also able to bear a weight of twelve
litras. When the cross was pulled down from the dome, at that
moment violent thundering and heavy rains took place, and all the
torrents of blood caused by the slaughter were washed into the
Akhurian River, thus cleansing the entire city of blood. When the
sultan learned that the crystal lamp, which was without equal in the
whole world, had been shattered in pieces, he became very distressed.
The silver crOSB, which the infidels had pulled down and which was
the size of a man, was taken and placed on the threshold of the
entrance to the mosque in the city of Nakhichevan; this cross is still
located there today.3
23. In this period Gagik,! the son of the shahnshah 5mbat,2
reigned in Kars; an envoy was sent to him by the sultan, requesting
him to come and do obeisance. Now Gagik was an intelligent and
sagacious man, and so he thought of a way to quietly rid himself of
the sultan. He dressed up in a black garment of mourning and sat
on a cushion of the same color. When the sultan's envoy saw him,
questioning him and desiring to know the reason [for this behaviorJ,
he said: "Why are you dressed in black, for after all you are a king?"
Gagik answered: "Since the day that my friend the sultan Tughrul,
the brother of Alp Arslan, died, I have been wearing this black
garment." Amazed, the envoy went and related it to the sultan, and
the sultan, enthralled by this, went forth with his whole army and
came to Gagik in Kars; there he offered Gagik his friendship and
showed that he was pleased [to see him]; moreover, he had the
Armenian king dressed in royal clothes. Gagik, in turn, gave a
banquet for the sultan. We have heard it said that the Armenian
king spent one thousand dahekans on one roasted lamb and also that
he gave a table worth one hundred thousand dahekans to the sultan,
besides placing all his troops at the disposal of that ruler. Thus in
this manner Gagik quietly rid himself of Alp Arslan. Sometime after
this Gagik abandoned Kars and went over to the Romans. The
emperor Ducas gave DzamndaW! to Gagik, and the Armenian king
settled there, together with his noblemen, thus abandoning his
ancestral home.
In this manner the Armenian nation was enslaved, and the whole

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country was completely filled with blood, which like a sea undulated
from one end to the other. Our ancestral home was destroyed and
despoiled. The foundations of the Armenian homeland were uprooted
and shaken. No hope of deliverance remained, and we became
subjected to servitude under infidel peoples and alien savages. Lo,
the words of the prophet David were fulfilled against us: "You have
sold your people for a trifle and our cries have not ceased. You have
made us an object of scorn among the heathen and of derisive
contempt among those who are about us. Because of all these things,
we cry out and say: Turn to us, 0 God our Savior, and turn your
anger away from us. "4 Such was the destruction of the Armenian
nation.
24. In the year 514 of the Armenian era [1065-1066], during the
reign of the Roman emperor Ducas, a great war broke out in the West
caused by the nation of the Uzes. The emperor Ducas collected troops
from all the Greeks and from the forces of Armenia. He appointed
the illustrious Roman magnate Basil, the son of Abukab, as commander of these forces. Basil, advancing with many troops, came and
descended upon the great river called the Danube. Here on the
banks of the river a violent battle took place between the Romans
and the Uzes, and there was heavy slaughter on both sides. Here one
was able to witness a very violent conflict, where both sides hacked
away at each other for the greater part of the day and struck out at
one another like flocks of sheep. As the battle grew intense, the
Roman troops were defeated and fled, while the forces of the Uzes
pursued with the sword, slaughtering them in great numbers; the
enemy captured Basil, the Roman general, and led him into captivity
to their country. Moreover, these Uzes seized the entire Roman camp
in toto, including a great amount of gold and silver and many other
types ofbootYi they also led all the chief Greek officers into captivity.
For many years Basil remained captive in the country of the Uzes
and was unable to be ransomed, for they wanted too much money [for
his release]. Mter a while one of the infidel troops contemplated
freeing Basil, and the general, in turn, promised to give him many
things, including a position of high rank from the emperor. A few
days later this man, with the help of some of his friends, snatched
Basil and immediately brought him to the emperor Ducas. Thus
there was much rejoicing among all the Greeks, and the emperor
gave many gifts to those who had brought Basil. Mter this Basil
came to his father Abukab in Edessa, and his father and all his

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

people were filled with joy.


25. In this same year his most praiseworthy lord Khach'ik, the
Annenian catholicos, died. He had occupied the patriarchal see for six
years, residing in an alien country; also he considered. hi~self a
foreigner under the rule of the Greeks, and the days of hIS hfe were
filled with painful l experiences [with these very same GreeksJ. He
endured much suffering in Constantinople at the hands of the unjust
and vicious Roman nation, who subjected him to various tribulations
because of his faith. We have heard it related that the Romans
forced him to submit to an ordeal by fire, but he passed though it
unharmed, angering them so much that they claimed he was a
phantom. Because of all this, his lordship Khach'ik. was deeply
grieved in his heart. He remembered the destruction of the patriarchal see of the Armenian nation, the seizure of the royal throne from
the Bagratid dynasty and its administration by the perfidious Greek
nation, and finally, the condition of poverty prevailing over the see of
St. Gregory, the enlightener of the Armenians. On the other hand,
when his lordship Peter had occupied the patriarchal see in Armenia,
he possessed the patrimony given to him by the Armenian kings. He
had five hundred renowned and large villages, together with their
very ample revenues. Also he had under his jurisdiction over five
hundred illustrious bishops and chorepiscopi, administering seven
hundred dioceses without interruption. He had with him in the
patriarchal palace twelve bishops, four vardapets, sixty priests, and
five hundred other clergymen and laymen. Thus the patriarchal see
was far from being inferior to the Armenian royal throne. Also the
religious objects, which filled the patriarchal palace, were of immense
number and of wondrous splendor; all of these were donated by
former Armenian kings at the time of the establishment of the first
Armenian patriarchs and were passed on until the time of his
lordship Peter, after which they were melted down and destroyed.
~ 0V: his lordship Khach'ik reflected upon all this and, seeing the
afflIctions of the Armenian patriarchal see, became deeply grieved.
When the holy patriarch his lordship Khach'ik passed from this
world, those of the Armenian kings and princes who were left
remaining sought to fmd a worthy person to install on the patriarchal
see of ~t. ?,regory the Enlightener. They found a young man of
Pahla';-d Im~age named Vahram, the son of the distinguished
Armeman pnnce Gregory Magistros. Vabram was endowed with
every virtue; having taken a wife according to the ways of the world

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and having kept her in a state of purity, he was now separated from
her and had taken on the monastic discipline; moreover, devoting
himself to study and to the attainment of divine grace, he came to
have a deep understanding of the Old and New Testaments of God,
showing much eagerness and great desire [in his pursuit of these
studies].
26. During this period his most praiseworthy lordship Gregory, 1
also known as Vabram, the son of Gregory Magistros, son of Vasak
of Bjni of Pahlavid lineage, occupied the see of the Armenian
catholicate. His Lordship Gregory occupied the patriarchal see at the
behest of the shahnshah Gagik, the son of Abas of Kars, because after
the death of his lordship Khach'ik, Vahram was deemed worthy of the
holy see. For his reputation had grown a great deal, and he was
filled with holiness and righteousness and endowed with shining
virtue. Moreover, he had become skillful in the art of rhetoric and
was erudite in all aspects of the Old and New Testaments of God and
thus was able to assist Christ's flock in every way. It was this man
Vahram whom the Holy Spirit revealed as the one who would occupy
the see of St. Gregory the Enlightener, his ancestor; because of this
he was seen as one endowed with humility and every virtue and as
one appearing as the second celebrated Gregory. He renounced the
delights of the world and enthusiastically embraced the path of
eternal life. He enlightened the land of Armenia with his many and
diverse commentaries. [He enriched Armenian culture] by translating the works of many nations2 and completely filled the church of
God with all types of divinely inspired books. [Finally], Vahram
made the monastic institutions of the Armenian nation shine forth,
and thus the see of St. Gregory the Enlightener regained its [former]
vigor in the land of Armenia; for the new patriarch shone with
holiness and every modesty and devoted himself to fasting and
prayers.
27. In this same year the wicked Persian chief Slar-Khorasan for
the second time collected troops. He came against the fortress of
T'lkhum and with a terrible siege put it in dire straits for many days,
but was unable to capture it. Then, going forth with many troops, he
came to the territory of Edessa and reached the fortress called
Sewawerak. A guard post of Frankish troops, consisting of two
hundred horsemen, was stationed here. The Franks went forth in
battle against the Turks and at first slaughtered them and turned

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

them in flight. However, when the infidel forces received reinforcements, they put the Franks to flight and killed fifteen of their men.
Then the infidel forces invaded the territory of Sewawerak and
Nisibis. 1 The whole region was heavily populated with men and
women and flocks of sheep, to such an extent that its surface gave
the appearance of a rippling sea. The infidels ruthlessly attacked
with sword in hand and mercilessly slaughtered [everyone] with the
edge of the sword, filling the land with blood and leading the women
and children into captivity, together with a tremendous amount of
booty. Mter a few days they reached the territory of Edessa and
encamped before the renowned fortress of T'orich, devastating the
entire region. Then with part of their forces they descended upon a
fortress of limited importance called Nshenek2 and after a severe
assault captured it. A certain brave Armenian soldier called the
vestis,3 who was the dux of Antioch, happened to be in Edessa at that
time. Organizing his troops, he went forth to attack the Turks.
However, the dux of the city, whose name was Pegonites,4 turned over
the troops of the city to his proximus5 and ordered him to try to bring
about the death of the vestis, so that he might not have the chance to
do any deeds of bravery and thus increase his reputation for prowess.
The vestis arrived at Nshenek at nightfall; the Turks, feeling
completely secure, were lighting their fires and beginning to prepare
their evening meal. Then the perfidious proximus, who [as we have
seen] contemplated the treacherous deed of doing away with the
vestis, sounded the battle trumpet from afar and thus warned the
Turks, while he himself went in another direction with his troops.
The Armenian chief realized the treachery of the Romans and,
signaling his noblemen, fell upon the Turks. At the first encounter
he slaughtered many, while causing others to flee. Then he tried to
obtain assistance from the garrison of the fortress, but when [he saw
that] the ranks of the infidels were increasing around him, he took
refuge unharmed in a fortress which was near Dzulman. 6 When he
asked where the Frankish troops of Edessa were, he was told that the
proximus had gone to Lord Guzman7 with all his troops. Then the
vestis said: "0 apostate Romans, is this one of your usual treacherous
acts?" He returned to Edessa and after a few days went to the city
of Antioch and wrote to the emperor Ducas, infonning him of all his
treachery. The emperor had the proximus taken and flayed alive;
then he had his skin stuffed with grass and sent to Edessa. Moreover, Ducas deprived Pegonites of his high rank.

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28. In this same year once again the wicked and bloodthirsty beast
Slar-Khorasan came to the territory of Edessa and descended upon
Gulla.b. 1 There with the edge of the sword he caused a severe
slaughter, killing most of its inhabitants. Then, laden with many
captives, he descended upon the fortress called Tep, 2capturing it after
a violent assault and slaughtering its inhabitants to the last man.
Mter this, departing, he went and encamped in a place called K'sOS.3
The Roman troops who were in the city of Edessa, both infantry and
cavalry forces consisting of four thousand men, went against the
Turks and reached T'lak, which is close by K'sas. When SlarKhorasan saw this, he signaled his troops and attacked. However,
before both sides engaged in combat, the Roman troops fled. On the
other hand, two brothers from the Armenian infantry forces held a
bridge and thus stopped the Turks for a short time, until they were
finally killed in a violent assault [by the enemy]. So the Roman
troops fled, and the Turks pursued with the sword. At that moment
a Frank turned around to face the Turks and, roaring like a lion,
wounded and killed many, thus stopping them until the fugitives
could escape. But, his horse having been crippled with many wounds,
the Frank was cut down and bravely perished on the spot. The
infidels continued their pursuit right up to the moat of the city,
severely slaughtering [the Christians] as they advanced. Thus the
entire plain was filled with blood and many high-ranking officers lost
their lives.

29. In this same year once again Slar-Khorasan came against the
territory of Edessa, [this time] to a place called Kupin, l and there he
caused a horrible slaughter of people. He remained in the area for
many days, devastating and enslaving the whole region. Then he
returned to Persia with a tremendous amount of booty and captives
and died there.
30. In this same period 1 the Roman emperor Ducas, the patriarch,2

all the clergy, and the whole body of eunuchs espoused a perfidious
and abominable idea, conceived by the wicked emperor; moreover, all
the conspicuous Roman personages supported this sinister plan. For
the emperor, in concert with his impious accomplices, had the
intention of destroying the Armenian faith, thus thinking to corrupt
the faith of St. Gregory the Enlightener. So he resolved to substitute
his demonic, confused, and defective doctrine for that faith which had
been established in Armenia since time immemorial; for it was

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

founded on diamond-like rocks through the efforts and martyrdoms


of the holy apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew and t~rough the
many-sided and varied tribulations of St. Gregory the EnIxghtener, a
faith which is and will remain unshaken for eternity.3 This emperor,
enticed by demonic beings, endeavored to be like the enemy who BOWS
tares among good grain. As it is written in the Holy Gospels [about
those who would subvert the faith], he resolved to make obscure our
luminous doctrine and to cause falsehood to triumph over the truth,
which [subversions of the faith] are quite prevalent among the
Greeks. Possessed by this deep obsession [to destroy the Annenian
faith], he aspired to demolish this lofty tower of doctrine, but was
unable to accomplish this evil design of his.'
Now the emperor Ducas sent to the city of Sebastia and summoned
the sons of the king of Armenia, Atom and Abusahl, to Constantinople. They, somewhat recognizing the emperor's evil designs, took
with them the vardapet James, surnamed K'arap'nets'i, a man
erudite in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and with him went
to Constantinople. At first the emperor welcomed the sons of the
Armenian king; however, after a few days he began to disclose his
evil intentions and said: "It is the command of our imperial majesty
that you and all the princes of Armenia receive baptism according to
the Roman faith." Being among the Romans, Atom and Abusahl had
all sorts of misgivings [about giving an out-and-out refusal to the
emperor]; so they said to Ducas: "We are unable to do anything
without Gagik,5 son of Ashot, for he is a brave man and our king and
son-in-Iaw;B send for and summon him here, for if we do anything
without him, he will burn us to death when we return to our lands."
When the emperor heard this, he did not want Gagik to come,
because the Annenian king was brilliant in philosophical debates and
invincible in answering questions put to him; for [at a former time]
he had sat in the pulpit of Saint Sophia, in the midst of all the
~oma~ doctors. While Atom and Abusahl secretly sought out Gagik
m.~lon-Peghat,7the emperor Ducas, taking the initiative, began the
cnbClsm of the Armenian faith. The vardapet James of Sanahin
ra~sed many objections in reference to various points in the Roman
f81th; however, concerning the two natures in Christ he inclined a bit
to the Roman position.
'
The e~peror, agreei.ng with all the solutions presented by James
[to r~conclle the two faIths], on that basis commanded a document of
reuruo~ be drawn up between the Annenians and the Romans; so the
Anneman vardapet James undertook to draft this document. The

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emperor was very pleased with this profession of faith and commanded it to be deposited in Saint Sophia, since henceforth the Armenians
and the Romans were reunited to one another. At this time Gagik,
swift as an eagle, sped to Constantinople; and when the emperor
heard of his arrival, he was very happy. When Gagik came before
the emperor, he ordered the document of reunion brought to him.
Taking it, the Armenian king read it and, when he saw that it was
written by the vardapet James, tore it in two in the presence of the
emperor and threw it to the ground. Seeing this, Ducas became very
much ashamed. Then Gagik said the following to the emperor in
reference to the vardapet: "This man is only a monk, besides which
there are many in Armenia who will neither accept nor conform to
such a document as this; moreover, we do not consider him to be one
of our accomplished vardapets. Then in the presence of the emperor
the Armenian king reprimanded James, saying: IlHow did you dare
write this and get yourself involved in such gibberish, for you are a
religious man. Mter this Gagik said the following to the emperor
Ducas: "I am a king and a son of the kings of Armenia, and all
Armenians obey my commands; I am well versed in the Old and New
Testaments, and all Armenians are witnesses to the truth of my
words, for they regard me as equal to the vardapets; therefore, today
I shall present a discourse to the Romans concerning the faith of the
Armenian nation." So Gagik himself wrote a profession of faith and
presented it to the emperor and patriarch. Here follows a copy of this
document.
1l

II

31. IlWe feel it necessary to examine those matters concerning the


Armenian faith, all in accordance with your request, your imperial
majesty. Now listen and pay attention to whatever I say with an
open mind and understand the true profession of faith of the
Armenian nation, based on one Godhead consisting of the Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit. First one must understand the nature of man
and the reason for his creation; this is the means of knowing God who
created man in the fullness of being. One must admit that anything
more or anything less said about this belief comes from evi1. 1 First
2
and foremost we know that God is without beginning and infinite....

32. IlNow we shall speak about the creation of man. Why did God
first create the lower forms and prepare man's habitat and after all
this make man as his last act of creation? It is because he did not
think it proper to enjoy his opulence alone. So from his abundant

112

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

excellence he poured out his blessings and passed from th~ creation
of angels and other beings [to the creation of man], accordmg to the
words of the prophet who said: 'The earth was full of the mercy of
the Lord' the heavens were made firm by the words of the Lord, all
their virtues emanating from the breath of his mouth.'l 0 v~ctori0.u8
emperor, 10, we expound our profession of faith to you; Imperlal
majesty and once again discourse about these matters. It IS our duty
to serve and worship the Lord in the same way and manner as those
inspired by the Holy Spirit. For we procl~i~ ~hat the Fath~r is God t
that the Son is God that the Holy Spmt IS God, fonmng three
persons and one will ~th one accord and one lordship. There is no
superiority or inferiority between them; one is not to be more honored
or more humbled than the others, so that one assents, the other
cooperates, while the third provides the inspiration. Moreover, ea~h
person equally manifests the splendor of the Godhead, separated 111
its unity and united in its separation, which indeed is beyond human
understanding.
33. "At this point I will delineate the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
We shall speak of the Holy Spirit as an enlightening force; as the
contemplator of the divine graces, St. John the Evangelist, expressed
it: 'That was the true light, which enlightens all men and which was
coming,'l It was also the comforter and still is and will [always] bej
it is the only light, its light is the light, it is God and, it is that which
David saw in times past. The theologian John2 witnesses to all this
when he says: 'The Holy Spirit is God, whom people [wrongly] regard
as inferior [to the other persons of the Godhead] and do not maintain
as God equal with the Father and the Son.' This is the doctrine of
the Trinity and of the Holy Spirit, which we profess. Now God came
to this world to give birth, and what an excellent offspring came forth
because ofthisj so at this point we shall expound to your excellency
on the birth of the Son from the Father, as to why we hold the belief
we do [concerning this doctrine]. We believe the essence of the
Godhead to be equally in the fatherhood and in the sonship. The
second person of the Trinity came for our salvation in a very real
sense and not seemingly or in a contrived way as [in the situation
w.hereJ persons disguised as guests partook of the calf in the tent of
hIm who was called t~e .fath~r of righteousness.s We regard the
second person of the Tnmty Without beginning and uncreated as it
was proclaimed from Moses to the prophets and from the prophets to
the fulfillment of the promises of the one who is to come. He will

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113

come among us in order to accomplish the work of redemption, which


event Christ witnessed to in the presence of the holy apostles. We
have received the Gospel in writing, and from the time of the
reception of this Gospel until the second4 manifestation of God, when
the good and the evil will receive their just recompense, the precepts
of the apostles together with those of the holy fathers are in effect.
34. "Now hear, 0 emperor, how we anathematize the heretics of
the church, who are corrupted by erroneous doctrines and whose
names have been recorded. We anathematize Valentinus, who
maintains that there are two Sons of God, one through nature and
the other through grace; he also maintains that the Old Testament
is bad and only the New is good, and because of all this we anathematize him, and indeed let him be anathema. Marcion maintains
that the basic elements are uncreated and exist by themselves, that
the world was fanned from numbers, and that the body of our Lord
seemingly exists but in essence is not real; because of all this we
anathematize him also. Montanus, who is considered one of the most
perverse heretics, maintains that his own person is the Holy Spirit
and at the same time fornicates with women; the Holy Spirit
anathematizes him, and indeed let him be anathema. Mani maintains that there are two principles coequal with one another, light
and darkness, the one good and the other evil; him also we anathematize. Novation rejects the doctrine of repentance, maintaining that
once a person sins, he can never again hope for pardon; because of
this we anathematize him with the rest, and indeed let him be
anathema. l
35. "Arius maintains three persons, but makes one inferior to the
other; the catholic church, together with us, anathematizes him.
Photinus maintains that Jesus originated from Mary and not
eternally from the Father; because of this we anathematize him. We
also anathematize Nestorius, Eutyches, and Sargis,t who has an
Armenian name,2 was accompanied by a dog and a donkey, and shall
partake of the fate of these animals on the last day; the holy catholic
apostolic church anathematizes these persons, and let them indeed
be anathema. We also anathematize Paul of Samosata, Peter the
Fuller,S and Dioscorus4; if indeed this last person held heretical views
as the other two, then let him be anathema, just in case your
superficial analysis of him be true.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

36. "Now we shall discourse on the crucified Christ, whom we


invoke and worship. Those who believe and maintain that the
Trinity was crucified on the cross or that the Godhead suffered on the
cross are anathematized by the Trinity, by us, and by the church of
God. Understand, your most high imperial majesty, [our doctrine]
concerning the union of the natures of God and man [in Christ],
natures which are esteemed by us. On the other hand, the separation of the divinity and the humanity after the union [of the two
natures] is not found in Holy Scripture;l this we confess and believe.
For Gregory the Thaumaturge2 says: 'If out of two diverse principles
(divinity and humanity] come forth two natures united in one, then
one can profess only one Lord, one Jesus Christ, one nature, after the
union which makes his earthly body coequal with the Godhead and
which brings these two together in one force and one divinity.'
However, why and in what way are the two natures related to one
another? These are the questions which the fathers of the church did
not examine too deeply. For why did the ThaumaturgesS neglect
understanding what the Holy Spirit revealed-namely the bringing
forth of God from God; why did they neglect the concept of the birth
of Christ as supremely from God? The blessed Gregory of Nyssa,' the
brother of the holy patriarch Basil,5 says the following in his book on
the nature of man, in the third discourse which deals with the union
of the soul and the body: 'It is certainly in accordance with the pure
Word God that, especially because God wished to unite with mankind, he lived in a body wherein he remained united without
confusion and in an ineffable manner, but not with a body like ours;
for our bodies seem to be formed of many elements and are subject to
the natural passions which are part of their very nature. On the
other hand, the Word of God has nothing in common with the body
or the soul, which are changeable; rather, it is not susceptible to their
weaknesses, but associates them to its divinity and in so doing still
remains one, as it was before this union was achieved. The new
reality of this combination and union, [Christ], operates in a certain
manner; it is mingled together, yet it remains completely distinct,
unconfused, incorrupt, and immutable; it is not susceptible to the
natural passions but yet is capable of action, not open to corruption
and
. mutability but yet both its aspects grow together-, nevertheless,
It IS not prevented by these passions and actions from remaining
unalterable and unconfused, because it is incapable of all change of
an impure kind.'
"In support of this doctrine we cite the philosopher Porphyry,S who

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115

wrote against Christ; for evidence about us recorded by our enemies


is quite formidable, although they do not accept the fact that Christ
is one. This Porphyry, in the second discourse of his miscellany,
writes the following concerning this subject: 'One cannot say that it
is impossible for a substance, by augmenting itself, to complement
another substance and to be a part of it and yet retain its own nature
even after its union with that other substance; this substance, by
being with another, does not change its own greatness, rather it
changes those substances which are united to it by the action of
coming together.' This is what Porphyry says concerning the union
of the soul and the body. If indeed these words are true in reference
to the soul and its immateriality, how much more would they be
applicable to the Word of God, which is eternally unique and truly
incorporeal; this teaching silences those heretics who revile the union
of the Word God with man, for they are like the pagans who hold
many absurd opinions.
37. "Therefore, those Christians and other faithful who maintain
the aforementioned doctrine in another sense by professing the
alteration or confusion of the two natures, let these be anathema. If
anyone maintains that the Theotokos Mary, the Holy Virgin, assumes
a position distant from the Godhead, let him be anathema. If anyone
says that Christ passed through the Virgin as if through a tube, or
that he was created in her divinely and humanly at one and the same
time--divinely because he was conceived without a man and humanly
because he was born through a natural birth-let him be anathema.
If anyone says that man was first created and then God entered and
dwelled within him, let him be condemned for not maintaining the
birth of God, but rather rejecting it. If anyone professes two sons,
one from God the Father and the other from a mother, both not being
one and the same, let him be excluded from the inheritance of the
faithful. There are two natures, for in Christ is God and man, a
spirit and a body; however, there are neither two sons nor two Gods,
but only one; moreover, in him there are not two men, although Paul
of Samosata maintained that there are-one the internal man and
the other the external man.
"If one must speak. succinctly, I would say that the Savior is
composed of many elements, but he is not at one and the same time
invisible and visible, or outside of time and limited by time; there is
nothing different about him except one thing: there are two in the
same house who are united together, God becoming man and man

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

becoming God; how else can one express this. [inscrutable mystery]?
We maintain that the Trinity is composed of different Persons, but we
do not confuse one Person with the other; in the same way the two
natures are made one in Christ and partake of the same divinity. If
anyone maintains that Christ, as a prophet, was born in grace, but
was not begotten through the natural union of two natures, let him
be considered among those who are anathematized by the powers on
high, especially if he persists in his error. IT anyone does not worship
Christ crucified, let him be anathematized and condemned with the
deicides. If anyone maintains that he is worthy of being adopted as
a son of God only after his baptism or his resurrection from the dead,
as the pagans affirm in their erroneous books, let him be anathema.
For heretics such as these maintain that the being, who has a
beginning, progresses, and finally becomes perfect, is not God,
although they say this because of the gradual changes which take
place in him. If anyone maintains that Christ has now put aside his
body and has kept only his divinity, having abstracted it from his
body, and thus has divested himself of this garment he used to wear,
so that at present or at his second coming he will not be seen in his
glory, [let him be anathema]. For where is his body now, if not with
the one who is clothed in it?
"We reject the nonsense of the Manicheans, who say that his body
was placed in the sun and thus honor that which is not worthy of
honor;! [we do not believe as they do that] this body became dissipated and dissolved in nature, similar to what happens to air and
lightning in the atmosphere; [we also reject their notion that] the
body is not in any place where it can be touched, or [that] it is not
resurrected and its former wounds cannot be seen, since the Godhead
itself is invisible. On the contrary, we maintain that he came with
his body, wholly formed, as he appeared to his disciples on Mount
Tabor in a manifestation where his divinity triumphed over his
hu~anity; it is this belief that I wish to make known to your imperial
maJesty. If anyone maintains that Christ's body descended from
heaven,2 let him be anathema, for a heavenly body comes from
heaven and a terrestrial body from the earth; no one ascends to
heaven who has not descended from there, namely the Son of Man.
If there is a.nyt~ing more to be said here, one should explain the
heavenl~ umon In .the sense that everything exists through Christ,
and ChrIst dwells In our hearts in order to enlighten our minds.
38. "Now we wish to explain to your very illustrious majesty about

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Christ crucified and the cmcifixion by means of the following invocation: '0 you who were crucified for us'; during our worship services
we repeat this invocation when we give thanks to God three times for
his Son crucified for us. H anyone imagines that Christ acts because
of the Father or the Holy Spirit, or maintains that all three equally
suffered in the passion and that all three were crucified, he will be
accused of professing three Godheads. However, if we declare that
only the Son is benevolent, we reject the words contained in the
Gospels which say: 'Hanyone is ashamed of me or of my words, the
Son of Man will be ashamed of him. 'i This passage refers to those
who, although confessing Christ, conceal the thanks due God for the
crucifixion; as these people are ashamed of the cmcifixion, so also will
Christ be ashamed of them on the last day. When, for example,
Gregory,2 the father of theologians, says: 'God crucified, the sun
darkened,' how can one dare disavow the crucifudon? However, if
anyone brings the Father and the Holy Spirit together, let him be
anathema.
39. "Now, passing on to another subject, let us discuss the action
involved in the mystery of the bread and the wine. Why did Christ
take up the unmixed chalice together with the unleavened bread in
order to distribute these to us-on the night in which he was betrayed-when he instructed us to consecrate his body and blood in
memory of himself? The blessed1 John Chrysostom, whose testimony
we cite here, says the following in his commentary on the Gospels, in
reference to the writings of the Pharisees: 'The other evil heresies,
Christ rooted out; this is why after his resurrection he only took the
[unmixed] chalice and the unleavened bread; for he said that there
were those who used water in the holy sacrament, even though the
vine produces only wine and not water.' This is why we adhere to
this usage which was passed down to us. Now, since two types of
liquid flowed from the wound made on Christ's side, many have
mixed water with the wine, because water came out with the blood;
also they have adopted the leavened bread because the divinity was
united with the body, but they have made a false interpretation in
order to justify this usage. In reference to the water and the blood,
the blessed John says that the water signifies perfect mortality and
the blood signifies perfect vitality, since Christ both lived and died in
perfection. For his humanity is not separated from his divinity, but
constitutes a unity, as we have already proved. He is no longer a
man but God and man at the same time, existing before eternity,

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although not associated with a body in that state. In the space of


time he took on humanity for our salvation; he suffered the passion
in his body, but not in his divinity; he is circumscribed .in his bo~y,
but boundless in his divinity; he is at one and the same time celestIal
and terrestrial, visible and invisible, limited and without limit-all
in such a way that he is both finite and infinite and yet man and
God. Therefore, we worship and proclaim God alone. We believe in
the indivisible union of the divinity and the humanity, not worshiping
the humanity for fear of introducing a quaternity in place of the
Trinity or [introducing] the opinion that salvation is accomplished
only by the death and shedding of the blood of a man rather than by
God.
40. "Now hear what we have to say concerning the Feast of the
Nativity and fasting. In reference to those feasts, which you
celebrate at times different from us, you use as your chief argument
in support of your position the time of the birth of Christ, following
this passage of the evangelist and apostle St. Luke: 'And Christ was
thirty years old'l; this clearly shows that on the same day of his
birthday, Christ was baptized and began his mission when he had
completed his thirtieth year. Now, since the duration of Zechariah's
muteness is reckoned as one hundred and eighty days, which makes
the Feast of the Annunciation fall on the twenty-fIfth of March, the
two hundred and seventy six days of the pregnancy of the Holy Virgin
is reckoned from this period, allowing a space of ten months for the
pregnancy of the firstborn-all of which calculations fix the Nativity
on the twenty-fIfth of December. Now first let us examine Leviticus
and then the Gospels. Leviticus states: 'This is the feast consecrated
to me, which shall be holy for you, and you shall celebrate it three
times a year. All of your male children shall be presented to me, and
you shall make offering to the Lord.' The text adds: 'The first day of
the sixth month shall be holy for you, and the fIfteenth of that same
month, called the Feast of the Tabernacles, shall be holy for you. You
shall not perform any servile work on that day. The seventh day,
called the sabbath rest, shall also be holy for you. You shall not
perform any servile work on that day.'2 These are the words of
Scripture. Now Zechariah's muteness dates from the month of
Tishri,3 whi~h is t~e seventh month. This is the Day of Atonement,
when the high pnest entered the holy of holies and this happened
only once ~ year, according to the words of St. P~ul. It was unlawful
for Zechanah to have intercourse with his wife on this day,'because

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he was the high priest for that year, besides which the solemn Feast
of the Tabernacles was near, and all of Israel was assembled there.
Because of all this and because the Feast of the Tabernacles had to
be celebrated for seven days, it was not possible for the high priest to
leave the people and go to his home, all the more since his residence
was far away and not in Jerusalem. The evangelist St. Luke attests
to all this when he says: 'The people were waiting for Zechariah and
they wondered why he was delaying in the temple. When the time
of his priestly ministrations were over, he returned to his home.' The
evangelist continues: 'Mter these days his wife Elizabeth became
pregnant.'6 This all clearly shows that Zechariah's having intercourse
with his wife assuredly took place after the celebration of the feast
days, and for a further confinnation of these words the evangelist
repeats once again: 'The time of his priestly ministrations was over';
then he adds: 'Mter these days his wife Elizabeth became pregnant.'
Who is the man having some intelligence who doesn't know that God
commanded the people to purify themselves and worship him, not
only during the feast, but also on the first day of the month in the
evening? How is it that in the interval between two solemn feasts
the high priest is able to leave the people and go to his home in order
to have intercourse with his wife? The evangelist clearly relates that
Mary, having left, went towards the hills to a town of the tribe of
Judah; there she entered the house of Zechariah, and on the same
day of the feast Zechariah had intercourse with his wife. Now
understand that this took place during the feastS of the month of
Tishri at the time of Zechariah's muteness, which is the twenty-fifth
of September or the twenty-second of the month of Tishri, when the
conception and pregnancy of Elizabeth took place. Now, calculating
six months-that is one hundred and eighty days-from the conception of Elizabeth, we come up with the sixteenth of the month, which
is the sixth of April according to the Roman calendar,? on which day
the annunciation of the Holy Virgin Mary took place. Then, allowing
a space of ten months for the pregnancy of the firstborn and calculating two hundred and eighty-six days from the annunciation, we come
up with the twenty-first of September, which is the sixth of'January
according to the Roman calendar. Now this is the doctrine which we
profess and in which we stand unshaken and with an unfaltering
faith until the end of time.
41. "Now we shall discourse on the fast of Arajawork',1 because
there has been much antagonism, schism, and conflict between the

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Romans and our nation over this issue. Concerning the fast of
Arajawork' there is no basic difference between it .and. Lent, fo~ the
prelates of old separated this fast from Lent, takmg mto consIderation the weakness of human nature; first they had prescribed that
it should be conducted in holiness and forbade the consumption of all
types of victuals, from the produce of the vine to sesame, not to spe~
of wine and oil; then, since the people were unable to hold to thIS
rigorous prescription, these prelates of old permitted an interval of
repose. The reason we have outlined above for the establishment of
this fast suffices, although another significance is attributed to it for
its institution. It is said that this fast offive days was first imposed
as an expiation for man's transgressions through his five senses in
the earthly paradise; this is supposed to be the basis for all fasts
practiced by Christians and also a step to the highest of abstinences,
Lent. This is why Moses in the desert granted the people a time for
relaxation, following the command of the Lord. In the same way the
inhabitants of Nineveh atoned for their sins by a five-day fast and
thus saved their city from destruction. 2 Likewise Cyril, patriarch of
Jerusalem,S prescribed a five day fast before baptism [for those
entering the faith]. There are still other alleged reasons for this fast,
which I feel are superfluous to cite here, since it would be tedious for
the mind. This fast does not do any injustice to the faith; on the
contrary, it serves to fulfill its precepts, and besides, no one is to be
blamed for a five-day abstinence. During this fast you would do well
not to eat any of these foods, except on the holy day when we
celebrate the feast of the general St. Sargis, the true martyr who was
immolated by the descendants of Hagar,4the sons of Mupammad, in
the district
of Bagrewand5 during the reign of the emperor Theodo6
sius. To be sure, this man is not the apostate donkey-driver Sargis
who worshiped a dog. For us Christians it is St. Sargis, the true
ma~tyr, whom we commemorate. Thus in regards to this there is no
schIsm or scandal on our part. Now we have said all this concerning
the fast o~ Arajawork' so that all these words might be understood as
a professlO~ of a true and concise faith; this faith we uphold and
stand firm In from now until the end of time persisting in it at
present and in the future. May our Lord Jesu~ Christ be with his
ser~an~B; to him be given glory and adoration by the holy church,
whIch IS blessed and will be blessed to the end of time, Amen."

~2. Such was the discourse which the Armenian king Gagik
dehvered before the emperor Ducas and in the midst of all the Greek

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rhetoricians and doctors in the city of Constantinople. The emperor


Ducas and all the savants who held seats in the Academy were very
pleased and marvelled at the soundness of Gagik's reasoning and at
the profuseness of his various talents and skills. So the Romans
reestablished peaceful and friendly relations with the Armenian
princes. Forced to renounce their gibberish, all these detractors of
the Armenians were humiliated; for all the Roman doctors were
unable to find even the slightest suspicion of heresy in the profession
of our faith which the Armenian king presented to them. Also Gagik
composed many other discourses based on invincible logic, by means
of which he attacked and refuted the Greeks. The emperor looked at
these and was very pleased with them, for they contained only
orthodox statements and a true profession of faith which is in Christ
Jesus. So the emperor Ducas came to have a very friendly and
receptive attitude towards our princes, bestowing many gifts on
Gagik, Atom, and Abusahl, as well as on the noblemen of Armenia.
After all this the name of Gagik was glorified by all the eminent
Armenian vardapets of the time. Here is a list of these illustrious
vardapets: Tiran Kapanets'i; Saylahan Lasdiverts'i; Atom
Andzawats'i; Anane and Gregory Narekats'i; Sargis Swanets'i; Joseph
Entsayets'i; George Udzets'i; Dioscorus Sanahnets'i; Anane Haghbatats'i; James, son of K'arahat; Anthony and Timothy; John, surnamed
Kozern; Paul; Joseph; the vardapet George, surnamed T'amrets'i;
Parkchak; and other brilliant savants such as these, who were filled
with divine graces and flourished in this period. Indeed King Gagik
was equal to these men in the profuseness of the divine graces which
he had received.
43. Mter all this Gagik left the presence of the emperor and
returned to his country in great triumph, accompanied by his retinue.
Now the Armenian shahnshah went forth and arrived at the city of
Caesarea of Cappadocia. Already quite initated at the Greeks, he
very angrily struck out at the metropolitan1 of Caesarea, whose name
was Mark; for this man was an evil-minded schismatic and abominable heretic. Moreover, this wicked Mark was so insolent that he
even had the audacity to name his dog "Armen." The Armenian king
had been informed of this insult a long time back and so harbored a
deep hatred for the Greek metropolitan; however, because the king
lived among the Romans, he was not able to do anything about it.
Now this metropolitan had a very high and formidable reputation
among the Greeks; nevertheless, he incessantly blasphemed the

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Annenians, calling all dogs "Annen." Also he brought much affliction


upon the Armenians when he heard that the e~p~ror had the
intention of forcibly baptizing the princes of Armema III the Roman
faith. So, whenever Gagik stopped at a lodging place, he commanded
the Armenian troops to violate the distinguished Roman ladies found
there, wishing to outrage the Greeks by such behavior. For Gagik
had no intention of ever again returning to Constantinople, rather he
was resolved to go to the Persian sultan Alp Arslan and try to regain
control of the royal throne of Armenia; in fact this sultan had
summoned Gagik many times, but the Armenian king had always
refused his invitation, because he was not of the Christian faith.
Now, when Gagik was near the residence of the Greek metropoli.
tan, he expressed the desire to lodge with him. So envoys went and
said to the heretic Mark: "Gagik the Armenian king wishes to lodge
with you this day." Hearing this, his lordship Mark was oveIjoyed
and ordered his house decorated for the occasion; then willy-nilly he
went forth, accompanied by priests, to meet Gagik and, conducting
the Armenian king to his house with pomp, gave a magnificent
banquet in his honor. However, Gagik had been angry with the
metropolitan for a very long time and, when his lordship Mark began
to get a bit intoxicated, said to him: "I hear that you have a very
powerful dog; I would like to see him." Mark knew that these words
were said to provoke him and so ignored them. When the Armenian
king repeated his request, the dog was called; however, he did not
come because no one dared to call him by his real name, Armen.
Then Gagik said: "Call him by his name so that he will come."
At that point Mark, completely intoxicated, called the dog, saying:
"Annen, Armen." Immediately the dog, quick as a lion, came
bounding into their midst. Seeing him, Gagik said: "Is this dog
named ArmenT' Mark, greatly embarrassed, answered: "He is
soldier-like; that is why we call him Annen." Then Gagik said: "We
shall now see who is soldier-like, Armen or the Roman." A large sack
was ready at hand, and when Gagik gave the signal, his retainers
surrounded the dog and after a great deal of exertion put him into
the sack. His lordship Mark, seeing this, thought that they intended
to take the dog with them and so he began to get angry and arrogant
at the Armenian king's retainers. At that moment Gagik made a sign
with his hands to his servants; they surrounded the wicked Mark on
all, sides.and, forcibly seizing him, put him into the sack with Annen.
WIth this the Armenian king said: "Now we shall see who is the
more powerful and soldier-like, the Roman metropolitan or the dog

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named Armen by him." Gagik ordered the dog severely beaten;


enraged, the dog in turn attacked Mark and ferociously bit him with
his teeth. The servants of the Armenian king continued to beat the
dog for most of the day, while the dog angrily drew the blood of the
abominable heretic Mark. Screams and cries issued forth from the
mouth of Mark. Thus inside the sack a vicious struggle with a great
deal of gnashing of teeth took place. Moreover, piteous groans came
forth from inside the sack. In this manner this vile and abominable
blasphemer cruelly died, becoming food for the dogs. Mter this Gagik
ordered the house of the metropolitan plundered completely, for he
had been a very wealthy and high-ranking individual. An innumerable amount of gold and silver was taken, as well as six thousand
sheep belonging to him, forty pairs of buffalo, and twenty pairs of
oxen; having plundered all of this, the Armenian king returned to his
own home, taking with him a tremendous number of horses and
mules. Now Gagik accomplished all these things right before the
very eyes of the Romans, something which no one has ever dared or
will ever dare to do. So the Armenian king never returned to
Constantinople and consistently refused to heed the summons of the
Romans.
44. In this period King Gagik, the son of Abas ofKars, shone forth
as a brilliant savant and as one imbued with all types of philosophical wisdom and rhetorical skills; for he was always on a par with the
Roman doctors and, whenever he came to Constantinople, sat in the
pulpit of Saint Sophia; moreover, he was thoroughly familiar with the
Old and New Testaments and was an excellent orator. [His contemporary] Gregory Pahlawuni, the son of Vasak, was also an invincible
logician, endowed with all sorts of talents, and was very skillful in
giving cogent answers to whatever the Romans put forth; moreover,
he was extremely well educated and had a thorough grasp of the Old
and New Testaments. This brilliant man had the privilege of sitting
in the pulpit of Saint Sophia with the other savants, and he thus
could discourse with the Roman doctors; moreover, he was considered
to be among the most distinguished of the Armenian vardapets.
45. There was an Armenian prince called Atrnerseh, from the
district of Bagrewand. This man was erudite and very brilliant, a
rhetorician and philosopher, and had studied in celebrated Argina;l
moreover, he was accomplished in the understanding of the two
divine testaments and was capable of standing up to all the Roman

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

124

savants because of his profound knowledge and astonishing oratorical


skill; in this way he was very much like Gagik and the other
Armenian savants we have mentioned.
46. During the reign of shahnshah Gagik., son of the Armeni~n
king Ashot, there took place a fearful and wondrous sign from. God 1.n
regard to the holy sacrament in the Monastery of Pizu, whICh thIs
same Gagik had built. Now on the day of Pentecost, while the holy
divine liturgy was being celebrated in the church of God, the
celebrant allowed a piece of the host to fall in front of the holy altar.
Then on the third day two venerable hermits had a vision, and
coming to the church before the arrival of the other monks, one of
them said to the other: "I had a vision during the night that the
lamp which hung from the cupola fell down in front of the holy altar
of God and yet the light in it was not extinguished." The other Olle
said: "I also had a vision; I saw a star of amazing grandeur fall from
the heavens in front of the holy altar of God, and its light became
even brighter [than before its fall]." All the monks marvelled at these
visions, and then the superior of the monastery, enlightened by the
Holy Spirit, said: "Behold [these visions signify that] a piece of the
host has fallen to the ground," Immediately the monks lit candles
and with censers in hand went into the church, for they had not
swept the church on the days [since the falling of the host]. When
they entered the sanctuary, they found a piece of the host before the
hol~ altar of God and, picking it up, gave thanks to our Lord Jesus
ghnst. In, this same manner many were strengthened in the
rtho?~x faIth and from that day on recognized that this sacrament
was dlVlne and from heaven, indeed being the true body of the Son
of God.

lO:;j At the beginning of the year 515 of the Armenian era [10661e':I ~omet appeared out of the eastern portion of the sky and

In a westerly direction. It appeared for one month and then


dz:ave
l.88ppeared. A number of d
fit
h' .
ays a er t IS It reappeared for one
month and th
d'
reappeared in t~~ w Is::peare~. A number of days after this it
es
it "G~d that 't
h rn portIon of the sky at night many who saw
-...
I was t e same co t h' h h
'
POrtion before Duri t
m~ w lC ad appeared in the eastern.
ravaged all of
?g hese tJ~es the infidels marched forth and
eIUJlavement.
mema, consummg all the faithful by the sword and

Ar

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48. In this period the Persian emir MshIn! collected troops and
desolated many regions, bloodily massacring the Christian faithful.
Much sorrow and gloom fell upon the land because of these wicked
infidels. The emir marched forth with a very great number of troops
and wintered at the foot of the Black Mountains. 2 There was a
tremendous amount of bloodshed and slaughter in the whole region,
and many of the holy monks were subjected to the edge of the sword
and to being burned; moreover, their corpses became food for the
beasts and birds, and since no one was able to inter them, they
remained perpetually unburied. Many monasteries and villages were
burned to the ground, and their traces are still evident today. Thus
the Black Mountains and the entire region from one end to the other
was covered with the blood of monks, priests, men and women, aged
and young, all of this happening according to the prophet who said:
"Their young men were devoured by fire and no one grieved for their
virgins; their priests fell under the sword and no one wept over their
widows; their blood flowed like water all around Jerusalem and there
was no one to bury them. "3 This is the sort of calamitous destruction
which the wicked and vicious beast MshIn brought upon the faithful;
moreover, it is veritably impossible for anyone to relate his [savage]
deeds.
49. In this BaIDe year a very illustrious and mighty emir, who was
called Gumushtigin and who was Alp Arslan's /tajib/ came forth from
the sultan's court; rising up, he went against the Christians with
formidable and valorous forces, causing rivers of their blood to flow.
Like a wounded and enraged beast he devastated the district of
T'lkhum and mercilessly slaughtered all those who had escaped the
previous invasions. By a great assault he captured the fortress called
T'let'ut' and inexorably slaughtered everyone there with the sword.
Then with an innumerable amount of captives he reached the
territory of Edessa. Descending upon the fortress called Nisibis, he
besieged it for a number of days, but was unable to capture it. Mter
this he forded the Euphrates River and fell upon the district of ~i13n
Manl:111r with the sword; being an instrument of the divine wrath [of
God], he consumed this very magnificent land with the edge of the
sword and spread his bitter and venomous hatred throughout the
whole area; for, like a hailstone accompanied by flashing lightning,
he struck down all the inhabitants of the land with a frightful
slaughter. The Turks burned everything in sight. Wielding the
sword and inflicting- deadly wounds, they caused the slaughter of all

126

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

the distinguished men of the district ~f ~itm~Miin~iir .and they led


into captivity noble ladies together w:th theIr attr~c~Ive sons and
daughters. Thus in this place one Witnessed the .dIvme wrath [of
God] falling upon the Christian faithful, for the rICh and the poor
without exception experienced the same venomous wrath at the
hands of the pitiless, savage, and perfidious nation of the Turks. ~o
in this way that magnificent district was consumed by the sword In
toto, and the slaughter of Christians continued unabated for three
days.
To add to this calamitous and bitter misfortune, a certain chief
who occupied the fortress of Nisibis, also known as the town of Sibar,
immediately sent to the city of Edessa and warned the dux Aruanda~
nos, saying: "The emir of the Persians is here encamped by the
banks of the Euphrates River with one hundred men; come, surprise
him, and take him prisoner." However, Aruandanos delayed and
fmally reluctantly marched against the emir Gumiishtigin with many
troops. When the emir learned of this, he immediately sent to ~Ii~n
Man~iir to have his forces brought up. Aruandanos arrived at the
fortress called Oshen, accompanied by his troops consisting of one
thousand five hundred horsemen and twenty thousand infantry.
When the two armies engaged in combat, like a lion the dux attacked
and struck at the Turks, for he was a brave man and a warrior. The
place of combat was narrow and steep. Soon the Turks began to
increase in numbers, and at that point Aruandanos said to his troops:
"Pull back a little so that the Turks can pursue us; then we can turn
around and attack them, so that they will not be able to escape."
However, when the dux's troops pulled back a little, Aruandanos
perceived that the Roman forces had really turned in flight and thus
had left him in the midst of the infidels.
So this turned out to be a very frightful day and one of tremendous
destruction for the Christians; for the whole plain became covered
with blood and captives, and the dux together with all the officers of
the Christian army was led into captivity. The remnants of the
Romans fled and took refuge in the fortress of Oshen and in this way
escaped. On that day as many as eleven thousand men were
slaughtered. The emir fettered Araundanos by an oxen yoke and in
that manner led him into captivity. Bringing the dux to the gates of
Edessa, the emir sold him for forty thousand dahekans and as a
guarantee for the sum of twenty thousand dahekans, ~andanos's
son was taken as hostage, who to this day still remains in Persia' the
other officers were ransomed one by one with gold and Silver.' So

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127

Gumushtigin victoriously marched forth and went back to Persia


laden with many captives and countless booty. He presented the
sultan with as many as two thousand attractive young slaves, both
boys and girls.2
50. In the year 516 of the Annenian era [1067-1068] the emperor
Ducas died, leaving behind his only son Michael. The imperial
throne remained unoccupied for one year, the empress Eudocia being
regent.

51. At the beginning of the year 518 of the Armenian era [10691070]1 Eudocia secretly summoned a certain magnate Romanus,
surnamed Diogenes,2 and, bringing this man into her chambers,
married him. She kept Romanus in her chambers until she had
summoned the caesar, the brother of Ducas, and, trying to discover
his true feelings, said: "What shall we do, for the imperial throne
remains unoccupied and Michael is still a child?" By these insidious
words the empress intended to create a pretext for doing away with
him. The caesar said to the empress: "What difference does that
make to me, for I and my children are your servants; give the
imperial throne to whomever you wish." Eudocia was both astonished and pleased at these words and thus no longer felt it necessary
to kill the caesar. Then the empress said to him: "Come, enter these
chambers and prostrate yourself before the emperor." The caesar was
astonished and amazed and thanked God that he had not said the
wrong thing. So he entered and prostrated himself before the
emperor. Then Diogenes was immediately taken to Saint Sophia, and
the entire city of Constantinople unanimously cried out to him:
"Praise [be to the emperor]"; following this, a crown was placed on his
head. s
52. In this period the holy Armenian patriarch his lordship
Vabram, also called Gregory, son of Gregory Magistros, who was the
son ofVasak. Pahlawuni, came to have a very strong desire to take on
the life of solitude and devote himself solely to praying to God.
Gregory was very much like Elias l and John the Baptist. 2 Having
adopted the lifestyle of St. Anthony,S deep down he desired to live on
top of a mountain. So he resolved to leave the great and glorious
patriarchal see; the vardapet George, who was his secretary, joined
him in this endeavor, and both men took a vow to walk together on
the road of the solitary life. This decision soon became known, and

128

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

when the Annenian king and princes heard of it, they did all in their
power to prevent Gregory's resignati~n. Howeve.r, the patriar~h was
even more insistent in carrying out hIS plan, saymg to them: I plan
to go to Rome and then travel through the Egyptian desert."
Nevertheless, the king and princes had no intention of letting him go.
Then, motivated by the zeal to carry out his cherishe~ desire, Gre?ory
said to the Armenian king: "Appoint anyone you WIsh as cathohcos,
but do not hinder me from the road of righteousness." When the king
and princes realized the single-mindedness of his purpose, unbeknown to him, they persuaded [the catholicos's secretary] George to
take the Annenian patriarchal see. His lordship Gregory had no idea
of all this; now George was brought forth to be consecrated as
catholicos, and when his lordship Gregory saw this, he was astonished and willy-nilly consecrated him catholicos of the Armenian
patriarchal see;4 however, he began to hold a grudge against George,
regarding him as his opponent, for he forgot the vow he had taken to
be George's companion in the spiritual life. Thus from that day on a
deep hostility existed between the two patriarchs, Gregory and
George. His lordship Gregory finally went through with his decision
to undertake the spiritual life and live in the mountains5 with those
solitary hermits who had dedicated their lives to Christ; so he
adopted their ascetic life and austere eating habits. s
53. In this same year the emperor Diogenes1 collected a great
number of troops from the whole empire of the Greeks, right up to
the borders of Rome and from all parts of the East. With these
formidable forces he marched forth and went against the country of
the Muslims. Arriving [in their territories], he encamped before the
r~nowned town called Manbij, not far from the very famous Muslim
CIty of Aleppo. A violent assault was launched and the town of
Ma~bi~ was put in great danger by the emperor'; barbarian mercenanes and countless troops. Mter many harassments Diogenes
com.manded catapults and other machines of the same type set up
agamst the town, for Manbij was surrounded by impregnable
ramparts. Now, when the ramparts were struck by the very large
rocks [of these machines], the concussion caused sections of the town
to. colla~se. At that point the inhabitants of the whole town trembled
;Ith ~nght and, with improvised crosses in their hands went in the
t~~tIon of the gates to the emperor. All the important personages
~ e. town fell at Diogenes' feet with very splendid gifts and
ecommg tributary to the emperor, were thus delivered from the fat~

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of death. So the emperor took pity on the town and accepted its
submission.s Mter this a letter came to the emperor Diogenes from
the empress, asking him to hasten back to Constantinople. Having
read this, the emperor began the journey back in haste.
64. In this same year a certain young emir called Ktrich', 1 who
was of the family of Alp Arslan, intended on secretly rebelling against
this sultan and then going to Constantinople to the Greek emperor. 2
This man reached Sebastia at the head of many troops, while the
curopalatesS went forth from Constantinople and came against him in
battle. The two armies engaged in combat near Sebastia, and the
Greeks were defeated and put to flight. On the following day the
Turks returned to battle against the Greeks and once again pushed
them back and put them to flight, this time taking the curopalates
prisoner. On the other hand, the Greek troops, blinded by dust and
being in flight, came to a steep and rocky place called Mak].'iti;
plunging headlong from there, they all perished. After a few days the
Armenian king and princes, including all the Armenian lords, made
peace and formed an alliance with the young emir. Then Ktrich' took
the curopalates and the other prisoners-as many as three thousand
men-and secretly went to Constantinople to the Greek emperor.
The emperor received him with great honor and pomp, for the emir
was a very benevolent person. 4
55. In the year 519 of the Armenian era [1070-1071] a comet
appeared in the sky; when it was seen, many said that it was the
same omen which had appeared before and after which much
bloodshed had occurred. Once again it appeared one night, as if all
the stars had fallen to earth. All nations and peoples were frightened
and shook and trembled because of this dreadful and horrible omen, l
for an omen like this had never been seen or heard of before. It was
believed that this all had to do with what the Savior meant when he
said: "In the final days there will be signs of confusion and dread in
the sun, moon, and stars this is written in the Holy Gospels. So
this was the beginning of the second devastation and final destruction
of our country by the wicked Turkish forces, because our sins had
increased and spread; for "all have sinned and have diminished from
the glory of Godlls and "no one is righteous, no not one. 1I4 We all
became accustomed to walking in wickedness and preferred the ways
of sin rather than those of righteousness; we never changed from the
path of evil to the path of good, for which we brought the wrath of the
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non-irascible God upon us; moreover, because ~f our t~sted behavior


we provoked God, whose nature is al~ays mIld, agamst us. Many
times he admonished us and dealt wIth us sharply as a heedless
nation; yet we still did not turn from our perverse ways, for man's
nature was destined to foster evil [rather than goodl. Because of all
this calamity and destruction have fallen upon us like a whirlwind,
and'the tempestuous winds of the evil Ishmaelites 5 of old have
haunted us, giving us neither respite nor rest. Nevertheless, the
Lord himself shall look kindly on his creation, Amen.
56. In1this same year Alp Arslan, the brother of Sultan Tughrul,
rose up and went forth like a torrential stream; with a tremendous
number of troops he marched forth and arrived in Armenia like a
cloud filled with murky darkness, bringing with him much destruction and bloodshed. Descending upon Mantskert, he captured the
town in one day since there was no garrison there, for its Roman
guardians had fled. Alp Arslan slaughtered all the inhabitants of the
town because of the insult directed at his brother, the sultan Tughrul,
by these same inhabitants at a previous time; for this insult had not
as yet been avenged at the time of Tughrul's death. Going forth from
here, the cruel sultan Alp Arslan reached the town of Amida, but he
merely encamped before the gates of the town, feeling benevolently
towards its inhabitants; for in his camp his wife gave birth to a son
and he named him Tutush.
Going forth from here, the sultan came to the district of T'lkhum.
He laid siege to the fortress of this name, harassing it incessantly,
and assaulted it with every means at his disposal; however, even
after several days he was unable to capture the fortress of T'lkhum.
~o Al~ Arslan began to talk of making peace, on condition that the
mhabitants pay him tribute. At this the inhabitants became more
~elaxed and negligent, leaving the ramparts unguarded. When the
mfidel forc~s saw their ~tate of unpreparedness, without waiting for
the sul~n 8 or~er, theIr whole army rushed against the fortress.
Launchm~ a Violent assault against the place, they captured it,
slaughten~gmany and taking countless captives. When Alp Arslan
he~d of t~lS, he was surprised and deeply regretted the slaughter of
the mhabitants, for he had taken an oath [not to harm them] Going
forth from this place, the sultan advanced with a tremendo~s army
and reached the territory of Edessa. He made incursions into all
parts of the territory, right up to the gates of the city of Edessa. He
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and captured this stronghold and also that of Ariwtsat'il, causing a


severe slaughter and filling the whole land with blood.
Then, laden with much booty and captives, the sultan went and
marched forth against the city of Edessa, surrounding it on all sides
and pitching his camp all around its walls. It was winter, the tenth
of the month of Mareri, 2 and the dux of the city was Basil, the son of
the Bulgar king Alusianus. 3 Now, when the townspeople saw the
countless army of infidel troops, this whole throng of Christian
faithful living in the city of Edessa became horror-struck and
trembled with fear; for the mass of the sultan's forces covered the
plains and the hilltops. Thus the entire city trembled because of this
venomous serpent and ferocious beast, for indeed he was a bloodthirsty man. Alp Arslan waited around for eight days without
beginning the assault, while the inhabitants of the city were so
depressed that they were unable to prepare themselves for any
enemy attack. Then one of the sultan's troops, seeing their mindless
attitude, secretly warned them, saying: "Have you lost your senses?
Fortify the ramparts and saddle your horses." After hearing this, the
townspeople finally began to place soldiers all around the ramparts
and organized every means of defense at their disposal; in this
manner every man was encouraged to resist any [enemy] assault.
Moreover, Basil, the dux of the city, who was a brave man and a
warrior, began to fortify the entire city. When the sultan saw this,
he became enraged and, ordering the battle trumpet sounded,
savagely assaulted the city. Thus all the infidel forces were stirred
up, and the entire city of Edessa was surrounded by them on all
sides.
So this turned out to be a grievous day and one filled with very
violent combat, and the whole city was permeated with showers of
arrows; moreover, all the Christian faithful, weeping and lamenting,
prayed to God to save them from this vicious beast. For the greater
part of the day all the Persian forces battled against the city of
Edessa, but were unable to capture it, for the Lord vanquished and
humiliated them. Mter all this the sultan ordered catapults and war
machines set up against the ramparts; moreover, he had the gardens
and vineyards [around Edessa] destroyed and their wood used to fill
up the moat of the city. He also had a wooden tower built upon ten
wagons, so that he might finally capture the city of Edessa. However,
when the Turks tried to move the ten wagons close to the ramparts,
the wooden tower collapsed; soon after the besieged, tunneling under
the moat, came out on the eastern side and carried most of the wood

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

back to the city, burning whatever remained. Then the infidels began
to dig seven tunnels under the moat in order to undermine the city's
walls. In tW'n the townspeople dug in the direction of the enemy
sappers, capturing and killing these infidels. So the Lord strengthened the city against the infidels. For fifty days the sultan vehemently besieged Edessa, but he was not able to capture it. Then Alp
Arslan, frustrated, promised to give money and a high position to
anyone who could remove a rock from the ramparts, for he wished to
take this rock back with him to Persia as a souvenir. At this point
Abu'l-Uswar, the emir of Dvin, said to the sultan: "Near us is the
altar of a church which no one has thought of assaulting." So the
Turks tried to remove a stone from the altar of St. Sargis Church,
which was east of the city; however, they were not able to do so, and
when the sultan saw this, he was very humiliated. Mter all this
Kuraysh, the chief emir of the Arabs, taking the sultan Alp Arslan
and the whole army of Persian troops, marched against the city of
Aleppo. Consequently, on that day there was great rejoicing within
the city of Edessa, for the townspeople had been delivered from this
vicious beast.4
57. When the Greek emperor Diogenes heard the news of this
recent calamity [brought upon Armenia], roaring like a lion he
commanded all his numerous forces be collected; so edicts were issued
and heralds sent forth throughout all the lands of the West. Thus a
very great and formidable number of troops was gathered together
from the entire country of the Goths, from all the Bulgars, from all
the distant islands,l from Cappadocia and all of Bithynia, 2 from Cilicia
and Antioch, from Trebizond, and [last but not least] from Armenia-whose remnants of very courageous soldiers still existed;
moreover, Diogenes had mercenaries from the infidels of Khuzistan
brought, and thus the emperor gathered together a formidable anny,
as numerous as the sands of the sea.
So in the year 520 of the Armenian era [1071-1072] Diogenes
marched forth and, fulminating like a hail-filled cloud, reached the
city of Sebastia. Atom and Abusahl, the sons of the Armenian king,
came to meet him with great pomp. At this time the Romans made
slanderous remarks against the inhabitants of Sebastia and against
all of the Armenians in general, denouncing them before the emperor
and saying: "If at any time the emir Ktrich' strikes at us, the
Armenians surely will slaughter us more vehemently than the
Turks." The emperor Diogenes believed all these false accusations of

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the Romans and, swearing violently, in a threatening manner said:


"When I finish battling against the Persians, I shall do away with the
Armenian faith"; at the same time he ordered the city of Sebastia
pillaged by all the Roman troops. During this pillaging many were
killed, all because of the unjustly and falsely reached judgments of
the impious emperor Diogenes. Besides all this, he snubbed Atom
and Abusahl, the sons of the Armenian king, and thus brought much
aOlTOW upon Sebastia. At that time the illustrious Roman magnates,
[as well as] the shahnshah Gagik (son of Ashot) and the emir Ktrich'
(who had taken prisoner the curopalatesJ, said to the emperor
Diogenes: liDo not listen to the deceitful words spoken by those
belonging to your nation, because all their words are false; for all
those Armenians who have survived the combats with the Turks are
your auxiliaries. II When the emperor heard this, he became more
yielding, but he still threatened to do away with the Armenian faith
on his return [from Persia]. Having heard these menacing words, the
Armenian monks invoked grievous curses on the journey the emperor
was about to embark upon, praying that he not return from it and
that the Lord destroy Diogenes as he did the impious Juliana, who
was cursed by St. Basil.
Going forth with a tremendous number of troops, Diogenes went to
the East, to Armenia, and, descending upon the town of Mantskert,
captured it. The forces of the sultan who were in the town fled, and
when the emperor captured them, he slaughtered them. The news of
all this reached Alp Arslan, who was before th,e city of Aleppo; and so
he started back for the East, since he was told that the Roman
emperor was marching in the direction of Persia at the head of a very
formidable army. The sultan had been besieging Aleppo during the
winter, but had not been able to capture it because of the great
number of the city's forces. He had broken through the walls at a
number of places, yet he could not take over the city. So during the
spring, when Alp Arslan learned of the coming of the emperor Diogenes, he left Aleppo and in haste arrived at Edessa. The dux, who
resided in the city, provided him with horses, mules, and victuals.
Taking these, the sultan passed through the confines of Edessa,
unharmed, and went in an easterly direction towards the mountain
called Lesun. A countless number of horses and camels perished
because a forced march had been maintained by the sultan; for he
drove his troops as if they were in flight, wishing to reach Persia as
soon as possible. As he was returning, a letter written by perfidious
Romans from Diogenes' army reached Alp Arslan, and it read as

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

follows: liDo not flee, for the greater part of our forces is with you.
Hearing this, the sultan immediately stopped. !hen he wrot~ a very
amicable letter to the emperor Diogenes concernmg the estabhshment
of peace and harmony between both sides; each side.was to remain
in peace with the other, neither one ever harmmg the other;
moreover the Christians would be looked upon as friends, and thus
there wo~ld be a perpetual peace and alliance between the Persians
and the Romans.
When Diogenes heard these things, not only did he become
arrogant and refuse to accept the sultan's offer, but he became even
more bellicose than ever. Then the aforementioned malicious and
perfidious men approached Diogenes and said: 110 emperor, no one
is able to stand against your innumerable forces. Your troops are
going forth from the camp to procure victuals; send them away
regiment by regiment [to forage for themselves], so that they might
not go hungry before the day of battle. So the emperor had the emir
Ktrich' return to Constantinople and had Tarkhaniat4 go against
Khlat' with thirty thousand men; moreover, he sent twelve thousand
men to the Abkhazes, and thus because of the emperor all the Roman
forces became scattered. Now Alp Arslan was infonned of all these
treacherous machinations. So, when the sultan saw Diogenes'
inflexible and stubborn attitude, he went into battle against the
Roman forces, leading on the whole army of Khurasan with the fervor
of a lion cub. When Diogenes learned of the advance of the Persian
army against him, he ordered the battle trumpet sounded and had all
the Roman forces drawn up in orderly fashion. He appointed as
commanders of his troops Khatap and Vasilak, Annenian nobles who
were brave and were regarded as great warriors. A very violent
battle took place the greater part of the day, and the Roman forces
were defeated. Khatap and Vasilak. were killed, and all the Roman
troops were put to flight, being forced to fall back on the imperial
camp. When Diogenes saw this, he ordered all his forces to regroup,
but there was no one to heed his summons, for Tarkhaniat and the
other Roman magnates had returned to Constantinople with their
troops. When the emperor learned of this, he realized the treachery
of his own Romans. So the battle continued the next day. In the
morning hours the battle trumpet was sounded, and heralds went
forth, and proclai~ed the wishes of the emperor Diogenes; he
promIsed honors, hIgh positions, and jurisdiction over the towns and
distr~cts to all those who would courageously fight against the
PerSIan forces. Soon the sultan, very well organized, advanced into
II

II

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II

135

battle against the Roman troops. At that point the emperor Diogenes
went forth and reached a place of battle near Mantskert, called
Toghotap'.5 There he placed the Uz and Pecheneg mercenaries on his
right and left flanks and the other troops on his van and rear. When
the battle grew intense, the Uzes and Pechenegs went over to the
side of the sultan.
At that point all the Roman troops were defeated and turned in
complete flight. Countless Roman troops were slaughtered and many
captives were taken. 6 The emperor Diogenes himself was taken
prisoner and brought into the presence of the sultan in chains,
together with countless and innumerable captives. Mter a short
while the sultan made an alliance of peace and friendship with the
Roman emperor. Then the sultan adopted Diogenes as his blood
brother and took an oath to God as a guarantee of his sincerity;
moreover, with a solemn oath he pledged that there would be
perpetual friendship and harmony between the Persians and the
Romans. Mter all this with great pomp Alp Arslan sent the emperor
back to Constantinople, to his imperial throne.
When Diogenes reached Sebastia, news came to him that Michael, 7
the son of Ducas, occupied the imperial throne. At this all the
emperor's troops abandoned him and fled, and so he was forced to
take refuge in the city of Adana. The emperor Michael's forces
gathered against him. Diogenes, in turn, because of the danger in
which he found himself, put on the gannents of an abeghay and,
going to the Roman general who was the brother8 of Ducas,9 said:
"You no longer need to worry about me, for henceforth I intend to live
in a monastery; let Michael be emperor and may God be with him.
Notwithstanding all this, on that same day the Roman nation once
again crucified God as had the Jews, for they tore out the eyes of
Diogenes, their very own sovereign, who then died from the intense
pain [caused by the blinding]. When Alp Arslan heard this, he wept
bitterly and regretted the death of Diogenes. Then the sultan said:
liThe Roman nation has no God, so this day the oath of peace and
friendship taken by both the Persians and Romans is nullified;
henceforth I shall consume with the sword all those people who
venerate the cross, and all the lands of the Christians shall be
enslaved. Whenever the sultan brought Diogenes to mind, he sighed
heavily and lamented exceedingly, likewise all the Persians.
Speaking to the Khurasanians, the sultan said: "Henceforth all of
you be like lion cubs and eagle young, racing through the countryside
day and night, slaying the Christians and not sparing any mercy on
II

II

136

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

the Roman nation." Mter this speech Alp Arslan victoriously


returned to the country of the Persians. 10
68. In this period the sultan Alp Arslan gathered together all the
Persian forces and, crossing over the great Oxus 1 River (also called
Gehon), he entered the territory of Samarkand2 at the head of a
tremendous army of troops. He intended on gaining control of this
territory, and with a formidable detachment of troops the sultan
came and encamped against the impregnable and renowned fortress
of Hamay. The commander of this fortress was a very brave man,
but had a very cruel and malicious nature. For many days Alp
Arslan harassed the fortress with a violent assault, summoning its
commander to submit and at the same time guaranteeing him
perpetual ownership of his lands. Mter being harassed a great deal,
the commander of the fortress decided to go and prostrate himself
before the sultan. At the same time he thought of a very horrible and
malicious plan. On that day he made merry with his wife and
children, dining and drinking with them and amusing himself,
listening to songsters, drumbeats, and artistic melodies. Then during
the night he savagely slew his wife and three children with his own
hands, so that they might not fall into the hands of the sultan and be
his slaves.
The next day this commander went to Alp Arslan, concealing on
his person the same two very sharp knives which he had used to slay
his children. When he arrived, the sultan saw him and ordered him
brought into his presence. So the commander went to prostrate
himself before Alp Arslan; however, when he approached, he rushed
the sultan, taking out the two knives concealed in his shoes. Those
who were escorting him fled, and at that point he savagely fell upon
the sultan and plunged the two knives into his body. Then Alp
Arslan's servants immediately killed the commander. The sultan was
seriously wounded in three places. He was in danger of dying, and
his wounds were very painful. He ordered his forces to evacuate the
territory [of Samarkand] so that the people of his country would not
know what had happened to him. After five days, being in great pain
because of his wounds, Alp Arslan commanded that all the illustrious
Persian chiefs and the ft,ajib of his troops be summoned before him.
Then he presented to them his son MalikShah, saying: "Today I die
because of my wounds, and so my son shall be your ruler; it is he who
shall occupy my royal throne." Saying this, Alp Arslan took off his
royal robes and put them on his son Malik-Shah; then he prostrated

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himself before his son and, weeping, entrusted him to God and to all
the Persian emirs. So on this day the sultan Alp Arslan died, killed
by an obscure man of Kurdish origin. Thus Malik-Shah3reigned over
the Persians and, being a kind and merciful ma.n, was very benevolent towards the Christian faithful. After the death of Alp Aralan, he
returned to occupy the throne he had inherited, taking his father's
body with him and burying it in the tomb of his ancestors, located in
the town of Marand. The reign of Malik-Shah was favored by God;
his rule extended to all lands and he brought peace to Armenia.
59. In the year 521 of the Armenian era [1072~1073] a conflict
arose between his lordship Gregory and his lordship George. Gregory
was able to have George removed from the patriarchal see, taking the
veil1from his head. George, deeply hurt, went to the city of Tarsus,
where he died. On the other hand, his lordship Gregory went and
lived in Mutarasun2 with Gagik, the son of Gurgen.
60. In this period the impious and most wicked chiefPhilaretus,l
who was of the very offspring of Satan, began his tyrannical rule; for,
when Diogenes fell, this perfidious man, who indeed was a precursor
of the abominable Antichrist and possessed by a demonical and
extremely monstrous character, tyrannically ruled over the land.
This Philaretus began to war against the Christian faithful, for he
was a superficial Christian and was disavowed by both the Armenians and Romans; he professed the Roman faith and followed their
customs, but he was Armenian through his father and mother, having
grown up with his uncle in the Monastery of Zorvi-Kozern in the
district of ~i~n-Manf3ur. So Philaretus came forth from the wilderness and brought with him abominable desolation. He came to rule
over many areas and towns, causing the deaths of many illustrious
nobles; finally he fixed his residence at Mshar. 2 Mter this he sent to
T'ornik, the lord of Sasun, and summoned this man to come to him
in submission. When T'ornik, the son of Mushegh, heard this, he
ridiculed Philaretus's absurd command, saying: "I have not even set
eyes upon this man."3 Then Philaretus's messengers said to T'ornik:
"Our ruler is coming against you with many troops and will devastate
and ruin all those districts belonging to you." "How many troops does
Philaretus have?" asked the lord of Sasun. "As many as twenty
thousand," answered the messengers. Then T'ornik said: "I have one
thousand horsemen who daily partake of the body and blood of the
Son of God; on the other hand, I know for a fact that Phila.retus and

138

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

aU his forces are bereft and devoid of any belief in Christ, besides
which they are filled with all sorts of grievous iniquities." The
messengers went and related all this to Philaretus.
Then Philaretus summoned his lordship Gregory and said to him:
"T'ornik is your son-in-law; go and summon him to submit to me."
However, Gregory, knowing Philaretus's malicious character, went to
T'o;rnik against his own will and never again set eyes upon the
wicked ruler. Gregory explained the reason for his coming to T'or nik,
and the lord of Sasun was amazed and said: "How is it that
Philaretus did not blush, after so insolently sending you to me as an
envoy supported by such deceitful subterfuge?" When he realized
that T'ornik had no intention of heeding his summons, Philaretus,
collecting his troops, went against the lord of Sasun. At first T'ornik
did not know of Philaretus's coming, but when he found out, alerting
his forces, he brought them together from all parts of Sasun-fifty
thousand infantry and six thousand cavalry. Then T'ornik came to
Ch'apaghjur4 and, since he still was not sure that Philaretus was
coming, disbanded his infantry forces and with a thousand horsemen
went to the Armenian town of Ashrnushat. 6 On the plain of Aleluay
T'ornik finally met up with the forces of Philaretus, who had with
him the Frankish count ~mbaghat6 with eight hundred men. At this
point T'ornik regretted having disbanded his infantry forces;
nevertheless, he deployed his troops for battle battalion by battalion,
on each flank and on the front line. On the front line he placed his
aide Kapos, a very brave man, with three hundred troops; but of all
of Philaretus's forces, the lord of Sasun was most apprehensive of the
Franks and said: "See that my battalion engages the Franks." At
that moment :J;tmbaghat and his troops advanced and, striking
against T'o]:'nik's battalion, broke through its ranks and penetrated
into its center. Then the lord of Sasun signaled his troops, and both
his flanks closed in around the Franks, [trapping them]; the Armenians took all their officers prisoner and even captured their count. On
the other hand, Philaretus and all his troops were put to flight and
their officers taken prisoner-as many as one thousand five hundred
men. So on that day many Franks and other Christians were
slaughtered. After this T'o]:'nik and all the Annenian troops turned
back and went to Basun, laden with much booty. Philaretus, in tum,
fled and in great humiliation took refuge in Kharberd. This all took
place in the district of Handzit', on the plain of Aleluay.
61. In this period T'ornik went with a few men and entered his

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fortress in the town of Ashmushat on the Aratsani [River]. Suddenly


a certain emir, whose name was Amr-Pak'r/ appeared with many
troops. This emir had been informed that the lord of Sasun did not
have too many troops with him. So, instigated by Philaretus, he
came to T'ornik and began to make arrangements for a treaty of
peace with him, acting deceitfully and taking a false oath; the emir
went so far as to win over the lord of Sasun's retainers through many
gifts and presents and, circumventing T'ornik in this manner, in
collusion with three other men was able to get the Armenian leader
to go along with this deceitful alliance. Mter this, while they were
at a banquet, the emir savagely roshed upon T'ornik, intending to kill
him. T'ornik had no weapon with him except a small dagger; he
struck the emir with it, slitting his stomach wide open; taking hold
of the heads of the other emirs, he cracked one against the other and
thus killed these infidels. Then, unharmed, the lord of Saaun went
up to his fortress which was nearby, and all the Turks fled at his
approach. As T'ornik approached the fortress, one of the infidels who
lay in ambush slyly struck him in the heart with a spear, and in this
way the brave Armenian leader died. His head was brought to
Philaretus, and this impious man, taking the skull, made it into a
cup which he used for drinking wine. The rest ofT'ornik's head was
sent to the emir of Maiyafariqin, while his body was burned. Mter
this the remains of the burned bones of this courageous and pious
man were collected and taken to be buried near the doors of the
Monastery of the Holy Precursor. 2 The lord of Basun left behind two
sons, Ch'ortunanel and Vasak, both still in their childhood.
62. In this period the impious Philaretus summoned his lordship
Gregory to come and occupy his patriarchal see. However, Gregory
did not heed his summons, for he was deathly afraid of this venomous
beast. Once again Philaretus wrote to the holy patriarch, saying: "It
is not right that the patriarchal see remain unoccupied." Still his
lordship Gregory dared not come, and he wrote to Philaretus, saying:
"I authorize you to put his lordship Sargis, the nephew of his lordship
Peter,lon the patriarchal see." Then Gregory sent Sargis the veil,
crosier, and craBS belonging to Peter. When Philaretus sawall this,
he realized that Gregory would never return to bis patriarchal see.
So he commanded an assembly of bishops, abbots, and monks to come
together. His lordship Sargis was consecrated to the see of the
Armenian catholicate2 in Honi, a town in the district of Jahan. 3
Sargis was a holy man of venerable mien and renowned for his

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

virtuous conduct, besides being endowed in every way with piety and
true orthodoxy which is in Christ Jesus; moreover, he was a faithful
shepherd of Christ's flock. At that time his lordship Gregory went to
the capital of the Armenians called Ani and there consecrated as
bishop his nephew Barsegh, the son of Vasak, son of Apirat, son of
Hasan; after a number of years Barsegh4 came to occupy the patriarchal see of the Armenians.
63. It was in the year 523 of the Armenian era [1074-1075] that
his lordship Gregory went to Constantinople and from there to Rome.
Then, going to Egypt, he visited the desert, which the former holy
fathers had inhabited, and thus fulfilled his most cherished desire.
He established his patriarchal residence there and, by so doing,
reinvigorated the institutions of the holy church in that country. His
lordship Gregory was treated with great honor and dignity by the
ruler of Egypt,1 even to a greater extent than by the Roman emperor.
Many Armenian troops joined him in Egypt-as many as thirty
thousand. After some time his lordship Gregory consecrated Gregory,
his nephew, as catholicos;2 then he rose up and went back to
Armenia, for his mother was still living.
64. These events took place at the time of Michael, the son of
Ducas, who occupied the imperial throne for four years. 1 This man
was benevolent and pious and endowed with all sorts of virtues and
radiant holiness; moreover, in all respects he resembled the saintly
emperors of old, shining forth in the Orthodox faith which is in
Christ; finally he was a father to orphans and a defender of widows.
By this emperor's order a tremendous quantity of dahekans were
minted, an amount as numerous as the dust of the land and the
sands of the sea; this money maintained its value and benefitted the
empire a great deal, for it was minted in the name of God. So the
grace of God continually descended upon Michael, and the whole
empire became fJ.Iled with the wealth he had created. This emperor
began to fast and pray and led a very pious and saintly life.
However, his empress came to resent him a great deal because of his
ascetic life, for he would not have sexual intercourse with her as is
natural in marriage; as a consequence of this, she became sexually
involved with a certain Roman magnate and through this vile
involvement prodded this man to go against Michael, thus violently
seeking to take the imperial throne from her husband. When the
emperor Michael saw that this magnate, whose name was Botaneia-

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tes, had incited the entire city of Constantinople against him, he did
nothing to oppose him; on the contrary, publicly shaming the
loathsome empress, Michael left the imperial throne and went into a
monastery to become a monk. 2 He put on a hair shirt and assumed
the monastic life, something which he had desired to do for a very
long time; in this way he put aside his worldly throne and crown. 3
65. In the year 525 of the Armenian era [1076-1077]1 Botaneiates2
reigned over the Romans, taking as his wife the former spouse of
Michael, who was the daughter3 of the Georgian king George. 4 Thus
this marriage came to be based upon the vile and adulterous relationship between this man and woman.
66. In this period the Armenian prince Vasak, the son of Gregory
Magistros and the brother of his lordship Gregory, died. This man
was the dux of Antioch, and he was on the main market street of this
city when he was assassinated by the perfidious Romans. Now, while
Vasak was passing through the streets, two spearmen1 came up to
him to pay homage, holding up what was supposed to be a letter;
when the dux bent down to take the letter from them, they suddenly
struck him between the eyes with a hatchet. In this manner the
illustrious Vasak was killed by such worthless and abominable men
as these. Mter this incident Vasak's troops gathered together in the
citadel of Antioch, and his officer summoned Philaretus, delivering
the city into his hands. Mter a number of days Philaretus gathered
together all the perfidious and apostate Romans 2-as many as seven
hundred men-on the pretext of initiating a campaign. Then he led
them to a village called Ap'shun and put them all to the sword,
slaughtering them to the last man. In this way Philaretus took
possession of Antioch and at the same time avenged the blood of the
illustrious Vasak Pahlawuni.
67. In this period the Armenian prince, the epeiktes,1was killed.
He was a brave man and a mighty warrior and came from the district
of Shirak. Now, because of his bravery, the Greek emperor compelled
him to receive the baptism and faith of the Romans; nevertheless,
this prince secretly still adhered to his ancestral faith based on St.
Gregory. One day the epeiktes took sick in his fortress called
Andriun. 2 The emperor had given him a Roman monk to guide him
in the erroneous faith of the Greeks, and this Armenian prince had
made the monk his father confessor. One day this wicked and

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abominable Greek entered the epeiktes' chamber and, seeing that the
prince was soundly sleeping, savagely fell upon him; taking a pillow,
he placed it on the epeiktes' mouth and pressed down on it as hard as
he could. In this manner this nefarious Roman monk cruelly killed
a very mighty and courageous man. When the epeiktes' troops
learned of the treacherous death of their brave leader, they subjected
the wicked heretical monk to all sorts of tortures. Mter torturing
this abominable monk, they threw him down from one of the high
cliffs upon which the fortress was built, and so this evil man perished
by a violent death.
68. The emperor Botaneiates occupied the imperial throne for one
year, l but he had no intention of keeping it any longer; for he was
regarded as having obtained the imperial throne through violence
and fornication rather than by the will of God, because he had
adulterously taken the wife of Michael against the commandments of
God and thus had ruled illegitimately. Botaneiates' conscience
bothered him a great deal, and he said to himself: "He who was the
legitimate emperor and possessor of this throne left it and became a
monk; why should I, because of my maliciousness, rebel against [this
legitimate emperor], for whatever happens, death is the fmal outcome
for alL" So, giving up the imperial throne because he had treacherously and criminally rebelled against the saintly emperor Michael,
Botaneiates became a monk.
69. In this period Melissenus was installed on the imperial throne
as Botaneiates' successor. This all took place in the year 526 of the
Armenian era [1077-1078J,!
70. In this same year of the Armenian era his most praiseworthy
lordship Sargis,lthe Armenian patriarch, who was the nephew of his
lordship Peter, the Armenian catholicos, died. In accordance with
Sargis's wishes his lordship Theodore, surnamed Alakhosik, who was
the Armenian catholicos's coadjutor and also a talented musician, was
elevated to the see of the Armenian catholicate in the town of Honi,
situated in the district of Jahan.
71. In this period Basil, the son of Abukab and formerly the tent
keeper of David the curopalates, at the behest of Philaretus collected
a calvary force and went against the city of Edessa. For six months
he harassed the city with many assaults. In this same year Basil

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repaired the ramparts of the fortress-town of Romanopolis which the


Roman emperor Romanus had built. After this he once again
harassed the city of Edessa. Then the townspeople became stirred up
against their dux, who was called Leon and who was the brother of
Dawatanos, and so this Leon fled and took refuge in the upper
citadel. In the meantime the dux's proximus took refuge in the
Church of the Holy Theotokos, entering the sanctuary and tightly
holding on to the edges of the altar. However, the townspeople
entered the church and savagely killed the proximus right in front of
the altar of God. So on that very day Edessa was delivered into the
hands of Basil, the son of Abukab; he was a benevolent and pious
man, compassionate towards orphans and widows, and a benefactor
and conciliator of people. Basil's father Abukab had formerly resided
in Edessa and during his time had built up and organized the city
and its surrounding territory.
72. In this period Melissenus reigned in Constantinople as
emperor for four months. Then all the inhabitants of the city rose up
against this emperor, battling against him and seizing the crown and
the imperial throne from him. After this the people of Constantinople
placed the imperial crown on the head of a certain magnate called
Alexius,t who was the nephew of the emperor Comnenus and who was
a benevolent and pious man and also courageous in battle. Finally
peace was reestablished in the Greek empire.
73. At the beginning of the year 528 of the Armenian era [10791080] a severe famine occurred throughout all the lands of the
venerators of the cross, lands which are located on this side of the
Mediterranean Sea; for the bloodthirsty and ferocious Turkish nation
spread over the whole country to such an extent that not one area
remained untouched, rather all the Christians were subjected to the
sword and enslavement. The cultivation of the land was interrupted,
there was a shortage of food, the cultivators and laborers decreased
due to the sword and enslavement, and so famine spread throughout
the whole land. Many areas became depopulated, the Oriental
peoples1 began to decline, and the country of the Romans became
desolate; neither food nor security for the individual was to be found
anywhere except in Edessa and its confines. Security of life did not
exist in Antioch, in the whole country of Cilicia up to Tarsus, in the
country around Marash, in Duluk, and in all their surrounding areas.
For all the peoples rose up en masse and came to these regions in

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

countless droves, tens of thousands deluging the various areas.


Because of the tremendous number of these peoples, the whole land
was covered as if by hordes of locusts; I can add that these peoples
were seven times more numerous than those Moses took across the
Red Sea2 and even more numerous than the quails in the Sinai
Desert.3 Thus the country was filled with a tremendous number of
people, and very important and illustrious personages-nobles,
princes, and stately ladies-roamed about begging [for food]; inde~d
our eyes witnessed all this. Because of the famine and vagabond life
[people were forced to lead], there was a great amount of mortality
throughout the whole land. Since it was virtually impossible to bury
all those who had died, the land was filled with their corpses, and to
such an extent that the animals and birds soon grew tired of feeding
on them. An innumerable amount of corpses remained unburied, and
the land stank from their putrid-smelling bodies. Eminent priests
and monks died in a strange country far from their native land and
became food for animals and birds. All this was the beginning of the
destruction of the Oriental and Greek peoples; for, because of our
sins, we were punished by God, the righteous judge, according to the
words of the Savior, who said: "Every tree which does not produce
good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 114
74. In this same year the shahnshah Gagik, the son of Ashot, son
of Gagik, son of 5mbat, son of [Ashot] the Iron1-all of the Bagratid
dynasty-was killed, At this time the Armenian king Gagik, leading
a detachment of his troops, went down to the city of Tarsus to the
Armenian prince Ablgharib,2 who was the son of Hasan the son of
Khach'ik Khuln, and who was a brave man from th~ region of
V~spurak~~. The Armenian king went to Ablgharib to pay him a
fnendly VlSlt, for this prince had invited Gagik on a matter relating
to [their] kinship, However, because of one reason or another, this
~atter ~as not solved amicably, and so Gagik turned back roaring
hke a ,hon, for he was a fonnidable, mighty, and valiant man.
Capturmg all the chiefs of the region, the Armenian king marched
them before him in chains. Then with a thousand men he came to
the pl,ain of Arzhakhas,3 to the fortress called Kighistday,4 whose
guardIans were three brothers-Roman magnates and' sons of
Mandale,5 Gagik left his troops on the other side of the road and with
three men went to meet these Romans. On the other hand these
~agnates had prepared themselves beforehand by placing fifty men
m ambush for the Annenian king . When Gaglk approac h e d th e

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fortress, the three brothers came to him, prostrating themselves


before him. When the Armenian king saw them, he asked them to
embrace him. Then, coming close to the king, the three brothers in
unison threw their arms around his neck and knocked him down
from his horse. At that moment the men who were with Gagik fled,
and the Romans who were waiting in ambush came out and captured
the Armenian king. When Gagik's troops heard of his capture, they
dispersed, while the Romans brought the king into their fortress. On
the eighth day all the Annenians, including Gagik (the son of Abas),
Atom and Abusahl (the sons of Senek'erim), and all the other
Armenian princes, gathered together against this fortress. They
battled against the fortress for a number of days, but were unable to
take it because it was very well fortified. On the other hand, those
who had taken Gagik prisoner would not dare let him go, since they
were deathly afraid of the Armenian king. Then the wicked Philaretus sent to them and said: ''Why are you afraid of doing anything
violent to a king? You will gain nothing by letting him go or by
keeping him." So these deicide Romans strangled the Armenian king
with a cord and then hung him from the ramparts for a whole day.
After this the Romans interred the body outside the fortress. At the
end of six months a man named Babik came from Gagik's town and,
removing the king's body from the grave during the night, brought it
to his town and people. The whole Armenian nation lamented
Gagik's death. The Armenian king was buried in his Monastery of
Pizu, and his oldest son John survived him. This is how the
Annenian kingdom, as represented by the Bagratid dynasty, came to
an end. In this manner the prophecy of St. Nerses, the Armenian
catholicos,8 was fulfilled, who said: "The Armenian kingdom will be
completely obliterated. 117
75. In the year 530 of the Armenian era [1081-1082] Barsegh, the
archbishop of Shirak, who resided in the city of Ani, rose up and went
to that part of Armenia included in the territory of the Albanians, to
the city of Lop; he came to the Armenian king Kvirike/ who was the
son of David Anhoghin and who reigned in this city, and asked to be
consecrated catholicos of the Annenians. King Kvirike assembled the
bishops of the country of the Albanians and brought his lordship
Stephen, the catholicos of the Albanians, to the Monastery of Haghbat';2 so his lordship Barsegh was consecrated to the see of St.
Gregory as catholicos3 of all Armenia at the behest of King Kvirike
and his lordship Stephen, who himself occupied the holy see of St.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Thaddeus. 4 Thus at this time the see of St. Gregory was reestablished in the city of Ani, after having been abolished for a very long
time by the envy-filled treachery of the evil and vicious Roman
nation. The Armenian catholicos Barsegh rose up and came to the
royal capital of Ani,5 and all the inhabitants of Shirak we~t forth to
meet him. Vasak, the father of Barsegh, and the catholicos s brothers
Hasan, Gregory, and Abljahab came, accompanied by the bishops,
and his lordship Barsegh was installed as successor to his lordship
Peter. That day became a day of great rejoicing for all the Armenians, for they witnessed the reestablishment of the patriarchal see
in the city of Ani.
76. In this period a certain emir by the name of Khusraw came
with many troops from Persia and reached the territory of Edessa,
devastating many places [as he advanced]. At this time a battle was
fought near the Euphrates River, at a place called Mknik, which is
close to the fortress of Ltar; for all the garrisons of the neighboring
fortresses had gathered together to give battle to this emir. However,
on that day the Turks were victorious and slaughtered many of the
Christians. After a number of days the emir Khusraw went forth and
invaded the Muslim lands from Harran to Muteper. 1 For two days
the Turks were in their saddles and finally, laden with much booty,
came before the gates of the town of Harran. This town was under
the command of the Arab emir Shureh-Hechm,2 the son of Kuraysh
and surnamed Sharaf-ad-Daulah.3 At this time Shureh happened to
be in Harran with his Arab troups and so at the head of two thousand
horsemen he went forth to battle against the Persian forces. The
Turks had ten thousand men; yet, when the two armies met, the
Arabs put these Turks to flight and pursued them, slaughtering them
as they went and taking them all captive. So the whole territory of
Edessa was filled with Turkish captives; under every shrub and in
every ruin were discovered dead Turkish soldiers who had taken
refuge there.
77. In the year 532 of the Armenian era [1083-1084] Basil, the son
of Abukab and lord of Edessa, died and was buried in the Church of
St. George Gotewor. 1 He was a benevolent and pious man, king to
everyone, compassionate towards orphans and widows and a benefactor and conciliator of peoples. There was great s~rrow in all of
Ed~ssa and its surrounding areas, since they were deprived of such
a kmd and benevolent chief; for he was like a father and a parent to

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both the rich and the poor. So Basil departed from this world,
leaving behind a good memory [of his life and deedsJ, and thus went
to join Christ. After this all the inhabitants of the city assembled in
the Cathedral of Saint Sophia and delivered their city into the hands
of 5mbat, a brave man and a courageous fighter against the Persians.
5mbat held the position of dux of Edessa for six months. However,
one of the important personages of the city tried to take away the
position of dux from the Armenians; the name of this man was
Ishkhan, and he was from the family of AIjk't'onk'.2 He rose up
against Srobat and went over to the side of Philaretus, for he had
many adherents among the important families and citizens of Edessa.
So Ishkhan won over Philaretus and brought him to Edessa, handing
over the city to him. However, after a few days Philaretus made
prisoners of Ishkhan and all his followers, as well as of 5mbat, and
demolished their homes; moreover, he took vengeance on all the
Armenian nobles residing in the city of Edessa, killing Arjuk, one of
their number, by torture and taking the others to the city of Marash.
Philaretus had brave 5mbat, Ishkhan, and his brother Theodoric
blinded, while he kept the other nobles in chains in the city of
Marash; for he was a man of very vile character. s
78. In the year 533 of the Armenian era [1084-1085J the city of
Antioch was captured from the Christians. A certain emir, Sulaima.nt, son of Kutulmish, who resided in the town of Nicaea in
Bithynia - a region situated along the coast of the MeditelTanean
Sea-secretly went by a remote route and came to the city of Antioch
without being discovered. Finding Antioch unguarded, during the
night the emir took it by surprise from that side of the city facing
Aleppo. While all this was taking place, Philaretus was in the city
of Edessa, and so his cavalry forces were not in Antioch at the time.
So Sulaiman entered the city of Antioch with three hundred men.
When the townspeople saw the infidels the next day, they became
horror-struck, because they did not have any fighting men and were
weak and unskilled in battle like women. So all the inhabitants of
the city gathered together in the citadel, while day by day the
Turkish forces increased in number. The Turks occupied the city, but
did not harm anyone; however, they blockaded the citadel for many
days, preventing food and water from getting through. Finally the
besieged asked the emir for a promise guaranteeing their safety [if
they would surrender]; Sulaiman granted their request, and peace
was reestablished, everyone returning to his place unharmed. When

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Philaretus learned of all this, he was unable to do anything except


sigh heavily and deeply regret [what had happened]. Thus Sulaiman
gained control of Antioch and the entire country of Cilicia. In this
way the populous city of Antioch was captured, thanks to the
perfidious, effeminate, and abominable nation called the Pelitikk'/~
who consider themselves Romans in faith, but in essence should be
regarded as Muslims because of the language they use and because
of their deeds; furthermore, they should be looked upon as blasphemers ofthe Orthodox faith, despisers of the saintly life, persecutors of
the Armenian faith, and as resembling sick and feeble women who sit
on the streets and babble with their tongues. 3
79. Now I shall relate to you an extraordinary thing, which
happened in Antioch twenty years before this time and which was
reported by the townspeople themselves. The Antiochenes were so
malicious and hateful towards the Armenians that, whenever they
seized a foreigner, they shaved off his beard and expelled him from
the city. Now one day a certain very distinguished resident of Ani
was seized and his beard shaved off, after which the Antiochenes took
whatever he owned and threw him out of the city. Profoundly hurt,
this man went and got hold of a force of five hundred Turks. Then
he came and ravaged the entire territory of Antioch and burned down
twelve villages, which were the property of the dux of the city.
Bringing many captives before the gates of the city, he slaughtered
them on the spot and threw their corpses into the [Grontes] River.
Then, shouting out to the inhabitants, he said: "I am George Shirakats'i, the one whose beard you shaved off; is my beard worth anything
or not?" Saying this, he went off laden with innumerable booty. On
the day of Barekendan1 of the same year a caravan, carrying tarex
fish,2 came to the city of Antioch from the East. The people belonging
to this caravan had set themselves up in the market place and were
making merry. When the townspeople heard the sounds of their
dancing and singing, all the men of the city pounced upon them and
beat them to a pulp, after which they began to throw them out of the
city. Now the men of this caravan were eighty in number and they
had truncheons and were resolute in purpose. So, when their leaders
cried out to them, in their drunken condition they fell upon the
townspeople; pursuing them from the Gate of SewotoyS to the Church
of St. Peter, they put all the townspeople to flight and broke the
skulls and bones of many. Finally the Antiochenes swore by the cross
and the Gospels that they would never again bother them. So, after

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peace was reestablished, the caravan returned to its place of origin.


80. In the year 534 of the Annenian era [1085-1086] the Armenian
vardapet James K'arap'nets'i, who was surnamed Sanahnets'i and
who was a brilliant and erudite man, passed away. He was well
versed in the Old and New Testaments and very erudite in his
comprehension of rhetoric, besides which he possessed an in-depth
knowledge of all philosophical systems. He was a pupil of Dioscorus,
the abbot of Sanahin. 1 It was this James who in Constantinople
reasoned against the Roman savants during the time of Emperor
Ducas's reign, when he went there with the sons of Senek'erim. At
that time he discoursed on the Armenian faith, and all the Greeks
applauded his words. When James died, he was residing in the city
of Edessa and had lived to a very ripe old age. [It seems that] he
died through some plot or treachery, for he was found dead on his bed
without any sign of pain or suffering. All his friends and neighbors
wept over him, and the entire city of Edessa assembled to honor his
memory. So with great pomp he was buried by the doors of the holy
church he frequented, which was located on the northern side of the
city, about a bowshot from the ramparts.
81. In this same year the Arab ruler Sharaf-ad-Daulah, the son of
Kuraysh, a kind man and one benevolent towards the Christian
faithful (the pen cannot describe his beneficent deeds on behalf of the
worshipers of the cross or the many chastisements, tribulations, and
deaths he imposed on his own people in order to protect the Christian
faithful), collected an army of one hundred thousand Arabs. He went
forth and captured Aleppo and married the daughter of the chief of
that city. Mter this he furiously made war upon the city of Antioch.
Sulaiman, the emir of Antioch, marched against him with many
troops, meeting him at a place called pzah\ where both armies
engaged in violent combat. Then the Arab forces betrayed their ruler
and in toto turned in flight. As they fled, the Arab ruler was killed
by his own troops. In this manner the benevolent ruler Sharaf-adDaulah, the son of Kuraysh, died, and after three days was found
dead on the road and so was buried there on the spot. After all this
Sulaiman victoriously returned to Antioch, and at that same time his
son, whom he named Kilij Arslan, was born. 2
82. In this same year a certain emir named Polchtachi1 seized the
district of Jahan from Philaretus, and the catholicos, his lordship

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Theodore, passed under his jurisdiction. Philaretu~ invited the


catholicos to come to him in the city of Marash and resIde there, but
Theodore was unable to come because the Turks were his masters.
So Philaretus became very angry at his lordship Theodore and,
motivated by his own iniquitous and malicious behavior, resolved to
set up another catholicos in the prelate's place. So, lavishing all sorts
of honors upon him, Philaretus summoned his lordship John,
archbishop of the Monastery of the Holy Icon of the Virgin, but he,
being a formidable, distinguished, and very virtuous man, refused to
come. Then Philaretus summoned his lordship Paul, the superior of
the Monastery of the Holy Cross of Varag; an assembly of bishops
and abbots was called, and Paul was consecrated catholicos in the
city of Marash at the behest of Philaretus but against the will of God.
All this was unacceptable in the eyes of God and of the Christian
faithful. When Paul realized this opposition, after a few days he left
the patriarchal see, for he was a holy and virtuous man and knew
that he was on the side of the enemies of truth rather than that of
the orthodox.
83. In this period there was much trouble and dissension in regard
to the see of St. Gregory; for at this time the holy see was not
governed according to the will of God or individual merit or even free
election,! but according to the principles of violence, power politics,
and manipulation of high offices. All this was not brought about by
the working of the Holy Spirit, but by worldly circumstances and
goals, and by monetary and profit-making considerations. During
these times the saintly and the virtuous shamefully withdrew, and
those who had fallen from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the son
of God, came forward. Now commenced the fulfillment of the vision
o.f St. S~ak ~art'ew,2 which contained the following words: "The
hnes wntten In gold will be replaced by those written in black ink."
In this. period the s~e of St. Gregory was divided into four parts: his
lordsh~p Vabram ~n Egypt, his lordship Theodore in Honi, his
10rdsh~p Barse~h In the Armenian royal capital of Ani, and his
lordshIp Paul In the city of Marash. Each of these catholicoi
?onsecrated ~ishops and distributed the blessed holy oil; the bishops,
In turn, ordamed priests who celebrated divine liturgy baptized and
perfonned the marriage ceremony.
"
All this confusion brought much sorrow on the church of God for
:e sheepfol~ was now divided into four pastorates and woives
came guardians of Christ's flock. During these times the ordinarily

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rational sheep became imbued with the nature of dogs and the
instincts of beasts, daring to bark at pastors and patriarchs. Fathers
despised their offspring, and children blasphemed and mistreated
their parents. All of these things are harbingers of the Antichrist
and the beginning of the destruction of the world, because people did
away with piety and faith and fulfilled the prophecies contained in
the holy books, which were declared by St. Nerses and by his son St.
Isaac and which in our time are spoken by the holy vardapet John of
Kozern . This John spoke many words which were taken as prophecies concerning our time and which made reference to the elimination
of religion from the hearts of all and the withering away of faith; all
this had been said formerly in holy books of a similar vein. Now all
these dissensions and calamities did not touch the country of the
Albanians, which is also known as Interior Armenia and which is the
see of the holy apostle Thaddeus. The holy see of this country was
not divided, rather it has retained the stability of the patriarchate
and its administration up to the present. Its patriarch occupied the
apostolic see in the Armenian city of Partaw, which is also called
P'aytakaran and which is located near the vast [Caspian] Sea. When
the Persians became powerful, the patriarchal see was transferred to
Gandzak. The catholicoi of the Albanians who are mentioned in this
book are his lordship John, his lordship George, his lordship Joseph,
his lordship Mark, and his lordship Stephen. The following kings of
the Albanians are also mentioned: Gagik, David, and Kvirike; these
resided in the Armenian city of Lop and still do at present. Also
other Armenian kings resided in the country of Darband3 or Kapank',
bordering on the territories of the Ossetes4 and the Albanians. These
kings were virtuous and saintly and were remembered in the divine
liturgy along with other pious and holy rulers. Their names are the
following: Vajakan; Goshaktak, his son; Philip, the son of Goshaktak;
Sewada, the son of Philip; Senek'erim, the son of Sewada; and
Gregory, the son of Senek'erim; the last named was still alive at the
writing of this book. As we have already mentioned, in this period
the Armenian nation had six catholicoi-two in Egypt and four in
Armenia. And so, his lordship Paul resided in Marash at the behest
of Philaretus but not according to the will of God.
Now we will return to the chronological order of our narration,
which we left in order to relate the troubles Armenia was experiencmg.
84. In the year 534 of the Armenian era [1085-1086] Tutush,l the

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

sultan of Damascus, came with many troops and made war on


Sulaiman, the emir of Antioch. At this time a violent battle was
fought on both sides, each side battling vehemently against the other
at a place between Aleppo and Antioch. Both combatant armies were
made up of Turks, and yet both sides slaughtered one another
ruthlessly. As the battle grew intense, the sultan's forces defeated
those of Sulaiman, putting them to flight. Sulaiman, the emir of
Antioch, was killed by Sultan Tutush's troops and was buried near
the grave of Sharaf-ad-Daulah, the son of Kuraysh. 2 So in this year
Antioch and its surrounding territory was captured by Tutush and
came under his control. This Tutush was the son of Sultan Alp
Arslan and the brother of Sultan Malik-Shah. Six years before
Tutush had come with many troops and captured the city of Damascus, killing the great emir Atsiz, the Persian ruler who controlled
Damascus and the whole coastal region. This Atsiz was a Turk and
also a very valiant warrior. In the past he had triumphed over Egypt
and, defeating its ruler Aziz,3 had driven him from the territory which
he now possessed. In the end he had captured from Egypt the holy
city of Jerusalem, Damascus, and all the cities along the seacoast.
The emir Atsiz struck terror into the Egyptians until a slave of Aziz,
the ruler of Egypt, went against him; this slave was of Armenian
origin and was given the name Amir al-JuyUsh. 4 This man armed a
regiment of Armenian soldiers to fight Atsiz and went against the
emir in battle. Mter this peace was reestablished in Egypt.
85. At the beginning of the year 535 of the Armenian era [10861087] the wicked Philaretus rose up and went in homage to sultan
Malik-Shah the conqueror, in order to solicit his benevolence and
peace on behalf of all the Christian faithful. Philaretus left behind
in his place the illustrious Roman official, who was the paracoemomenus, a ~enevolent and pious eunuch, and he gave this man command
of the CIty of Edessa. Taking a great amount of gold and silver, select
horses and mules, and beautiful resplendent garments, Philaretus
went to the sultan, who resided in Persia At this time one of
Philaretus's officers, named Parsama, with e~i1 intent made common
cause v.:ith ~he ~eicides, Cain and Judas. Accompanied by his
a.ccomphces In crIme, Parsama one Sunday went up to the chief
CItadel and came to where the paracoemomenus was staying. It
happened to be the time when the eunuch said his prayers and so
was pray!' . th h h h
'
ng In e c urc were the reliquary of St, Theodore 1 is
located. At that moment Parsama and his accomplices savagely fell

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upon the paracoemomenus and cruelly killed this benevolent and


merciful man while he was praying in the church. Mter this the
townspeople gave the office of dux to the paracoemomenus's killer
Parsama. Now, when the sultan Malik-Shah learned of all this in
Persia, he removed Philaretus from his presence and treated him
with contempt. So Philaretus, in complete despair, at that moment
abjured his Christian religion, renouncing the faith of Christ which
he had not held in pure manner to begin with; for, by so doing, he
thought he would be honored by the Persians [and treated with
consideration by them], but this was not the case. The actions of this
apostate of Christ availed him nothing, and he came to be cursed and
despised bY.,both God and man. 2
86. In this same year the Persian sultan of Ashkenaz origin,
Malik-Shah the conqueror, marched forth at the head of a formidable
army composed of innumerable warriors. He came and entered the
Roman empire in the West in order to take over that region. This
sultan's heart was filled with benevolence, gentleness, and compassion for the Christians; he showed fatherly affection for all the
inhabitants of the lands [he traversed] and so gained control of many
towns and regions without resistance. Thus in this year the sultan
gained control of all Armenia and the Roman empire. After this
Malik-Shah marched forth and reached the great city of Antioch and
took control of the whole region, including Aleppo. Thus the sultan's
empire extended from the Caspian to the Mediterranean Seas.
Malik-Shah subdued all the states on this side of the Mediterranean
[littoral], and there was no land which did not submit to his rule.
Twelve nations together with their rulers became tributary and
submitted to him. Mter he had gained control of Antioch, MalikShah descended to the Mediterranean seacoast at a place called Saint
Simeon.1 When the sultan saw this vast sea, he thanked and blessed
God that the Lord had expanded his empire beyond the limits of that
of his father Alp Arslan. Then, riding his horse, he stepped into the
waters of the Mediterranean and, drawing his sword, plunged it into
the sea three times, saying: "La, God has allowed me to rule over the
lands from the Persian Sea2 to this sea." Then, having removed his
gan.nents and laid them on the ground, Malik-Shah prayed to the
Lord God and blessed his beneficent mercy. Then he ordered his
servants to gather some sand from the seashore and, taking it t6
Persia, scattered it over the grave of his father, Alp Aralan, saying:
"0 my father, Alp Arslan, I bring you good news, for your young son,

154

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

whom you left [at your death], has come ~o rule over all lan.ds, even '
up to the ends of the earth." Mter all thIS ~he. sultan appomted an .
emir over Antioch, whose name was Yaghl-Slyan and who was a
vicious, vile, invidious, and savage-minded man. On the other hand,
he appointed Aksungur over the city of Aleppo, who was benevolent
and pacific, kind to everyone, and a benefactor of peoples.
87, In this same year a certain emir named Buzan, at the behest
of Sultan Malik-Shah the conqueror, came against the city of Edessa
with many troops, Descending upon Edessa, he encamped before the
gates of the city and besieged it for three months. One day the
sultan himself came with a smaller number of troops and, after
circling around the city, went away leaving it intact. Now, although
Malik-Shah had descended upon the plain of Harran with a very
large army, he left [without causing any harm] and peacefully
returned to Persia,

.
:
.

88, In the meantime Buzan was vehemently besieging Edess8,


causing the inhabitants of the city to fall prey to famine because of
his ceaseless harassments, No aid was forthcoming which could save
the inhabitants, caught in the throes of such a horrible situation, and
so they all fell in complete despair. Then all the inhabitants of the
city grumbled against their dux Parsama, and a very large group of .
townspeople rose up against him. He in desperation tried to flee to
Buzan but, while jumping from the ramparts, broke his spine; he was
taken to Buzan and delivered the city into his hands. 1 This took
place on the first day of Nawasard, 2 at the beginning of the year 536
of the Armenian era [1087-1088]. Thus peace was reestablished in
E?essa and its surrounding territory, and the whole city was filled
WIth eat rejoicing. Buzan appointed a certain slar,3 called Khulukh, a,s governor and guardian of the city of Edessa. After this
calummous men, who were of the Syrian nation came to Buzan and
slandered the chief Armenian citizens who re;ided in the city. A
person named Ask'ar and certain other Syrians maliciously denounce~ these Armenians and thus were instrumental in having
the~ kIlled by the sword; these Annenian citizens-illustrious
emment and d' t'
.h d
'
,
IS mguis e men-were twelve in number However
Buzan regrett d th kill'
.
I
e e mg of these men for he had previously sworn
to them [that he
Id t h
'
l' .
I
wou no arm them]' yet because of some
mat ICIOUdS S and~rs, he in effect did kill them. ' After this Buzan
re urne to PersIa with his troops.

PART

II

155

89. In this same year Buzanl with a tremendous number of troops


encamped before the city of Gandzak in Armenia. He vehemently
besieged the city, having gathered together all the Persians against
it. During a severe assault the Persians undermined one of the city's
towers, thus demolishing it; by assaults such as this they captured
Gandzak, but slaughtered only a small portion of its inhabitants,
because Buzan ordered the swords sheathed and peace restored. At
that time his lordship Stephen, the catholicos of the Albanians, was
in the city, but through the help of God he was able to get away, for
he was protected by the Annenian troops who were in Buzan's army.
90. During the reign of the Greek emperor Alexius l disturbances
broke out in the West on the other side of the great Danube River.
For a violent war broke out between the Pechenegs and the Roman
emperor Alexius. The Pecheneg ruler defeated the Roman forces and,
vehemently pursuing them, ruthlessly slaughtered them. The
emperor Alexius with a small number of men took refuge in Constantinople. Mter a few days Alexius opened up his treasury and issued
an edict throughout the empire; in this manner he collected a
fonnidable army, more numerous than before. The Pecheneg ruler
marched against Constantinople together with his whole nation, in
order to gain the Greek empire for himself. He came against the city
with six hundred thousand armed troops, together with his people
and his sons. When Alexius learned of this, he and all the [Christian] faithful prayed for eight days. It was in the year 538 of the
Armenian era [1089-1090] when the emperor Alexius attacked the
Pecheneg forces with his army, comprising three hundred thousand
Roman, Latin,2 Armenian, and Bulgar troops. When the two armies
met on that day, both sides fought a tremendous and violent battle.
All the Pecheneg troops were archers and, mounted on their chariots,
fought with tremendous and extraordinary valor. Then, at a signal
from the emperor Alexius, the Romans set fire to the chariots and
bumed them. In this manner the emperor Alexius vanquished the
Pecheneg army. By the sword and severe slaughter all the Pecheneg
forces were put to flight. The Pecheneg ruler was killed, and Alexius
annihilated all his troops and slaughtered his sons and their wives
with the sword. Then with much booty and captives the emperor
returned to Constantinople.3
91. In this period a certain vile and abominable heretic, who was
a monk of the Roman nation, appeared in Constantinople. This man

156

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

worshiped Satan as his God and had a dog, to who.m he offered his
prayers, accompany him. With such a false doctn~e he corru~ted
many men and women, leading astray a small portion of the PiOUS
faithful of Constantinople, chief of whom being the mother of the
emperor Alexius. The mother of the emperor became so audacious.in
her perverse aberration as to take a piece of the holy cross of Chnst
and hide it in the sole of the emperor's shoe, so that he would walk
on it. Finally God exposed this abominable heretic monk through his
adherents and thus the emperor was made cognizant of his perverse
deeds. F~r, when the pious emperor Alexius heard of all this, he
burned the leader of this heretical sect and had many of its members
drowned in the Mediterranean-as many as ten thousand persons;
moreover, he deprived his mother of her high position and expelled
her from his court, and so peace was reestablished. 1
92. In the year 539 of the Armenian era [1090-1091] his lordship
the Armenian patriarch Barsegh rose up and went to the sultan
Malik-Shah the conqueror, for he saw that the Christian faithful were
being harassed in many places, tribute was being imposed on the
churches of God and all their clergy, and monasteries and bishops
were being harried by heavy exactions. When his lordship the
Armenian catholicos Barsegh sawall these harassments, he resolved
to go to the benevolent and kind ruler of the Persians and Christian
faithful, in order to inform him of all this. Taking with him a large
amount of gold, silver, and brocades as presents for this sultan and
accompanied by noblemen, bishops, priests, and vardapets, the
Armenian catholicos went to Persia to the pious sultan. When MalikShah saw his lordship Barsegh, he paid the catholicos great honor
and granted him whatever he requested. The sultan carried out all
the wishes of his lordship Barsegh, exempting all the churches and
monasteries, together with their clergy, from all dues; moreover, he
g~ve . [Barsegh] a ~tten guarantee of this exemption and then
dI~mIssed the Armeman patriarch, having provided him with official
edIcts an? presen~ed him with many honors. So, going forth by royal
d~cree, hIS l?rdshlp Barsegh departed with great rejoicing, accompamed ~y emment personages assigned to him by the sultan. The
cathO~I~OS ca~e to the district of J ahan and set himself up in
OP~OSItI?n to ~IS lordship Theodore who, at the behest of Philaretus,
reSIded In Hom as catholicos. Barsegh deposed TheOdore from his see
and t~ok from him the veil, crosier, and cross belonging to his
lordshIp Peter. So Barsegh reestablished the unity of the patriarch-

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157

ate in his person and after this went to the city of Edessa. Now a
patriarch should not be reproached for going to an infidel ruler in
order to reestablish peace in the holy church. For this very same
reason St. Basil went to the wicked emperor Julian, St. Nerses to the
apostate Greek emperor Valens,l St. Marut'a2 to the Persian king
Yazdgard,3the doctor Nanan4 to the Chaldean king,5 and Christ to the
Jewish nation. When Barsegh came to Edessa, it was the beginning
of the year 540 of the Armenian era [1091-1092]. Going forth from
this city, the catholicos went as far as the great Caesarea of Cappodocia and then returned to Antioch, and all the people who saw him
were extremely happy. Mter this Barsegh once again came to
Edessa.
93. In this same year during the month of September an earthquake occurred throughout the whole land, and all living creatures
under heaven trembled and shook. Much destruction occurred in the
city of Antioch, and many towers collapsed to their foundation.
Moreover, the greater part of the walls of Antioch collapsed, and
many men and women perished in the ruins of their homes.
94. In the year 541 of the Armenian era [1092-1093] a tremendous
amount of mortality struck many places, and because of the great
number of deaths, there were not enough priests to bury the corpses.
The sounds of wailing and lamentation issued forth from all the
homes. Death took the lives of so many people that those alive feared
death more than those who succumbed to it. Thus the whole land
was in the throes of incalculable ruin and destruction because of
these deaths.
95. In this same year the Holy Cross of Varag and the Icon of the
Holy Virgin Mary were brought to the city of Edessa, and so there
was great rejoicing among the nation of Abgar. 1 Deeply moved, all
the inhabitants of Edessa collectively went forth to receive these holy
objects and then brought them into the city with great pomp. On this
occasion the ruler of the territory of Edessa arranged a procession in
which everyone followed the saintly bishop his lordship Paul and
other prelates. The holy cross was placed in the cathedral with great
pomp. However, after a few years these relics were sacrilegiously
stolen and taken away from the inhabitants of Edessa.

96. In this same year Buzan collected troops from all the Persians

158

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

and, taking with him eminent emirs and the lords. of Antioch and
Aleppo-Yaghi-Siyan and Aksungur-marched agamst the Roman
empire with innumerable soldiers. He descended upon the renowned
town called Nicaea and, being possessed by some madness, became
infatuated with the idea of going on and capturing the city of
Constantinople; it was guarded by the protection of h7a~en, and yet
Buzan in his twisted mind thought he could capture thIS Impregnable
city. So, remaining before Nicaea for a number of days, he finally
realized that he could not achieve his goaP

97. In this same year died the great sultan Malik-Shah the
conqueror, who was father and parent to all [his subjects] and a
benevolent, merciful, and kind man towards all [peoples], This sultan
perished in the city of Baghdad through a treacherous plot carried
out by his wife, who was a daughter of the sultan of Samarkand. She
gave a poisoned drink to the benevolent Malik-Shah and thus
deprived this very great ruler of his life. 1 So there was deep and
grievous mourning throughout the whole world. Now, when Buzan
learned of the death of the sultan, he returned to the city of Edessa,
while Yaghi-Siyan went to Antioch and Aksungur to Aleppo. His
lordship Barsegh, who was in Edessa at this time, took refuge in the
city of Ani and occupied his see there.
98. Lo, in these times there was severe slaughter and bloodshed
in Annenia, for the Turkish forces invaded the land and killed many
of its inhabitants. [Since] the sultan had died, the Turks felt free to
enslave many. On the other hand, Malik-Shah was taken and buried
in the city of Marand, near the grave of his father, Alp Arslan. He
left behind two sons, the elder called Berkyaruk,1 who was born from
the daughter of Argun (Akut'),2 a relative of Alp Arslan and the other
called Sap'ar,s who was born from the daughter or'the sultan of
Samarkand and who resided in the city of Uzgand4 and in Ghazni. 6
The elder son Berkyaruk succeeded to the throne of his father MalikShah, and thus was installed as sultan of all the Persia~s. His
maternal uncle, the emir lsma'il, son of Argun. was made [his]
regent over all Persia, for he was a benevolent and very merciful man
and a benefactor of people. This lsma'll ruled over all Armenia as its
sov~reign; it was he who began to make all Armenia prosper once
agal? and to protect all the monasteries from harassment by the
PersIans.

PART

II

159

99. In the year 542 of the Armenian era [1093-1094] his lordship
Paul, l the man whom Philaretus had installed on the see of the
Armenian catholicate in the city of Marash, died. Paul had accompanied the holy cross [to Edessa] and died in this city during the same
year; he was buried in splendid pomp near the door of the holy
church close to the tomb of the vardapet. 2
100. In this same year the Armenian vardapet George, surnamed
Urchets'i, died. He was the enlightener of the Armenian nation, the
source of the inexhaustible spring [of orthodox doctrine], and had a
fiery tongue. In his knowledge, erudition, and possession of divine
grace he was equal to the former divinely-inspired Greek doctors; I
mean to say Gregory the Theologian,t John Chrysostom, Basil, and
others like these. This vardapet led a life of sanctified behavior right
up to the age of one hundred, and was buried in the great Monastery
of Kannnjadzor,2 near the tomb of the vardapet Samuel and Khach'ik,
who was a musician accomplished in the art of chanting. So all Godfearing people deeply mourned George, because they had been
deprived of this brilliant vardapet.

101. In this same year the sultan of Damascus, called Tutush, the
son of Alp Arslan and the brother of Malik-Shiih, collected troops. At
the head of many forces he was intent on going forth to Persia and
taking over the royal throne of his brother, Malik-Shah. So Tutush
came to Antioch, and the emir1 of that city came to pay the sultan
homage. From there he passed on to Aleppo, and the emir Aksungur
came to pay him homage. After this with innumerable troops Tutush
marched forth and went to Persia. 2
102. In this same year a tremendous gathering of Arab troops
occurred-as many as four hundred thousand men; and all of
Babylon1 advanced against the territory of Mosul. The chief of the
Arab forces was Ibrahim, 2 the son of Kuraysh and the brother of
Sharaf-ad-Daulah. Meanwhile the sultan Tutush reached the town
of Nisibis and, capturing it with a great assault, pillaged the entire
town. [On this occasion] the Armenian troops, who were with the
sultan, slaughtered about ten thousand Muslims. At this time the
Arab army advanced and reached the confines of Nisibis, descending
to a place called Hermez. [Seeing this], Tutush sent to Edessa and
through a solemn oath had the emir Buzan come to him with many
troops and then, rising up, went to battle against the Muslim chief.

160

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

The two leaders met on the plain of Nisibis, both sides causing a
great amount of slaughter. Mter a very violent battle the sultan
turned back the Arab forces and put them to flight. Pursuing them,
Tutush took the Arab chief Ibrahim prisoner; his head had been
pierced by an arrow, which had torn through his steel helmet and
penetrated deep inside, thus causing his [ultimate] death. The
sultan's troops plundered the women and children of the Arabs, and
also their flocks and a great quantity of their horses. s Mter all this
the sultan Tutush victoriously went and marched forth to Persia.
[On route] his anny grew so large that it covered the plains and hills
of the East. When the Persian sultan Berkyaruk, the nephew of
Tutush, learned of this advance, going forth with many troops, he
came in battle against his uncle at the head of a tremendously large
army. When Tutush, in turn, learned of Berkyaruk's coming, he
prepared to go against the Persian sultan. At that [critical] moment
Buzan and Aksungur, together with their troops, rebelled against
Tutush during the night and went over to the side of Berkyaruk.
When Tutush heard of their treachery, he dared not go forth in
battle, but turning back, went to his country and entered his city of
Damascus.' After this he went to Tripoli and subdued it and all the
other coastal towns; moreover, he remained in this area for six
months.
103. In the year 543 of the Armenian era [1094-1095] the power
of Berkyaruk was at its zenith. [At this time] the sultan appointed
as commander-in-chief of his forces the illustrious royal emir lsma'll,
son of Argun and brother of his mother, for this man ruled over all
of Armenia well. lsma'll in all respects was kind, merciful, good,
solicitous, benevolent, pacific, and a benefactor of all the Annenians;
moreover, he was an embellisher of monasteries and a supporter of
monks, besides which he protected the [Christian] faithful against
harassment from the Persians. Under his administration each person
was protect.ed in ~he possession of what was rightfully his, and so all
the ~~emans lIved in happiness [and security].l Berkyaruk put
lsma. 11 m charge of the whole country, while he securely sat on the
royal throne. Now, at one time the great emir lsma'il came and
traversed through Persia with many troops, and he was accompanied
by Buzan and Aksungur. He came to a place called Jaghts'adzor 2
~oca~ed in ~ersia, and here both Buzan and Aksungur began to
mtngue agamst the great emir lsma'il. One day, going forth from
the camp accompanied by three men,s the two plotters took the emir

PART II

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a distance from his troops, on the pretext of conversing with him.


They fell upon Isma'll and threw him down from his horse and, tying
a cord around his neck, strangled the benevolent emir. Mer this the
two plotters fled from the sultan Berkyaruk, each going to his
respective city-Buzan to Edessa and Aksungur to Aleppo. When the
sultan learned of the death of the great lsma'il, he deeply regretted
the incident. 4
104. In this same year the sultan Tutush marched forth with
many troops and at the head of a tremendous anny came against
Aleppo. Aksungur and Buzan collected troops and went against the
sultan in battle. Tutush defeated the forces of Aksungur and Buzan
and put them to flight. On this day Aksungur and Buzan were
killed, Aleppo was captured, and the head of the great emir Buzan
was brought to Edessa and stuck on a pole. 1 Edessa was also
captured, and Tutush gained control of the city and its surrounding
territory. When the sultan arrived in Edessa, he appointed the
Roman official T'oros,2 the son of Het'um, as the city's commander.
Then the sultan himself went to Persia to war against Berkyaruk.
Mter this the commander of Tutush's forces, the lord of Antioch
Yaghi-Siyan, at the head of many troops descended upon the
renowned fortress called Zarinak,3 in Armenia. He captured this
fortress by a great assault and slaughtered an innumerable amount
of Christians.
At about the same time Tutush received a letter from the wife of
his brother, inviting him to come in haste and become her husband.
When the sultan heard this, he arrived in Persia and descended upon
the plain of Isfahan. Then Berkyaruk sent entreaties to Tutush,
saying: "Allow me to keep only the city of Isfahan and let the rest of
my subjects and lands be yours." But Tutush would not listen to his
entreaties. So both leaders at the head of countless and innumerable
forces engaged in battle with one another. Now, when the standard
of Malik-Shah was unfurled and the Persian troops saw this, the
majority of them went over to the side of Berkyaruk, after which a
severe slaughter occurred. On the other hand, the wicked YaghiSiyan, who was concealed in ambush with many troops, fled without
even giving battle. When all of Tutush's forces saw this, they fled in
toto. This turned out to be a calamitous day for the Persian forces,
because tens of thousands were dispersed in flight throughout the
whole land. At this time the enemy surrounded Tutush, wounding
his horse and felling him to the ground; so there he was in the midst

162

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

of the [enemy] troops. No one dared to go near him, for he had royal
rank and was the brother of Malik-Shah. Then one of the emirs from
Berkyaruk.'s army came and cut off Tutush's head with his sword.
The dead sultan was taken and buried near the tomb of his father.
After this Ridvan (the son of Tutush), Yaghi-Siyan, and all the other
fugitives escaped to the city of Edessa. The curopalates T'oros, who
resided in the city and who was a very eloquent and able man,
received them [warmly]. T'oros intended on taking them prisoner, so
that through them he might capture the citadel of the city of Edess8.
However, the other noblemen of the city did not consider this a good
strategy, and so the fugitives peacefully returned to their respective
cities. After this T'oros with every means possible tried to gain
control ot the city and deliver the [Christian] faithful from the
infidels. He began to restore those ramparts opposite the citadel and
to fortify one part of the city with a wall; for the citadel was in the
hands of the Persians,4 and contained a Turkish garrison and a corps
of Armenian troops who were placed there by Tutush. When the
[infidel] commander who occupied the Citadel of Maniaces5 saw that
the curopalates had fortified Edessa and had isolated the citadel from
the city, he wrote a letter to all the neighboring emirs, informing
them of what T'oros had done. [In this letter the infidel commander]
said that the curopalates had fortified the city from the Sea Gate to
the Church of St. Theodore, had erected twenty-five towers, and had
captured the inner citadel, thus gaining control of Edessa.
105. In the year 544 of the Armenian era [1095-1096] Sokman,l
the son of Muk, and Balduk, the emir of Samosata and son of AmirGhazi, collected calvary troops and came against Edessa at harvest
time. The curopalates T'oros, the lord of Edessa, being a prodent
man, began to fortify the city on all sides. The Turks set up
catapults and other war machines and ruthlessly battered against the
walls of the city. They spent many days ceaselessly assaulting the
city, but were unable to do anything against it. After sixty-five days
the Turks finally succeeded in breaking through the walls at two
places and thus penetrating into the city; fighting in the streets
ensued, but the infidels still were unable to capture Edessa. At that
~oment Ridvan, the sultan of Aleppo and son of Tutush, and YaghiSlyan, the lord of Antioch, came and descended upon Edessa with
forty thousand men. Then Sokman and Balduk fled from the sultan.
\V.hen the townspeople saw the sultan's forces, they became very
fnghtened. However, the curopalates T'oras, with the bravery of a

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lion, exhorted all the inhabitants of Edessa and donated a very large
amount of money for the [pressing] needs of the city. For many days
the sultan's forces vehemently assaulted the city, but with God aiding
the Christians they were unable to do anything, for all the townspeople had the courage of lions and resisted the infidels. Exhausted
by the severe fighting, the infidel forces withdrew, humiliated. Mer
this one of the sultan's officers, whose name was Mkhit'ar and who
was a Christian, took counsel with his men to deliver the citadel into
the hands of the curopalates T'oros. So the patricius :Mkhit'ar with
thirty of his men took the proper measures during the night and
delivered the chief Citadel of Maniaces into the hands of the curopalates T'oros. In this way peace was reestablished in the city of
Edessa. After all this T'oros sent troops to capture a fortress, called
T'rsich, in the city's environs and to subdue its surrounding territory.
A battle was fought near the fortress of T'rsich, and the forces of
Edessa were put to flight. The infidels reached a village called
Andranos and there slaughtered one hundred and fifty men, taking
the rest prisoner.
106. In this same year the sultan al-Faraj, who was descended
from Kutulmish, was brought to Edessa at the invitation of T'oros,
and the curopalates delivered the city into his hands in order to take
vengeance on his enemies. However, al-Faraj was resolved to kill
Toros and pillage the whole city. When the curopalates learned of
this treachery, he gave the sultan a poisonous drink and sent him to
the public baths, where he soon died. When the sultan's troops heard
about all this, they fled. So once again the curopalates gained control
of Edessa. The rule of al-Faraj over this city lasted for thirty-three
days. 1
107. In this same year the Armenian catholicos his lordship
Theodore, a great musician and a pillar of the holy church, died and
was buried in Roni, near his lordship Sargis.
108. In the year 545 of the Armenian era [1096-1097] the sultan
of the West 1 called Kilij Arslan,2 the son of Sulaiman, son of Kutulmish, came against the city of Melitene at the head of a tremendous
number of troops. The sultan's anny covered the whole plain. Kilij
Arslan launched a severe assault against Melitene and, setting up
catapults, put the city in dire straits. The commander of Melitene
Gabriel,a who was the father-in-law of T'oros, the curopalates of

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MATTHEW OF

EDESSA

Edessa, courageously resisted the sultan and fortified the city on all
sides. Remaining there for many days, the sultan was unabl.e to do
anything and so turned back humiliated and went to hIS own
country.4
109, In this period the prophecy of the Armenian catholicos St.
Nerses, who spoke to the Armenian nobles and princes concerning the
coming of the Westerners,l was fulfilled. That which this cat~olic~s
spoke about in former times, we saw with our very eyes In thIS
period, witnessing those events which the holy and prodigi?us man
of God Nerses the Great, had prophesied at the time of hIS death.
This V:as the [same] vision which appeared to the saintly Daniel,
when in Babylon he saw the form of a monstrous beast; moreover, he
clearly saw and revealed this, speaking about the eating, chewing,
and trampling of the remainder. 2
110, At this time the upsurge of the Westernersloccurred, and the
portals of the Latin nation were opened, for through them the Lord
intended to battle with the Persians. Once again the Lord [turned
away] from his anger, according to the words of the prophet David,
who said: "Awake, why do you sleep, 0 Lord, rise up and do not
abandon us forever!"2 Also: "The Lord awoke from his sleep like a
mighty man who puts aside his drunkenness; he threw back his
enemies and made them accursed forever."s Thus in this year all the
peoples of Italy and Spain, right up to the confines of Mrica, and
even the distant Frankish nation, began to move and surged forth in
a formidable and immense throng; they were very much like locusts
which cannot be counted or the sands of the seas which are beyond
the mind's calculation, With imposing grandeur and high-ranking
leadership the noblemen of the Frankish nation rose up and came
forth. Each of them came with his troops to aid the Christians, to
deliver the holy city of Jerusalem from the infidels, and to free the
holy sepulcher, which contained God, from the hands of the Muslims;
th~y were illustrious men of royal blood, endowed with piety and
faIth, and brought up in the practice of good works. Here are the
~ames of these Franks, There was Godfrey,4 a mighty man from the
hneage of the Roman emperors,5 and his brother Baldwin;6 it was this
Godfrey who had with him the sword and crown of the emperor
Vespasian,7 who destroyed
Jerusalem. There was the eminent count
8
called Bohemond and his nephew Tancred 9 the count called Saint
G'll W
fi
'
,
1 es -a ornudable and illustrious man, Robert the count of

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Nonnandy, and also the other Baldwin. ll Mter this came the count
called Joscelin,12 a mighty and courageous man. Such mighty men
and warriors as these marched forth at the head of formidable
armies, numerous as the stars of the heavens. With them went many
bishops, priests, and deacons. Journeying with tremendous hardship
via the distant lands of the Westerners/ s the Franks passed through
the country of the Hungarians and through the inaccessible defiles of
their mountains with great difficulty. From there they reached the
Bulgar lands, which were controlled by the Greek emperor Alexius.
So by such a journey the Franks arrived at the great city of Constantinople.
111. When the emperor Alexius learned of their coming, he sent
troops to battle against them. There was a tremendous amount of
slaughter on both sides, and the Franks put the Greek forces to
flight. So, much bloodshed occurred on this day. In this same
manner, whatever areas the Franks passed through, the inhabitants
of those places attacked them and harassed them with many
hardships. Now, when the emperor Alexius heard of all these
troubles [the Franks were having], he put away the sword and no
longer fought with them. Then the whole Frankish army descended
to the gates of Constantinople and asked to cross the Mediterranean
Sea. 1 The emperor Alexius made peace and an alliance with the
Frankish leaders and, taking them to Saint Sophia, gave them gifts
of much gold and silver. In turn the Franks took an oath that they
would hand over to the emperor Alexius all those regions they
captured from the Persians which previously had belonged to the
Romans, while all the conquests made of Persian and Arab territory
would belong to the Franks. This pact was sealed by an oath, sworn
on the cross and the Gospels, and thus never to be broken. Obtaining
troops and officers from the emperor, the Franks sailed across the
vast Mediterranean and with a formidable army reached the town
called Nicaea,2 located near this sea.s
112. All the Persian forces gathered together against the Frankish
forces, who were encamped in that area, and attacked them.
However, the Franks defeated the Persian forces and put them to
flight and, pursuing them with the sword, filled the whole land with
bloodshed. Assaulting Nicaea, they captured the town by the sword
and slaughtered all the infidels [within its walls]. Mter this the
Muslims, heavy with grief, went to the sultan Kilij Arslan, who at

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

that time was besieging the city of Melitene, and informed him of all
this. The sultan assembled an innumerable army and went against
the Frankish forces in the territory of Nicaea. Both sides engaged in
a furious battle, ruthlessly and valiantly attacking one another and
savagely striking against each other's front lines. Incited by the
sparks flying from the helmets, the clatter of the coats of mail, and
the cracking noise of the bows, all the infidel forces regrouped
themselves, [fired with new ardor and courageJ. The whole land
shook from the din of battle, and the horses trembled because of the
clatter of arrows. The courageous and the heroic engaged each other
in combat, ruthlessly hacking away at one another like young lions.
The first day of battle turned out to be a great and formidable one,
for the sultan went into battle against the Franks with six hundred
thousand men [under his commandJ. In spite of the tremendous
number of Persian troops, the Frankish forces defeated them and put
them to flight, causing such a frightful and severe slaughter that the
plain was covered with their dead corpses. Moreover, the Franks
took tens of thousands of captives, and the gold and silver they seized
from the Persians could not be counted. After three days the sultan
once again collected troops and came against the Frankish forces at
the head of a formidable army. An even more frightful and severe
battle was fought than before. The Frankish forces fought against
the Persians with the same fury [as beforeJ and drove them from the
land, slaughtering and taking captives.! Mter this the Franks
handed over the town of Nicaea to the Roman emperor Alexius. 2
113. In the year 546 of the Armenian era [1097-1098J, during the
time of the Armenian patriarchs their lordships Vahram and Barsegh
and in the reign of the Roman emperor Alexius, the army of the
Westerners moved forth with a formidable number of about five
hundred thousand men. T'oros, the ruler of Edessa, and the great
Armenian prince Constantine,! the son of Ruben, were informed [of
their comingJ by letter. Constantine occupied the Taurus Mountains
in the territory of Kopitar,2 situated in the district of Marapa, 3 and
had become master of a number of regions; moreover, he was
formerly an officer in Gagik's army. Now the Frankish forces
consisting o~ a tremendous army,' journeyed through Bithynia and i~
close formatIon traversed the confines of Cappadocia, finally reaching
the steep slopes of the Taurus Mountains. The army advanced en
masse and passed through the narrow defiles of these mountains
soon coming to CHicia; then it passed through Trovarda, also kno~

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as Anazarba, and finally reached the city of Antioch. The formidable


Frankish army encamped against Antioch, filling up the vast plain
on which the city was situated. The Persian commander YaghiSiyan, together with his troops, was bottled up in Antioch, and the
city was heavily besieged for ten months. When the neighboring
Persian chiefs learned of this, they came with a considerable number
of troops to battle against the Frankish forces, but the Franks
repulsed these enemies and thus humiliated them. Mter this the
infidels gathered together once again; the Damascenes, the Africans
together with those of the [Mediterranean] littoral and Jerusalem, all
those on the confines of Egypt, the Aleppines, those of Horns,
everyone right up to the great Euphrates River moved forth in a
countless and innumerable throng against the Frankish forces. When
the Franks learned of the coming of the infidels, they stirred up their
troops and went forth to meet them. Bohemond, who was a brave
man and a warrior, together with Saint Gilles, both leading ten
thousand men, like lions attacked one hundred thousand [infidels] in
the confines of Antioch. They victoriously turned the Persian forces
in flight, severely slaughtering them.
114. However, the emir Sokman, who was the son of Artuk. and a
brave warrior, and the lord of Damascus1-both eminent and illustrious emirs-gathered together the Turkish forces from Mosul and
from all of Babylonia-as many as thirty thousand men-and went
against the Frankish anny. The illustrious Duke Godfrey, in turn,
at the head of seven thousand men, went against the infidels in the
territory of Aleppo and caused a violent battle. The emir of Damascus called Tughtigin2 threw himself against the brave Godfrey and
felled him from his horse, but was unable to pierce his coat of mail,
and so the duke escaped unharmed. At that moment the Frankish
forces turned the infidels in flight and, pursuing them, cut them to
pieces; then they victoriously returned to their camp. Because of the
great number of the Franks, the danger of famine became imminent,
and the troops began to suffer from the scarcity of food. At this time
the princes who resided in the Taurus Mountains-Constantine, the
son of Ruben; Bazuni, the second prince; and Oshin,s the third
one-sent whatever provisions were needed to the commander of the
Franks. Likewise the monks of the Black Mountains assisted them
by sending provisions, and [in general] all the [Christian] faithful
acted benevolently towards the Franks. Nevertheless, because of the
scarcity of food, mortality and affliction fell upon the Frankish army

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

to such an extent that one out of five perished and all the rest felt
themselves abandoned far from their homeland. However, the
merciful God did not abandon them, but sustained them with
paternal care and love as he had done to the multitude of the
children of Israel in the desert.
115. In this same year a comet appeared in the western portion of
the sky during the month of Areg without leaving a bright trail
behind it. This comet was seen for fifteen days, but then disappeared
from sight.
116. In this same year a frightful and strange omen appeared in
the northern portion of the sky; such a marvelous omen had never
been seen by anyone. In the month of Mareri the sky flared up and
became deep red in the midst of a clear and calm atmosphere. The
red sky contracted into clusters, emitting all sorts of nuances of color.
These clusters flowed along in an easterly direction and, after having
accumulated here and there, covered the greater portion of the
heavens; moreover, they were an amazing color of very deep red and
reached up to the heavenly vault. The savants and the sages recognized [the significance ofj all this and said that it was an omen of
bloodshed. The fulfillment of this omen of evil destruction and
disaster we will relate shortly in our book.
117. In the year 547 of the Armenian era [1098-1099J a certain
count named Baldwin went forth with one hundred horsemen and
captured the fortress-town of Tell Bashir. When the Roman commander T'oros, who resided in the city of Edessa, learned of this, he
became exceedingly happy and sent to the Frankish count in Tell
Bashir, ~ummoning Baldwin to his aid against his enemies; for he
was contmually being harassed by the neighboring emirs. So Count
Baldwin came to Edessa with sixty horsemen, and the townspeople
came to meet him and with great rejoicing brought him into the city.
T~e presence of Baldwin brought much happiness to the [Christian]
faIthful, and the curopalates T'oros acted in a friendly manner
t~wa;d8 the count.. giving him presents and forming an alliance with
hun. The Annewan chief Constantine2 came from Gargar, and after
a few days the curopalates sent him and Baldwin to attack Samosata
and its emir Bald.uk. The troops of the city and the infantry forces
~the w?o~e temtory accompanied the Franks [and Constantine].
e ChnstIans marched to Samosata with a considerable number of

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troops and pillaged the houses outside its walls, but the Turks dared
not go forth in battle [against them]. Then all the Christian troops
in a body began to pillage [everything in sight]. Now, when the
Turkish forces saw this, three hundred of their horsemen made a
sortie and defeated all the Christian troops, putting to flight the
Franks together with the native infantry accompanying them. From
Samosata right up to Tell Hamdun a severe slaughter of as many as
one thousand men occurred. Mter this Constantine and the count
returned to the curopalates T'oros in the city of Edessa. Now all of
this happened during the second week of Lent. When Count Baldwin
had returned to Edessa, perfidious and evil-minded men came upon
the scene, who plotted in concert with the count to assassinate the
europalates T'oros. Indeed the meritorious service of the europalates
did not justify such action; for, because of his ingenious sagacity,
skillful inventiveness, and vigorous strength, he was able to deliver
Edessa from tribute and service to the vicious and cruel Muslims.
118. At this time forty men plotted together to accomplish this
Judas-like act and during the night went to Count Baldwin, the one
who was the brother of Count Godfrey. They persuaded him to
accede to their evil designs and promised to deliver Edessa into his
hands; Baldwin approved of their vicious plot. They also implicated
the Armenian chief Constantine. So during the fifth week of Lent
these men incited all the inhabitants of the city against the europalates T'oros. On Sunday they pillaged all the homes of T'oros's
officers and seized the upper citadel. On Monday they gathered
against the inner citadel where the curopalates was and violently
assaulted it. Hard pressed, T'oros asked them to vow not to harm.
him on condition that he hand over the citadel and the city to them
and together with his wife go to Melitene. 1 So the Holy Cross of
Varag and that of Mak.'enik,2 was brought forth, and the count swore
by them in the Church of the Holy Apostles not to harm the europalates in any way. Moreover, Baldwin vouched for his own sincerity
in the presence of the angels, archangels, prophets, patriarchs, holy
apostles, holy pontiffs, and all the host of martyrs-all of which was
written down by the count in a letter to T'oros. Mter Baldwin had
sworn by all the saints [not to harm the europalates], T'oros delivered
the citadel into his hands, and so the count and the chief men of the
city occupied this fortified place. Then on Tuesday, the day of the
celebration of the Holy K'arasunk',s the townspeople gathered against
T'oros and, armed with swords and clubs, threw him down from the

170

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

top of the ramparts into the midst of a tumultuous crowd. The crowd
rushed en masse upon T'oros and, cruelly inflicting him with
countless sword wounds, killed the curopalates. Thus the townspeople committed a very great crime in the presence of God.
Moreover they tied the dead curopalates' feet with a rope and
ignomini~usly dragged his body through the city. So on this day the
inhabitants of Edessa disavowed their oath and shortly thereafter
delivered the city into the hands of Count Baldwin. 4
119. In this same year the general of the Persian sultan Berkyaruk, who was called Kerbogha, l marched forth at the head of a
formidable army to war against the Frankish forces, and came and
encamped before the gates of Edessa. He remained there with all his
forces right up to harvest time, laying waste all the surrounding
arable lands and making assaults against the city.2 At this time
Kerbogha had with him an innumerable amount of troops. Now after
forty days the son of the emir of Antioch, Yaghi-Siyan, came to
Kerbogha and, falling at his feet, begged him to come and aid the
Antiochenes. He told Kerbogha about the Frankish army and how it
was small in number and famine-ridden.
120. In this same year all of Khurasan rose up in arms. [This
movement extended] from the East to the West, Media to Babylon,
including the country of the Greeks and the Orient, Damascus and all
the lands of the Mediterranean littoral, and also Jerusalem, right up
to the desert. Eight hundred thousand cavalry and three hundred
thousand infantry assembled together. This [formidable] army
menacingly marched forth, its ranks spread over the plains and hills,
and with fear-inspiring arrogance reached the Frankish forces
stationed before the gates of Antioch. Now God did not will the
destruction of the small Christian army, so he watched over and
protected it as he had done to the children of Israel in the past.
While the infidel forces were still some distance away, at night one
of the officers of the city sent a man to Bohemond and the other
Fr~ldsh chiefs and invited them to [occupy] his native city. Having
obtamed an oath from them, the officer secretly during the night
delivered the city of Antioch into Bohemond's hands. He opened the
gates of the citadel, which gave access [to the city] through the walls,
and the w?ole Frankish army entered Antioch. 1 In the morning all
the Fra~sh troops sounded their horned trumpets in unison. When
all the mfidels heard this, they assembled, but out of fear were

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unable to flee. Then the Frankish troops fell upon them with their
swords and severely slaughtered them. The emir Yaghi-Siyan fled
from the city and was killed by some peasants who cut off his head
with a scythe.
In this manner the city of Antioch was captured, which previously
had been seized by the Armenians. On the other hand, the remaining infidels gathered in the citadel and gave battle to the Frankish
forces. After three days the army of Persian troops arrived. Being
seven times larger than the Frankish force, their army violently
besieged and harassed it. Then the Franks became threatened with
a famine, because the provisions in the city had long become
exhausted. More and more hard-pressed, they resolved to obtain
from Kerbogha a promise of amnesty on condition that they deliver
the city into his hands and return to their own country. However,
God, seeing the great danger the Franks were in, took pity on them
and became compassionate towards them. A miraculous vision
manifested itself to them, for 10, during the night the holy apostle
Peter appeared to a pious Frank and said: liOn the left-hand side of
this church you will find buried the lance with which the atheistic
Jewish nation pierced Christ's undefiled side; it is located right in
front of the altar. Take it and go forth in battle with it and you will
triumph over your enemies as Christ did over Satan." This vision
appeared a second and a third time and was related to Godfrey~
Bohemond, and all the [Christian] chiefs. So they all began to pray
and, having dug in the spot specified [in the vision], they found the
lance of Christ in the church called St. Peter.
121. At this same time envoys arrived from the infidel camp
demanding war; the Frankish forces were overjoyed at this.
Bohemond and the other leaders answered Kerbogha and said that
they would go forth in battle against him the next day. Now the
Frankish forces had become diminished [since the beginning of the
expedition]. Bohemond formed their ranks for battle, fifteen
thousand cavalry and one hundred and fifty thousand infantry. With
these he went into battle, the Franks carrying the lance of Christ
before them and holding it up high. The infidel forces, in turn,
covered the vast plain of Antioch in a dense body five ranks deep.
Saint Gilles came forth and set up the lance of Christ right opposite
Kerbogha's standards. Kerbogha opposed the Franks with an
innumerable amount of troops, amassed like a mountain. [On the
Christian side] the lion-like Tancred commanded the left wing of the

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Frankish force, Robert (count of Nonnandy) the right wing, while


Godfrey and Bohemond faced the center of the innumerable Turkish
army. Then, invoking the assistance of God in a loud voice, like a fIre
falling from heaven and burning the tops of the mountains, the
Christian forces rushed en masse against the infidels and completely
put their whole army to flight. Full of rage the Franks pursued the
infidels for the greater part of the day, slaughtering them as they
went, and their swords tasted the blood of the infidels whose corpses
covered the whole plain. Moreover, the Franks subjected the infantry
forces of the infidels to a God-like vengeance by burning three
hundred thousand of them, causing the whole land to stink [with
their corpses]. After all this, laden with much booty and captives, the
Frankish forces returned to the city of Antioch with great rejoicing.
Thus this day turned out to be one of great happiness for the
Christian faithful.
122. In this same year a second omen appeared in the northern
portion of the sky. At the fourth hour of the night the sky flared up
more than it had before and turned a deep red color. This phenomenon began in the evening and lasted through the fourth hour of the
night. No one had ever seen as frightful an omen as this. Branching
upwards like a tree, it enveloped the northern portion of the sky right
up to the very top with its vein-like form, and all the stars took on
the color of fire. This omen was a sign of calamity and destruction.
123. In the year 548 of the Armenian era [1099-1100] an eclipse
of the moon took place as a natural occurrence. It took on the deep
color of blood from the first watch until the fourth hour. Mter this
it took on a black coloring, still keeping its bloody appearance.
Because of the intensity of the gloom, all of creation was plunged into
darkness. Now the savants predicted [from this eclipse] that much
bloodshed would be caused by the Persian nation; they predicted this
by the way the moon appeared to them and by examining their own
books.
124. In this same year the Frankish army marched forth against
the holy city of Jerusalem, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the
Armenian patriarch Nerses, who said: "The deliverance of Jerusalem
will come from the Franks, but because of their sins the city once
again will fall into the hands of the infidels." While the Christians
were on the march, the infidel forces came against them in battle in

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the same way the Amalekites came before the children of Israel. l
N ow, when the Christians reached the town called 'Arqah,2 a severe
battle was fought there with the infidels, and the Frankish forces
triumphed over them with a great victory. Mter this the Frankish
anny continued its advance without meeting up with any resistance.
Arriving before the gates of Jerusalem, they began to assault the city
ceaselessly. At that time his lordship Vahram, the Armenian
patriarch, was in Jerusalem. The infidels were intent on killing him,
but the Lord delivered him out of their hands. Now after many
assaults the Franks set up wooden towers and brought them near the
ramparts of the city. By sheer force, the wielding of the sword, and
tremendous courage, the Christians captured the holy city of
Jerusalem. Then, taking the sword of the emperor Vespasian,
Godfrey fell upon the infidels with all his might and slaughtered
sixty-five thousand men in the temple,3 not counting the other
inhabitants who perished in the city. In this way the holy city of
Jerusalem was captured and the sepulcher of Christ our God
delivered from subjection to the Muslims. 4
Now this was the third time since the crucifixion of the Lord that
the sword of Vespasian had been used against Jerusalem.
125. In this same year there took place a tremendous gathering of
as many as three hundred thousand troops-from Egypt to Scythial
and Nubia and even as far as the confines of India-and all these
forces came against Jerusalem heavily armed. 2 When the Frankish
forces learned of this, they trembled and shook with fear. Not daring
to wait for the enemy in the city, they marched forth to meet them in
battle, with the idea that if they were unable to resist them successfully, they would return to their own country. The two armies met not
far from the Mediterranean Sea.3 When the ruler of Egype saw the
Frankish forces approaching, he signaled his troops to attack. The
Frankish forces, in turn, rushed into battle en masse and stood their
ground at the front lines. Then they attacked the Egyptian forces
and turned them in complete flight. Actually it was not the Franks
who were fighting, but God who was battling against the Egyptians
in their stead, as he had done when he supported the children of
Israel against Pharaoh at the Red Sea. As the battle intensified,
about one hundred thousand men fell into the sea and perished, while
the Franks slaughtered the rest as they were fleeing. Mter this the
Frankish forces victoriously returned to the city of Jerusalem laden
with much booty.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

126. In this same year Gregory, the curopalates of the East and
the brother of his lordship the Armenian catholicos Barsegh, collected
troops and went against the Turkish army stationed in the district of
Arsharunik',t for he was a valiant man and a mighty warrior.
Arriving at a village called Kaghezuan at the head of his troops,
Gregory met up with the Turks. He attacked them, harassing them
and killing many with the sword, and then began the march back to
the city of Ani. On route one of the Turkish troops, who was hiding
in ambush in a tree, surreptitiously hit the curopalates in the mouth
with an arrow. Because of this severe wound, Gregory fell to the
ground and gave up his life. So there was deep mourning in Shirak
and in all Armenia. In this manner died the brave soldier and
faithful Christian Gregory, the son of Vasak, son of Apirat, son of
Hasan; he was from the lineage of valiant men and militant soldiers
and also descended from the Pahlavids.
127. In this same year the count Saint Gilles returned to the
country of the Franks, taking with him the lance of Christ which was
found in Antioch. After giving it as a present to the Roman emperor
Alexius, he continued his journey back to the country of the Franks.
128. In this same year the great Armenian prince Constantine, the
son of ~uben, died and left behind his two sons, T'oros and Leon.
Constantine had ruled over many cities and regions and had
controlled the greater part of the Taurus Mountains, which he had
taken from the Persian forces through his own bravery. This prince
had been an officer in the army of Gagik Bagratuni, the son of Ashot.
Constantine died in this period, and a certain omen in his house
announced his death. One day, while the Armenian prince was still
alive, flashes oflightning crackled in the sky. The lightning hit the
fortress called Vahka1 and, passing through the servants' living
quarters, struck some silver plates and in one .place penetrated
through to the futh one. The sages said that all this was an
indication of the last year of Constantine. So in that same year the
Armenian prince died and was buried in the monastery called
Kastalghon. 2
129. In this same year a third fire-like omen of a very deep red
color appeared in the sky. It remained until the sixth hour of the
night, while moving from the northern portion of the sky to the
eastern, and then took on a black color. It was said that this omen

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was a sign of the impending bloodshed of the Christians, a prediction


which indeed came true. Now, since the day the Frankish nation
went forth, not one good or favorable omen appeared; on the contrary,
all the omens pointed to the calamity, destruction, ruin, and
disruption of the land through death, slaughter, famine, and other
catastrophes.
130. In this same year a severe famine occurred throughout all of
Mesopotamia. There was much suffering in the city of Edessa,
because during the year not one drop of rain fell on the arable land,
and dew was prevented from falling from the sky; the land dried up
from lack of water, orchards and vineyards became desiccated,
springs went dry, and thus many died in the city of Edessa because
of the famine. What we heard happened in Samaria during the time
of the prophet Isaiahl also occurred in the city of Edessa at this time.
A Christian woman of the Roman faith cooked and ate her son. In
the same way an infidel Muslim, pressured by the rigors of the
famine, ate his wife. It was as if God had taken away the potency of
bread to dispel hunger; so people ate and yet were not satiated.
Many said that this was a judgement from God because of the
iniquitous death of the curopalates T'oros. The inhabitants had
sworn on the cross and the Gospels not to take T'oros's life and yet
had disavowed their oath by cruelly killing him and thrusting his
head on the end of a pole, while heaping all sorts of insults upon him;
finally they had thrown his body in front of the Church of the Holy
Savior, built by the holy apostle Thaddeus. Because of all this, the
lord God brought this affliction upon the people of Abgar. Moreover,
year after year the wrath of God upon the city of Edessa did not
abate.
131. At the beginning of the year 549 [1100-1101] all areas came
to have an abundance of food once again. There was such an abundance of wheat and barley in Edessa that the recent famine was
forgotten; for one mod produced a hundred mod, trees were filled
with fruit, springs gushed forth with water, and both man and beast
thus became satiated. Also in this same year Constantine, the son of
~uben, died.
132. In this same year Godfrey, the duke of the Franks, marched
with his troops to the town called Caesarea, which is located on the
coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Muslim chiefs came to him on

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the pretext of making peace and brought food and set it before him.
The duke unwittingly ate the food, not knowing that it was poisoned.
Thus after a few days the duke Godfrey, together with forty of his
men, died and was buried in the city of Jerusalem opposite Holy
Golgotha, for he died while in this city. Mter this his brother
Baldwin, who was ruling in the city of Edessa, was searched out and
given sovereignty over the holy city of Jerusalem. Then Tancred rose
up and went to the city of Antioch to the Frankish count Bohemond,
for Bohemond was his uncle. 1
133. In this period the Roman general, the Prince of Princes,l
resided in the city of Marash, which was under the control of the
Greek emperor Alexius; during the previous year this city was
handed over to Alexius by the Frankish chiefs, but they were soon to
disavow what they had originally promised. The great Frankish
count Bohemond and Richard, his sister's son, rising up, collected
troops and went against the city of Marash to give battle to the
Prince of Princes whose name was T'at'ul. They demanded that
T'at'ul hand over the city to them, and at the same time launched a
number of assaults against it. However, the Prince of Princes, who
was a valiant man and a warrior and who also had many noblemen
with him in the city, had nothing but scorn for Bohemond's attempted
assaults. Mter Bohemond had set up his camp on the plain of
Marash, he brought to subjection the entire surrounding territory.
134. In this same year the Persian emir, who was called Danish1
mend and who was the lord of Sebastia and the whole Roman
country, marched forth with many troops. Going forth with a
tremendous number of cavalry forces, he came against the city of
Melitene and violently assaulted it. The commander of the city, who
was called Gabriel, sent to Bohemond and begged him to come to its
aid, promising to hand over Melitene to the Frankish count. So
Bohemond and Richard went forth with their troops and came
ag~nst Danishmend. When Danishmend heard of this, he sent troops
agamst the Frankish forces encamped on the plain of Melitene. He
a~so set up ambushes in many places and, taking many troops with
hIm, personally marched against the Franks. On their part Bohemond and Richard went forth [to meet the Muslims] without taking
pre~autions and being quite unprepared. 2 Their troops had put aside
theIr w~apons and came dressed like women accompanying a fWleral
proceSSIon, for they had given their miliary equipment to their

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servants to carry for them. Moreover, these warriors devoid of


weapons gave the appearance of being captives. [Under such
circumstances] the forces of Danishmend suddenly fell upon the
Franks. A violent battle was fought on that day and all the Frankish
and Armenian troops were slaughtered, while Bohemond and Richard
were taken captive. 3 In this battle perished two Armenian bishops-Cyprian, the bishop of Antioch, and Gregory, the bishop of
Marash; these men had accompanied Bohemond, for he had a very
high regard for them.
Hearing the news of this defeat, all the Christian peoples shook
and trembled with fear, while the whole Persian nation rejoiced and
was happy; for the infidels had regarded Bohemond as the veritable
king of the Franks, and all the people of Khurasan had trembled at
his name. When the count of Edessa, Baldwin, and all the Franks
who were in Antioch learned of this, they pursued Danishmend.
Danishmend, in tum, took Bohemond and Richard and brought them
to Neocaesarea in iron chains. When Baldwin heard this, he
returned to Edessa and handed over the city to another Baldwin, who
was surnamed Le Bourg and who had formerly been a vassal of
Bohemond. Mter subjecting the inhabitants of this city to all sorts
of exactions and taking a goodly amount of gold and silver from them,
the former count of Edessa then went to Jerusalem and, occupying
the throne of his brother Godfrey, ruled over that city. Now all these
things happened to the Frankish forces because of their sinful deeds,
for they left the straight path of God and began to walk in the path
of sin, something which God had forbidden them to do. Because of
their iniquitous and debauched ways, they forgot the commandments
of the Lord, and that which God did not will they desired. Thus God
took away the assistance and victory he had previously given to
them, as he had done to the children of Israel in times past. Now
always keep this in mind and never tire of recollecting it.
135. In this same year the emir of the Persians Sokman, who was
the son of Artuk and a brave and bloodthirsty man, collected troops.
At the head of these troops, which were numerous, he came against
the town called Saruj and made incursions into the surrounding
territory. When the count Baldwin of Le Bourg and the count of
Sanij, whose name was Fulcher, heard of this, they marched against
the Turks. However, because of their carelessness and negligence,
they were defeated. In a violent battle the Turks vanquished the
Franks, slaughtering their forces and those of the Armenians who

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

had accompanied them. Fulcher, the count of Sariij, who was a brave
and mighty man and a person of saintly and pure conduct, was killed.
The count Baldwin, on the other hand, took refuge in the citadel of
Edessa together with three men and remained there reduced to a
pitiable state. After this the chief men of Edessa came and brought
him down to the city, seating him on his throne. Mter three days
Baldwin rose up and went to Antioch looking for reinforcements.
Now the infidel army assaulted the citadel of Sariij, in which place
all the Christians residing in the town had gathered, together with
the bishop! of Edessa. At this point the inhabitants of SaIiij came to
an agreement with the Turks. Mter twenty-five days Baldwin came,
together with six hundred horsemen and seven hundred infantry, and
they harassed the wicked Persian army; however, the inhabitants of
Saruj would not submit to Baldwin. Then the Franks turned against
Sariij and slaughtered the entire population of the town with the
sword. They pillaged the whole town and carried off a countless
number of young boys, girls, and women to the city of Edessa. Thus
Antioch and all the lands under Frankish control were filled with
captives, while the entire town of Sariij flowed with blood. 2
136. In this same year for the fourth time the northern portion of
the sky reddened, appearing more frightful and wondrous than the
previous phenomenon; at first it appeared red, but then it took on a
black color. This fourth omen was accompanied by a continuous
eclipse of the moon. The omen was a sign of the wrath [of God] upon
the Christians, according to the prophet Jeremiah, who said: "His
wrath will flare up from the northern portion,'ll Indeed this unpredictable wrath finally did come.
137. In the year 550 of the Armenian era [1101-1102] a frightful
and wondrous omen appeared in the holy city of Jerusalem. The
light, which usually burned over the holy sepulcher of Christ our
God, went out and would not burn on Holy Saturday, The lamps
would not burn until Sunday, becoming lighted at the ninth hour of
that ~ay. All the Christians were amazed by this phenomenon. Now
all thIS oc~urred because the Frankish nation had strayed into the
~ath of eVIl and ha~ aba~doned the true and righteous way, partakmg of the cup of sm which is filled with bitter dregs Those that
~inistered in the holy church wallowed in the mire [of sin] unsabat.ed. Moreover, in the midst of all this evil behavior they did not
shnnk f:rom COroml'tt'mg any sm.
. Worse stIll,
. they appointed women

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to serve at the holy sepulcher of God and in all the monasteries


located in Jerusalem. All these were very great sins in the eyes of
God. These Franks went so far as to expel the Armenians, Romans,
Syrians, and Georgians from all the monasteries. Now, when the
Franks saw this frightful omen which was a sign of [God's] reproach
to their nation, they removed the women serving in the monasteries
of Jerusalem and restored all the nations to their respective monasteries. After this the five nations of Christian faithful 1 began to pray,
and God heard their prayers. So on the Sunday of Easter the lamp
over the holy sepulcher of God lighted up. No one had ever seen this
happen before, for the light of the holy sepulcher had always begun
to burn on Saturday, at the eleventh hour of the day.

Part III
1. After having collected and written down the events of one
hundred and fifty years, up to the year 550 [1101-1102], we have
ceased our productive investigations, leaving to others the care of
these reasoned discussions and intellectual controversies. After
having withdrawn from the arena [of historical writing], we have
given way to more intelligent and sagacious creative inquirers,
according to the words of the holy apostle Paul, who says: "Whoever
rises up in public, let him be the first to remain silent."l We are at
present in the period of the pontificate of the catholicoi, their
lordships Gregory and Barsegh, the time when my [original] history
was first begun. Moreover, we are now in the pontificates of
Nicholas, patriarch of Constantinople;2 John, patriarch of Antioch;3
Symeon, patriarch of Jerusalem;' John, patriarch of Alexandria;5 and
Athanasius, patriarch of the Syrians.s Now, there are six thousand
six hundred and ten years from Adam to the present,7but we have
not considered these ten years in our chronological calculations.
Moreover, we have neglected the cultivation of a good style of writing.
Notwithstanding all this, when we reflected upon the fact that the
wrath of God was continually falling upon the Christians and that
year by year the strength of the forces of the believers was diminishing and collapsing, we perceived that no one had thought of inquiring
into these matters and putting them down in writing-all so that
these calamitous and disastrous events might be preserved for the
bright future to come, when the Lord God will fulfill his promise of
old to the faithful by establishing for them a time of happiness and
bliss. Therefore, as if God had commanded us, we have undertaken
with great pleasure to put all these events down in writing and leave
them as a record for future generations. Although our work is not

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

embellished with a very sublime erudition, or a fine style, or even an


exalted purpose, nevertheless it does contain an enumeration of the
punishments which the Lord inflicted upon us; for, because of our
many grievous sins, we brought the wrath of the Lord God down
upon us and received these punishments from him who scourges us
with his staff.
2. Now it is necessary and proper for those of us living during
these times not to forget all this, but rather to write and record it for
future generations, emphasizing that the' set punishments are the
fruits of the sin, the seeds of which our forefathers sowed and which
now are being reaped sevenfold. Motivated by these considerations,
I Matthew, who am unworthy of God's mercy, spent many years in
laborious research and, with untiring energy of mind, assembled and
wrote down in Edessa the material contained in my book, bringing
the narration up to the present time. There still remains to be
written the history of thirtyl years. However, that is the work of
vardapets and skilled scholars and should not be left to our incapability and limited knowledge. Yet God is accustomed to require
indispensable and useful work from weak and imperfect people. We
can compare this to a cluster of bees at whose organization we
marvel, seeing how in spite of their fragile bodies they are able to
provide sweet honey for all mankind, including taking care of the
needs of holy people and offering products which are highly regarded
by kings. [Let us make another comparison]: the dead worm? who
relives and, through its labors, embellishes kings and princes with
[garments of] different colors and enriches all the churches with
various [colorful] ornaments. In this same way our feebleness has
turned into strength and courage, and so we have expressed our
thoughts in the presence of rhetoricians, brilliant savants, profound
intellects, and well-trained researchers, commending our book to the
crucible oftheir close scrutiny.
Moreover, we feel no antagonism towards learned men for there
is nothing in our book which is contrary to their thinking. (People as
myself are]. like that frail bird who, although its voice compares
favor~bly WIth that of many others, yet its body is very weak--':"we are
?peakmg of t?e swallow. This bird resembles us in the amazing way
It constructs Its nest; for it builds its nest out of worthless debris and
p~aces it on ~ ~gh spot without any foundation, carrying mud and
?Its of straw m Its beak. In this manner the swallow solidly builds
Its shelter and passes it on to its young. Now such a feat as this

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cannot be accomplished by enormous birds-we are speaking here of


the eagle and others like it. Indeed these birds, because of their
ability to fly well, can accomplish feats exhibiting great courage and
strength; however, the work done by the frail swallow cannot be
duplicated by them. Now in this same manner the intellectuals and
the scholars are capable of profoundly examining the Old and New
Testaments of God, expounding its contents with a formidable and
brilliant analysis; nevertheless, we positively and unequivocally
maintain that this work was written after much( thought and
reflection, and that it is impossible for anyone else to find or to
assemble together the history of nations, kings, patriarchs, and
princes, and to write down all the events in chronological order [as
we have done here]. Since the writers of old, who were eyewitnesses
to the events of past centuries, only reached up to our own period, no
one has been able to do what we have done. For we have devoted
fifteen years of incessant examination to the writing of this book,
presenting what we found written in other historical works, together
with their proper chronological order. Moreover, we have also
consulted old people, scrutinizing and collating what they have said
with care, and then adding this information to our book.
3. Now I, Matthew, because of these various considerations, have
felt the desire to return by the same road which I first followed, very
much like the man who wanders over the great and expansive
Mediterranean Sea for many years and, after being exhausted by
many harassments including tempests, returns safe and sound to his
home; then once again bringing to mind the desire for economic gain,
he forgets his past troubles and, regarding as nothing all the wealth
lost at sea, is very eager once again to begin his maritime voyages.
In the same manner we now return to the place we left off in our
book and pick up the narration which we ended at the year 550. Now
we have already begun to recount the events within a period of
twenty-five 1 years; after this another period of thirty years 2 will
complete our chronicle, because the years of the Armenian era have
been accumulating in the midst of more and more calamities. We,
therefore, eagerly return to the period of the pontificate of his
lordship Gregory and the reign of the Greek emperor Alexius and
begin to relate the events and evil tribulations of these times.
Once again we have written this work, not because of vaingloriousness, as some might think, but because we wish to leave a record
and an admonition to posterity. We have put aside thoughts about

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

the inadequacy of our intelligence and our ineptitude in erudite


research. Indeed those accomplished in the knowledge of the Old and
New Testaments of God through their grasp of grammatical roles are
certainly capable of correcting our style and are able, moreover, to
expose our incorrect usage, for after all they have been endowed with
divine graces. As for us, with our limited knowledge and intelligence
we have investigated these events with as much lucidity as possible,
consulting a number of histories that were written in various places
and transmitted to us as records by their authors. We have collated
all the material contained in these histories with the greatest care.
Moreover, we have obtained facts from respectable people, who were
knowledgeable in the events and calamities in question and, being
free of error, were well versed in history and chronology. We also
have had interviews and interrogations with old people who were
well-informed of the events of past years, dealing with them according to the words of the prophet, who said: "Question the fathers of
old and they will answer you; question the old people and they will
recite to you." S Thus in this manner we have labored relentlessly,
putting aside all other cares and ignoring all our other needs, and
have continuously occupied our minds with this work. We have
begun the continuation of our history by invoking the words of the
blessed doctor Gregory of Nyssa, who said: "As for me, I am an old
man in my career." We have remained steadfast in this our career,
leaving to others its investigation. Yet we have seen everybody
refuse to undertake the writing of this history.
We also have become aware of time passing by very quickly,
showing us change, decay, and disappearance of what exists and
revealing to us the instability of mankind on earth and the transition
from the present life to that of the future; for the years and the
centuries are transitory, as well as what produces them, while in the
same way as those things pertaining to the future life are eternal, so
also is what causes them. Blessed are they who have achieved
happiness and blessed are they who have partaken of the kingdom of
God!
4. In this same year 550 of the Armenian era [1101-1102] the
count Saint Gilles returned to the country of the Franks, for when
the holy city of Jerusalem was captured from the Turks, he took the
lance of Christ and departed. Now, when people heard that he had
the lance of Christ with him, they all excitedly followed him. When
he returned, Saint Gilles intended to attack the city of Tripoli, for he

PART

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185

had under his command one hundred thousand warriors. When he


reached Constantinople, the emperor Alexius gave him many presents
and then transported him and his men across the Mediterranean.
However, the emperor committed the crime of Judas against the
Franks, for he commanded all the territories through which their
forces were to pass devastated by fire and also had them guided
through desolate regions. In this way he deprived them of food and
thus caused them to suffer from famine to such an extent that, being
in dire straits, they were forced to eat their horses. Moreover, the
emperor incited the Turkish forces against the Franks, causing the
Turks to collect a formidable army against them. So the sultan Kilij
Arslan went forth and violently attacked the Franks in the vicinity
of the town of Nicaea, slaughtering countless numbers of them
amounting to as many as one hundred thousand men. Saint Gilles
fled with three hundred of his men and took refuge in the city of
Antioch. All the other Frankish troops were put to the sword, while
their women and children were taken to Persia as captives. This
defeat occurred because of the sins of the Franks, for they all
preferred the way of wickedness and had abandoned the precepts of
God. Now the count of Antioch Tancred1 [took advantage of the
situation and], seizing Saint Gilles and his men, imprisoned them
with iron chains in the town called Saruandawi. 2 After a number of
days the Frankish patriarch residing in Antioch and other members
of the clergy interceded for him before Tancred, who then released
Saint Gilles. Then Saint Gilles went and assembled an army against
Tripoli, organizing a formidable siege against the city and constructing a fortress 3 against it.'
6. In this period the great Frankish count of Poitou1 went forth
with a formidable army and, marching through the lands of the
Romans and the Greeks at the head of three hundred thousand
cavalry, he reached Constantinople supported by this tremendous
might. From this position of great strength the count of Poitou spoke
arrogantly with the Greek emperor, referring to him by the title of
t1eparch"2rather than that of "emperor," even though he himself was
a young man of about twenty years. 3 The emperor Alexius and all the
Greeks greatly feared him. At this point the emperor, together with
all the Greek aristocrats, went to the count's camp and with great
insistence brought him to Constantinople. There the emperor gave
the count a magnificent reception, presented him with immeasurable
amounts of money, and arranged sumptuous spectacles'in his honor.

186

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

After this Alexius at great expense transported the count and his
army across the Mediterranean to Cappadocia and at the same time
supplied Greek troops to accompany him. From this moment the
treachery of the Greek emperor began to be made manifest, for he
ordered his officers [accompanying the Franks] to guide their forces
through desolate regions. For fifteen days these officers led the
Franks through arid areas where there was nothing except a dry
desert and narrow, rocky places. The water in these places was
white like limewater and very salty. The emperor Alexius went so
far as to have lime mixed in the bread and then had it given to the
Franks as food; in the eyes of God this was a monstrous crime. Thus
the Franks were in a famished and exhausted state for many days,
and disease spread among their ranks. All this was caused by the
Greek emperor, for he harbored a grudge against the Franks because
of the oath which they fonnerly had made to him, but had not carried
out. Nevertheless, God held the Greeks responsible for having mercilessly victimized, injured, and ruined the Frankish Christians.
Because of this, God permitted the infidels to march against the
Greeks and punish them for their sins.
6. At this time, when the sultan of the West Kilij Arslan learned
of the coming of the Frankish forces, he wrote to the emir Danishmend in Neocaesarea and also to other emirs. Then he marched
against the Franks at the head of a formidable anny. The two
armies met on the plain of Olosi1 and violently battled against one
another for the greater part of the day, covering the whole plain with
blood. The Frankish forces, exhausted and lost in a strange country,
were unable to find an escape and so wandered about in groups like
animals. This turned out to be a disastrous and horrible day for the
Christians. In the midst of all this, the general comlDanding the
Greek troops fled. When the count of Poitou saw the destruction of
his troops, he climbed up a mountain, while the infidels surrounded
the foot of the mountain, Here one witnessed the spectacle of bows
cr~ckling, horses' hoofs beating, and the mountain reverberating
[WIth the clash of arms]. When the count of Poitou saw his troops
being slaughtered [right before his very eyes], he wept bitterly. As
the battle inten~ified and the Franks were weakening everywhere,
the count fled WIth four hundred of his horsemen. His army of three
hundr~d thousand men was completely destroyed by the Turks. The
FrankIsh count of Poitou finally reached the city of Antioch taking
refuge WI'th Tancre,
d and from there passing on to the holy' city of

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Jerusalem. Moor a number of days the count returned to the country


of the Franks whence he had come. He solemnly swore to return and
wreak vengeance upon the Persians and also upon the Greek
emperor, for all of Persia was filled with captives taken from the
count of Poitou's army.2
7. In this same year all of Egypt marched forth, after having
gathered together an enonnous anny, and came against the holy city
of Jerusalem. The king of Jerusalem, Baldwin, went against them in
battle with a small number of troops, and they [the Egyptians] put
the Frankish forces to flight. So Baldwin fled and took refuge in
Jerusalem. On that day the count of Duluk, William SancaweI,lwas
killed. Actually King Baldwin first took refuge in the town of
Baalbek2 before he went to Jerusalem. Thus the infidels victoriously
returned to their town of Ascalon.
8. In the year 551 of the Annenian era [1102-1103] a great
confusion and frightful disturbance regarding the faith took place, for
ten Christian nations fell into error concerning the celebration of
Holy Easter. Only the Armenians and Syrians maintained the true
tradition, while the Romans and the Franks adhered to the evilly
sown seeds of the abominable heretic Irion. For this man fixed
Eastertide on the 5th of April, thus making the full moon coincide
with the Feast of Lazarus and Saturday, while the Armenians,
Syrians, and Hebrews fixed it on the 6th of April, which coincides
with Palm Sunday. This philosopher Irion, who was a Roman, had
falsified the correct computation of Eastertide; for, when, the
calculation was established on the basis of nineteen cycles, the other
savants did not consult him. Because of this, Irion harbored a deep
grudge against the savants and, secretly getting hold of their books,
changed the six to five 1 and put the last numbers first, a calculation
which threw off Easter every ninety-five years. Now it was because
of these reasons that the Greeks and Latins fell into error every
ninety-five years. All these erroneous calculations were caused by
that man of Roman origin, Irion, and so a great conflict developed
between the Greeks and the Armenians. Yet the Franks had no
desire to dispute with the Armenians; it was only the Greeks who
had a quarrel and a conflict with the Annenians over Holy Easter.
The inhabitants of Antioch, Cilicia, and Edessa had violent disputes
with the Greeks over this matter, for the Greeks endeavored to force
the Armenians to adopt their unauthoritative calendar. Notwith-

188

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

standing the effort and trouble the Greeks expended on the Armeni
ans, they were unable to move them [from their position]. However,
the Syrians in Edessa, becoming frightened, adopted the Greek
position and thus renounced the agreement they had made with the
Armenians.
9. Now previously the Greeks had fallen into a similar error
concerning the celebration of Holy Easter, and the lamps of Jerusalem had not lighted. At that time the infidels had massacred those
praying [in the holy places], This had all taken place during the
reign of [the emperor] Basil and in the year 455. Therefore, this was
the second time in this book that the Greeks had fallen into error,
At this time [of the second error of the Greeks] the clergy in the city
of Edessa by means of a letter informed the Armenian catholicos his
lordship Gregory, who lived in the Black Mountains in the celebrated
Monastery of Areg, [concerning this conflict with the Greeks]; he, in
turn, exhorted them to remain steadfast in the Orthodox faith. The
following is a copy of this letter, written by the catholicos to the
inhabitants of Edessa.
10. liTo those who truly love Christ and profess the Holy Trinity, 1
to the priests, leaders, and all the faithful, greetings. May the
blessing, accompanied by a meritorious affection, come upon you all
from the see of our holy enlightener.
"Now we have read your letter fllled with the love of God and have
listened to your desires; we completely understand all the thoughts
expressed in the letter, giving special thanks to God for the words
which the apostle Paul said to his disciples, namely: 'When I hear of
your piety and faith in the Lord, I rejoice and thank God for all
things.'2 For this is the Word God himself who issued from the
Father and invited mankind to glorify the radiance of his divinity and
sublimity, he who received us weak creatures by his mercy and gave
us the power of his grace without which we could not resist the
i~visible forces of temptation. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who will
gwe y~u the assistance and strength in all things and also will grant
you WIsdom when you stand before the savants and intellects and
answer them according to his truthful precept which bids the
followin
.
g.. 'D 0 no t worry as to what you will say or' how you will say
It, fo~ w~atever is. given to you at that time, that you will say.'3 The
Omm~7lent ~ne hunself, through his own mercy and through his a11prev8J.lmg mIght, knows all things. In spite of all this, we sin against

PART III

189

him who created us out of nothing, acted benevolently towards us,


and exalted us, as he did in past times to Israel; moreover, we
continually sin against him throughout our lifetime, we as a nation
and as a people, by thought and by word, knowingly and unknowingly.
liNow it is my belief that we do not sin against either kings or
princes, armies or generals, spiritual leaders or their flocks; rather
we are obedient to all and put ourselves at their disposal, following
the apostolic precept of rendering to each what is his due: tax to
whom tax is due, fear to whom fear is due, honor to whom honor is
due, Caesar's what is due to Caesar, and [last but not least] God's
what is due to God; moreover, we do all this without being in debt to
anyone and without rendering evil for evil. Now, if in spite of this
righteousness of ours we are judged unjustly by somebody to be
lacking and defective, on the basis of true religion, we are worthy of
punishment instead of reward. Now do not fear and do not be
frightened, for 10, the time of salvation is at hand and the coming of
the Lord is nigh. We have many words of consolation said by the
prophets concerning the future life, our Lord God, and his saints; all
of these things must be brought to pass because they are manifestly
true. Indeed, I exhort and encourage you to be prudently patient; I
do this not as a timid pastor who remains aloof from the sufferings
of his flock, rather I voluntarily make myself your companion in
death, in all the situations,and in the various affiictions you find
yourselves, not alienating or removing myself from them. Even
though it is a difficult task for me to address you, examine the
situation, and answer your questions, I am ready and able to do all
these things, as long as the time is fitting and proper; also I am
willing to do this in spite of any torment and violence I might suffer.
So we should thank God continually that up to now we had been
frightened and condemned only by the ungodly infidels; for now we
experience the same from the Christians.
liNevertheless, do not be discouraged, for God is able to deal with
our afflictions and give us the strength to be patient through them.
However, as much as it is in our power, we should fight as brave
soldiers of Christ to defend Jesus' martyrdom for the truth. The Lord
God, in whose presence I am continually, is my witness so that I
maintain no error, distort no part of the faith, and have no arrogant
sentiments; anything contrary to this belongs to the thinking of the
insensitive and ignorant. So, enlightened by the grace of God and the
doctrines of the holy enlighteners, our predecessors, we follow the

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kingly and true path which is in Christ Jesus, neither deviating right
or left, nor separating ourselves from the precepts of God; mor~over,
we do not rise up at dawn to devote ourselves to the aberratIon of
alcoholic drinking or to exhibit an arrogant and prideful haughtiness,
as do the Romans and others whose names are not even worth
mentioning. Now, if we deceptively maintain a corrupted faith, why
are we tormented as ones deserving punishment and why are we not
given rest instead of wandering over land and sea, enduring all types
of tribulations? St. Paul relates a similar experience which happened
to him, when he says: 'Why are we ceaselessly tormented, thrown
into prison and put in chains? I have cODlbated ferocious beasts and
I have suffered in the depths of abysses. 4 Now, if by any chance my
hope in Christ is a vain one, I would say that all these wanderings,
flights, torments, and pains were useless, since I had endured these
things for the sake of a condemnable belief. I have occupied the
patriarchal office for forty years and left m.y ancestral home at a time
of peace to come here. Thus I have deceived no one but myself;
nevertheless, I maintain my hope in God and my trust in the Holy
Scriptures, because I have an orthodox and perfect faith. N ow all
those of you who are associated with my ministry and faith, do not
timidly or fawningly back down or be frightened and thus reject God
in return for a vain lease on life; for 10, this is the time to receive and
take up the crown of Christ. I assure you in the presence of Christ
that he who does not demolish the faith of the saints will be crowned
with them; however, he who prefers the glory of men to that of God,
at the time of the judgment of the son of God, will be placed with
those apostates who did not confess Christ as God, and thus will be
excluded from our faith and blessings. On the other hand those who
believe in the faith we confess will be blessed by the inhabitants of
hea~en ~nd earth and by God and us, especially by God who is
glorified In eternity. Amen!"
11. When this letter reached Edessa, the inhabitants of the city
were more than ever strengthened in the true faith. Now when
Easter came, the inhabitants of Jerusalem illuminated the la~ps [of
the holy sepulcher] deceitfully and fraudulently thus causing their
~eople to fall into error; for they lit the divine iamps with an alien
Ire.. However, on the Armenian Easter the lamps were lit in a
g~nume manner, and all the Christian faithful who were in the holy
CIty of Jerusalem were witness to this. At that time all the Greeks
were put to shame b
h
, ecause t ey celebrated Easter on the day of

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Palm Sunday.
12. In this same year the rulers of Egypt and Damascus1 collected
troops and came against the holy city of Jerusalem with an innumerable army. The king of Jerusalem, Baldwin, rose up and went
against them in battle. In a violent combat the Egyptians put the
Franks to flight. At that moment a goodly number of Frankish
troops, having arrived by sea, disembarked and defeated the
Egyptian forces, pursuing them and slaughtering them severely.
After this the king of Jerusalem, Baldwin, was on his way to his royal
city.2 A certain Ethiopian Muslim was waiting in ambush concealed
in some bushes and hit the king of Jerusalem in the ribs with a
spear. The Ethiopian was immediately killed; however, the wound
in the body of the king remained incurable until the day of his death.
At that time Jerusalem was filled with sorrow and grief over its
king's death. 3 This misfortune happened because of the impious
celebration of Holy Easter by the Greeks. These Greeks had
arrogantly fallen into the same error during the time of the emperor
Basil, when the lamps would not burn and when the infidels
slaughtered all those praying in the Church of the Holy Resurrection,
right at the entrance of the sepulcher of Christ our God.
13. At the beginning of the year 552 of the Al1l1enian era [11031104J the violent wrath of God fell upon Edessa in the fonn of a
severe rainstorm which struck the city on the day of Little Thursday.l
The flood caused by this rain reminded one of the former great
deluge. The tremendously agitated air condensed in the atmosphere,
and the heavens were shaken by lightning crackling in the clouds.
These phenomena were such that many thought the day for the
destruction of the city had arrived. During the morning a tremendous amount of rain mixed with hail fell from the sky. When the sun
appeared, a mass of water from the west approached Edessa, building
up as it came; striking the walls of the city, it broke through them
and flooded the whole place, ruining a portion of the town. Many
houses collapsed and many animals died, but not one person was
trapped, for the catastrophe occurred during the day and thus people
were able to flee from the danger.
14. In this same y~ar the Frankish count Bohemond was ransomed from Danishmend for one hundred thousand dahekans; this
was accomplished through the mediation and assistance of the great

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Armenian prince Kogh Vasi1. 1 This ruler donated ten thousand


dahekans towards Bohemond's ransom money, while the count of
Antioch, Tancred, gave nothing. Vasil collected the ransom money,
doing all in his power to have it procured from every part of his
territories. Finally he handed over the sum of one hundred thousand
dahekans and had Bohemond brought to him. Vasil went forth to
meet the Frankish prince and with great honor received him in his
palace. Then the Armenian prince gave presents to Bohemond and
to those who had brought him, all of which was valued at twenty
thousand dahekans. 2 Mter a number of days Bohemond went to his
city of Antioch and by a solemn oath became an adopted son of the
Armenian prince Kogh Vasil. As for Richard, Bohemond's sister's Bon,
Danishmend gave him as a present to the emperor Alexius in return
for a great sum of money.
15. In this same year the count of Edessa, Baldwin, collected
troops and went against the Turks in the area of Mardin, which was
in Muslim territory. He slaughtered the Turks and took prisoner
their emir called Ulugh-Salar;l moreover, he led their wives and
children into captivity. Baldwin brought back with him to Edessa
innumerable flocks of sheep and thousands of horses, cattle, and
camels, and with all this booty entered the city.
16. In this same year his lordship the Armenian patriarch
Barsegh went forth from the city of Ani accompanied by all his
servants, noblemen, bishops, and priests and came to Edessa. The
Frankish count Baldwin received him with great honor, as is befitting
a patriarch. Moreover, the count gave him villages and various other
presents and had a very high regard for the Armenian patriarch.
17. In this same year his lordship Stephen, the catholicos of the
Albanians, died. His lordship the Armenian catholicos Barsegh sent
an Armenian bishop [as his representative] and organized an
assembly of Albanian bishops. The brother of his lordship Stephen
was consecrated to the see of the Albanians in the city of Gandzak.
Later, when this man was found unworthy of the patriarchal see, his
lordship the Armenian catholicos Barsegh deposed him through
excommunication, depriving him of his see and patriarchal dignity.
All this was done because of his perverse conduct.
18. In the year 553 of the Armenian era [1104-1105] the count of

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Edessa (Baldwin) and Joscelin collected troops and went against the
town of Hanan. They sent to Antioch and summoned the great
Frankish count Bohemond and also Tancred; moreover, they brought
in all the Armenian troops and thus got together a formidable army.
They then descended upon Harran and vehemently besieged it,
putting the town in danger of famine. Then one of the Franks
performed an act not pleasing to God; breaking open a loaf of bread,
he defecated in it and took and placed it before the gates of the town.
When the townspeople saw this, one of their number, taking a risk,
rushed forth to eat the bread; seeing the feces it contained, he became
nauseated and brought and showed it to the townspeople. When the
sensible men among them saw this, they said: "This is a sinful deed
which God will not allow to go unpunished; he will not give the
Franks the victory, for they have contaminated this bread, a
profanation without compare on the earth." Mter this the Persian
forces marched against the Franks with a formidable army led by
Chokiirmish, l the emir of Mosul, and Sokman, the son of Artuk.
When the Frankish chiefs heard this, greatly rejoicing they went
against the Persian forces. The Franks were a two day's march from
the town, at a place called Oshut. Now the count of Edessa and
J oscelin became puffed up with pride and placed Bohemond and
Tancred at a distance from their troops, saying: "We will engage in
combat first and thus take the laurels of victory." When Baldwin and
J oscelin clashed with the Turkish forces, a frightful and violent battle
took place here in this strange and alien Muslim land. The Persian
forces vanquished the Franks, bringing the divine-rebuking wrath of
God upon the Christians; for the whole land was covered with blood
and corpses of more than thirty thousand Christian faithful, and so
the region became depopulated. The count of Edessa (Baldwin) and
Joscelin were taken prisoner and led into captivity, while the two
other Frankish chiefs, including all their forces, suffered no harm.
So these latter took their most valiant men and took refuge in the
city of Edessa as fugitives. 2
19. The Christians of the city of Edessa endured many hardships,
because the inhabitants of Harran had cut off the retreat of the
remnants of the Frankish troops, encircling the mountain and the
plain and slaughtering ten thousand fugitives. These Muslims of
Harran brought more destruction upon the Christian faithful than
the Turks had ever done. So there was much painful weeping and
grievous affiiction in Edessa. On that day tearful groans issued forth

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from the city, and all the Christian lands were in despair. After this
Count Baldwin was taken to the Muslim city of Mosul, while Joscelin
was taken to ~iil!n Kaifa, to Sokman, the son of Artuk; now it was
Chok'lirmish who took Baldwin.
20. Bohemond resolved to return to the country of the Franks in
order to obtain reinforcements and so left Edessa and Antioch in the
hands of his sister's son Tancred. Now, when Bohemond arrived in
the country of the Franks, he met a very rich woman who had been
the wife of the Frankish count Stephen of Blois, l [a man] of noble
lineage and the last of his line. 2 This woman made Bohemond stay
with her, saying: "Take me for your wife, for my husband is dead
and my lands and cavalry forces 3 have no lord over them." However,
Bohemond rejected her proposal, saying: "I have come here with a
solemn oath to obtain reinforcements and then quickly return to aid
the remaining Christian forces who are surrounded by the infidel
Persians." Nevertheless, the woman kept on insisting vehemently)
but he still would not listen to her. Finally she put Bohemond in
chains and threw him in prison. Mer staying in prison for a number
of days, the count finally gave in and agreed to marry the woman;
from him she had two children. Now after five years the great
Frankish count Bohemond died in his own land, without being able
to return to the East. 4
21. In this same year Danishmend, the great emir of the country
of the Romans, l died. He was of the Armenian nation-a kind man)
a benefactor of the people, and compassionate towards the Christian
faithful. Thus there was great sorrow among the Christian faithful
who were under his rule. He left behind twelve sons, and his eldest
son, called Ghiizl, 2 succeeded him, after secretly putting his other
brothers to death.
22. In this same year Sokman, the son of Artuk, who formerly
possessed the holy city of Jerusalem died. This Artuk left some
visible traces of his passing through th~ Church of the Holy Resurrection; for one can see the three arrows he shot at the ceiling of this
church, arrows which remain fixed there to this day. He died and
was buried in Jerusalem on the street leading to the Temple of
Sol.omon. His son Sokman was an evil man and a bloodthirsty beast.
ThIS Sokman gathered together the Persian forces and came to the
aid of the city of Tripoli, marching against the Franks. While on

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route he died, and his forces disbanded and returned to their country.
23. In this same year the Persian roler Berkyaruk, the son of
Malik-Shah, son of Alp Arslan, died. His brother Tap'arl succeeded
to the Persian royal throne; he was born of the Kipchak2 woman who
had poisoned and killed Malik-Shah the Conqueror in the city of
Baghdad.
24. In this same year the city of Marash was taken from the
Greeks; for the Prince of Princeslleft this city and gave it to Joscelin.
For a large sum of gold he sold an icon of the Theotokos to the great
Armenian prince T'oros, the son of Constantine, son of ~uben; then
he went to Constantinople.
25. In the year 554 of the Armenian era [1105-1106] the holy
patriarch his lordship Gregory, also known as Vahram, the son of
Gregory, son of Vasak, of Pahlavid lineage, ended his pontificate.
Thus in this year the pillar of the Armenian faith and the rampart
of the holy church of this eastern nation fell. He was a man who
performed miracles among the peoples of Armenia and, being of
virtuous character, devoted himself to the ascetic life; moreover, he
was able to resist temptations through fasting and prayer, and
ceaselessly praised God through the singing of psalms. [Besides his
individual piety] he did much to revitalize the Armenian faith. He
tirelessly devoted himself to translation work; all those things that
were missing in our observance of the commandments of God, he
systematically restored to us through the works he translated from
Greek and Syriac; moreover, with great solicitude he ceaselessly filled
the Armenian church with the inspiration and sublime concepts of
the Holy Scriptures. Now this man Gregory was mild mannered and
humble of heart; added to these qualities, he was deeply pious and
assiduously adhered to the divine precepts. In every way possible he
had the capability to assist the flock of Christ, for he was skillfully
erudite in those books inspired by divine grace. Gregory resembled
the ancient Armenian savants-namely Moses and David,lfor he had
the head of an Athenian and was imbued with a fiery tongue; thus he
was easily able to lift the veil from the Old and New Testaments of
God, open the springs which issue from the divinity, and disseminate
the knowledge of the Holy Spirit among the faithful people who came
to hear it. In this way he became an example to all religious people,
surpassing all in the practice of a virtuous life. Now Gregory had

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

occupied the patriarchal see for forty y~ars. At the ti~e of his death
he was with the great Armenian prmce Kogh VasIl, who was a
mighty man and a warrior; for this ruler had gathered together the
remnants of the Armenian forces [under his banner].
26. At this '"time there appeared a certain young man called
Gregory, l who was the son of the sister of his lordship Vabram. His
lordship Gregory in an assembly designated this young man to
succeed him as catholicos of Armenia after the death of his lordship
Barsegh; moreover, he appointed the Armenian prince Vasil, the lord
of Kesoun and all its surrounding territories, as guardian to see that
his will was carried out, Barsegh heeded all of Gregory's commands,
and from that day on kept Gregory, the catholicos-designate and son
of Apirat, near him. Now in the month of Tre2 during the first week
of the summer Lent, on Saturday, the holy patriarch his lordship
Gregory died and was solemnly buried in Karmir-Vank',3Iocated near
Kesoun. His lordship Stephen, the superior of this monastery,
assembled monks and priests around Gregory's tomb and with the
honor due a patriarch sent him to join the saints. Vasil and the other
members of the Armenian nobility deeply lamented Gregory's death
and, shedding bitter tears, wept over him; for they were left
guardianless in an alien land, since they had left their ancestral
home.
27. In this same year the eminent thaumaturge, Mark the hermit,
died. This man passed sixty-five years of his life eating only herbage;
for, while leading the life of a hermit, he ate no bread or anything
that resembled bread. He possessed the intuition of the prophets,
and many persons testified to his experiencing the Holy Spirit every
day. He lived in the province of Mokk on an arid mountain called
Kin?rn~k; and he was a Syrian of Kharsinakk, l a place near the
temtones of the city of Marash. Through prayer this hennit caused
water to issue out of two different places in this area. Moreover,
when the Fra.nks captured the holy city of Jerusalem, he prophesied
that t~e PerSIans would strengthen themselves once again and with
sw~rd m hand penetrate to the Mediterranean seacoast, a prediction
whIch we saw fulfilled. He also spoke about the priests and the
p~ople, prophe,sying that they would fall away from. the faith and that
pIety would dIsappear from the earth. Belief in God would decline
~d the doors of the churches would be closed. People would become
blInd to good works and would forget the precepts of the Holy Gospel

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of Christ. Sin and evil would inundate the earth, and the sons of
man would wallow in it as one immersed in the sea. Finally all the
nations of the faithful would forget the practice of righteous behavior.
[It was things such as these that Mark prophesied.] This holy hermit
passed away during this year and was buried in the Monastery of
Kastaghon, located near the impregnable fortress called Vahka in the
Taurus Mountains.
28. In this same year Chokiirmish, the emir of Mosul and Nisibis,
went forth with many troops and encamped before the gates of the
city of Edessa at harvest time. The commander of the Frankish
forces was a man named Richard, l to whom Tancred had entrusted
the defense of the city. Richard took the garrison of the city and
unwisely made a sortie with his infantry against the brave and
militant Persian forces. When the Persians saw this careless move
on the part of the Frankish troops, they fell upon them and pushed
them all into the moat surrounding the city. Then all the infidels,
crossing over the moat, entered through the gates of the city and
slaughtered as many as four hundred men. Mer having flayed all
their corpses, they took their heads back to Persia. Thus on that day
great sorrow fell upon Edessa, for cries and weeping issued forth from
every household, and blood flowed in all areas around the city. So
Chokiirmish victoriously turned back and went to his own country.
29. In this same year the Frankish count Saint Gilles died while
besieging the city of Tripoli. He left the outer city, which he had
built, and his troops to his sister's son, Bertram,l a brave man and a
warrior. This Saint Gilles who died was the one who had brought
back the lance of Christ to the emperor Alexius in Constantinople. 2
30. In this same year the town of Aplast'an, located in the district
of Jahan, endured many harassments, tribulations, and misfortunes
at the hands of the Frankish forces. The inhabitants of this town
were so mistreated that they resolved to wreak their vengeance on
the Franks. So they went over to the side of the infidels. They
secretly sent a messenger and summoned the infidel calvary of the
district to occupy the town. Then the Armenians of the town, allying
themselves with the infidels, went to the citadel and said the
following to the Frankish commander: "Get out and go back to your
own people and may God be with you." When the commander heard
this, he flew into a rage like a ferocious beast and attacked the

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townspeople. However, they defeated him and slaughtered his troops


in toto so that not one of them remained alive. The Lord considered
this a vindication of what happened to the townspeople. On that day
about three hundred persons perished, all because of the tribulations
which the Franks brought upon the faithful; for they had devastated
and depopulated the country and made it desolate, Thus, because of
the Franks, the land became barren. The vineyards and orchards
withered, the fields became covered with thistles, and the springs
dried up. Friendship and happiness between friends was destroyed;
treachery and hatred was disseminated throughout the land.
Because of their bitter afilictions, the inhabitants ceased going to
church, and so the doors of the house of God were closed. The lamps
were extinguished, and the blessings of God were suspended in the
house of the Lord. The priests were subjected to vile servility and
thrown into prison. The altars and the baptismal fonts of the holy
church were knocked down and destroyed. The mysteries of the cross
became hidden from view, and the fragrance of incense was forgotten.
In this way the glorification of God ceased throughout the whole
district of Aplast'an. 1 In other places chapels were demolished,
priests were scorned, and scrutiny of the holy faith ceased; moreover,
the truth was subverted, righteousness was rejected, piety was
proscribed, and in every quarter the dreadful judgement of Christ's
tribunal was forgotten. All these things were caused by the raving
Franks, because the illustrious princes and chiefs of this nation no
longer existed, and control had fallen into the hands of unworthy
p.eople. Because of this, the Franks, primarily motivated by avariCIousness, brought harassment and suffering upon the Christian
faithful.
31. I~ this same year [the Cathedral of] Saint Sophia, which was
located ~n the cit~ of Edessa, collapsed, a goodly portion of the
destructIOn occumng in the western part of the church.
32. In this same year a very awesome yet marvelous comet
appeared, one which instilled fear in those observing it. It occupied
the whole southwestern portion of the sky, and its tail extended over
the greater part of the heavens. This all occurred on the 13th of
Feb~ary, during the night before the Feast of the Purification.1 The
mamfestation of thl'S cornet cant'mue d or fifty days; and 1ts
. appear?nce ?aused wonderment to all living creatures for the movement of
Its tall resembled a meandering river. No one had ever seen such an

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amazing phenomenon as this. The savants and men with experience


said that this was a royal star and that during this year a roler
would be born who would reign over all living creatures; moreover,
his empire would extend from sea to sea, very much like the one
established by Alexander the Great of Macedon.
33. In this same year a tremendous number of Arabs went forth
from their country, intent on gaining control of Aleppo and all the
Muslim lands. These Arab forces were thirty thousand in number.
At this time the count of Antioch Tancred, the brave champion of
God, rose up and went against the Arabs. Having put them to flight,
he returned to the city of Antioch laden with countless booty.1
34. In the year 555 of the Armenian era [1106-1107] Chokiirmish,
the emir of Mosul, died at the hands of the Persian emir Chavli;lfor
both fought a severe battle against one another, and Chavli defeated
Chokfu'mish's forces. Chokiirmish was struck by an arrow, which
inflicted a deadly wound upon him, and after a few days this savage
beast died. 2 Chokiirmish gave all of his lands to the sultan Kilij
Arslan; moreover, the emir delivered Baldwin, the count of Edessa,
into the same sultan's hands, for the Frank was his captive. Then
the sultan Kilij Arslan collected troops from the East and marched
forth to take control of Mosul, Jazirat-Ibn-'Umar, and all the
territories belonging to Chokiirmish.
35. In this same year, but before these events occurred, Kilij
Arslan marched against Edessa at the head of many troops and
besieged the city for a number of days without being able to capture
it. So he went and captured the town of Harran and, after bringing
its surrounding districts under his control, returned to his own
country.
36. In the year 556 of the Armenian era [1107-1108] a violent
battle took place in the country of the Muslims, in the region of
Mosul. Kilij Arslan and the emir Chavli fought each other, and there
was much bloodshed on both sides. Chavli defeated Kilij Arslan's
forces, and the remnants of the sultan's troops fled to the city of
Melitene. In this great battle the sultan Kilij Arslan was killed; his
death brought great sorrow to the Christians, for he was a kindly
man and benevolent towards the faithful in every possible way. His
1
four sons succeeded him, each ruling a portion of his father's lands.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

37. In this same year the Persians collected twelve thousand


troops and crossing over the Taurus Mountains into the district of
Anazarba ,devastated all the lands ofT'oros, 1 the son of ~ub en, 2 and
then pass'ed through the plain of Marash. Mter this the Persians
with a countless number of troops arrived in the lands of Kogh Vasil,
at a place called Berdus3located in a consecrated area. When the
Armenian prince Vasil learned of this, he brought together a
regiment of Armenian troops; and brave as lions or lion cubs, these
soldiers rushed against the infidels. A violent and frightful battle
was fought, and the Annenians turned the Turks in flight. Sword in
hand they pursued the infidels and slaughtered countless numbers of
them, capturing many of them and carrying off a tremendous amount
of booty and captives. Mter this the Armenian prince Vasil, together
with all the Armenian nobility, victoriously turned back and with
great rejoicing came to his town of Kesoun. There he gave thanks to
God who had humiliated the enemies of the cross of Christ.

38. At the beginning of the year 557 of the Armenian era [11081109] once again the Persians collected troops-this time about six

thousand select soldiers-and, commanded by their sultan, marched


against the territories of the Armenian prince Vasil. The Persians
sought vengeance for the previous slaughter inflicted upon them by
Vasil at Berdus. So, full of rage, they reached the confines of the
town of ~Ii~n-Man~iir at harvest time. They slaughtered some of the
field hands, while they took others captive, and then turned around
and descended upon the fortress of Hart'an. 1 When the Armenian
prince Kogh Vasil learned of the coming of the infidels, he went
against them with his troops amounting to five hundred men. This
handful of Armenians fought an intrepid battle. The nobles exhorted
one another and performed feats of courage against the Turkish
forces. One of the nobles, Aplasat', vehemently attacked the infidels;
Peter, the nephew2 of Kogh Vasil, together with his nobles exhibited
tremen?ou.s courage; Vasil, surnamed Tghay,3 of noble lineage on his
mother s SIde, at the head of his troops shattered the flanks of the
Persian army; Tiran,' a brave man and a member of one of the most
no?le fa.milies of Armenia, followed Vasil's example. In this manner
tl?s v~hant band of Armenians fought a hard battle and finally was
Vlctonous over. the infidel forces. The Armenians severely slaughte~ed the Per~lans and took their sultan and many of their officers
pns?ne.r, le~dmg them all into captivity. So the Armenian prince
VasIl vlctonously returned, laden with much booty, and came to his

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town of Kesoun. He freed all the prisoners which the infidels had
captured and thus caused great rejoicing among the Christian
faithful.
39. In this same year Joscelin ransomed Baldwin, the count of
Edessa, from Chavli for thirty thousand dahekans. Then he and
Baldwin came to the Annenian prince Vasil, who received them with
great honor and gave them many gifts. After this Baldwin went and
collected cavalry troops in Raban, one of the towns belonging to Vasil,
for he intended on warring against the pious man Tancred. Then
Baldwin, in collusion with Joscelin, did a wicked thing, something
which was not pleasing in the eyes of God. The two men sent to the
Persian emir Chavli and persuaded him to come to their aid with five
thousand horsemen. Then they made war on Tancred, the count of
Antioch, because of their lands which he had taken over while they
were in captivity and now would not return to them; for Tancred
wished them to be his vassals, something which they would not agree
to. Vasil sent Baldwin and Joscelin eight hundred of his own men
and Pecheneg troops from the Roman emperor's army who were
stationed in Mamistra, all of which made up a goodly force. The
soldier of Christ Tancred, in turn, marched forth at the head of one
thousand horsemen together with a number of infantry forces. A
violent battle took place between Baldwin and Tancred within the
confines of Tell Bashir, both sides fighting vehemently and heroically.
The Persian troops severely slaughtered the Frankish infantry forces
of Tancred's army. However, as the battle intensified, Tancred
defeated Baldwin's forces and put them to flight. Then with great
fury the count of Antioch turned upon Chavli and, sword in hand,
drove back his troops, inflicting a severe slaughter upon them.
Nevertheless, on that day about two thousand Christians perished.
Tancred victoriously turned back and went to his city of Antioch. On
the other hand, Baldwin fled and took refuge in a fortress called
Ravendan, while J oscelin saved himself by taking shelter in his
fortress called Tell Bashir. 1
40. When the inhabitants of the city of Edessa learned of all this,
they all became sad and gloomy because of Baldwin, for they thought
that he was dead. So they assembled in the Church of St. John in
the presence of the Frankish papios1 in order to consult with each
other [as to what was to be done]; for they feared that the city would
once again fall to Tancred and he would hand it over to Richard who,

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

when he had previously occupied Edessa, had caused the ruin of


many persons. When all the townspeople of Edessa came together,
they had a conference with the papios and said: "Let your men and
ours guard the citadel until we learn who is to be the lord [of the
city]." A day later Joscelin and Baldwin came and entered the city
of Edessa. They inquired as to what had been proposed at the
assembly and regarded it as quite dangerous, interpreting it to be an
act of disloyalty. So they proceeded to wantonly pillage everything
in sight and to put out the eyes of many innocent people. On this
occasion they inflicted severe punishments on the Christians, for the
Franks easily lent an ear to all the vicious accusations made and
were very willing to shed the blood of innocent and righteous men.
They went so far as to make an attempt to blind the Armenian
bishop, his lordship Stephen. However, when the townspeople
learned that the bishop was beyond reproach, they ransomed him for
a sum of one thousand dahekans.
41. In this same year there occurred a very bitter and hard
winter. Because of the intense cold, animals perished in many
places, and birds died throughout the whole land. Moreover, black
snow fell upon Persia, which was a frightful omen directed against
the Persians, but something which their savants were unable to
understand.
42. In this same year a violent conflict broke out in the Arab
lands, in [the city of] Basra/ which is the native land of Job. The
Arabs and Turks engaged in a frightful battle there. The Arab forces
bravely and ferociously fought against the Persians and shattered
their army in a great victory, slaughtering them and putting them to
flight. After this the Turkish commander once again collected troops
and went against the Arab forces. This time in a valiantly fought
battle the Turks put the Arabs to flight. Then fifty thousand of the
Arab forces came to the territory of the city of Aleppo, intending to
place themselves under the protection of Tancred the count of
Antioch. However, after remaining here a numbe~ of days they
returned to their own country.
'
43. In the year 558 of the Armenian era [1109-1110] Baldwin, the
count of Edessa, and Joscelin, the count of Tell Bashir collected
troops and
t
. t th
'
e town of Harran in order to ravage its
. wen ~gams
surroundmg terntory. Accompanying them was an Armenian

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nobleman from the forces of Vasil, who was a son of Tachat, lord of
Taton; his name was Aplasat', and he was a brave man and an
excellent warrior. Having left Vasil because of some misunderstanding, he had come to Edessa. Now, when the Christians reached the
gates of the town of Harran, the Edessenes began to devastate the
surrounding countryside. Suddenly the Turkish forces came against
them with one thousand five hundred horsemen and killed one
hundred and fifty of. the Edessenes. At this point the Frankish
troops, being few in number, were intent on fleeing to Edessa. Then
Aplasat' cried out like a lion and, signaling his troops, shattered the
front line of the infidel forces. So they began their retreat to Edessa,
hotly pursued by the Turks; in spite of this they entered the city of
Edessa unharmed. Aplasat' was not pleased with the conduct of the
Franks [in this battle] and so he returned to the service of Vasil.
This brave Armenian was wounded in the arm [during the battle],
but did not die because his armor stopped the blow [inflicted by the
enemy weapon].
44. In this same year the coastal city of Tripoli was captured by
the Christians. After an eleven-year siege, l the inhabitants were
exhausted by violent assaults and had sustained a drawn-out
blockade; for Baldwin, the king of Jerusalem, and Bertram, a relative
of the great count Saint Gilles,2had put them in dire straits. So the
inhabitants of Tripoli summoned the count of Antioch, Tancred, and
delivered their city into his hands. Then the king of Jerusalem and
Bertram made war on Tancred, since they were the ones who had
laid siege to Tripoli. At this point their patriarch and bishops
intervened and established peace between the two sides, Tancred
then returning to Antioch. However, the king of Jerusalem equipped
a fleet against Tripoli and, besieging the city by sea and by land,
launched a formidable assault against it. Tripoli was set on fire and
the inhabitants of the whole city were put to the sword, causing the
streets to be inundated with blood. The Frankish forces seized an
innumerable amount of gold and silver and carried off a countless
number of captives to their own country.
45. At the beginning of the year 559 of the Armenian era [11101111] the count of Edessa was intent on starting a second war

against Tancred. At this time Baldwin and Joscelin, motivated by


their arrogant character, conceived of a plan unworthy of any
Christian. They sent to the city of Mosul and summoned to their aid

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

the Persian general called Maudl1d, l a ferocious and mighty warrior,


When Maudl1d heard this, he willingly acquiesced to their request
and, gathering together all his Turks, the Persian general marched
forth with a formidable army and reached the confines of the town of
Harran. He sent for and summoned the count of Edessa to come to
him, but Baldwin, being afraid, did not dare to come to the infidel
chief. Then Maudl1d realized that he had been deceived by the count
and so advanced to battle against Edessa. Now, when Baldwin saw
this, he dispatched Joscelin to get reinforcements, while he sent to
the king of Jerusalem, asking him to come to the aid of the city of
Edessa. The king at this time with all the Frankish forces was
besieging the town of Beirut, located on the Mediterranean Sea. In
the meantime the emir Maudl1d arrived at the head of a countless
number of troops which were spread over the vast plain of Edessa.
His army surrounded the city on every side, being dispersed over
every mountain and hill in the area. The whole East gathered under
Maudl1d's banner, while the inhabitants of the entire surrounding
countryside fled, thus depopulating the region. The emir struck
terror into the hearts of the townspeople by his violent assaults
against the city. For one hundred days Edessa was put in dire
straits; and everyone, exhausted by the incessant assaults, endured
much suffering. Soon the townspeople began to suffer from famine,
because entering or leaving the city was prevented by the formidable
enemy forces who surrounded Edessa and killed anyone falling into
their hands. The countryside surrounding the city was fIlled with the
corpses of those massacred [by the infidelsJ. The entire region was
burned by fire to such an extent that not one building remained
standing. All this was done at the behest of Sulaiman, the emir of
2
the East. Moreover, the orchards outside the city were completely
destroyed, and all the monasteries found on the mountains were
razed to their very foundations. Such a destructive siege as this put
Edessa in very dire straits. Some time after this Beirut was captured
from the Muslims through the help of God. The Frankish forces put
the entire town to the sword and seized a tremendous amount of
boo~y: J08celin assisted in the taking of the town of Beirut and
exhibIted great courage on that occasion.
46. Mter all these events Joscelin marched his forces to the aid of
the city of Edessa. The king of Jerusalem and Bertram the count of
Tripoli, also came to the city's aid. These three men c~e to Tancred
in the city of Antioch and, pleading with the count, persuaded him to

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join them in going to the assistance of Edessa. Then all the Frankish
forces continued their march and came to the Armenian prince Vasil,
who equipped his troops and went to Samosata. The Armenian
prince Ablgharib, who possessed the town of Bira, also joined the
Franks with his troops. So with a tremendous army of troops the
Christians passed into the confines of the city of Edessa. When the
Turkish general Maudl1d learned of their coming, he lifted the siege
of Edessa and went to the town of Harran. The Frankish forces, in
turn, reached the gates of the city of Edessa and encamped there. On
the following day the Franks prepared for battle. Bringing forth the
holy cross of Varag, they fastened it to the end of a lance and carried
it before their troops. In the meantime the Turks retreated from
Harran, hoping by this stratagem to defeat the Franks, for the
Franks were in territory unknown to them; to this end they set up an
ambush of many troops in the town. However, the Frankish
commander learned of the treacherous designs of the Turks and so
turned around and encamped against the impregnable fortress of
Shenaw/ located in Muslim territory; the Christians vehemently
attacked this stronghold. At this point Tancred learned of a plot
hatched against him by the other leaders and so, taking his troops,
reached Samosata and descended to the banks of the Euphrates.
Soon all the Frankish forces followed him. Now, when the inhabitants of Edessa and those of the surrounding countryside who had
taken refuge in the city heard of this withdrawal, they all left, even
the women and children, and followed after the Frankish forces.
47. On this occasion two Franks did a very wicked thing. They
went to Maudud and, repudiating the Christian faith, said to the
emir that the entire Frankish army had withdrawn and fled. When
Maudl1d heard this, he pursued the Frankish forces; he filled the land
from the gates of Edessa to the Euphrates River with blood, slaughtering the inhabitants of both the city and the countryside. Reaching
the banks of the Euphrates, Maudl1d slaughtered a countless number
of the inhabitants of the area and carried off the remaining, together
with their possessions. The Franks had already crossed over to the
other side of the river. So the Turks massacred the Christian faithful
who were huddled together like flocks of sheep on this side of the
river. The wrath of God, manifested through Maudl1d, fell upon the
faithful with such force that the Euphrates was turned into blood.
Many drowned in the river. Those who tried to swim across were
unable to reach the other side. Many tried to cross over on boats, but

206

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

five or six of the boats sank full of people, because too many persons
got in them. So on this day the entire territory of Edessa was
devastated and depopulated. It was in reference to this calamity that
the savants of old wrote: "Woe to the people of Abgar." The Frankish
forces who were on the other side of the Euphrates River, witnessed
all th~se horrible things which were happening to all the Christians,
but were unable to assist them in any way and so wept bitterly.
Mter all this Maudud victoriously turned back and went to Harran;
from there he returned to his country, laden with captives and
countless booty.l
48. On the other hand, the great emir of the East Sulaiman,
taking the emir Balik1 prisoner, put him in chains and threw him into
the dungeon of the fortress of Aytseats' in Taron. So the Frankish
forces, humiliated, returned to their territories; for, instead of saving
the Christian faithful, they had brought disaster upon them.
However, the brave soldier of Christ Tancred, collecting troops,
entered the territory of Aleppo and descended upon the fortress town
called al-Atharib. He encamped against it for a number of days and
fmally captured it by a violent assault, without harming the garrison.
49. In this same year the Turkish forces gathered together and
penetrated into the territory of Anazarba, ravaging the entire area,
including Marpa. When the great Annenian prince T'oras, the son of
Constantine, who in turn was the son of ~uben, fully realized the
tremendous n~mber of Persian troops, he did not dare go forth in
battle. So the Turkish forces turned back and went to their own
country, laden with innumerable captives and booty.
50. Thus in this year much devastation occurred in this region
[wherein the Turks had penetrated]. In this same year during the
wint~r an awesome and frightful omen appeared in Armenia, in the
prOVInce ofVaspurakan. On a certain day, in the dark of the night,
flames of fire burst forth from the upper vault of the sky and, coming
down from this height, fell upon and struck the Sea ofVaspurakan. 1
The sea surged violently, driving its undulating waves against the
shore, while both it and the land shook with a frightful tremor. The
sea took on the color of blood, the flames of fire enveloping the
vastness of the sky. The next morning a tremendous number of dead
fish were seen, piled up on the shore like heaps of wood. The whole
area stank because of this mass [of dead fish]. Moreover, many

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places in the surrounding countryside had developed frightfully deep


crevices, something which caused much amazement to those who
heard about it.
51. In the year 560 of the Annenian era [1111-1112] Maudii.d
marched forth at the head of a tremendous number of Turkish troops
and came against the impregnable fortress called T'lkuran. 1 Maudud
assaulted the fortress; and its garrison, having been put in dire
straits, surrendered to him. Now there were forty Franks in the
fortress, and Maudud put them all to the sword. He also captured
Gotet'il,2 after which he went to Shenaw, to the Arab emir called Mni.
Going forth from here, Maudud went in the direction of the territory
ofEdessa, to the fortress called Julman,3 gathering under his banner
a goodly number of troops. At this time the great emir Ap.mad-ll,4
who was a very eminent emir, joined Maudud with many troops;
Sulaiman, the emir of the East, and Bursuk ibn-Bursuk5 likewise
joined him, all of them marching together against Edessa. Having remained here for a few days, they went to the town of Saruj. After
this they crossed the Euphrates River and in unison came against the
impregnable fortress of Tell Bashir. At this time the Frankish count
Joscelin, who was a brave man and a mighty warrior, was in the
fortress. The Turkish forces, who were very numerous, assaulted the
stronghold with many regiments of troops,6 but were unable to do
anything. Then the Persian emir A}:1mad-TI, who previously had
heard of Joscelin's bravery, made peace with him, and both men
became brothers. Mter this Maudud marched forth with all the
Persian forces and came against Antioch, descending upon a place
caUed Shaizar. Tancred, in turn, gathered together all the Franks.
The king of Jerusalem (Baldwin), the count of Tripoli (Bertram), and
the count of Edessa (Baldwin) joined him. The two armies met each
other, but did not fight; for Maudud surreptitiously returned to his
own country, while the Frankish forces peacefully returned to theirs.
52. In this period Sulaiman, the emir of the East, suddenly died
while on an expedition. He well merited this sudden death brought
about by the Lord, because of all the devastation and slaughter he
had caused in the territory of Edessa.
53. In this same year the shedding of the innocent blood of the

shahnshah Gagik, the son of Ashot Bagratuni, was avenged by God


working through the mighty and great Annenian prince T'oros, the

208

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

son of Constantine, son of ~uben. During T'oros's time the murderers of the Armenian king Gagik were in a fortress called Kndroskawis, a heavily fortified stronghold impregnable on all four sides.
These murderers were the sons of Mandale, who were three brothers
and still alive. One of them was allied to T'oros, and because of this
relationship, the three brothers had agreed to hand over the aforementioned fortress to the Armenian prince; for it was situated on the
borders ofT'oros's territory, close by the area called Dzknajur where
there is a mountain overlooking Cappadocia. Now in this same year
the Annenian prince went forth and with a small detachment of
troops came to the three brothers for a friendly visit. Reaching the
confines of their territory, he sent to them, informing them of his
coming. Then one of the murderers took gifts and went to T'oros,
who received him with due honor. The Greek presented a costly
knife and a rich garment to T'oros, and then the two men sat down
to eat and drink. At this point the Armenian prince said to him: "In
accordance with your promise to me concerning the fortress, hand it
over now and in its stead chose yourself any place in my territories
you wish." The Greek, deceitfully going back on his previous promise,
said to the Armenian prince: "We cannot give up the fortress, for it
is our patrimony and ancestral home." When he realized that he had
been deceived by the three brothers, Taros, returning the gifts
brought by one of their number, angrily said to him: "Arise and go
to your home, and after this each one of you be prepared for me."
So the deicide got up and returned to his home, while the Armenian prince feigned going in the direction of his. Now, when the
murderers disappeared out of sight, T'oras turned back with his
troops and, during the night, arrived at the fortress. There he set up
an ambush of infantry troops and then, taking his horsemen, hurried
off to the countryside, intending to devastate the area. In the
morning the garrison came forth from the gates [of the fortress] and
f~und themselves face to face with the men placed in ambush by
T,oros; .Now, when the garrison troops saw this, they fled, while
T oros s mfantry pursued them, climbing up the height on which the
stronghold was situated. When the garrison saw this, they shut the
gates of the fortress. T'oros's troops barricaded themselves outside
the gates. an~ began to assault the fortress, hurling fire at the roofing
an.d causmg It to burn rapidly. When those inside the fortress saw
this, they opened the gate located on another side of the stronghold
and began to flee through it. Finally T'oros's troops took the fortress
and captured the fugitives. Then they went to relate all this to

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Toros, and he, greatly amazed, came to the fortress of Kondroskawis


with great rejoicing. When the Armenian prince ent~red the
stronghold, he first began to turn his attention to the treasury of the
three brothers, for all the gold and silver of the region was collected
and kept there. T'oros said to the sons of Mandale: IIBring me the
sword and gannents of the Armenian king Gagik,1I The brothers did
so, and when the Armenian prince saw these, he and all his troops
wept bitterly. Then T'oros ordered them to show him where the
treasure was and, when they obstinately refused, had them tortured.
At that point one of the brothers begged T'oros's soldiers to take him.
to the escarpment in order that he might drink some water. When
they took him there, he hurled himself from a rocky height and
plunged to a horrible death.
Now, when one of the other brothers began to be tortured by
T'oros, he spoke insolently to the Armenian prince, saying: IIYou are
an Armenian, while we are Roman noblemen; what answer will you
give to the emperor for having mistreated a Roman?1I At this T'oros
flew into a rage and his face changed color. Taking hold of a stick
used for clubbing, he ferociously fell upon the Greek, saying: IIWho
are you three to have killed the heroic and divinely-anointed
Armenian king; what answer will you give to the Armenian nation?"
Sobbing, the Armenian prince began to violently beat him until he
died an excruciatingly painful death. Mter this T'oros gave thanks
to God for his justice in avenging the blood of the Armenian king
Gagik; for his grandfather ~uben had been an officer in Gagik's army.
The Annenian prince carried off all the wealth that the sons of
Mandale possessed: countless treasures, brocades, huge silver
crosses, and statues cast of gold and silver; all this he brought to
Vahka. Moreover, he took the only surviving brother with him,
leaving some of his troops as a garrison for the fortress he had just
captured.
54. In the ye~r 561 of the Armenian era [1112-1113] the vicious
bloodthirsty beast Maudiid once again collected troops and marched
against the city of Edessa, at a time when the townspeople did not
expect his attack. The emir suddenly arrived before the city the day
after Easter, on the day of the Feast of the Dead, in the beginning of
the month of Sahmi. 1 Maudiid first came to Kupin2 and, going forth
from there with a tremendous number of troops, stopped at the gates
of the city of Edessa. Mter remaining there for eight days, the emir
shifted his position to the summit of the Mountain of Sasun and from

210

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

there descended upon [the Monastery of] the Holy Martyrs, situated
near the ramparts of the city.
55. At this time the invincible soldier of Christ Count Joscelin,
taking one hundred horsemen and one hundred infantry, came and
entered the town of Sariij. Then a Turkish force, consisting of five
hundred horsemen, [left the main army in Edessa and] made a
diversion into the territory of SarUj on the Saturday of Elias. 1
Joscelin went forth and attacked the Turks, killing one hundred and
fIfty of their men. The count took fIve of their officers prisoner and
seized all their baggage, while the rest fled to Maudo.d in the city of
Edessa. When Maudl1d heard of all this, he went against Joscelin in
the town of Sarl1j. However, at the same time Joscelin secretly came
and entered the city of Edessa. Mter remaining in Sarl1j for seven
days, Maudl1d turned back against Edessa once again. Now certain
perfIdious men came to him while he was on the march, saying:
"Have compassion on us, and on this day we will deliver Edessa into
your hands." The emir in great joy consented to their proposition.
Now, since these men suffered from the effects of the famine, being
in such dire straits, they were not really aware of what they were
doing. So during the night they conducted Maudl1d, together with
five of his men, to Edessa and delivered this populous city into the
hands of the Turks. They handed over to the Turks a tower located
in the eastern portion of the city, which dominated all of Edessa; one
hundred men took possession of this tower. Moreover, the Turks
occupied two other towers, placing a large number of troops in them.
Notwithstanding all this, God, who never wills the destruction of the
Christian faithful, had previously brought the Frankish count
Joscelin to the aid of the blessed city of Edessa. So, when the brave
soldier of God Joscelin learned of this Turkish takeover, he took the
count of Edessa and the other Frankish troops and rushed to the
ramparts to battle against the Turks. Joscelin assaulted the tower
[in which the Turks were ensconced] with such bravery that he
hurled down all their men from the walls; in this way the traitors
who had handed over the tower and the infidels who had occupied it
perished at the same time. So on that day Edessa was saved from
the clutches of the Turks, because of the bravery of Joscelin and all
the troops of the city. Then Count Joscelin because of the deep
anger in his heart and because of the cal~nious slanders made
against him by some, caused much innocent bloodshed among the
townspeople, ordering them to be massacred, burned, and tortured;

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now all this was not pleasing in the eyes of God. Mter this Maudl1d
raised the siege and went and captured T'lmoz;2 from there he went
back to Khurasan, humiliated and discredited.
56. In this same year Tancred, the count of Antioch, collected
troops and came against the Armenian prince Vasil. He attacked
Raban and, after a vigorouB siege, captured the town from Vasil.
Then with his troops he marched against Kesoun and encamped at
the head of the plain, below a spring, at Til. At this time Vasil
gathered together a force of five thousand men. Both sides waited
around for a number of days without engaging in combat, after which
they made peace with one another. Tancred returned Raban to Vasil,
while the Armenian prince handed over to him the district of ~ilm
Man~ur, and also T'oresh and Dremn; for Vasil had captured this
district of ~~n-Man~G.r, together with the fortified l p'ersin, Raghtip,
Hart'an, T'oresh, and Dremn, and now returned them to the Franks.
So Tancred peacefully went back to his city of Antioch.
57. In this same year, on the 24th of the month of Areg, the great
Armenian prince called Kogh Vasil died, and there was profound
sorrow throughout all Armenia. Around this prince were united
remnants of the Armenian army, members of the Bagratid and
Pahlavid families, sons of the kings of Armenia, and finally all those
of Pahlavid lineage, together with the military aristocracy of
Armenia; all these remained with Vasil and were highly respected
and honored by him. Moreover, the Armenian patriarchal see was
transferred to Vasil's territory,lfor this Armenian prince had gained
control of many areas through his bravery and strength. Thus all the
monks, bishops, abbots, and vardapets gathered around him and were
very well treated by him. So the Armenian prince Vasil died and was
buried in Karmir-Vank'. His spiritual advisor and father confessor
was his lordship Barsegh, the Armenian catholicos. The monastery
received one thousand dahekans for putting aside a place for Vasil's
tomb. Approximately one hundred and fifty thousand dahekans were
given for the celebrating of divine liturgies. Moreover, an infinite
number of meals for the poor was donated. Tancred received as a gift
many precious objects, which were carried to him from Vasil's house:
huge amounts of money, brocades, horses, and mules. Vasil's wife's
diadem was sent to Tancred's wife. The other chiefs of various
territories also received many gifts. Even the poor received a part of
the Armenian prince's estate. Vasil's sovereignty was passed on to

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

his son, who was of the Kamsarakan 2 family on his mother's side and
was raised and educated in Vasil's household "like a son in the bosom
of his father" this [adopted] son was handsome with a lion-like mien,
capable, intelligent, a brave man and a warrior, besides which he was
twenty-five years old. He was installed on the throne of the great
prince Vasil, and the whole army gave him allegiance; for he was a
very generous and munificent person and thus was liked and
respected by all the troops. His lordship Barsegh called an assembly
and handed over the reins of government to Vasil's son, and so there
was rejoicing throughout the whole Armenian nation.
58. In this same year, on the 18th of the month of Mareri, the
most pious believer in God Tancred, the count of Antioch, died. 1 He
was a saintly and pious man and had a kind and compassionate
nature, manifesting concern for all the Christian faithful; moreover,
he exhibited a tremendous amount of humility in his dealings with
people and showed justice in executing the verdicts and laws of God.
So Tancred died in Antioch and was buried in Saint Peter, the great
cathedral of the city, founded by the holy apostles Peter and Paul.
In accordance with Tancred's wishes his sister's son Roger,2 a brave
man and valiant warrior, succeeded to his throne. So the patriarch
and all the Frankish chiefs installed Roger on the throne which
Tancred had formerly occupied and turned Antioch over to him. Now
earlier that same year two eminent officers of Vasil's army, Tigran
and Aplasat', were killed by Turkish troops in the territory of Leon,S
the son of ltuben.
59. In the year 562 of the Armenian era [1113-1114] the bloodthirsty and savage emir Maudud once again marched forth with a
tremendous number of troops and, arriving at the Muslim town of
Harran, came against the Franks. At this time Baldwin, the count
of E~essa, w~s in the town of Tell Bashir with his troops. Now
c~z:;am perfidIOUS and evil-thinking Franks carried rumors, based on
VlCIO~S and treacherous motivations, to the count, saying: "Many are
plottmg together to hand over the city of Edessa to the Turks."
B~ldwin believed these false slanders issuing from their wicked and
~VlI m~uths and, because of this, conceived of a very harsh plan; he
l~medlately sent Payens, the count of Sariij to Edessa and ordered
hIm to remove all the townspeople from the city so that not one
person would re . "th"
.
mam WI m Its walls. However, on that day these
hideous Franks thought among themselves and decided instead to put

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all the inhabitants of the city to the sword. They were eager to shed
the blood of blameless and innocent people who had done nothing
wrong voluntarily; for, because of the perverseness of their character,
these Franks regarded all other peoples as basically malicious and
evil.
60. So on one Sunday during the month of Sahmi, at dinnertime,
a horrible and disastrous calamity fell upon Edessa. The calamity
was so serious that fathers disavowed their sons and sons, their
fathers. All the inhabitants of the city wept, lamented, and cried out
in anguish. Every household was filled with tears, grief, and sorrow;
for the Franks forcibly evicted all the inhabitants from their homes
and ordered anyone found in his or her house burned. No one
remained except for eighty men who that evening had taken refuge
in the Church of St. Theodore and who were afterwards placed under
guard in the citadel. Thus this was a day of great sorrow for the
inhabitants of Edessa, all due to [the viciousness of] the Franks; for
everyone lamented the deplorable condition they found themselves in.
Moreover, there was not one atrocity which the Franks did not
commit against the inhabitants of the city of Edessa. Thus here were
fulfilled the words of the seers of old who said: "Woe to the people of
Abgar." All those banished from their homes went to the town of
Samosata. So the illustrious metropolis of Edessa remained deserted
like a widowed woman, who once was a mother to all people and had
gathered around herself the populations dispersed from other lands,
including those holding the cross [of Christ], who ran to the Franks
at a time when these very same Franks came to them begging for
assistance. Now in return for all the beneficence which the inhabitants of Edessa showed the Franks, these [Westerners] recompensed
the faithful Christians of this city with evil and malice.
61. In this period the Turkish forces, who were stationed in
Harran, crossed over the Euphrates River and, advancing with a
tremendous number of troops, marched against the holy city of
Jerusalem and against all the Frankish people. When Baldwin
learned that Maudud had marched forth and entered the territory of
Jerusalem, he became ashamed of the deceitful crime [he had
committed against the inhabitants of Edessa]. So the count sent a
letter ordering the townspeople brought back to the city, and thus
after three days everyone returned to their homes.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

62. In this period the infidel forces came and encamped against
the town of Tiberias, located near the Sea of Galilee. The king of
Jerusalem, in turn, sent to Antioch and summoned Count Roger, all
the Frankish forces, and also the count of Tripoli-the son of Saint
Gilles;! all of them, uniting together, came to the aid of the king.
However, the troops of Jerusalem, puffed up with pride, hastened to
march into battle against the Turkish forces first, lest the Antioch
enes gain the reputation of bravery rather than they. Now God was
not pleased with their prideful attitude and so made them pay for
their arrogance; for, when both sides engaged in combat with one
another, the Turkish forces defeated those of the Franks and turned
them in flight. Many Franks of high rank were killed, and all their
infantry forces were slaughtered. A certain brave man from the
Turkish forces came at the king of Jerusalem and struck him on the
shoulders with an iron mace. However, the Lord came to the king's
aid and saved him, for at that moment the troops of Antioch and
Tripoli arrived. When Roger saw the situation of the Franks, roaring
like a lion and immediately rushing to the scene, he turned the
Turkish forces in flight and thereby saved the king and all the troops
of Jerusalem. After this the infidel army encamped on one side of the
mountain situated between Tiberias and Jericho, while the Frankish
army encamped on the other side. The two sides no longer engaged
in combat with one another. So, after waiting around for a few days,
Maudl1d returned to Damascus, while the Frankish forces went back
to their respective cities. 2

63. Now, when the emir Maudlld entered Damascus, he resolved


to do away with the emir of the city, Tughtigin,l and to take the place
for himself. However, Tughtigin was informed of this perfidious plan.
So the emir of Damascus brought out of imprisonment a certain
man-a Persian condemned to die; Tughtigin promised this man
freedom and honorable treatment if he would kill Maudlld, at the
same time giving him five hundred dahekans. Now, when Maudud
left ~he mosque where he was praying and was standing in the
portICO near the Red Column,2 the Persian approached him and
suddenly without warning plunged a knife into the emir's left side
killing the wicked and evil beast Maudiid. The assassin, in turn, wa~
~ercileBsly slaughtered on the spot.a Mter all this, Maudiid's forces
dIsbanded and returned to their country.
64. In this same year, on the fifth day of the month of Tre, his

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lordship the Armenian patriarch Barsegh died, his death occurring


through a mishap caused by an evil force. For on a certain day he
was on the terrace of his home in the village of Vardaheri-an
obscure place located near the confines of Behesni, praying with his
disciples, priests, and bishops, when suddenly the house collapsed.
No one was harmed except his lordship Barsegh, who hit his spine
against a wall of the house and broke it. He lived for three days.l In
the meantime Barsegh had himself taken to his monastery called
Shughri2 and, while still alive, handed over the patriarchal see
together with the patriarchal veil to his lordship Gregory, the son of
Apirat, who was the son of his lordship Vahram's sister. So his
lordship Barsegh died and was solemnly buried in Shughri, having
been placed in his tomb with the honor due a patriarch.

65. In this same year his lordship Gregory, l the son of Apirat, who
was of the lineage of Gregory Magistros, the son ofVasak Pahlawuni,
occupied the Armenian patriarchal see. For after the death of his
lordship Barsegh an assembly of bishops and abbots took place in
Karmir-Vank', situated in the territory of Kesoun, and through the
will of the Holy Spirit his lordship Gregory was consecrated as bishop
over the whole Armenian nation. At the same time he was made
catholicos and installed on the see of Saint Gregory. Gregory
occupied the patriarchal see while he was still very young, for his
beard had not as yet begun to grow; moreover, he was of tall stature,
handsome looking, and of very humble nature.
66. In the year 563 of the Armenian era [1114-1115] the Persian
sultan Tap'ar, the son of Malik-Shah, collected troops and appointed
as commander over them the great emir al-Bursuki. 1 Taking with
him the sultan's son2, who was a mere boy, this emir marched forth
with a countless number of troops and came against the city of
Edessa. On Friday the 24th of the month of Sahmi, aI-Bursuki
arrived at the gates of the city. After he had subjected Edessa to a
heavy siege for thirty days, the emir then departed and reached the
Euphrates River, ravaging all the districts along its banks. Then he
came against the town of Bira, located on the banks of the Euphrates
River. All the Frankish troops on the other side of the river united
together but did not dare cross over and engage in combat [with the
infidels]. So al-Bursuki returned to Edessa and from there went to
4
the Muslim town of Nisibis. After this the emirs Il-Ghazfl and Balik
united their troops and in a formidable battle defeated al-Bursuki,

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

putting him to flight and taking prisoner the sultan's son,6 whom they
later freed. s
67. In this same year the divine-rebuking wrath of God fell upon
all living creatures. The Lord in all his omnipotence and wrathfulness looked down upon those whom he had created, for the sons of
man had all strayed from the path of righteousness, according to the
words of the prophet who said: "In these times there will be no
prince, prophet, or leader who will practice goodness, no not even
one. III In like manner everyone delighted in the wicked path of sin
and scorned all the precepts and laws of God; for none of the princes,
soldiers, men of the people, leaders, priests, and monks stood fast in
truly carrying out God's work, but rather sought after the fulfillment
of fleshly and worldly desires. God considered all this the highest
degree of sinfulness. Thus were fulfilled the words of the prophet,
who said: "La, he looked at the earth and caused it to tremble."2
Now, since God wrathfully looked askance at his creation, all living
creatures gave up hope and succumbed to the terror of the Lord's
might. In accordance with this, on Sunday the 12th of the month of
Mareri, the day of the Feast of the Discovery of the Cross, a frightful
phenomenon occurred on the earth; moreover, we have never heard
of such a wrathful event having happened in the past or in the
present, or having been mentioned in Scripture. Now, while we w~re
in a deep sleep, a horrible, crackling, and reverberating sound was
heard, and all of creation resounded from the noise. A severe
concussion was felt, and the plains and mountains shook with a
frightful echoing sound, while tremendous rocks were cleft and hills
were split open.
Bec~use of the intensity of this frightful calamity, the mountains
and hills resounded, just like live animals who when they are
terrified, shrilly cry out; this resounding noise hit 'the ears like the
sound of. a.large throng in a camp. In this way, like a churned-up
sea, all hvmg creatures quaked and trembled from fear of the might
of the Lord God; for all the plains and mountains resounded like the
clangi~g of ?ronze, shaking and moving to and fro like trees struck
by ~ h~gh wmd. The cries and groans of people issued forth like the
plamtIve moans of persons sick for a very long time, forcing them
through fear to seek their own destruction. Like a fugitive, the whole
land was reduced to despair and trembled with fear and like one
condem~ed [to die], gave forth plaintive and tearful cries' ~oreover,
these nOIses were heard even after the trembling ended, f~r about an

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hour during the night. Now, out of fear of the noises concomitant
with this calamity, everyone despaired of their lives, saying: "The
final day, the day of judgment, has arrived." Indeed the day of this
calamity was a true mirror of that last day of judgment; for it
happened to be Sunday and the day on which the heavy and somber
tone of the Armenian chant was used,s besides which the moon was
in its last phase. Thus all the signs pointing to the last day were in
evidence at this time.
In consequence of all this, those who already were plunged into the
depths of despair now became horror-struck and frozen with fear as
if they had just died. Now during this night many towns and
districts were destroyed. However, all the areas destroyed were those
of the Franks, while no harm or destruction came to other regions or
peoples. 4 So on this night Samosata, ai!3n-Man~l1r, Kesoun, and
Raban were destroyed. On the other hand, Marash was destroyed in
such a frightful manner that as many as forty thousand persons died;
it was a populous city and yet not one person survived. The same
thing happened to the town of Mamistra,5 where a countless number
of men and women perished. Moreover, many other villages and
monasteries were destroyed, and thousands upon thousands of roen,
women, and children perished. An incident occurred in the Basilian
Monaster1located in the renowned Black Mountains, where the holy
monks and Armenian vardapets had gathered for the consecration of
a new church building; in the midst of the divine service the church
collapsed on them, and thirty monks and two vardapets perished
beneath the ruins, their bodies remaining in the rubble to this day.
A similar mishap occurred near Marash in the great Monastery of the
Jesuits, 7 where the monastery was destroyed and all the monks
perished. Now, when the tremors had ceased, snow began to fall and
cover the entire land. The Armenian vardapet Gregory, surnamed
Mashkewor, perished in the same place. Thus in this way many
mishaps and frightful calamities befell the Christian faithful. All of
these things happened because of their sins, for each of them
abandoned the true path of the precepts of God and enthusiastically
embraced the erroneous way; so they separated themselves from the
precepts of the holy books and became involved in foolish pursuits.
As in the days of Noah they ate and drank until the time of their
destruction, an end which they well deserved because of their sins;
these persons continued giving themselves to merriment until the
wrath of the Lord God fell upon them and obliterated their iniquities,
for they had committed outrageous crimes.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

68. In this same year the holy Annenian vardapet George,


surnamed Meghrik, who was an eminent man and an admirable
monk, died. He devoted most of his life-namely fifty years-to the
monastic discipline and passed away at the age of seventy. In his
abstemious and austere conduct and in his use of dry foods,l his
discipline and piety were very much like that of the saints of old.
Moreover, every Sunday during his lifetime was spent in prayer.
This vardapet was from Annenia, from a large village called Analiwr,
which is located in the province of Vaspurakan. Having dedicated
himself to the monastic life since childhood, he gained wide renown
[for his piety] and achieved a high state of perfection, becoming an
example for many Christians and a father confessor to all the
Armenians; moreover, he recalled people to the enlightened path and
presented all of them-regenerated through the act of repentance-for adoption by the heavenly Father. So, having sincerely
confessed his sins, this vardapet passed away in harmony with Jesus
Christ and was buried in the territory of Anazarba, in the great
Monastery of Drazark,2 which had been restored by the illustrious
Armenian prince T'oros.
69. In the year 564 of the Armenian era [1115-1116] a frightful
and marvelous phenomenon occurred in the Muslim town of Arnida.
Now, because there was an increase of evil wickedness and abominable crimes1 among their people, fire from heaven suddenly fell upon
their chief mosque during the night. This fire was of such intensity
and flared up with such dynamism that it voraciously consumed the
stone walls as if they were made of wood. All the men of the town
tried to put it out, but were unable to handle this unextinguishable
fire; on the contrary, the flames of the fire heightened and reached
the sky, thus burning and completely destroying this house of
prayer-this vile place of worship. All this occurred in the town of
Amida, which the Armenian king Tigran had built.
70. I~ this same year the Persian general, the emir al-Bursuki,l
once agam collected troops and, marching forth, arrived at the gates
of Edessa. ~ter staying there for a few days, he crossed over the
Euphrates RIVer and went to the city of Aleppo. Passing on from
~here, he captured the Muslim fortress-town of Shaizar and was
mtent o~ attacking Tell Bashir and the entire territory of Antioch.
~~t~t time all the Franks gathered in Antioch around Count Roger.
e mg of Jerusalem and the count of Edessa Baldwin also came,

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joining one another in the territory of Shaizar. At the same time the
great Persian emir ll-Ghazi, who was the son of Artuk, arrived in the
Frankish camp; he came to Roger with many troops because he was
a rabid enemy of al-Bursuki. The emir of Damascus, Tughtigin, also
came and joined the Franks. Il-Ghl1zi and Tughtigin made peace
and formed an alliance with one another, taking a very solemn oath
[as guarantee of their sincerity]. In the same manner the emir of
Aleppo2 joined the Franks. Now the infidel army and the Frankish
amy confronted one another for four months, without the Turkish
forces daring to give battle. Mter this al-Bursuki feigned a retreat
from the Frankish forces. When the Franks learned that al-Bursuki
had withdrawn, the king of Jerusalem, the count of Tripoli, Il-Ghazi,
Tughtigin, and the emir of Aleppo turned around and went back to
their respective territories. When al-Bursuki learned of the
departure of the Frankish army, he turned back against Antioch,
intent on ravaging the territories of this city. When the count of
Edessa heard this in Antioch, he returned to Edessa and, taking with
him Roger and seven hundred horsemen, caught up with al-Bursuki'
in the territory of Aleppo. Finding the emir unprepared for combat,
the count attacked him. The Franks victoriously defeated the Turks
and put them to flight. Moreover, the Franks took prisoner eminent
officers, seized many men and much booty, and even pillaged the
enemy camp. Those remnants of the Turkish army which had escaped
departed in humiliation.
71. In this same year the count of Edessa Baldwin made war on
the Armenian prince [the younger] Vasil, the one who was the
successor to Kogh Vasil.
72. In this period Baldwin went against the impregnable fortresstown of Raban with his troops. He besieged Raban for a number of
days, but was unable to accomplish anything, even though he had set
up a very tight blockade around the place.
73. At this time [the younger] Vasil went to the great Armenian
prince Leon, who was the son of Constantine, the son of ~uben, and
the brother of Toros, and took Leon's daughter as his wife. Then
Leon's brother '1"'oros summoned the younger Vasil and, treacherously
seizing him, took him to the count of Edessa Baldwin. Baldwin, in
turn, subjected this brave man and mighty warrior to severe tortures
and forcibly seized all his territories, thus effectively destroying

220

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Armenian sovereignty in those areas. Mter this Vasil went to his


father-in-law Leon and from there to Constantinople, where he and
his troops were received by the Roman emperor with great honor.
74. In the year 566 of the Armenian era [1117-1118] Baldwin, the
count of Edessa, and Galeran, the count of Sariij, collected troops and
marched against the Armenian prince whose name was Ablgharib 1
and who was the brother of Likos and the son of Vasak. These two
brothers were valiant men and warriors who had taken prisoner the
bishop2-the former lord of Tell Bashir-and who through their
bravery had captured many places from the Persians. By sheer force
of arms they seized the town of Bira and made it their residence; they
were courageous and renowned warriors, and had one thousand
soldiers under their command, Now, when Count Baldwin saw the
territory which they controlled, he became very envious and was
unable to conceal his malicious jealousy. So he collected troops and
marched against Bira, harboring more hatred against the Christians
than against the Turks. For one year he held the Armenian prince
Ablgharib in a state of siege and subjected him to all types of severe
harassments. After a while Ablgharib became hard-pressed because
of the tight and dangerous situation in which he found himself and
so handed over Bira and the whole territory to Baldwin, while he
himself went to the Armenian prince Toros, the son of lluben in
Anazarba. The count, in turn, turned over Bira and the whole
territory to the Frankish chief Galeran. In the same way he
gradually and successively overthrew the Annenian princes, dealing
with them more harshly than with the Persians. Moreover, he
harassed those Annenian princes who were still free from the
domination of the ferocious Turks, and with unheard of cruelty
compelled all of them to go into exile. Baldwin destroyed Kogh
Vasil's principality and forced all the nobles attached to his service
to take refuge in Constantinople. He caused the ruin of another
Armenian price named Bagrat-a brave man who resided in
R,avendan, not far from Cyrrhus 3-by pillaging his territories. He
kIlled ~he lord of Gargar Constantine who, imprisoned in chains, died
a hombl,e death in the citadel of Samosata. During a night earthqu~e hIS body was found on the banks of the Euphrates River,
havmg been thrown down from above; moreover, in prison he had
been f~ed to a beam and with this was cast down and so died. 4
Fo~owmg th,e same policy as Baldwin, Bohemond had driven out the
Pnnce of Pnnces who governed the city of Marash for the Romans.

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This prince and a number of other eminent leaders died in prison,


either in chains or by torture. Many had their eyes taken out, their
hands severed, their noses cut, their testicles sliced off, or died tied
to a cross; even innocent children were treated harshly out of hatred
for their parents. These innumerable and unspeakable tortures had
only one aim and purpose--to seize the treasures [the Annenians pos.
sessed]; it was for this reason that the Franks devastated and ruined
the land through such iniquitous cruelties. They were continually
occupied with such pursuits as these and did nothing but think up
malicious and spiteful things; moreover, they had a love for perfidious
and evil ways, having no regard for good and kindly actions. We
would like to write [further] about their many malicious deeds, but
dare not, since we are under their authority [and power].
75. In the year 567 [1118-1119] Baldwin ofLe Bourg, the count of
Edessa, went on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Jerusalem. Now
during the Lenten season Baldwin, the king of Jerusalem and the
brother of Godfrey, collected troops and marched in the direction of
Egypt, intending to bring its barbarian population to submission.
Finding that all of its inhabitants had fled, he turned back towards
the holy city of Jerusalem. While on route he fell sick and died. 1
While he was still alive, he gave the following command, saying:
"Send to Edessa and get Count Baldwin and set him up as regent of
Jerusalem until my brothe~ arrives from the Franks, in which case
make him your king." After this the king was brought to Jerusalem
in a casket, and this benevolent, pious, and humble man was buried
at Golgotha. Now, when the dead king's men found Baldwin in
Jerusalem, they were very surprised and also quite happy, believing
that he was called there by God. So, in accordance with the dead
king's wishes, they conferred the regency of Jerusalem upon Baldwin.
However, he refused, for he sought after the royal throne itself. He
promised to wait a year but stipulated that, if the dead king's brother
failed to come within that time, the crown would be his. All the
Franks agreed to his conditions. So on Palm Sunday the count of
Edessa was taken to the Temple of Solomon and installed on the
throne of the Kingdom of Jerusalem;3 moreover, at the end of the year
the crown was placed on his head.' This Baldwin was one of the more
illustrious members of the Frankish nobility: a valiant man and a
warrior, exemplary in conduct, an enemy of sin, and by nature
humble and modest; however, these good qualities were offset by his
ingenious avariciousness in seizing and accumulating the wealth of

222

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

others his insatiable love for money, and his deep lack of generosity;
as for'the rest, he was very orthodox in his faith, and his ethical
conduct and basic character were quite solid. ll So here we have two
kings who came from Edessa and who both were named Baldwin.
76. In this same year the Persian sultan Tap'ar, who was the son
of Malik-Shah and a vicious-minded person, died.I Now at the time
of his death he did a very horrible and unheard-of thing. When he
was about to die, thinking of his sons, he sent for and summoned his
wife Gohar Khat'un,2 the daughter of the emir Isma'il; unbeknown to
his troops he had her killed in his presence, so that she would not
remarry and force his sons from the throne and take away their
inheritance. 3 The sultan was descended from an illustrious family
and had a great number of troops under his command. Moreover,
from all the nations he had gathered together four hundred beautiful
maidens, who sat at his feet adorned with the most splendid finery:
precious stones and pearls set in Arabian gold, diadems on their
heads, and their tresses decorated with gold; so they were quite
dazzling in all their splendid and colorful finery in the presence of the
sultan. Now Tap'ar had his chief queen killed before his eyes, so that
she would not marry his brother'\ who reigned as suItan over the
inner territories of Persia, in the towns of U zgand and Ghazni-a
three months' march5 from Isfahan. 6 Mter this Tap'ar placed his
eldest son Ma}l.mlld7 on the royal throne and handed over to him all
of Persia. His younger son Mali.k8 he installed as sultan of the
Armenian city of Gandzak, giving him the whole East. Tap'ar had
two other sons, but not by Gohar Khat'un.
77. In this same year the Persian caliph,1 who occupied the throne
of Mu}l.ammad in the city of Baghdad, died.
78: In this ~ame year the great Frankish count Roger, the lord of
the CIty of AntIoch, collected troops and marched against the Muslim
fortress-town of 'Azaz, located near Aleppo. The Armenian prince
Leon, the son of Constantine, who was the son of Ruben joined the
count with his troops and marched in this expeditio~ agai~st the infi.
dels. ~ge.r besi~ged 'Azaz for thirty days, preventing the garrison
from bnn~mg remforcements. Mter this the Frankish count turned
ovehi~ the SIege to the Armenian forces ' summoning Leon and saving
to m' liT
Ja
th ~ ~morrow you shall march into combat and put the valor of
e
eman troops to the test." Then the great Armenian prince

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gave the order to his troops, who were in the camp, to regroup around
him; the Armenian troops obeyed, coming to the side of this brave
soldier of Christ, while he, in turn, exhorted them one by one. The
next day the infidel forces attacked the Franks, and the Armenian
prince led his troops into battle against the Muslims; having given
them the signal to attack, his men fell upon the infidels. At this
point Leon vehemently roared like a lion and shattered the enemy
with his troops, turning them in flight; sword in hand he pursued
them to the gates of the town, slaughtering them and taking [many
prisoners]. Mer this the infidels did not dare to make a sortie out
of the town. So the Armenian prince acquired a reputation for
bravery on that day, and [his name] was highly praised among the
Franks. Moreover, from that day on Roger took a liking to the
Armenian troops. Thus by such a siege as this Roger harassed the
fortress-town of 'Az8.z and finally forced it to submit without
bloodshed. He showed clemency to all and allowed the inhabitants
to depart in peace. Now at this time a deep conflict developed
between the emir Il-Ghazl and Roger; the two had formerly been
very intimate friends, but now were enemies, because both Aleppo
and 'Azl1z belonged to the Turkish emir Il-GhazI, the son of Artuk.
So Il-Ghazl fulminated with rage [over this matter].
79. At the beginning of the year 568 of the Armenian era [11191120] the emir ll-Ghazl, the son of Artuk, collected a tremendous
army, fOf, since he was regarded as the supreme commander of the
Turkish forces 1 because of his nationality, the Turks heeded his call.
So in this year Il-Ghazl marched against Roger, the count of Antioch,
at the head of a formidable anny, coming against the Franks with
eighty thousand men. With this army the emir arrived at the gates
of the city of Edessa. He remained there for four days without being
able to do any hann to the city. Then he crossed over the Euphrates
River and marching forth like a galloping horse out of breath,
ravaged many places because all the areas occupied by the Franks
were left unfortified. The emir seized fortresses, farming villages,
and monasteries and also slaughtered everyone, including old people
and children. Mter this he came to Buza'ah2 and encamped there.
Now, since the count of Antioch Roger was an arrogant and prideful
man, having full confidence in his strength, he neglected to take any
precautions [for defenseJ. Moreover, bringing to mind the greatness
of his people, he was contemptuous of the Turkish forces; BO without
taking any precautionary measures, without gathering a sufficient
J

224

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

number of troops around him, or without even summoning other


Franks to his aid, the count of Antioch carelessly went into battle
against the Turks with [only] six hundred Frankish horsemen. Roger
also had under him five hundred Armenian horsemen, four hundred
infantry, and a rabble of about ten thousand [hastily recruited] men.
In contrast to this, the Turkish forces prepared themselves in every
possible way and even set up ambushes in a number of places. All
this took place within the confines of the fortress-town of al.Atharib,
where both sides fought a frightful and violent battle. At this time,
because of the innumerable amount of Persian forces, all the Christian troops were enveloped by them and were unable to find a means
of escape. So all the Christian faithful were massacred by the edge
of the sword. Moreover, the great Frankish count Roger was killed)
together with his troops, and very few escaped [the carnageJ. Then
the Turks ravaged all the country from the Euphrates River to the
Mediterranean Sea, bringing bloodshed and enslavement to all the
districts [which they had invaded], while the whole Frankish army
was practically annihilated. All this occurred on the sixth month of
K'aghots',3 on the Saturday ofthe barekendan ofVardavar. Mter this
the king of Jerusalem Baldwin arrived in the city of Antioch on the
Sunday of Vardavar. He collected the remnants of the Frankish
forces and marched against the Turks; this occurred on the 25th of
the month of Arats',4 that is the 16th of August. The two armies
engaged in battle at the same place as before, and a great number of
Turkish forces were slaughtered, after which both sides turned in
flight. Neither side was defeated or was victorious, for both had
sustained heavy losses. On this day the infidels lost five thousand
~en, not only by the sword but also through suffocation from the
mtense heat. Mter this ll-Ghazl returned to his country, having
been shattered by the king of the Franks. All the Frankish forces, in
t~rn, returned to their country, and King Baldwin went back to his
CIty of Jerusalem.
80. In this same year the Roman emperor Alexius died. 1 He was
a benevolent an? ~ise man, mighty in war, and very compassionate
towards th~ ChnstIan faithful; however, he had a profound hatred for
the ~eman nation. Now this emperor did something which was
not m accordance with the will of God. He ordered second baptisms
to. be performed and thus disparaged the canons of the Council of
~lcaea ~oncerning baptism, while adhering to the faith of Chalcedon.
o AleXIus shamelessly had all the Armenians rebaptized, having no

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fear of the Holy Spirit who had [originally] established the sacrament
of holy baptism; nor did he bring to mind the precept of the holy
apostle Paul, who said: "Those of you who are once baptized in
Christ are part of Christ" and "He who baptizes one who is already
baptized repeats the crucifixion of the Son of God and by that
commits a mortal sin."2 So Alexius died in this year, and his son
JohnS Porphyrogenitus4 occupied the imperial throne. John was a
valiant man and a warrior and had a humble and kind nature. He
was sympathetic to the Armenians and so abolished the rigorous
ruling on invalid rebaptism; for by this ruling his father had substituted the [true] spiritual baptism with something imperfect. 5
81. In this same year the king of Jerusalem Baldwin gave Edessa
and Tell Bashir to Count Joscelin and sent him back to the former
city. For at the time of Tancred's death the king1 had driven him
from his home and lands, seizing and occupying them unjustly.
Moreover, he had imprisoned this brave and mighty man, reducing
him to a state of hunger in prison. Then the king had forcibly
expelled J oscelin, as if he were a criminal, and compelled him to go
and serve in alien lands. After this the former king of Jerusalem had
called him back and received him with great honor, giving Joscelin
the town of Tiberias and making him lord of that territory. There
Joscelin had victoriously resisted the enemies of the cross of Christ.
Now, when Baldwin died and Baldwin ofLe Bourg became king, the
latter sent Joscelin back to Edessa and set him up as a barrier
against the Persian attacks; for Joscelin was a valiant man and a
mighty warrior and renowned among all the Franks, besides which
all the Persians trembled with fear because of his courage. Joscelin,
abandoning his former cruel nature, now adopted a very humane and
compassionate attitude towards the inhabitants of Edessa. As for
Baldwin, he ruled over Antioch, the whole country of Cilicia, and
Jerusalem and its territories extending to the borders of Egypt.
82. At the beginning of the year 569 of the Armenian era [11201121] once again the emir n-Ghazi collected troops and, equipping
an army of one hundred and thirty-three thousand men, went against
the Franks. Quickly he arrived before the gates of the city of Edessa,
and the surrounding plain was completely covered with his troops.
Remaining for four days, the emir ravaged the whole countryside
with his troops and then departed and went to the town of Sariij. He
secretly transported the greater part of his army over the Euphrates

226

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

River and led into captivity all the men and women from Tell Bashir
right up to Kesoun. Moreover, he inexorably massacred everyone and
even had a tremendous number of children roasted over fIres. When
ll-GhazI recrossed the Euphrates with his anny, the populations of
many villages were put to the sword, and both priests and monks
perished by fire and the sword. At this time Count Joscelin was in
the confines of the fortress-town of Raban. Rushing to Kesoun and
Behesni, he collected troops there and at the break of day pursued
the Turks. [Overtaking them], he fell upon them and slaughtered one
thousand of their men. Then the emir Il-Ghazi withdrew with his
forces and encamped in the neighborhood of 'Azaz. At this point the
king of Jerusalem together with all the Frankish forces reached 'Azaz
in order to give battle to the Turks. Joscelin came to Antioch with
his troops and then went and joined the king. Now the Turkish and
Frankish forces stood opposite one another for many days without
engaging in combat. Finally ll-Ghazi turned back with his troops
and went to that district in the territory of Melitene called Kannian.
The king, in turn, returned to Jerusalem, and Joscelin went back to
his city of Edessa.
83. The following event occurred in the year 5701 of the Armenian
era [1121-1122]. There was a certain emir, named Ghazi, from the
country of Gandzak, who was a bloodthirsty man and a shameless,
vile thief. His territory touched the borders of Georgia, and he was
a friend and vassal of the Georgian king David. 2 Now in this year
Ghazi conceived of a very malicious plan. Taking thirty thousand
Turkish troops, he entered Georgia and led away into captivity a
portion of its inhabitants. Then he returned and encamped in his
o~ territory. When the Georgian king David learned of this, he sent
his troops, who secretly overtook the Turks and fell upon their forces.
The Georgians slaughtered thirty thousand of their men and took
capti~e all of their women, children, and countless flocks of sheep,
carrymg them off to Georgia together with an immense quantity of
booty. After this those of the Turkish forces who had escaped the
severe slaughter tore their garments and threw dirt on their heads.
Dr~ssed in b~ack and with their heads bared, they went lamenting to
~helr sultan m. the city of Gandzak-to Malik, the son of Tap'ar-and
m tears bewaIled their misfortune in his presence. On the other
hand, others went to the Arab territory of Karmian to the emir IIGh~Zi, son of Artuk, and, profusely weeping related the misfortune
whIch had befallen them. Being a powerful'and at the same time a

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vainglorious man, ll-Ghazi ordered an immense army formed from


all the Turks, from the country of the Greeks up to the East and
including all Karmian. The number of his forces came to one
hundred and fifty thousand. [Beside these men] he sent to the south,
to the Arab3 lands, calling to his side the Arab ruler ~adaqah, the
son of Dubais;4 ~adaqah came to him at the head of ten thousand
troops. This Arab ruler was a brave man and a warrior and had
sacked the city of Baghdad; moreover, he had successfully fought
three combats with the Persian sultan Tap'ar. ~adaqah was a heretic5 by origin and thus a blasphemer of Mu):lammad and his religion. 8
Previously he had pitched his tents in Ethiopia and in India, but at
this time had come to marry the daughter of the Persian emir 11GhazL So in this year ll-Ghazi marched forth at the head of a
tremendous number of troops and reached the territory of Gandzak
in order to invade Georgia.
84. At the same time Malik, the sultan of Gandzak, came [and
joined ll-Ghazi] with four hundred thousand brave horsemen, and
[both annies] marched forth with a formidable number of troops and
entered Georgia from the area in which Tillis is located, by way of the
mountain of Dekor. 1 When the Georgian king David, the son of
Bagrat, who was the son of George, learned of this, he advanced to
battle agairist the Turkish forces with forty thousand hardy and
brave men skilled in anns. Moreover, David also had under him
fIfteen thousand select brave men from the ruler of the Kipchaks, five
hundred from the Albanians, and one hundred Franks. Now on the
13th of August, the Thursday of the week of fasting before the Feast
of the Assumption, a violent battle was fought between two mountains, a battle so severe that the mountains resounded from the
frightful clashing of troops. At this point God came to the aid of the
Georgians, and after regrouping their forces, they turned all the
Turks in flight. On that day a horrible and frightful slaughter of
Turkish troops took place, and the rivers were filled with corpses,
while the mountain valleys and heights were covered with the same.
The amount of Turks slaughtered came to four hundred thousand.
Thirty thousand men were taken prisoner, and the dead horses and
weapons of those fallen in battle covered the surface of the plains.
Moreover, for eight days the Kipchak and Georgian troops pursued
the Turks right up to the confines of the city of Ani. So the Persian
sultan Malik and Il-Ghazi returned humiliated to their country,
barely escaping with their lives and with only one hundred men

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

remaining out of every thousand. 2


85. In this same year the Georgian king David captured Tiflis
from the Persians, slaughtering a goodly number of the city's
inhabitants. Moreover, he impaled five hundred men, who subsequently died from this horrible torture.
86. In this same year, during the month of August, fire fell from
heaven and burned the principal mosque in Baghdad. This mosque
had been erected by the Persian sultan Tughrnl, the brother of Alp
Arslan, who built it on a grand and magnificent scale. Now, when he
gained control of Persia, he warred against the Persians for twenty
years, fmally bringing them to submission and ruling over their
whole land. Mter this he came to the city of Baghdad and ordered a
house of prayer erected there for the Turks, so that they would avoid
entering the house of prayer of the Arabs. So in this year fire
descended upon and burned the Turkish mosque-their abominable
house of worship.
87. In the year 571 of the Armenian era [1122-1123] the Persian
general ll-Ghazl collected troops and marched against the Frankish
forces. First he descended upon Aleppo and from there went and
encamped in the Muslim town of Shaizar. Baldwin, the king of
Jerusalem, came and was joined by the count of Edessa Joscelin; then
both marched forth and encamped opposite the Turkish forces.
However, throughout the summer neither side engaged in battle, but
quietly maintained their respective positions. In the month of September both sides withdrew without engaging in combat and returned
to their respective cities. The emir ll-Ghazi entered Aleppo, while
the emir Balik, who was ll-Ghazi's sister's son l and a brave and
vigorous warrior, secretly went back to his territory of Handzit'.
When Joscelin and Galeran2 heard of this, they pursued Balik with
one hundred horsemen and caught up with him in the territory of
Edessa, in a village called Tap't'il. Balik was encamped with eight
hundred horsemen in a spot through which a river flowed and which
wa~ ~urrounded by marshy ground and thus was in a very fortified
pOSItIon. The Franks, being mindless and foolhardy, attacked the
Turks, but were unable to cross the marshy area. Then Balik took
the offen~ive against the Franks with his troops, wounding all their
horses WIth arrows and pursuing them. The Turks took prisoner the
two Frankish counts, Joscelin and Galeran, and slaughtered all the

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other Franks. Joscelin and Galeran were taken to Kharberd in


chains and there thrown in prison, while twenty-five of their
comrades were taken to Balu. 3 Thus great sorrow fell upon all the
Christian faithful, and they were all horror-struck and in a state of
fear and trembling. Now all this occurred on the 13th of September.
88. In this period the great emir ll-Ghazl, the son of Artuk, died,
handing over all his territories to his sister's son, the emir Balik;
moreover, he entrusted his household and his sons, Sulaiman and
Timurtash, to Balik's care. Il-Ghazi's body was carried on a litter
from Aleppo to Harran and from there was taken and buried in his
town of Maiyafariqin. Thus the emir Balik came to rule over a large
number of territories.
89. In the year 572 of the Armenian era [1123-1124] the king of
Jerusalem Baldwin collected troops in order to make war on the emir
Balik and avenge the two Frankish chiefs, Joscelin and Galeran, who
had been thrown in prison [by him]. The king reached the fortresstown of Raban with all his forces, while Balik was already in the
confines of its territory, pillaging and taking captives. Neither army
was aware of the presence of the other. The king came with a small
detachment of troops to the bridge of Shnje and crossed the river over
this bridge, intending to encamp in a place called Shenchrig. 1 At that
time Balik, together with all his troops, was concealed in ambush
nearby. Now, when the king's tent was pitched, he wished to go
hunting with a falcon. At that moment Balik unexpectedly attacked
the king and all his forces, slaughtering many mighty men and
taking Baldwin prisoner together with his sister's son. All this
occurred in the month of Hop, 2 four days after Holy Easter. Balik
brought the king to the gates of Gargar, and Baldwin handed over
the town to the emir. Then the king and his sister's son were taken
to Kharberd, where they were put in chains and thrown into a deep
dungeon in which Joscelin and Galeran were imprisoned. 3
90. In this same year, five months later, an amazing event
occurred, which later turned out to be a disastrous misfortune.
Fifteen men got together and went forth from the impregnable
fortress of Behesni, having planned a very courageous feat; in this
way they were to accomplish a deed to be remembered forever. Going
to the district of Handzit', these men closely observed the impregnable fortress of Kharberd, where the Frankish king Joscelin and

230

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Galeran were imprisoned. Seeing that the fortress guards were few
and negligent, they approached its gates, looking wretched and
feigning the appearance of quarreling plaintiffs. They were able to
get someone inside the fortress to work with them and so, after a
short while, succeeded in penetrating the stronghold. They courageously made their way to the prison, killed those guarding the gates,
and shut them. Then with loud cries they reached the dungeon1
where the king, Joscelin, Galeran, and the other [Frankish] chiefs
were imprisoned, and very joyfully freed them. They also set free
many soldiers and a number of men and women. Moreover, some of
the inhabitants of the area entered the prison in order to aid in the
escape of the king, Joscelin, and the other prisoners. So the king and
all the prisoners went out, seized the fortress, and gained control of
Balik's entire domain. Now, when the infidel forces who were
stationed in the territory learned of this, they fled to another region.
One night on an early Wednesday morning Joscelin secretly departed
with an infantry escort and went to Kesoun and from there to
Antioch, in order to collect troops and come to the aid of the king and
other prisoners. At this time the commander of the Frankish forces
was GeoffreY,2 who was a brave and mighty man and a most fervent
Christian. This man with insuperable energy and effort protected all
the Frankish territories-comprising Jerusalem, Antioch, and
Edessa-from the Turks, courageously defending them with all the
means at his disposal. Now, while all this was happening, the
Turkish emir Balik was in the city of Aleppo.s When the emir
learned that Kharberd had been taken by stratagem, rushing forth
with the rapidity of an eagle, he reached the fortress in fIfteen days
and vigorously laid siege to it. By setting up a catapult and ordering
mining operations, Balik was able to demolish the tower of the great
stronghold and thus strike terror into the hearts of the defenders. At
this point Count Galeran in great fear went to Balik and delivered
Kharberd into the emir's hands. On this day Balik slaughtered all
the P?soners, who numbered about sixty-five persons, plus eighty
beautIful women; they were all hurled down from the summit of the
fortress. Once again the emir, full of rage, put the king, Galeran, and
the king's nephew in chains and threw them in prison. In the
meantime Joscelin was coming to their aid with his troops. However,
when both he and Geoffrey learned of the new situation they became
deeply dismayed and turned back full of sorrow. So th~y returned to
their respective territories, while the king, Galeran, and the king's
nephew remained in prison. 4

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91. In this same year fighting broke out among birds in the region
of Melitene. Storks, cranes, and bustards gathered together and
fought one another. [In the end] the cranes vanquished the storks
and exterminated them, and so it was the former [only] that
remained.
92. In this same year the great Armenian philosopher, the
vardapet Paul, died. He was a brilliant man and one knowledgeable
in the Old and New Testaments, besides which he had attained the
perfection of the doctors of old. He shone forth as the second enlightener of the Armenian nation, being a diamond-like rock against the
heretics and a champion of the orthodox; moreover, throughout his
life he resolutely resisted those who would corrupt the faith. This
vardapet, a native of the district of Taron, died in this year and was
buried in the Monastery of St. Lazarus, not far from Sasun.
93. In this same year David, the Georgian king, slaughtered sixty
thousand Persians. Now the sultan of Gandzak came with a great
number of troops and, building a pontoon bridge over the Kura River,
transported his sixty thousand soldiers over it and started in the
direction of the country of the Abkhazes. When the Georgian king
learned of this, he sent an anny which demolished the bridge and
slaughtered all the infidel forces. Mter this the sultan fled to Persia
and went to his uncle in the town of Uzgand.
94. This king David displayed very great courage in his wars
against the Persians. Many times he vanquished the infidel forces
and shattered their strength, seizing many opulent areas from the
Persians by his sword and his might. He captured the cities of Tillis,
Dmanis,1 Shirvan,2 Shak'e,3 Shamk'or,4 and a number of other places.
David was a saintly and virtuous king and endowed with all types of
pious and righteous behavior; moreover, he shone forth as a sympathizer and friend of the Armenian nation. He gathered around him
the remnants of the Armenian troops. Also he founded an Armenian
city in Georgia and called it GOra,5 building many churches and
monasteries there. Thus he treated the Armenian nation with great
deference and consideration. King David had a legitimate son named
Demetrius,6 who was born of an Armenian woman, and a brother
named T'otorme. 7
95.

In the year 573 of the Armenian era [1124-1125] the emir

232

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Balik collected troops and marched against the Franks. He arrived


in Aleppo and after a few days went against the Muslim town of
Manbij. Setting up a catapult against the citadel, he put the
besieged in very dire straits through his continual assaults. At this
point the emir1 who was defending the citadel sent to the Frankish
counts Joscelin and Geoffrey for help, asking them to come to his aid
and promising to hand over the town to Joscelin. The two counts
came to the emir's aid with the remnants of the Frankish troops
which Joscelin had gathered together. Mahuis, the count of Duluk,
Aintab, and Raban, also came to the emir's aid. When Balik learned
of this, he attacked the Christians not far from the town of Manbij.
A violent battle ensued, for the infidels were as numerous as the
Franks were few. Nevertheless, the Frankish troops defeated the
Turks, putting one wing of their army to flight, while Joscelin
annihilated the other. However, one corps of Turks surrounded the
count of Marash and many other brave men including some of
Joscelin's cavalry,2 causing them all to die a martyr's death. When
Joscelin heard of this, he turned in flight and spent the night at the
same place where the battle had been fought; then on the next day
he took refuge in his town of Tell Bashir. Thus on that day many
Frankish noblemen perished, and so it became a disastrous and
horrible day for the Christian faithful. All this occurred on the 10th
of the month of Sahmi, that is the fourth day of May. Mter this
Balik victoriously turned back and descended upon the town of
Manbij, ordering all his troops to begin the attack. Overjoyed [by his
recent successes], he took off his coat of mail. At that very moment
a Sun-Worshipper" in the citadel shot an arrow into his back,4 causing
the emir to be mortally wounded. Then Balik summoned Timurtash,6
the son of ll-Ghazi, to his side and gave over to him his sovereignty
and lands, after which the emir instantly died. Now, when his troops
learned of this, they disbanded. Balik's death brought great joy to all
the Franks; however, deep sorrow and a general feeling of loss fell
upo~ the people inhabiting his lands, for he had dealt compassionately WIth the Armenians under his rule. 6
96: At this time the king, Galeran, and the king's nephew were in

t~e Clt~ of Aleppo. Now Count Joscelin and the queen made a pact
WIth Tlmurtas.h to ransom the king. They agreed to hand over as
hostages the kmgs daughter and Joscelin's son, together with frl'teen
other persons. The ransom itself was set at one hundred thousand
dahekans. So in the month of September King Baldwin was delivered

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from captivity at the hands of the Turks. He arrived in Antioch, and


on that day there was much rejoicing among the Christian faithful.
On the other hand, Count Galeran and the king's nephew remained
in Timurtash's clutches and were ultimately put to death. Thus this
was the second time that Baldwin was freed from captivity through
Joscelin's efforts.
97. In this same year Gargar was captured from the Turks
through the aid of God. Michael, the lord of the town and also the
son of Constantine, gathered together fifty men and vigorously
besieged the place, putting the Turks in the fortress in dire straits.
Deprived of any help and hard-pressed, the Turks submitted and
handed over Gargar to Michael. In this same way and through the
same efforts the fortress of Bibol1was captured from the Turks, and
so there was much rejoicing among the Christian faithful.
98. In this same year the Georgian king David once again severely
slaughtered the Persians, this time about twenty thousand men.
Moreover, he captured the royal Armenian capital of Ani, removing
the sons of Manuch'e 1from the city and taking them to THHs. So the
royal capital of Ani was freed from the yoke under which it had been
for sixty years. The magnificent, huge, and holy Cathedral of Ani,
which the infidels had turned into a mosque, now was thronged with
the bishops, priests, and monks of Armenia, who reconsecrated it in
solemn pomp. Thus there was rejoicing throughout all Armenia, for
everyone was witness to the deliverance of the holy cathedral [from
the clutches of the infidelsV
99. 'In this same year a duke1 came from the country of the Franks
with many troops and encamped against the city of Tyre, situated on
the coast of the Mediterranean. He besieged the city for many days
and through violent assaults put it in dire straits. He blockaded the
city from the sea with a fleet, while he held tight control of the land
with his numerous troops; thus the place was blockaded on all sides.
Also the duke erected wooden towers against the city and set up catapults and other war machines to batter its walls. In this manner he
put Tyre in great danger for many days, harassing the city with
famine and continual assaults. Finally the townspeople became so
hard-pressed that they submitted. Obtaining an oath from the
Frankish commander [that their lives would be spared], the townspeople handed over the city to the duke and then departed and went

234

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

to Damascus. Mter a few days the Franks gave [the revenues of] the
city of Tyre to the sepulcher of Christ, and the duke returned to the
country of the Franks with his troops.
100. In this same year Baldwin, the king of Jerusalem, and
Joscelin gathered together all the Frankish forces and marched
against the city of Aleppo. At this time the Arab chieftain ~adaqah,
the son of Dubais and son-in-law of Il-GhazI, joined Joscelin. This
chieftain made an alliance of peace and friendship with Joscelin and
so came to the aid of the count with his troops. The grandson of the
sultan Tutush and the sultan of Melitene, who was the son of Kilij
Arslan, also joined Joscelin. Thus an imposing force was brought
together against Aleppo, and the city was put in dire straits for many
days through famine and continual assaults. At this point the
townspeople sent to the city of Moaul, to the general al-BursukI,
asking him to come to their aid. So this general collected a large
number of troops and after six months 1 arrived before Aleppo. He
drove away the Franks, and thus the city was saved. The Frankish
forces, in turn, returned to their respective territories unhanned. On
the other hand, the Arab chieftain $adaqah, as he withdrew, ravaged
the territory of Mosul and all of al-BursukI's lands. Mter remaining
in Aleppo for a few days, al-BursukI went to Damascus and made an
alliance with Tughtigin, the emir of that city.
101. In this same year Ghazi\ the emir of Sebastia and the son
of Danishmend, marched against Melitene. He vehemently besieged
Melitene, putting it in dire straits, and blockaded the city for six
months until it was hard-pressed by a severe famine. As the famine
intensified, many died, and because of the lack of food [in the city],
the townspeople were forced to go out to the enemy camp. So, being
hard-pressed, the inhabitants of the city handed Melitene over to
~hazi. After this the wife of Kilij ArsIan, who was the ruler of the
CIty, departed and went to Mshar. 2
102. In the year 574 of the Annenian era [1125-1126] the Persian
general al-BursukI and Tughtigin marched forth with a tremendous
aprm~ consisting of forty thousand troops-the very best of all the
ersian forces Coming 'th thO
_
.'
WI
IS great army, al-Bursukl descended
u.pon the.Impre~abIe Frankish fortress of 'Azaz and vehemently laid
8Ie~~ to It. Relymg on his great strength, he boasted that he could
easl y capture the fortress, thus showing nothing but disdain for the

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capabilities of the Franks. Twelve catapults were set up against


'Azaz, and two of its walls were demolished through sapping opera. tions, thus putting the fortress in great danger. So the garrison
within despaired [of being saved]. Now, when the king of Jerusalem
learned that al-Bursukr had returned to Aleppo, he immediately left
and came to Antioch. Having alerted the Frankish forces, he was
speedily joined by Count Joscelin as well as the count of Tripoli (the
son of Saint Gilles) and Mahuis (the count of Duluk). The Christian
forces consisted of one thousand three hundred Frankish horsemen,
five hundred Armenian horsemen, and four thousand infantry. The
king of Jerusalem marched forth and came to Cyrrhus.1 When the
Persian general learned of this, he took a detachment of troops and
encamped in the vicinity of Aleppo. At this point, leaving all their
baggage in Cyrrhus, the Frankish forces went to 'Azaz prepared for
battle and saw the fortress razed to its foundations, ruined, and
about to fall to the infidels. Immediately the Persian forces turned
upon the Franks and hemmed them in for three days. The Franks
were hard-pressed and put in a perilous situation, for they were
unable to obtain victuals; so in these extremely dire straits, despairing of living, they hoped for [a speedy] death. The Turkish forces, in
turn, challenged them with defiant and boastful shouting and
surrounded them on all sides. Then, with shrill cries and like an
eagle swooping down upon a flock of doves, the infidels rushed
against the Frankish forces. The Christians, hard-pressed on all
sides and seized with terror, waited for death, having reached their
last breath. Now, while they were in this perilous situation, the king
thought of an excellent idea. He said the following to the officers of
his troops: "Come, let us turn back directly to al-Atharib and make
the Turks believe we have fled, so that those of them who are in
ambush will come out after us; then we can attack them, and thus
will see what Christ can do for us." Then he commanded the
following to those who were garrisoning 'Azllz: "When you see the
Turks grouping together to pursue us, give us a smoke signal from
the fortress." After this the king went in the direction of al-Atharib
with all his forces. Thinking that the king had fled, the general alBursukr signaled all his troops to assemble [and go against the
Christians], The Turks pursued the Franks like wolves after sheep,
rushing after them with shrill cries and driving the Christian forces
before them by their frightful appearance and loud shouting. After
a pursuit of two miles the infidel forces began to close ranks against
the Christians. At that moment the garrison of 'Azaz gave the

236

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

[prearranged] smoke signal. Seeing this, the king of Jerusalem and


all his officers beseeched God for assistance; directing their tearful
and anguish-ridden grief to heaven, they entreated God to come to
the aid of his feeble flock. Then the king ordered the battle trumpet
sounded, and the Christian forces rushed against the infidels en
masse, invoking the help of God and manifesting a very courageous
effort. God heard their prayers and so angrily turned the Turks in
flight. The Christian troops wielded the sword, and dispersed and
scattered the infidels over the plain. Count J oscelin, full of rage and
like a ferocious roaring lion who goes after oxen, pursued the infidel
forces and gorged himself with their heathen blood. In the same
manner the king and the whole army of Christ pursued the infidels
and ruthlessly slaughtered them right up to the city of Aleppo. The
number of Turks slaughtered came to seven thousand. The Persian
general and Tughtigin went away humiliated, for fifteen emirs had
perished in the battle. On the other hand, the Christian forces
turned back rejoicing greatly and laden with countless booty. So this
day came to be a joyful one for all the Christian faithful. Now all
this occurred on Thursday, the 24th of the month of Tre. Mter a
number of days al-BursukI took the king's daughter and Joscelin's
son and placed them in Qal'at Ja'bar;2 then he himself went to Mosul.
After one year he was assassinated by a group of people of his nation
3
called ~ajji. These men entered his house as pilgrims and killed
him with a knife. Then al-BursukI's servants killed them and others
whom they found in the city dressed in the same manner-all in all
eighty men. 4
103. In this same year the Persian general and emir of the East,
Ibrahim, who was the son of Sulaiman, together with the emir of
Handzit', Da'l1d,l who was the son of Sokman, the son of Artuk,
collected an immense army. A number of other emirs joined them
with a considerable number of troops and all of them then marched
against Georgia. When the Georgiad king met up with the infidels,
he turned them in flight with a severe slaughter; he slaughtered
them more severely than the previous time, pursuing them for five
days and covering the plains and mountains with blood. So the whole
land stank with dead COrpses.
. 104. !n this same year the pious and saintly king of Georgia David
dIed. HIS son Demetrius was installed on the throne as his successor'
he was a brave and pious man and by his good deeds resembled hi~

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father David. It was he who brought the sons of Manuch'e back to


Ani and, after having them swear to be his vassals and subject to him
for the rest of their lives, gave them the city. For Ani had been very
hard-pressed by the Persian forces since the death of David.
Moreover, this Georgian king Demetrius, who was born of an
Armenian mother, was burdened with other military and administrative cares. Now the sons of Manuch'e solemnly swore that the
holy Cathedral of Ani would always be in the possession of the
Annenians and that no Muslim would ever be allowed to enter it.
105. In the year 575 of the Armenian era [1126-1127] the son of
Bohemond, son of Robert, who himself had the name of his father
Bohemond, came from the country of the Franks. In this same year
he went to the city of Antioch with his troops and married the
daughter of the king of Jerusalem. The king promised to give the
royal throne to Bohemond after his death, but for the present handed
over to him Antioch and all Cilicia. After this Bohemond, the son of
Bohemond, because of his forceful character and great power, was
able to make all the Franks submit and subject themselves to him,
including the count of Edessa (Joscelin) and the son of Saint Gilles.
He himself was a beardless youth of twenty years, but a valiant and
mighty warrior, tall with a lion-like face and blond hair. [His
reputation was so great that] many young and noble men from Romel
followed him. 2
106. In the year 576 of the Armenian era [1127-1128] the holy
Armenian vardapet named Cyrus, who was very much like the saints
of old, died. He had thoroughly studied the Scriptures and was
accomplished in the method of deep [biblical] analysis. Moreover, he
possessed a thorough grasp of the Old and New Testaments of God.
Also he was a companion of the vardapet George, surnamed Meghrik.
Cyrus died and was buried in the Monastery of Drazark, which was
called the "Cemetery of the Holy Vardapets," the place where the holy
Armenian vardapet Meghrik was also buried. A congregation of
Christian hennits was gathered here and had set up the rules and
discipline of the holy monks of old.
107. In the year 577 of the Armenian era [1128-1129] the Persian
general the emir Zengil who was the son of Aksungur [al-Bursukr],
the fo~er lord of Alep~o, marched forth. He advanced ~ith h~s
troops into the confines of Edessa and made a treaty of fnendshlp

238

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

with the Frankish count Joscelin, after which he passed on to the city
of Aleppo unhanned. Seeking to make a treaty of peace and
friendship with the great Frankish count Bohemond, the lord of
Antioch, he chose Joscelin to mediate in the negotiations. Mter
staying in Aleppo for a few days, Zengi went to Damascus with all his
forces; for the emir of the city, Tughtigin, had died and had been
succeeded by his son. 2
108. In this same year the Persian sultan Mahmud, who was the
son of Tap'ar, died and was succeeded by his brother Malik. He was
the man who had formerly resided in Gandzak, whom the Georgian
king defeated and forced to flee to Persia.
109. At the beginning of the year 585 of the Armenian era [1136
1137] the sultan Mup.ammad, who was the son of 'Amr-Ghiizi, son of

Danishmend, marched forth. He advanced into the territory of


Marash with a tremendous number of troops and, encamping near
the town of Kesoun, burned the villages and monasteries [of the district]. Now it was grape-harvest time. The sultan remained
encamped before the town for six days, but did not erect bulwarks, or
set up war machines, or even shoot arrows; rather he remained quiet,
occupying himself only with cutting off water from the river,
devastating the orchards, and making incursions into this or that
area in order to accumulate booty and plunder. On the other hand,
those who were in the town were anticipating calamity, bloodshed,
and the ultimate capture of the place to come any day; moreover,
they became so discouraged that one night they abandoned the outer
fortifications. However, after their leaders and priests encouraged
them through exhortation, the inhabitants addressed supplications
to God, resolving to die rather than to fall into the hands of the
infidels and thus become objects of shame and ridicule to the
heathen. So, acting as individuals or whole families, they loudly sang
the praises of God night and day, with crosses in their hands and
arms extended in prayer. Now God, who is compassionate and
merciful in all things, in spite of our sins did not will that we fall into
the hands of the enemy; rather he took pity on us, who were
ransomed by the blood of his dear Son Our Lord Jesus Christ and
so did not give the command for the infidels to attack the town. Thus
on !riday, the day of Our Savior's passion, the town of Kesoun was
delivered [from the infidels]. The enemy burned down Karmir-Vank',
including the chapel and monks' cells, smashed all the stone and

PART

III

239

wooden crosses, and carried off the ones made of iron and bronze;
moreover, they pulled down the altars where the holy bread was
consecrated and smashed them to pieces; finally, they removed the
beautifully decorated doors and also various other objects and carried
them off to their own country, in order to show them to their concubines and common folk, as the Babylonian [king]l had done in the
past. All this was a fulfillment of the following words: "I have
abandoned the daughter of Zion as a tent in the midst of vineyards,
or as a booth of those who guard fruit trees, or as a grieving
turtledove left alone by its companion, or finally as a detestablelooking crow sitting on some monument."2 So, as we mentioned
before, Mu}lammad hastily departed on Friday, for he heard that the
Roman emperor3 was on his way to aid the beleaguered town of
Kesoun and our prince Baldwin,4 who had begged him on his knees
to come. At this time the Greek emperor was in the vicinity of
Antioch, devastating Muslim territory. After he had removed our
prince Leon5 from power and had seized him, his towns, and fortresses, the emperor took the Armenian prince to the country of the
Greeks, to the other side of the sea on the borders of Asia.

Continuation by Gregory the Priest!


1. At the beginning of the year 586 of the Armenian era [11371138] the emperor Porphyrogenitus,2 the son of Alexius, marched
against the fortress-town of Anazarba in order to attack it. Now this
was during the summer season, in the month of July. He besieged
the town for thirty-five days and battered its walls with his catapults.
Having been placed in a very dangerous position, the inhabitants
handed over the town to the emperor Porphyrogenitus. The emperor
seized everything, including the Armenian prince Leon, together with
his son and wife and the holy icon of the Theotokos, taking all these
back to Constantinople with him. There the great Armenian prince
Leon, who was the son of Constantine, the son of :{tuben, died. s After
this the emperor Porphyrogenitus came against the fortress of
Buza'ah and took it by a violent assault. Deceiving him, the Franks
persuaded the emperor to go to the fortress-town of Shaiz9.r, and from
there he came to Antioch. On the other hand, Malik-Mupammad4
marched against the fortress of Shuplsa; however, in spite of the
many assaults he launched and the countless number of arrows he
discharged, he was unable to do anything against the fortress. So,
going through the Kula Mountains,5he returned to his country. We
thank God for having delivered us from the fire of this siege and for
having saved us from the enemy. Winter was coming to an end when
the emperor was besieging the Muslim fortress of Buza.'ah. Now after
Easter Baldwin, the lord of the town of Kesoun, went to the emperor
with his infantry and cavalry and also with the inhabitants of the
town. So the town was emptied of men. [The remaining] people,
frightened, left the town with their families, some going to Behesni,
others to Raban, and still others to Hromkla.6 Thus Kesoun remained
depopulated; only a few important townspeople remained with some

242

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

infantry troops to guard the place, and included among them was the
commander? of the town called Vahram. I, the humble priest
Gregory, exhorted them to take courage in the defense of the place,
80 that no one would come and set fire to our town, something which
indeed did happen [in the long run]. For, while the Greek emperor
was on his way back [to Constantinople], the son of Da'iid, whose
name was Kara Arslan,8 returning from the Muslim lands with many
troops and feigning flight from the emperor, came to the town of
Raban. Those who were in the town of Kesoun, terrified, thought it
was Malik-Muhammad and so abandoned the place towards evening.
On the next d~y a small detachment of Turks, while scouting around
the mountains, took prisoner one of the men of the town and learned
from him that no one was in the place. So these men-thirty in nwnber-came, entered the town of Kesoun, and set fire to it together
with its gates. Mter marveling at the magnificent palace built by the
great Armenian prince Kogh Vasil and also the other splendid
buildings [of the town], they departed in haste and rejoined their
other comrades. On the other hand, on the next day the inhabitants
of the town returned to their homes.
2. In the year 589 of the Armenian era [1140~1141] a certain
soldier from the family of Sire Mahuis, l named Simon, harbored a
grudge against the count of Edessa2 and so treacherously seized
Aintab from him. After holding this place for one year, he finally
returned Aintab to the count, through the intervention of the prince
of Antioch. 3
3. In the year 591 of the Armenian era [1142-1143] the Greek
emperor Porphyrogenitus came and attempted to buy Antioch from
the prince of that city. The prince gave him the city for a large
amount of money and precious brocades, and so the emperor made a
rather easy entrance into Antioch.
4. In the year 592 of the Armenian era [1143-1144] the Greek

emperor Porphyrogenitus, the son of Alexius died around Easter at

~he b~ginning of April, after having placed his son Manuel1 on the

Impenal throne. In this same year the king of Jerusalem2 also died.
Now the deaths of t~ese two rulers, the Frankish king and the Greek
emperor, occurred m a very extraordinary manner. For the Greek
em~ror was killed while on a hunt, wounded by a wild boar,3 while
dunng the same year the Frankish king was also on a hunt when he

CONTINUATION

243

was killed under similar circumstances. 4 [Before his death] this king
placed his son Baldwin5 on his throne in the holy city of Jerusalem.
In this same year Malik-Mupammad, the son of 'Amr-Ghazl, also
died. In this year on Holy Thursday an omen appeared in the
northern portion of the sky; it took on the form. of a column of light
and was visible in that fonn for eight days. It was after the appearance of this phenomenon that the three rulers died. On Tuesday the
23rd of December, on the Feast of the Holy Protomartyr Stephen,6
Edessa was taken by assault by Zengi, the son of Aksungur. Many
[of its inhabitants] were ruthlessly slaughtered for their Christian
faith, people whom Christ will crown with his saints, Amen.
5. It was the beginning of the year 593 of the Armenian era [11441145]. Antioch was ruled by the count of Poitou's son, who, though
young, was a man of tremendous power and might; however, he was
not as skillful in the art of ruling as Baldwin, who was the lord of
Kesoun and Marash and the territories dependant on these two
towns, comprising an area from the borders of Melitene to the gates
of Antioch. This Baldwin was young in age but old in experience and
agreeable in the eyes of God by all his deeds of prowess. Moreover,
this was also the time when the young count Joscelin, the son of the
great warrior, the elder Joscelin, ruled, and [also the time of] the
pontificate of his lordship Gregory, the Armenian patriarch of the
nation ofT'orgom. 1 In this period mentioned above-namely at the
time of the Feast of the Holy Protomartyr Stephen-the city of
Edessa, deprived of the benevolent will of the Creator, was violently
captured by the children of Hagar, [led] by their chief Zengi. This
man ruthlessly shed a tremendous amount of blood, neither respecting the age of elderly people, nor taking pity on innocent, lamb-like
children. Terrified by the edge of the sword, the townspeople fled to
the shelter of the Citadel of Maniaces. Brothers did not take care of
their brothers, nor fathers, their sons; mothers did not take pity on
their daughters; friends had no regard for those dear to them.
Because of this harsh and bitter situation, 2 the fugitives were unable
to enter the citadel; [packed together], as many as two thousand
persons died of suffocation before the gates of the citadel, including
the bishop of the Franks, who was asphyxiated in the crowd.
When the tyrant sawall this, he became deeply sorry and commanded his soldiers who were ruthlessly and mercilessly slaughtering people in the ~treets as if they were animals, to sheath their
swords. However, he ordered the Franks who were taken prisoner

244

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

slain in his presence and their women and children led into captivity,
Those Christians who had escaped the butchery and had tried to
enter the citadel were unable to hold out for more than a few days,
for they lacked water. Finally they gave themselves up on condition
that their lives would be spared. The arrogant conqueror wished to
pacify the city and so he commanded it be decreed that no one was
to do any harm to the Christians; for all his troops had already
become satiated with blood and booty,3 Zengi boasted that over the
years none of the very great and eminent warriors had been able to
forcibly get control of this city blessed by the Lord.' It was Christ
who during his sojourn on earth said the following infallible words in
a letter he wrote to King Abgar: "Famine and sword will never enter
your city as long as its inhabitants observe my commandments. liB
However, after a while these inhabitants forgot the injunction of the
Creator. They followed the example of the Israelites who, after
having received all sorts of blessings from God, promptly forgot these
heaven-sent gifts which cost no effort on their part, but yet with
heavy sighs remembered the onion and garlic, 6 and the harsh oppression of the Egyptians; finally these Israelites provoked the anger of
God, whose patience is unfailing, and so he did not allow them to see
the promised land. In this same way the inhabitants of Edessa,
having forgotten their promise to God, committed all sorts of evil
deeds against the will of the merciful Christ and thus received the
recompense of their senseless behavior,
6. Mer this [capture of Edessa] the bloodthirsty Zengi, collecting
troops, came against Qal'at Ja'bar and put its garrison in dire straits.
However, one year after [the taking of Edessa] he was killed by his
eunuch during the night1 and thus was not allowed to enjoy his glory
of [possessing] the inimitable city of Edessa, whose capture took place
in the time of the younger Joscelin. As long as this man followed the
will of God, he was mighty and victorious over the enemies of Christ,
as his father had been, who during his reign was glorified by God but
not by men and who never had a hole dug for any Christian. 2
7. ?nce again after two years had passed, Joscelin, who was the
Fr~nklsh COU?t of Edessa, collected troops and, joined by the great
pnnce BaldWin, who was the lord of the two towns of Marash and
Kes,oun, can:e against Edessa and slyly took the city by surprise
dunng the mght, Although the undertaking was successful it did not
endure/ for the infidels regrouped themselves after five'days and

CONTINUATION

245

recaptured the city by assault. After exhibiting a great amount of


courage, the illustrious and undefeated soldier of Christ, Baldwin, fell
in battle. His death caused a great deal of sorrow in the territories
over which he ruled, for he had more of a liking for the Armenians
than for the Franks. 2 No~ in this same period the Armenian
catholicate came to be divided into four sees: their lordships Vahram
and Gregory in Egypt, his lordship Barsegh at Ani, his lordship
Peter-the superior of Varag-at Marash, and his lordship T'oros at
HonL Thus the see of St. Gregory at Ani was divided into four
branches. Now Baldwin had as his father-confessor the holy and
blessed vardapet Barsegh, a man endowed with divine grace and
profound erudition and one who was imbued with the fear of God;
moreover, he was upright in his practice of fasting and praying,
knowledgeable in the understanding of the Old and New Testaments
of God, and finally an advocate and protector of those oppressed.
Barsegh wrote a funeral oration on the occasion of Baldwin's death
as an admonition to those reading it and as a record for future
generations.'
8. "I Barsegh, the humble servant [of God], write these words with
great lamenting and sorrowful weeping to all the Christian faithful
and especially to those near us in Kesoun, Behesni, Raban, Marash,
and to the people who live in the villages, towns, and monasteries
located in their territories, whatever their nationality or language
might be; [I write to these Christian faithful] about the senseless and
accursed death of Prince Baldwin. God, the almighty creator of the
whole universe, brought him into existence as an example and an
admonition to the unrepentant, arrogant, and wicked leaders of the
Latin! forces. He thus showed to all that the elements and all living
creatures stand ready to do his will, the will of their Creator. So the
whole universe is puzzled, for it does not possess his body. The sea
cries out that he isn't there. The earth says that he isn't covered by
the ground, in its bosom. The elements of air, water, and fire confess
that they, in pain of severe punishment, do not dare expose or reveal
what God has hidden. Death and the tombs complain that they do not
hold his body and that they have not seen it joining the ranks of
those already dead. Yet he does not seem to be with the living. Now
concerning this unfortunate young man, audacious in combat,
victorious and courageous in battles against the infidels-this mighty
champion and well-known soldier of Christ, my beloved Baldwin
-what hand struck down his solid strength and shortened the hand

246

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

of this powerful man?2 What feeble arm bent the invincible arm of
this very brave man? What man of the circumcised soldiers had the
strength to cut to pieces and fell to the ground this robust, heavyset,
and giant-like man? What person with a savage-like or enraged
heart would not be fond of him at the sight of his handsome appearance, who would not be ashamed in his presence, who would not have
pity on the joys which he experienced in his youth? Who is it that
would ask Baldwin who he was and where he came from without
feeling his ferocious nature mollified by his modest, sensible, and
prudent answer? Expressing himself fluently in Armenian, he was
known by everyone to possess sagacity, willpower, maturity, outward
attractiveness, and all those characteristics of this life which show
the magnanimity and excellence of princes. Now I think it superfluous to continue these words [of praise] any longer, so as not to be
criticized by Baldwin's enemies, who continually slander him.
"Alas, I must now speak of his unfortunate end and of the destructive path which we on many occasions advised him not to walk in, a
path which he still obstinately followed, refusing to listen to our
reasoning or to his own experience. We devoted all our time to
telling him nothing except that which would benefit his soul, that is
saving and protecting unfortunate Christians [like himself]; however,
he rejected our advice. It was only this year that we on many
occasions forewarned him of his impending destruction. Although it
was very painful and difficult for us to tell him what others dared not
say, nevertheless we hoped that, becoming frightened, he would
change his evil ways and adopt humility, charity, and a non-malicious
kindly attitude [towards people]. Indeed, he was not ignorant of the
fact that the inexorable sentence of the righteous judge God must
overtake now and in the future life all those whose hearts have
hardened. Neither arrogant men nor heavenly angels are able to
oppose God's will, for he is lord over both angels and men. The other
weaknesses of the flesh, found in men because of their nature, are
those which condemn them and bring them under judgement. It is
people such as these who very often obtain mercy from the Lord who
loves sinners and who came down from heaven to seek after th~ lost
image, the stray sheep and thus bring these sinners to repentance.
However, arrogant pride, extreme stubbornness hardness of heart
lack of compassion-all these together with othe~ defects [of charac~
ter]-lead to sin. Those earthly men whom the demons dominate
down here and who perform demonical works are counted with the
demons on the terrible day of the impartial and just judgment of God.

CONTINUATION

247

The righteous judge God does not forgive such hardened hearts as
these, except those who are susceptible to con-ection: persons who on
an occasion or on some pretext for a short while, with pangs of
conscience, allow t~emselves to be led into the satanic and evil ways,
but then become dIsgusted, confess with deep shame, and look for a
means to escape from these demonic sins at an opportune time.
"However, those who do not hasten [to repent] and do not quickly
free themselves [from these sins], but on the contrary increase their
sins day by day and remain unrepentant hour by hour, year by year,
thinking that they can deceive God who cannot be deceived-persons
such as these the Creator does not forgive. Yet first he warns them
by chastisement-once, twice, and sometimes even more often-but
when they harden their hearts against his admonitions, he does away
with them and removes them from this life, so that evil will not grow
and increase to his detriment and to the detriment of many others.
All these words I have spoken are confirmed by Holy Scripture-the
Old and New Testaments-for those who wish to look into them. The
examples of repentant and condemned men are many, so we have
considered it unsuitable and superfluous to put them in writing. Now
in regard to this incorrigible and abandoned deceased leader, this
irredeemable captive, this person who has disappeared from sight, a
handsome young man, a brave and mighty warrior, an ingenious,
wise, and prudent prince whose life was so short, this gallant and
charming man carrying the name 8ire3 Baldwin: it would be a shame
not to relate his ruin and not to publicly and frankly declare his
errors, not in order to slander him, but in order that he might obtain
from God complete remission for his sins. For we well realize that
the more people conceal and hide their sins and ignominious secrets
because they feel ashamed in the presence of man, the more they will
be disgraced publicly [in the hereafter] before angels and men, both
just and unjust. These people have existed from Adam until our day
and stand hon-or-struck with fear on their faces, crazed and trembling before the awful and redoubtable tribunal of God. In this public
assembly, in the presence of the Father of the universe, his only
begotten Son the Word, and the Holy Spirit-the renovator of
creation-there is no word, deed, or thought which remains hidden
from the all-seeing knowledge of our Creator. This scene becomes
very pitiful, heartrending, and one of irrevocable shame, to such an
extent that when the frightful and awful sentence is pronounced, the
souls of the sinners, filled with shame, remain in a state of disgrace
and opprobrium throughout eternity without limit, end, or measure.

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Now all this is in accordance with the words of the great archangel
[Michael] who, when speaking to the prophet Daniel, revealed the
following: 'Some will be resurrected for [eternal] life, while others
[will be relegated] to eternal opprobrium.'4
9. "Now as long as we publicly and frankly declare our sinfulness
without false shame, without dissimulation, or without the pretext of
removing our sense of shame-in other words a true and perfect
confession and one worthy of the holy baptismal font-our sins will
be remitted. If we are truly repentant, then all our sins will disappear, will be annihilated, will be washed away, and will no longer be
found anywhere. For God, who is nonvengeful and compassionate,
overlooks, forgives, and pardons those who in this manner wisely and
willingly confess their sins in this world.
10. "Now, taking into consideration all these things and knowing
the weaknesses of the beloved prince, I publicly declare and record in
writing his errors, as if I attributed them to myself. For those who
have so little affection for their friends that after death they forget or
conceal either their faults or their good points are merely brute
animals and friends of the flesh. On the other hand, we through our
affection for him are concerned with the spiritual care of his soul, and
if he had listened to us even a little, he would still be alive in both
soul and body. However, because he hardened his heart, he forever
perished in both existences. Thus I cry out in a lamenting voice:
'Listen, a nations and peoples of all tongues, especially you kings,
princes, all you judges of the earth, and you who are in charge of
important affairs and who have control over the management of
temporal matters; listen and understand the errors of our beloved
and illustrious prince. Now I come on his behalf and speak from his
mouth as if it were mine, falling down on my knees in tears, first
before God who knows my sins and then before all of you. [Listen] 0
princes, you my comrades in power; and my brothers, you soldiers-cavalry and infantry-against whom I have done many injustices,
all you peoples who forcibly fell into my undeserved power twisted by
sin. Because of the innumerable, endless, and merciless injuries and
blasphemies I committed, I have ruined my life-an end which is
both lamentable andtearful. For I never brought to mind the divine
words which ceaselessly cried out to my ears muffled by sin words
which said: "Never give anyone the opportunity in your life to curse
you, for God who created him will hear the groans of his heart."

CONTINUATION

249

Moreover, there are other precepts which forbid treacherous behavior


and the coveting of the properties and possessions of our neighbor-his villages, arable lands, and territories; which command
voluntary submission to princes higher than us, as we would submit
to God and not to just a simple man; which forbid the injuring of
anyone and the robbing of orphans, widows, and travelers; which
forbid aggrandizement through violence, exactions, and rapine, or
through the building of sumptuous edifices or city ramparts at the
expense of the sweat of strangers, orphans, widows, and unfortunate
peasants burdened with taxes; which condemn the slandering of
friends and calumny inspired by an arrogant certainty of one's power,
greatness, and wisdom; which prohibit the judging of the faults of
others, as the Gospels talk of [looking at] the piece of straw [in
another's eye] and neglecting to see the beam in one's own eye;l which
enjoin basic respect, free of disobedience for the Creators law and for
the saints and leaders of the church established as our judges by God;
finally which condemn concupiscence and wallowing in corrupt sin.
I am obliged to ceaselessly bring these precepts to mind at the
moment of my death and to make an effort to grapple with them
before leaving this world, precepts I have sworn to God many times
to follow.
" INow I heard the words written in Holy Scripture condemning all
these sins so often from preachers that I learned them by heart.
These same precepts were taught by the vardapet [BarseghJ in two
languages and were ceaselessly pronounced in an unfaltering,
changeless, and suitable manner. I say all these things to the best
of my knowledge, solemnly making a confession in God's presence and
yours, so that you might know that God has justly vented his
unforgiving anger upon me. I know that he has mercilessly caused
certain people to die without remission of sins when a war has ended
and peace has been restored; moreover, he has imposed upon the feet
and hands [of many] a desire to die. Those who deal treacherously
with their friends or their troops and who speak with perfidious
tongues or do wicked deeds will fall under the sentence of the
Creator, who says: "Whoever sheds the blood ofa man, his blood will
be shed in return'" also "Bloodthirsty and perfidious men shall not
complete their liv~s"; al~o, "The Lord reckons the bl~,odthirsty an~
perfidious with the abominable and so destroys them. Moreover, It
is written: "Do not covet the possessions of your friend and do not
aggrandize yourself through wickedness, lest you suddenly, leave
what you have evilly acquired." I also know that those magnificent

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

palaces, sumptuous edifices, and cities built at the expense of


exactions, rapine, sweat, and tears no longer hold their occupants.
I know what St. Paul said about those who do not subject themselves
to their superiors and who oppose their wills: they oppose not a
man's commands but God's, because of which they shall merit the
judgement of the unforgiving Lord, both here and in the life to come.
I know that it is forbidden to accuse, judge, or slander anyone and to
be boastful of one's greatness or wisdom, according to the words of
the Lord: liDo not judge" or "Hypocrite, first take the beam out of
your own eye, etc."
11. "'Now why should I enumerate one by one all the precepts
condemning my sins, precepts written down in Holy Scripture which
I am aware of and so realize my sinfulness before God? Because of
such an awareness, I fall on my knees before God and confess all my
sins, especially those of arrogance, hardness of heart, and inhumanity, together with my acts of rapine. Immaturity, hunger for
power, and the vain seductions of this life deceived me. Nevertheless,
even while committing all sorts of sins, I did not lose hope, nor did
my heart remain unrepentant; rather I desired to completely abandon
the vanities and seductions of this life. However, I did not drive
myself to take to heart the admonitions of the Lord until the moment
of my death. For previously I did not realize that his gentle admonitions were meant as a cure for me; now I have condemned myself and
have justified the Creator, because in small ways-through bodily
punishment, the premature death of my wife and children, my
various associates, strangers, etc.-he admonished me, thus transforming my unpardonable evil acts into something good. Nevertheless, after having been admonished in this way, I still persisted (in
my evil ways] and refused to correct myself, insolently and arrogantly
hardening my heart and being completely unaware that the benevolent God was mercifully calling me to repentance in spite of my
disobedience. I neither remembered nor brought to mind these
~admonitions], until I changed the benevolent mercy of the Creator
mto wrathful anger against my person. Now I know, miserable as I
am, that I shall be remembered as a person that has died and not as
a person that is to return to life, since the Lord of both death and life
is angered at me. Even the angels of heaven have turned their faces
from me, thus taking away the assistance and mercy of the Creator
from me. All men have developed a deep hatred for me, while my
mother and father have abandoned me through their deaths. The

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251

their deaths. The children of my own flesh, my associates-comrades


a~d soldiers---:all have dealt ~ith me ruthlessly. My neighbors, my
fnend~, my ~hlldhood compamons, and my children have rejected me,
becommg alienated from my love and completely forgetting about me.
Everyone has come to detest me as if I were a stranger and has
shunned me; moreover, they have abandoned me to die unremembered as an unransomed captive in the midst of the infidels. Thus 1
have been forgotten in the hearts of all as one who is dead, having
been swallowed up, shattered, and destroyed like an earthenware jar.
Now where is my hope, or what will the recompense be for the
intolerable afflictions [I have been subjected to] in this life? There is
no one who will have pity on my miserable soul in order to call me
back to the living or remember my name among the dead. No, not
one person will do these things for me. Thus everyone has come to
despise me deeply. For. although I have publicly, frankly, and
spontaneously revealed the wounds of my soul to all my brothers and
to the whole universe, yet I have been neither relieved nor delivered.
So I direct my supplications to my Lord and Creator, the unvengeful
father of all, to God; and like a prodigal and debauched son prostrate
before him who is both merciful and benevolent, I cry out saying:
Heavenly Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am
not worthy of your ring, sandals, and ineffable tunic; yet do not
separate me, do not remove me from all your earthly creatures,
[leaving me] to die alone. If I am indeed a living being. reveal it to
me and save me from destruction, for the depths of the abysses afe
not secrets for you and you are able to resurrect a person from the
dead. 0 Lord, 1 go to do penance right up to the last moment of my
sinful life. For now I have truly recognized and learned [the effects
oil your insufferable wrath, 0 my Creator, and how fearful it is to fall
in the hands of the living God. If I have died in sin and been
deprived of mortal life. then it is proper, 0 merciful God, that my
sinful soul has remained for so long in torments and afflictions,
forgotten in the prayers [of the living] and in the sacrifice [of the
divine liturgy]. Show me mercy, and perhaps my miserable soul will
be remembered and pitied. Do not bring upon me new and unheard
of torments in the midst of the living and the dead, for you are the
master over life and death, and so both life and death await your
command either to bring me forth or to conceal me. I know, 0 Lord,
that I have angered you by my innumerable and un~orgivable
sins-by sins I have committed against you and agamst man,
voluntarily and involuntarily, by thought, word, and deed, in my soul,

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

breath, body, mind, and all my senses; moreover, I ~ave been ke~t in
the fetters of sin all my life. Because of all thIS, once agam I
prostrate myself before you, 0 compassionate, merciful, and benevolent God. Have pity on me, abandoned and dead, and preserve me
whom you have created with your own hands; moreover, do not
entrust your forsaken servant to the mercy of men. For love of me
has disappeared from all hearts, pity for me has been extinguished
in all minds, my name has been taken away from mankind, my
memory has been effaced from the land of the living. You, 0 Lord,
are angered against me; no one will take pity on me, for all living
creatures wait upon you, the trnly compassionate and forgiving lover
of man. In whom can I put my trust? My father and mother left me.
My brother,1 for whom I had a genuine brotherly affection, 2 forgot his
fondness for me. He was absorbed in the cares of the world and in
earthly affairs, following my same wide, imprudent, and erroneous
path; moreover, it never occurred to him to think about or care for his
soul, notwithstanding my example of being an irredeemable captive
and hopeless loss.
12. 'Now do not reject me completely, do not forsake me, do not
leave me in this destructive state, 0 my God. My God, do not turn
your face from me, do not punish me because of your anger, do not
reprimand me because of your indignation, do not judge your condemned servant, and finally do not allow me to be afflicted with
unseen torments in order to serve as an example to all of creation.
I swear, heaven and earth and angels and men being my witness,
that I will never again walk on the path leading to debauchery and
destruction and will never again transgress your commandments; I
swear to do all this, hoping that you will have mercy on me this time
and forgive the many sins of my second period of dissoluteness, if I
am allowed to return to the living at another time. However, if I
have indeed been condemned to die [without any hope of redemption],
then you must take pity on me, 0 benevolent and ever-merciful God'
for in hell no one can acknowledge you and none of the dead can bles~
you. Show me to the righteous and reveal my unworthy soul to your
worthy servants, so that through their prayers I may obtain mercy.
For I know that at present no one at all thinks about me, who has
be~n co~pletely forgotten in regard to your benevolence. 0 Lord,
bemg gneved at me and tUrning their faces from me in anger heaven
and ~arth and angels and men are provoked against me.' All of
creation looks at me askance and menacingly, for death has fled from
II

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253

me and life has departed from me. The earth, trembling at your
frightful commands, did not receive me in its bosom and did not give
me a place for my tomb, so that my name could be read over some
plot of ground. Now, if the inanimate and irrational elements have
detested and rejected me to this extent and have excluded me from
the midst of creation, who is it among men who will have mercy on
me? So turn away, 0 Lord, from your anger and incline your face to
my sins; look at me favorably and benevolently. Yea Lord, yea Lord,
Holy Father, yea Savior of the world, yea compassionate and
benevolent Holy Spirit, have mercy on a pitiable person such as me.
o Holy Trinity, by the intercession of the Holy Theotokos, by the
prayers of the apostles, prophets, and all the saints who since the
beginning of the world have been pleasing in your eyes, take pity on
me who is lost and reveal me dead or alive, 0 God of the living and
the dead, glory to you forever and ever, Amen.'
13. "Now we have drafted and written up this pleading confession
and prayerful words on behalf of the abandoned captive and forgotten
dead person, our beloved prince, Sire1 Baldwin. We do not cease to
plead with the same voice, calling out to God and to his saints until
they take pity and mercifully soothe our tormented mind, which has
been subjected to all sorts of punishments because of his sins and
ours. 0 you who hear this discourse against arrogance-a discourse
we have written on behalf of him and concerning him in the form of
a public, frank, and solemn confession (which is the proper thing for
true penitents to do according to the precepts of the Creatorstrengthen yourselves against sin through confession before him .who
knows the thoughts and actions of all men, so that, mollified, he
might forgive you completely.
14. "You leaders and those of you who live under their authority
and also you soldiers, do not disavow God and remain indifferent [to
the fact] that the unsleeping eye of God, who is righteous in his
judgement and who sees the punishment of this man, can spare you.
Bring to mind the divine threat which states: 'The cypress laments
because the cedar has fallen.' Listen to similar words as these
spoken by the Lord to the incorrigible and disobedient Israelites: 'Do
you think that those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other
Galileans because Pilate had mingled their blood with their sacrifices,
or do you think that those eighteen who were killed by the tower
were worse offenders than all the people living in Jerusalem? I tell

254

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

you, no, for unless you repent, you will all perish in the same
manner. 11
15. "Now, knowing all this, watch over yourselves, 0 despots, 0
princes! For a very violent and impartial judgement awaits those
who are despots, l both here and in the afterlife. You do not wish to
listen to what Scripture says, and you do not openly declare your sins
through a confession similar [to the one you came to hear]. Nevertheless, my words have been written down in order to glorify and
assuage Baldwin and to serve as an admonition and reprimand to
people [such as you]. Now all of Baldwin's sins have been forgiven,
and he has been made whole through his ceaseless confession and
afterwards through the shedding of his blood in the great battle. On
that day he was cured of arrogance and deceit to such an extent and
with such humility that he humbled himself before all, before his
cavalry troops as well as his foot soldiers, speaking to them in gentle,
amiable, and compassionate tenns. Moreover, he referred to all as
sons of God and as his true brothers. He called the leaders, lords,
and nobles by name. He trained his troops, exhorted them, emboldened them, and encouraged them as a victorious athlete and intrepid
champion would. He made the rounds, visiting his troops, and
strengthened them with his vigorous and awe-inspiring voice. He
addressed everyone by name, [exhorting them] in the name of bravery
and crying out: 'Long live our warriors, my brave soldiers! Long live
the good fortune and days of grace given to us-a little more effort
and we will gain the victory; do not shun, on the day of battle, from
seeking a blessed death for the sake of Christ and dying in the
defense of Christians.' In this manner he strengthened and reassured his soldiers placed outside the camp. Then, entering into the
midst of their ranks, he first brought to task those who were ready
to desert out of fear and those who were about to flee and hide; then
he showered praise upon those who were brave. Moreover, he took
away the weapons of the cowardly men and of those with stunted and
withered hands; he seized and snatched these weapons from them
and put them into the hands of valiant men. He gave to some and
took from others. Mter all this, like a defiant lion, he ran off to
another place. All night and all day his frightful roars and loud cries
filled the camp from one end to the other, so that no ear was able to
hear as brave a voice as Sire2 Baldwin's anyWhere else; moreover, no
eye was able to see as rapid a moving about as his. However, his
voice finally died out as well as his natural strength, when he was on

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255

his horse and his visor over his face became rusty-colored with the
redne~s of the vapo~s of his heart-as was reported by some people.
In thIS manner hIS hardness of heart and his arrogance were
eliminated and effaced.
16. "The merciless nature of his heart was redeemed on that day,
because by his compassion and commiseration he agonizingly suffered
for those he saw perish miserably. It was because he wished to be
with these that he also perished. The injustices to which he
mercilessly subjected others he himself experienced from all his allies
on that day of combat; for the leaders and all the troops who had
come to his aid abandoned him at the most critical time of the battle
and withdrew, no one taking pity on him or turning back to find out
what had become of their supreme chief and illustrious soldier. It is
quite obvious then that none of his troops perished or were captured
with him and no one saw him. We cannot say that his death was due
to the maliciousness or willfulness of his troops, but rather was
caused by the necessity to expiate the faults and injustices which he
had accumulated over a very long period of time; as we mentioned
before, he found the opportunity for such an expiation on this day by
becoming a victim of these very same faults and injustices.
17. liThe blood which had so profusely flowed at the time when the
vile and perfidious Vasil1 came to this land was redeemed by the sole
effusion of Baldwin's blood, which he willingly shed for the Christians
who left the scene of action and were saved. All those who escaped
openly declared that they were saved, first by the grace of God and
secondly by the actions of the man Sire2 Baldwin. Now, seeing that
he died in that battle, he has obtained remission of all his sins from
the Lord, and on the frightful day of judgement, when all the
righteous will receive their recompense, he will be crowned by God
together with the pious princes and brave martyrs; for we know and
believe that this is the fate of those among the Christians who fall in
battle by the sword of the infidels. If he was still living and if his
reputation for bravery was known, his fame would spread throughout
the whole universe day after day, until the end of time.
18. "Now we have written this long disclosure concerning Baldwin
so that none of his malevolent enemies and spiteful detractors will
criticize or slander us for writing a foolish and sycophantic work. Of
all the discourses we have spoken or written during his lifetime, none

256

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

have been on his abandonment in death and irretrievable loss, As


long as he was alive, he never heard any gentle or eulogizing words
from us; on the contrary, we admonished and threatened him, so that
he might continually feel remorse in his heart. Even if it happened1
that he was brought back to life or was still alive, he still would not
grasp what we have written. Now we have recounted the day of the
combat and his destruction, having obtained these details not merely
from ten or twenty persons but from all, and especially from his
enemies and from the Latin2 troops. The real reason for our prolixity
is that we had a spiritual love for him, which is natural for those who
serve God and which was reciprocated by him. After his death we
felt obliged, in return for his unbounded love towards us, to show our
love for this man who was snatched away from life. This celebrated
and illustrious prince, whose domains extended from the city of
Antioch to the confines of Melitene and who was lord over so many
troops and regions, did not even have a tomb [in which to rest his
soul]. At present he is not remembered among the dead, nor does he
appear among the living. No one rings the bells for him; his name is
not remembered in any church; divine liturgy is not said for his soul,
nor is there even a simple commemoration of mercy on his behalf in
this land. Necessities are not distributed to the poor-neither kids
nor money. No one remembers him, no one takes pity on him.
Moreover, during his lifetime he never had any tranquility or any
joyful experiences; on the contrary, from the very beginning of his
childhood days he experienced all sorts of tonnents, hallucinations,
and pains, which continued through his youth. He became a victim
of demons, his enemies, men with unbridled worldly power, and
treacherous fellow-princes. Now he has perished through death
without leaving a memory behind; moreover, his name and the love
which he had has been effaced and removed from the whole world
and from the hearts of both strangers and friends.
19. "When I see this bitter and cruel fate which has overtaken
him, I become choked with tears and do not know what to do or how
to help as I stretch out my hand to this beloved friend who is drowning. Seeing no one sympathetic to my grief, I have turned to God as
my refuge, to him who alone is merciful and benevolent who does not
desire the death of the sinner and does not rej oice o~er the loss of
S?yone. Now, we have written this confession and these supplicatIOns on behalf of Baldwin and also on our own behalf Moreover in
thi
. ,
s same manner and m all places we do not cease continually crying

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257

out ~n the presence of. the merciful and almighty God, who was angry
at hIm and at us untIl he became reconciled through his mercy and
revealed himself to this dead or living prince. Now I beseech all of
you p~op~e who listen to this funeral oration, do not disdain, reject,
or be Indifferent to our pleas on his behalf. Do not hold any rancor
for this man who is no more, but pray to the supreme judge and
creator God that he might have mercy on him and forgive the sins
which he committed against both God and man. In this way the
almighty creator God, through the intercession of the Holy Theotokos
and the supplications of the holy saints, will have mercy on him and
forgive all his sins, both great and small; finally the Lord will bless
you in body and soul and will make you worthy of the kingdom of
heaven together with all the saints in Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom
be glory forever, Amen."
20. At the beginning of the year 598 [1149-1150] the prince of
Antioch, the abandoned brother of Baldwin, was killed. His death
was caused by the arrogance of his own people, who conceitedly
resolved to war against the enemy without being certain of the
conCUITence of the other Christian forces who were [in the East] at
that time. Thus, not only were they crushed and their leaders
annihilated, but a goodly number of Christians [were killedP
21. On this same day the son of Zengi, called Niir-ad-DIn1 by his
own people, a name which according to their infamous religion
signifies "the light of the faith," put some to the sword and led others
into captivity, together with the important personages of the bloodbuilt city of Aleppo, who were accustomed to a life of ease. In the
same year, when the Christians had no other illustrious personage
over them than Count Joscelin, during this prince's rule once again
the dread of infidel violence against the holy church increased. The
ruler of the Ishmaelites, called Mas'iid,2 came forth on the Feast of
the Holy Cross. Laying siege to the city of Marash, he captured it in
a very short time, for the citadel did not have a garrison. He invaded
the territory of T'il Aweteats', which today is called Tell Bashir, and
as he passed through, put the inhabitants of all its districts to the
sword. Many Muslims deceitfully swore to the Christians in the
name of the great God [that they would not hanD. them in any way]
and so got them to leave their stronghold, after which they led them
all into captivity. The lord of the land, Joscelin, met up with Mas'iid
near the town of Tell Bashir, but could not do anything against him.

258

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

So Mas'ud returned to his country, taking with him the captives he


had seized. 3 Once again the count made no preparations to countel'
the enemy, neglecting to summon his cavalry forces and forgetting
that he had ever been defeated. So he sent the remainder of bis
troops with the benevolent and pious prince Vasil, brother of the
catholicos and lord of Gargar, for the purpose of carrying provisions
with his men and bringing them under cover. Now, when the
Ishmaelites learned in advance [of this expedition], they marched
forth under the command of their chief Kara Arslan, who was the
lord of the territory of Handzit' and many other districts. The
Muslims fell upon the Christian forces and made them all prisoners
-about four hundred persons. They also took prisoner Vasil, the
catholicos's brother, and brought him to the great fortress of Gargar ,
for his wife and children were there. The inhabitants of Gargar
obtained a sincere oath from the emir concerning the captive
Christian troops who were taken prisoner; he swore that they would
be allowed to peacefully return to their country without their being
subjected to any treachery. This despot, lured by the desire to
possess this important place, did not hesitate to keep his oath and so
had all [the fonner prisoners] conducted as far as Samosata under
the diligent care of his troops. As for prince Vasil, the emir took him
to his own country, treating the Armenian with great honor and
giving him lands as if he were his own beloved brother. After this
the Christian troops, weakened and in disorder, passed from
Samosata to Kesoun.
In the meantime the rumor spread everywhere that Joscelin (who
at that time was regarded as the leader of the Christians), on route
to Antioch in order to obtain aid for a campaign he was planning,
alone of all his troops fell into the hands of the enemy through divine
vengeance. In the Bame way in the days of old the son of David,
fleeing from his father because of his evil intentions [against him],
was punished at the behest of God [through his being trapped] by his
own hair. David, who was pleasing in the eyes of God, was avenged,
for bis rebellious son was suspended from the branches of a tree until
one of the enemy pursuing him came and cut off his head with a
sword.4 The same punishment befell Joscelin, since he also worked
in opposition to the will of God. He was taken prisoner by the
hideous and ferocious detester of Christ and brought to the city of
Aleppo; all the Muslims far and wide were in ecstatic joy [over his
capture]. Gravely imperiled by this capture, the Christian territories
[in the East] were ruined, for they no longer had a leader on whom

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259

the remnants of their forces could lean for support. 6


22. In the year previous to this, on the 30th of January on Monday
morning, frightful thunder and lightning fell from the sky, and the
normal functioning of nature was disrupted. The cross which bore
God and which the invincible champion of Christ, the sebastus1 Vasil,
during his reign had placed on the dome of the Church of the Holy
Resurrection at Karmir-Vank', burned like a [bright] flame. This was
the fifth miracle which happened to this glorious cross, and it was not
regarded by the sages as a good omen, but one presaging the ruin
and destruction of the Christians-an eventuality which did indeed
take place.
23. In this same year on the day of Pentecost, when everyone
anticipated the coming of the Holy Spirit, the aforementioned sultan
Mas'lld arrived at the head of a formidable army. Through the
ringing of bells, the flashing of swords, and the clashing of myriads
of lances, the sultan caused all of us onlookers who were in the town
of Kesoun to tremble and quake. Terrified, the inhabitants immediately surrendered the town of Kesoun, after having obtained a
guarantee of safety from Mas'lld and his son. Mter eight days the
inaccessible and impregnable Behesni [surrendered], and the fourth
day after this, the celebrated Raban. After this the sultan went to
the territory ofTen Bashir, which he had ruined and devastated the
year before. He remained here for a number of days, but was unable
to be victorious over the place, for the count's son was in the town
defending it with his father's troops; moreover, the inhabitants of the
place were united behind him and, being greatly encouraged [by the
whole situation], became strengthened in their will [to resist]. Even
though the infidels used every means at their disposal, including the
employment of war machines, [they were unable to defeat them]. So
once again, beaten and grieved at not having taken the town, Mas'lld
returned to his country. Now those territories, which he had taken
from the Christians, he turned over to his son, whom he had
designated as his successor and whose name was Kilij Arslan. 1
24. In the year 600 of the Armenian era [1151-1152], on the 23rd
of the month of Nawasard, red snow fell in the district of Jahan. On
this same day when red snow fell here, white snow mixed with ashes
fell on the country of the Christians, as had happened the previous
year.

260

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

25. Mter this year the troops and townspeople who lived in Tell
Bashir, after a year of patiently enduring all sorts of ~ardships,
[found themselves in dire straits]. When the son of Zengl, who was
the lord of Aleppo, learned of this, he marched against them with his
troops. Now, because they had no hope of assistance from anywhere,
the townspeople, obtaining an oath of amnesty, voluntarily surrendered the fortress-town of Tell Bashir. They also stipulated that the
Christians who were in the town-whether Franks or Armenians-if
they so wished, would be allowed to go to Antioch or to some other
place and would be taken there unharmed under the specific orders
of Niir-ad-Din. Niir-ad-Din faithfully carried out this agreement, as
had Sultan Mas'iid and his son Malik; for in this matter these men
were motivated by the desire to possess the land which they so easily
took from the Christians, rather than by any sympathy for their faith
or any love for them.
26. During the time of the younger Joscelin, a young man called
T'oros l appeared, a person who had no other help except the strength
of the solicitous Creator, who mercifully provides for mankind
century after century in accordance with his own will, following the
words of the apostle which state: "I have mercy on whomever I wish
and harden my heart2 to whomever I wish." 3 As he did in regard to
the blessed Paul, whom he called from on high to serve him in mind
and deed, God did the same to this man. The generous will of God,
who never refused to give the bounties of his mercy to anyone, took
into consideration the hopes and efforts of T'oros, and so after a short
while this Armenian prince gained control of his paternal lands. He
was the son of the sebastus Leon, the illustrious and sagacious son of
Constantine, son of :Ruben. Being mighty and valiant in battle,
T'oros not only took possession of his paternal lands, but also gained
control of more fortresses and towns than his predecessors had
possessed. Seeing this [success], a certain Roman named Andronicus4
came to have a deep jealousy for T'oros, going so far as to refuse to
recognize his title of Armenian prince. This man had been sent by
the Greek emperor Manuel5 as governor of the great city of Tarsus
~nd of Mamistr.a. Since then he never ceased despising and harassmg the Armemans, who through God's foresight gathered around
T'oros for support. Andronicus then made war on them and caused
them to suffer a great deal. The Annenians in turn because of their
affe~tion ~or and fear of the Greek empe~or, did' not dare battle
agamst hIm, but rather ceaselessly pleaded with him to be allowed

CONTINUATION

261

to maintain their allegiance to him [and to the empire]. Nevertheless, Andronicus refused to listen to the Armenians and arrogantly
came and descended upon the town of Mamistra. Now T'oros
beseeched him with many entreaties, saying: "I am a vassal of the
emperor and of you; do not be angry [at us]." On the other hand, the
inhabitants inside the town cried out: "We have with us the chains
we used to imprison your father; we can fetter you with those very
same chains."8 When this valiant man [Toros] was no longer able to
tolerate Andronicus's arrogant and haughty attitude, relying on the
strength of Christ who had raised him from insignificance to a
position of some importance, he breached the walls of the town of
Mamistra during the night. In the morning he went against the
Greek forces in battle and, striking them, defeated them and put
them to flight-about twenty thousand men. He consumed them with
the sword and at the twinkle of an eye felled them all to the ground.
At the height of the battle the Armenians took prisoner Oshin, the
lord of Lambron, and Vasil, the lord of Bardzraberd and brother of
Tigran,7 as well as many other officers [of the Greek army]; they
despoiled them all, but alas let the cowardly Romans go. A great
deal of blood was shed during this battle. So T'oros very easily
gained control of the town of Mamistra, forcibly capturing it from this
effeminate man; in this way he avenged his father, whom Andronicus
had deprived of his hereditary lands and exiled together with his
family to the West. Now this treacherous Andronicus, unable to
accept the outrageous treatment he had been subjected to and also
the loss of both his officers and troops, fled to the Greek emperor and
complained of what the Armenian forces had done to him-a
predicament which was no one's fault but his. In the meantime the
great Taros, conducting the officers and other captives he had taken
prisoner, peacefully entered his town, laden with a tremendous
amount of gold and silver, various chattels, battle equipment which
he had seized from the Greek troops, and numerous horses and
mules. 8

27. After this great victory and prosperous situation [achieve~ by


T'oros] calumnious Satan began to incite the powers that be agamst
the A~enian forces. The Greeks, who never ceased seeking means
to avenge [the affront to] the person of their caesar, sent a tremendous amount of money to Sultan Mas'ud, who was leader of aU the
Muslims. This sultan, bribed by the numerous gifts of the Greeks,
marched forth with a tremendous anny, first passing through his own

262

MATTHEW OF EDESSA

territories and striking fear into the hearts of the Armenians [living
there]. However through the grace of God the Armenian forces took
courage and advanced towards the mountains separating t~eir
territories from those of the infidels, feeling secure and not worrYIng
about the tremendous number of the infidel forces. When the infidels
saw the boldness of the Christians, surprised and amazed, they said:
"What sort of men are these who expose themselves to death, coming
against us to give battle?" Now, as these infidels were reflecting
upon this situation, suddenly by an act of heaven the Turkish sultan
sent envoys to the Armenian general T'oros,! saying: "We have not
come to ravage your country; merely declare your obedience to us and
return the territory which you forcibly seized to the Greek emperor,
and we will consider you our beloved son." Hearing these words, the
Armenians were filled with great joy and glorified the Lord of the
universe, who had mollified the unbridled and imperious nature of
the sultan to such an extent that now, treating them as his close
comrades, [Mas'ud] sought an alliance of friendship with the
Annenian troops. Mter having detained the sultan's messengers for
a number of days, the Armenians sent him their envoy, who said:
"We voluntarily undertake to submit to you as we would to a king, for
you are not envious of our progress nor do you ravage our country;
but to hand over our land to the Roman [emperor], that is impossible." When the sultan heard this, he was not disturbed; on the
contrary, drawing up a treaty of peace and friendship confirmed by
an oath, he had it sent to the Armenian troops through one of his
messengers, thus scoffing at the Greek emperor and his money. So
Mas'ud returned to his own country without harming anyone. Now
all this occurred in the year 602 of the Armenian era [1153-1154].
28. Three years after this the emperor sent various other gifts of
gold and silver to the sultan-more than the previous time-and said:
"Go, a?pease.the anger raging in my heart against the Annenians;
demohsh theIr fortresses, set fire to their churches and command
~heir whole country be consigned to the flames-all s~ that the anger
In my heart may subside." Having received these many gifts, the
Bultan once more marched forth and came at the head of a larger
army than before,. arriving at Mamistra and from there going to
Anazarba. Not bemg able to accomplish what he had intended, he
c~e to T~ll :aamdun and remained there for a number of days
WIthout bemg able to cause any destruction. In the meantime the
sultan sent one of his son Malik's chief officers, whose name was

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263

Ya'qub-a wicked and malicious man-to make an incursion into the


territory of Antioch with a detachment of three thousand men. When
Ya'qub's troops passed through a place called DUrn,l suddenly as if
sent from heaven some of the Christ-like Templars2 together with
Stephen, the brother of general T'oros, fell upon the infidels and
annihilated all of them to the last man. Their chiefYa'ql1b, having
received a lance through his liver, gave up his life after wailing cries
and much suffering. When the [infidel] army learned of this, they
trembled with fear; moreover, their horses were stricken with a
disease from heaven, one which they themselves call tapax,3 and from
which many more horses died than remained [alive]. Now, when the
Turkish officers saw this, they all turned in flight, comrades not
waiting for their fellows, and brothers for their brothers. Many of
them cut the tendons of their horses and mules. Moreover, they
threw away their arms while in flight and, cutting their way and
passing through marshy areas and difficult places, took the wrong
routes. Eminent ftlijibs 4 and a large number of chief officers fled on
foot through fear of God on high, for they had no fear of men. In the
meantime the Armenian troops had made incursions into infidel
territory and so returned to their country laden with much booty. On
their return the Armenians realized the unexpected service the
fearfulness of the mighty God had rendered them, putting the infidels
to flight and forcing them to retrace their steps, humiliated, defeated,
and shamed-like the feeble fox escaping from the royal lion. So,
trembling and quaking, the infidels ran, thinking that a great
number of cavalry forces were after them in hot pursuit and were
shedding a tremendous amount of blood; this is how the situation
seemed to these fugitives. 5
Now a similar situation had occurred at the town of Nisibis, when
Kavadh,9 the grandson of the Persian king Yazdgard, forgot the treaty
of friendship which his forebears had made with the Christians and,
full of rage, came with his Persian troops to ravage this country.
Spending many days7 and employing a tremendous amount of effort,
he demolished the fortifications of Nisibis. However, when his troops
wished to penetrate the town, 10, they suddenly caught sigh~ of ~he
holy patriarch James,s who was walking on the ramparts, looking like
a king dressed in purple, surrounded by the heavenly hos~s, and
carrying on his head a plank of Noah's ark. This plank was gwen to
him by an angel to compensate for the fatigue he experienced
climbing the mountain in order to see the ark. [Actually] the angel
did not allow him [to reach his goal], but turned back this holy man

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of God to his own cOWltry, giving him the plank as a sign of affection,
Now, when the Persian forces saw this spectacle, becoming horrorstruck, they were unable to approach the ramparts of the town, [the
ramparts] which they had demolished. At the same time punishment
[from heaven] came upon them. Swarms of bull-flies, wasps, and flies
attacked their horses, causing them to lunge forward impetuously
and break their reins; moreover, because of the density [of the
insects], no one was able to control his horse. Thus an insignificant
chastisement from heaven brought upon them a sudden calamity
such as this, just as in former times the mighty right hand of God
had struck the Egyptians on behalf of the Israelites. So, after this
humiliating defeat caused by the grace of Christ and the prayers of
the holy patriarch James, the Persian king turned back; for the Lord
fulfills the desires of those who fear him. Now this incident is no
different from the event which has occurred at present and which we
have witnessed with our own eyes. [Returning to our original
narrative], all the Turks moved against T'oros and his troops twice,
but were unable to do anything, in spite of the bribes they had
received from the Greek emperor to turn to ashes the cross and the
church which were objects of outrage and contempt to them. If help
had not arrived from the [mighty] arm which was displayed on the
cross, our enemies would have been able to carry out the orders of the
heretics, destroying the holy church and devastating our cOWltry from
top to bottom. Now we have remained in peace, while they have
departed in flight and in great humiliation, as we recounted previously.
29. Mter all this, when their malicious projects were not brought
to fruition, they began to adopt a more peaceful policy. Kilij Arslan,
who was placed on the throne of the sultanate1 by his father, the
great sultan, [immediately devoted himself to executing this policy].
So the Annenians lived in security and happiness for a while,
glorifying the most Holy Trinity in conjunction with ascetic and
chaste bishops, holy priests, and groups of monks whose arms were
alw~yS extended [to heaven in prayer]. Now, when the enemies of
Christ began to penetrate the territories of T'oros in order to attack
Tell ~amdiin- which occurred on the 16th of the month of Tre-a
violent-sounding formidable wind arose. Many trees were pulled up
b~ the roots, and hail fell on many areas, hitting grainfields and
VIneyards. On the twenty-fIfth day of the same month of Tre another
serious and Bevere calamity came upon the whole land, lasting for

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265

three (consecutive] nights and very much like what had happened at
Nineveh. This fearful phenomenon began at the first hour of the
night and lasted until dawn. Contrary to the usual functioning of
nature in this season, a gloomy darkness appeared, very much like
the obscure darkness which fell upon Egypt. The clouds collided,
giving forth bursts of thunder just like solid and diamond-like
mountains striking one another. Flashes of lightning enveloped the
vault of the sky, and there was no portion of the heavens that did not
have lightning accompanied by strong winds. Who would have been
able to calmly witness with his own eyes these frightful and incessant
convulsions of nature? In this manner, for three (consecutive] nights,
people were seized with fear at this spectacle. Everyone-men,
women, aged, and children-rushed into the houses of God, invoking
the intercession of the Mother of our Lord and all the Saints with
fear, bitter tears, and deep sighs. Finally merciful God took pity on
his creatures and stopped this threat of [impending] destruction
directed against the unrepentant and the befuddled unfaithful. Now
this calamity occurred in the year 603 of the Annenian era (11541155]. Up to this point we have recounted what we have heard and
seen with our own eyes.

30. Mter this, when the Turkish sultan (Mas'l1d] returned,


humiliated, to his own country, he lived for only ten months, for the
pleas of the innocent slain and hopeless captives reached the ears of
the Lord of hosts. Falling sick, the sultan summoned his son Kilij
Arslan and, descending from his throne, prostrated himself before his
son in the presence of the important personages of his court. He
placed his crown on Kilij Arslan's head and then expired, leaving his
son all his vast territories. This occurred in the year 604 of the
Armenian efa [1155-1156]. The [deceased] sultan also had two other
sons, one of whom was generous to all and had a more comely face
than his brother, the sultan. The sultan began to think. that perhaps
this brother did not agree with him, and so he feared him; moreover,
his brother's body had a stronger build than his. Encouraged by
certain people, one night during a time of feasting and merriment,
the sultan strangled and killed his brother. His youngest brother for
a time submitted to him like a beloved son but [later], out of fear of
him) fled to his own fortified towns of Gangra1 and Ankara and never
again saw his brother. Not only did Kilij Arslan kill his brother, but
also many of the important personages of his court, as well as some
emirs, his father's chief minister2 Paghtain,3 and his father's khati. 4

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

Now when the great emir Yaghi-Basan,6 who was the son of the emir
n-Ghazi and lord of Sebastia and Cappadocia, saw what was going
on he was not pleased with the sultan's actions. So, gathering
to~ether a goodly number of cavalry forces, he entered the district of
Lycandus6 and transported the Christians of the area to his territories by their own free will; moreover, he seized the fortified town of
Larissa. Yaghi-Basan did all these things on behalf of his nephew,
who had enmity towards Kilij Arslan.
When all this became known to Kilij Arslan, he gathered together
his father's forces, as well as a large number of cavalry troops, and
marched against Yaghi-Basan. When the two armies came face to
face, their misguided imams mediated between them over an
extended period of time and thus prevented the two sides from
battling one another. So for a time both sides made a feigned peace
and returned to their respective territories. This situation lasted for
two months, during which neither a treaty of peace was established
nor a solution through combat sought. Now after all this YaghiBasan marched forth and secretly came to the district of Jahan, to its
chief town Aplast'a. As the character of man becomes rooted in its
evil ways from childhood, in like manner the sultan forgot the
compassion that dominated his father's reign. So, hearing ofYaghi's
march, Kilij Arslan eagerly and boastfully went forth to wreak
vengeance on the land which had nurtured him. When Yaghi learned
of his coming, he gathered together the whole population of the
land-about seventy thousand persons-and took them to his
territories by their own free will. The sultan was unable to catch up
with Yaghi in this land, for the latter had taken a circuitous route in
withdrawing with the Christians. Then the sultan entered the
territory of Lycandus. The inhabitants of the area, disheartened
because of his frightful and tough behavior, voluntarily went over to
the side of the sultan, obtaining an oath from him that he would not
lead away anyone who had come to his support.
Now Yaghi-Basan, after having provided for the security of the
people whom. he had transported to his territories, came and
encamped agamst the sultan, the front lines of each army facing one
anot~er. [O~ce again] their religious leaders prevented them from
wamng agaInst one another. Nevertheless, after a number of days
the .sultan, ~~l of rage, came against Yaghi in full force, but once
~gaIn the religIOUS leaders fell at his feet, beseeching him and saying:
Do not exterminate the Muslims." Yielding to their entreaties, the
sultan drew up a treaty of peace [which was discussed] article by

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267

article, but which did not stipulate the return of the expatriated
Christians. Now the sultan agreed to this for the following reason.
A certain man named Stephen, who was the brother of the sebastus
T'oros, came on the scene; this man, motivated by human stupidity
and treachery rather than by divine inspiration, was eager to
recapture the Christian territories from the infidels. However, his
brother would not give him any assistance, because his men had
slaughtered many Christians and had plundered and deprived their
compatriots of their property and possessions. These people did not
in the least resemble Christians, who must look after one another, as
they are taught in Scripture. It was because of all this that the
sultan felt constrained to come to the territory of Kesoun, over which
his father had gained control. The Christians, deprived of any
assistance and having learned of his coming, fled to those places
which were sparsely inhabited. The sultan, in turn, came and
subjugated the area without resistance, thus bringing it under his
domination. Moreover, he made peace with the king of Jerusalem,
the lord of Antioch, 7 and the victorious T'oros and then peacefully
returned to his realm. Now all this occurred in the year 606 of the
Armenian era [1157-1158], at the beginning of the month of August.
After this Kilij Arslan came to Berdus,8 which Stephen had taken by
force and thus .acted treacherously towards his brother T'oros, and
which as a gesture of friendship [T'oros] had handed over to the
sultan without his brother's consent. The sultan freed all the cavalry
and infantry troops stationed in the fortress, in recognition of T'oros's
obedience and in recognition of his handing over the stronghold.
31. Previous to this, in the year 605 [1156-1157] on the 26th of
November, an earthquake was felt throughout the whole land. Many
Muslim towns on the confines of Arabia, near Aleppo, collapsed to
their very foundations. However, the Lord has saved the Christians
from any harm right up to the present. The tremors continued
without interruption until the beginning of the following year, and it
was impossible to reckon their number during the fourteen months
[of the earthquake period].
32. In the year 606 of the Armenian era [1157-1158] on the second
of November a violent wind, accompanied by rain,l arose. In the
various places it hit, vineyards and grapes, laid out to dry, were
heavily damaged. N ow I will say a few words about the great and
impregnable fortress-town of Behesni. When Stephen came to the

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MATTHEW OF EDESSA

territory of Kesoun with ineffective troops and against his brother's


will, certain men called Qarmatians 2 joined up with him. Now the
sebastus T'oros was advised not to reach the point of having to
capture this fortress. We are not sure whether this advice had its
origin in the solicitude of God or in the jealousy of his brother. The
merciless and imperious despot, who was the lord of the fortress and
whose name I won't even consider writing down, went against the
orders of the sultan his sovereign, who had commanded him to treat
the Christians with benevolence. On the contrary, he inflicted all
sorts of afflictions and punishments, first on venerable priests and
deacons and then on responsible heads of households, as well as on
all the other Christian folk whom he tormented equally. Moreover,
he imposed very heavy taxes on the inhabitants of the renowned
Behesni. Thus no one could blame them when, in order to bring
about the death of this malicious and despotic person, these inhabitants summoned Stephen, hoping perhaps to effect a plot against the
hateful tyrant. However, this excellent plan came to naught, for a
certain person, betraying the Christians, disavowed the oath which
the inhabitants had taken among themselves and went and warned
the wicked despot not to go to the public baths, where death awaited
him. Never leaving his house, the tyrant heeded the man's advice,
who thus saved his miserable life. Mter this, roaring like a ferocious
animal thirsty for the blood of the innocent, this despot ordered all
those he could get his hands on to be tied by their feet and hands and
thrown down from a steep cliff. The Christians, witnessing the
performance of this criminal act and remembering the great calamity
which befell the city of Edessa, rushed to the side of the chief3 who
had come to their aid. He stood opposite the fortress with his troops,
contemplating the deaths which he was powerless to prevent. Then
this commander took all the men and women-aged and childrenwith him. These people voluntarily abandoned their property and
possessions, as well as their ancestral home in which from time
immemorial they had been born and raised and in which they had
been protected by pious rulers who treated them as their beloved
children. So Stephen took these people, accustomed to a life of ease
and comfort, and settled them in a disagreeable and inhospitable
land. Finally, bringing to mind the ruin of the divinely-protected
fortress of Behesni and the affiictions of the Christians the sultan,
in keeping with his wise nature, used every means at hi~ disposal to
replace the oppressor of the fortress-town. Mter this, due to the
benevolence of the sultan, the inhabitants of the place gradually

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269

returned, and this formerly depopulated and plundered town now


became inhabited once again.
33. What shall I say about the town of Kesoun, a word signifying
"elegant?"1 For the lord of the town, who was appointed as its
guardian and governor by the emperor, was unable to go forth from
the place and repulse any enemy coming against it. He and all those
under him, concocting a malicious plan, expelled from the town its
venerable priests, illustrious personages, and responsible heads of
households-including all the men [of the place], leaving behind only
the women and children. The only kind act of this chief was that he
had the families of these emigrants protected with care and without
any suspicion. On the other hand, the exiles, instead of living in
their high mansions or in their own homes, had to stay in villages
and monasteries. Those who were able to go off somewhere roamed
about and sat under the shade of trees or walls, waiting silently and
inertly for death and enslavement. Such fear as this caused them to
forget their exile and uneasy life. These extreme hardships lasted
from the month of Mareri to July, right up to the arrival of the great
sultan at Berdus, at which time the country recovered its tranquility,
and people returned to their homes.