From the Byzantine reconquests to the battle of Mantzikert 9261071

The Byzantine army crossed the Euphrates between 873 and 883, and early in the tenth century the political influence of the empire was extended over the greater part of Armenia. Between the years 926 and 944, under the command of General John Courcouas (Armenian Gurgen), the Byzantine army, which included an important number of Armenians, seized Melitene (934) and advanced northward beyond Lake Van and southward to Syria. In 949 it

31 Martin-Hisard, "Christianisme et église," 561.

32 Mahé, "L'église arménienne," 513-17; Martin-Hisard, "Christianisme et église," 567-71.

occupied Karin and in 966 annexed the Armenian principality of Taron. Advancing through Cilicia, the Byzantines next occupied northern Syria and in 967-69 conquered Antioch. In 974 they entered Mesopotamia and in 975 moved into northern Palestine.

The conquest of Armenia and Syria was accompanied by the implantation of imperial orthodoxy and by the creation of Chalcedonian bishoprics. Together with the Melkite hierarchy, Greek and Bulgarian governors renewed persecutions of the predominantly miaphysite population. After the reconquest of Antioch, close imperial control over the Melkite Church was established. As earlier in Jerusalem, so now also at Antioch, Byzantine canonical practices and the Greek rite were imposed. In the course of the tenth century, the Byzantine rite celebrated in Greek prevailed also in Alexandria.

The occupied Armenian principalities were incorporated into the imperial provincial system. The new administration and its mercenary troops supplanted the hereditary rulers who had been the traditional defenders against the successive invasions of the country. The annexation of the Armenian territories by the empire was accompanied by forced extradition of the Armenian population to Cappadocia, a region decimated by Arab-Byzantine warfare. Thus Armenia was gradually deprived of its traditional administrative structure, of its confessional cohesion, and of a significant part of its population. Previously Armenia had often acted as a buffer state: its capacity for any resistance to future invasions was now drastically reduced. The politics adopted by the empire in Armenia thus facilitated the rapid Seljuk conquest of Asia Minor a century later.

Between the years 1011 and 1064, the Byzantine army gradually extended its hold over the larger part of Armenia, stoppingjust short of Duin. As the Seljuk Turks multiplied their incursions into the region, the Armenians and Syrians, unwilling to convert to the Chalcedonian faith, were regularly persecuted, particularly by Constantine IX Monomachus (1042-55) and Constantine X Ducas (1059-67). As a result, many Armenians deserted from the Byzantine army. In 1045, the Armenian king, Gagik II, was forced by the emperor to surrender his capital of Ani and to choose honorable exile. The next year, Catholicos Peter I was imprisoned by the Byzantines and subsequently brought to Constantinople. But it was easier for the Byzantines to take Ani from the Armenians than to defend it from the Turks: the former Armenian capital fell to the Seljuks in 1064. In 1071 the unprepared Byzantine army lost the battle at Mantzikert, and two years later the Turks began their systematic occupation of central Anatolia. This opened a new era of political and religious change in the Near East.

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