who himself had married an Armenian princess. Returning from exile on his brother's death, he seized power with Zangid support and led a mercurial reign, first defeating the combined forces of Antioch and Jerusalem in 1172 and then regaining control of most of the Cilician seaboard from Byzantium in the following year. However, on Niàr al-Dîn's death in 1174 he fell victim to a palace coup. This tumultuous interlude underlines the unsettled tenor of Armenian life at the time, which is also reflected in the absence of any major work of art.

Monastic life

From the late ninth century the wealth of the Bagratid realm found expression in displays of piety through major donations by aristocrats and later by rich merchants. These fuelled a significant growth in Armenian monastic con-struction.26 In fact, most churches at this time were built within large monastic complexes which appropriated the secular structure of the gawit ' as an important space for the daily office, lectures, manuscript copying, burial, etc., and, as they expanded over the next four centuries, were gradually equipped with libraries, refectories and belfries, as well as oil and wine presses catering to their domestic needs.27 Scale was a key differential from the early period, the new cenobia sometimes housing hundreds of monks, their daily round often governed by the norms of St Basil's rule under the oversight of the class of vardapets (doctors of theology licensed to preach and teach), who were now entering their most influential phase in both responsibilities and prestige.28 Moreover, thanks to the generosity of their donors, these communities soon became powerful economic units rich in real estate, manpower and equipment (mills, etc.) in contrast to the caves or modest wooden structures of the past.29 These monasteries also became institutes of higher learning to an unprecedented degree, with a structured curriculum which concentrated on the elucidation of the Bible, patristic authors and a corpus of textbooks from Greek antiquity.30 Monastic scriptoria such as that of Skewray would rival the

26 VrejNersessian, The Tondrakian movement (London: Kahn and Averill, 1987), 74-5.

27 P. Donabédian,J.-M. Thierry and N. Thierry, Armenian art (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1989), 195-200.

28 S. P. Cowe, 'Armenological paradigms and Yovhannës Sarkawag's "discourse on wisdom" - philosophical underpinning for an Armenian renaissance?' Revue des Etudes Arméniennes 25 (1994-95), 137-43.

29 For the popular uprisings this wealth sometimes provoked, see Nersessian, The Ton-drakian movement, 76-7.

30 Paroyr M. Mouradyan, 'Les principes de la classification des livres en Armenie médiévale', in Armenian studies in memoriam Haïg Berbérian, ed. Dickran Kouymjian (Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1986), 591-600.

4ii seat of the catholicos at Hromklay in the exquisite quality of their copying and illumination.31 Outside the Armenian highlands and Cilicia, a series of Armenian monasteries was located on the Black Mountain near Antioch, which also sustained Greek, Georgian, Syrian and Latin communities in this period and hence encouraged international contacts. The most illustrious medieval Armenian monastic centre of higher learning at this time was founded at Glajor in the region of Siwnik', whose activities spanned the years 1280-1340. It gained such a reputation under its director Esayi Ncec'i that students came from all over the Armenian lands to study there.32

The patterns of spirituality practised in Armenian monasteries had significantly changed from the external asceticism of the earlier period to a more pronounced concern for interiority. In this it reflected a widespread preoccupation of the era also evidenced in Byzantium and in the developing sufi tradition of Islam, which in turn seems influenced by earlier Christian mystical writers like St Isaak of Nineveh.33 The fundamental creed of the sect of Tondrakites, moulded out of a Paulician matrix, may be viewed as an extreme manifestation of this approach. Its threat to a proper understanding of the economy of the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection provoked a multimedia response: from learned doctrinal treatises to the proliferation of a characteristically Armenian type of monument, the xaCk'ar, a large rectangular block of stone elaborately carved with a representation of the cross in an infinite variety of motifs.34 Persecution resulted in the sect going underground in inaccessible areas of the Armenian terrain and surfacing periodically as late as the nineteenth century.35 Others fled or were deported to the Armenian centre at Philippopolis in Bulgaria. Transforming their belief system in the course of their geographical migration, they influenced the views of later sects like the Bogomils and the Albigensians.36

31 Treasures in heaven: Armenian illuminated manuscripts, ed. T. F. Mathews and R. S. Wieck (New York: The Pierpoint Morgan Library, 1994), 68-74.

32 G. M. Grigoryan, Syunik'a (Orbelyanneri orok' (XIII-XV darer) [Siwnik' in the days of the Orbeleans (thirteenth-fifteenth centuries)] (Erevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1981), 241.

33 J. Baldick, Mystical Islam [New York University Studies in Near Eastern Civilization 13] (New York: New York University Press, 1989), 15-20.

34 Armenianfolk arts, culture, and identity, ed. L. Abrahamian and N. Sweezy (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), 60-70; Donabedian and Thierry, Armenian art, 123-4, 205-7, figs. 67-8, 89,105-7.

35 Nersessian, The Tondrakian movement, 89-96. A similar fate was met by the syncretistic sect of arewordik' [children of the sun], a part of which was reconciled to the church in the 1170s at Samosata by Nerses Snorhali.

36 Babken H. Harut'yunyan, Hayastanipatmut'yanaAas,Imas [Historical Atlas of Armenia, Part 1] (Erevan: Erevan State University 2004), 60.

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