in 1280 reflect the impact of Caliph al-Nasir's earlier reforms of similar Muslim organisations,70 while the christocentric allegorical poetry of Kostandin Erznkac'i from the late thirteenth century is the first to introduce the Persian love motif of the rose and the nightingale into Armenian literature, suggesting familiarity with sufi verse on mystical union with the divine beloved.71 Nevertheless, undercurrents of tension were also present, which led the Seljuqs to coordinate a series of anti-Armenian attacks with the Mamluk Sultan Baybars's campaign against Cilicia in the mid-i27os.72
The previous decade had witnessed the consolidation of Mamluk power in the Near East. The Mamluks seized control of Syria in 1260 and then threw back the Mongol armies, which included Armenian contingents, at the battle of Ayn jalut. For more than a century thereafter - until the final demise of the Cilician kingdom in 1375 - support for the Mongols and alignment with the west made the Armenians the special object of Mamluk wrath. During this period the Mamluks became the Armenians' main foe, leaving their stamp on the oral epic Daredevils of Sasun, in which the prime antagonist is Msra Melik' (King of Egypt). In typical epic fashion the conflict appears 'writ small', featuring the historical nexus of exorbitant tax impositions on the Christian population, the destruction of monasteries, Christian-Muslim family relations, etc.73
At the end of the thirteenth century the political and military situation turned decisively against the Armenians of Cilicia. The Jochid Mongols of the Golden Horde centred in Sarai on the lower Volga accepted Islam and made common cause with the Mamluks. In 1291 the latter captured Acre, the last mainland crusader outpost. The following year they attacked Hromklay, seat of the Armenian catholicate, and took the incumbent Step'anos IV into captivity. His successor, Grigor Anavarzec'i (i293-i307), was thus compelled to take up residence in the Cilician capital of Sis, where he found himself confronted with the ecclesiastical implications of King Het'um Il's diplomatic initiatives. The king's decision to betroth his two sisters, one into the Lusignan royal house of Cyprus and the other into the Palaiologan dynasty of Byzantium, raised questions of Christian unity.74 Anavarzec'i's call 'in these debased times'
70 D. A. Breebaart, 'The development and structure of the Turkish futüwah guilds', unpublished PhD thesis, Princeton University (1961), 52-68.
71 S. P. Cowe, 'The politics of poetics: Islamic influence on Armenian verse', Proceedings of the symposium redefining Christian identity: Christian cultural strategies since the rise of Islam (Leuven: Peeters, 2006)
73 Trans. L. Surmelian, Daredevils ofSassoun (Denver: A. Swallow, 1964), 142-8.
74 S. P. Cowe, 'Catholicos Grigor Anavarzetsi (1293-1307) and Metropolitan Step'anos Orpelian in dialogue', in UCLA International Conference Series on Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces: Cilicia, ed. R. G. Hovannisian (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, in press).
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