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enveloping the entire wall space of the church in contrast to the more modest embellishment typical of medieval Armenian churches.22

A novel feature of the late eleventh century was the opening of Armenian relations with the Latin church, which unfolded over the next four and a half centuries against the backdrop of the twelfth-century papal policy of drawing the various 'schismatic' Eastern churches into union under Roman primacy. The first overtures in 1080 were extended by Pope Gregory VII to Catholicos Grigor II, who, according to some, had paid a prior visit to Rome.23 This contact inaugurated a rich and diverse range of ecclesiastical, theological, political and cultural interchange pursued in different parts of the Near East as well as via the Armenian communities in the west. As a result, it is probably true that westerners got to know the Armenians better than any of the other 'oriental' Christian confessions.

Direct contacts were established in the course of the First Crusade, during which Armenian princes like the Rubenid Kostandin I assisted the crusaders on their passage through Cilicia to Antioch, while T'oros, the Armenian Chal-cedonian ruler of Edessa, welcomed Baldwin of Boulogne into his city in 1098, which was soon to be transformed into a crusader county. An early rapport developed with the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099-1187), three of whose queens were of Armenian descent.24 A number of high-ranking Armenians went on pilgrimage in those years, including Catholicos Grigor III and his brother Nerses, who accompanied the papal legate Alberich to the synod of the cenacle in 1141/2 after participating in a similar gathering in Antioch. The same year also witnessed an amicable exchange of letters between Pope Eugenius III and the catholicos.25

This could not disguise the fact that the initiative in near eastern geopolitics had passed to Zangi, emir of Mosul, and his son Nur al-Din. The former made himself master of Aleppo in 1128 and then of Edessa in 1144, which provoked the Second Crusade (1147-48). Its failure prepared the way for Nur al-DIn's annexation of Damascus in ii54 and then of Egypt in ii69. His success persuaded Armenians, such as Mleh, brother of Prince Toros, of the advantages of entente, so much so that Mleh accepted Islam and allied with Nur al-Din,

22 A. Lidov, The mural paintings ofAkhtala (Moscow: Nauka, 1991).

23 Kapoi'an-Kouymjian, Egypte, 11-13.

24 Baldwin I married Arta, daughter of the Rubenid prince T'oros I, and their daughter Melisende in turn married Fulk ofAnjou, while Baldwin II married Morphia, daughter of Gabriel of Melitene.

25 A.-B. Schmidt and P. Halfter, 'Der Brief Papst Innozenz II an den armenischenkatholikos Gregor III: ein wenig beachtetes Dokument zur Geschichte der Synode von Jerusalem (Ostern 1141)', Annuarium Historiae Conciliorum 31 (1999), 50-71.

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