The Armenian churchman most actively engaged at this time in inter-confessional contacts at the highest level was the young archbishop of Tarsos, Nerses Lambronac'i (1153-98). In his oft-quoted words, 'Spain and the East are limbs of the one Head, [as are] Greeks and barbarians, Armenians and Georgians, Syrians and Egyptians [Copts]. All are bound together in Him in spirit and have clothed themselves in Him through faith.'46 He led the Armenian delegation which was sent in 1197 to the Byzantine Emperor Alexios III Angelos and to the patriarch George Xiphilinos, with the intention of clarifying the religious issues associated with the emperor's initial willingness to grant Prince Levon of Cilicia a crown, thereby elevating his lands to the rank of kingdom. Discussions were prolonged to Pentecost, but concluded without issue. Moreover, it appears that the stimulus for Alexios's gesture was intelligence that negotiations towards the same end were already far advanced with the German emperor. Nerses was also involved in those talks, having been sent to greet Frederick Barbarossa in 1190 as he entered Cilician territory, only to learn of his untimely death.47 However, he profited by the occasion to render into Armenian the Latin ritual book sent by Pope Lucius III, as well as the coronation ordo, and St Benedict's rule.48 Around this time the Armenians also adopted the Latin episcopal mitre, ring and crosier, in the place of the Byzantine episcopal crown, which now devolved to regular priests.
That Cilician civil and ecclesiastical interests were focused on the German Empire and the papacy in the final years of the twelfth century is to be set against the backdrop of Byzantine reverses in Bulgaria, Serbia and Cyprus, which had claimed independence in 1184 and fell to the crusaders seven years later. All these gained imperial recognition after a formal submission to papal supremacy in the course of the 1190s. Armenia followed their precedent, Prince Levon (1198-1219) being crowned king on 6 January 1198 in the once Greek church of St Sophia in Tarsos, the largest in the realm, with Conrad of
46 Nerses Lambronac'i, Atenabanut'iwn vasn miut'ean eketec'woy ew cork' i hambarjumn K'ristosi ew i galust Hogwoyn Srboy [Synodal oration on church union and homilies on Christ's Ascension and Pentecost], ed. Mesrop Taliadean (Calcutta, 1851), 35.
47 Anoushavan Tanielian, Archbishop Nerses Lambronac'i''s commentary on Wisdom of Solomon', unpublished PhD thesis, Columbia University (2003), 34-5.
48 Nerses Akinean, Nerses Lambronac'i ark'episkopos Tarsoni keank'n ewgrakan vastakners [Nerses Lambronac'i, archbishop of Tarsus: life and literary achievements] (Vienna: Mxitarist Press, 1956), 284-8, 302-16.
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