together with their entourage, when they visited the local Mongol ruler later that year.
The Mongol authorities found it more difficult to maintain law and order and religious equilibrium, at a time when the conversion of the Ilkhan Ghazan to Islam in June 1295 meant that the religious landscape in Iran was changing rapidly.88 The Ilkhan banned Buddhist clergy from Iran and his commander Nawruz attacked Christian churches in Naxcawan, Artaz and Maragha, but was then punished for his excesses. This encouraged Het'um II to approach Ghazan in 1299 about easing the situation of non-Muslims who had been suffering unjustly.
Ghazan's brother and successor Oljeitu's religious transition is even more illustrative of the rapid pace of the changing balance of power. First he was baptised Nicholas in honour of the new pope, Nicholas IV. Then he accepted the Sunni creed, before finally adopting Shi'ite Islam.89 During his reign (130416) discrimination against Christians increased, provoking increased Armenian emigration to Cilicia and the Crimea. Forced conversions to Islam ensued, and new taxes were levied and regulations enacted, which according to a colophon of 1307 required Christians to wear a blue cloth so as to distinguish them in public.90 These measures gradually undermined the status of the naxarars or upper nobility, whose socio-political structure had provided Armenians with a form of regional cohesion since Parthian times. While some houses were compelled to leave their lands, others sought to maintain indirect control by transferring ownership to the bishop, who was normally a scion of the same house, since Islamic law protected a waqf or religious trust, which was not normally liable to tax impositions. In consequence, episcopal succession in several Armenian sees such as Erzkna (Erzincan) and Maku and the catholicates of Alt'amar and Caucasian Albania passed lineally within the same family for many generations through the institution ofthe prince-bishop (paronter).91 This
88 A salient factor in the Ilkhan Ghazan Khan's conversion was the need to maintain solidarity with elements within the Mongol army.
89 T. T. Allsen, Culture and conquest in Mongol Furasia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 36.
90 Levon Xacikyan (ed.), ZD dari hayerenjemgreri hisatakaranner [Colophons of fourteenth-century Armenian manuscripts] (Erevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1950), 46.
91 R. H. Hewsen, 'The Artsrunid house of Sefedinian: survival of a princely dynasty in ecclesiastical guise', Journal ofthe Society for Armenian Studies 1 (1984), 123-38.
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