Greek in the Holy Offices relaxed the ecclesiastical dependence on Constantinople, which ceased entirely when the Patriarch, 491, refused to accept the decrees of the council of Chalcedon. The rule of the marzbans was marked by relentless persecution of the Christians, forced conversions to Magism, frequent insurrections and the rise to importance of the great families founded by men of Assyrian, Parthian, Persian, Syrian and Jewish origin, and in some cases of royal blood, who had been governors of districts, or holders of fiefs under the Arsacids. Amongst the marzbans were Jewish Bagratids and Persian Mamegonians; and one of the latter family, Vartan, made himself independent (571–578), with Byzantine aid. In 632 the victories of Heraclius restored Armenia to the Byzantines; but the war that followed the Arab invasion, 636, left the country in the hands of the caliphs, who set over it Arab and Armenian governors (ostikans). One of the governors, the Bagratid Ashod I., was crowned king of Armenia by the caliph Motamid, 885, and founded a dynasty which ended with Kagig II. in 1079. A little later the Ardzrunian Kagig, governor of Vaspuragan or Van, was crowned king of that province by the caliph Moktadir, 908, and his descendants ruled at Van and Sivas until 1080. The Bagratids founded dynasties at Kars, 962–1080, and in Georgia, which they held until its absorption, 1801, by Russia. From 984 to 1085 the country from Diarbekr to Melasgerd was ruled under the suzerainty first of Arabs then of Byzantines and Seljuks, by the Mervanid dynasty of Kurds, called princes of Abahuni (Ἀπαχουνῆς). The Arab invasion drove many Armenian noblemen to Constantinople, where they intermarried with the old Roman families or became soldiers of fortune. Artavasdes, an Arsacid, usurped the Byzantine throne for two years; Leo V., an Ardzrunian, and John Zimisces, became emperors; whilst Manuel, the Mamegonian, and others were amongst the best generals of the empire. In 991, and again in 1021, Basil II. invaded Armenia, and in the latter year Senekherim, king of Vaspuragan, exchanged his kingdom for Sivas and its territory, where he settled down with many Armenian emigrants. Basil’s policy was to make the great Armenian fortresses, garrisoned by imperial troops, the first line of defence on his eastern frontier; but it failed in the hands of his feeble successors, who thought more of converting heretical Armenia than of defending its frontier. The king of Ani, Kagig II., was compelled to exchange his kingdom for estates in Cappadocia. The country was raided by Seljuks and harried by Byzantine soldiers, and the miseries of the people were regarded as gain to the Orthodox church. After the defeat and capture of Romanus IV. by Alp Arslan, 1071, Armenia formed part of the Seljuk empire until it split up, 1157, into petty states, ruled by Arabs, Kurds and Seljuks, who were in turn swept away by the Mongol invasion, 1235. For more than three centuries after the appearance of the Seljuks, Armenia was traversed by a long Medieval Partition. succession of nomad tribes whose one aim was to secure good pasturage for their flocks on their way to the richer lands of Asia Minor. The cultivators were driven from the plains, agriculture was destroyed, and the country was seriously impoverished when its ruin was completed by the ravages and wholesale butcheries of Timur. Many Armenians fled to the mountains, where they embraced Islam, and intermarried with the Kurds, or purchased security by paying blackmail to Kurdish chiefs. Others migrated to Cappadocia or to Cilicia, where the Bagratid Rhupen had founded, 1080, a small principality which, gradually extending its limits, became the kingdom of Lesser Armenia. This Christian kingdom in the midst of Moslem states, hostile to the Byzantines, giving valuable support to the leaders of the crusades, and trading with the great commercial cities of Italy, had a stormy existence of about 300 years. Internal disorders, due to attempts by the later Lusignan kings to make their subjects conform to the Roman Church, facilitated its conquest by Egypt, 1375. The memory of Kiligia (Cilicia) is enshrined in a popular song, and at Zeitun, in the recesses of Mount Taurus, a small Armenian community has hitherto maintained almost complete independence. After the death of Timur, Armenia formed part of the territories of the Turkoman dynasties of Ak- and Kara-Kuyunli, and under their milder rule the seat of the Catholicus, which, during the Seljuk invasion, had been moved first to Sivas, and then to Lesser Armenia, was re-established, 1441, at Echmiadzin.
In 1514, the Persian campaign of Selim I. gave Armenia to the Osmanli Turks, and its reorganization was entrusted to Idris, the historian, who was a Kurd of Bitlis. Idris found the rich arable lands almost deserted, and the mountains Under Turkey. bristling with the castles of independent chieftains, of Kurd, Arab and Armenian descent, between whom there were long-standing feuds. He compelled the Kurds to settle on the vacant lands, and divided the country into small sanjaks which in the plains were governed by Turkish officials, and in the mountains by local chiefs. This policy gave rest to the country, but favoured the growth of Kurd influence and power, which by 1534 had spread westwards to Angora. Armenia was invaded by the Persians in 1575, and again in 1604, when Shah Abbas transplanted many thousand Armenians from Julfa to his new capital Isfahan. In 1639, the province of Erivan, which included Echmiadzin, was assigned by treaty to Persia, and it remained in her hands until it passed to Russia, 1828, under the treaty of Turkman-chai. The Turko-Russian War of 1828–29, which advanced the Russian frontier to the Arpa Chai, was followed by a large emigration of Armenians from Turkish to Russian territory, and a smaller exodus took place after the war of 1877–78, which gave Batum, Ardahan and Kars to Russia. In 1834 the independent power of the Kurds in Armenia was greatly curtailed; and risings under Bedr Khan Bey in 1843, and Sheik Obeidullah in 1880, were firmly suppressed.
After the capture of Constantinople, 1453, Mahommed II. organized his non-Moslem subjects in communities, or millets, under ecclesiastical chiefs to whom he gave absolute authority in civil and religious matters, and in criminal Gregorian Armenians. offences that did not come under the Moslem religious law. Under this system the Armenian bishop of Brusa, who was appointed patriarch of Constantinople by the sultan, became the civil, and practically the ecclesiastical head of his community (Ermeni millet), and a recognized officer of the imperial government with the rank of vizier. He was assisted by a council of bishops and clergy, and was represented in each province by a bishop. This imperium in imperio secured to the Armenians a recognized position before the law, the free enjoyment of their religion, the possession of their churches and monasteries, and the right to educate their children and manage their municipal affairs. It also encouraged the growth of a community life, which eventually gave birth to an intense longing for national life. On the other hand it degraded the priesthood. The priests became political leaders rather than spiritual guides, and sought promotion by bribery and intrigue. Education was neglected and discouraged, servility and treachery were developed, and in less than a century the people had become depraved and degraded to an almost incredible extent. After the issue, 1839, of the hatt-i-sheríf of Gül-khaneh, the tradesmen and artisans of the capital freed themselves from clerical control. Under regulations, approved by the sultan in 1862, the patriarch remained the official representative of the community, but all real power passed into the hands of clerical and lay councils elected by a representative assembly of 140 members. The “community,” which excluded Roman Catholics and Protestants, was soon called the “nation,” “domestic” became “national” affairs, and the “representative” the “national” assembly.
The connexion of “Lesser Armenia” with the Western powers led to the formation, 1335, of an Armenian fraternity, “the Unionists,” which adopted the dogmas of the Roman church, and at the council of Florence, 1439, was Roman Catholics. entitled the “United Armenian Church.” Under the millet system the unionists were frequently persecuted by the patriarchs, but this ended in 1830, when, at the intervention of France, they were made a community (Katoluk millet), with their own ecclesiastical head. The Roman Catholics, through the works issued by the Mechitharists at Venice, have greatly promoted the progress of education and the development of Armenian literature. They are most numerous at Constantinople, Angora and Smyrna.