This lecture will focus on a period of medieval Armenian history – eleventh to late thirteenth centuries – that was characterized by a gradual deterioration and break-down of its until then traditional social structure based on land-holding military families known as nakharars. In this context a number of new military men, mostly with no illustrious lineage and/or previous connection to certain specific regions, rose to power. As they sought ways of legitimizing their control of recently conquered land and resources in various parts of historical Armenia, marriage alliances and, hence, the building of new family networks via women acquired increasing importance. This is especially true in the case of wives that came from older, prestigious dynasties which had lost or were about to lose their significance. There are also cases of women who were themselves from ‘new families’ but who played a key role in entering local networks of power in different ways. These general considerations will be illustrated on specific cases bringing to the audience’s attention the significance of women from (new or old) élite families, particularly from the end of Bagratid rule, and through Seljuk and Mongol (particularly Ilkhanid) periods. The inter-religious aspects of such family networks will be equally highlighted. Although the talk will address various regions of historical Armenia, greater attention will be paid to Syunik‘, reflecting my on-going research-in-progress.
This lecture will take place live on Zoom, followed by a question and answer period. Please register to receive the Zoom link.
An East of Byzantium lecture. EAST OF BYZANTIUM is a partnership between the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University and the Mary Jaharis Center that explores the cultures of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine empire in the late antique and medieval periods.