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By 637 A.D. Armenia emerged as an autonomous principality within the Arabic Empire under Caliph Umar, reuniting Armenian lands previously ruled by the Byzantine Empire as well. The principality was ruled by the Prince of Armenia, recognised by the Caliph and the Byzantine Emperor.

The first Arab raid reached Armenia in 639 A.D.[1]Duin (Dabil or Duwin) was captured and pillaged during this raid. A second invasion took place in 642643 and 650653. According to bishop Sebeos, on January 642, the Arabs took the city of Tovin (Duin) by storm, slaughtered twelve thousand of its inhabitants and carried away thirty-five thousand into slavery.[2]The Armenians submitted to the invaders and a treaty was signed in 654 A.D. According to this agreement, Armenia was recognized as an autonomous state subject to an annual tribute and a contribution of fifteen thousand troops to the Arab army. The Arab policy of demanding that the tribute be paid in money had an effect on Armenian economy and society. Coins were struck in Duin. The Armenians were forced to produce a surplus of food and manufactured goods for sale. A strong urban life was developed in Caucasia as the economy revived.

The Arabs, for administrative purposes, gathered the whole of the South Caucasus into one vast viceroyalty called al-Arminiya. This viceroyalty was governed by an ostikan occasionally referred to as the emir and from that the viceroyalty – emirate. It was established by the time of the caliph Abd al-Malik of the Umayyad dynasty (reigned 685–705). The Emirate of Armenia (al-Arminiya) was divided into four regions: Arminiya I (Caucasian Albania), Arminiya II (Caucasian Iberia), Arminiya III (the area around Aras River), Arminiya IV (Taron)[3]. This viceroyalty also contained two large lakes: the salt lake known as Lake Van in the south-west, and the fresh water Lake Gukchah on its north-eastern border.

The most prominent Caliph of the Abbasid Dynasty was Harun al-Rashid who rose to power on 14 September 786 A.D. While he was a benevolent ruler, his emirs in Armenia were not. Despite the orders from Baghdad, the Arab rulers of Armenia continued to loot churches and oppress the land by cruelty and heavy taxation.

Some times the Emirate of Armenia included Al-Jazira in northern Mesopotamia, Azerbaijan (classical Media Atropatene), and less often, Tabaristan (southeast of Gīlān), and even Fars (central Persia). The center of the viceroyalty was the large Armenian city Dvin.

The Emirate of Armenia lasted till 884 A.D. Ashot I of the Bagratuni Dynasty had managed to win control over most of its area and declared himself "King of the Armenians". He received recognition by Caliph Al-Mu'tamid of the Abbasid dynasty in 885 and Byzantine Emperor Basil I of the Macedonian dynasty in 886. Armenia thus emerged as an independent region.


  1. ^ Jacques de Morgan. The History of the Armenian People. Boston, 1918, p.139.
  2. ^ Histoire d’Héraclius. Trancl. Fr. Macler, Paris, 1904.
  3. ^ Robert H. Hewsen. Armenia: A Historical Atlas. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2001, 107, map 81.

See also


  • Jacques de Morgan. The History of the Armenian People. Boston, 1918, Pp. 428.
  • Robert H. Hewsen. Armenia: A Historical Atlas. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2001, Pp. 341.
  • Garbis Armen. Historical Atlas of Armenia. A. N. E. C., New York, 1987, Pp. 52.
  • George Bournoutian. A History of the Armenian People, Volume I: Pre-History to 1500 A.D., Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, 1993, Pp. 174.
  • John Douglas. The Armenians, J.J. Winthrop Corp., New York, 1992.


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