Chronicle

Attributed to

King Het'um II


Translator's Preface



The short but valuable Chronicle translated below was written in the Cilician Armenian kingdom in the late 13th or early 14th century. Covering the period from 1076 to 1296, it provides information, sometimes unique, about individuals and events associated with the rise, expansion and collapse of the Cilician state: Armenian kings, lords and clerics, Byzantines, Saljuqs, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mongols, Mamluks, and their activities. Unfortunately, this Chronicle is noteworthy for its laconic style and brevity. The author claims to have drawn his information from Armenian, "Frankish", Greek, and Syriac historical writings. Clearly his Armenian sources extended beyond lengthier contemporary works such as Smbat Sparapet's Chronicle and Het'um the Historian's Chronography, since information not found in those works appears in the Chronicle. The author also may have had access to foreign literary histories, but the entries are too brief to speak of borrowing. More likely our chronicler was relying on other unnamed chronicles and on his own records.

Though the Chronicle's late 13th-early 14th century provenance is certain, its authorship is not. In the 19th century Het'um the Historian (a noted general and writer of the 13th century) was regarded as the author. V. A. Hakobyan, editor of the critical edition of the classical Armenian text, pointed to two passages in the Chronicle (the entries for 1250 and for 1285) which, from a genealogical standpoint, could only have been written by King Het'um II (1289-93, 1294-97, 1299-1307). But beyond these two passages, written in the first person, there are no other entries containing information of a personal nature or information obtainable only from within the royal family. Furthermore, in other parts of the Chronicle where King Het'um II is mentioned, the third person is used. There is great variation in the spelling of personal and place names, which is not unusual in medieval sources; though one might question whether Het'um (King Het'um II or Het'um the Historian) would provide different spellings of his own name, sometimes on the same page. It is possible that King Het'um II was the original author and that the Chronicle suffered very greatly at the hands of later copyists.

In 1842 father M. Awgerean, who believed that Het'um the Historian was the author, published a less complete variant of the classical Armenian text of the Chronicle as an appendix to his Het'um patmich' t'at'arats' (Venice, 1951, reprint of 1842 edition, pp. 81-90). Awgerean's text of the Chronicle was translated into French by Eduoard Dulaurier [Recueil des historiens des croisades. Documents arméniens, (Paris, 1869) vol. I, pp. 471-490]. The critical edition of an expanded text was published by V. A. Hakobyan with an introduction and valuable notes [Manr zhamanakagrut'yunner XIII-XVIII dd. [Minor Chronicles of the XIII-XVIII Centuries] vol. I (Erevan, 1951) pp. 65-87]. This is the text translated here.

For the complicated history of Cilicia in this period, see S. Der Nersessian, "The Kingdom of Cilician Armenia" in History of the Crusades, K. M. Setton, ed. vol. II (Philadelphia, 1969) pp. 630-59; T. S. R. Boase, The Cilician Kingdom of Armenia (London, 1978); Ani Atamian Bournoutian, "Cilician Armenia" in The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, R. G. Hovannisian, ed. vol. 1 (New York, 1997), pp. 273-291; and Angus D. Stewart's The Armenian Kingdom and the Mamluks: War and Diplomacy During the Reigns of Het'um II (1289-1307) (Leiden, 2001). Additional bibliography is available in C. Toumanoff's article, "Armenia and Georgia," [Chapter XIV in The Cambridge Medieval History, vol. IV, The Byzantine Empire, part I, (Cambridge, 1966), pp. 593-637]. The maps and accompanying text in R. H. Hewsen, Armenia, A Historical Atlas (Chicago, 2001) pp. 136-141 also are valuable. For a discussion of eastern Armenia in this period see R. Bedrosian, The Turco-Mongol Invasions and the Lords of Armenia in the 13-14th Centuries (New York, 1979). Three other Cilician sources of relevance to this period are available on other pages of this website: Smbat Sparapet's Chronicle, Grigor Aknerts'i's History of the Nation of Archers, and Het'um the Historian's The Flower of Histories of the East. In our opinion, King Het'um II's Chronicle is best read in conjunction with Smbat Sparapet's Chronicle. The footnotes to S. Der Nersessian's aforementioned article, and her study of Smbat's Chronicle ["The Armenian Chronicle of the Constable Smpad", Dumbarton Oaks Papers #13 (1959) pp. 143-168] examine their noteworthy divergences.

The translator would like to thank Dr. Angus Stewart for his comments, suggestions, and identifications of many people and places in the text.

The transliteration used here is a modification of the new Library of Congress system for Armenian, substituting x for the LOC's kh, for the thirteenth character of the Armenian alphabet (խ). Otherwise we follow the LOC transliteration, which eliminates diacritical marks above or below a character, and substitutes single or double quotation marks to the character's right. In the LOC romanization, the seventh character of the alphabet (է) appears as e', the eighth (ը) as e", the twenty-eighth (ռ) as r', and the thirty-eighth (o), as o'.


Robert Bedrosian
Long Branch, New Jersey 2005

A Note on Pagination


The following chronological tables may be useful as accompaniments to the translation. The tables open in separate windows, for persistence.

Rulers of Armenia and of Eastern and Western Empires
Medieval Rulers of Antioch, Cyprus, and Jerusalem
Kat'oghikoi and Corresponding Secular Rulers of the Armenians

Additional tables are available on another page of this site: Chronological Tables. Maps are available on our Maps Page.



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