Gagik I of Armenia

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Gagik I Bagratuni Shahanshah
King of Armenia
Gagik I Bagratuni.jpg
The statue of Gagik I found in Ani by Nicholas Marr's excavations in 1906
Reign 989 – 1020
Full name Gagik I Bagratuni
Died 1020
Predecessor Smbat II
Successor Hovhannes-Smbat
Royal house Bagratuni

Gagik I (Armenian: Գագիկ Ա Gagik A) was the King of Armenia who reigned between 989 to 1020, under whom Bagratid Armenia reached its height[1][2][3] and Armenia "enjoyed the accustomed experience of unbroken peace and prosperity."[4]


It is unknown when Gagik I was born. He succeeded his brother Smbat II in 989. He followed the footsteps of his predecessors in building churches and religious buildings in capital Ani. Using the favorable economic conditions of Armenia, Gagik increased the size of the army up to 100,000 soldiers. He subsequently united various Armenian provinces to Bagratid Armenia, including Vayots Dzor, Khachen, Nakhichevan and the city of Dvin.[5] He made alliances with Gurgen of Iberia and Bagrat III of Georgia, whose armies defeated Mamlan, the emir of Khorasan, in 998 in village Tsumb, northest of Lake Van.[6]

Under Gagik I, the Kingdom of Armenia extended from Shamkor to Vagharshakert and Kura River to Apahunik near Lake Van. The country's economy, culture and foreign trade developed; Ani, Dvin, Kars flourished.[5]

After his death, his elder son, Hovhannes-Smbat, was crowned king while his younger son, Ashot, rebelled against Smbat and proclaimed his independence in the Kingdom of Lori-Dzoraget.[5]

Archaeological finds[edit]

One of Gagik's principal projects was the Church of St. Gregory in Ani (1001–10), loosely modeled on Zvartnots. During Nicholas Marr's excavation of the city's ruins in 1906, a 2.26-meter high statue of King Gagik holding a model of his church was found in fragments.[7] It shows Gagik wearing a turban on his head and a khalat, which is showing the fact that he was recognized by the Abbasid Caliphate.[5] The statue was originally located in a niche high up in the north facade of the church. It was lost in uncertain circumstances at the end of the First World War. Only a few photographs record its appearance. A surviving fragment of the statue is now in the Erzurum archaeological museum. Exactly how, and when, it got there is unknown. According to the museum staff it was found somewhere in the vicinity of Erzurum and the finder brought it to the museum by car.[7]


  1. ^ Rosser, John H. (2012). Historical Dictionary of Byzantium (2nd ed. ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 199. ISBN 9780810875678. "Gagik I. King of Armenia from 989 to ca. 1020, whose reign marked the high point of the kingdom of the Bagratids." 
  2. ^ Kurkjian, Vahan M. (2008). A History of Armenia. Los Angeles, California: Indo-European Publishing. p. 159. ISBN 9781604440126. 
  3. ^ Arakelyan, Babken (1976). "Բագրատունյաց թագավորությունը X դարի վերջին և XI դարի սկզբներին (The Bagratid Kingdom from the Late 10th to the Early 11th Centuries]". History of the Armenian People (in Armenian) 3. Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences. pp. 134–140. 
  4. ^ Chahin, M. (2001). The kingdom of Armenia: a history (2. rev. ed. ed.). Richmond: Curzon. p. 231. ISBN 9780700714520. 
  5. ^ a b c d Arakelyan, Babken (1976). "Գագիկ Ա [Gagik I]". In Hambardzumyan, Viktor. Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia (in Armenian) 2. Yerevan: Armenian Encyclopedia. p. 637. 
  6. ^ Frye, Richard N., ed. (1975). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4. London: Cambridge University Press. p. 237. ISBN 9780521200936. 
  7. ^ a b "The Statue of King Gagik". VirtualAni. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
Preceded by
Smbat II
King of Bagratid Armenia Succeeded by
Hovhannes-Bagrat III
as King of Ani
Succeeded by
Ashot IV
as King in other provinces