Hayton of Corycus
Hayton of Corycus (also spelled Aytonus, Hetoum, Haiton, Haitho, Hayton and variants; also Latinized as Antonius Curchinus) was a medieval Armenian monk and historian (died after 1307). He is the author of a History of the Tartars (also known as La Flor des Estoires d'Orient), written in France, for which he is also known as "Hayton the Historian". His History was widely disseminated in the Late Middle Ages, to the extent that in terms of shaping western European views of the Orient, Hayton's influence was comparable that of his contemporaries Marco Polo and Odoric of Pordenone.
Hayton was an Armenian noble, ruler of the city of Corycus. He was the son of Ochine of Corycus, brother of king Hethum I. Hayton later conspired against his younger cousin, king Hethum II (grandson of Hethum I) in 1293, and was exiled by Hethum in 1294. Hayton then worked as a monk in Cyprus, where he joined the order of the Premonstratensians at the Bellapais Abbey. Hayton apparently supported Amalric of Tyre in his usurpation of the throne of Cyprus against the unpopular king Henry II of Cyprus.
Hayton later traveled to Poitiers in France where the Pope was in residence, becoming the prior of the Premonstratensian abbey there. Hayton pleaded in vain for Amalric of Tyre to be recognized as the proper ruler of Cyprus. He also advocated a crusade to re-capture the Holy Land in alliance with the Mongols.
After the assassination of Hethum II in 1307, Hayton returned to Cilician Armenia, where, leaving his monastic life behind, he became Constable, commander of the armed forces.
History of the Tartars
While in France, Hayton wrote a geography of Asia, one of the first of the Middle Ages, the History of the Tartars, also known in Old French as La Flor des Estoires d'Orient (Latin: Flos Historiarum Terre Orientis, "The flower of the stories of the Orient"). This work also provides an account of the rise of the Mongol Empire, and of recent events in the Near East, especially relating to the history of the Armenian kingdom and its interaction with the Mongol Ilkhanate, to which it had been tributary since 1236.
The work concludes with a plan for a new crusade, which Hayton proposed should be organised in alliance with the Ilkhan. Hayton's promotion of this Ilkhanid alliance, and also his association with certain parties in the complex Armenian and Cypriot politics of the day, make this work rather tendentious. Thus, Hayton is always keen to ascribe motives for Mongol actions that would endear them to his papal audience, as with his account of the Ilkhan Hülegü's rather destructive invasion of Syria (1259–60):
"The Khan wanted to go to Jerusalem in order to deliver the Holy Land from the Saracens and to remit it to the Christians. The king Hethum I was very happy with this request, and assembled a great score of men on foot and on horse, because, in that time, the Kingdom of Armenia was in such a good state that it easily had 12,000 soldiers on horse and 60,000 soldiers on foot".
- Jackson, p. 334
- Demurger, p. 115
- Mutafian, p. 77
- Runciman, p. 433
- Mutafian, p. 80
- "Echoes of Hayton's Flor des estoires ... can be found in many works that touch on the kingdom, [but] this is an extremely tendentious work, designed to be a piece of propaganda." Stewart, p. 15
- Quoted in "Histoire des Croisades", René Grousset, p. 580. Translated from the Old French
- Grousset, René (1935). Histoire des Croisades III, 1188-1291 (in French). Editions Perrin. ISBN 2-262-02569-X.
- Mutafian, Claude (1993, 2001). Le Royaume Armenien de Cilicie (in French). CNRS Editions. ISBN 2-271-05105-3.
- Richard, Jean (1999). The Crusades: c. 1071-c. 1291. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-62566-1.
- Jackson, Peter (2005). The Mongols and the West: 1221-1410. Longman. ISBN 978-0-582-36896-5.
- Runciman, Steven (1987 (first published in 1952-1954)). A History of the Crusades 3. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-013705-7.
- Stewart, Angus Donal (2001). The Armenian Kingdom and the Mamluks: War and diplomacy during the reigns of Het'um II (1289-1307). BRILL. ISBN 90-04-12292-3.
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- Flowers of the Histories of the East by Hayton of Corycus (English translation)