Kirakos of Gandzak
Kirakos of Gandzak (Armenian: Կիրակոս Գանձակեցի, Kirakos Gandzaketsi) (c. 1200/1202–1271) was an Armenian historian of the 13th century and author of the History of Armenia, a summary of events from the 4th to the 12th century and a detailed description of the events of his own days. The work concentrates primarily on the history of Medieval Armenia and events occurring in the Caucasus and Near East. The work serves as a primary source for the study of the Mongol invasions and even contains the first recorded word list of the Mongolian language. The work has been translated into several languages including Latin, French and Russian.
Kirakos was born in the city of Gandzak (Ganja, presently in Azerbaijan) in or around 1200. He attended the school of New Getik in the village of Tandzut in the region of Kayen (classes were originally taught in a cave and it was only later that they later relocated to a one-room building). He was the pupil of Vanakan Vardapet, a scholar and native from his native Gandzak. In 1215, Kirakos along with his classmates and their teacher Vanakan moved to study at the monastery at Khoranashat in Tavush. With the Mongol invasion of the 1230s, Kirakos and his mentor were captured by Mongol forces in the spring of 1236. As captives, however, he and Vanakan managed to serve as secretaries for the Mongols. During this time, Kirakos learned the Mongolian language and he later compiled his knowledge of it into a list of 55 words with their corresponding Armenian meanings. A ransom was paid to free Vanakan in the summer of that year but Kirakos also managed to escape the same night and returned to the town of Getik.
Following Vanakan's death in 1251, Kirakos assumed his former teacher's duties and became the head of the school in New Getik. In 1255, he was granted an audience with the leader of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, Hetum I, in the town of Vardenis (in Aragatsotn), informing him of missionary work in the region.
He remained in New Getik for several more years; he died in 1271 and was buried there.
Kirakos completed several works in his lifetime; however, his most prominent is that of History of Armenia (Պատմություն Հայոց). He began to write the book on May 19, 1241 and completed it in 1265. Divided into two parts, the first part of the History of the Armenians begins with the life of Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and is devoted largely to the history of the Armenian church from the third century to the twelfth century. The second part of History focuses on the ramifications and physical damage inflicted against the people of the region by the Turkic and Mongol invasions, including the torture and death of Hasan-Jalal, the prince of Khachen.
Approximately 47 facsimiles of the 65 chapters of History of Armenia survived and can be found in numerous repositories located around the world including the Matenadaran in Yerevan, Armenia and museums in Vienna, London, Paris, and St. Petersburg.
- Khanlaryan, L. «Կիրակոս Գանձակեցի». Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia. vol. v. Yerevan, Armenian SSR: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1979, p. 450.
- Zgusta, Ladislav, Franz J. Hausmann and Oskar Reichmann (eds.). An International Encyclopedia of Lexicography. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1991, p. 2368. ISBN 3-11-012421-1.
- Hacikyan, Agop Jack; Basmajian, Gabriel; Franchuk, Edward S. (2005). The Heritage of Armenian Literature: From the Eighteenth Century to Modern Times, vol. 3. Detroit: Wayne State University. p. 494. ISBN 0-8143-3221-8.
- Hacikyan et al. Armenian Literature, p. 493.
- Lane, George E. (2003). Early Mongol Rule in Thirteenth-Century Iran: A Persian Renaissance. London: Routledge. p. 12. ISBN 0-415-29750-8.
- Bedrosian, Robert. Kirakos Ganjakets'i's History of the Armenians: Translator's Preface. Robert Bedrosian’s Homepage. New York, 1986. Accessed March 7, 2008.
- An English translation of Kirakos Gandzaketsi's History of the Armenians by Robert Bedrosian.