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Emirate, Province(largely autonomous) of the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates






Arminiya from c. 750-885
Capital Dvin
Languages Armenian (native language)
Religion Armenian Apostolic
Sunni Islam
Government Monarchy
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Established 653
 -  Disestablished 884

Arminiya, also known as the Ostikanate of Arminiya (Armenian: Արմինիա ոստիկանության,[1] Arminia vostikanut'yun), Emirate of Armenia (Arabic: إمارة آلارمينيا‎, imārah al-Arminiya), was a political and geographic designation given by the Muslim Arabs to the lands of medieval Armenia, Caucasian Iberia, and Caucasian Albania following their conquest of these regions in the seventh century.[2] Though the caliphs initially permitted an Armenian prince to represent the province of Arminiya in exchange for tribute and the Armenians' loyalty during times of war, Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan introduced direct Arab rule of the region, headed by an ostikan with his capital in Dvin.[3]


The first Arab expedition reached Armenia in 639 AD.[4] Dvin was captured and pillaged during this raid on 6 October 640. A second invasion took place in 642–643 and a third in 650, which captured some land north of Lake Van. According to bishop Sebeos, in 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.[5]

Armenia however remained under Byzantine suzerainty until 653/654, when Theodore Rshtuni voluntarily conceded Arab suzerainty and was recognized as autonomous prince of Armenia in return. 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. With Arab aid, Rhstuni repelled Byzantine attacks, and Arab troops even captured Theodosiopolis in 655, and cemented their control of the country by taking Rhstuni to Damascus and appointing his rival Hamazasp Mamikonian in his stead.

The outbreak of the Muslim Civil War in 657 led to the recall of the Arab troops to Syria. Thereupon the Byzantines re-asserted their authority over the country, aided by Mamikonian.

In 661 however, the victor of the Muslim civil war Mu'awiyah ordered the Armenian princes to re-submit to his authority and pay tribute. In order to avoid another war, the princes complied. 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(إمارة آلارمينيا). Under the Umayyads especially, it was usually combined with the governorship of Azerbaijan (classical Media Atropatene), sometimes with the Jazira (northern Mesopotamia), and less often, with Tabaristan (southeast of Gīlān) and even Fars (central Persia).

Armenia was governed by an emir or wali headquartered at Dvin (Dabil in Arab sources), whose role however was limited to defence and the collection of taxes: the country was largely run by the local princes, the nakharar. The province was formally established by the time of the caliph Abd al-Malik (r. 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).[6] This viceroyalty also contained two large lakes: the salt lake known as Lake Van in the south-west, and the fresh water Lake Sevan (Lychnitis) on its north-eastern border.

With the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate, a period of repression was inaugurated: Caliph al-Mansur revoked the privileges and subsidies of the nakharar and imposed harsh taxation, leading to the outbreak of a major rebellion in 774. The revolt was suppressed in the Battle of Bagrevand in April 775, an event which saw the near-extinction, reduction to insignificance or exile to Byzantium of some of the most prominent nakharar families, most importantly the Mamikonian. [7] In the aftermath of the rebellion, the Caliphate tightened its grip on the Transcaucasian provinces: the nobility of neighbouring Iberia was also decimated in the 780s, and a process of settlement with Arab tribes began which by the middle of the 9th century led to the Islamization of Caucasian Albania, while Iberia and much of lowland Armenia came under the control of a series of Arab emirates. At the same time, the power vacuum left by the destruction of so many nakharar clans was filled by two other great families, the Artsruni in the south (Vaspurakan) and the Bagratuni in the north.[8]

Despite several insurrections, the Emirate of Armenia lasted until 884, when the Bagratuni Ashot I, who had managed to win control over most of its area, 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 state once again.

Arab governors of Armenia[edit]

Early governors[edit]

These are reported as governors under the Caliphs Uthman (r. 644–656) and Ali (r. 656–661), as well as the early Umayyads:

Emirs (Ostikans)[edit]

With the submission of Armenia to Muhammad ibn Marwan after 695, the province was formally incorporated into the Caliphate, and an Arab governor (ostikan) installed at Dvin:[9][10]

Presiding princes of Armenia [11][edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yeghiazaryan, Arman (2005). "Արմինիա ոստիկանության սահմանները [Borders of the Vicegerency of Arminia]". Patma-Banasirakan Handes (in Armenian) (Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences) (1): 243–258. ISSN 0135-0536. 
  2. ^ Ter-Ghewondyan, Aram N. The Arab Emirates in Bagratid Armenia. Trans. Nina G. Garsoïan. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1976, p. 19.
  3. ^ Ter-Ghewondyan. The Arab Emirates in Bagratid Armenia, pp. 20-21.
  4. ^ Morgan 1918, p. 139.
  5. ^ Histoire d’Héraclius. Trancl. Fr. Macler, Paris, 1904.
  6. ^ Robert H. Hewsen. Armenia: A Historical Atlas. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2001, 107, map 81.
  7. ^ Whittow, Mark (1996). The Making of Byzantium, 600–1025. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-520-20496-6. 
  8. ^ Whittow, Mark (1996). The Making of Byzantium, 600–1025. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 213–215. ISBN 978-0-520-20496-6. 
  9. ^ Arab Governors (Ostikans) of Arminiya, 8th Century
  10. ^ A. Ter-Ghevondyan's "Chronology of the Ostikans of Arminiya," Patma-banasirakan handes (1977) 1, pp. 117-128.
  11. ^ Rulers of Armenia and of Western and Eastern Empires.
  12. ^