Smbat I of Armenia

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For other people of the same name, see Smbat (disambiguation).
Smbat I
King of Armenia
Reign 890–912
Coronation 892[1]
Predecessor Ashot I
Successor Ashot II
Royal house Bagrotuniflagx.jpgBagratuni
Father Ashot I

Smbat I (Armenian: Սմբատ Ա.) (850–912), known as "the Martyr", was the second King of Armenia (890–912) of the medieval Kingdom of Armenia of the Bagratuni dynasty, and son of Ashot I. He is the father of Ashot II (known as Ashot Yerkat) and Abas I.


Smbat I's rule was a period of unending wars against the Arab conquerors and the rebellious Armenian nobles. He fought with mixed success against Afshin, the Caliph's representative in Azerbaijan, but was defeated by Afshin's brother Yusuf.

Late in his rule he was betrayed by Gagik Artsruni and Sparapet Ashot who proclaimed themselves independent from Smbat's rule. Towards the end of Smbat's rule Yusuf made war on him again. Smbat's wife was captured and traded in exchange for Smbat's son Mushegh and nephew Smbat, who were then poisoned by Yusuf. Yusuf's army ravaged the rest of Armenia as it advanced towards Blue Fortress, where King Smbat had taken refuge, and besieged it for some time. Smbat finally decided to surrender himself to Yusuf in 914 in hopes of ending the Arab onslaught; Yusuf, however, showed no compassion towards his prisoner as he tortured the Armenian king to death and put his headless body on display on a cross in Dvin. He was succeeded by his son Ashot II who was able to eventually expel the invaders and brought peace to Armenia.

The Royal Family

King Smbat had brothers Shapuh, sparapet of Armenia, and David, presiding prince (ishkhan) of Armenia. Shapuh was buried in his family's cemetery at Bagaran and King Smbat replaced him with his son Ashot. Ashot built the church of Bagaran there on the banks of the Akhurian River. This same Ashot would later be declared King by Yusuf in opposition to Ashot II in an attempt to divide Armenia, a plan which failed after two years of civil war.

Smbat had at least two sisters, Mariam and Sophia. Mariam was regarded as a holy woman. She married Vasak Gabur of Siunia by whom she had sons Grigor, Sahak, and Vasak. Prince Grigor was poisoned by Yusuf while Sahak and Vasak took refuge at Sevanavank. Yusuf pursued them and so with their mother, families, and as much property as they could carry they again took off to the east. They retreated to Artsakh where their mother died. After a few years when the family had regained their lands, her body was brought back and buried at a church she built at a place called Soghaka.

The sister Sophia was married to Krikor Artsruni and had children Ashot, Sophia, Gagik, and Gurgen. Gagik was an ambitious prince who ruled Vaspurakan and challenged his uncle King Smbat's rule.


  1. ^ In Erazgavors by the Caliph's representative.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ashot I
King of Armenia
(Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia

Succeeded by
Ashot II