Taron (historic Armenia)

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The Expansion of the House of Mamikonians.

Taron (Armenian: Տարոն, Latin: Taraunitis) was a canton of the Turuberan province of Greater Armenia, now in the Muş Province, Turkey.[1] It was divided into four districts: Mamikonian, Palauni, (Belabitene), Artokh (Ardjish or Artzike, west of Lake Van).

Early Middle Ages[edit]

The main source on the principality's history during the Early Middle Ages is the History of Taron, a relatively short "historical" romance in five parts, purporting to describe significant events occurring in the district of Taron during the Byzantine–Sassanid Wars when the Sassanid emperor was Khosrau II (590-628). During Khosrau's reign, Taron was frequently invaded by the Persians. The History describes the actions of five generations of Mamikonians (Taron's princely house), in defending and avenging the district. Each section or cycle of the story is devoted to the exploits of one of the defenders: Mushegh, Vahan, Smbat, his son Vahan Kamsarakan, and the latter's son Tiran. The heroes are at times superhumanly brave or duplicitous, wise or cunning, humble or bombastic, humane or brutally merciless as the situation requires. Above all, they are the holy warriors of St. Karapet (John the Baptist, their patron saint), and they zealously defend the monastery of Glak (also known as Surb Karapet Monastery) as well as all the churches and Christians in the district. Much of the narration describes battles fought and the cunning tactics used by the Taronites to defeat the invading Iranians. [2]

Later history[edit]

With the death of Musel VI Mamikonian at the Battle of Bagrevand in April 775, and the eclipse of the Mamikonian from Armenian affairs, Taron passed to Ashot of the Bagratuni family. His successors ruled Taron for two centuries:

  • Ashot I (died 826), 775–826, presiding prince of Armenia (as Ashot IV) after 806
  • Bagrat I (died after 851), 826–after 851, presiding prince of Armenia (as Bagrat II) after 830
  • Ashot II (ca. 835 – 878), after 851–878
  • David (ca. 840 – 895), 878–895 (brother of Ashot II)
  • Gurgen (murdered 895/6), 895/6 (son of Ashot II)
  • Taron seized by Ahmad ibn Isa al-Shaybani until his death in 898
  • Grigor I (died 939), 898–939 (cousin of Gurgen)
  • Bagrat II and Ashot III (died 966)

Upon the death of Ashot III in 968, his two sons, Grigor II (Gregory Taronites) and Bagrat III (Pankratios Taronites), ceded the principality to the Byzantine Empire in exchange for lands and noble titles. In Byzantium, probably along with other branches of their family already established there in previous decades, they formed the Taronites family, which was one of the senior noble families in the 11th–12th centuries.[3]

During the mid-11th century, Taron was a theme of the Byzantine Empire. Its governor was Theodore Aaronios.[4]


  1. ^ The Heritage of Armenian Literature: From the Sixth to the Eighteenth Century By Agop Jack Hacikyan - Page 478
  2. ^ John Mamikonean's - History of Taron
  3. ^ Kazhdan, Alexander (1991). "Taronites". In Kazhdan, Alexander. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 2012–2013. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6. 
  4. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, (1991) p. 1