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Zakarid dynasty

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Zakaryan's coat of arms with the iconography of a lion and a bull, at Geghard.
Parent housePahlavuni[1]
CountryZakarid Armenia
Cadet branchesTmogveli

The Zakarid dynasty, also Zakarids or Zakarians[2][3] (Armenian: Զաքարյաններ, romanized: Zak'aryanner) were a noble dynasty, rulers of Zakarid Armenia (1201–1350) under the suzerainty of the Kingdom of Georgia, and from 1256 under the control of the Mongol Ilkhanate of Persia.[4] Their dynastic name was formed in honour of Zakare, the famous servant of the Georgian King Tamar.[5] They were also known by their Georgian nickname Mkhargrdzeli (მხარგრძელი, "Long-armed", in Armenian: Երկայնաբազուկ, Yerkaynbazuk). A family legend says that this name was a reference to their Achaemenid ancestor Artaxerxes II the "Longarmed" (404–358 BC).[6][7] According to Cyril Toumanoff / Encyclopædia Iranica, they were an offshoot of the Armenian Pahlavuni family.[1] The Zakarians considered themselves Armenians.[8]

During the 13th century, the Zakarids held the highest offices in the Georgian government, as Atabegs (Governor General) and Amirspasalars (Commander-in-Chief of the Army) of the Kingdom of Georgia.[9]


The dynasty was of Armenian[10][11][12][13][14][15] or Kurdish origin.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22] The first historically traceable Zakarid was Khosrov Zakarian in the early 11th century.[23] During the next hundred years the Zakarids became vassals of the Bagrationi kings, and gained prominence at the Georgian court.[23] In the 1120s, David IV of Georgia liberated parts of Armenia (Lori Province) from the grip of the Seljuk Empire, starting a period of Georgian political domination of about a hundred years, while Armenians became prominent in trade and among the urban populations of Gori and Tbilissi.[24] The Zakarids became vassals of the House of Orbeli. Under George III of Georgia, Sargis Zakarian was appointed as governor of the Armenian city of Ani in 1161, however it was soon recaptured by the Shaddadids. In 1177, the Zakarids supported the monarchy against the insurgents during the rebellion of Prince Demna and the Orbeli family. The uprising was suppressed, and George III persecuted his opponents and elevated the Zakarids. Sargis was granted Lori during the reign of the Tamar of Georgia in 1186, starting a long period during which the Zakarids held some of the highest positions at the Georgian court, such as Atabeg (Governor General) and Amirspasalar (Commander-in-Chief of the Georgian army).[23]

Zakare II and Ivane I on the east facade at Harichavank, Armenia, 1201.[25] They wear the contemporary costume, with tall sharbush hat and kaftans.[26]

The Zakarids were so successful and talentuous, with land holdings throughout Armenia and Georgia, that they were promoted to the highest posts in the Georgian government, despite their Kurdish-Armenian origins and the fact that they followed the Monophysite Christian faith rather than Diophysite faith of the Georgians.[27] The brothers, Zakare and Ivane Zakarian, who were sons of Sargis, were the most successful representatives of the family, who were military commanders under King Tamar. Zakare and Ivane took Dvin in 1193. They also took Sevan, Bjni, Amberd and Bargushat, and all the towns above the city of Ani, up to the bridge of Khodaafarin bridge. Around the year 1199, they took the city of Ani, and in 1201, Tamar gave Ani to them as a principality.[28] Eventually, their territories came to resemble those of Bagratid Armenia.[29] Their achievements under King Tamar also facilitated the first large-scale migration of Kurdish tribes to the Caucasus.[30] However, most of the migrants eventually converted to Christianity and became fully assimilated into the Georgian society, around the same time, Ivane converted to Georgian Orthodox Christianity, while Zakare remained Armenian Apostolic in faith. The brothers commanded the Armenian-Georgian armies for almost three decades, achieving major victories at Shamkor in 1195 and Basen in 1203 and leading raids into northern Iran in 1210 and suppression of rebellions of mountaineers in 1212. They amassed a great fortune, governing all of northern Armenia; Zakare and his descendants ruled in northwestern Armenia with Ani as their capital, while Ivane and his offspring ruled eastern Armenia, including the city of Dvin.

Both brothers left several bilingual inscriptions across the Armeno-Georgian border lands and built several churches and forts, such as the Harichavank Monastery and Akhtala Monastery in northern Armenia. The family went in decline with the establishment of Mongol power in the Caucasus.

When the Khwarazmian Empire invaded the region, Dvin was ruled by the aging Ivane, who had given Ani to his nephew Shahnshah, son of Zakare. Dvin was lost, but Kars and Ani did not surrender.[28] However, when Mongols took Ani in 1236, they had a friendly attitude towards the Zakarids. They confirmed Shanshe in his fief, and even added to it the fief of Avag, son of Ivane. Further, in 1243, they gave Akhlat to the princess Tamta, daughter of Ivane.[28]

After the Mongols captured Ani in 1236, the Zakarids ruled not as vassals of the Bagratids, but rather the Mongols.[29] The later kings of Zakarids continued their control over Ani until the 1360, when they lost to the Kara Koyunlu Turkoman tribes, who made Ani their capital.[29]

In the 18th century the branch of the Zakarids–Mkhargrdzeli entered the ranks of the Russian Empire nobility and became known as Argutinsky-Dolgorukov.

Offices in the Georgian government[edit]

Probable depictions of Amirspasalar Shahnshah Zakarian (center), his wife Vaneni (left), and a kindred in military uniform (right), as donators at the Kobayr Monastery, Chapel-Aisle, 1282.[31]

The Zakarids held some of the highest offices in the Georgian government.[32] Ivane I Zakarian was the first Atabeg of the Georgian kingdom under King Tamar from 1207 and remaining in office until his death in 1227.[32] From 1217, he also became Amirspasalar, Commander-in-Chief of the Georgian army, thus creating a new unified office of Atabeg-Amirspasalar. This high office was inherited by his son Avag Zakarian in 1227, and by Zakare III Zakarian in 1250.[32] They resisted the invasions of the Khwarizmians of Jalal al-Din as well as the Mongol invasions of Georgia in 1221-1235, but the Mongol victors gave the office to the renegade Sadun of Mankaberd in 1272.[32] In 1281, Demetrius II of Georgia blocked Sadun's son Khutlubuga from getting the office of atabeg, and instead promoted Tarsaich Orbelian of the Orbelians.[32] Khutlubuga then conspired to have Demetrius II excecuted by the Mongols in 1289, and finally obtained the atabegate.[32] The Zakarids recovered the office of atabeg in the early 14th century.[32] From 1306, the office definitively went away from the Zakarids, as Sargis II Jaqeli was made Amirspasalar and Atabeg of the Kingdom of Georgia by his nephew, King George V "the Brilliant".[9]


family tree of Zakarids
Zakare I
Zakare IINane
ShahnshahTamtaAvagVahramTaki ad-Din
ArtashirZakare IIIAvag-SargisIvane IIZakarianAgbughaBeri
KhoshakAgbughaSargis II
DavidShahnshah IIVahramArtashirAgbughaZazaZakareVahramZakareIvane
ZakareShahnshah III


  1. ^ a b Toumanoff 2010, pp. 453–455.
  2. ^ Bournoutian, George A. (2003). A concise history of the Armenian people : (from ancient times to the present) (2. ed.). Costa Mesa, Calif.: Mazda Publishers. p. 108. ISBN 1568591411.
  3. ^ Sacred Precincts: The Religious Architecture of Non-Muslim Communities Across the Islamic World. BRILL. 2014. p. 465. ISBN 978-9004280229.
  4. ^ Stopka, Krzysztof; Bałuk-Ulewiczowa, Teresa (2017). Armenia Christiana: Armenian religious identity and the Churches of Constantinople and Rome (4th-15th century) (PDF) (First ed.). Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press. ISBN 978-83-233-4190-1. In 1256 a fifth Mongol ulus was created, with the ilkhan Hulagu, the Great Khan's brother, as its governor. His task was to develop the Mongol Empire in the Near East. The historical territories of Armenia became part of the Ilkhanate of Persia.
  5. ^ Mathews, Thomas F .; Taylor, Alice (2001). THE ARMENIAN GOSPEL S OF GLADZOR THE LIFE OF CHRIST ILLUMINATED (PDF). The J. Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles. p. 22. ISBN 0892366265. The Armenian brothers Ivane and Zak'are served the Georgian Queen Tamar (reigned 1184-1213). Rising to the heights of the Georgian army and court, they achieved for themselves the status of a nakharar family, called the Zak'arians, in honor of Zak'are. Queen T'amar gave the Zak'arians control of almost all her Armenian territories, including the former Armenian capital Ani. The Zak'arians established their own vassals, comprising both surviving nakharars and new men — from among their own Armenian generals — raised to nakharar status, each with smaller territories as their own fiefs. Among the new nakharars was the Proshian clan, who were particularly important for the history of the Gladzor Gospels.
  6. ^ Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia, 3th[clarification needed] volume
  7. ^ Paul Adalian, Rouben (2010). Historical Dictionary of Armenia. p. 83.
  8. ^ Strayer, Joseph (1982). Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Vol. 1. p. 485. The degree of Armenian dependence on Georgia during this period is still the subject of considerable controversy. The numerous Zak'arid inscriptions leave no doubt that they considered themselves Armenians, and they often acted independently.
  9. ^ a b Mikaberidze, Alexander (6 February 2015). Historical Dictionary of Georgia. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-4422-4146-6.
  10. ^ Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. I. E. J. BRILL. 1986. p. 507. Ani was for the first time conquered by the Georgians in 1124, under David II, who laid the foundation of the power of the Georgian kings; the town was given as a fief to the Armenian family of the Zakarids
  11. ^ Cyril Toumanoff. (1966). "Armenia and Georgia". IV: The Byzantine Empire, part I chapter XIV (The Cambridge Medieval History ed.). Cambridge: 593–637. Later, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Armenian house of the Zachariads (Mkhargrdzeli) ruled in northern Armenia at Ani, Lor'i, Kars, and Dvin under the Georgian aegis {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  12. ^ Garsoian N. G. Armenia: History of // Dictionary of the Middle Ages / Joseph Strayer. — 1982. — Vol. 1. — P. 485
  13. ^ Marr N. Ya. John Petritsky, Georgian Neoplatonist of the 11th–12th centuries  // Notes of the Eastern Branch of the Russian Archaeological Society, issue. 2-3 . — P. 61
  14. ^ Eastmond A. Tamta's World . — Cambridge University Press, 2017. — 479 p. — ISBN 978-1-107-16756-8 .
  15. ^ Robert W. Thomson. Rewriting Caucasian History. The Medieval Armenian Adaptation of the Georgian Chronicles. The Original Georgian Texts and the Armenian Adaptation. - Clarendon Press, 1996. - P. xxxvi.
  16. ^ Vardan Arewelts'i's, Compilation of History In these time there lived the glorious princes Zak'are' and Iwane', sons of Sargis, son of Vahram, son of Zak'are', son of Sargis of Kurdish nationality (i K'urd azge') p. 82.
  17. ^ Kirakos Gandzaketsi, The History of Armenian, İng Robert Bedrosyan, 1986, s.
  18. ^ Alexei Lidov, 1991, The mural paintings of Akhtala, p. 14, Nauka Publishers, Central Dept. of Oriental Literature, University of Michigan, ISBN 5-02-017569-2,ISBN 978-5-02-017569-3, It is clear from the account of these Armenian historians that Ivane's great grandfather broke away from the Kurdish tribe of Babir.
  19. ^ Vladimir Minorsky, 1953, Studies in Caucasian History, p. 102, CUP Archive, ISBN 0-521-05735-3,ISBN 978-0-521-05735-6, According to a tradition which has every reason to be true, their ancestors were Mesopotamian Kurds of the tribe (xel) Babirakan.
  20. ^ William Edward David Allen, 1932, A History of the Georgian People: From the Beginning Down to the Russian Conquest in the Nineteenth Century, p. 104, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-7100-6959-6, ISBN 0-7100-6959-6, ISBN 978-0-7100-6959-7,She retained and leant upon the numerous relatives of argis Mkhargrdzeli, an aznauri of Kurdish origin.
  21. ^ Alexei Lidov, 1991, The mural paintings of Akhtala, p. 14, Nauka Publishers, Central Dept. of Oriental Literature, University of Michigan.
  22. ^ ^ "Kirakos Ganjakec'i or Arewelc'i". Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History. 12 Ocak 2021 tarihinde kaynağından arşivlendi. Erişim tarihi: 11 Ocak 2021.
  23. ^ a b c Mikaberidze, Alexander (2007). Historical dictionary of Georgia. Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press. pp. 462–463. ISBN 978-0-8108-5580-9.
  24. ^ Mikaberidze, Alexander (2007). Historical dictionary of Georgia. Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-8108-5580-9.
  25. ^ Eastmond, Antony (20 April 2017). Tamta's World. Cambridge University Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-107-16756-8. Zakare and Ivane Mqargrdzeli on the east facade at Harichavank, Armenia, 1201
  26. ^ Eastmond, Antony (2017). Tamta's World: The Life and Encounters of a Medieval Noblewoman from the Middle East to Mongolia. Cambridge University Press. p. 52-53, Fig.17. doi:10.1017/9781316711774. ISBN 9781316711774. At Harichavank the clothes have been updated to reflect contemporary fashion, with its sharbushes (the high, peaked hats) and bright kaftans, as can be seen when comparing the image with those in contemporary manuscripts, such as the Haghbat Gospels (Matenadaran 6288) of 1211 [Fig. 17].
  27. ^ Rayfield, Donald (15 February 2013). Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia. Reaktion Books. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-78023-070-2.
  28. ^ a b c Minorsky, Vladimir (1953). Studies in Caucasian History. New York: Taylor’s Foreign Press. pp. 102–103. ISBN 0-521-05735-3.
  29. ^ a b c Sim, Steven. "The City of Ani: A Very Brief History". VirtualANI. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  30. ^ Szakonyi, David (2007). "Ethnic mobilization in post-Soviet Georgia: the case of the Yezidi-Kurds" (PDF). S2CID 154853564.
  31. ^ Дрампян, Ирина Рубеновна (1979). Фрески Кобайра (in Armenian). Советакан грох. p. 20. The frescoes of the Kobayr monastery (...) The frescoes of Kobayr refer to the second, i . e . to the Zakarian period. There has been a period when most of the structures of the monastery were covered with paintings. Now if we don't count the traces of painting on the other structures, only two monuments have preserved part of their decoration; and those are the Big Church and the Aisle adjoining it from the north. Thanks to the inscription referring to the construction of the building, we are informed of the date, which is the year 1282, and also the name of the donor, the monk George who was the son of Shahnshah, of the Zakarian family. Though we don't have documental informations concerning the paintings of the Aisle , the portraits of the donators whom we consider to be Shahnshah and his wife allow us to look upon the painting as one close to the date of the Big Church; the likeness in the artistic style confirms this suggestion. - From all the wall paintings of the Big Church only that of the altar has been preserved. As for the Aisle , here we can see not only the altar painting, but also remains of frescoes on the northern and western walls. The iconography of the altar paintings of the Big Church and the Aisle, on the whole, can be traced back to the Byzantine system of decoration. Having been already formed in the XI c., it has also some local peculiarities, the sources of which go back to the Armenian monumental art of earlier ages, beginning from the VII c. The set-up of both altar paintings are similar: the Church Fathers are in the lower rank, the Eucharist is in the middle. The difference lies in the upper circle, in the concha...
  32. ^ a b c d e f g Mikaberidze, Alexander (6 February 2015). Historical Dictionary of Georgia. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-1-4422-4146-6.