Due to the Arabic and Turkish invasions, medieval Armenia fell apart into a dozen small kingdoms and principalities. They all maintained a court of their own, each of which followed an independent foreign policy, and where diverse cultural influences prevailed. Despite the fragmentation, the three hundred years between the millennium and the Mongol invasion were the second golden age of Armenian culture – the first one being between the conversion to Christianity and the Arab conquest, from the 5th to the 7th centuries –, when most of the yet standing monasteries, universities and princely palaces were built.
For a better overview, during our Armenian tours in May and June, of the maze of relationships during the period, and to see more clearly the importance of the individual monuments, next Wednesday, 27 April, I will give an one-hour lecture with maps and photos on the history of medieval Armenia, its regions and culture, with an emphasis on the regions that we will visit. The participants of our Georgian tour are also recommended to come, because, due to the intertwined history of the two countries, I will also speak about Georgia. Why did the Kurdish warlord found a Georgian church on Armenian land? Did any Hindu princes live in the village of the snakes, and do Frankish Crusaders still live in the valleys of the Caucasus? Which prince invited the Jews to the kingdom of Karabagh? How did the son of a Georgian rebel, converted to Muslim faith, become the father of an Armenian bishop? Why did the Prince of Syunik go on pilgrimage to the mother of the Mongolian Great Khan in Karakorum? Why did they keep the books in wine barrels at the theology of Haghpat? Where did the French ambassador first drink coffee, and how did he like it? These and other tantalizing questions will be answered by us on 27 April at 7 p.m. in our usual place, in the separate room of Selfie Restaurant (Budapest, Rákóczi Street 29, Google Map here). I will be there from 6 p.m. on, and will be happy to answer questions about the tours. It is also recommended that you arrive early, because serving such a large gathering goes slowly, and you are advised to secure your beer and salad in time.
Sayat Nova, the great 18th-century composer: Amen sazi mejn govats. Sayat-Nova Ensemble, Tovmas Poghosyan (2007)