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Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia


Armenia (Hayastan)

Armenia has generally been regarded as being two regions: Greater Armenia lay to the east of the Euphrates, and Little, or Lesser, Armenia to the west of the river. Overall, Armenia is usually understood to have included what is now north-eastern Turkey, the area covered by the modern republic of Armenia (the eastern part of ancient Armenia), and parts of Iranian Azerbaijan. Modern Armenia is the easternmost remnants of the former state(s).

According to legend, the Armenian kingdom was founded in the region of Lake Van by Haig (variously shown as Haik, Hayk, or Hay), who was one of Noah's descendants. The remarkable similarity between this name and its relationship to the Armenian name for their state - Hayastan, has prompted the suggestion that the people of Hayasa who occupied much the same territory close to Lake Van half a millennium before the Armenian arrival were somehow related in the formation of the Armenians. Given the fact that the Armenians were Indo-Europeans, any relationship can only have been formed when the early Armenians arrived in the area and found the descendants of the people of Hayasa-Azzi. Perhaps this is when the name Hayastan was formed.

Two other legendary forefathers of the Armenians are Aram and Ara the Beautiful, both of whom may have been based on Aramu, potentially the first king of Urartu. Modern scholars believe that the Armenians crossed the Euphrates and entered Anatolia in the eighth century BC. Migrating into the Khaldian state which was called Urartu by the Assyrians, they intermarried with the local people and formed an homogeneous nation by the sixth century BC. This not only inherited influences from Urartu, but from earlier populations; Mushki or Mušku (possibly, but not certainly, Phrygians who penetrated into the upper Tigris from the twelfth century BC), Luwians, and Hurrians. The kingdom they created extended north and west into land around the Black Sea which had previously been the home of the Kaskans and the kingdom of Kummuhu.

(Additional information from The Armenians, A E Redgate (Basil Blackwell, 1998, 2000), and from External Link: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA.)

1115 - 590 BC

Following the collapse of the Hurrian empire of Mitanni and the state of Ishuwa, the Assyrian empire rules much of the south of the later Armenian region until the empire is destroyed in 612 BC, while Nairi and Urartu rule much of the north between them. The Indo-European Armenians arrive in the eighth century BC, filtering into Nairi and Urartu and intermarrying with the people they find there.

590 - 549 BC

The territory that had formed the kingdom of Urartu falls into the hands of the Medes, although the specific circumstances of Urartu's collapse are unknown. The end is violent, however, as its fortresses are burned down, apparently all close in time to one another, suggesting an organised campaign against Urartu that they are unable to resist. The Urartuan language disappears, submerged beneath the various other languages used in the isolated mountain valleys, and the Armenian Indo-Europeans are next to emerge, their language apparently closely related to Phrygian and Cappadocian farther west. By this stage the Armenians seem already to have formed an homogenous nation from their own people, and they quickly absorb the remnants of the Urartuan kingdom.

549 - 331 BC

A Persian satrapy governs the region which, according to Herodotus, is known as Armina (Armenia is a Greek mangling of the name).

Persian Satraps of Armina (Armenia)
Incorporating the Satraps of Colchis, and the Alarodioi, Matienoi, & Saspeires

Small Nav - Persian & Greek Empires

Conquered in the mid-sixth century BC by Cyrus the Great, the region of Armenia was added to the Persian empire. Before that it was populated largely by the Khaldian remnants of the kingdom of Urartu, who were being subjugated by the more-recently-arriving Indo-European Armenians. Under the Persians, the region was formed into an official satrapy or province which, according to the Behistun inscription of Darius the Great, was called Armina (Armenia is a Greek interpretation of the name).

Under the newfound Persian empire, one of its most important satrapies was Media, perhaps second only to Persis itself. Its territory extended around its capital, Ecbatana, its special position as a great satrapy apparent from the fact that Achaemenid princes were installed as satraps there. According to Xenophon, Cyrus the Great appointed his second son, Tanyoxarces, as the first Persian satrap of Media to administer Media, Armenia, and the territory of the warlike Cadusii.

The best source for the administrative affiliation and structure of the main satrapy of Armina itself is the Behistun inscription, in which two centres of gravity are clearly identified. It was Darius the Great who dispatched a military contingent against West Armina and another against East Armina, thereby marking out two zones within Armina overall. Several other ancient writers also illustrate the division, and two separate military contingents were mobilised for the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. These two areas were referred to as the minor satrapies of East Armina and West Armina. The eastern section comprised the Matienoi, who overlapped into Media in what is now known as Kurdistan, the Saspeires in Azerbaijan (roughly speaking), and the Alarodioi who may have preserved the name Urartu or Ararat. The section containing the Saspeires became a satrapy under Alexander and then very quickly a kingdom called Atropatene. The western section contained the Armenians as far as the Black Sea and a now-untraceable Paktyike.

For a short period the main satrapy of Armenia also claimed Colchis, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, as far north as the River Sal and the Don Estuary on the Sea of Azov. Colchis was formed as a minor satrapy under Armenian oversight. Taken during the Scythian campaign of 513/512 BC, this region remained under Persian control for no more than a few decades and may already have recovered its independence after the failure of Xerxes' expedition against Greece

(Additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), and from External Link: Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

521 BC

Upon the execution of the Persian usurper, Smerdis, the Cyaxarid, Fravartiš, tries to restore Median independence. He is defeated by Persian generals and is executed. Embedded into the report on the rebellion of the Fravartiš in Media is confirmation that Armina belongs to the 'Great Satrapy Media', as suggested by Xenophon and documented by the Behistun inscription. The same happens in Parthawa and Verkâna whose inhabitants, as Darius the Great reports, had also joined Fravartiš. The quashing of the insurrections from Armina to Parthawa is chronologically coordinated in Persian records and occurs between May and June 521 BC. Another major rebellion in Mergu happens towards the end of 522 or 521 BC.

513 - 512 BC

The Persians enter northern Greece, conquering Thrace south of the Danube. They hold onto it for about fifty years, possibly until they are forced out of Macedonia by Alexander I.  This territory is subjoined as a minor satrapy to the great satrapy of Sparda. Colchis, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea is taken during the same campaign and is created a minor satrapy under the oversight of Armina.

In Armina, Darius divides the satrapy into two, western and eastern halves.

480 - 479 BC

FeatureInvading southern Greece in 480 BC, the Persians are swiftly engaged by Athens and Sparta in the Vale of Tempe, and then stymied by a mixed force of Greeks led by Sparta at Thermopylae. While Macedonia is a Persian vassal, it still supplies the Greek city states with supplies and information regarding Persian movements.

Athens, as the leader of the coalition of city states known as the Delian League, then defeats the Persian navy at Salamis, and after the Persian king Xerxes returns home, his army is decisively defeated at the Battle of Plataea and kicked out of Greece, with many of the survivors of Plataea being killed by Alexander's forces as they retreat to Asia Minor by land. This defeat also allows the Macedonians to fully regain a freedom that they may have established in 490 BC. Colchis, too, is free by now.

fl 401 BC

Tiribazos / Tiribazus

Satrap of Western Armina. Promoted to Sparda (395 BC).

c.401 - 400 BC

Cyrus, satrap of Asia Minor, attempts to revolt, mobilising an army and ten thousand Greek mercenaries to attack his brother Artaxerxes II. Defeat leads to his death in October 401 BC at the Battle of Cunaxa. The 'Ten Thousand' Greeks subsequently make their way home via Eastern Armina, Western Armina (where they skirmish against the untrustworthy satrap, Tiribazos), and the Black Sea coast.

Orontes is the son of Artasyras, the 'King's Eye'. He must render some form of service to the Persian king at the battle. The proof of his service is the fact that he is soon given one of the king's daughters and is heading for the satrapy of Eastern Armina.

fl c.400 BC

Orontes I

Satrap of Eastern Armina.

c.342 - 341 BC

The Kadousioi, who have been in revolt since the reign of Darius III, are finally brought to heel (they are later to be found in the army of Darius III). A cousin of the Persian king, Kodomannos, wins fame by killing an enemy champion and is made satrap of Armina as a reward.

c.341 - 340 BC

Artashata Kodomannos (Darius III)

Son of Arsames. Satrap of Armina. Became King Darius III.

c.340 BC

Artashata, son of Arsames and otherwise known as Kodomannos, is promoted from the position of satrap of Armina to the position of royal courier. In 336 BC he succeeds his uncle, Artaxerxes IV, as king of Persia.

? - 331 BC

Orontes II

Son. Satrap of Armina. Killed at Gaugamela.

? - 331 BC


Minor satrap of West Armina.

331/0 - 323 BC

Index of Greek SatrapsThe satrapy is conquered by Alexander the Great's Greek empire.

Map of Central Asia & Eastern Mediterranean 334-323 BC
The route of Alexander's ongoing campaigns are shown in this map, with them leading him from Europe to Egypt, into Persia, and across the vastness of eastern Iran as far as the Pamir mountain range (click or tap on map to view full sized)

331 - 323 BC


Brother of Orontes II.

323 - 320? BC

Following the death of Alexander, Armenia is governed by Neoptolemus, one of Alexander's generals. Mithrenes is temporarily sidelined.

The Achaemenid satrapies have largely been retained under Alexander, although Media has been divided between the smaller northern region of Media Atropatene (thereby creating the basis for the subsequent kingdom of Atropatene), and the larger southern region, which is governed by Peithon. In fact, under the Persians the northern region had been an eastern division of Armina. Once formed, the kingdom of Atropatene continues to be ruled by members of the Persian elite, with a focus which generally mirrors the territory of modern Azerbaijan.

323 - 321 BC


Greek satrap of Armenia. Killed.

320 - 228 BC

Index of Greek SatrapsIt becomes part of the Seleucid empire of Seleucus I and his descendants.

321 - ? BC

Orontes III

King of Armenia. Murdered.

302 BC

Orontes moves the capital from Armavir to Yervandashat.

fl 301 BC


301 BC

The Macedonian satrap of Cappadocia, Amyntas, is killed when Ariarathes II of Cappadocia and Ardoates invade. Ariarathes recovers his uncle's throne and restored the native dynasty, but he is forced to accept the Seleucid empire as his overlord.

c.220 BC

Armenia is divided into Armenia and Armenia Sophene.

MapKingdom of Armenia

Small Nav - Persian & Greek Empires

It took the Roman defeat of the Seleucid empire at the Battle of Magnesia to enable the Armenians the freedom of declaring their own independence. The declaration cut off some southern Georgian districts from the kingdom of Iberia.

(The list covering 628-806 plugs a gap that other lists miss. Some inconsistencies remain, and other gaps have been filled where possible from other sources.)

189 BC - AD 62

Native Armenian rulers.

(Additional information from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, and from External Links: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA, and Encyclopćdia Britannica, and Diodorus of Sicily at the Library of World History (dead link), and Appian's History of Rome: The Syrian Wars at Livius.org.)

c.220 - 210 BC

Unknown / Xerxes

212 - 209 BC

Having defeated his rebellious cousin in Anatolia, Antiochus III of the Seleucid empire concentrates on the northern and eastern provinces of the empire. Xerxes of Armenia is persuaded to acknowledge his supremacy in 212 BC, while in 209 BC Antiochus invades Parthia. Its capital, Hecatompylos, is occupied and Antiochus forces his way into Hyrcania, with the result that the Parthian king, Arsaces II, is forced to sue for peace.

c.210 - 170 BC


190 BC

Rome defeats the Seleucid empire at Magnesia. The Armenians declare their independence the following year under a native dynasty, the Artashesids.

164 BC

The Arsacids in the east have been gradually extending their control over the eastern lands of former Persia, and Antiochus IV of the Seleucid empire now campaigns against them. He recovers lost income from the region and forces the defector, Artaxias of Armenia, to recognise his suzerainty. Then he founds the city of Antioch on the Persian Gulf, sets out on an expedition to the Arabian coast and, at the end of 164 BC, dies of illness at Tabae (or Gabae, probably modern Isfahan) in Persis.

? BC

Artavazde / Artavasdes I

123 - 95 BC

Artavazde / Artavasdes II

95 BC

Now a powerful state in Mesopotamian affairs, the Parthian Arsacids extend their influence further by removing Artavazde from the throne of Armenia and raising up his son, Tigranes. In exchange for this they received 'seventy valleys' according to Strabo. The two countries now remain in virtually constant contact with one another, although not always on a friendly basis.

95 - 55 BC

Tigranes I the Great

Son of Artavadze. Son-in-law of Mithridates VI of Pontus.

90 BC

Artaxias, the new king of Iberia in Georgia, may be a son of Artavastes, and therefore Tigrane's brother.

90 BC

Armenia Sophene is reabsorbed by Armenia.

89 - 69 BC

Arsacid ruler, Mithradates the Great, launches an attack against the Seleucid empire with Aziz the Arab as his ally. The target is Antiochus X who is killed during the fighting. The weakened and distracted Seleucids also lose Harran to Armenia as Tigranes the Great conquers much of Syria between this point and 69 BC. The civil war at least would seem to be over - until Philip and Demetrius fight each other for the throne.

However, the aged Mithradates dies in this year and the Parthian empire experiences a period of destabilisation and uncertainty. The Armenians take the opportunity to reconquer the 'seventy valleys' while several successive Arsacid kings are recorded about which virtually nothing is known.

69 - 67 BC

FeatureThe imperialistic ambitions of King Tigranes lead to war with Rome, and a defeated Armenia becomes tributary to the republic following the campaigns of generals Lucullus (69 BC) and Pompey (67 BC). Seleucid Syria is lost and the Romans distinguish between Greater Armenia and Lesser Armenia, respectively east and west of the Euphrates. The latter is governed by proxy through Rome's client state, Cappadocia.

55 - 30 BC

Artavazde / Artavasdes III

49 - 47 BC

Upon Pompey's fall in 49 BC, Pharnaces, newly resurgent king of a reduced Pontus and Cimmerian Bosporus, takes advantage of Julius Caesar being occupied in Egypt, and reduces Kolkis, Armenia, and part of Cappadocia, defeating Domitius Calvinus at Nicopolis, whom Caesar subsequently sends against him. Kolkis becomes part of the kingdom, along with Lesser Armenia.

30 BC - AD 56

Competition between Rome and Parthian Persia affects Armenia, which is stuck in the middle of the two empires. The competition leads to the division of Armenia in AD 56.

30 BC

Alexander of Egypt

Armenia is protected by Rome.

30 BC

Artaxias / Artaxes II

Son of Artavadze II. Protected by Persia.

30 BC

Alexander of Egypt

Restored. Armenia is protected by Rome.

30 - 20 BC

Artaxias / Artaxes II

Restored. Protected by Persia.

20 - 12 BC

Tigranes III

Brother. Protected by Rome.

12 - ? BC

Tigranes IV

Protected by Persia.

? - 2 BC

Artavazde / Artavasdes IV

Protected by Rome.

2 - 1 BC


Brother of Tigranes IV. Protected by Persia.

1 BC - AD 2

Ariobarzane of Atropatene

Protected by Rome.

AD 1

The threat of conflict between Rome and Parthia has been building over the question of Armenia. As a result the Romans build up a large military force in Syria. King Phraates of Parthia gives way, and negotiations which are held in this year end with the Parthians relinquishing any claims of influence in affairs in Armenia and the Romans granting recognition to Phraates as a legitimate and sovereign ruler.

AD 2 - 11

Artavazde / Artavasdes V


10 - 15

The opinion of the Parthian nobility is that their king, Vonones, has been made soft by his time in Rome and they are unhappy about his tight budgetary control. A section of the nobility sets up a rival candidate in the form of Artabanus, an Arsacid who comes from the north-east of Iran, probably Hyrcania (based on subsequent events). Vonones fends him off at the first attempt, but the second proves successful, and Artabanus is in command in AD 10. Vonones withdraws to Armenia where he is eventually placed on the throne by Rome.

11 - 14/15



15 - 16


Exiled King of Parthia c.7-12. Protected by Rome. Deposed.

16 - 18

This is a Roman-led period of interregnum with Vonones as nominal ruler. During this period, in AD 17, the aged Archelaus of Cappadocia angers the Emperor Tiberius. Archelaus is summoned to Rome where he dies, possibly of natural causes (or suicide). Tributary Cappadocia now becomes a Roman province while Armenia is faced with the threat of military action by Parthia while Vonones remains in charge. Now Armenia and Lesser Armenia are recombined and handed to the elder son of Polemon I of Pontus, Artaxias III, who rules it as a client king. Cilicia is handed to Archelaus' own son to rule as another client king.

18 - 34

Zenon of Pontus / Artaxias / Artaxes III

Son of Polemon I Pythodoros of Pontus. Protected by Rome.


Artaxes dies without having produced an heir. Artabanus of Parthia moves to install his eldest son, Arsaces, on the throne. However, fearing that Artabanus is becoming too powerful, the nobility negotiates with Rome for someone they can see as being a more suitable candidate.

34 - 35

Arsaces of Armenia

Son of Artabanus III of Parthia.


Emperor Tiberius sends Phraates to Armenia. He is one of the four sons of the late Phraates IV of Parthia but he has the misfortune to die en route, in Syria. Tiridates, a grandson of Phraates IV, is sent in his place to secure the Parthian throne itself. In addition, Rome appoints Mithridates, a brother of the ruler of Iberia, as king of Armenia. An Iberian army then conquers Armenia and beats off a counter-attack by the Parthians. With the backing of a Roman army commanded by Lucius Vitellius, governor of Syria, Tiridates III is crowned supreme king in Ctesiphon, and Artabanus withdraws to Hyrcania.


Orodes of Armenia

Brother. Pretender.

35 - 37

Mithridates / Mitridates

Brother of Pharasmanes of Iberia. Protected by Rome.


Artabanus returns with an army of Dahan auxiliaries which he has raised in Hyrcania. Tiridates' own support has evaporated because he is little more than a puppet of Rome. In the face of this new threat and with no support he flees to Syria and Artabanus is accepted by his rebellious Parthian nobility. He also agrees to restore the status quo with Rome and stay out of Armenia.

37 - 42


Gains the throne. Protected by Parthia.

42 - 51


Restored. Protected by Parthia. Murdered.

51 - 53


Son of Pharasmanes of Iberia. Protected by Rome.


It is unclear whether Vonones returns from exile in Armenia to take the reigns of power in Parthia now that Gotarzes is dead or if this is a fresh Vonones. Either is possible. Certainly his son, Vologeses, is on the throne within the year. Vologeses II is brother to two other eventual kings - Pacorus of Media and Tiridates II of Armenia, the latter of which sees this subsidiary branch of the Arsacids take over to form their own distinctive dynasty by AD 62. Vologeses is also the father of the Tiridates I who becomes king of Armenia in AD 51.


Tiridates I / Trdat

Son of Vologeses II of Parthia. Protected by Rome.

53 - 54


Restored. Protected by Rome.

54 - 58/9

Tiridates I / Trdat

Restored. Protected by Parthia.

56 - 62

Tiridates, a Parthian prince, has been placed on the throne without Rome's agreement, and Rome and Parthia go to war. Rome enjoys some initial success and manages to impose its own vassal ruler in the form of Tigranes V, while placing other vassals in command of Armenia Sophene and Lesser Armenia. However, in the winter of AD 62 Vologases I of Parthia manages to surround a Roman army near Rhandeia (on the Arsanias, a tributary of the Euphrates) and forces it to capitulate.

59 - 62

Tigranes V of Capadoce

Protected by Rome.


With Armenia all but a Parthian territory, Rome is forced to accept an Arsacid ruler in the form of Tiridates II. He travels to Rome in AD 66 to receive the crown in person from Emperor Nero. However, Rome ensures it has its portion of the spoils by annexing Armenia Sophene and Little, or Lesser Armenia.

AD 62 - 386

The Arsacids were formerly a branch of the Parthian rulers of the same name. They became a distinct Armenian dynasty who had their treasure-house and burial-place at Ingalova, formerly within the Bronze Age state of Hayasa-Azzi. Information about their rule is patchy in places.

(Additional information by Brigitta Davidjants.)

62 - 72

Tiridates II of Armenia / Trdat

Brother of Vologeses I of Parthia.


Rome and Parthia fight to a stalemate in Armenia. Rome annexes Armenia Sophene and negotiates a peace treaty with Persia whereby Tiridates lays down the crown and travels to Rome to have Nero personally hand it back as a Roman - and not Persian - gift to the Armenian princes. Armenia is protected by Persia 62-63, and by Rome 63-72.

Christianity is introduced very soon afterwards, although it doesn't become the official religion until the fourth century; Armenia is reckoned to be the oldest Christian state.


An attack by the warlike Alani tribe to the north of the Black Sea defeats an Armenian force.

In AD 72, Axidares is placed on the throne by his uncle, Osroes I, who himself is probably already on the way towards becoming a competitor for the main prize, the Parthian throne. Axidares' brother, Parthamasiris, succeeds him, also with support from Osroes. However, this interference in what Rome sees as its own sphere of influence cannot be tolerated for long.

72 - ?


Son of Pacorus II of Parthia. Protected by Parthia.

? - 114


Brother. Protected by Parthia. Killed by Rome.

114 - 118

Seemingly out of the blue, after decades of peace, the Romans under Trajan march into Armenia and kill Parthia's king there (after he surrenders). The underlying reason, of course, is Parthia's interference in Armenia. Then they go on to occupy Mesopotamia right up to the former Elamite capital at Susa (now the Parthian capital).

Emperor Trajan and the Dacians
Trajan launched a series of wars to expand the Roman empire and conquer troublesome areas and enemies - the defeated Dacians are shown here - but many of these were unnecessary, and supplied short-term gains that were soon lost or handed back

Parthian internal conflicts come to an end in the face of this much more serious threat. The conquests are given up following the Roman emperor's death. However, Armenia is officially annexed as a Roman province by Trajan, and although Hadrian soon hands it back to be governed by nominal Parthian Arsacid rulers, it remains under indirect Roman control until the third century AD. It is one Vologeses, who rules eastern portions of Parthia in opposition to Osroes, who is now placed upon the Armenian throne.

118 - ?

Vologases I / Vagharsh

Protected by Rome. Also Vologeses III of Parthia.

134 - 136

The Alani are again showing their warlike demeanour by attacking Albania, Media, and Armenia. They penetrate as far as Cappadocia. The only way Vologeses of Armenia and Parthia is able to persuade them to withdraw is probably by paying them.

? - 140/44

Aurelios Pocoros

c.140/144 - 161

Sohemo / Sohaemus

Deposed by Parthia.

161/2 - 166

Another conflict begins between the Parthian empire and Rome, with Armenia again playing a central role in events. Vologeses IV of Parthia attacks the Roman defences and secures control of Armenia. Sohemo is replaced on the throne by Pakoros, but Rome soon recovers and regains its losses. Sohemo is restored and the Parthian empire is invaded. Vologeses is forced to cede western Mesopotamia in return for renewed peace.

161 - 163

Pakoros / Pacoros

Installed by Parthia.

163 - 180?

Sohemo / Sohaemus

Restored by Rome.

180 - 191

Vologases II / Valarsaces

Son of Vologeses IV of Parthia. Gained Parthian throne 190/3.


This period of rule in Armenia is not always mentioned. In 189 Vologases' son, Rev, becomes Rev I, ruler of the kingdom of Iberia in Georgia, thanks to Vologases' intervention. Around 190/193 Vologeses himself gains the Parthian throne as Vologeses V.

191? - 197



Vologases II / Valarsaces


197 - 238

Tiridates III / Khosrov I / Trdat

Son. Attempted to claim Parthia after its fall.

c.213 - 216

After perhaps five-or-so years of relative peace Parthian king Vologeses has to fight his younger brother, Artabanus in yet another royal rebellion. In AD 216, Rome's Emperor Caracalla asks Artabanus for the hand of his daughter in marriage, in itself clear evidence of the fact that the latter is then regarded as being the ruling monarch, even though the coinage of Vologeses continues to appear in Seleucia until at least 221/2. It would seem that Vologeses is ousted from the heartland of Parthian territory by his brother, but is still strong enough to secure a rival kingdom at Seleucia.

The fractured Parthian empire is breaking down now. With the claim to rule it already dividing the empire in two on official lines, other minor kingdoms have already started emerging or will soon do so. For the moment they probably acknowledge Parthian overlordship in name, but essentially they are probably all but independent states in their own right. At least two are known - Margiana (ruled by one Ardashir) and Persis (ruled by one Papak of the Sassanids).


Artabanus of Parthia has left it too late to confront Sassanid expansion within the Parthian empire. The Battle of Hormozdgān costs Artabanus his life and, with Vologeses already gone, the Sassanids are now the most powerful faction in Iran. As an Arsacid of a cadet branch, Tiridates places his own claim on the empire, but it has already been lost.

238 - 252

Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanids, comes to power in Persia and overruns Armenia. The subsequent persecution of Christians creates innumerable martyrs and kindles nationalism among the Armenians.

252 - 283

Artavazde / Artavasdes VI

Protected by Persia.

283 - 330

Tiridates IV / Trdat

Son of Crosroes. Initially protected by Rome.


In response to the Sassanid attacks and after being informed that Roman Emperor Diocletian has negotiated with the Sassanids to the detriment of the Armenians, King Tiridates is converted to Christianity by St Gregory the Illuminator, presumably alongside his Alani wife, Arsecid, daughter of King Kundajiq. According to legend, the conversion is due to the miraculous convalescence of the king from madness. Very soon Christianity is officially adopted as Armenia's state religion. By joining the Roman Church, the state becomes the world's first Christian nation.

330 - 339

Khosrov II the Small


339 - c.350

Tigranes VII


c.350 - 368

Archak II


368 - 370

Persia occupies Armenia.

368 - 369

Cylax (Zig)

Persian governor.

368 - 369

Artaban (Karen)

Persian governor.

369 - 370

Vahan Mamikonian

Persian governor.

369 - 370

Merujan Ardzruni

Persian governor.

370 - 374


Son of Archak II.

374 - 378


Grandson of Tigranes VII.

378 - 379

Queen Zarmandukht

Wife of Pap.

378 - 379

Enmanuel Mamikonian

Provisional governor.

379 - c.380

Persia controls Armenia. A joint government is formed consisting of the Persian marzban (governor), Queen Zarmandukht, and Enmanuel Mamikonian.

c.380 - 384

The joint government continues without the Persian governor.

384 - 389

Archak III

Son of Zarmandukht. m Vardandukht, dau of Mamikonian.

384 - 386


Co-ruler. m dau of Sahak Bagratuni.

387 - 389

The kingdom is partitioned between Persia and Rome. Rome gains Lesser Armenia to the west of the Euphrates while Persia gains Greater Armenia to the east. Archak III is granted the throne of Lesser Armenia, while another member of the Arsacid family gains Greater Armenia's throne. Attempts at independence are short-lived, as Armenia becomes the constant prey of Persians, Byzantines, Kidarites, Hephthalites, tribal Khazars, and Arabs.

Kingdom of Greater Armenia (Persarmenia)
AD 387 - 1064

The Arsacids continue to rule eastern Armenia, but with an increasing Persian dominance which eventually removes all Armenian governance.

387 - 392

Khosrov III


387 - 390



392 - 414

Vram Shepuh

Brother of Khosrov III.

414 - 415

Khosrov III

Second rule.

415 - 421


Heir of Perse.


Narses Djidjrakatsi

Provisional governor.

421 - 423

Local independent governors rule.

423 - 428

Artaxias / Artaxes IV

Son of Vram Shepuh.

Marzban (Persian Armenia)
AD 428 - 590

(Additional information from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992).)

428 - 442

Veh Mihr Shahpur

442 - 451


King of Siunik.


The Fourth Catholic Council (Chalcedon) is held. Monophysitism is condemned, but the fatal disaffection of Syria and Egypt is effected (the former eventually forms the Syriac Orthodox Church which survives to the present day). Oriental Orthodoxy develops a distinctive flavour of its own under the patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt, with the majority of its adherents hailing from Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Armenia.

451 - 465

Adhur Hordmidz (Adrormizd)

465 - 481

Adhur Guschnasp (Ardervechnasp)


Oguric-speaking tribes have recently been pushed out of the Kazakh steppe by the Sabirs due to population pressures from farther east and a domino effect of tribal movement in a westwards direction. Now they make their presence felt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe. The Saragurs attack the Akatirs and other tribes that had been part of the Hunnic union. Then, perhaps prompted by the Eastern Roman empire, the Ogurics raid Sassanid-held Transcaucasia, ravaging the Georgian kingdoms of Egrisi and Iberia and also Armenia while on their way southwards.

Map of Eastern Europe AD 450-500
Soon after the middle of the fifth century AD the Hunnic empire crashed into extinction, starting with the death of Attila in 453. His son and successor, Ellac, was killed in battle in 454, and the Huns were defeated by the Ostrogoths in 456, ending Hunnic unity (click or tap on map to view full sized)

481 - 482

Sahak Bagratuni


General Mihran

Military occupation.

482 - 483

Vahan Mamikonian

Provisional governor.


General Zarmihr Karen

Military occupation.

483 - 484

Shahpur of Rayy

484 - 505/10

Vahan Mamikonian

Second rule. Provisional governor 484-485.

505/10 - 509/14

Vard Mamikonian


509/14 - 518

Guschnasp Vahram

Dates uncertain.

518 - 548

Mjej Gnuni

548 - 552

Tan Shapur

552 - 554

Guschnasp Vahram

Second rule?

554 - 558/60

Tan Shapur

Second rule.

558/60 - 564



A people, country, and town with the name in later Arab sources of Belendzher or Balandzhar is mentioned for the first time by the Arab historian at-Tabari in connection with events from the 560s. Sassanid-controlled Armenia is invaded by four peoples - 'abkhaz', 'b-ndzh-r' (Bandzhar), 'b-l-ndzh-r' (Balandzhar), and the Alani.

564 - 572



Vardan Mamikonian

Provisional governor.


Mihran Mihrevandak

Military governor.

572 - 573

Vardan Mamikonian


Golon Mihran

Military governor.

573 - 577

Vardan Mamikonian

577 - 580

Tham Khusru

580 - 581

Varaz Vzur

581 - 582/88

Aspahbadh Pahlev

582/88 - 588/89


588/89 - 590



Byzantium gains power in western Armenia but this causes the fragmentation of the kingdom. Persian control continues in the east, in a reduced Marzban.

Persian Marzban of Dwin
AD 590 - 628

590 - 591

Mouchel Mamikonian





591 - 603

Unknown governors

603 - 611

Sembat Bagratuni

611 - 613


Governor in the east.

611 - 613

Chahen Vahmanzadhaghan

Governor in the west.

613 - 616


616 - 619

Namdar Guchnasp

619 - 624

Charaplaken (Sarablagas)

624 - 627


627 - 628

Persian rule in Armenia comes to an end with the Byzantine war of Heraclius to recover the parts of Byzantium recently occupied by the Persians. The defeat of the Sassanids fortuitously frees Armenia.

A small subdivision remains in the Persian Marzban of Eastern Armenia, while the Byzantines rule the greater (western) portion of Armenia.

Persian Marzban of Eastern Armenia
AD 628 - 646

628 - 634

Varaztirots Bagratuni

634 - ?

Unknown governors


Armenia is fully reunified under Byzantine control.

Map of Eastern Europe AD 632-665
In AD 632, Qaghan Koubrat came to power as the head of an Onogur-Bulgar confederation on the Pontic-Caspian steppe, and three years later he was able to throw off Avar domination and found Great Bulgaria (click or tap on map to view full sized)

Governors of Western Armenia
AD 627 - 646

? - c.595

John Mystacon



Heraclius Crispus 'the Elder'

Magister militum. Later exarch of Africa.

627 - 635

Mzhezh / Mjej Gnuni

635 - 638

David Saharuni

638 - 643

Several 'Nakharar'

643 - 645

Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

645 - 646

Varaztirots Bagratuni


Armenia is fully reunified under Byzantine control.

Governors of Western Armenia (Byzantines)
AD 646 - 705

646 - 653

Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

Returned to power.

646 - 653

Sembat I Bagratuni


652 - 653

The Islamic empire begins to threaten the region. Aided by the Byzantines, Armenia defends itself, but the Arab campaign continues northwards into the Caucuses under General Salman. He concentrates on the towns and settlements of the western coast of the Caspian Sea and on defeating the Khazars. A description of this campaign is based on a manuscript by Ahmed-bin-Azami, and it mentions that '...Salman reached the Khazar town of Burgur... He continued and finally reached Bilkhar, which was not a Khazar possession, and camped with his army near that town, on rich meadows intersected by a large river'.

This is why several historians connect the town with the proto-Bulgarians. The Arab missionary Ahmed ibn-Fadlan also confirms this connection, as he mentions that during his trip to the Volga Bulgars in 922 he sees a group of 5,000 Barandzhars (balandzhars) who had migrated a long time ago to Volga Bulgaria. He also encounters a group of people who may tentatively be identified with the Venedi.

653 - 654

Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

Returned to power.


Mouchel Mamikonian / Mushegh



654 - 655

Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

Returned to power.



Returned to power.


Theodoros Rechtuni / Toros

Returned to power.

655 - 661

Hamazasp Mamikonian

661 - 685

Grigor Mamikonian / Gregory I

686 - 690

Achot Bargatuni / Ashot II

Ashot I is unknown.

690 - 691

Nerseh Kamsarakan

691 - 695

Sembat II Bagratuni

Son of Vanaztirots Bagratuni.


The Islamic empire gains power in Armenia.

695 - 696

Abd Allh Hatim al-Bahili

696 - 705

Sembat II Bagratuni

Restored. Independent.

705 - 885

The Byzantines are expelled and the Armenians subjugated by the Islamic empire. A small Armenian principality eventually retains some nominal independence for the state.

Principality of Armenia
AD 732 - 782

732 - 745

Ashot III Bagratuni

745 - 746

Gregory II Mamikonian

746 - 750

Ashot III Bagratuni

Second rule.

750 - 751

Gregory II Mamikonian

Second rule.

751 - 755

Mushegh II Mamikonian


751 - 754

A period of Islamic occupation occurs as the Abassids overthrow the Umayyad caliphs.

754 - 761

Sahak Bagratuni

Lord of Taron

761 - 772

Sambat VII Bagratuni

772 - 780


780 - 785

Tachat / Tadjat Antzevari

785 - 806

Interregnum, leading to Bagratid rule.

Kingdom of Greater Armenia (Bagratids)
AD 806 - 1045

In the early 800s, Byzantium slowly recovered from the first wave of Islamic expansion, as well as from other enemies. Perhaps not coincidentally, shortly after the death of the powerful Empress Irene, Armenia also began to recover. Becoming independent, the large state in eastern Anatolia enjoyed nearly two centuries of independence. Armenia became a Christian ally of Constantinople against Islamic threats, but eventually became a victim of the Byzantine recovery. The later Macedonian emperors, perhaps a little obsessed with regaining this 'lost' portion of the empire, foolishly wasted strength reducing Armenia that would have been better spent against more threatening targets. Gagik II, invited to Constantinople, was imprisoned on his arrival.

(Additional information from the Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis, Farhad Daftary.)

806 - 826

Ashot IV

826 - 855

Smbat VIII

830 - 852

Bagarat II

856 - 890

Ashot I


Armenia is recognised as being independent by the Abbasid caliph, Ahmad al Mutamid. It is in this century that Jugha's cemetery in the Nakhchivan region of north-eastern Armenia begins to see the erection of khachkars - uniquely decorated cross-shaped headstones which are characteristic of medieval Christian Armenian art. The cemetery continues to be used until the Safavid destruction of the town of Jugha in 1605, but the headstones survive until they are deliberately destroyed by Azerbaijan's government in 2005.

Jugha Cemetery
Jugha cemetery came into use in the ninth century, when the kingdom of Greater Armenia ruled over the Nakhchivan region in which it lay, before being completely destroyed by Azerbaijan in 2005 and turned into a military zone

890 - 914

Smbat I

Captured by the amir of Azerbaijan in AD 913. Died in captivity.

915 - 928

Ashot II

928 - 951



Armenia briefly submits to Ali I Sayfud Dawla, founder of the splinter Hamdanids of Aleppo

951 - 977

Ashot III

977 - 989

Smbat II

989 - 1019

Gagik I

1020 - 1041

Smbat III

1020 - 1040

Ashot IV

1042 - 1045

Gagik II

Invited to Constantinople and imprisoned.

1045 - 1064

Armenia is occupied by Byzantium, a domination which lasts barely twenty years.


Armenia is conquered by the Seljuqs.


Prince Reuben sets up the Lesser Armenian state west of Greater Armenia.


The pro-Armenian policies of the Fatamid vizier, Bahram, in Egypt provoke a military revolt led by Ridwan, the new governor of Gharbiyya. Bahram is forced out of office, and after the failure of his own revolt in Qus, he is granted permission by Caliph al Hafiz to retire to a monastery where he remains until 1139. Then al Hafiz recalls him to al Kahira (Cairo) and entrusts him with the responsibilities of the vizierate, without officially appointing him to the post, until his death in 1140.


The kingdom of Lesser Armenia is conquered by the Mameluke Sultans of Egypt. Having formed the last outpost of independent Armenian statehood, the surviving members of the nobility now disperse or are absorbed into the dominating Islamic cultures of the region. Within a few centuries, no Armenians have the status or background to be able to claim descent from their former kings, or to be able to make an effective claim for any hereditary kingship. It is only the seizure of Eastern Armenia by the Russians in 1828 that ensures the survival of an Armenian state in any form, albeit one that is a subject state.

1386 - 1394

The Chaghatayid conqueror, Timur, seizes Greater Armenia from his power base in Persia and massacres a large part of the population.

1405 - 1828

Timur dies and the Ottoman Turks, whom Timur had defeated in 1402, invade Armenia and by the sixteenth century hold all of it. Some of this territory is quickly captured from the short-lived Ak Qoyunlu White Sheep emirate. Under Ottoman rule the Armenians, although often persecuted and always discriminated against because of their religion, nevertheless acquire a vital economic role. Constantinople and all other large cities of the Ottoman empire gain colonies of Armenian merchants and financiers. Eastern Armenia is chronically disputed between Turkey and Persia.

Map of Anatolia and Persia c.AD 1475
The White Sheep emirate, or Ak Qoyunlu confederation, at its height controlled a great area of territory, stretching from Azerbaijan in the north to the Persian Gulf and eastern Iran (click or tap on map to view full sized)


Cyprus is handed over to the republic of Venice by Queen Caterina, although the kingdom, and those of Armenia and Jerusalem, continues to be claimed by the House of Savoy through Duke Charles I, relative and successor to the titles of the deposed Queen Charlotte.

1603 - 1618

The Ottoman-Safavid War (1603-1618) is the result of Safavid Shah Abbas rebuilding Iran and ending the chaos of his father's reign. Abbas reverses the losses suffered during the previous war and increases Iran's territories even beyond their traditional borders at Dagestan in the north. It includes a scorched earth policy being pursued in Armenia which results in the town of Jugha being flattened and the medieval stone-cross cemetery falling into disuse.

1795 - 1796

The new shah of Persia, Agha Mohammad, has put an end to the dynastic struggles at home and now mounts a campaign to re-strengthen Persian positions in Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. He also launches a devastating attack on Georgia which sees Tiblisi destroyed and from which the kingdom never recovers. However, Georgia's agreement with Russia means that Catherine the Great launches the Persian Expedition of 1796. Georgia is cleared of Persians with little trouble, but with Azerbaijan also seemingly captured, the empress' sudden death means that her son, Paul, is free to cancel the expedition (resulting in a sense of injustice amongst many officers involved).

1826 - 1828

The Russo-Persian War is the last major military conflict between the Russian and Persian empires, and the first time the two have fought each other since the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813. Shah Fath Ali is still desperate for increased foreign subsidies, and is advised by British agents to reconquer the territories that have been lost to Russia. On 28 July 1826, a 35,000-strong Persian army is led across the border by Abbas Mirza, invading the khanates of Talysh and Karabakh. The khans surrender their main cities to the Persians. However, Russian military power proves too much for them and eastern Armenia is taken before Persia agrees peace terms, bolstered in part by the start of the Russo-Turkish War. Russia makes Eastern Armenia a province (it subsequently also becomes known as Russian Armenia). The western section is still held by Turkey.

Eastern Armenia (Russian / Soviet Armenia)
AD 1828 - 1991

Eastern Armenia was only a section of Armenian territory, the easternmost remnants of the ancient Armenian kingdom which was fragmented in AD 590 and which was subsequently controlled by various regional powers. Armenia gradually lost direct rule, whether by its own princes or by foreign governors, and became submerged within other states such as Timurid Persia from the late fourteenth century, the Ak Qoyunlu emirate in the fifteenth century, and the Ottomans from the sixteenth century onwards. No nobility survived from the years of independence to be able to claim an hereditary kingship, having been dispersed and dissolved over several centuries of occupation.

The eastern section fell (or remained) under the control of the Persian empire - formally from 1502 - until the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828 showed just how the balance of power in the region was changing. Russian military might was too much for the Persians so, although they started the war, Russia ended it by invading Eastern Armenia and holding onto it. The Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828 was the last major military conflict between the Russian and Persian empires, and the first time the two had fought each other since the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813. The imperial Russians, and in their later Soviet identity, now managed to hold onto Armenia until the Soviet empire dissolved at the end of the twentieth century.

The term 'eastern Armenia' had long been used by Armenians themselves to denote the Armenian Highlands, their traditional homeland into which they had settled upon arriving in the region from the eighth century BC onwards. There has never been established an official dividing line between this and western Armenia, but the borders of the modern Armenian state can be used as a rough guide. Western Armenia in this period consisted of six provinces, all of which were firmly part of the Ottoman empire and subsequent republic of Turkey. Under Timurid control, the Armenians of Eastern Armenia had become a Christian minority in their lands. The Russians reversed this enforced trend, so that ethnic Armenians could again form a majority in their core lands for the first time in four hundred years. Armenians were encouraged to resettle Eastern Armenia from Iran and Ottoman-controlled Armenia.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Brigitta Davidjants, from Historical Dictionary of Armenia, Rouben Paul Adalian (Scarecrow Press, 2010), from The Population of Persian Armenia Prior to and Immediately Following its Annexation to the Russian Empire: 1826-1832, George A Bournoutian (The Wilson Center, Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, 1980), and from External Link: BBC Country Profiles.)


With Persian control of eastern Armenia replaced by that of imperial Russia, Armenian patriots are hoping for some form of semi-autonomous control over their lands. Unfortunately the centralist-minded Czar Nicholas I has other ideas. The outspoken Bishop Nerses is soon shipped off to Bessarabia (modern Moldova) for complaining too loudly (although he is allowed to return in 1843). However, the Armenian Church retains its autonomy. It is also allowed to control the opening of new schools which greatly benefit the population, along with printing houses which results in a flourishing of Armenian newspapers.

Siege of Yerevan Fortress, 1827, Franz Roubaud
The Russian capture of Erivan in 1828 ended four centuries of Persian rule of eastern Armenia, allowing its people to leave the Islamic sphere of influence and join the contemporarily more progressive European sphere of influence (the painting is by Franz Roubaud, showing the 1827 siege of Yerevan Fortress)


Having treated Armenia as a military zone until now - it faces outwards to the Ottoman empire and Iran, both perpetual opponents of Russian expansion - Armenia is now merged into the other Transcaucasian provinces with scant regard to ethnic boundaries or national identity. Despite this, Armenians still retain a good deal of cultural and religious autonomy, aided in this period by a Russian high commissioner to the Caucuses who is sympathetic to them.


Parts of Western Armenia are taken by Russia from the Ottomans following the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. Another influx of ethnic Armenians in to Eastern Armenia takes place from Ottoman-held Western Armenia. For the first time since the fourteenth century, ethnic Armenians now form a majority population within their own (remaining) lands.

1894 - 1915

The attempted extermination of the Armenians within the Ottoman empire is put into action under Sultan Abd al-Hamid II. It is sporadically resumed, notably from 24 April 1915, when the Armenians are accused of aiding the Russian invaders during the First World War. Over 600,000 Armenians are killed by Turkish soldiers or die of starvation during their forced deportation to Ottoman-controlled Syria and Iraq. The Armenians rise in revolt at Lake Van (traditional location at which the Armenian state had been founded), which they hold until relieved by Russian troops.


Russian troops fire on protestors in St Petersburg (an event dubbed 'Bloody Sunday'), sparking the 1905 Russian Revolution. Baku, which is dominated by an Armenian middle class and an Azeri working class, sees violent conflict erupt along ethnic lines. It quickly spreads into the surrounding countryside, with calculations showing around 1,500 Armenian dead against around 700 Azeris. The fighting is symptomatic of increasing ethnic tensions in the region which will only increase throughout the twentieth century. One benefit of this round of violence, though, is a change of strategy by the Russians which sees people gain considerably more freedoms.

Russian Revolution of 1905
The Russian Revolution of 1905 brought suffering and around 1,500 Armenian dead, but its aftermath saw a reversal in the imperial polcy of 'Russification' and greater freedoms for Armenians in general

1917 - 1920

Following the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, in November 1917 the Caucasus is permitted the right to form an independent state. The Federative Democratic Republic is proclaimed in April 1918, with the Armenian First Republic a part of this. But this arrangement lasts all of a month as old tensions between Georgians, Armenians, and Turkic-speaking Azeris resurface. Each forms its own republic, with the Armenia First Republic being created in May 1918.

The Armenian general, Andranik Ozanian, is not satisfied with Armenia's borders, especially while he is busy fighting off Ottoman attempts to invade the southern Caucasus. He goes further in 1918 by forming the 'Republic of Mountainous Armenia' around Karabakh, Nakhichevan, and Zanghezur. The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 formally recognises the collective Armenian territories as being part of the first republic.

In the meantime, British forces occupy Baku in support of the Armenians, helping to defend it during the Battle of Baku in 1918. However, Baku falls to an Azeri-Ottoman army on 15 September 1918, forcing British and Armenian forces and much of the city's Armenian population to flee. The Armistice of Mudros of 30 November 1918 briefly restores British forces to the city. As the Russian Civil War draws to a conclusion, Soviet Russia invades Armenia and the new Azerbaijan state, incorporating both of them into the USSR.

1921 - 1922

Russia and Turkey establish their respective borders with one another and the remaining independent Armenian lands fall forcibly under Russian control. This is still known as Eastern Armenia, now the only surviving fragment of the ancient state. In 1922, Armenia is formally incorporated into the USSR.

1932 - 1933

Less than a decade of Stalin's economic changes, plus the imprisonment of millions of people in correctional labour camps, and a brutal reorganisation of agricultural practices, results in a catastrophic famine throughout the Soviet empire. The breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine, is especially badly hit, with the famine being known as the Holodomor, 'extermination by hunger'. Other Soviet states also suffer, such as Armenia, but perhaps not quite as badly.

1940 - 1945

The Soviets invade Poland from the east on 17 September 1940. As part of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact they annexe western Ukraine, west Byelorussia, and also Bessarabia on 28 September (the last of which is formed with Ukraine's Trans-Dniester region into the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic). Armenians send hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the various fronts to help defend the 'motherland' and the various freedoms they have under it.

Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin, who was born in Georgia, led the Soviet Union away from its initial idealistic concept of equal citizenship for all and instead instituted a brutal regime of fear


Encouraged by the new Soviet policy of openness ('glasnost'), Armenians begin to campaign for Nagorno-Karabakh to be united with Armenia. This is a region with a predominantly Armenian population which is located inside the borders of the neighbouring Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. In December of the same year an earthquake strikes northern Armenia, killing 25,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. The relief effort is slow and chaotic. The Metsamor nuclear plant is closed down after the earthquake highlights safety concerns.

1990 - 1991

Armenia declares its independence from the crumbling Soviet Union on 23 August 1990. Upon the final collapse of communist Russia in 1991 the Armenian state becomes the independent 'Republic of Armenia', and remains Christian. It adopts a democratically-elected presidential system of government with multi-party elections. Its first president elects to join the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States.

Modern Armenia
AD 1991 - Present Day

The modern republic of Armenia is the surviving easternmost remnants of the much greater ancient state of Armenia. Its capital is Yerevan, which was founded in 782 BC as the citadel of Erebuni by the Urartuan King Argishti I. Landlocked, Armenia is bordered to the west by Turkey, to the north by Georgia, to the east by Azerbaijan, and at its southern tip by Iran along the River Araks. It also has an Azerbaijani exclave between that southern tip and the rest of the Iranian border up to the Turkish border, following the course of the River Araz (the Araks again). This is the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (Naxçıvan in Azerbaijani), while Armenia itself claims the Nagorno-Karabakh region which lies well inside the main Azerbaijani border.

Armenia's history is long and complicated. Its people first formed an independent state in the second century BC, although they had occupied areas of territory around Lake Van since their migration there in the eighth century BC. The Armenian kingdom was formed of two main regions - Greater Armenia which lay to the east of the Euphrates, and Little, or Lesser Armenia to the west of the river. It survived through fluctuating fortunes until the eleventh century, after which it became a trophy of the Byzantine empire, the Seljuq Turks, Persia, and the Ottomans. In 1828, Russia acquired Eastern Armenia from Persia and turned it into a province, while the Ottomans held onto the larger western section (the empire's modern Turkish successor still holds much of it). The creation of Russian-controlled Armenia created the basis for the modern state.

The conflict over the predominantly Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh overshadowed Armenia's return to independence in 1991, and the state remains the subject of a trade blockade, imposed by neighbouring Turkey and Azerbaijan. Relations with Turkey are virtually non-existent anyway, until it recognises that the killing by the Ottoman empire of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 amounted to genocide, which Turkey strongly disputes. Armenia is also not entirely happy with its equally small neighbour to the north, Georgia, as it blames this state for being loyal to Turkey in the fairly recent past. However, Armenia does have a free market economy and has benefited during the twenty-first century from trade links with the rest of Europe, the CIS, and also its southern neighbours. With a population of about three million, Armenia's history of territorial loss means that it has a diaspora of up to eight million people across the world, greatly outnumbering those Armenians who remain in modern Armenia.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Brigitta Davidjants, and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and The Guardian, and The Economist (dead link).)

1991 - 1994

Although conflict had begun in 1989, full-scale war now breaks out as ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh fight for independence from Azerbaijan, supported by troops and resources from Armenia proper. On the ground the war is largely a success for Armenia, with Nagorno-Karabakh secured and a total of sixteen per cent of Azerbaijani territory captured overall. In 1994 a Russian-brokered ceasefire is put in place to end outright hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, but it fails to deliver any lasting solution. For the time being, the region is left as a self-proclaimed republic, with ethnic Armenian forces in control of Azerbaijani territory that surrounds Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh War
The war over Nagorno-Karabakh lasted for just three years, but constant flare-ups and a marked increase in 2014 of border skirmishes signify that the problem is far from being resolved


Robert Kocharian leaves Karabakh which is surrounded entirely by the territory of Azerbaijan to become prime minister in Armenia. Foreign Minister Arkadiy Gukasian is elected as the new president of Karabakh. President Aliyev of Azerbaijan and his Armenian counterpart, Levon Ter-Petrosian, agree to an OSCE proposal for a staged Karabakh solution. The Armenian leader is criticised at home for making too many concessions and he subsequently resigns.


Presidential elections in Armenia have become increasingly bitter affairs, with allegations of corruption and vote-rigging a staple of every election. The results from this election show Serzh Sargsyan winning easily, but the opposition under Ter-Petrosyan raises fresh accusations of election-rigging. Protests by tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan force the police and then the army to become involved. A state of emergency is declared and eight protestors die in confrontations, along with casualties being suffered by the army. Sargsyan is subsequently recognised as the legitimate president.

In March of the same year the worst fighting in recent years breaks out in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia accuse each other of starting the clashes which leave several dead on each side. Further clashes in 2012, 2016, and 2017 leave more dead on both sides.


The governments of Armenia and Turkey agree to normalise relations in October 2009, but ratification is stalled by new demands on both sides.


In February, President Serge Sarkisian withdraws from parliament the landmark 2009 agreement with Turkey to restore diplomatic ties, citing citing the absence of political will on the Turkish side. Turkey has insisted that Armenia resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh situation first, while also refusing to admit that the mass killings of Armenians in the First World War had been anything other than an inevitable tragedy of war. It is also under pressure from its oil-rich Azeri allies not to aid Armenia in any way.


The controversy continues surrounding Turkey's role in the killing of ethnic Armenians during 1915. The German parliament approves a resolution declaring that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during the First World War is classed as genocide. Turkey bitterly opposes the Bundestag (lower house) resolution, and warns that it could hurt ties. Armenians continue to uphold the claim that up to 1.5 million of their people had been killed in the atrocities of 1915. Turkey says the toll had been much lower and rejects the term 'genocide'. The timing is awkward, as the European Union needs Turkey to help stem the migrant influx from Syria.