The five Meliks of Karabagh
After the disappearance of actual royalty there still existed in Armenia group of independent princes, descendants of old royal houses, who were called governors, governors of marches, heads of provinces, and so on. In time these also disappeared in their turn, and in the 16th and 17th centuries there came into prominence certain men of noble descent, some of whom already possessed, and others, who were new-comers, who acquired territorial rights over large tracts of land on the Karabagh plateau, eventually becoming the rulers or chiefs of five small adjacent provinces. They received formal recognition at the hands of Shah Abbas, who sanctioned and established the independent rule of each in his own territories, reviving and bestowing on them the old title of Mielik (*1), or Melik, in acknowledgment of the great services rendered by them to him in his wars against the Osmanlis.
Their provinces in geographical order were as follows:
The succession to the Melikdoms was generally hereditary, the oldest son succeeding under the title of Melik. The younger sons were called Beg. The ancestors of all the Meliks had possessed the title of Uzbashy (centurion), a title granted to men who owned estates and lands, and who had the right of keeping armed retainers. The rule of the Meliks was autocratic and absolute, each governing his province and his people according to the laws and customs of his forefathers, with unlimited
(*4) Ieritsmankants : the Three Children (Book of Daniel).
(*5) Vank : monastery, including the church, and all other buildings appertaining thereto
(*6) A "Gospel" village, Avietharanuots (Avietharan = Gospel), means a village in which there is a church possessing a notable manuscript of the Gospels celebrated for its workmanship in illuminations, or binding, or possibly for its miraculous properties, such as healing the sick, and so on.
authority over the persons of his subjects or dependents, even to the infliction of capital punishment
The Meliks re-constructed and fortified the ancient strongholds of Aghvan kings and princes. (Their provinces had formerly formed part of the Aghvan kingdom). The Melik of Gulistan possessed two fortresses one near the village of the same name, at the summit of an inaccessible height, and another at the small town of Thalish, opposite the Vank of Horiek. The fortress of the Melik of Chrapiert'h was situated opposite the Ieritsmankants (*4) Vank, (*5) by the river Tharthar, on the top of a terrifically precipitous rocky peninsula formed by the waters of the rivers Tharthar and Thurghin furiously rushing on either side. The Khachin Melik's fort was near the Khachin river, opposite the celebrated Vank of Gandtsasar, on the summit of a lofty thickly-wooded mountain peak, and had been originally constructed by the Hassan-Djalalian princes against Tartar invasions. Another fortress in the same province, on a pinnacle high up amongst the clouds, was called the Magpies' Fort, supposed to be accessible only to those birds. The Varranda Melik's fort was at Chanakhch, a "Gospel" (*6) village opposite a nunnery, and the Melik of Thizak occupied a fort at the small town of Thugh, high up near the heavens.
THE BEGLARIANS, MELIKS OF GULISTAN.
The Black Centurion, or "Sev" (Black) Apov, the first of the Beglarian clan to settle in Karabagh, came there in an impoverished condition, with a few dependents and followers, one autumn in the end of the sixteenth, or beginning of the seventeenth century, and lived with his people in tents pitched on the left bank of the river Tharthar, near what is now called the village of Thalish. Apparently some calamity had driven him from his native country of Nij in the province of Uthi, and had compelled him to seek an asylum elsewhere.
Shortly after his coming to Karabagh, a raid of robbers having taken place on the neighbouring lands of the Khan of Barda, "Sev" Apov
||Sev Apov of the
(*7) To find the date according to the Armenian Little Era subtract 551 from the year of Our Lord - 1918 = 1367.
(*8) Obaner : a tent, or encampment of tents without sides, having only a roof. These nomad tribes move with the sun, so that it is always summer with them, and they need no other shelter.
went out with some of his young men in pursuit of the invaders, returning soon after with the stolen property and cattle, and the thieves as well, having caught and taken them prisoners. Some of the retainers of the Khan appeared next day, saying they had orders to arrest the thieves, whom they took away and brought before their master without saying to whom the credit of the capture was due, in order to claim a reward. But this wounded the self-esteem and roused the indignation of the captives, who had surrendered to a worthier foe. "Punish us as thou wilt", said they to the khan, "for we have laid waste thy lands, but dishonour us not by remunerating the unachieved prowess of these miserable men, as if they had been our victors!". Whereupon the khan, discovering the real hero of the adventure to be the Black Centurion, wanted to reward him, but, like a brave man, he refused any recompense, saying, "Grant me only a place to settle in". The Khan gave him the village of Thalish, or Thalij, near the Vank of Horiek.
On his tombstone is inscribed one line only, from which it appears that he died in the year 1081 of the Armenian era (*7), A.D. 1632. He left several sons and was succeeded by the oldest, Melik Beglar, who resembled his father in wisdom and courage. He founded and consolidated the Melikdom of the Beglar family, extending his rule over much of the neighbouring country, including the fortress of Gulistan, which he repaired and resided in. He left two sons, Apov and Thamraz. The former, who succeeded him, was known as Kagh, or Lame, Apov, on account of an injury to one of his legs. His life of pillage and plunder enabled him to gain and keep power. He took everything by force, including his wife! One day, having gone out on a marauding expedition with of his men, he chanced on the obaner (*8) of Mamlath Khan in the mountains above the village of Gedashen. While attacking him he caught sight of his daughter, and was so attracted by her beauty that he entirely forgot his plan of plundering the Khan of his rich flocks and herds of cattle, carrying off his daughter instead, to his fortress of Gulistan, where he had her converted and baptised, and then married her. This abduction brought about a long and sanguinary feud between Apov and the Khan, ending in the defeat of the latter, and for many years
(*9) Apov was probably the grandson, not the son, of Beglar.
(*10) This fire-arm was sold for 1000 roubles, says Raffi in a footnote, by the descendants of the Melik Beglarians to General Yermolov, who sent it to Moscow to the palace of "Arujenaya".
the Khan's anger against his daughter and her self-invited bridegroom was unappeased. Old age brought reconciliation, and, having no successor, he left his daughter all his villages, so that Apov, through his wife, became the owner of a large tract of land. He died in 1728 (*9), and his son Yusup being under age, the government of the country was given to his brother Thamraz, and Yusup was placed in his guardianship. But Thamraz carried on this government from his palace near the Vank of Horiek not as regent, but as ruler, treating Yusup with cruelty and meditating his destruction. Yusup lived in the fortress of Gulistan with his mother, the beautiful Ghamar-soltana, in an unenviable condition.
When the vizir Mirza Thahir, tax and tribute-collector to Shah Sultan Hussein, visited Karabagh, Melik Thamraz, wishing to ingratiate himself with the Persian government, received him to his house, imposed fresh and unjust taxes on his people, and hinted to the vizir that his brother's gun, in the possession of young Yusup, was a rare fire-arm, worthy of the Shah's treasury. Yusup was told to bring the weapon, and the vizir, on seing it, took it away, saying "This fire-piece is more suitable for the treasury of the Shah that for you". Yusup returned to his mother with tears in his eyes and without the only relic she possessed of her husband's brave deed. "Unworthy son of a brave father", cried she, "rather would I that thy dead body had been brought to me, for then men would have said that thou hadst lost thy life sooner than lose this relic of thy father". Stung by her reproached - "I will recover it", exclaimed the boy, and asked for money to buy arms. His mother gave him the few gold ornaments she wore on her head.
The vizir, having collected all that he could, set out with his servants and mules laden with tribute. Yusup, with a band of his young comrades, lay in wait for him and fell upon the cavalcade at the narrow pass of the river Tharthar, where Yusup with his own hand cut off the vizir's head and recovered his father's gun (*10). They killed some of the followers and some escaped, while Yusup and his brave boys carried off all the gold to his fortress. This deed wend unpunished, for about that time the Shah was deposed and the Afghans came and took possession of Ispahan.
Yusup's power having increased, he began to think of revenging
||Chrapiet'h and Khachin
(*11) Now Murov Dagh.
himself on his uncle and regaining his rightful inheritance. He formed an alliance with Atham of Chrapiert'h, whose relations with Thamraz were not very friendly, and the two together besieged Thamraz in his fortress, which they took after some severe fighting, and Thamraz was hanged on an elm-tree, which Raffi says was still standing in 1881, on the boundary between Gulistan and Chrapiert'h, and was known as the "Bloody Chenar".
Yusup's mother, Ghamar-soltana, who by her wise counsels had gently helped her son to rise to his rightful position, died in the year 1753, and was buried in the family burial ground of the Melik Beglarians, opposite the Vank of Horiek.
THE ISRAELIANS, MELIKS OF CHRAPIERT'H
In 1687 Melik Iesaï, of the Israelian family, with a number of followers and dependents, came to Karabagh with the intention of killing the principal Khan of Siunik, who had had immoral relations with his (Melik legal's) sister. The Khan's men attacked him, but he defeated them in the valley of the Arav Mountain (*11), putting them to flight and killing seven of the Khan's sons. He took possession of the mountain, the hill tribes and nomads who dwelt thereon gradually coming under his rule, and then he occupied neighbouring territory as far as the village of Thiuthakan, now known as Kathughkasar. He was succeeded by his brothers, during whose suzerainty many other places were added to their Melikdom, including Chrapiert'h, the name of this fortress giving them their territorial designation of Meliks of Chrapiert'h.
THE HASSAN-DJALALIANS, MELIKS OF KHACHIN
Of the five Meliks of Karabagh the Meliks of Khachin were the only clan originally belonging to Karabagh. Their family, that of the Hassan-Djalalian princes, was a very ancient one, the members of which in course of time increased so greatly in numbers that the whole of the small province of Khachin was split
up and divided amongst them, the resultant weakening of their authority leading to the final extinction of their rule in Karabagh.
(To this family belonged the Catholicos Johannes of Gandtsasar, who showed hospitality to Emin at his monastery. He fell a victim to Ibrahim Khan in the end, and his brother Bishop Sarkies became Catholicos of Gandtsasar, dying in 1828.)
THE SHAHNAZARIANS, MEIJKS OF VARRANDA.
The historian Arakiel relates that when Shah Abbas the Great, journeyed from Tiflis to Kiegham, he took up his abode in the small town or village of Mazra, in the house of Melik Shahnazar, an Armenian, and a powerful noble, who showed the Shah hospitality and became his intimate and honoured friend.The Shah gave him the title of Melik and bestowed several village, and tracts of land on him and on his brothers. In 1682 Shahnazar's son Hussein, and his brother's son Melik Baghi, went to Karabagh and settled at Chanakhch in the province of Varranda, built churches and monasteries and fortified the place.In 1721 when Caucasian mountaineers overran the country, Baghi resisted them and saved his lands from their inroads, after which more territory came under his rule.
In 1733, when, under the leadership of Melik Avankhan of Thizak, the Armenians rose against the Osmanlis and cleared them out of Karabagh, the heroic wife of Melik Hussein of Varranda, Anna-khatoon, sister of Melik Avan, led the attack at the "Gospel" village of Chanakhch. Suleiman-beg, commanding the Osmanlis in that neighbourhood, had cast his eyes on Gaianè, the beautiful daughter of the Melik, but, not daring to carry her off, had proposed to marry her, and the parents had, with various excuses, put him off till the day planned for the rising. When fighting broke out Suleiman-beg tried to save himself by taking refuge in the house of the Melik, who had gone to another part of his province, the command of the "Gospel" village being in the hands of his wife. Gaianè, standing armed at the door of the house, seeing her hated bridegroom rush in, drew her scimitar and thrust it into his heart, killing him. After this shedding of blood she gave up her life to religion, entering the nunnery at Chanakhch, where, in 1881, Raffi was shown a beautiful manuscript of the Gospels which had been written by Gaianè.
Melik Hussein died in 1736 and was succeeded by Melik Mirza-beg,
||Avan, the Chief
of the Meliks
(*12) Allah-verdi means Gift of God.
his brother's son who was beheaded, having greatly offended the Shah, and Melik Hussein's oldest son Hovsep became Melik by command of the Shah. His step-brother Shahnazar was a most immoral man, adopting in his private life the polygamous customs of the Persians, whereby he greatly shocked and revolted the religious feelings of the people, and incurred the hatred of all the other Meliks. He also committed a terrible crime. Although his brother had become Melik by command of the Shah, he could not endure the thought of his possessing the suzerainty, and one evening he went to Hovsep's house, killed him with his own hands, and had his whole family put to death. One child only, Sahi Beg, was saved by his nurse escaping with him to the house of his uncle, Melik Allah-verdi (*12) of the Hassan-Djalalians, in Khachin. This crime had very far-reaching consequences, for Shahnazar now became the ruler of the province of Varranda, and eventually, by reason of his alliance with Panah-khan, the cause of the downfall of Armenian rule in Karabagh. He was half Turkman, his mother having been the daughter of the Khan of Nakhichevan, and captured by Melik Hussein, who, later, married her.
THE AVANIANS, MELIKS OF THIZAK.
Melik Avan belonged to the family of the Loris Meliks, who, in the 16th century, were very powerful in the province of Lori. On account of a dispute with his relative Elizbar, who had seized his paternal in heritance, Avan quitted Lori and came to Karabagh, settling at the village of Thugh in the province of Thizak. Avan fortified the place and built a fine church there. Later, when some of his descendants came under the dominion of Ibrahim Khan, they turned Mohamedan, but Avan's memory is still cherished amongst them with great pride, his grave is regularly blessed, and the Easter-Day services in the church are performed at their expense.
About the end of the second decade of the 18th century the greater part of Persia was overrun by the Afghans, another portion was in the hands of the Russians, while Persian Armenia and Georgia were occupied by the Osmanlis (Turks), who by the year 1723 had penetrated to Tiflis and Gandtsak (Ganja, now Elisavetpol), and had reached Karabagh. The Armenian Meliks, too few in numbers to resist the invasion alone,
(*13) This is the word in
the original. But the spectacle of a Shah abashed
had appealed to Russia for help, which was not granted to them. However, the conquests of Nadir Shah, who cleared out the Afghans, invaded India, and then turned his sword against the Osmanlis, inspired the Meliks with courage to rise against the invaders, whose commander, Sari Moustafa, had established himself at Gandtsak, quartering his troops all over Karabagh, in the very houses of the Armenians. Under the leadership of Avan of Thizak, the chief, and the most powerful of the five Meliks, a rising was planned for the night of St. Bartholomew, 1733. At the given signal, all the Armenians rose as one man against their unwelcome guests and slew them, cleansing Karabagh in one night of their hated presence, Sari Moustafa barely escaping with his life to Erivan.
At the time of his coronation Nadir Shah assembled all the great nobles of his kingdom, and bestowed various honours and titles upon them, and also upon the Armenian Meliks, in return for the assistance they had rendered him against the Osmanlis. By a special firman he re- affirmed and re-established their authority in their dominions, particularly favouring Melik Avan, and bestowing on him the title of Khan. To Allah-ghouli of the Israelians he gave the title of Soltan, or Sultan, which in Persia was a title given to generals, and in the reign of Nadir was a distinction bestowed on the heads of provinces.
Melik Avan once during a whole year provided at his own expense all the food required by the Shah's soldiers, and Nadir was very friendly with him, visiting him in his house and frequently dining there. The Melik was noted for keeping a sumptuous table, at which every procurable luxury was to be found. One day the Shah, somewhat abashed (*13) at the lavish hospitality offered him, asked that a dish of fresh (*14) mushrooms should be served to him. The Melik promised that his wish should be gratified, but whether it happened to be during the winter, or whether mushrooms were not to be found in the fields of Karabagh at that season, when the moment arrived for the desired dainty to be set before the king, the Melik's retainers placed before the royal guest a dish heaped up with gold! "But I asked for fresh mushrooms," protested the bewildered Shah. " We can satisfy our hunger without mushrooms," was his host's cool reply - " But your warriors are in need of gold in order to defeat your enemies." And the Shah, pleased at the answer, accepted the gold instead of the mushrooms!
(*15) Grand-mother of the young lady who jilted my ancestor, and was forsaken by him in turn. Uzlar must be Kizlar, where Emin encountered Stupition.
(Melik's Avan's visits to Petersburgh and the honours bestowed on him by Russian royalties, referred to by Emin, are lengthily related by Raffi.)
Avan died in 1744, and was buried in the porch of his church at Thugh. His oldest son succeeded him, but reigned for one year only, and was succeeded by his younger brother Melik lesaï, treacherously killed by Ibrahim-khan in 1781. Most of Avan's descendants perished by treachery, and on account of this his wife Gohar-Khanum (*15) quitted Thizak and went to live at Astrakhan and then at Uzlar. Melik Iesaï's whole life was passed in warfare. He was the first of the Meliks to train and arm his his men, forming them into bodies of regular troops for the defence of his territory, for his province, bordering on Persian, was exposed to continual attack and invasion.
THE RISE OF PANAH-KHAN.
During the reign of Nadir Shah, a number of nomad Turkman robber tribes called Jevanshir, whose occupations were sheep-tending and brigandage, were inhabiting the regions on the right bank of the river Kur. For the sake of the preservation of peace in the interior of Persia the Shah commanded these turbulent half-savage peoples to settle at Sarkhas, In Khorassan. A man belonging to one of their tribes, named Panah, having somehow contrived to find favour with the Shah, was appointed to an insignificant post in the Shah's dominions-the only necessary qualification for which was the possession of a stentorian voice, in order to go up and down the country loudly proclaiming the Shah's commands. "Sharji" (town-crier) Panah performed this duty for a considerable period of time, but for some misdemeanour or another he was condemned to lose his head, whereupon he fled to his native regions, roaming about in Karabagh, a fugitive vagabond, till Allah-ghouli-soltan, Melik of Chrapiert'h, took pity on him and made him his tax-collector. From time to time stringent orders came from Persia that Panah should be seized and sent back to suffer his sentence, but under Allah-ghouli-soltan's powerful protection he was safe.
In 1747, after Nadir Shah was assassinated in his sleep one night in Khorassan by the bodyguardsman on duty at the door of his tent, ter
rebellions broke out in Persia, Shah succeeding Shah. The Jevanshirs took the opportunity of returning to their native desert regions the banks of the Kur, while "Sharji" Panah no longer went in fear losing his head. He resigned his post as tax-collector and rejoined the tribesmen as an ordinary shepherd, and later on, after having acquired some-influence over them, incited them to rebel against their employers when he himself became their employer. Thus in a short time he had contrived to get them into his power. At that time the Persians were selling political posts, honours, and titles. "Sharji" Panah, through the influence of Amir Aslam Khan, who was sent to the districts near Karabagh as governor by Atil Shah, purchased the title of Khan and became Panah Khan. But the ambition of this low-born tribesman, this far-sight son of the desert, soared much higher than the acquisition of a title. What he aspired to was the absolute rule of an Ishkhan, or prince, and for him-a shepherd-it was not easy to attain to that height. His tribesmen were herdsmen, cave-dwellers in winter, and in summer need ing pasturage and water for their flocks. The entire plateau of Karabagh belonged to the Meliks, to whom they had to pay tithes as grazing fee. Panah wanted to secure a central place for himself on the plateau. He first went to Bayat and tried to construct a fort there. But there came Yusup of the Beglarians, Melik of Gulistan, and Allah-ghouli-soltan of the Israelians, Melik of Chrapiert'h, and with them came Hadji Chelepy governor of Shirwan, and pulled it all down. Then he went to Tikranakiert'h and fortified a place there. But again came the two Meliks, and also Allah-verdi of the Hassan-Djalalians, for it was on his boundaries and they razed it to the ground. Panah, seeing that their league was too strong for him, desisted for a time.
Irritated at the impositions of the Persian authorities after Nadir Shah's death, Melik lesaï of Thizak ceased to pay tribute to the Persian government. Panah betrayed him to Atil Shah, who sent Kasim Khan governor of Karabagh. with his troops to punish Melik lesaï. Panah joined him with a few thousand men, and they besieged the Melik in his fortress of Thugh but it was too strongly fortified for them to succeed in taking it. Finding themselves between two fires-part of the Melik's troops being ambushed on the thickly wooded mountain slopes and part being in the fort-they retreated, came back the following year, and were again obliged to retire. Thereafter, for seven long years, Panah fought with Melik Iesaï. Then, seeing that he could, not defeat him, the cunning fellow made peace, and adopted other tactics.
||An Unholy Alliance
and a Terrible Crime
(*16) The wife of Mirsa-khan was Emin's hostess at Shushi.
After Melik-Shahnazar had committed the terrible crime of fratricide, the four other Meliks, who had unanimously vowed vengeance upon him, invaded Varranda with their troops, and Shahnazar retreated to his "Avietharanuots" fort of Chanakhch. The siege lasted many days, winter overtook them, and, after sacking and destroying the greater part of the village of Varranda, the Meliks went away, intending to return in the spring. Now came Panah's opportunity. Shahnazar needed an ally, and he found one ready to his hand in the Jevanshir. Panah advised him to build another fort for greater security, choosing the site on Shahnazar's private property, and the two constructed a fort on the banks of the river Karkar as quickly as they could in the intervals of fighting the four Meliks. Shahnazar laid the foundation stone, and the fortress was com- pleted in 1752, the people of the village of Shoshi were brought to live there, and it was named Shoshi or Shushi fortress. Panah had now succeded in establishing himself in the heart of Karabagh, to carry out his infamous plots for breaking up the league of the Meliks, with the aid of his ally, the traitor and villain, Shahnazar of Varranda.
Sahi Beg, the rightful heir, son of Shalinazar's murdered elder brother, had now grown up, and with the help of his uncle, Melik Allah-Verdi of Khachin, desired to avenge the death of his father and regain his inheritance. Shahnazar now planned to kill the boy as well as his uncle, while Panah, on the other hand, wanted to place someone in Khachin as his tool, to impose his will on the whole of the province. Melik Allah- verdi lived in his own fortress, called the Ulu-papi fort, near the river Khachin at the village of Karamech, or Orakhach, called by the Turkmans the Ballu-Kaya fort. Panah and Shahnazar besieged him there with their Armenian and Turkman troops, but they received such a terrible battering from the Melik, who was renowned as an invincible warrior, that they fled for their lives, and shut themselves up in their fortress at Shushi.
Panah and Shahnazar then plotted secretly with Mirza-khan, (*16) Melik Allah-verdi's overseer at the village of Khanziristan, promising to make him Melik of Khachin if he would betray his master into their hands. Mirza-khan went to Allah-verdi and told him that Panah and Shahnazar were preparing to attack him with overwhelming forces, which the Melik would not be strong enough to withstand in his own fortress, advising him to retreat to the impregnable Magpies' Fort and provision it against
(*17) The name Allah-ghouli means Servant of God.
a siege, he, Mirza-khan, as his faithful servant, rendering him all possible help in making the necessary preparations, to carry out which he invited Allah-verdi to his own house, whence they could visit the fort, which was not far from the village of Khanziristan. The unsuspecting Melik accepted the invitation. But at supper-time, Mirza-khan, Judas-like, left the room. He locked the door behind him, and Panah's and Shahnazar's men, who were lying concealed in the house, rushed in and overpowered the Melik. By Panah's orders he was beheaded and all his family killed, while Shahnazar killed young Sahi Beg. The fratricide's hands were steeped in the blood of his brother's son.
Panah kept his promise. Mirza-khan became Melik of Khachin (1755), he and his successors faithfully served the Khan of Shushi, and the Hassan-djalalians almost disappeared from Khachin. Infinite harm was thus wrought to Armenian rule in Karabagh. The Meliks still op- posing Panah did not lose heart, but with their whole united strength fought against Panah and his Armenian allies, for years carrying on a terrible bloody warfare which did great injury to their country. Then Panah, seeing no other way of ending it, proposed a truce and a con- ference, either at Shushi or the Vank of Amarassa. To tills latter place the Meliks sent Allah-ghouli-soltan, Melik of Chrapiert'h, as their representative. Thither went Panah with his faithful Shahnazar, and thither also, in order to visit Panah, went a khan from Nakhichevan, who, seeing a gigantic magnificently dressed man (Allah-ghouli) seated near Panah, mistook him for the latter, saluting him with great humility and respect. Later, on discovering his mistake, the khan reminded Panah of the saying of the celebrated Persian poet Sa'ati,-"Ten dervishes can lie, on a torn rug, but two kings cannot agree in one country." This made Panah think that his rule could never be firmly established while Karabagh held so splendid a chief. Breaking the truce, he treacherously entrapped Allah-ghouli, (*17) and took him to Shushi, where he imprisoned, and shortly after, beheaded him. Thus did the low-born shepherd of the Jevanshirs show his gratitude to his former master, the man to whose powerful protection he owed his life when fleeing from the hands of Nadir Shah's executioner.
To this day (1881) there may be heard from the country folk the song that the captive giant sang in his prison, calling on his brave brother Atham, and on his invincible spearman Thali Mahrassa, to come to his aid,
Fleeth Not !
to surround Shushi and reduce it to dust and blood-soaked
ashes, and set him free. His call for help reached the ears of the favourite
beauty in Panah's harem. Smitten with pity, she sent him at supper-time,
concealed in a dish of pilaf, the keys both of the fetters on his feet
and of the doors of his prison, that he might unlock them and escape.
To her came back the proud reply, "Armenia's noble fleeth not! But, had
that been my desire, I have no need of keys!"
After despoiling Chrapiert'h of its sovereign lord, Panah, thinking that the resistance of the league of Meliks was broken down, sent an in solent letter to Yusup of the Beglarians, Melik of Gulistan, commanding him to come and do him homage. But Yusup's son would not allow his father to reply, saying lie would answer Panah himself-which he did after his own fashion. Holding his naked sword over the head of Panah's messenger, he compelled him to swallow down the whole of the letter, and when the wretched man, in fear and trembling, had accomplished this to the last morsel -" Now go," said he. "What thou hast swallowed here, that is the answer to Panah-Khan."
Panah was infuriated at this, and the fighting between him and his Allies and the three Meliks grew fiercer and fiercer, but he could not prevail against the latter, who kept him in a state of continual siege in side his fort of Shushi.
[Yusup evidently had another son besides Beglar (who was shot by his wife Amarnani, the daughter of Shahnazar of Varranda), and Apov, who are mentioned by my ancestor. In "The Astronomer of Karabagh", an historical tale written by the Russian author Platon Zupoy, published at Moscow in 1834, the Armenian translation of which by Raffi was printed at Vienna in 1906, the incident of Panah's letter to Yusup is described, and the son's name is given as Hussein, and there is also related a violent scene which took place between Panah and Hussein. The scene ends by Panah arrogantly boasting to Hussein that he knew how to bring Hussein and all the people of Thalish into subjection to him. "What?" cried Hussein in a fury- "Repeat those words!" "And doth that seem so marvellous a thing to thee ?" sneered Panah. Like lightning Hussein drew his scimitar and attacked Panah, crying, " Die, evildoer!" But cunning Khan had foreseen the thrust and evaded
Raffi relates that in 1881, when he journeyed through Karabagh, he visited
this monastery, built on the summit of a lofty mountain, which he describes
as not one, but a group of monasteries, where there are eight churches,
so close to one another that it was difficult to pass between them. There
he saw the watch-tower in which the Mad Friar had dwelt, on the top of which
a tall hazel tree had grown. Elisha the apostle, leghishaé Arakial, was
one of the many followers of the twelve apostles, who came and preached
the Gospel in Armenia. All are called apostles, not only the twelve. Apostle,
arakial, in Armenian, as in other tongues, means one sent, and is derived
from the word arakiem, to send.
it, then called on his bodyguardsman to seize the young Melik. Hussein not caring to survive and witness with his own eyes the downfall of his rule and the subjection of his people, plunged his weapon into his own breast and fell to the ground. Panah stood amazed at the act. "Now all is thine, Panah Khan," gasped his victim. "And may God grant-that the people of Karabagh-may not suffer" With these words he breathed his last.]
ALLAH-GHOULI-SOLTAN'S INVINCIBLE SPEARMAN, THALI-MAHRASSA.
Thali-Mahrassa in the Turkman language signifies
"Mad Friar". This was the nickname given by the country people to the
Monk (Varthapiet) Avak of the monastery of Elisha the apostle in Chrapiert'h
(*18). The tall watch-tower on which the" Mad" one dwelt in solitude
may still be seen by visitors to this Vank. When this militant monk charged
on the field of battle, mounted on his famous ash-coloured charter his
awful voice of thunder was alone sufficient to terrify his enemies. Ecclesiastical
fanaticism eventually punished him for the shedding of blood, and he was
taken to Etchmiatsin and imprisoned in the ice-house to do penance. One
day, on inquiring the cause of a disturbance in the Vank, he was told
that the Kurds of Jalal had carried off all the cattle belonging to the
holy fathers. "Can you give me a horse, and a few weapons?" said the (im)penitent.
When his request was granted he mounted and followed the Kurds, returning
a few hours afterwards with all the plundered booty. For this service
to the monastery he received his freedom on condition that he would not
again take life, but this promise was not kept, for he considered it no
sin to kill the enemies of the fatherland, and he continued to join in
all the warfare waged by the Meliks. One day, while fighting the Lezguis
near Gandtsak, night overtook him, and as
he sat resting on a tombstone surrounded by the bodies of those he had slain, one of the wounded Lezguis raised his pistol and shot him dead. He was buried in the porch of the cathedral of Gandtsak.
"Thiulu" is the Turkman for robber-highway or countryside
daylight robber. Arzuman was the son of a shepherd in Chrapiert'h, later
becoming one of Melik Atham's most intrepid warriors. Panah Khan was so
harassed by him that he craftily seized his father Sarkies, and married
him to Shushi as a hostage. One day he said to the old man, "Reprimand
thy son Arzuman, that he should cease from his evil-doings, he is devastating
the country." "I have no son of the name of Arzuman" returned the old
man, icily. "What sayest thou?" demanded Panah, waxing furious. "How is
it possible that that blood-thirsty Arzu- man, who lays waste my lands,
who sets fire to the houses of my peasantry, who gives me no peace for
a single day-how sayest thou that he is not thy son?"
In 1761, Fataly Khan, favourite general of Nadir, the late Shah, came towards Karabagh, and Yusup of Gulistan and Atham of Chrapiert'h, allying themselves with him, laid siege to Panah at Shushi. Panah and Shahnazar fought bravely for a time, then abandoned the fort. The two Meliks had made an agreement with Fataly that he should take all that was in the fort, and that Panah should be handed over to them. But Panah escaped by bribing Fataly with a thousand tumans, and giving him as a hostage his son Ibrahim, whom Fataly took with him to Persia.
Panah's defeat rankled in his heart, and fighting soon broke out afresh.
Yusup and Atham then applied to Thamraz of Georgia (father of Heraclius), promising him, in return for his aid in subduing Panah, to assist him whenever he needed help. Thamraz agreeing, the Meliks and Thamras, with his troops, fought Panah and his allies at Askaran, on the Banks of the Karkar. Panah's men were all killed, and he tried to escape
by running away to Persia, but the two redoutable men, Thali Mahrassa and Thiuli Arzuman, went in pursuit of him and brought him back ? Shahnazar and Mirza-khan having fled to their "Gospel" fort him in the village of Chanakhch, the Armenians and Georgians surrounded the place, took them prisoners, and destroyed the fort. Now Yusup and Atham had made exactly the same agreement with Thamraz as with Fataly namely, that he should take the contents of the fort and that Panah and Shahnazar should be delivered up to them. And Thamraz played them false in the same way as Fataly had done. With various excuses he put off doing anything till he reached the boundaries of Karabagh, when the Meliks becoming aware of his treachery, they cut off all communications with him and called upon their old ally, Hadji Chelepy of Shirwan (the first to help them against Panah at Bayat), to come to their assistance. It took time, however, for Chelepy to reach Karabagh, and meanwhile Thamraz's men, passing near Gandtsak, were looting and destroying all that came in their way, and Shahverdi Khan, ruler of the district, came out to protect the people. In the fight that followed Shahverdi was taken prisoner. But now the Meliks and Hadji Chelepy, coming up with their men, attacked Thamraz and defeated him, rescuing Shahverdi. They could not, however, succeed in their main object, that of securing Panah and the two traitors Shahnazar and Mirza-khan, for Panah again slipped through their grasp by bribing Thamraz, who allowed the three to escape.
The friendship between Shahverdi and the Meliks was of old standing. When Shahverdi's father died, his brother Mamlath Khan tried to kill him in order to possess himself of the khanate. Shahverdi fled for his life to Atham of Chrapiert'h, who with his troops attacked Mamlath Khan and killed him, upon wich Shahverdi succeeded to his inheritance, and never forgot the service Atham had rendered him. Yusup was connected with Shahverdi through his mother, wife of "Kagh" Apov and daughter of Mamlath Khan, converted to Christianity. Shahverdi was a Persian, and was favourably inclined towards Christians, unlike the savage Mongolian Turkmans. He was greatly respected amongst the surrounding khanates, where he was known as Beg-lar-beg (chief of chiefs).
With the help of Shahverdi the Meliks now opened negociations with Panah. Thirteen years of incessant warfare had exhausted both sides and had ruined their lands, and the people, weary of fighting, needed peace. A treaty was made binding down Panah to cease from interfering with the Meliks' people, and forbidding his encroaching on their territories
|| A Living
while leaving him lord of Shushi. If any quarrel
arose, it was to be settled by arbitration.
Kherim, thinking the son might serve him better than the father, gave Ibrahim the title of Khan, and sent him to Karabagh as governor. At first Ibrahim observed the treaty made between his father and the Meliks, but as soon as, with the support of Shahnazar he had firmly established himself in Karabagh, he began to tyrannise over them. Shahnazar, the traitor to his country who had given his fortress of Shushi to Panah, who by his alliance with the lowborn Jevanshir herdsman had so exalted him as to bring about through him the downfall of Armenian rule in Karabagh - this same Shahnazar, after the death of Panah, to
(*19) Thakathir = King-crowner. The family of the Bagratids possessed the hereditary right of crowning the kings of Armenia.
maintain with the son the friendship he had formerly
with the father committed a most shameful act. He gave his daughter the
beautifull Hurizad, to Ibrahim as his wife. This deeply offended the MeIiks,
more especially Iesaï of Thizak, for Hurizad's mother was his own daughter,
and Shahnazar's lawful wife. There resulted severe fighting between lesaï
and Shahnazar, who, with Mirza-khan, besieged lesaï in his fortress of
Thugh in the year 1775. Mirza-khan was taken prisoner with his men, and
Melik lesaï, holding his naked sword over the traitor's head, delivered
himself of the following -"Thou, Mirza-khan, dost greatly resemble another
traitor named Mierhujan. He renounced our faith, he became a tool of the
Persians, and he brought desolation to our fatherland. To him, as the
reward for his wicked achievements, was promised the crown of Armenia.
And with his troops, like unto thee, did he fall into the hands of Armenians.
For him an iron spit was made redhot in flames and bent into the shape
of a diadem, by the command of the Armenian general, Amrath Bagrathun,
who, setting it on the head of the traitor, said, "It was thy desire to
become king of Armenia. Behold me now, knight and king-maker, (*19)
thus do I crown thee!"-But thou, Mirzakhan, canst not contain the measure
of glory that was meted out to Mierhujan! Thou art nought but a vile base
traitor, who, for the sake of a miserable passing advantage, didst serve
the Turkman Khan and Melik Shahnazar in all the evil that they wrought!
Thou shalt be dealt with even as one dealeth with a rabid dog, which is
slain lest it spread its poison amongst other creatures." And with the
last words down came his sword !
of Her Rival Bala
Then the Khan and Shahnazar craftily sent two men,
one of them a priest, swearing on Cross and Gospel that they had come
to treat with lesaï, thus to inveigle him out of his fort. He believed
them and came out, but he was betrayed! Treachery again triumphed over
valour. Ibrahim had him seized, imprisoned, and put to death.
from behind some bushes, escaping detection, for in the confusion who could know whether the bullet that killed the Melik was aimed by the Lezguis, or by one of his own men.
Beglar's son Freytoun, or Feridone, being under age, the government of the province was carried on by Beglar's brother Apov.
Panah, in comparison with Ibrahim, was in certain
things preferable to his son, for he had preserved something of his tribal
simplicity, and was free from the fanatic mollahism that Ibrahim had imbibed
during his residence in Persia. Ibrahim not only persecuted Christians,
but forced a large number to embrace the Mahomedan faith. In revenge for
this, Thiuli Arzuman the brave captain of the province of Chrapiert'h,
turned missionary after his own fashion, and forced all the Mahomedans
who fell into his hands to confess the truth of Christianity and the falseness
of their own religion. One day he met a Mollah of high degree, who was
on his way to Shushi with his train of servants. Laying hold of him, Arzuman
insisted, with the edge of his sword to the Mollah's neck, "Confess that
Christ is God, else I slay thee!"
After some years in Gandsak, Melik Apov went with his followers to Bolnis and settled there, but in 1795 he returned to his territory in Gulistan, having come to some understanding with Ibrahim. About 1797, he again left Karabagh for Georgia.
In 1791 died Shahnazar of Varranda, leaving four sons, the eldest of whom, Jamshed, should rightfully have succeeded him. But Ibrahim, in fluenced by Hurizad, appointed his brother Hussein Melik instead of Jam- shed. After the death of Shahnazar Ibrahim's power declined, for Jamshed was not of the same way of thinking as his father, and desired to renew the old alliance with the Armenian Meliks.
In the three provinces of Gulistan, Chrapiert'h, and Thizak, the rulers were now all hot-blooded young men, the older experienced ones having passed away. Of these Ibrahim was most in fear of Mechlum of Chrapiert'h who was as deadly and implacable an enemy of the Turkman
khan as his father had been. Ibrahim laid a plot to assassinate him, but failed. Then, about 1785-86, he invited the three in a friendly way to come to Shushi and discuss matters relating to their different territories, but once there, he imprisoned Apov and Mechlum, and sent Bakhtham away, to Persia where he was confined in the fortress of Artavil, and his territory of Thizak fell into Persian hands.
Ibrahim then sent horsemen to plunder and pillage the wealthy monastery of Gandtsasar, seized the Catholicos Johannes and five of his seven brothers, and imprisoned them at Shushi, inflicting various tortures on them. The Catholicos was poisoned in prison (1786), Bishop Sarkies, who afterwards became Catholicos of Gandtsasar, was put in the stocks for several hours. After nine months in prison he and his brothers were liberated, Ibrahim first imposing a heavy fine on the monastery.
Mechlum and Apov were soon at liberty again, for Mechlum's brave captain Arzuman went at night, broke open the doors of the prison, and set them free.
In 1787 Russian troops under General Purnashov, with Heraclius of Georgia,.were approaching Gandsak, and Mechklum and Apov joined them, hoping for their aid, which was promised them, against Ibrahim, but simultaneously war broke out for the second time between the Russians and the Osmanlis, and the troops returning to Russia, the two Meliks went to Tiflis with them. Ibrahim immediately imprisoned their relatives at Shushi as hostages, and gave their lands to others. Some time after this Mechlum and Apov reminded Heraclius of his promise to help them, but he asked for delay. Ibrahim now wrote to Heraclius to seize and send them to him in return for some 3000 Turkmans, formerly Georgian subjects, who had settled in Karabagh. Heraclius treacherously agreed, but the Meliks, slipping out of his hands, escaped to Gandsak, where Zavath Khan, son of Shaverdi Khan, gladly received and protected them, in spite of Ibrahim continually sending him messages to deliver them up to him. Zavath Khan was possessed of a greater soul than the treacherous Georgian prince, and took no notice. The story told of their escape from Tifflis was, that Heraclius had invited them to a feast in a garden, intending to make them drink, and then overpower them at his table. The Meliks, coming to know of his treacherous intention, mounted their horses, saying they were going hunting to provide something for the feast, and did not return. Meeting some carters on the way, Mechlum sent word to Heraclius, telling them to go and inform their prince that Melik Mechlum would never forget his hospitality.
But neither did Heraclius and Ibrahim forget that Mechlum had got the better of them. Several years later, in 1796, they besieged Zavathkhan and Melik Mechlum at Gandsak, and the Melik met his death in quelling a mutiny in the fort caused by an old man who treacherously incited the garrison to open the gates to the enemy.
After the death of Catherine II, when the Emperor Paul I succeeded, Russian policy towards the Christians of Caucasia changed. Peter the Great's intentions with respect to the Christians were forgotten, and Georgia, after the death of Heraclius in 1798, became a Russian province. Jamshed of Varranda, son of Shahnazar, with Freytoun, son of Bezlar and nephew of Apov of Gulistan, wanted to establish themselves permanently in Georgia, where the Armenians had first of all been well received, but then forced to become serfs and to sell their children. Therefore, to keep their freedom, these two Meliks went to Petersburgh to represent their condition to the Czar, who passed an edict given them a district where they could settle with the same rights over their people as they possessed in Karabagh. They were decorated and given regular pensions, and the Russian minister in Georgia, Kovalensky, was informed by letter. "The Armenian Meliks Jamshed and Feridone at present here in Petersburgh, and others of their nationality in Georgia and in Persia have applied to the Imperial Majesty and have received a most gracious permission to reside in Georgia on condition that the King, George XII should give them lands for their own and their subjects' sustenance, and also for such inhabitants of Persia as may desire to leave Persia. The King-Emperor desiring that such Christian communities should thrive in Georgia for the good of the country, you, Kovalensky, must bring about that Georgia should make concessions of lands that may be most advantageous to these Meliks. And, since such a community cannot permanently settle and prosper unless their customs and government which from olden times have been peculiar to them, are safeguarded, for that reason it is desirable that the Armenian community should be quite independent of Georgia, except in respect of paying a small tribute to the King, and sharing all that is necessary for the defence of the country as regards expenses or men." The Georgian King was then in difficulties and he agreed to these conditions. Feridone or Freytoun, took part of the district of Vorchalov and Aghjagala, and his uncle Apov took Bolniss and its surroundings. Feridone received a pension of 1000 roubles, Jamshed 1200, and his son 600.
In 1804 Russian troops under Prince Tsitsianoff, marching on Erivan,
halted near Etchmiatsin, while numerous Persian troops, commanded by Abbas Mirza, the Persian heir-apparent, hastening to the relief of Erivan, took the Russians by surprise, surrounding them and cutting off their communications. Tsitsianoff, who had been intending to lay siege to Erivan, found himself in a state of siege instead. Rustom Beg, son of Apov of Gulistan, at the head of 500 Russians, with great gallantry passed through the Persian forces twice, and brought Tsitsianoff ammunition and supplies. On the third occasion he encountered 800 Persians in the valley of P'hambak, and a Georgian prince, Alexander, joined the Persians with 3000 men, but in spite of their overwhelming numbers, the enemy stood stationary, facing Rustom's little force, for three hours before at- tacking. When at last fighting began, Rustom hurled his Russians forward with great valour, but he was righting against tremendous odds, his horse was shot under him, and at his third wound he fell to the ground and was taken prisoner. The Russians were annihilated, Rustom was taken to Abbas Mirza's camp by the orders of Alexander, who, resenting the former refusal of Apov, father of Rustom, to join him against the Russians, thus revenged himself upon the son, who, while leading Russian troops, had fallen into his hands. Abbas Mirza imprisoned him at Tabriz, where he was later on beheaded, when Abbas Mirza retreated to Tabriz after being defeated by the Russians. The Armenians of Tabriz buried him in the porch of their grave-yard, and taught their children the song composed by the hero in his captivity, for he was poet as well as soldier. (Raffi here quotes the touching words of this song.)
In 1805 Melik Jamslied of Varranda (son of Shahnazar) with great difficulty, contrived to make Ibrahim recognise the Russian government. But in 1806, Prince Tsitsianoff, the Russian commander, was assassinated at Baku, the Mohamedan population of Transcaucasia was thrown into a ferment of excitement, insurrections broke out everywhere, and Ibrahim, notwithstanding the fact of his having sworn allegiance to the Russian government, secretly sent his son Mamath Hussein Aga to Abbas Mirza (who, in command of Persian troops, was at that time occupying a district on the right bank of the lerask, or Araxes), disclosing to him the whereabouts of Russian troops, inviting him to cross the lerask, and promising him his (Ibrahim's) assistance in guiding him to where the Russians were encamped in order to annihilate them.
Abbas Mirza, with an overwhelming number of Persian troops, crossed the Ierask, and approached Shushi. Inside the fort were quartered a few hundred Russian soldiery under Colonel Lisanievitch. Jamshed was
also quartered in the fort at that time with some cavalry. Abbas Mirza encamped near the village of Shushi on a high hill whence he could bombard the fort, and Ibrahim, with his family, stole out quietly at night with the intention of going to the camp of Abbas Mirza. But Jamshed instantly informing the Russian colonel, the two, with a few horsemen followed Ibrahim and came up with him on the road. They spared the women and some others, but Ibrahim and his relatives were cut to pieces.
The enemy of Karabagh was slain ! Jamshed had avenged not only his own wrongs, but the wrongs of all the other Meliks. While his father, Shahnazar, in exalting this savage wild beast, had earned the curses and opprobrium of the whole of Karabagh, now the exemplary son had atoned for the evil the vile father had wrought, but it was too late ! The death of Ibrahim could not heal the wounds inflicted by the Khans of Shushi on the Meliks of Karabagh.
Apov, Melik of Gulistan, son of Yusup, died in 1808. He was not on good terms with the Georgian princes ; the story goes that he was invited to Tiflis and that he was poisoned there, for soon after he fell ill and died, as well as his secretary, who had accompanied him. His surviving sons were minors, and he was succeeded by his nephew Feridone, the son of Beglar the second, who had been chosen in 1799 to represent the Meliks of Karabagh when a deputation had been "sent" to the Czar Paul I. Feridone's reign was very short. He had excited the jealousy of his younger brother Sham, who was a very savage ferocious man, hated in his family. In an access of rage he rushed at Feridone and wounded him so severely with his scimitar that he died there and then. Feridone was succeeded by Apov's son Minas Beg. Feridone had six sons, Hovsep, Shamir Khan, David (who went to India), Thalish, Themuraz, and Beglar the third. After the deaths of Apoy and Feridone their descendants and followers left Georgia and returned to Karabagh. Their lands, villages, and property had fallen into the hands of Ibrahim Khan, but after their return they regained all their possessions.
At the end of his book Raffi gives a list of the authorities-histories and chronicles by monks, Varthapiets and others, from whose writings he gathered materials for his history of the Five Meliks, and relates how he spent two months in 1881 visiting the five provinces and collecting all the information he could locally from the old inhabitants. From Gand- sak he went to Gulistan, where he spent a week with the descendants of
Visit to Karabagh
the Belgarians, Sergei and Alexander Begs, visited their family burial ground, deciphering the almost illegible inscriptions, and saw their half-ruined fortress of Gulistan, and the village churches with their wall- inscriptions. Thence to Chrapiert'h, where he saw in the church at Gedashen (where Yusup and Emin fought their famous battle against the son of Shaverdi Khan, when Yusup wanted to run away and Emin shamed him into standing fast, p. 296) a beautiful MS. of the Gospels, at the end of which Melik Atham had written records of his family; and visited Atham's half-ruined palace on the right bank of the river Tharthar, with historical inscriptions over the doors. At the village of Marthakierth he found an old man, over a hundred years of age, who knew Armenian, Persian, Arabic, and Turkman, and who had been interpreter to the last khans of Shushi, Ibrahim and Methi-khan (and later, in the same village, was a short time in the service of a German missionary). Raffi passed two whole days in taking down from his lips all that he could relate about the Khans of Shushi. In the province of Khachin he visited the splendid Vank of Gandtsasar, where, on the walls, he found a long inscription about the Melik-Beglarians. In the same province he saw the Magpies'Fort, and visited Mirza-khan's village of Khanziristan, where, he says, he was so shockingly badly received that he only stayed there one hour! At Shushi, to his disappointment, he found that important documents from which he could have gained much information had been stolen by different persons. At Varranda he visited Shahnazar's "Gospel" village of Chanakhch; from Varranda he went to Thizak, where he saw the burial ground of the Avanian Meliks, and found their old palace occupied by a Mahomedan Beg, for one branch of the descendants of Avan had embraced the faith of Islam.
Of the five Meliks the Beglarians are the only line who up to the present time managed to preserve some portion of their territories, owning 18 villages, all inhabited by Armenians, extending over large tracts of land.
In July, 1813, there arrived in Calcutta Archbishop Phillippos, envoy from the Catholicos of Etchmiatsin, which place he had quitted in 1812, accompanied by a servant and a young deacon, eighteen years of age, who was gifted with a very beautiful voice, and who acted as chorister to the archbishop. (Bishops generally travel with a chorister in attendance, to ensure the rendering to their own satisfaction of certain rather elaborate hymns included in the liturgy when a bishop is celebrant.)
(*23) Lord Dalhousie, through David's elder brother Shamir, who was Russian envoy to Persia.
The archbishop's stay in Calcutta was tragically short. Within the space of two months his servant died, and was buried in the southern portion of the churchyard of the Armenian Church, under a stone inscribed, "This is the tomb of Nierses (the servant of His Grace Archbishop Phillippos, Envoy of Holy Etchmiatsin), who died on the 16th Nadar (September), 1813, in Calcutta."
A few weeks later the archbishop himself succumbed, and was buried in the place of honour under the porch. On his stone is inscribed, "This is the tomb of Archbishop Phillippos, who departed this life in Calcutta on the l8th Thira (October), 1813."
But the third member of the little party was evidently of tougher stuff for he survived his companions for no less than seventy-one years. He was David, the son of Melik Feridone of the Beglarians, and grandson of Beglar the second and Amarnani, daughter of Shahnazar of Varranda, the ally of Panah Khan. He had taken semi-monastic orders as a deacon, but these were set aside a few years later.
At that period it was the custom of the authorities
at the Armenian church in Calcutta to issue an annual publication recording
all the events, domestic or otherwise, concerning the community which
had occurred during the previous twelve months, together with an ecclesiastical
calendar of the current year. These publications formed a very valuable
record, and it is to be regretted that they only appeared for a few years,
and were then discontinued. In one of them there is the following entry,
"1822. On February 26 David M. (*22) Fredonian married Mrs. Nazloom Carapiet
of the Beglarians
the Armenian Church at Chinsurah there is the
following inscription, first in Armenian, then in English.
This inscription, with others from the graves of David Beglar's descendants, was published in Bengal past and Present, vol. x., p. 121, in an article by the Rev. Father Hosten, S. J., entitled "The Princely Beglaroffs."
The addition of "off" to the name of Beglar is
an error, caused by the son of David considering himself a Russian subject.
It is not an Armenian termination, and his correct designation was David
(Melik)-Freytoun Beglarian (the termination ian signifying "of the family
of"). But David was not an eldest son, and it was only the ruling chief
and his oldest son who had the right to call themselves Melik, the younger
sons were called Beg. As to his right to be called the "last independent
Prince of Karabagh," that is a title applicable to his father Freytoun,
or Feridone, but scarcely to David himself. Karabagh was undoubtedly the
last home Armenian independence-that independence for which Emin fruitlessly
struggled and suffered for so long. Had it not been for the sundering
of the Meliks' league of unity by the treachery of Shahnazar of Varranda,
Emin might perhaps have succeeded in his endeavours in some measure, at
any rate for a time.