Royal Building Programs in Tenth and Eleventh Century Armenia: The Island City of Aghtamar

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Very few early medieval Christian monarchs have left us evidence that gives us a personal impression of them: their ambitions, aspirations and policies, their characters, and, especially, how they wanted to be perceived and remembered. Four that have done are near-contemporaries. Three are, relatively, quite famous: Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium (reigned 886-912), his neighbor Tsar Symeon of Bulgaria (reigned 893-927), and King Alfred of Wessex (in southern England, in the island of Britain) (reigned 871-899). The fourth is Gagik Artsruni, prince of Vaspurakan, in the south of historic Armenia, which was part of the Arab Caliphate's province of Arminiyya. ...All four of these monarchs are perceptible through contemporary texts, and all of them engaged in artistic patronage, including building. In three cases (Leo's Alfred's, and Gagik's) a remarkable work of art survives that is personally associated with them. They thus provide a case study for comparative history, a discipline which has the potential to identify commonalities and differences, and to illuminate sources of, and influences upon, policies and ideas. In this particular case study, the evidence allows us to explore rulers' concepts of good rulership and how it should be expressed and advertised.

Table of Contents

Part I: Cities as Foundations of Royal Power
Buildings, Building, and Sites
The Ideology of Cities
Part II: Artsruni Aghtamar and Bagratuni Ani: Lessons and Functions
Evocations and Influences
The Lessons of Aghtamar's Decorative Programme (1)
The Lessons of Aghtamar's Decorative Programme (2)
Ceremonies--Processions, Coronations, and Funerals
Conclusion: Aghtamar and its Contexts

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