Hethum I, King of Armenia

Hethum I, King of Armenia

Infobox Monarch
name =Hetoum I
Հեթում Ա
title =King

caption =Hetoum I with Queen Zabel on a coin
predecessor =Queen Zabel
successor =Levon II
dynasty =House of Lambron|

Hetoum I (also transliterated "Hethoum", "Hethum", "Het'um", or "Hayton" from Armenian: Հեթում Ա) ruled the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia from 1226 to 1270. He was the son of Constantine, Lord of Baberon and Partzapert (a third-cousin of Leo I) and was the founder of the dynasty which bears his name: the Hetoumids.


Hetoum's father Constantine had been regent for the young Queen Zabel of Armenia. Zabel originally married Philip (1222-1225), son of Bohemond IV of Antioch. However, Constantine had him disposed of, and instead forced Zabel to marry his own son, Hetoum, on June 14, 1226, which resulted in Hetoum becoming co-ruler. The couple had six children:
# Leo II (died 1289)
# Thoros (died at the battle of Mari in 1266 fighting the Mamluks)
#Sibylla (died 1290), who married Bohemund VI of Antioch
#Euphemie (died 1309), who married to Julian Grenier, Lord of Sidon
# Rita of Armenia
# Maria, who married Guy d'Ibelin

His sister Maria married John of Ibelin around 1240.

Hetoum dealt with the enmity of Antioch via the intervention of King Louis IX of France, by marrying his daughter Sibylla to Bohemond VI of Antioch in 1254. Antioch stayed in Armenia's sphere for the rest of its existence, until it was destroyed by the Mamluks in 1268.

Armenian-Mongol relations

During the rule of Hetoum I, the Mongols were rapidly expanding their empire in all directions, bringing them closer to Armenian Cilicia. As the Mongols approached the borders of Cappadocia and Cilicia, King Hetoum made a strategic decision to submit to the Mongols's suzerainty, [Claude Mutafian in "Le Royaume Arménien de Cilicie" describes "the Mongol alliance" entered into by the king of Armenia and the Franks of Antioch ("the King of Armenia decided to engage into the Mongol alliance, an intelligence that the Latin barons lacked, except for Antioch"), and "the Franco-Mongol collaboration" (Mutafian, p.55).] [Claude Lebedel in "Les Croisades" describes the alliance of the Franks of Antioch and Tripoli with the Mongols: (in 1260) "the Frank barons refused an alliance with the Mongols, except for the Armenians and the Prince of Antioch and Tripoli".] [Amin Maalouf in "The Crusades through Arab eyes" is extensive and specific on the alliance (page numbers refer to the French edition): “The Armenians, in the person of their king Hetoum, sided with the Mongols, as well as Prince Bohemond, his son-in-law. The Franks of Acre however adopted a position of neutrality favourable to the muslims” (p.261), “Bohemond of Antioch and Hethoum of Armenia, principal allies of the Mongols” (p.265), “Hulagu (…) still had enough strength to prevent the punishment of his allies [Bohemond and Hethoum] ” (p.267).] and sent his brother Sempad to the Mongol court in Karakorum. There, Sempad met Great khan Guyuk, and made a formal alliance/submission in 1247 with/to the Mongols, against their common enemy the Muslims. In 1254 Hetoum himself traveled through Central Asia to Mongolia to renew the agreement. [Bournotian, p. 101] He brought many sumptuous presents, and met with Mongke Khan (Guyuk's cousin) at Karakorum. The account of his travels was recorded by a member of his suite, Kirakos Gandzaketsi as "The Journey of Haithon, King of Little Armenia, To Mongolia and Back". The Journey of Hethoum was later translated into Russian, French, English, [Emil Bretschneider tr.,The Journey of Haithon, King of Little Armenia, To Mongolia and Back, Mediaeval Researches Vol 1, Trubner Oriental Series 1888 London, facimile reprint 2005 Elibron Classics ISBN 1-4021-9303-3] and Chinese languages.

The monk Hayton of Corycus, a relative of Hethum, in "La Flor des Estoires d'Orient" ("The flower of the stories of the Orient") later wrote about the meeting:

On his way back from Karakorum, Hetoum visited the Mongol leader Bayju, and was present in his camp to witness Bayju's victory in Asia Minor against the Seljuq Turks. [Claude Cahen, "Pre-Ottoman Turkey", pp. 275-276] Armenia also engaged in an economic battle with Egypt, for control of the spice trade. ["Cambridge Medieval History", Volume IV, p. 634]

Georgians and Armenians troops were with the Mongol army that captured Baghdad in 1258. Hetoum strongly encouraged other Frankish rulers to follow his example and submit to Mongol suzerainty, but only Hetoum's son-in-law, Bohemond VI, did, around 1259. The combined forces of the Armenians and Antiochenes fought in the Mongol Army under Hulagu, and were at the Siege of Aleppo and Fall of Damascus (both 1260). [Grousset, p. 581]

In September 1260, the Egyptian Mamluks rallied, defeating the Mongols at the historic battle of Ain Jalut. The Mongols would not again capture Syria until 1299-1300, when they would again hold for a few months.


During the last years of Hetoum's reign, largely as a result of Hetoum's active support of the Mongols, [Amitai-Preiss refers to the Armenians as "active allies of the Mongols" and speaks of "the subsequent retribution that Baybars exacted from them" (p. 106).] the Kingdom came under increasing attack by the Mamluks, who invaded in 1266, taking 40,000 Armenians captive (including Hetoum's son, Leo) at the Disaster of Mari. Hetoum was able to ransom his son by conceding territory to the Egyptians. In May 1268, the allied Principality of Antioch was overrun by the Egyptians.

Hetoum abdicated in 1270 in favor of his son Leo II, and lived out the rest of his life in a monastery, as a Franciscan monk.



*cite book|author=Amitai-Preiss, Reuven|title=Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War, 1260-1281|date=1995|publisher=Cambridge University Press, Cambridge|isbn=978-0521462266
*cite book|last=Boase|first=T. S. R.|title=The Cilician Kingdom of Armenia|year=1978|publisher=Scottish Academic Press|location=Edinburgh|id=ISBN 0-7073-0145-9
* Bournoutian, George A. (2002). "A Concise History of the Armenian People: From Ancient Times to the Present". Mazda Publishers. ISBN 1568591411.
* Grousset, René (1935). "Histoire des Croisades III, 1188-1291"(in French). Editions Perrin. ISBN 2-262-02569-X
*cite book|last=Dobraczinski|first=Jan|title=Klíč moudrosti|year=1979|publisher=Nakladatelství Vyšehrad|location=Praha|id=ISBN 33-540-79

External links

* [http://www.armenians.com/famous/hayton.html Hethum Bio]

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