Armenian nobility

Armenian nobility

Armenian nobility has a long history with many interruptions, most notable of which was the Russian occupation. After Armenia regained her independence in 1991 efforts have been made to revive the influence of the traditional noble houses.


Members of the upper class of medieval Armenian society were known as "azats", (also "aznwakans" or "aznavurs").

Translated from contemporary Armenian the word "azat" literally means "the one who is free", a "freedman." The word ``Azat" is derived from the Middle Persian word "azat" and equivalent to modern Persian "âzâd". The lower-aristocratic portion Sassanid Persian society was dominated by the "Azatan", who guarded their status as descendants of ancient Aryan conquerors. The "Azatan" were low-level administrators, mostly living on small estates. This knightly caste - which would later serve as the predecessor to the Medieval European Order of Knights - provided the cavalry backbone of the Sassanid army.

Many - if not the majority - of the ancient Armenian noble clans traced their origins back to the gods of the old Armenian religion - most of which were based on the Persian Zoroastrian faith - or to the heroes and patriarchs of the Armenian people. For example, the noble houses of Vahevuni and Mehnuni were believed to be offspring of Vahagn and Mihr, ancient Persian deities of fire and war, and heavenly light and justice respectively. The House of Artzruni traced its origins to Sanasar, son of Mher from the Armenian epos Sasna Tzrer, i.e. to the same Persian deity Mihr. According to the Armenian aristocratic tradition, the princely houses of Khorkhoruni, Bznuni, Mandakuni, Manavazian, Angelea (Angegh tun), Varajnuni, Ohanian, Cartozian, Apahuni, Arran tun and some others, are all believed to be direct descendants of Nahapet (Patriarch) Hayk, whose epithet was "Dyutsazn" (from Ancient Greek "θεός", meaning "divine", and Middle Persian "saz", meaning "offspring"), or of Hayk's descendants. It is quite common in all parts of the world for members of the nobility to purport to trace their ancestry back to gods, or legendary heroes.

Historical origins

The historians mention various numbers of the Armenian noble houses during different periods of Armenian history. Sometimes their number is mentioned to be ninety, yet at other times it reaches up to three hundred. Certainly, the number of the Armenian noble houses did change in the course of time as the aristocratic class was itself subject to flux.

The first attested Armenian royal dynasty was the Orontids ruling Armenia as a satrapy of the Persian Empire in the 4th century BC. They are preceded by legendary or semi-legendary patriarchs of Armenian tradition, first recorded in the "History" attributed to Moses of Chorene (Movses Khorenatsi), written in circa the 7th century.

The noble houses of Rshtuni, Mokats, Artzruni and others originated from tribal rulers or clans already in antiquity.Fact|date=November 2007 Some others, such as the Mamikonians or Aravelians, were granted noble titles and/or offices, such as "aspet", 'coronator' and "sparapet" 'generalissimo' by special decrees of medieval Armenian kings for their services to the royal court or the nation.

Although the vast majority of the Armenian nobility was of Armenian origin the historical sources still mention quite significant foreign influxes into the aristocratic class. These assimilated foreign families were predominantly of Indo-European origin, such as Persians, Alans, Medes, Greeks and Romans. The Iranian aristocratic component was particularly numerous. Many Armenian noble houses were either linked to the Iranian nobility through dynastic marriages or were Iranians (Persians, Parthians, Medes) by origin. The latter included renowned houses such as those of the Arshakuni, Artashesian, and Pahlavuni. Examples of non-Armenian but Indo-European noble houses would include the families of Aravelians and Ropseans; the first were Alans and the latter Romans by origin.

Non-Indo-European components were never significant among the Armenian nobility and they normally appear at later stages of Armenian history. Some suggest that the Mamikonian clan originates from a Chinese refugee named Mamgun who for his services was elevated to the ranks of nobleman by one of the Armenian kings. Some Armenian Christian historians tend to derive certain Armenian noble houses from Mesopotamian or other roots. For example, in his History of Armenia, Movses Khorenatsi traces the family origins of his sponsor prince Sahak Bagratuni to non-Armenian roots. However, the historical sources prove the existence of the Bagratuni family in the most oldest period of Armenian history and speak of them as aboriginal Armenians. The linguistic analysis also maintains that the name Bagarat probably is of Indo-European origin and stems from Bhaga (god) and Arat (plentiful, rich), i.e. literally "divine plenitude" or "god's richness". It is remarkable that Prince Bagratuni himself rejected Khorenatsi's version of the origins of his family. Exotic descents were in vogue among the early medieval Armenian aristocratic families. However, there is no evidence supporting any of these claims of descent.

The institutions and structure of the Armenian nobility

The nobility always played an important role in Armenian society. This inter alia is evidenced through the evolution of the term "naharar". Initially this term referred to the hereditary governors of the Armenian provinces and was used with the meaning of "ruler" and "governor". The same title could mean a particularly honorable service ("nahararutyun", naharardom) at the Armenian royal court. Examples of such heritable services or naharardoms are aspetutyun (coronation, which traditionally belonged to the house of Bagratuni), sparapetutyun (commander-in-chief of the Armenian army, which traditionally belonged to the house of Mamikonean), hazarapetutyun (chancellery and taxation, which were inheritably managed by the houses of Gnuni and Amatuni), and malhazutyun (royal guard that was traditionally organized and headed to the house of Khorkhoruni). However, in the course of hereditary consolidation of "gavar"s (provinces) or royal court services by noble houses, the term naharar has changed its original meaning and gradually transformed into a generic equivalent of "aristocrat", "nobleman". Accordingly, the aristocratic families started to be called naharar houses or naharardoms. Along with this analysis, there is another interpretation of term naharar, which is based on Armenian "nah" and "arar", i.e. "the first created" or "the first borne".

The meaning of term naharar was evolving in parallel with consolidation of the noble houses' hereditary rights over counties of Great Armenia. For example the county of Great Albak was traditionally inherited by the noble house of Artzruni, county of Taron by the house of Slkuni, and the county of Rshtuniq by the house of Rshtuni. Even prior to this consolidation the traditional aristocratic emblems and coat-of-arms emerge. The latter often is deeply rooted in the ancient kinship and tribal beliefs and totems of the Armenian clans. Although the information on Armenian heraldry is quite limited, nevertheless it is well known that the most common symbols were those of the eagle, lion, and mountain ram. For example, the coat-of-arms of the Artashesian dynasty consisted of two eagles with the symbol of sun in the middle. An eagle holding a sheep was also the house symbol of Bagratuni naharardom. The dynastic emblem of the Cilician Armenian royal house of Lusignan (Lusinian) reflected west European heraldic influence and consisted of red lions and crosses on the yellow and blue background of the shield. The naharar families of ancient Armenia were listed in the so-called Gahnamaks and Zoranamaks, which were the official inventories or registrars that were positioning the families based on the criteria of honor, virtue and esteem. The difference between Gahnamak and Zoranamak were in the listing criteria that were determining the esteem почетности of the noble family. Zoranamak was based on the military strength of the houses, i.e. the number of possessed cavalry and infantry, responsibility in defending the northern, eastern, southern and western borders of Armenia, as well as the size of the troops that the noble houses were placing under the command of the king of Armenia in times of military campaigns. Unlike Zoranamak, Gahnamak was listing the noble houses based on the criteria of political and economic importance of the houses, size of their estates, their wealth, as well as their connections and influence over the royal courts.

Two other notions of the Armenian nobility relating to Gahnamak and Zoranamak are those of "bardz" and "pativ". "Bardz" literally means "cushion". It was the seat that was occupied by the head of the noble house at the royal table, be it during the council or during the festivities. The word "bardz" derives from these cushions on which the lords of houses were seated on special occasions. Bardzes - literally cushioned seats at the royal table but more broadly the actual status at the royal court - were distributed on the basis of pativ, i.e. literally the honor and esteem of the noble houses. The latter, most probably wуку fixed in Gahnamaks and Zoranamaks.


Gahnamak (literally: "throne registrar", borrowed from Middle Persian "Gâh namag") - was an official state document, list of places and thrones (bardzes) that the Armenian princes and naharars were occupying at the royal court of Armenia. The throne of the prince or naharar was defined by his economic or military strength (according to the Zoranamak, from Middle Persian "Zor namag", literally: "strength registrar"), as well as according to the ancient tradition. Gahnamak was composed and sealed by the King of Armenia, because the naharars (lords) were considered to be his vassals. Naharar thrones ("gahs", i.e. the positions at the royal court) were changing rarely and were inherited from father to son. Only in special circumstances - such as high treason, cessation of the family etc. - the king had the right to make some changes in the Gahnamak. The sequence and classification of Armenian lords' thrones had been defined and observed from the ancient times.

According to Khorenatsi, the first actual listing of lords in the shape of Gahnamak was Armenian king Vagharshak. According to the recorded sources, the classification of Armenian lords' thrones in the form of Gahnamak existed throughout the reign of Arshakuni (Arsacide) dynasty (the 1st - 5th centuries). The same system was continued during the Marzpanian period in the history of Armenia (the 5th - 7th centuries), i.e. during the supremacy of the Sasanian kings of Persia. There are significant discrepancies and inaccuracies in the data of Gahnamaks of different centuries regarding the number of princely houses and degrees of their thrones. According to the Gahnamak of the 4th century preserved in "The Deeds of Nerses", during the reign of king Arshak II (350-368) the number of the Armenian aristocratic houses reached 400. However the author of "The Deeds" mentions the family names of only 167 lords, 13 of whom did not have a throne. The author himself explains that he is incapable of listing all of them. Armenian historian of the 13th century Stepanos Orbelian also mentions 400 naharar thrones, who had "throne and respect" at the royal court of king Trdat III (287-332). Pavstos Buzand mentions 900 princely lords, who carried honorary services at the royal court and who sat on a special throne (gah) or cushion (bardz).

The Gahnamak is believed to be written by Armenian Catholic Sahak Parthev (387-439), and which the latter made available to the Iranian Sasanian court, there are 70 naharars mentioned. In another source of the 4th century 86 naharars were listed. According to the Arab chronologist Yacoubi (the 9th century) there were 113 lords in the administrative province of Arminiya, whereas another Arab historian, Yacout al-Hamavi (the 12-13th centuries) the number of Armenian principalities was 118. Armenian historians Agathangelos, Pavstos Buzand, Yeghishe, Lazar Parbetsi, Movses Khorenatsi, Sebeos and others also provided numerous data and information about Armenian princely houses and lords. However, the Gahnamaks and lists of naharars (princely houses), based on these data and information, remain incomplete.

Internal divisions

The Armenian nobility had an internal division. The social pyramid of the Armenian nobility was headed by the king, in Armenian "arqa". The term arqa originates from the common Aryan root that has equivalents in the name for monarchs in other Indo-European languages: arxatos (Greek), raja (Indo-Aryan), regia or regnum (in Latin), roi (in French).

The sons of the king, i.e. princes, were called "sepuh". The elder son, who was also the crown prince and was called "avag sepuh", had a particular role. In the case of king's death the avag sepuh automatically would inherit the crown, unless there were other prior arrangements.

The second layer in the social division of the Armenian nobility was occupied by "bdeshkh"s. Bdeshkh was a ruler of a big borderland province of historical Great Armenia. They were de facto viceroys and by their privileges were very close to the king. Bdeshkhs had their own armies, taxation and duties system, and could even produce their own coins.

The third layer of the Armenian aristocracy after the king and the bdeshkhs was composed by "ishkhan"s, i.e. princes. Ishkhan normally would have a hereditary estate known as "hayreniq" and residence caste - "dastakert". Armenian princely houses (or clans) were headed by "tanuter". By its meaning the word "tun" (house) is very close to "tohm" (clan). Accordingly, tanuter meant "houselord" or "lord of the clan".

Organizationally, the Armenian nobility was headed by Grand Duke - "metz ishxan" or "ishxanac ishxan" in Armenian, who in some historical chronicles is also called "metzametz". He was the marshal of Armenian nobility and had special privileges and duties. For example, in case of king's death and if there was no inheriting sepuh (crown prince), it was the grand duke who would temporarily take the responsibilities and perform the duties of the king until the issues of succession to the throne are resolved. In reality, however, the successions to the throne would be arranged in advance or would be resolved in the course of feuds and intestine strives.

Thus, the social pyramid of the nobility of Great Armenia includes the following layers:

*Arqa (king)
*Bdeshkh (viceroy)
*Ishkhanats ishkhan (grand duke)
*Ishkhan (prince)

This division, however, reflects the specific tradition of Great Armenia in its early period in history. Naturally, in time the social structure of nobility was undergoing changes that would the specifics of Armenian territories, historical era, and the specifics social relations. For example, in medieval times the names and composition of the nobility of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (Kilikia) underwent certain changes:

Great Armenia
*Ishkhanats Ishkhan (or Metz Ishkhan)

Cilician Armenia
*Tagavor or Inqnakal
*Paronats Paron (or Metz Paron)

Cilician Armenia adopted many peculiarities of west European classification of the nobility, such as "paron" (deriving from "baron"), "ter" or sinyor (senior), "berdater" (castle lord) etc. Besides, in Cilicia emerged Armenian knighthood which was also considered to be part of the nobility despite the fact that knights themselves - called dziawor и hetzelwor - did not always originate from parons.

Some other features also suffered changes. For example, whereas the salutation for the noblemen in Great Armenia was "tiar" or "ter", in Cilician Armenia a new form of salutation was added to these, namely "paron". The latter became the most popular form of greeting and gradually changed its meaning to the equivalent of "mister" in modern Armenian.

In late mediaeval Armenia and in the new age a variety of nobility titles existed in different "nahang"s (provinces) of the country. For example, in Artsakh of the Khamsa period (i.e. period of "five principalities") the title of "ishkhan" (prince) was used in its local equivalent - that of "melik" (a 'devaluated' Arabic word for king). Below melik - or sometimes in parallel with it - was the title of "yuzbashi" (from? the Turkish officer rank, literally "lord of the hundred" warriors).

With the annexation of eastern Armenia - i.e. Karabakh, Yerevan, Nakhichevan and Kars provinces - into the Russian Empire the titles, traditions and social institutions of the Russian nobility become dominant among the Armenian aristocrats as they were integrated into the imperial nobility Russian (rather western) style.

The list of Armenian Noble Families

Princely families of ancient Great Armenia

Family name (gavar-county, ashxarh-province)

* Abeluni - Abelean - Abeghean** (Abeleanq / Abegheanq, Ayrarat)
* Abeluni - Abelean other - Abelean the second
* Abitean - Abithean
* Adahuni (Mazaz, Ayrarat)
* Alberkatsi - Aghberkatsi
* Alelnadroshn - Agheghnadroshn
* Aknuni - Akeoy - Akeats - Akeatsi - Akean (Ake, Vaspurakan)
* Aldznuni - Aldznats tun - Aghdzn (Aldzn, Aldzniq)
* Alkuni - Aghkuni
* Alnevuni - Alesuni - Aghesuni - Alevan - Aghevan
* Amaskuni
* Amatuni (Artaz, Vaspurakan)
* Amatuni the second
* Andzevatsi (Andzevatsiq, Vaspurakan)
* Andzevatsi other
* Andzit - Andzit tun - Andzteatsi - Andzitoy (Andzit, Tzopq)
* Angel tun - Angegh tun - Angelay (Angelay, Aldzniq)
* Apahuni (Apahuniq, Tauruberan)
* Apahuni other
* Apekuni
* Aqatzi - Aqatzetsi - Aqatzu
* Aragatzean (Aragatzotn, Ayrarat)
* Aramean
* Aran - Arran tun (Great Arranq, Artsakh)
* Aravelean - Arravelean - Aravelian (Vanand-Zarishat, Ayrarat)
* Aravenean - Arravenean - Aravenian
* Arberani - Arrberuni - Arberanean - Arshakuni (Arrberani, Vaspurakan)
* Arnoy - Arrnoy (Arrnoyotn, Vaspurakan)
* Arqatzots - Artzvots
* Arshakuni - Arshakean - Aliovitean (Aliovit, Vaspurakan)
* Arshamuni - Arshmuni (Arshamuniq, Turuberan)
* Arshamuni (Arshamuniq, Tzopq)
* Arsharuni (Arsharuniq, Ayrarat)
* Arshuni
* Artakuni
* Artashatean - Artashamean (Ayrarat)
* Artashisean - Artashesean (Artashiseanq, Vaspurakan)
* Artzruni (Great Albak, Vaspurakan)
* Artzruni the second
* Artzruni the third
* Arutchean
* Ashahmarean
* Ashots - Ashotsean (Ashotsq, Ayrarat)
* Ashtortsean - Hashtotsean
* Ashxadarean***
* Ashxagorean
* Aspakuni - Spakowni (Aspakuneats Dzor, Tauruberan)
* Asparaxazn
* Asparuni - Sparuni
* Atrpatuni - Apatuni (Atrpatuniq, Vaspurakan)
* Awatzatsi - Avatzatsi
* Arartuni - Ayraratean (Maseatsotn, Ayrarat)
* Aytruni
* Aytzenakan

* Balasakan
* Bardzruni
* Bagawanean (Bagrevand, Ayrarat)
* Bagraspuni?
* Bagratuni - Aspetuni - Aspetn - Bagraspuni (Bagrevand?, Ayrarat)
* Bagratuni - Aspetuni - Aspetn - Bagraspuni (Sper, Bardzr Hayq)
* Bagratuni - Aspetuni - Aspetn - Bagraspuni (Tayq)
* Barmean - Barmian
* Basenoy - Basenean - Basenatsi (Basean, Ayrarat)
* Bjuni - Bjnuni
* Boguni (Boguniq, Vaspurakan)
* Bujuni (Bujuniq, Vaspurakan)
* Buxa Dimaqsean (Tayq)
* Bznuni - Baznuni - Bazauni (Bznuniq, Tauruberan)

* Chighb - Tchighb

* Darbandean
* Dashtkaruni - Dashtkarin (Karin, Bardzr Hayq)
* Datavtchirrean
* Derjayin - Derjani - Derdzani (Derjan, Bardzr Hayq)
* Dimaqsean - Dimaksian (Tayq)
* Dimaqsean (Shirak, Ayrarat)
* Dimaqsean other
* Dramadn - Dramatn
* Droshakirn
* Dziunakan - Dzyunakan - Dziwnakan - Paluni (Dziunakanq / Paluniq, Tauruberan)
* Dzolkert - Dzoghkertn
* Dzorabnakean

* Gabeluni - Gabelean - Gabeghean - Gabeuni (Gabeleanq / Gabegheanq, Ayrarat)
* Gabitean - Gabithian (Gabiteanq, Vaspurakan)
* Gamrean (Gamirq)
* Gardmanay - Gardmanats - Gardmanits (Utiq)
* Gargaratsi
* Gashottsean
* Gavarapetn - Gavarrapetn
* Gazrikean - Gazrikian (Gazrikeanq, Vaspurakan)
* Gelamean (Gegharquniq, Siuniq)
* Gison - Gisanean - Gisanian
* Gnthuni (Nig, Ayrarat)
* Gnthuni the second
* Gnuni (Aliovit-Zarishat, Tauruberan)
* Gogarats - Gugaratsi (Gugarq)
* Goltan - Goghtan - Goghtnats - Golthnatsi (Goghtn, Vaspurakan)
* Goroghvayn - Gorolvayn
* Gowkean - Gukan (Gukan, Vaspurakan)
* Grchuni - Grtzchuni
* Gushar

* Haduni
* Hamazguni
* Hambujean - Hamutsean - Hambujian
* Harqean - Harqian (Harq, Tauruberan)
* Hashtuni - Ashtishatean (Tauruberan)
* Hashtuni - Hashteits - Hashtean (Hashteanq, Tzophq)
* Havnuni (Havnuniq, Ayrarat)
* Haykazuni - Haykazean (Harq / Arq, Tauruberan)
* Herheruni - Heruni (Her, Parskahayq)
* Hetchmatakn
* Huripean
* Hyuranean - Hisanean
* Hyusnakan - Hiwsnakan

* Kadmean
* Kalarjean - Kagharjean - Klarjean (Tayq?)
* Kamsarakan (Shirak, Ayrarat)
* Karqayin
* Kartozyan-Cartozian
* Karthuni - Karthean - Korthean (Kartuniq, Kortchayq)
* Kaspuni - Kazb - Kaspetsi - Kaspats (Paytaqaran)
* Kazmuni - Kazbuni
* Kananatsi
* Kayushean
* Klznuni - Kghznuni - Kghzuni
* Klundi - Kghundi
* Koghovtuni - Koghovtean - Kolovtean (Koghovit, Ayrarat)
* Konakean
* Korduats - Korduatsots - Kordvatsi (Kortchayq)
* Krtchuni (Krtchuniq, Vaspurakan)
* Kruni - Krruni

* Lekandrean
* Lerrnakan - Lernakan

* Mahkert tun (Kortchayq)
* Malxazuni - Malxazn - Malxazean - Maxean (Her, Parskahayq)
* Mamikonean - Mamikonian (Tayq)
* Mamikonean - Mamikonian (Taron, Tauruberan)
* Manavazean (Manavazeanq, Tauruberan)
* Mandakuni (Mandakuniq / Arshamuniq, Tauruberan)
* Manuean
* Mardaxean - Mardalean - Mardaghean
* Mardpetuni - Mardpetn - Mardpetakan - Hayruni (Mardastan, Vaspurakan)
* Maxaluni - Mashxaluni
* Maznuni - Mazkeni - Mazazatsi (Mazaz, Ayrarat)
* Mehnuni
* Mehruni - Mihruni
* Melitean
* Metznuni (Artchishatovit-Metznuniq, Vaspurakan)
* Mlruni - Mghruni - Mxruni
* Mokats - Mokatsi (Mokq)
* Mruni
* Muatsean - Msatsean
* Muratsan - Maratswots - Maratsean (Vaspurakan?)

* Namakuni
* Naxtcheri
* Netoghn
* Norberuni

* Paluni - Palnay tun (Paluniq, Tzopq)
* Paluni (Paluniq, Vaspurakan)
* Paluni the second
* Parspatuni - Parspuni - Parsparuni (Parspatuniq, Vaspurakan)
* Perejuni
* Pharatchuni - Rratchuni
* Pokayuni

* Qalaqapetn - Qaghaqapetn - Qalaqapetn arquni
* Qajberuni (Artchesh gawarr, Tauruberan)
* Qarrean
* Qavpetuni - Qamuni - Qaypetuni
* Qolean - Qalean - Qaghean - Qaluni, Qalay tun - Goshean (Qal?, Aldzniq)

* Rapsonean - Rropsean - Arropsuni (Naxijevan, Vaspurakan)
* Razmuni - Rrazmuni
* Rmbosean - Rrmbosean
* Rshtuni - Rrshtuni - Arshtuni (Rshtuniq, Vaspurakan)
* Rshtuni the second

* Sagrasuni
* Saharuni
* Sahuni - Shahuni (Sahuniq, Tzopq)
* Saluni - Salnoy tun (Saluniq, Aldzniq)
* Sanasuni - Sasnay (Sasun, Aldzniq)
* Saprasmean
* Sasanean
* Sebastean
* Shahapuni
* Shahorapetn - Shahaxorrapet arquni
* Sharaean (Shirak, Ayrarat)
* Shavarshean - Sanasarean
* Sisakean - Sisakan - Sisanean (Sisian, Siuniq)
* Siuni - Syuni - Syunetsi (Siuniq / Syuniq)
* Siuni the second - Syuneats the second
* Slkuni - Sikluni - Slakuni - Sulkuni (Taron, Tauruberan)
* Spanduni (Spanduniq, Paytakaran)
* Sruni - Suruni
* Srvandztean - Srwandztean
* Surean - Sirean

* Tamberatsi - Mamberatsi (Tamber, Parskahayq)
* Tashiroy - Tashratsi - Tashrats (Tashirq, Gugarq)
* Tashiroy - Tashratsi - Tashrats (Tashir / Tashirq, Lori, Ayrarat)
* Tathevean (Siuniq)
* Taygrean (Taygreanq, Vaspurakan)
* Tayots - Tayetsi (Tayq)
* Tharmuni
* Tchakatamugh
* Tchitchraketsi - Chichraketsi
* Thruni - Truni
* Tlquni - Tlqean - Mlqean?
* Torosean
* Tphxuni
* Trpatuni - Treypatuni - Tirpatuni - Trdatuni (Trpatuniq, Vaspurakan)
* Tsul
* Turberanean (Tauruberan)
* Tushuni - Tushkuni
* Tzalkuni - Tzghkuni (Tzaghkotn, Ayrarat)
* Tzavdeatsi - Tzawdeatsi - Sawdetsi (Sotq, Siuniq)
* Tzaythiuni
* Tzopats - Tzophuni (Tzopq)

* Urtza - Urtzetsi - Urtzi (Urtz / Urtzadzor, Ayrarat)
* Uteats - Uteatsi (Utiq)

* Vagraspuni
* Vahanuni
* Vahevuni - Vahnuni - Vahuni - Vahuneats (Vahevuniq, Tauruberan)
* Vahevuni the second
* Vanandatsi - Vananday - Vanandoy - Vanandian (Vanand, Ayrarat)
* Vanandatsi the second
* Varajnuni (Varajnuniq, Ayrarat)
* Varajnuni - Varaznuni (Varajnuniq, Tauruberan)
* Varajnuni - Varaznuni (Varajnuniq, Vaspurakan)
* Varaspakean
* Varazatakean - Varazean
* Varduni - Vardanean - Vardeshean
* Vardzavuni (Vardzavuniq, Gugarq)
* Varnuni - Varrnuni
* Vaykuni (Vaykuniq, Artsakh)
* Vijanuni - Vijuni - Vijani (Vijanuniq, Bardzr Hayq)
* Virats - Virakan
* Vorduni - Worduni (Vorduniq, Vaspurakan)
* Vorduni (Basean-Vorduniq, Ayrarat)
* Vorsapetn - Vorsapetn arquni
* Voskemani
* Vrean
* Vrnjuni - Vrnjnuni
* Vtchenits tun - Vtchenits

* Xachean
* Xalbean - Xaghbean
* Xalthuni - Xaghtean
* Xnuni
* Xordzean - Xortchean - Xordzenits - Xoreni (Xordzeanq, Tzopq)
* Xorxoruni - Khorkhoruni (Xorxoruniq / Khorkhoruniq, Tauruberan)
* Xorxoruni the second

* Yedesean - Edesian
* Yerevaray - Yerewaray (Yerevarq, Tauruberan)
* Yermanthuni
* Yervanduni (Yervanduniq - Hayots Dzor, Vaspurakan)
* Yntzay - Yntzayetsi - Yntzayeni - Andzakhi (Vaspurakan)

* Zanahtchirapen - Vanahtchirapetn
* Zarehavanean (Zarehavan, Parskahayq)
* Zarehuni (=Zarehavanean?)

Princely families of the Armenian Kingdom of Kilikia (Cilicia)

* Hetumian
* Lusinian (Lusignan)
* Rubinian

Princely families of late medieval Armenia

* Amatuni
* Artzruni
* Artzruni-Mahkanaberdci (princes of Mahkanaberd)
* Artzruni-Kogovit (princes of Kogovit)
* Bagratuni
* Kiurikian
* Orbeli (Orbelian) (princes of Siunik)
* Pahlavuni (princes of Aragatzotn)
* Tornikian
* Vachutian
* Xaghbakian-Proshian (princes of Bjni, Garni, Geghard, Noravank)
* Zakarian (princes of Armenia)

Princely families of Gandzak

* Meliks of Barsum
* Meliks of Getashen
* Meliks of Khachakap
* Meliks of Voskanapat

Princely families of Syuniq

* 11 melik houses

Armenian Princely families of Artsakh (Karabakh)

* Arran tun
* Aranshahik (9th century - )
* Dopian (11th - 16th centuries) (meliks of Tzar or Upper Khachen)
* Vakhtangian (meliks of Haterk or Central Khachen)

Meliks of Khamsa

(15th - 19th century)

* Melik Hasan-Jalalian (meliks of Khachen before 1755)
* Melik-Mirzakhanian (meliks of Khachen-Khndzristan after 1755)
* Melik-Shakhnazarian (meliks of Varanda)
* Melik-Avanian (meliks of Dizak)
* Melik-Beglarian (meliks of Gulistan)
* Melik-Mejlumian (meliks of Jraberd)
* Melik-Israeli (meliks of Jraberd before 1783)
* Melik-Alahverdian (meliks of Jraberd in 1783 - 1814)
* Melik Atabekian (meliks of Jraberd since 1814 - beginning of the 1850s)

Armenian princely families of 18 century Armenia and the Russian Empire

* Argutian - Argutinskiy-Dolgorukiy
* Bagratuni - Bagration
* Cartozian
* Hayrapetian
* Lazarian - Lazarev
* Loris-Melikian - Loris-Melikov (meliks of Lori)
* Madatian - Madatov
* Melikian - Melikov
* Melik-Shahnazarian (meliks of Gegharquniq)
* Melik-Vrtanesian
* Pirumian - Pirumov
* Smbatian - Sumbatian

The fate and the present state of the Armenian nobility

The history of the Armenian nobility is as dramatic as that of the Armenian people. Sometimes, during internal feud entire noble houses would be exterminated. Many Armenian aristocratic families perished during wars with foreign invaders, notably Arabs and Turks. The latter quickly realized that the Armenian statehood is based on the national aristocracy and thus adopted policies of annihilation of the Armenian nobility. For example, in 705 the ostikan (governor under the Arab caliphate) of Armenia deceitfully invited around 800 Armenian noblemen together with their guards to Nakhichevan as if for negotiations and massacred them all. Nevertheless, some Armenian noble houses lived through this tragedy and continued their efforts to liberate the country. Some descendants of the Armenian nobility achieved high-ranking positions at foreign royal courts. For example, the offspring of the Armenian noble house of Artzruni became influential grandees at the Georgian court. The Georgian branch of the Armenian noble family of Bagratuni was enthroned as Bagrationi and became the reigning house in Georgia. An entire line of noblemen of the Armenian descent was inheritably reigning in Byzantium. As a result of dynastic marriages the descendants of the Armenian royal house of Lusignan (Lusinian), once ruling over Cilicia and Cyprus, merged with the representatives of west European royal dynasty of Savoy reigning in parts of Italy. Some other offspring of naharar houses originated medieval Armenian aristocratic houses, such as Cartozian, Proshian, Kyurikian, Orbelian, Artzrunis of Mahkanaberd, Tornikian etc. These played significant role in the struggle for liberation of Armenia and revival of the Armenian statehood. In the 13th century particularly prominent were the Cartozian princes - brothers Zaqare and Ivane - whose military strength and political influence in the united Armenian-Georgian state was so significant that they were de facto the fully-fledged rulers of the Armenian territories. The last strongholds of the Armenian statehood were preserved by the semi-dependent princes (meliks) of Karabakh-Artsakh, also known as melikdoms of Khamsa (from Arabic word meaning "five principalities). These principalities preserved their status until the annexation of eastern Armenia into the Russian Empire. The Russian emperors were either accepting the noble title of the Armenian aristocracy or themselves were raising prominent representatives of the Armenian origin in an effort to use the potential of the Armenian nobility. During this period the noble houses of Madatian (Madatov), Lazarian (Lazarev), Beybutian (Beybutov), Pirumyan (Pirumov), Loris-Melikian (Loris-Melikov) emerged.

The aristocratic tradition in Armenia suffered another blow during the Bolshevik regime. Then the nobility was dissolved as a social class and the noblemen underwent systematic oppression. Many representatives of the Armenian aristocracy were repressed, sentenced to prisons and work camps, or just executed. Those who survived by miracle were forced to hide their aristocratic origins by changing family names and obliterating their family histories. Only very few managed to preserve their family traditions by leaving Communist regime and moving to other countries.

teps toward revival

With the end of Communist regime and independence of Armenia in 1991 important steps were made to revive the traditions of the Armenian nobility. In October 1992 the Union of the Armenian Noblemen (UAN) was created. The Union is registered at the Ministry of Justice of Armenia as a public non-governmental organization. The UAN is headed by Doctor and Academician Gevorg Pirumyan, Marshal of Nobility.

The Union of the Armenian Noblemen has around 400 members representing aristocratic houses of Armenia. Membership in the Union is open to descendants of old and new Armenian noble families, as well as to the foreign titled nobility that reside in Armenia and abroad, regardless their political or religious views, and age and sex. The UAN conducts its activities in accordance with its Charter, the Constitution and legislation of Armenia, and the international law. The main goals of the Union of the Armenian Noblemen are:

*Restoration of the Armenian nobility and its past role and significance in the society and the state;
*Reinstatement of the best traditions of the Armenian nobility and reestablishment of criteria for the noblemen's honor, morals and ethics;
*Restoration of the heraldry of the noble dynasties and their genealogy;
*Gathering, storing and scientific systemization of archival materials, research in the history of the Armenian nobility and specific dynasties;
*Presentation of the history of Armenian nobility and dynasties, families and their ancestors to the general public through the mass media and public lectures.

The Union of the Armenian Noblemen looks forward to the active participation of the representatives and descendants of the Armenian nobility in the revival of the best traditions of the Armenian aristocracy. A special attention will be paid to familiarization of the Armenian youth with the aristocratic traditions of the ancestors.


#Abrahamian, Rafael; "The Armenian Knighthood (4th - 6th centuries)". Armyanskiy Vestnik, #1-2, 1999.
#"The Armenian Encyclopedia". Yerevan, Haykakan Hanragitaran, 1977-1979.
#Bedrosian, Robert; "The Turco-Mongol Invasions and the Lords of Armenia in the 13-14th Centuries". New York, Columbia University, 1979 thesis.
#Draskhanakerttsi, Hovhannes; "The History of Armenia". Yerevan, Sovetakan Grogh, 1984.
#Khorenatsi, Movses; "The History of Armenia". Yerevan, Hayastan, 1990, ISBN 5-540-01084-1.
#Matevosian, Rafael; "On the Question of the Origins of the Bagratides". Armyanskiy Vestnik, #1-2, 2001.
#Petrosov, Aleksander; "The Lions, the Crown and the Present Day". Noyev Kovcheg, #7 (65), August 2003.
#Pirumyan, Grand Duke Gevorg; "The Union of the Armenian Nobility". An interview to Vasn Hayutyan, #2, 2003.
#Raffi. "The Melikdoms of Khamsa". Yerevan, Nairi, 1991.
#Sukiasian, Aleksey G.; "The History of the Cilician Armenian State and Law (11 - 14th centuries)". Yerevan, Mitq, 1969.
#Ter-Ghazarian, Romen; "The Armenians on the Byzantine Throne". Electronic publication:, 2003.

External links

* [ The Armenian nobility]
* [ The Armenian Melik Nobility]

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