Monday, February 15, 2016

The Exile years


Gagik received as compensation for his kingdom the district of Lycandus in Asia Minor and the town of Bizou, in the vicinity of Caesarea. He was also granted the use of a palace on the Bosphorus in Constantinople and a pension from the imperial treasury. Several seals testify "Kakikios Aniotes" (Gagik of Ani) as duke of the thema of Charsianon. During his time in exile, according to Matthew of Edessa, Gagik also took part in a theological debate between him and the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople, defending the Armenian Church and its tradition and rites. The Metropolitan Bishop of Caesarea, named Markos, lost no occasion to express his scorn toward Gagik, whom he considered a heretic. After several insults by Markos directed against him, Gagik eventually murdered the bishop, an act that made Gagik even more unpopular among the locals. As the story goes, it is said the Bishop had a dog named Armen, so as to scorn the Armenians. One day, Gagik visited the bishop, had the dog put in a canvas bag and beat with sticks. He then had the Bishop seized and placed in the same bag with the dog, now maddened by pain. The bishop died in pain from the wounds inflicted by his own dog. Gagik was captured and later killed on May 5, 1079 by the Byzantine governors (three brothers) of Kyzistra, who had his body mutilated and hanged from the fort for others to see. His body was later buried outside the fort but was later said to have been secretly conveyed by an Armenian from Ani named Banik to a convent he had built in the city of Bizou. Shortly after Gagik was killed, his youngest son David was poisoned by his father-in-law for suspected treachery. Gagik's eldest son Hovhannes had married the daughter of the governor of Ani and still lived there, but was in Georgia when it was captured. Hovhannes had a son Ashot who was poisoned and his body brought to Bizou. Hovhannes did not survive his son by long, at which time the posterity of the senior male Bagratian line of kings of Armenia was extinct. During the reign of Thoros I of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia the death of king Gagik II was avenged by the Armenian forces who took the fortress of Kyzistra and executed the three Byzantine brothers who had killed the last Armenian King of Ani.