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The Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia, also known as Bagratid Armenia (Old Armenian: Բագրատունեաց Հայաստան, Bagratuneats Hayastan or Բագրատունիների թագավորութիւն, Bagratunineri t’agavorut’iwn, "kingdom of the Bagratunis"), was an independent state established by Ashot I Bagratuni in the early 880s[2] following nearly two centuries of foreign domination of Greater Armenia under Arab Umayyad and Abbasid rule. With each of the two contemporary powers in the region - the Abbasids and Byzantines - too preoccupied to concentrate their forces in subjugating the people of the region, and with the dissipation of several of the Armenian nakharar noble families, Ashot succeeded in asserting himself as the leading figure of a movement to dislodge the Arabs from Armenia.[3]

Ashot's prestige rose as both Byzantine and Arab leaders - eager to maintain a buffer state near their frontiers - courted him. The Abbasid Caliphate recognized Ashot as "prince of princes" in 862 and, later on, as king (in 884 or 885). The establishment of the Bagratuni kingdom later led to the founding of several other Armenian principalities and kingdoms: Taron, Vaspurakan, Kars, Khachen and Syunik.[4] Unity among all these states was sometimes difficult to maintain while the Byzantines and Arabs lost no time in exploiting the kingdom's situation to their own gains.[citation needed] During the reign of Ashot III (732 to 748), Ani became the kingdom's capital and grew into a thriving economic and cultural center.[5]

The first half of the 11th century saw the decline and eventual collapse of the kingdom. The Byzantine emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025) won a string of victories and annexed parts of southwestern Armenia; King Hovhannes-Smbat felt forced to cede his lands and in 1022 promised to "will" his kingdom to the Byzantines following his death. However, after Hovhannes-Smbat's death in 1041, his successor, Gagik II, refused to hand over Ani and continued resistance until 1045, when his kingdom, plagued with internal and external threats, was finally taken by Byzantine forces.[6]

The Arab raids and invasion of Armenia as well as the devastation wrought upon the land during the Byzantine-Arab wars had largely stifled any expression of Armenian culture in fields such as historiography, literature and architecture. These restrictions disappeared when the Bagratuni kingdom was established, ushering in a new golden age of Armenian culture.

The lack of a strong Arab presence saw a rise in the number of historians, who wrote and documented the relations between Armenia and other countries and described many events that took place from the seventh to eleventh centuries. Thanks to the patronage of the kings and nobles, monasteries became centers for the study and writing of literature throughout the kingdom.[46] The monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin were well-known centers for higher learning. Notable figures in

The Arab raids and invasion of Armenia as well as the devastation wrought upon the land during the Byzantine-Arab wars had largely stifled any expression of Armenian culture in fields such as historiography, literature and architecture. These restrictions disappeared when the Bagratuni kingdom was established, ushering in a new golden age of Armenian culture.

The lack of a strong Arab presence saw a rise in the number of historians, who wrote and documented the relations between Armenia and other countries and described many events that took place from the seventh to eleventh centuries. Thanks to the patronage of the kings and nobles, monasteries became centers for the study and writing of literature throughout the kingdom.[46] The monasteries of The lack of a strong Arab presence saw a rise in the number of historians, who wrote and documented the relations between Armenia and other countries and described many events that took place from the seventh to eleventh centuries. Thanks to the patronage of the kings and nobles, monasteries became centers for the study and writing of literature throughout the kingdom.[46] The monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin were well-known centers for higher learning. Notable figures in Armenian literature and philosophy during this period included the mystic Grigor Narekatsi and Grigor Magistros.

The art of illuminated manuscripts and miniatures illustrations were also revived during this era. The relative period of peace between Byzantium and Armenia during the second half of the 10th century led to a great deal of interaction between Armenian artists and their Greek counterparts. Armenian manuscript authors tended either to stress the natural look of the human body in illustrations or to forgo it and instead concentrate on the aspect of decoration.[50]

Armenian architecture during the Bagratuni era was especially prominent and "most of the surviving churches in present-day Armenia are from this period."[51] The city of Ani, situated on the important trade intersection between the Byzantines, Arabs, and merchants of other countries, grew throughout the 9th century both commercially and culturally, earning renown for its "40 gates and 1,001 churches."[19] The churches of this period expanded on 7th century designs; they were often steeper in elevation, introduced donor portraits in the round and incorporated ideas from Byzantine and Islamic architecture.[52] Armenian churches were invariably built out of stone and had vaulted ceilings which supported a spherical dome.[53] Many churches and other forms of architecture suffered vandalism or outright destruction following the Seljuk invasions of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.