Tth Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin




Translated and adapted from Raffi’s "Five Meliks" (Vienna, 1906. )

After the disappearance of actual royalty there still existed in Armenia a group of independent princes, descendants of old royal houses, who were called governors, governors of marches, heads of provinces, and so on. In time these also disappeared in their turn, and in the 16th and 17th centuries there came into prominence certain men of noble descent, some of whom already possessed, and others, who were new-comers, who acquired territorial rights over large tracts of land on the Karabagh plateau, eventually becoming the rulers or chiefs of five small adjacent provinces. They received formal recognition at the hands of Shah Abbas, who sanctioned and established the independent rule of each in his own territories, reviving and bestowing on them the old title of Mielik, or Melik, in acknowledgment of the great services rendered by them to him in his wars against the Osmanlis.

Their provinces in geographical order were as follows.


or Thalish, extending from the river Kiurak (Kiurakchai) to the river Tharthar (now Ter-ter).


or Charapiert’h, from the Tharthar to the river Khachin.


from the river of the same name to the river Ballu.


from the river Ballu to the Thizaphaithi mountain belt.


from the Thizaphaithi hills to the river Ierask (Araxes).

The succession to the Melikdoms was generally hereditary, the eldest son succeeding under the title of Melik. The younger sons were called Beg. The ancestors of all the Meliks had possessed the title of Uzbashy (centurion), a title granted to men who owned estates and lands, and who had the right of keeping armed retainers. The rule of the Meliks was autocratic and absolute, each governing his province and his people according to the laws and customs of his forefathers, with unlimited authority over the persons of his subjects or dependents, even to the infliction of capital punishment.

The Meliks re-constructed and fortified the ancient strongholds of Aghvan kings and princes. (Their provinces had formerly formed part of the Aghvan kingdom). The Melik of Gulistan possessed two fortresses, one near the village of the same name, at the summit of an inaccessible height, and another at the small town of Thalish, opposite the Vank of Horiek. The fortress of the Melik of Chrapiert’h was situated opposite the Ieritsmankants Vank, by the river Tharthar, on the top of a terrifically precipitous rocky peninsula formed by the waters of the rivers Tharthar and Thurghin furiously rushing on either side. The Khachin Melik’s fort was near the Khachin river, opposite the celebrated Vank of Gandtsasar, on the summit of a lofty thickly-wooded mountain peak, and had been originally constructed by the Hassan-Djalalian princes against Tartar invasions. Another fortress in the same province, on a pinnacle high up amongst the clouds, was called the Magpies’ Fort, supposed to be accessible only to those birds. The Varranda Melik’s fort was at Chanakhch, a "Gospel" village opposite a nunnery, and the Melik of Thizak occupied a fort at the small town of Thugh, high up near the heavens.


The Black Centurion, or "Sev" (Black) Apov, the first of the Beglarian clan to settle in Karabagh, came there in an impoverished condition, with a few dependents and followers, one autumn in the end of the sixteenth, or beginning of the seventeenth century, and lived with his people in tents pitched on the left bank of the river Tharthar, near what is now called the village of Thalish. Apparently some calamity had driven him from his native country of Nij in the province of Uthi, and had compelled him to seek an asylum elsewhere.

Shortly after his coming to Karabagh, a raid of robbers having taken place on the neighbouring lands of the Khan of Barda, "Sev" Apov went out with some of his young men in pursuit of the invaders, returning soon after with the stolen property and cattle, and the thieves as well, having caught and taken them prisoners. Some of the retainers of the Khan appeared next day, saying they had orders to arrest the thieves, whom they took away and brought before their master without saying to whom the credit of the capture was due, in order to claim a reward. But this wounded the self-esteem and roused the indignation of the captives, who had surrendered to a worthier foe. "Punish us as thou wilt, " said they to the khan, "for we have laid waste thy lands, but dishonour us not by remunerating the unachieved prowess of these miserable men, as if they had been our victors!" Whereupon the khan, discovering the real hero of the adventure to be the Black Centurion, wanted to reward him, but, like a brave man, he refused any recompense, saying, "Grant me only a place to settle in. " The Khan gave him the village of Thalish, or Thalij, near the Vank of Horiek.

On his tombstone is inscribed one line only, from which it appears that he died in the year 1081 of the Armenian era, A. D. 1632. He left several sons and was succeeded by the eldest, Melik Beglar, who resembled his father in wisdom and courage. He founded and consolidated the Melikdom of the Beglar family, extending his rule over much of the neighbouring country, including the fortress of Gulistan, which he repaired and resided in. He left two sons, Apov and Thamraz. The former, who succeeded him, was known as Kagh, or Lame, Apov, on account of an injury to one of his legs. His life of pillage and plunder enabled him to gain and keep power. He took everything by force, including his wife! One day, having gone out on a marauding expedition with some of his men, he chanced on the obaner of Mamlath Khan in the mountains above the village of Gedashen. While attacking him he caught sight of his daughter, and was so attracted by her beauty that he entirely forgot his plan of plundering the Khan of his rich flocks and herds of cattle, carrying off his daughter instead, to his fortress of Gulistan, where he had her converted and baptised, and then married her. This abduction brought about a long and sanguinary feud between Apov and the Khan, ending in the defeat of the latter, and for many years the Khan’s anger against his daughter and her self-invited bridegroom was unappeased. Old age brought reconciliation, and, having no successor, he left his daughter all his villages, so that Apov, through his wife, became the owner of a large tract of land. He died in 1728, and his son Yusup being under age, the government of the country was given to his brother Thamraz, and Yusup was placed in his guardianship. But Thamraz carried on his government from his palace near the Vank of Horiek not as regent, but as ruler, treating Yusup with cruelty and meditating his destruction. Yusup lived in the fortress of Gulistan with his mother, the beautiful Ghamar-soltana, in an unenviable condition.

When the vizir Mirza Thahir, tax and tribute-collector to Shah Sultan Hussein, visited Karabagh, Melik Thamraz, wishing to ingratiate himself with the Persian government, received him in his house, imposed fresh and unjust taxes on his people, and hinted to the vizir that his brother’s gun, in the possession of young Yusup, was a rare fire-arm, worthy of the Shah’s treasury. Yusup was told to bring the weapon, and the vizir, on seeing it, took it away, saying "This fire-piece is more suitable for the treasury of the Shah than for you. " Yusup returned to his mother with tears in his eyes and without the only relic she possessed of her husband’s brave deeds. "Unworthy son of a brave father, " cried she, "rather would I that thy dead body had been brought to me, for then men would have said that thou hadst lost thy life sooner than lose this relic of thy father, " Stung by her reproaches - "I will recover it, " exclaimed the boy, and asked for money to buy arms. His mother gave him the few gold ornaments she wore on her head.

The vizir, having collected all that he could, set out with his servants and mules laden with tribute. Yusup, with a band of his young comrades, lay in wait for him and fell upon the cavalcade at the narrow pass of the river Tharthar, where Yusup with his own hand cut off the vizir’s head and recovered his father’s gun. They killed some of the followers and some escaped, while Yusup and his brave boys carried off all the gold to his fortress. This deed went unpunished, for about that time the Shah was deposed and the Afghans came and took possession of Ispahan.

Yusup’s power having increased, he began to think of revenging himself on his uncle and of regaining his rightful inheritance. He formed an alliance with Atham of Chrapiert’h, whose relations with Thamraz were not very friendly, and the two together besieged Thamraz in his fortress, which they took after some severe fighting, and Thamraz was hanged on an elm-tree, which Raffi says was still standing in 1881, on the boundary between Gulistan and Chrapiert’h, and was known as the "Bloody Chenar".

Yusup’s mother, Ghamar-soltana, who by her wise counsels had greatly helped her son to rise to his rightful position, died in the year 1753, and was buried in the family burial ground of the Melik Beglarians, opposite the Vank of Horiek.


In 1687 Melik Iesaï, of the Israelian family, with a number of followers and dependents, came to Karabagh with the intention of killing the principal Khan of Siunik, who had had immoral relations with his (Melik Iesaï’s) sister. The Khan’s men attacked him, but he defeated them in the valley of the Arav Mountain, putting them to flight and killing seven of the Khan’s sons. He took possession of the mountain, the hill tribes and nomads who dwelt thereon gradually coming under his rule, and then he occupied neighbouring territory as far as the village of Thiuthakan, now known as Kathughkasar. He was succeeded by his brothers, during whose suzerainty many other places were added to their Melikdom, including Chrapiert’h, the name of this fortress giving them their territorial designation of Meliks of Chrapiert’h.


Of the five Meliks of Karabagh the Meliks of Khachin were the only clan originally belonging to Karabagh.

Their family, that of the Hassan-Djalalian princes, was a very ancient one, the members of which in course of time increased so greatly in numbers that the whole of the small province of Khachin was split up and divided amongst them, the resultant weakening of their authority leading to the final extinction of their rule in Karabagh.

[To this family belonged the Catholicos Johannes of Gandtsasar, who showed hospitality to Emin at his monastery. He fell a victim to Ibrahim Khan in the end, and his brother Bishop Sarkies became Catholicos of Gandtsasar, dying in 1828. ]


The historian Arakiel relates that when Shah Abbas the Great journeyed from Tiflis to Kiegham, he took up his abode in the small town or village of Mazra, in the house of Melik Shahnazar, an Armenian, and a powerful noble, who showed the Shah hospitality and became his intimate and honoured friend. The Shah gave him the title of Melik and bestowed several villages and tracts of land on him and on his brothers. In 1682 Shahnazar’s son Hussein, and his brother’s son Melik Baghi, went to Karabagh and settled at Chanakhch in the province of Varranda, built churches and monasteries and fortified the place. In 1721, when Caucasian mountaineers overran the country, Baghi resisted them and saved his lands from their inroads, after which more territory came under his rule.

In 1733, when, under the leadership of Melik Avankhan of Thizak, the Armenians rose against the Osmanlis and cleared them out of Karabagh, the heroic wife of Melik Hussein of Varranda, Anna-khatoon, sister of Melik Avan, led the attack at the "Gospel" village of Chanakhch. Suleiman-beg, commanding the Osmanlis in that neighbourhood, had cast his eyes on Gaianè, the beautiful daughter of the Melik, but, not daring to carry her off, had proposed to marry her, and the parents had, with various excuses, put him off till the day planned for the rising. When fighting broke out Suleiman-beg tried to save himself by taking refuge in the house of the Melik, who had gone to another part of his province, the command of the "Gospel" village being in the hands of his wife. Gaianè, standing armed at the door of the house, seeing her hated bridegroom rush in, drew her scimitar and thrust it into his heart, killing him. After this shedding of blood she gave up her life to religion, entering the nunnery at Chanakhch, where, in 1881, Raffi was shown a beautiful manuscript of the Gospels which had been written by Gaianè.

Melik Hussein died in 1736 and was succeeded by Melik Mirza-beg, his brother’s son, who was beheaded, having greatly offended the Shah, and Melik Hussein’s eldest son Hovsep became Melik by command of the Shah. His step-brother Shahnazar was a most immoral man, adopting in his private life the polygamous customs of the Persians, whereby he greatly shocked and revolted the religious feelings of the people, and incurred the hatred of all the other Meliks. He also committed a terrible crime. Although his brother had become Melik by command of the Shah, he could not endure the thought of his possessing the suzerainty, and one evening he went to Hovsep’s house, killed him with his own hands, and had his whole family put to death. One child only, Sahi Beg, was saved by his nurse escaping with him to the house of his uncle, Melik Allah-verdi of the Hassan-Djalalians, in Khachin. This crime had very far-reaching consequences, for Shahnazar now became the ruler of the province of Varranda, and eventually, by reason of his alliance with Panah-khan, the cause of the downfall of Armenian rule in Karabagh. He was half Turkman, his mother having been the daughter of the Khan of Nakhichevan, and captured by Melik Hussein, who, later, married her.


Melik Avan belonged to the family of the Loris Meliks, who, in the 16th century, were very powerful in the province of Lori. On account of a dispute with his relative Elizbar, who had seized his paternal inheritance, Avan quitted Lori and came to Karabagh, settling at the village of Thugh in the province of Thizak. Avan fortified the place and built a fine church there. Later, when some of his descendants came under the dominion of Ibrahim Khan, they turned Mohamedan, but Avan’s memory is still cherished amongst them with great pride, his grave is regularly blessed, and the Easter-Day services in the church are performed at their expense.

About the end of the second decade of the 18th century the greater part of Persia was overrun by the Afghans, another portion was in the hands of the Russians, while Persian Armenia and Georgia were occupied by the Osmanlis (Turks), who by the year 1723 had penetrated to Tiflis and Gandtsak (Ganja, now Elisavetpol), and had reached Karabagh. The Armenian Meliks, too few in numbers to resist the invasion alone, had appealed to Russia for help, which was not granted to them. However, the conquests of Nadir Shah, who cleared out the Afghans, invaded India, and then turned his sword against the Osmanlis, inspired the Meliks with courage to rise against the invaders, whose commander, Sari Moustafa, had established himself at Gandtsak, quartering his troops all over Karabagh, in the very houses of the Armenians. Under the leadership of Avan of Thizak, the chief, and the most powerful of the five Meliks, a rising was planned for the night of St. Bartholomew, 1733. At the given signal all the Armenians rose as one man against their unwelcome guests and slew them, cleansing Karabagh in one night of their hated presence, Sari Moustafa barely escaping with his life to Erivan.

At the time of his coronation Nadir Shah assembled all the great nobles of his kingdom, and bestowed various honours and titles upon them, and also upon the Armenian Meliks, in return for the assistance they had rendered him against the Osmanlis. By a special firman he re-affirmed and re-established their authority in their dominions, particularly favouring Melik Avan, and bestowing on him the title of Khan. To Allah-ghouli of the Israelians he gave the title of Soltan, or Sultan, which in Persia was a title given to generals, and in the reign of Nadir was a distinction bestowed on the heads of provinces.

Melik Avan once during a whole year provided at his own expense all the food required by the Shah’s soldiers, and Nadir was very friendly with him, visiting him in his house and frequently dining there. The Melik was noted for keeping a sumptuous table, at which every procurable luxury was to be found. One day the Shah, somewhat abashed at the lavish hospitality offered him, asked that a dish of fresh mushrooms should be served to him. The Melik promised that his wish should be gratified, but whether it happened to be during the winter, or whether mushrooms were not to be found in the fields of Karabagh at that season, when the moment arrived for the desired dainty to be set before the king, the Melik’s retainers placed before the royal guest a dish heaped up with gold! "But I asked for fresh mushrooms, " protested the bewildered Shah. "We can satisfy our hunger without mushrooms, " was his host’s cool reply - "But your warriors are in need of gold in order to defeat your enemies. " And the Shah, pleased at the answer, accepted the gold instead of the mushrooms!

[Melik Avan’s visits to Petersburgh and the honours bestowed on him by Russian royalties, referred to by Emin, are lengthily related by Raffi. ]

Avan died in 1744, and was buried in the porch of his church at Thugh. His eldest son succeeded him, but reigned for one year only, and was succeeded by his younger brother Melik Iesaï, treacherously killed by Ibrahim-khan in 1781. Most of Avan’s descendants perished by treachery, and on account of this his wife Gohar-Khanum quitted Thizak and went to live at Astrakhan and then at Uzlar.

Melik Iesaï’s whole life was passed in warfare. He was the first of the Meliks to train and arm his men, forming them into bodies of regular troops for the defence of his territory, for his province, bordering on Persia, was exposed to continual attack and invasion.


During the reign of Nadir Shah a number of nomad Turkman robber tribes called Jevanshir, whose occupations were sheep-tending and brigandage, were inhabiting the regions on the right bank of the river Kur. For the sake of the preservation of peace in the interior of Persia the Shah commanded these turbulent half-savage peoples to settle at Sarkhas, in Khorassan. A man belonging to one of their tribes, named Panah, having somehow contrived to find favour with the Shah, was appointed to an insignificant post in the Shah’s dominions - the only necessary qualification for which was the possession of a stentorian voice, in order to go up and down the country loudly proclaiming the Shah’s commands. "Sharji" (town-crier) Panah performed this duty for a considerable period of time, but for some misdemeanour or another he was condemned to lose his head, whereupon he fled to his native regions, roaming about in Karabagh, a fugitive vagabond, till Allah-ghouli-soltan, Melik of Chrapiert’h, took pity on him and made him his tax-collector. From time to time stringent orders came from Persia that Panah should be seized and sent back to suffer his sentence, but under Allah-ghouli-soltan’s powerful protection he was safe.

In 1747, after Nadir Shah was assassinated in his sleep one night in Khorassan by the bodyguardsman on duty at the door of his tent, terrible rebellions broke out in Persia, Shah succeeding Shah. The Jevan-shirs took the opportunity of returning to their native desert regions on the banks of the Kur, while "Sharji" Panah no longer went in fear of losing his head. He resigned his post as tax-collector and rejoined his tribesmen as an ordinary shepherd, and later on, after having acquired some influence over them, incited them to rebel against their employer, when he himself became their employer. Thus in a short time he had contrived to get them into his power. At that time the Persians were selling political posts, honours, and titles. "Sharji" Panah, through the influence of Amir Aslam Khan, who was sent to the districts near Karabagh as governor by Atil Shah, purchased the title of Khan and became Panah Khan. But the ambition of this low-born tribesman, this far-sighted son of the desert, soared much higher than the acquisition of a title. What he aspired to was the absolute rule of an Ishkhan, or prince, and for him - a shepherd - it was not easy to attain to that height. His tribesmen were herdsmen, cave-dwellers in winter, and in summer needing pasturage and water for their flocks. The entire plateau of Karabagh belonged to the Meliks, to whom they had to pay tithes as grazing fees. Panah wanted to secure a central place for himself on the plateau. He first went to Bayat and tried to construct a fort there. But there came Yusup of the Beglarians, Melik of Gulistan, and Allah-ghouli-soltan of the Israelians, Melik of Chrapiert’h, and with them came Hadji Chelepy, governor of Shirwan, and pulled it all down. Then he went to Tikranakiert’h and fortified a place there. But again came the two Meliks, and also Allah-verdi of the Hassan-Djalalians, for it was on his boundaries, and they razed it to the ground. Panah, seeing that their league was too strong for him, desisted for a time.

Irritated at the impositions of the Persian authorities after Nadir Shah’s death, Melik Iesaï of Thizak ceased to pay tribute to the Persian government. Panah betrayed him to Atil Shah, who sent Kasim Khan, governor of Karadagh, with his troops to punish Melik Iesaï. Panah joined him with a few thousand men, and they besieged the Melik in his fortress of Thugh, but it was too strongly fortified for them to succeed in taking it. Finding themselves between two fires - part of the Melik’s troops being ambushed on the thickly wooded mountain slopes and part being in the fort - they retreated, came back the following year, and were again obliged to retire. Thereafter, for seven long years, Panah fought with Melik Iesaï. Then, seeing that he could not defeat him, the cunning fellow made peace, and adopted other tactics.

After Melik Shahnazar had committed the terrible crime of fratricide, the four other Meliks, who had unanimously vowed vengeance upon him, invaded Varranda with their troops, and Shahnazar retreated to his - "Avietharanuots" fort of Chanakhch. The siege lasted many days, winter overtook them, and, after sacking and destroying the greater part of the village of Varranda, the Meliks went away, intending to return in the spring. Now came Panah’s opportunity. Shahnazar needed an ally, and he found one ready to his hand in the Jevanshir. Panah advised him to build another fort for greater security, choosing the site on Shahnazar’s private property, and the two constructed a fort on the banks of the river Karkar as quickly as they could in the intervals of fighting the four Meliks. Shahnazar laid the foundation stone, and the fortress was completed in 1752, the people of the village of Shoshi were brought to live there, and it was named Shoshi or Shushi fortress. Panah had now succeeded in establishing himself in the heart of Karabagh, to carry out his infamous plots for breaking up the league of the Meliks, with the aid of his ally, the traitor and villain, Shahnazar of Varranda.

Sahi Beg, the rightful heir, son of Shahnazar’s murdered elder brother, had now grown up, and with the help of his uncle, Melik Allah-verdi of Khachin, desired to avenge the death of his father and regain his inheritance. Shahnazar now planned to kill the boy as well as his uncle, while Panah, on the other hand, wanted to place someone in Khachin as his tool, to impose his will on the whole of the province. Melik Allah-verdi lived in his own fortress, called the Ulu-papi fort, near the river Khachin at the village of Karamech, or Orakhach, called by the Turkmans the Ballu-Kaya fort. Panah and Shahnazar besieged him there with their Armenian and Turkman troops, but they received such a terrible battering from the Melik, who was renowned as an invincible warrior, that they fled for their lives, and shut themselves up in their fortress at Shushi.

Panah and Shahnazar then plotted secretly with Mirza-khan, Melik Allah-verdi’s overseer at the village of Khanziristan, promising to make him Melik of Khachin if he would betray his master into their hands. Mirza-khan went to Allah-verdi and told him that Panah and Shahnazar were preparing to attack him with overwhelming forces, which the Melik would not be strong enough to withstand in his own fortress, advising him to retreat to the impregnable Magpies’ Fort and provision it against a siege, he, Mirza-khan, as his faithful servant, rendering him all possible help in making the necessary preparations, to carry out which he invited Allah-verdi to his own house, whence they could visit the fort, which was not far from the village of Khanziristan. The unsuspecting Melik accepted the invitation. But at supper-time, Mirza-khan, Judas-like, left the room. He locked the door behind him, and Panah’s and Shahnazar’s men, who were lying concealed in the house, rushed in and overpowered the Melik. By Panah’s orders he was beheaded and all his family killed, while Shahnazar killed young Sahi Beg. The fratricide’s hands were steeped in the blood of his brother’s son.

Panah kept his promise. Mirza-khan became Melik of Khachin (1755), he and his successors faithfully served the Khan of Shushi, and the Hassan-djalalians almost disappeared from Khachin. Infinite harm was thus wrought to Armenian rule in Karabagh. The Meliks still opposing Panah did not lose heart, but with their whole united strength fought against Panah and his Armenian allies, for years carrying on a terrible bloody warfare which did great injury to their country. Then Panah, seeing no other way of ending it, proposed a truce and a conference, either at Shushi or the Vank of Amarassa. To this latter place the Meliks sent Allah-ghouli-soltan, Melik of Chrapiert’h, as their representative. Thither went Panah with his faithful Shahnazar, and thither also, in order to visit Panah, went a khan from Nakhichevan, who, seeing a gigantic magnificently dressed man (Allah-ghouli) seated near Panah, mistook him for the latter, saluting him with great humility and respect. Later, on discovering his mistake, the khan reminded Panah of the saying of the celebrated Persian poet Sa’ati, - "Ten dervishes can lie on a torn rug, but two kings cannot agree in one country. " This made Panah think that his rule could never be firmly established while Karabagh held so splendid a chief. Breaking the truce, he treacherously entrapped Allah-ghouli, and took him to Shushi, where he imprisoned, and shortly after, beheaded him. Thus did the low-born shepherd of the Jevanshirs show his gratitude to his former master, the man to whose powerful protection he owed his life when fleeing from the hands of Nadir Shah’s executioner.

To this day (1881) there may be heard from the country folk the song that the captive giant sang in his prison, calling on his brave brother Atham, and on his invincible spearman Thali Mahrassa, to come to his aid, to surround Shushi and reduce it to dust and blood-soaked ashes, and set him free. His call for help reached the ears of the favourite beauty in Panah’s harem. Smitten with pity, she sent him at supper-time, concealed in a dish of pilaf, the keys both of the fetters on his feet and of the doors of his prison, that he might unlock them and escape. To her came back the proud reply,

"Armenia’s noble fleeth not! But, had that been my desire, I have no need of keys!" And with his powerful hands he crushed and broke his fetters, and filling up the dish with the pieces, sent it back to her, saying, "Treachery will meet with its reward. My blood will not be unavenged. "

After despoiling Chrapiert’h of its sovereign lord, Panah, thinking that the resistance of the league of Meliks was broken down, sent an insolent letter to Yusup of the Beglarians, Melik of Gulistan, commanding him to come and do him homage. But Yusup’s son would not allow his father to reply, saying he would answer Panah himself - which he did after his own fashion. Holding his naked sword over the head of Panah’s messenger, he compelled him to swallow down the whole of the letter, and when the wretched man, in fear and trembling, had accomplished this to the last morsel - "Now go, " said he. "What thou hast swallowed here, that is the answer to Panah-Khan. "

Panah was infuriated at this, and the fighting between him and his allies and the three Meliks grew fiercer and fiercer, but he could not prevail against the latter, who kept him in a state of continual siege inside his fort of Shushi.

[Yusup evidently had another son besides Beglar (who was shot by his wife Amarnani, the daughter of Shahnazar of Varranda), and Apov, who are mentioned by my ancestor. In "The Astronomer of Karabagh, " a historical tale written by the Russian author Platon Zupov, published at Moscow in 1834, the Armenian translation of which by Raffi was printed at Vienna in 1906, the incident of Panah’s letter to Yusup is described, and the son’s name is given as Hussein, and there is also related a violent scene which took place between Panah and Hussein. The scene ends by Panah arrogantly boasting to Hussein that he knew how to bring Hussein and all the people of Thalish into subjection to him. "What?" cried Hussein in a fury - "Repeat those words!" "And doth that seem so marvellous a thing to thee?" sneered Panah. Like lightning Hussein drew his scimitar and attacked Panah, crying, "Die, evildoer!" But the cunning Khan had foreseen the thrust and evaded it, then called on his bodyguardsman to seize the young Melik. Hussein, not caring to survive and witness with his own eyes the downfall of his rule and the subjection of his people, plunged his weapon into his own breast and fell to the ground. Panah stood amazed at the act.

"Now all is thine, Panah Khan, " gasped his victim. "And may God grant - that the people of Karabagh - may not suffer. " With these words he breathed his last. ]



Thali-Mahrassa in the Turkman language signifies "Mad Friar. " This was the nickname given by the country people to the Monk (Varthapiet) Avak of the monastery of Elisha the apostle in Chrapiert’h. The tall watch-tower on which the "Mad" one dwelt in solitude may still be seen by visitors to this Vank. When this militant monk charged on the field of battle, mounted on his famous ash-coloured charger, his awful voice of thunder was alone sufficient to terrify his enemies. Ecclesiastical fanaticism eventually punished him for the shedding of blood, and he was taken to Etchmiatsin and imprisoned in the ice-house to do penance. One day, on inquiring the cause of a disturbance in the Vank, he was told that the Kurds of Jalal had carried off all the cattle belonging to the holy fathers. "Can you give me a horse, and a few weapons?" said the (im)penitent. When his request was granted he mounted and followed the Kurds, returning a few hours afterwards with all the plundered booty. For this service to the monastery he received his freedom on condition that he would not again take life, but this promise was not kept, for he considered it no sin to kill the enemies of the fatherland, and he continued to join in all the warfare waged by the Meliks. One day, while fighting the Lezguis near Gandtsak, night overtook him, and as he sat resting on a tombstone surrounded by the bodies of those he had slain, one of the wounded Lezguis raised his pistol and shot him dead. He was buried in the porch of the cathedral of Gandtsak.


"Thiuli" is the Turkman for robber - highway or countryside daylight robber. Arzuman was the son of a shepherd in Chrapiert’h, later becoming one of Melik Atham’s most intrepid warriors. Panah Khan was so harassed by him that he craftily seized his father Sarkies, and carried him to Shushi as a hostage. One day he said to the old man, "Reprimand thy son Arzuman, that he should cease from his evil-doings, he is devastating the country. " "I have no son of the name of Arzuman, " returned the old man, icily. "What sayest thou?" demanded Panah, waxing furious. "How is it possible that that blood-thirsty Arzuman, who lays waste my lands, who sets fire to the houses of my peasantry, who gives me no peace for a single day - how sayest thou that he is not thy son?"

"Yes, I say, he is not my son, " answered the old man. "Had he been My son, thou wouldst not have been alive this day, and the ruins of thy fort would have become thy tomb!" There and then Panah gave orders that the proud old man’s head should be cut off.

In 1761, Fataly Khan, favourite general of Nadir, the late Shah, came towards Karabagh, and Yusup of Gulistan and Atham of Chrapierf’h, allying themselves with him, laid siege to Panah at Shushi. Panah and Shahnazar fought bravely for a time, then abandoned the fort. The two Meliks had made an agreement with Fataly that he should take all that was in the fort, and that Panah should be handed over to them. But Panah escaped by bribing Fataly with a thousand tumans, and giving him as a hostage his son Ibrahim, whom Fataly took with him to Persia.

Panah’s defeat rankled in his heart, and fighting soon broke out afresh.

Yusup and Atham then applied to Thamraz of Georgia (father of Heraclius), promising him, in return for his aid in subduing Panah, to assist him whenever he needed help. Thamraz agreeing, the Meliks and Thamraz, with his troops, fought Panah and his allies at Askaran, on the banks of the Karkar. Panah’s men were all killed, and he tried to escape by running away to Persia, but the two redoutable men, Thali Mahrassa and Thiuli Arzuman, went in pursuit of him and brought him back. Shahnazar and Mirza-khan having fled to their "Gospel" fort in the village of Chanakhch, the Armenians and Georgians surrounded the place, took them prisoners, and destroyed the fort. Now Yusup and Atham had made exactly the same agreement with Thamraz as with Fataly - namely, that he should take the contents of the fort and that Panah and Shahnazar should be delivered up to them. And Thamraz played them false in the same way as Fataly had done. With various excuses he put off doing anything till he reached the boundaries of Karabagh, when, the Meliks becoming aware of his treachery, they cut off all communications with him and called upon their old ally, Hadji Chelepy of Shirwan (the first to help them against Panah at Bayat), to come to their assistance. It took time, however, for Chelepy to reach Karabagh, and meanwhile Thamraz’s men, passing near Gandtsak, were looting and destroying all that came in their way, and Shahverdi Khan, ruler of the district, came out to protect the people. In the fight that followed Shahverdi was taken prisoner. But now the Meliks and Hadji Chelepy, coming up with their men, attacked Thamraz and defeated him, rescuing Shahverdi. They could not, however, succeed in their main object, that of securing Panah and the two traitors Shahnazar and Mirza-khan, for Panah again slipped through their grasp by bribing Thamraz, who allowed the three to escape.

The friendship between Shahverdi and the Meliks was of old standing. When Shahverdi’s father died, his brother Mamlath Khan tried to kill him in order to possess himself of the khanate. Shahverdi fled for his life to Atham of Chrapiert’h, who with his troops attacked Mamlath Khan and killed him, upon which Shahverdi succeeded to his inheritance, and never forgot the service Atham had rendered him. Yusup was connected with Shahverdi through his mother, wife of " Kagh " Apov and daughter of Mamlath Khan, converted to Christianity. Shahverdi was a Persian, and was favourably inclined towards Christians, unlike the savage Mongolian Turkmans. He was greatly respected amongst the surrounding khanates, where he was known as Beg-lar-beg (chief of chiefs).

With the help of Shahverdi the Meliks now opened negociations with Panah. Thirteen years of incessant warfare had exhausted both sides and had ruined their lands, and the people, weary of fighting, needed peace. A treaty was made binding down Panah to cease from interfering with the Meliks’ people, and forbidding his encroaching on their territories, while leaving him lord of Shushi. If any quarrel arose, it was to be settled by arbitration.

Panah observed the terms of the treaty while he lived, but the end of his career of cunning and treachery was approaching.

After Fataly-Khan’s return to Persia he battled with and killed Askarkhan, whose brother Kherim then went from Shiraz and laid siege to Fataly in his fort at Urmi in 1762, and took him prisoner to Shiraz, together with his hostage Ibrahim, son of Panah, who, hearing of this, journeyed to Shiraz with presents for Kherim, to induce him to release his son. Panah stayed two years in Shiraz without succeeding in freeing his son or in getting away himself, for Kherim, who at that time was looked upon as the ruler of Persia, did not desire Panah’s return to Karabagh, for the sake of preserving the peace of that district. So Panah, once too often, had recourse to the innate cunning treachery that had served him so well hitherto. Feigning death, he placed himself in a coffin, and his men approached Kherim with the request that they should be allowed to fulfil the last wish of the departed by carrying his body away to be interred in his native country.

But this time Panah had met his match. Kherim’s suspicions were aroused. "I must give him a grand funeral escort, " said he. "The body may decompose on the journey. He must be embalmed! "

Kherim ordered his executioners to cut open the (living) corpse, and to take out the intestines in order to embalm the body. This was done. He then delivered the corpse to Panah’s men, saying that they could now take it away, which they accordingly did.

Such was the gruesome end of Panah Khan in the year 1763.


Kherim, thinking the son might serve him better than the father, gave Ibrahim the title of Khan, and sent him to Karabagh as governor. At first Ibrahim observed the treaty made between his father and the Meliks, but as soon as, with the support of Shahnazar, he had firmly established himself in Karabagh, he began to tyrannise over them. Shahnazar, the traitor to his country, who had given his fortress of Shushi to Panah, who by his alliance with the lowborn Jevanshir herdsman had so exalted him as to bring about through him the downfall of Armenian rule in Karabagh - this same Shahnazar, after the death of Panah, to maintain with the son the friendship he had formerly with the father, committed a most shameful act. He gave his daughter, the beautiful Hurizad, to Ibrahim as his wife. This deeply offended the Meliks, more especially Iesaï of Thizak, for Hurizad’s mother was his own daughter, and Shahnazar’s lawful wife. There resulted severe fighting between Iesaï and Shahnazar, who, with Mirza-khan, besieged Iesaï in his fortress of Thugh in the year 1775. Mirza-khan was taken prisoner with his men, and Melik Iesaï, holding his naked sword over the traitor’s head, delivered himself of the following - "Thou, Mirza-khan, dost greatly resemble another traitor named Mierhujan. He renounced our faith, he became a tool of the Persians, and he brought desolation to our fatherland. To him, as the reward for his wicked achievements, was promised the crown of Armenia. And with his troops, like unto thee, did he fall into the hands of Armenians. For him an iron spit was made redhot in flames and bent into the shape of a diadem, by the command of the Armenian general, Amrath Bagrathun, who, setting it on the head of the traitor, said, "It was thy desire to become king of Armenia. Behold me now, knight and king-maker, thus do I crown thee!" - But thou, Mirza-khan, canst not contain the measure of glory that was meted out to Mierhujan! Thou art nought but a vile base traitor, who, for the sake of a miserable passing advantage, didst serve the Turkman Khan and Melik Shahnazar in all the evil that they wrought! Thou shalt be dealt with even as one dealeth with a rabid dog, which is slain lest it spread its poison amongst other creatures. " And with the last words down came his sword!

Ibrahim appointed Mirza-khan’s son Allah verdi, Melik of Khachin, and the son was as faithful to the Turkman Khan as his father had been. As Hurizad, Ibrahim’s wife and Melik Iesaï’s granddaughter, had been the original cause of the feud between Iesaï and Shahnazar, Ibrahim himself now joined the enemies of Iesaï, and the latter had to fight the three alone, for both Apov (son of Yusuf) of Gulistan, and Mechlum of Chrapiert’h (son of Atham, who had died in 1780), were unable to help him, being occupied with the affairs of their provinces, and the provinces of Khachin and Varranda lay between them and him.

In 1781 Ibrahim and his allies, Shahnazar and Allah-verdi, besieged Iesaï at Thugh, where he defended himself bravely for a long while.

Then the Khan and Shahnazar craftily sent two men, one of them a priest, swearing on Cross and Gospel that they had come to treat with Iesaï, thus to inveigle him out of his fort. He believed them and came out, but he was betrayed! Treachery again triumphed over valour. Ibrahim had him seized, imprisoned, and put to death.

Iesaï was succeeded by his nephew, Bakhtham.

Yusup died in 1775 and was succeeded by his eldest son Beglar, a warlike young man who had been of great assistance to his father in fighting. But his reign was short.

One day, when he was starting on an expedition against the tribe of Lezguis, who had invaded his lands, his mother came to him in tears, beseeching him to keep himself aloof from bloodshed on that day at least, for she had had a bad dream, and her heart was full of sad forebodings. Her cruel son repulsed her so roughly as to throw her down, and mounted his horse to ride away.

To this day the traveller in Gulistan, after leaving the village of Kharkhaput, is shown on the right hand an old deserted garden, over-grown with trees and shrubs, known as the garden of Melik Beglar. There, amidst the thick undergrowth, may be seen the ruins of what was once a beautiful summer residence, built by the Melik for his mistress Bala.

But his wife, Amarnani, was the daughter of Shahnazar of Varranda! No scruples would deter her from avenging herself on her rival!

On the night before the expedition against the Lazguis, when her husband was busy with his preparations for the fight, she bribed one of her servants to go to Bala’s house and kill her. No weapon was needed, for the lovely woman’s hair was so long that her murderers wound her tresses round her slender throat and strangled her, throwing the poor body into a well. At the very moment that Beglar roughly pushed his mother aside and mounted his horse, the tidings of Bala’s death were brought to him. "When I return from the battle, " said he, "I know what I shall do to the murderers, " and rode away - to follow his love to another world, for his mother’s forebodings were fulfilled.

Amarnani, knowing well what awaited her from a man of her husband’s merciless character, disguised herself as one of his bodyguard, followed him to the fight, and in the thick of the conflict shot him dead from behind some bushes, escaping detection, for in the confusion who could know whether the bullet that killed the Melik was aimed by the Lezguis, or by one of his own, men.

Beglar’s son Freytoun, or Feridone, being under age, the government of the province was carried on by Beglar’s brother Apov.

Panah, in comparison with Ibrahim, was in certain things preferable to his son, for he had preserved something of his tribal simplicity, and was free from the fanatic mollahism that Ibrahim had imbibed during his residence in Persia. Ibrahim not only persecuted Christians, but forced a large number to embrace the Mahomedan faith. In revenge for this, Thiuli Arzuman, the brave captain of the province of Chrapiert’h, turned missionary after his own fashion, and forced all the Mahomedans who fell into his hands to confess the truth of Christianity and the falseness of their own religion. One day he met a Mollah of high degree, who was on his way to Shushi with his train of servants. Laying hold of him, Arzuman insisted, with the edge of his sword to the Mollah’s neck,

"Confess that Christ is God, else I slay thee!"

The Mollah confessed! After making him repeat the confession three times Arzuman let him go. Ibrahim, hearing of this, sent for the Mollah, demanding of him angrily,

"Is it possible that thou hast confessed that Christ is God?"

"Yes, I did confess, " asserted the Mollah, adding, with withering conviction, "But if thou, most exalted Khan, wert to fall into the hands of Arzuman, thou wouldest say, not only that Christ is God, but that thou, Arzuman, art the god of gods!"

After some years in Gandsak, Melik Apov went with his followers to Bolnis and settled there, but in 1795 he returned to his territory in Gulistan, having come to some understanding with Ibrahim. About 1797 he again left Karabagh for Georgia.

In 1791 died Shahnazar of Varranda, leaving four soils, the eldest of whom, Jamshed, should rightfully have succeeded him. But Ibrahim, influenced by Hurizad, appointed his brother Hussein Melik instead of Jamshed. After the death of Shahnazar Ibrahim’s power declined, for Jamshed was not of the same way of thinking as his father, and desired to renew the old alliance with the Armenian Meliks.

In the three provinces of Gulistan, Chrapiert’h, and Thizak, the rulers were now all hot-blooded young men, the older experienced ones having passed away. Of these Ibrahim was most in fear of Mechlum of Chrapiert’h, who was as deadly and implacable an enemy of the Turkman khan as his father had been. Ibrahim laid a plot to assassinate him, but failed. Then, about 1785-’86, he invited the three in a friendly way to come to Shushi and discuss matters relating to their different territories, but once there, he imprisoned Apov and Mechlum, and sent Bakhtham away to Persia, where he was confined in the fortress of Artavil, and his territory of Thizak fell into Persian hands.

Ibrahim then sent horsemen to plunder and pillage the wealthy monastery of Gandtsasar, seized the Catholicos Johannes and five of his seven brothers, and imprisoned them at Shushi, inflicting various tortures on them. The Catholicos was poisoned in prison (1786), Bishop Sarkies, who afterwards became Catholicos of Gandtsasar, was put in the stocks for several hours. After nine months in prison he and his brothers were liberated, Ibrahim first imposing a heavy fine on the monastery.

Mechlum and Apov were soon at liberty again, for Mechlum’s brave captain Arzuman went at night, broke open the doors of the prison, and set them free.

In 1787 Russian troops under General Purnashov, with Heraclius of Georgia, were approaching Gandsak, and Mechlum and Apov joined them, hoping for their aid, which was promised them, against Ibrahim, but simultaneously war broke out for the second time between the Russians and the Osmanlis, and, the troops returning to Russia, the two Meliks went to Tiflis with them. Ibrahim immediately imprisoned their relatives at Shushi as hostages, and gave their lands to others. Some time after this Mechlum and Apov reminded Heraclius of his promise to help them, but he asked for delay. Ibrahim now wrote to Heraclius to seize and send them to him in return for some 3000 Turkmans, formerly Georgian subjects, who had settled in Karabagh. Heraclius treacherously agreed, but the Meliks, slipping out of his hands, escaped to Gandsak, where Zavath Khan, son of Shaverdi Khan, gladly received and protected them, in spite of Ibrahim continually sending him messages to deliver them up to him. Zavath Khan was possessed of a greater soul than the treacherous Georgian prince, and took no notice. The story told of their escape from Tiflis was, that Heraclius had invited them to a feast in a garden, intending to make them drink, and then overpower them at his table. The Meliks, coming to know of his treacherous intention, mounted their horses, saying they were going hunting to provide something for the feast, and did not return. Meeting some carters on the way, Mechlum sent word to Heraclius, telling them to go and inform their prince that Melik Mechlum would never forget his hospitality.

But neither did Heraclius and Ibrahim forget that Mechlum had got the better of them. Several years later, in 1796, they besieged Zavath-khan and Melik Mechlum at Gandsak, and the Melik met his death in quelling a mutiny in the fort caused by an old man who treacherously incited the garrison to open the gates to the enemy.

After the death of Catherine II., when the Emperor Paul I. succeeded, Russian policy towards the Christians of Caucasia changed. Peter the Great’s intentions with respect to the Christians were forgotten, and Georgia, after the death of Heraclius in 1798, became a Russian province. Jamshed of Varranda, son of Shalmazar, with Freytoun, son of Beglar and nephew of Apov of Gulistan, wanted to establish themselves permanently in Georgia, where the Armenians had first of all been well received, but then forced to become serfs and to sell their children. Therefore, to keep their freedom, these two Meliks went to Petersburgh to represent their condition to the Czar, who passed an edict giving them a district where they could settle with the same rights over their people as they possessed in Karabagh. They were decorated and given regular pensions, and the Russian minister in Georgia, Kovalensky, was informed by letter. "The Armenian Meliks Jamshed and Feridone at present here in Petersburgh, and others of their nationality in Georgia and in Persia, have applied to the Imperial Majesty and have received a most gracious permission to reside in Georgia on condition that the King, George XII., should give them lands for their own and their subjects’ sustenance, and also for such inhabitants of Persia as may desire to leave Persia. The King-Emperor desiring that such Christian communities should thrive in Georgia for the good of the country, you, Kovalensky, must bring about that Georgia should make concessions of lands that may be most advantageous to these Meliks. And, since such a community cannot permanently settle and prosper unless their customs and goverment, which from olden times have been peculiar to them, are safeguarded, for that reason it is desirable that the Armenian community should be quite independent of Georgia, except in respect of paying a small tribute to the King, and sharing all that is necessary for the defence of the country as regards expenses or men. " The Georgian King was then in difficulties and he agreed to these conditions. Feridone, or Freytoun, took part of the district of Vorchalov and Aghjagala, and his uncle Apov took Bolniss and its surroundings. Feridone received a pension of 1000 roubles, Jamshed 1200, and his son 600.

In 1804 Russian troops under Prince Tsitsianoff, marching on Erivan, halted near Etchmiatsin, while numerous Persian troops, commanded by Abbas Mirza, the Persian heir-apparent, hastening to the relief of Erivan, took the Russians by surprise, surrounding them and cutting off their communications. Tsitsianoff, who had been intending to lay siege to Erivan, found himself in a state of siege instead. Rustom Beg, son of Apov of Gulistan, at the head of 500 Russians, with great gallantry passed through the Persian forces twice, and brought Tsitsianoff ammunition and supplies. On the third occasion he encountered 800 Persians in the valley of P’hambak, and a Georgian prince, Alexander, joined the Persians with 3000 men, but in spite of their overwhelming numbers, the enemy stood stationary, facing Rustom’s little force, for three hours before attacking. When at last fighting began, Rustom hurled his Russians forward with great valour, but he was fighting against tremendous odds, his horse was shot under him, and at his third wound he fell to the ground and was taken prisoner. The Russians were annihilated, Rustom was taken to Abbas Mirza’s camp by the orders of Alexander, who, resenting the former refusal of Apov, father of Rustom, to join him against the Russians, thus revenged himself upon the son, who, while leading Russian troops, had fallen into his hands. Abbas Mirza imprisoned him at Tabriz, where he was later on beheaded, when Abbas Mirza retreated to Tabriz after being defeated by the Russians. The Armenians of Tabriz buried him in the porch of their grave-yard, and taught their children the song composed by the hero in his captivity, for he was poet as well as soldier.

(Raffi here quotes the touching words of this song. )

In 1805 Melik Jamshed of Varranda (son of Shahnazar), with great difficulty, contrived to make Ibrahim recognise the Russian government. But in 1806, Prince Tsitsianoff, the Russian commander, was assassinated at Baku, the Mohamedan population of Transcaucasia was thrown into a ferment of excitement, insurrections broke out everywhere, and Ibrahim, notwithstanding the fact of his having sworn allegiance to the Russian government, secretly sent his son Mamath Hussein Aga to Abbas Mirza (who, in command of Persian troops, was at that time occupying a district on the right bank of the Ierask, or Araxes), disclosing to him the whereabouts of Russian troops, inviting him to cross the Ierask, and promising him his (Ibrahim’s) assistance in guiding him to where the Russians were encamped in order to annihilate them.

Abbas Mirza, with an overwhelming number of Persian troops, crossed the Ierask, and approached Shushi. Inside the fort were quartered a few hundred Russian soldiery under Colonel Lisanievitch. Jamshed was also quartered in the fort at that time with some cavalry. Abbas Mirza encamped near the village of Shushi on a high hill whence he could bombard the fort, and Ibrahim, with his family, stole out quietly at night with the intention of going to the camp of Abbas Mirza. But Jamshed instantly informing the Russian colonel, the two, with a few horsemen, followed Ibrahim and came up with him on the road. They spared the women and some others, but Ibrahim and his relatives were cut to pieces.

The enemy of Karabagh was slain! Jamshed had avenged hot only his own wrongs, but the wrongs of all the other Meliks. While his father, Shahnazar, in exalting this savage wild beast, had earned the curses and opprobrium of the whole of Karabagh, now the exemplary son had atoned for the evil the vile father had wrought, but it was too late! The death of Ibrahim could not heal the wounds inflicted by the Khans of Shushi on the Meliks of Karabagh.

Apov, Melik of Gulistan, son of Yusup, died in 1808. He was not on good terms with the Georgian princes; the story goes that he was invited to Tiflis and that he was poisoned there, for soon after he fell ill and died, as well as his secretary, who had accompanied him. His surviving sons were minors, and he was succeeded by his nephew Feridone, the son of Beglar the second, who had been chosen in 1799 to represent the Meliks of Karabagh when a deputation had been sent to the Czar Paul I. Feridone’s reign was very short. He had excited the jealousy of his younger brother Sham, who was a very savage ferocious man, hated in his family. In an access of rage he rushed at Feridone and wounded him so severely with his scimitar that he died there and then. Feridone was succeeded by Apov’s son Minas Beg. Feridone had six sons, Hovsep, Shamir Khan, David (who went to India), Thalish, Themuraz, and Beglar the third. After the deaths of Apov and Feridone their descendants and followers left Georgia and returned to Karabagh. Their lands, villages, and property had fallen into the hands of Ibrahim Khan, but after their return they regained all their possessions.


At the end of his book Raffi gives a list of the authorities - histories and chronicles by monks, Varthapiets, and others, from whose writings he gathered materials for his history of the Five Meliks, and relates how he spent two months in 1881 visiting the five provinces and collecting all the information he could locally from the old inhabitants. From Gandsak he went to Gulistan, where he spent a week with the descendants of the Beglarians, Sergei and Alexander Begs, visited their family burial-ground, deciphering the almost illegible inscriptions, and saw their half-ruined fortress of Gulistan, and the village churches with their wall-inscriptions. Thence to Chrapiert’h, where he saw in the church at Gedashen (where Yusup and Emin fought their famous battle against the son of Shaverdi Khan, when Yusup wanted to run away and Emin shamed him into standing fast, p. 296) a beautiful MS. of the Gospels, at the end of which Melik Atham had written records of his family; and visited Atham’s half-ruined palace on the right bank of the river Tharthar, with historical inscriptions over the doors. At the village of Marthakierth he found an old man, over a hundred years of age, who knew Armenian, Persian, Arabic, and Turkman, and who had been interpreter to the last khans of Shushi, Ibrahim and Methi-khan (and later, in the same village, was a short time in the service of a German missionary). Raffi passed two whole days in taking down from his lips all that he could relate about the Khans of Shushi. In the province of Khachin he visited the splendid Vank of Gandtsasar, where, on the walls, he found a long inscription about the Melik-Beglarians. In the same province he saw the Magpies’ Fort, and visited Mirza-khan’s village of Khanziristan, where, he says, he was so shockingly badly received that he only stayed there one hour! At Shushi, to his disappointment, he found that important documents from which he could have gained much information had been stolen by different persons. At Varranda he visited Shahnazar’s "Gospel" village of Chanakhch; from Varranda he went to Thizak, where he saw the burial ground of the Avanian Meliks, and found their old palace occupied by a Mahomedan Beg, for one branch of the descendants of Avan had embraced the faith of Islam.

Of the five Meliks the Beglarians are the only line who up to the present time managed to preserve some portion of their territories, owning 18 villages, all inhabited by Armenians, extending over large tracts of land.


In July, 1813, there arrived in Calcutta Archbishop Phillippos, envoy from the Catholicos of Etchmiatsin, which place he had quitted in 1812, accompanied by a servant and a young deacon, eighteen years of age, who was gifted with a very beautiful voice, and, who acted as chorister to the archbishop. (Bishops generally travel with a chorister in attendance, to ensure the rendering to their own satisfaction of certain rather elaborate hymns included in the liturgy when a bishop is celebrant. )

The archbishop’s stay in Calcutta was tragically short. Within the space of two months his servant died, and was buried in the southern portion of the churchyard of the Armenian Church, under a stone inscribed,

This is the tomb of Nierses (the servant of His Grace Archbishop Phillippos, Envoy of Holy Etchmiatsin), who died on the 16th Nadar (September), 1813, in Calcutta.

A few weeks later the archbishop himself succumbed, and was buried in the place of honour under the porch. On his stone is inscribed,

This is the tomb of Archbishop Phillippos, who departed this life in Calcutta on the 18th Thira (October), 1813.

But the third member of the little party was evidently of tougher stuff, for he survived his companions for no less than seventy-one years. He was David, the son of Melik Feridone of the Beglarians, and grandson of Beglar the second and Amarnani, daughter of Shahnazar of Varranda, the ally of Panah Khan. He had taken semi-monastic orders as a deacon, but these were set aside a few years later.

At that period it was the custom of the authorities at the Armenian church in Calcutta to issue an annual publication recording all the events, domestic or otherwise, concerning the community which had occurred during the previous twelve months, together with an ecclesiastical calendar of the current year. These publications formed a very valuable record, and it is to be regretted that they only appeared for a few years, and were then discontinued. In one of them there is the following entry,

1822. On February 26 David M. Fredonian married Mrs. Nazloom Carapiet Sarkisian.

This was a lady of some means who had been fascinated by the young deacon’s beautiful voice, and at her death some years later left him money, which he afterwards lost in litigation. He lived on in India at Dacca, and then at Chinsurah in Bengal, in spite of all the efforts made by his relatives in Armenia to induce him to return to his native land. They even went to the length of writing to the Governor-General of the time, requesting that David Beglar should be sent back, but it was of no avail. He could not be prevailed upon to go. His descendants by another, and non-Armenian, union are still living near Chinsurah, where he died in 1884, at the age of 89. On his tombstone in the portico of the Armenian Church at Chinsurah there is the following inscription, first in Armenian, then in English.

In loving memory of our beloved father David son of the late Freedone Melik Beglaroff, last independent Prince of Karabagh in the Province of Tiflis, Caucasus. Born on the 1st May 1795 And died in Chinsurah on 22nd September 1884.

I am the resurrection and the life.

This inscription, with others from the graves of David Beglar’s descendants, was published in Bengal Past and Present, vol. x., p. 121, in an article by the Rev. Father Hosten, S. J., entitled "The Princely Beglaroffs. "

The addition of "off" to the name of Beglar is an error, caused by the son of David considering himself a Russian subject. It is not an Armenian termination, and his correct designation was David (Melik)-Freytoun Beglarian (the termination ian signifying "of the family of"). But David was not an eldest son, and it was only the ruling chief and his eldest son who had the right to call themselves Melik, the younger sons were called Beg. As to his right to be called the "last independent Prince of Karabagh, " that is a title applicable to his father Freytoun or Feridone, but scarcely to David himself. Karabagh was undoubtedly the last home of Armenian independence - that independence for which Emin fruitlessly struggled and suffered for so long. Had it not been for the sundering of the Meliks’ league of unity by the treachery of Shahnazar of Varranda, Emin might perhaps have succeeded in his endeavours in some measure, at any rate for a time.





Arav Mt.

Murov Dagh.



Cur, Cura, Kiurak.

Kura-chai (river).

Dizah, Dizok.


Gandja, Ganja, Gandsak.



Aras Su, Araxes (river)







Shashec, Shushec, Shushi.


Trashatzy, Threshetzy.

Thalish, Thalich.