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Restoration of monarchy

Conditions eased in the 9th century to the extent that the caliph agreed in 884 to the restoration of Armenian monarchy for the first time in 456 years and Ashot I was crowned King of Armenia, the first ruler of the Bagratid dynasty. For the next 40 years, however, Armenia went through a period of continued unrest as different leaders struggled with each other for power and territory. In addition, a prolonged rebellion against the caliph led by his governor in Azerbaijan, who was responsible for collecting Armenian taxes, led to both caliph and governor presenting their own separate tax bills. Armenia was not a united nation but this time was one of a great flourishing of Armenian scholarship, literature and church building. This was particularly the case during the reign of King Abas (928-52) who succeeded in establishing a degree of security, but during the 960s and 970s after his death, the renewed struggle for Micu'ssion led to increasing fragmentation of the country and by the end of the 10th century there were five separate Armenian kingdoms - three Bagratid (based at Kars, Ani and Lori); one Artsruni based in Vaspurakan east of Lake Van, and one Syunian in the south of present-day Armenia. Armenia's political fragmentation, however, inevitably left it unable to cope with renewed expansion by the Roman Empire's successors in Byzantium during the 11th century, though Byzantine rule was to be benign in comparison with the new invaders from the south, the Seljuk Turks, who ravaged cities and brought political and economic disruption even to the Byzantium-controlled areas after 1045. The victory of the Seljuk Turks over the Romans in 1071 led to the latter's demise as a significant power and to the establishment of Seljuk rule over Armenia. The immediate consequence of the Seljuk conquest was another period of migration: this time to areas such as Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. A new separate Armenian kingdom arose in Cilicia (on the Aegean coast of Turkey) which was to last until it was overrun in 1375 by the Mamluks, the Turkish military dynasty which then ruled Egypt.

Seljuk power in turn waned and in a series of campaigns culminating in 1204, a Georgian army which included many Armenians defeated the sultan's forces. Georgian influence increased, reflected in the style of a number of Armenia's finest churches in present-day Lori province, only for Armenia to be conquered yet again, this time by the Mongols in a series of campaigns culminating in 1244. High taxation created the usual resentment and rebellion. In 1304 matters worsened for Armenians when Islam became the official religion of the Mongol Empire and religious persecution became a matter of policy. In turn Mongol power declined and between 1357 and 1403, following a series of invasions by the Mamluks, tens of thousands of Armenians were transported as slaves. By 1400, most of Armenia had passed to a Turkmen dynasty called the Black Sheep. A second Turkmen dynasty, called the White Sheep, became established further west.

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