Mleh, Prince of Armenia

Last updated

Mleh I
Lord of Cilicia / “Lord of the Mountains”
Lord of Armenian Cilicia
Predecessor Roupen II
Successor Roupen III
Bornbefore 1120
DiedMay 15, 1175
SpouseAn unnamed daughter of Vasil of Gargar
Issue Grigor (illegitimate child)
House Roupenians
Father Leo I

Mleh I [1] [2] [3] (Armenian : Մլեհ), also Meleh I, [1] (before 1120 – Sis, May 15, 1175) [3] was the eighth lord of Armenian Cilicia [1] or “Lord of the Mountains” [3] (1170–1175). [3]

Armenian language Indo-European language

The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken primarily by Armenians. It is the official language of Armenia. Historically being spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands, today, Armenian is widely spoken throughout the Armenian diaspora. Armenian is written in its own writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.

Kozan, Adana City in Mediterranean, Turkey

Kozan is a city in Adana Province, Turkey, 68 kilometres northeast of Adana, in the northern section of the Çukurova plain. The city is the capital of the ilçe (district) of Kozan. The Kilgen River, a tributary of the Ceyhan, flows through Kozan and crosses the plain south into the Mediterranean. The Taurus Mountains rise up sharply behind the town.


The accomplishments during the reign of his elder brother, Thoros II placed Cilicia on a firm footing. [1] But Mleh, whom Thoros II had expelled from Cilicia for converting to Islam, almost undid his brother’s work. [1]

Toros II the Great, also Thoros II, was the sixth lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains” (1144/1145–1169).

Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.

On the death of his brother, Mleh invaded Cilicia with the support of a contingent from Aleppo, which remained in his service and assisted him to drive out the Knights Templar and Greeks from the fortresses and, in 1173, the cities which they held in Cilicia. [4] Soon after the death of Nur ed-Din (the emir of Aleppo), [2] Mleh was overthrown by his nephew, Roupen III. [1]

Aleppo City in Aleppo Governorate, Syria

Aleppo is a city in Syria, serving as the capital of the Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 4.6 million in 2010, Aleppo was the largest Syrian city before the Syrian Civil War; however, now Aleppo is probably the second-largest city in Syria after the capital Damascus.

Knights Templar Western Christian military order; medieval Catholic military order

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Order of Solomon's Temple, the Knights Templar or simply the Templars, were a Catholic military order recognised in 1139 by the papal bull Omne datum optimum. The order was founded in 1119 and was active until 1312 when it was perpetually suppressed by Pope Clement V by the bull Vox in excelso.

Byzantine Greeks Greek-speaking Christian Romans of the Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Greeks were the Greek-speaking Christian Romans of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. They were the main inhabitants of the lands of the Byzantine Empire, of Constantinople and Asia Minor, the Greek islands, Cyprus, and portions of the southern Balkans, and formed large minorities, or pluralities, in the coastal urban centres of the Levant and northern Egypt. Throughout their history, the Byzantine Greeks self-identified as Romans, but are referred to as "Byzantine Greeks" in modern historiography.

His early life

Thoros was the fourth son of Leo I, lord of Armenian Cilicia. [3] The name and the origin of his mother are not known with certainty. [3] It is possible that she was a daughter of Count Hugh I of Rethel, or she might have been the daughter of Gabriel of Melitene. [3]

Leo I, Prince of Armenia Prince of Armenia

Leo I, also Levon I or Leon I, was the fifth lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains” (1129/1130-1137).

Gabriel of Melitene was the ruler of Melitene. Along with Thoros of Edessa, Gabriel was a former officer of Philaretos Brachamios. Philaretos had installed Gabriel as the ruler of Melitene. Following the death of Philaretos in 1086 Melitene became completely independent of Byzantine control with the aid of the Danishmends. Eventually the Danishmends began harassing Melitene. Gabriel appealed to Bohemund I of Antioch for assistance.

In the early summer of 1137, the Byzantine Emperor John II Komnenos came to Cilicia with a full force on his way to take Antioch; his army successively took Seleucia, Korikos, Tarsus, Mamistra, Adana, Tel Hamdoun (now Toprakkale in Turkey) and Anazarbus. [1] Mleh and his two brothers, Stephen and the blind Constantine took refuge with their cousin, Count Joscelin II of Edessa. [2] In Cilicia, the family castle of Vahka (today Feke in Turkey) held out for some weeks, but after its fall their father and two of their brothers, Roupen and Thoros, were captured. [2] Leo I and his two sons were imprisoned in Constantinople where Leo I died shortly afterwards, and Roupen was blinded and later murdered. [1] All Cilicia remained under Byzantine rule for eight years. [5]

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

John II Komnenos Byzantine Emperor from 1118 to 1143

John II Komnenos or Comnenus was Byzantine emperor from 1118 to 1143. Also known as "John the Beautiful" or "John the Good" (Kaloïōannēs), he was the eldest son of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina and the second emperor to rule during the Komnenian restoration of the Byzantine Empire. John was a pious and dedicated monarch who was determined to undo the damage his empire had suffered following the battle of Manzikert, half a century earlier.

Antioch ancient city in Turkey

Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient Greek city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. Its ruins lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey, and lends the modern city its name.

About the year 1143, Mleh’s brother, Thoros escaped from Constantinople and recaptured the family stronghold of Vahka; Mleh and his brother Stephen joined him. [2] One after another, Thoros reconquered Anazarbus, Adana, Sis (today Kozan in Turkey) and Pardzerpert (now Andırın in Turkey) from the Byzantines. [5]

Andırın Place in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey

Andırın is a town and district of Kahramanmaraş Province in the Mediterranean region of Turkey.

In 1164, Nur ed-Din struck at the Principality of Antioch and laid siege to the key-fortress of Harenc; Prince Bohemond III of Antioch called upon Thoros II to come to his rescue, and Mleh followed his brother. [2] At the news of the coming of the Byzantine and Armenian troops, Nur ed-Din raised the siege, but Bohemond III decided to follow in pursuit; the armies made contact on August 10, near Artah. [2] In the ensuing battle, Bohemond III fell into an ambush and found himself and his knights surrounded by the army of Mosul, but Thoros II and Mleh, who had been more cautious, escaped from the battlefield. [2]

In the service of Nur ed-Din

Although Mleh had taken vows as a Templar, after a quarrel with Thoros II and an attempt to assassinate him, he fled to Nur ed-Din. [2] Mleh converted to Islam from Armenian Apostolic Christianity. This was to facilitate his plans with Nur ed-Din; [1] afterwards, he held Cyrrhus as a fief from the Emir of Aleppo. [4]

His brother died in 1168, leaving a child, Roupen II, to succeed him, under the regency of a Frankish lord called Thomas. [2] But Mleh disputed the succession; early in 1170 Nur ed-Din lent him troops with which he was able not only to dethrone his nephew but also to invade the Cilician plain and take Mamistra, Adana and Tarsus from their Greek garrisons. [2] The young Roupen III was followed by Mleh’s men and murdered. [1]

His rule

With Thoros’s legitimate heir dead, Mleh embarked on a policy of conquest with cruel application of force. [1] He beleaguered the Hethumids at Lampron (now Namrun Kalesi in Turkey), but in spite of a long siege his attempt to take this stronghold failed. [1] Mleh then attacked the Templars at Baghras; Bohemond III of Antioch appealed to King Amalric I of Jerusalem, who marched up into Cilicia and temporarily, its seems, restored Imperial rule. [2] But Mleh was irrepressible; a year or so later [2] he routed at Tarsus the assembled forces of the governor Konstantinos Kalamanos, and sent him to Nur ed-Din, who held Konstantinos for heavy ransom. [1]

On March 10, 1171 Amalric I left Acre for Constantinople where he made a treaty with the Emperor Manuel I Comnenos; it seems that they decided that a common action should be taken against Mleh. [2] An expedition organized by the king after his return from Constantinople in 1171 was interrupted by Nur ed-Din’s attack on Kerak (today Al Karak in Jordan). [4]

In the summer of 1171, Mleh waylaid Count Stephen I of Sancerre as he passed through Cilicia from the Holy Land to Constantinople. [2] In order to punish Mleh for his outrage against the count, Amalric I marched north into Cilicia in 1173; but the campaign achieved nothing except to check Mleh’s further expansion. [2] Mleh finally succeeded in 1173 in securing Manuel I’s recognition of him as “Baron of Cilician Armenia” with whom now all Byzantine affairs in Cilicia were to be conducted. [1]

On May 15, 1174, Nur ed-Din died; en event which brought an end to Mleh’s source of power. [1] Vulnerable and without an ally, members of Mleh’s own inner circle of Armenian nobles, took the initiative and murdered him in Sis in 1175. [1]

He was buried in Medzkar. [3]

Marriage and child

Mleh married an unnamed daughter of Vasil of Gargar (a sister of the Catholicos Gregory). [3]

He had one illegitimate child by his unknown mistress: [3]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Ghazarian, Jacob G. The Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia during the Crusades: The Integration of Cilician Armenians with the Latins (1080–1393).
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades – Volume II.: The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East: 1100–1187.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Cawley, Charles (April 1, 2009), Lords of the Mountains, Kings of (Cilician) Armenia (Family of Rupen), Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, [ self-published source ][ better source needed ]
  4. 1 2 3 Gibb, Sir Hamilton A. R. The Career of Nūr-ad-Dīn.
  5. 1 2 Vahan M. Kurkjian (April 5, 2005). "A History of Armenia". Website. Bill Thayer. Retrieved July 23, 2009.


Mleh, Prince of Armenia
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Roupen II
Lord of Armenian Cilicia
Succeeded by
Roupen III

Related Research Articles

County of Edessa

The County of Edessa was one of the Crusader states in the 12th century. Its seat was the city of Edessa.

Principality of Antioch former country

The Principality of Antioch was one of the crusader states created during the First Crusade which included parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria. The principality was much smaller than the County of Edessa or the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It extended around the northeastern edge of the Mediterranean, bordering the County of Tripoli to the south, Edessa to the east, and the Byzantine Empire or the Kingdom of Armenia to the northwest, depending on the date.

Leo I, King of Armenia first king of Cilician Armenia

Leo II, also Leon II, Levon II or Lewon II, was the tenth lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains” (1187–1198/1199), and the first king of Armenian Cilicia (1198/1199–1219). During his reign, Leo succeeded in establishing Cilician Armenia as a powerful and a unified Christian state with a pre-eminence in political affairs. Leo eagerly led his kingdom alongside the armies of the Third Crusade and provided the crusaders with provisions, guides, pack animals and all manner of aid. Under his rule, Armenian power in Cilicia was at its apogee: his kingdom extended from Isauria to the Amanus Mountains.

Ruben III, also Roupen III, Rupen III, or Reuben III, was the ninth lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains” (1175–1187).

Ruben II, also Roupen II or Rupen II, (c.1165–1170) was the seventh lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains” (1169–1170).

Bohemond III of Antioch Prince of Antioch

Bohemond III of Antioch, also known as Bohemond the Child or the Stammerer, was Prince of Antioch from 1163 to 1201. He was the elder son of Constance of Antioch and her first husband, Raymond of Poitiers. Bohemond ascended to the throne after the Antiochene noblemen dethroned his mother with the assistance of Thoros II, Lord of Armenian Cilicia. He fell into captivity in the Battle of Artah in 1164, but the victorious Nur ad-Din, atabeg of Aleppo released him to avoid coming into conflict with the Byzantine Empire. Bohemond went to Constantinople to pay homage to Manuel I Komnenos, who persuaded him to install a Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Antioch. The Latin Patriarch of Antioch, Aimery of Limoges, placed Antioch under interdict. Bohemond restored Aimery only after the Greek patriarch died during an earthquake in 1170.

Bohemond IV of Antioch, also known as Bohemond the One-Eyed, was Count of Tripoli from 1187 to 1233, and Prince of Antioch from 1201 to 1216 and from 1219 to 1233. He was the younger son of Bohemond III of Antioch. The dying Raymond III of Tripoli offered his county to Bohemond's elder brother, Raymond, but their father sent Bohemond to Tripoli in late 1187. Saladin, the Ayyubid sultan of Egypt and Syria, conquered the county, save for the capital and two fortresses, in summer 1188.

Raymond-Roupen was a member of the House of Poitiers who claimed the thrones of the Principality of Antioch and Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. His succession in Antioch was prevented by his paternal uncle Bohemond IV, but his maternal granduncle Leo I of Cilicia recognized him as heir presumptive to Cilicia and pressed his claim to Antioch. In 1211 Raymond-Roupen was crowned junior king of Cilicia, and was finally installed as Prince of Antioch in 1216. The War of the Antiochene Succession ended with Leo's death in 1219, shortly before Raymond-Roupen was ousted from Antioch. He then pursued his claim to Cilicia, which Leo had unexpectedly willed to his daughter Isabella on his deathbed, but was defeated and imprisoned until death.

Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia former country

The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, also known as the Cilician Armenia, Lesser Armenia, or New Armenia, was an independent principality formed during the High Middle Ages by Armenian refugees fleeing the Seljuq invasion of Armenia. Located outside the Armenian Highland and distinct from the Armenian Kingdom of antiquity, it was centered in the Cilicia region northwest of the Gulf of Alexandretta.

Isabella, Queen of Armenia Queen regnant of Cilician Armenia

Isabella I, also Isabel I or Zabel I, was the queen regnant of Cilician Armenia (1219–1252).

Rubenids noble family

The Rubenids or Roupenids were an Armenian dynasty who dominated parts of Cilicia, and who established the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. The dynasty takes its name from its founder, the Armenian prince Ruben I. The Rubenids were princes, later kings, of Cilicia from around 1080 until they were surpassed by the Hethumids in the mid-thirteenth century.

Ruben I, Prince of Armenia Prince of Armenia

Ruben I,, also Roupen I or Rupen I, was the first lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains”. He declared the independence of Cilicia from the Byzantine Empire, thus formally founding the beginning of Armenian rule there. The Roupenian dynasty ruled Cilician Armenia until 1219.

Constantine I or Kostandin I was the second lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains”. During his rule, he controlled the greater part of the regions around the Taurus Mountains, and invested much of his efforts in cultivating the lands and rebuilding the towns within his domain. He provided ample provisions to the Crusaders, for example during the difficult period of the siege of Antioch in the winter of 1097. He was a passionate adherent of the separated Armenian Church.

The Battle of Harim (Harenc) was fought on 12 August 1164 near Artah between the forces of Nur ad-Din Zangi and a combined army from the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, the Byzantine Empire and Armenia. Nur ad-Din won a crushing victory, capturing most of the leaders of the opposing army.

Constantine Kalamanos or Coloman was a Byzantine governor of Cilicia.

John Doukas Komnenos was a son of Andronikos Komnenos. Through his father, he was a grandson of Byzantine Emperor John II Komnenos. He was doux of Cyprus from 1155 until his death as well as being appointed a protovestiarios in 1148.

The Battle of Mamistra took place in 1152 between the forces the Byzantine Empire and Cilician Armenia, near the city of Mamistra. The Armenians under Thoros II were victorious.

War of the Antiochene Succession war in Syria between 1201 and 1219

The War of the Antiochene Succession, also known as the Antiochene War of Succession, comprised a series of armed conflicts in northern Syria between 1201 and 1219, connected to the disputed succession of Bohemond III of Antioch. The Principality of Antioch was the leading Christian power in the region during the last decades of the 12th century, but Armenian Cilicia challenged its supremacy. The capture of an important fortress, Bagras, in Syria by Leo II of Cilicia gave rise to a prolonged conflict already in the early 1190s. Leo tried to capture Antioch, but the Greek and Latin burghers formed a commune and prevented the Armenian soldiers from occupying the town. Bohemond III's eldest son, Raymond, died in 1197, leaving an infant son, Raymond-Roupen. The boy's mother, Alice of Armenia, was Leo I's niece and heir presumptive. Bohemond III and the Antiochene noblemen confirmed Raymond-Roupen's right to succeed his grandfather in Antioch, but the commune preferred Bohemond III's younger son, Bohemond, Count of Tripoli.