Thoros I, Prince of Armenia

Last updated
Toros I
Lord of Cilicia / “Lord of the Mountains”
Lord of Armenian Cilicia
Reignc. 1100/1102/1103 – 1129/1130
Predecessor Constantine I
Successor Constantine II
Died1129 / February 17, 1129 – February 16, 1130
Monastery of Drazark
Issue Constantine II
(?) Oshin
House Roupenians
Father Constantine I
MotherAn unnamed great-granddaughter of Bardas Phokas

Toros I [1] (Armenian : Թորոս Ա), also Thoros I, [2] [3] [4] (unknown [3] – 1129 [1] / February 17, 1129 – February 16, 1130 [3] ) was the third lord of Armenian Cilicia [1] or “Lord of the Mountains” [3] (c. 1100 [1] / 1102 / 1103 [3] – 1129 [1] / 1130 [3] ).


His alliance with the leaders of the First Crusade helped him rule his feudal holdings with commanding authority. [1] Toros ejected the Byzantine garrisons from the fortifications at Anazarbus and Sis (ancient city), making the latter his capital. [5] He was plagued by the nomadic Turks who were harassing him from the north but were driven back. [1]

He avenged the death of King Gagik II by killing his assassins. [1] This act of revenge was often used by chroniclers of the 12th century as direct evidence connecting the Roupenians to the Bagratid lineage. [1]

During his time he bestowed favors and gave gifts and money to many monasteries for their decoration and adornment, in particular those of Drazark (Trassarg) and Mashgevar. [1]

His life

Toros was the elder son of Constantine I, lord of Armenian Cilicia. [3] It is likely that his mother was the great-granddaughter of Bardas Phokas. [3]

Toros succeeded his father and ruled from the fortresses of Vahka (today Feke in Turkey) and Pardzepert (today Andırın in Turkey). [1] In 1107, [1] encouraged by Tancred, Prince of Antioch, Toros followed the course of the Pyramus River (today the river Ceyhan in Turkey), and seized the strongholds of Anazarbus (a place which had been considered impregnable) and Sis (ancient city). [4] Toros extensively rebuilt the fortifications at both fortresses with tall circuit walls and massive round towers. [5] In the south bailey of the castle at Anazarbus he commemorated his victories by constructing a three-aisle, barrel-vaulted basilica, which he consecrated to St Zoravark and where he reportedly housed the ancestral treasures of King Gagik II. A beautifully executed dedicatory inscription on the church (dated ca. A.D.1111) records his triumph, and most importantly, traces his Rubenid genealogy. [6] [7]

In 1108, Daphar, the leader of the nomadic Turks, invaded the province of Hasamansur and ravaged the lands around Melitene (today Malataya in Turkey). [1] Toros called for the help of Basilius the Crafty, an Armenian noble who governed possessions in the vicinity of Marash (today Kahramanmaraş in Turkey) and Kesoun. [1] Basilius and his allies attacked Daphar and achieved a resounding victory near the castle of Harthan. [1] Basilius nobly shared with Toros the spoils which were taken from the Turks. [1]

In 1111, Sultan Malik Shah of Iconium entered Armenian territories, and Toros’s two commanders were killed in battle. [1] However, his brother, Levon launched a savage attack against the Turks and drove them into retreat. [1]

Toros, who had relentlessly pursued the murderers of King Gagik II, laid an ambush for them at their castle, Cyzistra (Kizistra) in 1112. [1] At an opportune time, his infantry surprised the garrison and occupied the castle, plundered it then took blood revenge by killing all its inhabitants. [1] The three brothers (the assassins of Gagik II) were taken captive and forced to produce Gagik’s kingly sword and his royal apparel taken at the time of the murder. [1] One of the brothers was beaten to death by Toros who justified his brutal action by exclaiming that such monsters did not deserve to perish by the quick plunge of a dagger. [1]

In 1114, Vasil Dgha (the heir of Basilius the Crafty) invited Il-Bursuqi (the governor of Mosul) to deliver the Armenians from the Franks (the Crusaders). [2] The Franks advanced to punish Vasil Dgha, but they were unable to take his fortress capital at Raban. [2] Nevertheless, he thought it wise to seek alliance with Toros. [2] Toros, after inviting him to come to discuss a marriage alliance, imprisoned him and sold him to Count Baldwin II of Edessa in 1116. [2] Having thus annexed Raban, Baldwin II of Edessa decided to suppress the remaining Armenian principalities in the Euphrates valley; thus Toros soon found himself the only independent Armenian potentate that remained. [2]

In 1118, Toros sent a contingent of troops under the command of his brother Levon to help Prince Roger of Antioch in the capture of Azaz (today A'zāz in Syria). [1]

Toros was buried in the monastery of Drazark. [1]

Marriage and children

The name of Toros’s wife is not known. [3]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Ghazarian, Jacob G. The Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia during the Crusades: The Integration of Cilician Armenians with the Latins (1080–1093).
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 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 (1 April 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 Vahan M. Kurkjian (2005-04-05). "A History of Armenia". Website. Bill Thayer. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
  5. 1 2 Edwards, Robert W. The Fortifications of Armenian Cilicia.
  6. Edwards, Robert W. Ecclesiastical Architecture in the Fortifications of Armenian Cilicia: First Report.
  7. Edwards, Robert W. Ecclesiastical Architecture in the Fortifications of Armenian Cilicia: Second Report.


Thoros I, Prince of Armenia
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Constantine I
Lord of Armenian Cilicia
c. 1100/1102/1103–1129/1130
Succeeded by
Constantine II

Related Research Articles

Anazarbus Ancient Greek city

Anazarbus was an ancient Cilician city. Under the late Roman Empire, it was the capital of Cilicia Secunda. It was destroyed in 1374.

Leo I, Prince of Armenia Lord of Cilicia / “Lord of the Mountains”

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

Thoros II, Prince of Armenia, also known as Toros II the Great or Thoros II the Great, was the sixth Lord of Armenian Cilicia from the Rubenid dynasty from 1144/1145–1169. Referred to as the “Lord of the Mountains”

Mleh I, also Meleh I, was the eighth lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains” (1170–1175).

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

Cilician Gates pass through the Taurus Mountains

The Cilician Gates or Gülek Pass is a pass through the Taurus Mountains connecting the low plains of Cilicia to the Anatolian Plateau, by way of the narrow gorge of the Gökoluk River. Its highest elevation is about 1000m.

Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia former country

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

Tancred, Prince of Galilee Norman leader of the First Crusade

Tancred was an Italo-Norman leader of the First Crusade who later became Prince of Galilee and regent of the Principality of Antioch. Tancred came from the house of Hauteville and had a great-grandfather with the same name.

Isabella, Queen of Armenia Queen regnant of Cilician Armenia

Isabella, also Isabel was queen regnant of Armenian Cilicia from 1219 until her death.

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 Lord of Cilicia / “Lord of the Mountains”

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.

Bagras castle

Bagras or Baghrās, ancient Pagrae, is a town and its nearby castle in the İskenderun district of Turkey, in the Amanus Mountains.

Belen Pass Pass through the Nur Mountains, Turkey

The Belen Pass, known in antiquity as the Syrian Gates, is a pass through the Nur Mountains located in the Belen District of Hatay Province in south-central Turkey.

Yılankale castle ruin

Yılankale is a late 12th–13th century Armenian castle in Adana Province of Turkey. It is known in Armenian as Levonkla after its possible founder—King Leo (Levon) I the Magnificent of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. Medieval Armenian names attached to the site are Kovara and Vaner.

Sis (ancient city)

Sis was the capital of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. The massive fortified complex is just to the southwest of the modern Turkish town of Kozan in Adana Province.

Çandır Castle Archaeological site in Turkey

Çandır Castle the medieval Armenian site of Paperon, is a fortification in Mersin Province, Turkey.

Drazark monastery monastery

Drazark monastery, a destroyed monastic complex of Armenian Apostolic Church in Adana province of modern Turkey, which lies about 40 km. northwest of the city of Sis - historical capital of Cilician Armenia, at one of inaccessible slopes of Cilician Taurus range.

Durak railway station is a railway station in the Mersin Province of Turkey. Since the station is not near any settlement, it is used mainly as a siding. Durak station was originally opened on 27 April 1912 by the Baghdad Railway. Sitting at the base of the Taurus Mountains, the station was used as a staging point to construct the railway further through the mountains, similar to Ulukışla station. The station house was built in the Turkish Neoclassical style, similar to the Yenice station house.