Women, War, and Social Change in Armenia during the Mongol Domination
Lecture by Zara Pogossian, John Cabot University
Given at the University of Michigan, on February 20, 2013
The Mongol conquest of Armenia precipitated social changes that were in motion since the late 10th-early 11th centuries, such as the dissolution of some princely houses, the realignment of others, as well as the rise of new ones. The increased fluidity of social structures especially after the Mongol conquest (1230’s) also affected the position of women in Armenia and we can outline certain transformations that took place with regard to noble women’s role and socio-political position. A careful reading of the sources from the Mongol period, particularly the History of the House of Sisakan of Stepanos Orbelean, allows us to understand women’s history in quite different ways than previously narrated by Armenian authors. Women appear in leadership roles and even in military contexts much more both quantitatively and qualitatively than in previous centuries. In my talk I will first present the source evidence from the thirteenth century and compare it to the previous time-periods. Then, I will propose some hypothesis as to the influence of Central Eurasian culture of the Mongols and women within the Mongol societies on contemporary Armenian culture and social structures.