1301, Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, Levon III. Silver Tram Coin. Damaged VF-XF!
Mint Place: Sis Denomination: Tram Mint Period: 1301-1307 AD Reference: Bedoukian 1734. var. Condition: Crudely struck (as usual for this late issue), creasing damage (the coin was bent once), otherwise VF-XF! Diameter: 21mm Weight: 1.93gm Material: Silver
Obverse: Levon on horseback right, holding cross-topped scepter. Privy mark (annulet?) in left field. Legend (translated): "+ Levon King of the Armenians"
Reverse: Crowned lion facing right; paw raised, patriarchal cross above Legend (translated): "+ By the will of God"
The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (Middle Armenian: Կիլիկիոյ Հայոց Թագաւորութիւն, Giligio Hayoc' T'akavorut'iun), also known as Cilician Armenia (Armenian: Կիլիկեան Հայաստան, Giligian Hayastan), Lesser Armenia, or New Armenia and formerly known as the Armenian Principality of Cilicia (Armenian: Կիլիկիայի հայկական իշխանութիւնը), 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.
The kingdom had its origins in the principality founded c. 1080 by the Rubenid dynasty, an alleged offshoot of the larger Bagratid family, which at various times had held the thrones of Armenia and Georgia. Their capital was originally at Tarsus, and later became Sis. Cilicia was a strong ally of the European Crusaders, and saw itself as a bastion of Christendom in the East. It also served as a focus for Armenian nationalism and culture, since Armenia proper was under foreign occupation at the time. Cilicia's significance in Armenian history and statehood is also attested by the transfer of the seat of the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, spiritual leader of the Armenian people, to the region.
In 1198, with the crowning of Leo the Magnificent of the Rubenid dynasty, Cilician Armenia became a kingdom.
In 1226, the crown was passed to rival Hethumids through Leo's daughter Isabella's second husband, Hethum I. As the Mongols conquered vast regions of Central Asia and the Middle East, Hethum and succeeding Hethumid rulers sought to create an Armeno-Mongol alliance against common Muslim foes, most notably the Mamluks. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Crusader states and the Mongol Ilkhanate disintegrated, leaving the Armenian Kingdom without any regional allies. After relentless attacks by the Mamluks in Egypt in the fourteenth century, the Cilician Armenia of the Lusignan dynasty, mired in an internal religious conflict, finally fell in 1375.
Commercial and military interactions with Europeans brought new Western influences to the Cilician Armenian society. Many aspects of Western European life were adopted by the nobility including chivalry, fashions in clothing, and the use of French titles, names, and language. Moreover, the organization of the Cilician society shifted from its traditional system to become closer to Western feudalism. The European Crusaders themselves borrowed know-how, such as elements of Armenian castle-building and church architecture. Cilician Armenia thrived economically, with the port of Ayas serving as a center for East-West trade.
Leo III (or Leon III) Armenian: Լեիոն Գ, Levon III) (occasionally numbered Leo IV; (1289–1307) was a young king of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, ruling from 1303 or 1305 to 1307, along with his uncle Hethum II. A member of the Hethumid dynasty, he was the son of Thoros III of Armenia and Margaret of Lusignan, who was the daughter of King Hugh III of Cyprus.
In 1303, while still a minor, he was crowned King of Armenia upon the retirement of his uncle Hethum II, who became Regent. Cilician Armenia at the time was in a volatile situation, maintaining a fragile relationship as a vassal state of the Mongol Empire, while defending from attacks by the Muslim Mamluks from the south. The throne of Armenia had changed hands multiple times during Leo's brief lifetime, being held variously by his uncle Hethum II in 1295, passed peacefully to his father Thoros III in 1296, then usurped by another uncle Sempad, who was usurped by his brother Constantine III of Armenia, who himself was deposed by his brother Hethum II in 1299. Thoros III having been killed in 1298, Hethum then passed the crown to Thoros's son, Leo, in 1303.
In 1305, Hethum and Leo led the Armenian army to defeat a Mamluk raiding force at Bagras.
On November 17, 1307, Leo and Hethum were murdered with their retinue while visiting the Mongol general Bilarghu at Anazarva. Bilarghu, a Mongol who had converted to Islam, had sought to build a mosque in the capital city of Sis, but Hethum had blocked the move and complained to the leader of the Mongol Ilkhanate, Oljeitu. Bilarghu invited Hethum, Leo, and many other Armenia nobles to a meeting at Anazarva, presumably for discussions, but then his forces attacked, and all of the nobles were killed. Bilarghu was later executed by the Mongol ilkhan for his actions.
Leo was succeeded as king by another of his uncles, Oshin.
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