1219, Armenian Cilicia, Prince Levon I (Leo I). Silver Half Tram Coin. Rare!
Mint Place: Sis Denomination: ½ Tram Mint Period: 1198-1219 Reference: Bedoukian 73, AC 277, CCA 71. Condition: The reverse struck with broken dies, minor scratches and deposits, otherwise XF! Diameter: 18mm Weight: 1.34gm Material: Silver
Obverse: Crowned figure of Levon seated on throne ornamented with lions, holding cross and fleur-de-lis, feet on footstool. Legend (translated): "+ Levon King of the Armenians"
Reverse: Two lions rampant, back to back; long cross between. 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 I (Armenian: Լեիոն Ա), also Levon I or Leon I, (unknown – Constantinople, February 14, 1140) was the fifth lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains”(1129/1130-1137).
He learned to exploit the open, yet restrained, hostilities between the Byzantine Empire and the Crusader principalities of Edessa and Antioch. Most of his successes benefited from Byzantium’s pre-occupation with the threats of Zengi (the atabeg of Mosul) from Aleppo and the lack of effective Frankish rule, especially in the Principality of Antioch.
He expanded his rule over the Cilician plains and even to the Mediterranean shores. In his time, relations between the Armenians and the Franks (the Crusaders), two former allies, were not always as courteous as before: a major cause of dissension between them was the ownership of the strongholds of the southern Amanus, and on the neighboring coasts of the Gulf of Alexandretta.
Leo was captured after being invited to a meeting by the Byzantine Emperor John II Comnenus, who had sworn a false promise of peace. Leo and two of his sons were taken captive and imprisoned in Constantinople where Leo died shortly after.
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