House of Hasan-JalalyanWednesday, September 1, 2021
The House of Hasan-Jalalyan (Հասան-Ջալալյաններ) was an Armenian dynasty that ruled the region of Khachen (Greater Artsakh) from 1214 onwards in what are now the regions of lower Karabakh, Nagorno-Karabakh and small part of Syunik. It was named after Hasan-Jalal Dawla (Հասան-Ջալալ Դոլա), an Armenian feudal prince from Khachen. The Hasan-Jalalyan family was able to maintain its autonomy throughout several centuries of foreign domination of the region by Seljuk Turks, Persians and Mongols as they, as well as the other Armenian princes and meliks of Khachen, saw themselves of holding the last bastion of Armenian independence in the region.
Through their many patronages of churches and other monuments, the Hasan-Jalalyans helped cultivate Armenian culture throughout the region. By the late 16th century, the Hasan-Jalalyan family had branched out to establish melikdoms in Gulistan and Jraberd, along with their original holdings in the melikdom of Khachen, were, alongside the separately ruled melikdoms of Varanda and Dizak, a part of what was then known as the "Melikdoms of Khamsa."
Hasan-Jalal traced his descent to the Armenian Aranshahik dynasty, a family that predated the establishment of the Parthian Arsacids in the region. Hasan-Jalal's ancestry was "almost exclusively" Armenian according to historian Robert H. Hewsen, a professor at Rowan University and an expert on the history of the Caucasus:
In the male line, (1) the princes (who later became kings) of Siunik. Through various princesses, who married his ancestors, Hasan-Jalal was descended from (2) the kings of Armenia or the Bagratuni Dynasty, centered at Ani; (3) the Armenian kings of Vaspurakan of the Artsruni dynasty, centered in the region of Van; 4) the princes of Gardman; (5) the Sassanid dynasty of Persia, and (6) the Arsacids, the second royal house of Albania, itself a branch of (7) the kings of ancient Parthia.
Much of Hasan-Jalal Dawla's family roots were entrenched in an intricate array of royal marriages with new and old Armenian nakharar families. Hasan-Jalal's grandfather was Hasan I (also known as Hasan the Great), a prince who ruled over the northern half of Artsakh. In 1182, he stepped down as ruler of the region and entered monastery life at Dadivank, and divided his land into two: the southern half (comprising much of Khachen) went to his oldest son Vakhtank II (also known as Tangik) and the northern half went to the youngest, Gregory "the Black." Vakhtank II married Khorishah Zakarian, who was herself the daughter of Sargis Zakarian, the progenitor of the Zakarid line of princes. When he married the daughter of the Aṛanshahik king of Dizak-Balk, Mamkan, Hasan-Jalal also inherited his father-in-law's lands.
In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Hasan-Jalal's origins became a part of a larger debate revolving around the history of Artsakh between Armenian and Azerbaijani scholars. In addition to the position held almost solely by Azerbaijani historians that much of Artsakh at the time was under heavy Caucasian Albanian influence, they also contend that the population and monuments were not Armenian but Caucasian Albanian in origin (this argument has also been employed against Armenian monuments in the region of Nakhichevan). Among the foremost revisionists who expounded these views were Ziya Bunyadov and Farida Mamedova. Mamedova herself asserted that Hasan-Jalal, based upon her interpretation of an inscription carved into the Gandzasar Monastery by the prince, was Caucasian Albanian. Armenian historians as well as experts of the region such as Hewsen, reject her conclusions, along with the notion held in Azerbaijan, that the Armenians "stole" Caucasian Albania's culture.
At the time of the publication of Hewsen's initial article in the journal Revue des Études Arméniennes, the author was unable to trace any survivors of the house but did note that the final two Catholicos of Albania, Hovhannes XII (1763–1786) and Sargis II (1794–1815), had a dozen brothers altogether, all who left a "numerous progeny by the middle of the nineteenth century." He was also able to identify a woman named Eleanora Hasan-Jalalyan who was living in Yerevan as an artist at the turn of the 19th to 20th century. In later years, Soviet sources also listed the biography of Ruben Hasan-Jalalyan (1840–1902), an Armenian writer, poet and lawyer who lived in the Russian Empire. One person, a man named Stepan Hasan Jalalyan from Drmbon, Martakert Region of Nagorno Karabakh, served as a deputy in the Armenian National Assembly as a member of the Heritage Party and fought in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.
Several artifacts of the Hasan-Jalalyans survive until today, including Hasan-Jalal's personal dagger, complete with an Armenian inscription, which is currently on display at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.