The Cilician Kingdom of Armenia (1080-1375 A.D.)

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The destruction of the Bagratid Kingdom was completed by raids of new invaders, the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia. With little resistance from weakened Byzantium, the Seljuk Turks spread into Asia Minor as well as the Armenian highlands. This invasion compelled a large number of Armenians to move south, toward the Taurus Mountains close to the Mediterranean Sea, where in 1080 they founded, under the leadership of Ruben (Rubenid dynasty), the Kingdom of Cilicia or Lesser Armenia. Close contacts with the Crusaders and with Europe led to absorbing Western European ideas, including its feudal class structure. Cilician Armenia became a country of barons, knights and serfs. The court at Sis adopted European clothes. Latin and French were used alongside Armenian. The Cilician period is regarded as the Golden Age of Armenian Illumination, noted for the lavishness of its decoration and the frequent influence of contemporary western manuscript painting. Their location on the Mediterranean coast soon involved Cilician Armenians in international trade between the interior of Western Asia and Europe. For nearly 300 years, the Cilician Kingdom of Armenia prospered, but in 1375 it fell to the Mamelukes of Egypt. The last monarch, King Levon VI, died at Calais, France in 1393, and his remains were laid to rest at St. Denis (near Paris) among the kings of France.

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