King Levon I’s successor was his daughter Queen Zabel I, who was a notable figure in the Armenian history and had a great investment in the development of the Kingdom of Cilicia. At the same time, she is known for her dramatic personal life. She was the only heir of the throne and was a subject of interest to many nobles. As a result, she appeared in the middle of numerous court conspiracies.
Queen Zabel I was married to Philip of Antioch, but the marriage did not last long: Philip was rumored to have an intention of passing the throne to Antioch (now Turkey) and was murdered. On the death of her husband, Zabel decided to embrace monastic life and fled to the Seleucia Castle.
King Levon I has appointed Constantine of Baberon to be his daughter’s regent after his death. The latter was concerned about keeping the crown in the hands of an Armenian dynasty. In the conspiracy against Zabel’s husband Philip, Constantine was a focal figure. Years later he forced Zabel into marriage with his son Hetoum, who was subsequently crowned as King Hetoum I. The wedding ceremony was held in privacy. Zabel was older than Hetoum. Queen’s regent considered this marriage to be beneficial for the Kingdom.
With this marriage, Rubenid dynasty changed to Hetoumid, named after King Hetoum I. Hetoum I was a major player in the political struggles and shifted alliances around the Crusader states. With his diplomatic approach, he came to a peaceful solution in numerous conflicts. One of the most focal points in the history was the rapid spreading of the Mongol Empire in the district, which became a concern for the region. As they were approaching borders of Cilicia, King Hetoum’s strategic approach prevented the possible war. Later on, Hetoum traveled to Karakorum (Mongolia) and visited Mongke Khan for signing a peace agreement.
Since 1269 till his last days, King Hetoum lived in a monastery as a monk: he abdicated in favor of his son Levon, who was one of the royal couples’ six children and the next King of Cilicia.