Levon I

The first mood reel is presenting the history of Cilicia from its foundation in the 11th century to the rule of one of the greatest Armenian royals – King Levon the Rubenid.

The history of Cilicia roots back to the 11th century. As a result of Seljuk Turks’ invasions, started the exodus of Armenians migrating westward into the Byzantine Empire. In 1080 wanderings of Prince Ruben ended. He found a small Princedom in the heart of Cilician Taurus: A Princedom that will expand, be liberated from tyranny, take part in the Crusades, and be proclaimed as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia in the first century of its existence.

The mood reel starts with the reign of Prince Thoros II, who freed Cilicia from Byzantine rule. Thoros, coming from the Rubenid’s dynasty, was young when he and his family members were taken captive and were imprisoned in Constantinople. After six years of captivity, the murder of his elder brother, and the death of his father he managed to escape. By returning to his motherland, he recovered the statehood of weakened Cilicia. Full of anger and hunger for revenge Thoros II, in cooperation with Raynald of Chatillon, invaded and plundered Cyprus.

The mood reel is mainly focusing on Prince Levon II, who after coronation became King Levon I and was also coming from the Rubenid’s dynasty. The tenth lord of Armenian Cilicia, also known as “Lord of the mountains,” Levon the Rubenid succeeded in establishing a powerful and unified Christian state and became the first king in the history of Cilicia.

As a Christian state, surrounded by Muslims hostile to its existence, Cilicia gave valuable support to the Crusaders. Prince Levon II, being a skilled warrior and a talented strategist, defeated an armada that was the triple of his own. Later on, Levon’s accession to the throne as a monarch became a start of a new era of ecclesiastical cooperation with the West. Two crowns were sent for his coronation – the first one from Byzantine Emperor Alexios II Angelos and the second – from Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI.

At that period Cilicia had political and trading relations with developed commercial cities such as Venice, Genova, Firenze, etc. Construction in the Kingdom was advancing rapidly.

The mood reel calls attention to King Levon I’s marriage to Sibylle, who was the daughter of King Amalric I of Cyprus. King Levon I had numerous side relationships and had fathered children with other women. Sibylle put all her efforts to protect their daughter’s rights as a successor: Levon I’s and Sibylle’s daughter Zabel became the next reign and one of the fatal figures in the Armenian history.