Levon V

One of the historical highlights in the mood reel is the arrival of Marco Polo to Cilicia. The Italian explorer and writer was amazed by the prosperity and economic development of the Kingdom. In his memoirs he wrote about Cilicia: “This is a great country. The people of the country are Armenians… The country is indeed a great passing one… There was a city called Layas situated ashore. It was a city of trade – all goods from the East (gold, silk, spices) passed through this city, where merchants from different countries came together.” And indeed, in that period, Cilicia was in an economic growth. The cultural life of Cilicia, with the support of King Levon II and his family, was flourishing. A key person in cultural awakening was Toros Roslin – the most prominent Armenian manuscript illuminator in the Middle Ages. The famous portrait of King Levon II, his wife Queen Keran and their five children is one of the most outstanding works of Toros.

Being a developed unit in the district, Cilicia continued to stay an apple of discord. The Kingdom was bordering Muslim countries from all four sides and was continuously persecuted by those.

The last king of the Cilician Kingdom was Levon V Lusignan. He was crowned in 1374. Before Levon’s coronation, the ruler of the Kingdom was Queen Marion. Understanding that Cilicia needs to have a strong monarch, she asked Levon V to return to his homeland and stand for his legal right to inherit the throne. The latter, on his turn, left his unconcerned life in France and moved to Cilicia.

Levon V had numerous international connections: Ambassadors of all the powerful states of that period were present during the coronation of the new King of Cilicia. During Levon’s reign, the European influence on Cilician culture was considerable. Notable guests from European countries were visiting Cilicia on a regular basis. At the same time, the political situation in the region continued to be tense and the great Kingdom gradually lost its immense power. After several fierce battles against superior Mamluk forces, the Kingdom fell. Till the very end of the defense, King Levon V stayed in the capital of Cilicia – Sis. He and his family were captivated by the enemies. Later, with the mediation of Pedro IV of Aragon, Levon V was freed and moved to Europe. He never recovered his throne. Levon V died in Paris on November 29, 1393, and was buried among French monarchs in Saint-Denis, Paris.

Cilicia was a powerful Kingdom. No army, regardless of its large number of warriors or strength in weapons, was able to penetrate the walls of the Cilician fortress for centuries. But nothing lasts forever. After three centuries of breathtaking history, the Kingdom fell.