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The Zakarids or Zakarians (Armenian: Զաքարյաններ, Zak'aryanner), also known by their Georgian name as Mkhargrdzeli (Georgian: მხარგრძელი), were a noble Armenian–Georgian dynasty of at least partial Kurdish origin. Their name in Georgian, Mkhargrdzeli, or in Armenian: Երկայնաբազուկ, (Yerkaynbazuk) meant long-armed. A family legend says that this name was a reference to their Achaemenid ancestor Artaxerxes II the "Longarmed" (404–358 BC). According to Cyril Toumanoff / Encyclopædia Iranica, they were an offshoot of the Armenian Pahlavuni family. The Zakarians considered themselves Armenians.
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The first historically traceable Zakarid was Khosrov. When the David IV of Georgia liberated Lori from the Seljuq grip, the Zakarids came to be vassals of the House of Orbeli. Under George III of Georgia, Sargis Zakarian was appointed as governor of the Armenian city of Ani in 1161, however it was soon recaptured by the Shaddadids. In 1177, the Zakarids supported the monarchy against the insurgents during the rebellion of Prince Demna and the Orbeli family. The uprising was suppressed, and George III persecuted his opponents and elevated the Zakarids. Sargis was granted Lori during the reign of the Tamar of Georgia in 1186.
The sons of Sargis, Zakare and Ivane Zakarian, were the most successful representatives of the family, who were military commanders under Queen Tamar. Zakare and Ivane took Dvin in 1193. They also took Sevan, Bjni, Amberd and Bargushat, and all the towns above the city of Ani, up to the bridge of Khodaafarin bridge. Around the year 1199, they took the city of Ani, and in 1201, Tamar gave Ani to them as a principality. Eventually, their territories came to resemble those of Bagratid Armenia. Around the same time, Ivane converted to Georgian Orthodox Christianity, while Zakare remained Armenian Apostolic in faith. The brothers commanded the Armenian-Georgian armies for almost three decades, achieving major victories at Shamkor in 1195 and Basen in 1203 and leading raids into northern Persia in 1210 and suppression of rebellions of mountaineers in 1212. They amassed a great fortune, governing all of northern Armenia; Zakare and his descendants ruled in northwestern Armenia with Ani as their capital, while Ivane and his offspring ruled eastern Armenia, including the city of Dvin.
Both brothers left several bilingual inscriptions across the Armeno-Georgian border lands and built several churches and forts, such as the Harichavank Monastery and Akhtala Monastery in northern Armenia. The family went in decline with the establishment of Mongol power in the Caucasus.
When the Khwarezms invaded the region, Dvin was ruled by the aging Ivane, who had given Ani to his nephew Shahnshah, son of Zakare. Dvin was lost, but Kars and Ani did not surrender. However, when Mongols took Ani in 1236, they had a friendly attitude towards the Zakarids. They confirmed Shanshe in his fief, and even added to it the fief of Avag, son of Ivane. Further, in 1243, they gave Akhlat to the princess T’amt’a, daughter of Ivane.
After the Mongols captured Ani in 1236, the Zakarids ruled not as vassals of the Bagratids, but rather the Mongols. The later kings of Zakarids continued their control over Ani until the 1360, when they lost to the Kara Koyunlu Turkoman tribes, who made Ani their capital.
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- Bournoutian, George A. (2003). A concise history of the Armenian people : (from ancient times to the present) (2. ed.). Costa Mesa, Calif.: Mazda Publishers. p. 108. ISBN 1568591411.
- Sacred Precincts: The Religious Architecture of Non-Muslim Communities Across the Islamic World. BRILL. 2014. p. 465. ISBN 9004280227.
- Encyclopaedia of Islam. — E. J. BRILL, 1986. — Vol. I. — P. 507 "Ani was for the first time conquered by the Georgians in 1124, under David II, who laid the foundation of the power of the Georgian kings; the town was given as a fief to the Armenian family of the Zakarians, (in Georgian: Mkhargrdzeli = Longimani) "
- Cyril Toumanoff. Armenia and Georgia // The Cambridge Medieval History. — Cambridge, 1966. — vol. IV: The Byzantine Empire, part I chapter XIV. — p. 593—637 "Later, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Armenian house of the Zakarians (Mkhargrdzeli) ruled in northern Armenia at Ani, Lor'i, Kars, and Dvin under the Georgian aegis."
- Alexei Lidov, 1991, The mural paintings of Akhtala, p. 14, Nauka Publishers, Central Dept. of Oriental Literature, University of Michigan, ISBN 5-02-017569-2, ISBN 978-5-02-017569-3, It is clear from the account of these Armenian historians that Ivane's great grandfather broke away from the Kurdish tribe of Babir
- Vladimir Minorsky, 1953, Studies in Caucasian History, p. 102, CUP Archive, ISBN 0-521-05735-3, ISBN 978-0-521-05735-6, According to a tradition which has every reason to be true, their ancestors were Mesopotamian Kurds of the tribe (xel) Babirakan.
- Richard Barrie Dobson, 2000, Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages: A-J, p. 107, Editions du Cerf, University of Michigan, ISBN 0-227-67931-8, ISBN 978-0-227-67931-9, under the Christianized Kurdish dynasty of Zak'arids they tried to re-establish nazarar system...
- William Edward David Allen, 1932, A History of the Georgian People: From the Beginning Down to the Russian Conquest in the Nineteenth Century, p. 104, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-7100-6959-6, ISBN 978-0-7100-6959-7, She retained and leant upon the numerous relatives of Sargis Mkhargrdzeli, an aznauri of Kurdish origin
- Vardan Arewelts'i's, Compilation of History In these time there lived the glorious princes Zak'are' and Iwane', sons of Sargis, son of Vahram, son of Zak'are', son of Sargis of Kurdish nationality (i K'urd azge') p. 82
- Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia, 3th[clarification needed] volume
- Paul Adalian, Rouben (2010). Historical Dictionary of Armenia. p. 83.
- Toumanoff 2010, pp. 453–455.
- Strayer, Joseph (1982). Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Vol. 1. p. 485.
The degree of Armenian dependence on Georgia during this period is still the subject of considerable controversy. The numerous Zak'arid inscriptions leave no doubt that they considered themselves Armenians, and they often acted independently.
- Minorsky, Vladimir (1953). Studies in Caucasian History. New York: Taylor’s Foreign Press. pp. 102–103. ISBN 0-521-05735-3.
- Sim, Steven. "The City of Ani: A Very Brief History". VirtualANI. Retrieved 2007-07-15.