Fact No. 4.

The last Armenian king is not buried in Armenia.

The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia ended in 1375 with the deposition of Leo V (or “Leon”, to match with the Armenian version of his name, “Levon”). Cilicia had served for almost three centuries as a bastion of Christianity in the Near East, collaborating with crusades and crusaders while at the same time trying to maintain a balance with the rising powers in its neighbourhood and beyond that professed Islam.

The last king of Cilicia, from the French Lusignan line, found it impossible to withstand the siege on the capital Sis by the Egyptian Mamelukes – a powerful sultanate of the time – less than a year after his own coronation. He was kept in captivity in Cairo until 1382, when he was ransomed with the generosity of Spanish kings. He was given the title of Chief Magistrate of Madrid, Villareal, and Andujar. Although nothing much came out of that “Señoria” (“Lordship”) over Madrid, in fact being somewhat controversial for the local population, there still exists a Calle León V de Armenia in the Spanish capital today.

The exiled King Leo spent much of the following years going from court to court in Western Europe. He tried to serve as a diplomat mediating between France and England, in the hopes of leading a drive to liberate Cilicia, without success. He died in 1393.

The remains of the last Armenian king were desecrated during the French Revolution four hundred years later, but his tomb was later relocated to the Basilica of St. Denis, alongside other members of French monarchy, where it rests to this day.

Cilician Armenia-en
Sémhur, Creative Commons

References and Other Resources

1. Armen Kouyoumdjian. “When Madrid Was the Capital of Armenia”. Paper presented at the conference Armenia and Armenians in International Treaties, held at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, March 18-21, 2009
2. Vahan M. Kurkjian. A History of Armenia. AGBU, 1958, pp. 258-269
3. Wikipedia: “Leo V, King of Armenia”
4. Wikipedia: “Basilica of St Denis”

The tomb of King Leo V of Armenian Cilicia, at the Cathédrale royale de Saint-Denis, just north of Paris

Image Caption

The tomb of King Leo V of Armenian Cilicia, at the Cathédrale royale de Saint-Denis, just north of Paris.

Attribution and Source

By PHGCOM (self-made, photographed at Basilique Saint Denis) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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