Armenian Women

in search of Herstory

Queen Zabel – Զաբել թագուհի (1219-1252)


Daughter of King Levon of Cilicia, Zabel was proclaimed the successor to the throne and Queen of Cilicia. She was just a young child when her father died. She first married the Duke of Antioch but he was arrested and executed for not adopting the Armenian Church and fleeing the country with her. Then she was married off to her guardian’s son, Hetum against her will. As this was imposed on her, she refused for years to have any contact with her new husband. Years later, Hetum’s dedication, courage and good will made her change her mind and she agreed to rule the country by his side.

A responsible queen and a dedicated mother, Zabel was very involved in leading the country and played an important role in the development of education and literature. She was the protector of the fine arts and a devoted supporter of theater. At the age of 25 she sponsored the building of a hospital where she used to volunteer in person.

Zabel successfully governed the country together with her husband Hetum and the coins minted during that period bear the effigies of both.

Sources: Vahan Kurkjian, A History of Armenia, 1958

Armenians of Cilicia

painting: Vardges Surenyants, Queen Zabel’s return to the throne, 1909


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