Post-classical history

Smpad the Constable (1208-1276)

An Armenian historian and legist, elder brother of Het‘um I, king of Armenia.

Smpad (also Smbat, Sempad) served his brother loyally and was constable (Arm. sparapet) of the Armenian kingdom. In 1247-1250 Het‘um sent Smpad on a diplomatic mission to the Mongol khan Güyük,and a letter written by the constable describing his journey survives; intended for his brothers-in-law, King Henry I of Cyprus and John of Ibelin, it was also received by King Louis IX of France. Smpad died fighting against a Mamlūk-inspired Turcoman invasion in 1276.

Smpad was the author of an important chronicle, of which two versions survive, one of them abbreviated and continued to 1331. The early accounts largely follow the chronicles of Matthew of Edessa and Gregory the Priest, but with important additions; for later years he appears to have used a variety of sources, including Frankish and possibly Byzantine works, as well as his own experiences. He also made a translation of the Assizes of Antioch, which is the only surviving version of that law code. It was based on a copy sent to him by his relative Simon Mansel, constable of Antioch, and was part of Smpad’s attempt to “Frankicize” the customs of the Armenian kingdom. He also commented on or commissioned translations of Byzantine philosophical or theological works.

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