HAYTON (HETʿUM) of Gorighos, a prince of the Hetumid dynasty that ruled the kingdom of Lesser (Cilician) Armenia.  A nephew of King Hetʿum I (d. 1270), he succeeded an older brother as lord of Gorighos (Corycos) and became closely involved in the turbulent affairs of the kingdom.  According to Cypriot sources, he was forced into exile in Cyprus in 1305 because he had participated in a conspiracy against his cousin, Hetʿum II.  Having entered as a canon into the Premonstratensian Order in Cyprus, he became in turn embroiled in politics there and was implicated in the attempt by Amaury of Lusignan (ca. 1272-1310), titular lord of Tyre, to supplant his brother, King Henry II. Amaury sent him on an embassy to Western Europe to secure papal support.  At Poitiers Pope Clement V commissioned Hayton to write a treatise outlining the conduct of a crusade to recover the Holy Land.  Hayton composed La Flor des Estoires de la Terre d’Orient (The Flower of the Histories of the East) in Old French in 1307 (Figure 1). It was translated into Latin by Nicolas Faucon later that year (page references in this entry are to the French text).  Returning to Lesser Armenia in 1308, probably in response to the murder of Hetʿum II by a Mongol general in the previous year, he appears to have resumed his active role in the kingdom and died at some point prior to 1320, when his son Oshin was lord of Gorighos.

Hayton included in the above-mentioned work a survey of the history of the Mongols.  He assures us that for the period from Chinggis (ČENGĪZ) Khan until Möngke’s accession he is “recounting everything as the histories of the Tartars say”; from Möngke down to the death of Hülegü (HULĀGU KHAN), he is reliant on what he has heard from his uncle, Hetʿum I; and from Abaḡas accession he is writing from his own experience (p. 213); earlier, he mentions having personally taken part in the invasion of Mamluk Syria by Il-Khanid forces in 703/1303 (p. 203).  At first sight, he would seem ideally placed to produce an authoritative account of Mongol Iran at the turn of the 13th-14th centuries.  The Flor des Estoires is a highly tendentious work, however: Hayton’s principal aim was to engineer collaboration between the Franks of Western Europe and the Mongols of Iran, with a view to bringing much-needed assistance to his native Armenia.  With that in mind, when recounting, for example, the Mongol assault on the Frankish stronghold of Sidon in 658/1260, he ascribed the blame exclusively to the latter (p. 174).  Moreover, he played down the conversion to Islam in 694/1295 of the Il-khan Ḡazān, by making out that Ḡazān had favored the Muslims only in order to obtain the throne and had since grown far more sympathetic towards Christians (p.191).  This was to confuse Il-khanid foreign policy, dominated as it was by ongoing hostility to the Mamluk Empire, with domestic religious policy.

Whatever its defects, the Flor des Estoires was a highly popular work, to judge from the number of surviving medieval manuscripts, and is often found bound up with other texts relating to the Mongols and to Western travels in the East.  It was as part of such a collection that it was retranslated from Latin into French in 1351 by Jean Le Long of Ypres.  A Spanish version was commissioned by Juan Fernandez de Heredia, Master of the Order of the Hospitallers of St. John, later that century; and Richard Pynson produced an English translation in 1521 for Henry VIII, who was then briefly toying with the idea of embarking on a crusade himself.


David D. Bundy, “Hetʿum’s «La Flor des Estoires de la Terre d’Orient»: A Study in Medieval Armenian Historiography and Propaganda,” Revue des Études Arméniennes, N.S. 20, 1986-87, pp. 223-35.

Glenn Burger, ed., Hetoum, A Lytell Cronycle.  Richard Pynson’s Translation (c 1520) of La Fleur des histoires de la terre d’Orient (c 1307), Toronto, 1988, introduction, pp. x-xxiii.

P. Jackson, The Mongols and the West, 1221-1410, New York, 2005.

Frère Hayton, La Flor des Estoires de la terre d’Orient, ed. Charles Kohler et al., in Recueil des Historiens des Croisades.  Documents arméniens, II, Paris, 1906, French text at pp. 111-253, with Latin text by Faucon at pp. 255-363.

F. E .A. Krause, “Das Mongolenreich nach der Darstellung des Armeniers Haithon,” in Festschrift für Friedrich Hirth zu seinem 75. Geburtstag 16. April 1920, Berlin, 1920 (= Ostasiatische Zeitschrift 8), pp. 238-67.

S. M. Mirnyi, “«La Flor des Estoires de Terres d’Orient» Gaitona kak istoriko-geograficheskiĭ istochnik po vostoky i po istorii Mongolov,” Sovetskoe Vostokovedenie, 1956, no. 5, pp. 72-82.

Denis Sinor, “Le réel et l’imaginaire dans la description des Mongols dans la Flor des Estoires de la Terre d’Orient de Hayton,” in Actes du Colloque «Les Lusignans et l’Outre Mer» Poitiers-Lusignan 20-24 octobre 1993, Auditorium du Musée Sainte-Croix – Poitiers, Poitiers, [1994?], pp. 276-80.

(Peter Jackson)

Originally Published: November 9, 2016

Last Updated: November 9, 2016

Cite this entry:

Peter Jackson, “HAYTON,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/hayton-of-gorighos (accessed on 09 November 2016).