Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Sis (also known as Sision or Sisk?ia, later Flaviopolis or Flavias), is the chief town of the Khozan sanjak of the Adana vilayet in Turkey. It is situated on the left bank of the Kirkgen Su, a tributary of the Jibun (Pyramus) and at the south end of a group of passes leading from the Anti-Taurus valleys to the Cilician plain and Adana.


Sis was besieged by the Arabs in 704 but relieved by the Byzantines. The Abbasid caliph al-Mutawakkil took it and refortified it, but it soon returned to Byzantine hands. It was rebuilt in 1186 by Leo II, king of Lesser Armenia, who made it his capital. In 1374 it was taken and demolished by the sultan of Egypt, and it has never recovered its prosperity.

It has had, however, a great place in Armenian ecclesiastical history from the times of St Gregory the Illuminator to our own. Gregory himself was there consecrated the first Catholicos in AD 267, but transferred his see to Vagarshabad (Echmiadzin, Etchmiadzin), whence, after the fall of the Arsacids, it passed to Tovin. After the constitution of the kingdom of Lesser Armenia, the catholicate returned to Sis (1294), the capital, and remained there 150 years.

In 1441, Sis having fallen from its high estate, the Armenian clergy proposed to remove the see, and on the refusal of the actual Catholicos, Gregory IX, installed a rival at Echmiadzin, who, as soon as Selim I had conquered Greater Armenia, became the more widely accepted of the two by the Armenian church in the Ottoman Empire. The Catholicus of Sis maintained himself nevertheless, and was supported in his pretensions by the Pope up to the middle of the 19th century, when the patriarch Nerses, declaring finally for Echmiadzin, carried the government with him. In 1885 Sis tried to declare Echmiadzin schismatic, and in 1895 its clergy took it on themselves to elect a Catholicus without reference to the patriarch; but the Ottoman Empire annulled the election, and only allowed it six years later on Sis renouncing its pretensions to independence. The present Catholicus has the right to prepare the sacred myron (oil) and to preside over a synod, but is in fact not more than a metropolitan, and regarded by many Armenians as schismatic. The lofty castle and the monastery and church built by Leo II, and containing the coronation chair of the kings of Lesser Armenia, were noteworthy in the early 20th century.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.