With the decline of the previously ruling Mamikonian dynasty, the Bagratids emerged as one of the most powerful noble families in Armenia. The Arabs' choice in 806 of Ashot Bagratuni the Carnivorous to be prince of Armenia made his family the chief power in the land. The Bagratids were more diplomatic than the Mamikonians in their dealings with their foreign overlords. The governor Smbat Ablabas Bagratuni remained loyal to the caliph.
The election of Smbat's son Ashot I the Great, who had been accepted as "prince of princes" by the Arabs in 862, to be king of Armenia in 885 was recognized by both the caliph and the Byzantine emperor, and it was he who by his successful defense of his country against local Arab chieftains laid the foundations of a new golden age of Armenian history. Throughout the 10th century, Armenian art and literature flourished. Ashot III ("the Merciful," 952-977) transferred his capital to Ani (near modern Anipemza) and began to transform it into one of the architectural gems of the Middle Ages.
Another Bagratid, Adarnase IV, became king of Georgia in 888, and his line ruled there intermittently until 1505.
The Bagratids of Ani bore the title of shahanshah ("king of kings"), which was first conferred by the caliph in 922 upon Ashot II the Iron. In 961 Mushegh, the brother of Ashot III, founded the Bagratid kingdom of Kars. By the 11th century, the combined invasions of the Seljuk Turks and Byzantine conquests in the west destroyed what remained of the Bagratids and the Armenian kingdom.