Once an empire stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea including parts of Georgia and Syria, Armenia was at its largest during the early 1st century BC under the rule of King Tigranes. Before the end of the 1st century BC, the Armenian Empire was conquered by the Roman Empire and what is today Armenia, was used as a battleground and buffer zone between the Roman Empire and the Parthians, who ruled Persia. In the 1st century AD, a Roman- Parthian treaty was signed giving the Parthians rule over Armenia, but when a new dynasty came to power in the 3rd century AD and tried to seize Armenia, the Romans gained control of Armenia and crowned Tiridates III as king.
In the early 4th century AD, Tiridates converted to Christianity even before Constantine of the Byzantine Empire, establishing the first officially Christian state religion. The Byzantine Empire and Persian Empire divided up Armenia until the early 7th century AD when the Byzantine Empire took complete control for a little while, eventually giving it up to the Arabs who had recently conquered Persia. With near autonomy, Armenia was ruled by a noble family put in power by the Arabs until small Armenian kingdoms became sovereign. By the 10th century AD, the Byzantine Empire again conquered Armenia just to lose control to the Turks in 1071 AD. From the 13th to the 15th century AD, the Mongols ruled Armenia, but in the 16th century AD, the Ottoman Empire gained control and clashed with Iran over territory for several centuries.
By the 19th century AD, the Russian Empire took control of present day Armenia while the Ottoman Empire held control of the former Armenian lands. Many Armenians fled from the territory held by the Ottoman Empire to that held by Russia. The Armenian people began organizing nationalistic political groups by the late 1800s. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, or Dashnaks wanted an autonomous Armenia within the Russian and Ottoman Empires, and the Hunchak party moved for an independent socialist Armenian state.