CHAPTER 2 THE ALBANIAN PROVINCE (MARZPANAT) IN 428-637

The next chronologer of the “History of Albania” gave evidence about the family of Mihran who was a relative of Khosrov II. He had had an argument with the king and escaping persecution, went to Utik, to the town Partav and intended to go to the land of Khasir tribe and join Khosrov’s enemies49. Mihran represented one of the members of the still surviving branch of the great Sassanid dynasty. The king wrote a letter to him, suggesting, “whereever you recieve this decree of mine, let that land be your domain, and take as much as you like”. By that time Mihran had settled in the Gardmank province. Twelve the most notable representatives of the province were invited to his place and treacherously slain. Thus Mihran owned the country and began to rule over it. Vardan the Brave, who had previously adopted Christianity (he was from Mihranids), “formed a plot against the male line of Arranshahikids immemorial dynast and inviting them to dinner, murdered them all. Sixty men were slaughtered and only prince Zarmir Arranshahikid was left alive as he was son-in law to the family”50.

Historian Leo supposed that Mihranid princes of Gardman came not from Persia, but Chogh (Derbent), where the Persian troops had settled to guard the frontier. The Mihranid family of Persian descent, settling in the Gardmank fortress, first and foremost secured Persia’s position and influence on the region and later they adopted Christianity and assimilating into the nation, were Armenized.

Vardan the Brave’s grandson Jivanshir was already an Armenian. The Arranshahikid princes secluding themselves in the Artsakh fortress, sought vengeance upon Vardan’s family. The historiographer gave evidence that Mihran, fleeing the vindictive Khosrov (for the death of the latter’s father in 590), hurriedly deserted the country. Then the auther drew the geneological tree of the Mihranid royal line: Mihran-Aramail-Vard_Vardan the Brave-Varaz-Grigor-Jivanshir51. If we suppose that Mihran left Persia in 590, then according to the geneological table Jivanshir should have reigned a 120 years later, that is by 710, but in fact his overlordship dated from the year of 637. This period of time could include three generations.

Varaz-Grigor obtained the royal title with the help of the Albanian Catholicos Viro. The Persian queen, which had an Armenian descent, interceded with the court on behalf of Varaz.(She is the heroine of the well-known Persian poet Nesamie Gianjavi’s poem “Khosrov and Shirin”, who, before marriage was the ralative of Partav’s first lady)52. Varaz-Grigor descended from Vardan the Brave (his father, who rebuilt several fortresses in Gardmank) and Vard Mihranid (his grandfather), both of them didn’t possess a royal title.

After 25 years of imprisonment the Albanian Catholicos Viro returned to his native Arran. Thus, we can say that the Arran (Aghvank) secular and ecclesiastical independence was restored under the leadership of Viro and Jivanshir.

The historiographer spoke with approved of Jivanshir, praising his appearance and character. “The king (Persian) put his hand on his head, praised him and called sparapet of Albania”53.

He fought in the war of Persians against the Arabs for seven years. His courage was appreciated highly by the king. “After that they gathered to take part in the battle, but the Persian army was destroyed, they were punished by God, on the highest decision. Their kingdom collapsed. Thus after seven years’ fighting the brave Jivanshir returned home, to the Utik province, with eleven wounds on his body”54.

Once again the Albanian Armenians revolted against the Persian overlordship, which was headed by Jivanshir and his father, Varaz-Grigor. Jivanshir “married the daughter of the Sisakan prince, from the Aruichan family and entire Siunik was happy as the day is long”.

In early seventh century Persia and Byzantinum either collided with each other or provocated the north-Caucasian barbaric and warmonger tribes into invasions. It’s accepted in Armenian historiography to call those tribes “Hunns” in general. The Khazars, who were the most dangerous among them, came from the north. Their khakanat (kingdom) covered the territory from Povolzhie lowlands to northern Caucasian Caspian shores. This time they entered into an alliance with the Byzantine Emperor Hercule, whose great army flooded the Kur-Araxes valley in 624 to attack Persia. They continuously raided the greater part of Media, one portion of it after another until decided to return to Arran across the river Araxes and settled in the Trtu (Terter) river valley, intending to winter there. The Emperor applied to the Armenian nobility with the request of supporting his army with supplies, “or else he threatened to capture their castles and massacare the population. But they, by order of Khosrov II, left the city of Partav and fled to different places. The Christian and Muslim (Persian) population of the city remained there”56. An Armenian priest by the name of Zakaria saved the inhabitants of Partav. Later he was elected to Catholicos of Albania.

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