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


Now we can directly say that the Arranshahikid ruler of Artsakh-Utik (Vache’s father) had married the kings daughter after the year of 428. Related by marriage the Persian court tried to strengthen its rule over Aghvank (Arran and Albania proper). Movses Kaghankatvatsi noted that “The Persian King Perosh (458-482) ordered Vache to build the great city of Perozapat (459) which is the present day Partav”16. The Iranian historian Enaitollah Reza, testifying ancient Persian sources, noted that the city was called Horum in early date and then Partev. Thus the city dated from the Persian domination period and had a still older history, and Vache had only reconstructed it, appropriating to the marzpan’s residence. But Vache’s and Perosh’s solidarity was short lived. Vache took side of the rebellious Vardan Mamikonian and his aherents, most of whom were imprisoned in the Persian capital. Vache didn’t yield to the Persian power, he revolted too and joined a struggle that played an important part in that campaign, providing Armenian troops with a base18. This act had its grounds. He, as well as Vardan Mamikonian and other Armenia nobles had agreed to false convertion to Mazdaizm. And it was probably after this that he had married the king’s daughter and returned to Artsakh with an army of mages. Then, taking advantage of the disorder, Vache gave the new faith up, and sent away the mages and tax gatherers and turned to his Christian faith. He, with the help of his rebellious army “broke the Chora Guard and brought the Maskut army and uniting with other eleven highland kings, cut down the Persian army. When the Persian king suggested peace, Vache reminded him of the death and torture of the captured Armenian princes. “I prefer to be tortured to death like the others than betray my faith19”. Kaghankatvatsi wrote that “God as cane of his anger (means of punishment – B) sent the tribe of Hunns against the tyranous, arrogant and blood-minded king. They cut down the infidel princes and laid waste their entire land”21. The Hunns joined the Armenians according to the treaty with Vardan Mamikonian. When the king understood that he could subject Vache “neither by force nor by love”22 he sent numerous treasures to the land of Alanians, opened the Alan Gates (in Caucasus) took many men-of-arms from the Alanians (a warmonger north-Caucasian tribe) and fought a year against the Albanian king. And the siege lasted long and the greater part of the country was ravaged but none of them was irresolute to betray the others”23. The king was assured that it was impossible to take the Artsakh and Utik citadels by force and internally weakened, he applied to Vache a second time, saying, “Sent my sister and cousin back to my country, because they were mazdaists and you converted them to Christianity and leave your land to you”24. Vache sent them to Persia, he himself resigned from the throne, took the Bible, left the secular life, became a repentant and led a solitary life in the Avetaranots village of Artsah25.

The next great revolt against the Persian policy rose under the leadership of Vahan Mamikonian. “For thirty years Albania remained kingless”, noted Kaghankatvatsi26.

In 484 the king Bagharsh came to throne in Persia and analysing the previous policy, introduced reforms in vassal states, he granted the Armenian princes with permission to rule in their family domains. Movses Kaghankatvatsi wrote, “At the time when each Albanian prince inherited his title and estate, they all united, took the sophisticated, handsome, tall and courageous Vachagan, brother of Albanian King Vache, Yezdegirds son, who was of royal decsent and put him to throne with the help of the Persian king”27. Thus the Persian king established the Armenian kingdom on his own accord and sent Vachagan to rule over Aghvank. Then the chronologer noted that “they could adhere to the faith they chose and nobody could be forcibly converted to mazdaism”28. Probably this was the first appeal in the history of mankind to forbidding violation of human rights.

The first thing Vachagan did in his native land was to set up a campaign against all kinds of sectarianism, the followers of schism heresies were attacked with special violence, as they used to excoriate babies during their heretical rites. Vachagan called on his “impregnal Artsakh country to give up idolary… Being extremely kind, hearted, munificent and peaceful, he gave an order to the princes all over the land, whom the wicked king of Persia had deprived of their family domains, to resettle in their domains. He appointed many archbishops, priests, intendents. Both in Kambechan and Aghvank he gave and assumed the same orders”29. The fact that parallel to the king there also existed the marzpan’s position, is proved by an expression of a historiographer, “For several times the marzpans caught them (the heretics – B) but practising bribe taking, let them go”30. The British country was Vachagan’s might and support, the Giutakan village was his preferred residence*.

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