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

The history of Vachagan the Pious ends with the Aghven Assembly. The historiographer has no other records of his period. Probably the last part of his work is missing. The tenth century composer of the collection considered that he was not in the might of adding the ommitted part. We know from other sources that Vachagan’s son Pandelion (Pandi) and then his grandson Vramshapuh replaced him. It is assumed that the Aghven rules practically operated for many years, pacifying the country internally. The medieval historiographer Stepanos Orbelian wrote that Vachagan married his daughter to the brother of the Persian king Abl-Abbas, who adopted Christianity and lived in Siunik, near the monastry “Second Jerusalem” in the Barkushat river valley. Vachagan had asked the Sovereign of Siunik to give him and his son-in-law five villages there. It was here that in incomprehensible circumstances died Vachagan and his son-in-law. We don’t know anything of his son either. S.Orbelian only observed that his grandson Vramshapuh arrived early in the morning with his army and surrounding the monastry, cut down the priests and the chiefs of the village, destroyed the building of the monastry and threw the stones into the river38. Probably he took revenge on them. Vachagan the Pious was buried in a funerary chapel of Apostol Yeghishe’s monastry, which he had established on the ruins of an ancient temple. On a stone above the chapel’s front door the following words are carved, “Here repose the mortal remains of King Vachagan. Let God have pity on patriarchs and parents of his, he, who built this church, led by Ter-Simon in 1286″39.

The funerary chapel was built six and a half centuries after his death. Vachagan’s death can’t be blamed on the Persian Court, as the historiographers don’t mention that they (Vachagan and his son-in-law) met a violent death. Both the Persian court and the marzpan were aware of his activity and reforms, the king Bagharsh (487-497) and his successors Ghobad I (507-537) and Jamasp (497-501) allowed him to carry out his reforms and even supported him as they were interested in the stability of that country, which could be guaranteed by the constitution. As to the extension of the educational units, rules and laws could be applied, put into practical use only in the environment of literate and educated nations, and this is one of the stability factors.

Vachagan’s vengeance seeking proved his overlordship of Albania. Vachagan’s death and his grandson’s attack is assumed to take place by 530, when he was too old, about 80-85 years old.

Whatever he was, the seeds sown by him managed to shoot, fill the Artsakh country with their “product” and stretch their roots deep in that immemorial land. Since then the Artsakh country was fated to carry its everlasting important mission up to this day, with its educational institutions, monastries, churches, learned and godly people, who cling to their Motherland, to Armenia and whatever conquerers and intruders come and go, they will remain existent like an all-mighty stream flowing into eternity. Karabakh was destined to be the key mountain outpost on the long and difficult way of Armenia to independence and sovereignity.

After Vachagan the Pious’ history our scholars “kept silent” for about a century about Arran and Albania (Aghvank). “An enigmatic century succeeded, which like a mist covered the history of those eastern territories of Armenia, and a historian is not able to open the folds of a hundred years’ history”, wrote B.Ulubabian.

In the sixth century one of the long-lived kings, Khosrov I (531-579) came to throne in Persia. He, as the historiographers described, was a very kind and clever man. Armenian historian M.Chamchian wrote, “This mighty strategist king was also aspired after science and philosophy, and as the modern Greek historian (Aghatias, book II,IV) assumes, he read the books of Plato and Aristotle and gave an order to translate them into Persian”41. Chamchian compared him with his anscestors, kings Darius and Kurosh. Khosrov I reconstructed and strengthened the Derbent fortifications which stretched from the Caucasian highlands to the Caspian sea shores for 42 kilometres, fixed two huge metallic gates obstructing the way of the eastern nomadic tribes. He built the trading city of Shamakhi and named the Kura left bank country Shirvan, and driving out Persians from the remote parts of the state, populated them in the city. The rebuilding took place in Albania proper where the multiracial society continued to remain as discordant as it was before. Khosrov I never lost the opportunity of disturbing the Armenian unanimity and expanding his domains. Armenian historian Sebeos brought such an example, writing how the Siunik prince Vahan presented this able politician with his country. He applied to the king with a request of joining Siunik to Paitakaran and reducing to vassalage its rulers. At that time the horrible tyrant Suren was Armenian’s marzpan (564-571). He fiercely persecuted the Armenian princes and dignitaries.

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