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

The Persian army, under the leadership of Shahr-Varez entered the Gardmank province of Utik, settled in the castle of Tigranakert*** where the Persian Mihranids were ruling. In this way they obstructed the Byzantine troops’ way to Tpghis. Another division (30 thousand soldiers), under General Shahen, settled in the other fortress of Tigranakert (Shahaghbiur). The Byzantine army attacked, then passed through the Karkar (later Shushi) and Berdadzor mountains to Siunik and remaining there for a short time, left for their country. This time the Khazar tribes did not back up the emperor, as they were presented with innumerable riches by the Persian king.

The Byzantine Emperor entered into a new alliance with the Khakanat (Khazars Kingdom) and they undertook a new invasion, one from the north, and another from the west. The Khazar chieftain Jebu Khakan (king) destroyed the Derbent gates with his army and moved to the south. The historiographer of “The History of Albania’ described the events as an eye-witness. He saw his native country lamenting over its dead. Those still alive, were starved to death. The motherland ceased to be able to protect its population. The Gaishak marzpan, appointed by Khosrov, tried to establish himself in Partav, but soon ran away in horror. The historiographer gave an impressive discription of the uncivilized barbarians. “They, looking monsterous and dreadful, ugly and arrogant, widefaced, without eyebrows, long-haired and woman-like, made one’s blood run cold”. They unnihilated the population in Partav. Some of them managed to escape and hid in Artsakh fortresses.

Then they invaded Georgia and “surrounded the flourisling and famous city of Tpghis”. The Persian army came to their help. Though the citadel held, they soon launched another attack and taking it, massacred the population.

Persia was already weakened from internal discordance so could not resist them, preventing their advance. A rebellion broke out in Persia proper. Khosrov II was murdered. His son Ghobad II came to throne. But soon due to unstable internal situation, he was replaced by Ardeshir III, then six other kings succeeded, and all of them together reigned only for six years. Yezdegird III was killed in 637 and this was the end of the powerful dynasty of Persian Sassanids.

Thus, the heavy blows on Persia from all sides destroyed the Sassanid royal inheritance, a dynasty which reigned for four centuries (226-637). But the main reason of Persian monarchy’s subversion was the internal destruction. This example proved the truth that any civilization or empire, great or weak is overtrown as a result of internal discordance. Even the pettiest state revitalizes and is long-lived if it is based on internal stability, development of internal resources and on nationwide unity. After reaching its zenith, it may decline if new ideological changes are not achieved in time.

After the fall of the Roman empire Byzantium did not repeat its structures. The source of its revival and might lay in the new ideology, ie new faith. From this aspect Byzantium was fresher than the Persian state based on Mazdaism. The reforms of Justinian were more active and flexible than of Khosrov I, as the first created an entirely new unit and the second could exist only on the basis of a powerful centralized monarchic policy. The Persian socio-economical system, based on geneological relations, cracked and broke up. The external forces had nothing else to do but overrun the Sassanid inheritance. The Transcaucasian nations-the Armenians, Georgians and multiracial Albanians again were left unprotected against the barbarian tribes.Involved in such complicated conditions the Armenians ceased to beleive in restoration of generalized secular power. They were isolated in their ecclesiastically monophysite faith, relying on their national script and literature and permanently developing them.

Judging from the abundant sources of that period, on the Artsakh and Utik territories the state relied upon its flocks and herds, its dense forests, “its skilled craftsmen, its mines of copper, gold and iron”57. The Sodk gold, Gandzasar silver, Mehmana (in Karabakh republic) multimetal, Taghavard lead, Karhat iron mines expluatation was in full swing.

The Arab sources express admiration of the products made by Armenian handicraftsmen. “There is nothing comparable to the ropes and carpets, clothes and cochineal (kermes) produced by them (the craftsmen)”58, noted the Arab historiographer Al-Mukadelassi.

The Arran Armenians possessed a generalized sense of Motherland and an Armenian orientation. It is therefore unfortunate when, because of political cosiderations, the Baku historians strive to minimize and denigrate the Armenian element in Albania, trying to persuade that Albania formed the immediate predecessor of present day Azerbaijan and exercising falsification of historical truths. Ignoring reliable sources, they persist that the Mihranid representatives were Albanians or Armenized Albanians (K.V.Trever,59 V.V.Bartold60) but in fact the Mihranid dynasty ruled over Utik and they were even discordant with the Artsakh and Utik Arranshahikids. If their theory is accepted, it is hard to account for the national spirit which inspired and continues to inspire the Armenians of Albanian region.

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* It is situated on the Artsakh river Trtu, at the bottom of the Mrav mountain near the present day Talish village.

** Grigoris was the grandson of Gregory the Illuminator and was in charge of the eastern provinces of Armenia and was in turn appointed bishop of Kingdom of Albania. The oldest church of this region is to be found in present day Karabakh,, the church of the monastry of Amaras, established by St. Gregory and completed by St. Grigoris. Here St. Grigoris was buried in 338, and which is still possible to visit.

*** The Armenian King Tigranes the Great (95-55BC) founded several cities by his name, two of which were situated on the Arran territory.

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