CHAPTER 7 THE ARMENIAN SGHNAKHS (PROVINCES) IN THE STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE

During 1720-es the son of Albanian leader, Mir-Mahmud, frequently invaded Iran. Near the town Kirman the Persian commander Luft Ali Khan won a victory over them. But soon this able commander fell foul of the court intrigues and was imprisoned. The Daghestan highlanders, becoming shamelessly licentious, set up a new compaign against the Persian state. In close relations with the Turkish Sultan, their leader Lezgi Daud Bek, carried out the Turkish orders.

The Hasanli Khan of Shamakhi was trying to obstruct their advance, but was murdered by them. In 1720 the highlanders’ army, under Surkhai Shamkhal, Ismi, Haji Daud and Ali Sultan launched an attack on Shamakhi. The defenders of the city were supported by the Armenian Sghnaks, Gandzak and Mulkani. The battle lasted eight days. The highlanders were defeated and returned to their land. But the next year they appeared near Shamakhi once again. They couldn’t give up the hope of taking the flourishing city. The city was captured and ravaged. The inhabitants of the city from the Suni tribe, blotting with the enemy, at night opened the gates of the city. The Ghzlbash and Shii inhabitants were mercilessly slaughtered. The highlanders treated them in a domineering manner, calling “Ghajar” (Qajar). The Catholicos Yessayi Hassan Jalalian, describing the fall of the city, wrote that a river of blood flowed across the city. The Lezgis, who were Sunni Muslim, decapitated the adherents of Shii Muslim faith in the city mosque. Their children were taken captive. Hating the Shii Muslims, they were somehow tolerant towards the Christian inhabitants of the city. The whole city was plundered. The Russian merchants lost 500 thousand roubles.20

The Persian troops from Yerevan and Partav arrived here to prevent their advance. While these troops were resting on the bank of the Kura river near Partav, with a sudden attack the Lezgiz dispersed this immobile army. The remains of it ran towards the Armenian Sghnakhs. The Persian court had ceased to protect the country and its authority.

In 1722, in March, crossing the Derbent gates, the Lezgis, with many thousands and thousands”21, appeared in Dizak and plundering and slaughtering the citizens, passed to Varanda. The local Melik Baghir II met them with innumerable presents, thus saving the district from destruction and freeing a part of Dizak captives. This Melik Baghir was a descendant of Gegharkunik (Sodk-Mazra) Shahnazarian branch. His ancestor Mirzabek, who was the brother of Melik Shahnazar I, had obtained his title of Melik from Shah Abbas the Great in 1603.22 This branch of Melik Shahnazarians, backed by Shah, became the traditional lords of Varanda. Mirzabek was succeeded by Baghr Khan, Baghr I and Melik Shahnazar I. Melik Baghr I deported the Armenian population of Mazra to Shushi. He strengthened his fortress on the advise of Jalalians. Probably this fortress was transferred to them by the Jalalians. Melik Baghr II, “with the help of the local population and newcomers, in a short time finished the restoration of the castle Avetaranots and settled there”.23 Melik Baghr II, who was called Baghi, to distinguish from the Giulistan Melik Baghr, proceeded with the flexible policy of the ancestors. With a small ransom he won the favour of the Lezgis and maintained good relations with them. In this aspect captains Avan and Tarkhan were great help to him, who as Shirvanians had better acquaintance with the habits and traditions of the highlanders. Generalyy such important problems were solved by the military council of the Sghnakhs.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35