Sebeos' History

Now when the Iranian king observed the flight of people from the emperor, he sent to Armenia the [46] Vaspurakan hamarakar with much treasure, and very great honors to subdue [the princes] with it and to draw them into his service. The hamarakar went to Armenia with treasure loaded onto numerous camels.

Samuel Vahewuni with other comrades went against him, encountering him at the borders of the land of Atrpatakan. They took the treasure [but] granted the hamarakar his life. [The princes were]:

Atat Xorhxorhuni,
Samuel Vahewuni,
Mamak Mamikonean,
Step'annos Siwni,
Kotit, lord of the Amatunik',
T'eodos Trpatuni,

and about 2,000 cavalrymen. They were thinking as follows: "With that treasure we shall make Armenia our own. With their aid we shall wage war with both kings and forcibly return our country to ourselves." [But] once they reached the city of Naxchawan, their plan of unity came apart. They did not believe one another, they divided the treasure, and then encamped in the swamp called Chahuk. Meanwhile that hamarakar went to court and informed the king of all that had [47] transpired. And the emperor's words were vindicated.

King Xosrov ordered that a hrovartak be written to the emperor, requesting an auxiliary force. He also dispatched the vaspurakan hamarakar to Armenia. Then [the emperor] ordered the general Heraclius who was located in the country [g48] of Armenia to take his troops and go against [the rebels] in battle. The troops of the two kings united in the city of Naxchawan. As these troops started to mass, they began sending messages [to the rebels] saying: "Let there not be warfare and bloodshed among Christians. Rather, abandon your stuborness and resign yourselves to serving the king." By oaths they confirmed that "you have nothing to fear from the king." The hamarakar also said: "The king of kings sent me to you; indeed, I brought the treasure for you. You have nothing to fear from the king of kings." He gave an oath, in accordance with their custom.

[The Armenian rebels] began to separate and divide from each other. Mamak Mamigonean, Kotit, lord of the Amatunik', Step'annos and others withdrew, displaying themselves as innocent to the hamarakar, subduing their troops into serving the Iranian king. Meanwhile Atat Xorhxorhuni and Samuel Vahewuni and their troops fled. Going via the town called Sawdk', they reached the land of [Caucasian] Aghbania/Aghuania, heading for the Huns [48] and, after crossing the river called Kur, they encamped on the riverbank.

[The Huns] also reached the river and encamped on the opposite side. And as soon as [the rebels realized] that they could not trust the Huns' camp, they requested an oath from the Byzantine emperor and went into his service. Some went to the hamarakar and then returned to their own country. The hamarakar assembled all the princes and troops of the Iranian sector of Armenia encouraging them all through persuasion and sweet words. He united them and formed them into brigades. Leaving few in the land, he departed, saying: "until I find out about you, and a command comes to remain there." For it had entered his mind that others would come to [the rebels] and that they would multiply.

The emperor summoned Atat Xorhxorhuni and his troops to quickly come to the palace. He exalted [Atat] with splendor and honor, gave him numerous goods, and sent him to Thrace [g49].

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Chapter 7.

The Armenian princes in the Byzantine sector rebel; the war; the deaths of some in battle and the decapitation of two [rebels].

Once again the Vahewunik' sepuhs in the Byzantine sector—Samuel whom I mentioned above, and Sargis and Varaz Nerseh and Nerses and Vstam and T'eodoros Trpatuni—rebelled. They planned to kill the [Byzantine] curator while he was seated in the hot springs close to the city of Karin, to cure an illness. But [the latter] was informed somehow and fled to the city. Thus, when they invaded the bath, they did not encounter him. Then [the rebels] looted whatever they found, taking a great deal of booty, and departed to the secure Korduats' country. They wanted to have the stronghold there.

Now the Byzantine forces with general Heraclius and Hamazasp Mamikonean pursued them. [The rebels] approached the stronghold, crossing by bridge the river called Jermay (which is styled Daniel's bridge). They cut down the bridge and fortified themselves in a pass where they held the site of the bridge. [The Byzantines] were on the [opposite] riverbank wondering what to do. Because they were unable to find a ford, they wanted to depart. But unexpectedly, [50] a traveling priest strayed into their midst. They seized him and said: "If you do not show us the river's ford, we will kill you." [The traveller] took the forces and showed them the ford [at a place] below where they were. All the troops crossed the river. Some of them held [watch over] the stronghold, others the bridgehead. [Some] held the mouth of the valley, others entered the stronghold and battled with them. The devastation was enormous, and [the rebels] were worn out.

Killed in the battle were Nerses, Vstam, and Samuel, who killed quite a few [warriors] around them in fight [g50]. But Sargis and Varaz Nerseh were arrested along with some others. They were taken to the city of Karin and later beheaded. When they were about to be beheaded, Varaz Nerseh said to Sargis: "Let's cast lots to see whom they kill first." But Sargis replied: "I am an old, blame-worthy man. I beg you, grant me this little respite, that I not see your death." So they beheaded him first. Now T'eodoros Trpatuni fled to the court of the Iranian king, for refuge. But [the king] ordered him bound and delivered into the hands of his enemies to be put to death. And [51] [the king] visited severe misfortunes upon him.

The enemies who were in the Thrace area, having looted the kingdom by means of quick engagements conducted by a countless multitude of troops, [now] wanted to destroy the kingdom and people of the lordship of the Romans, and to actually rule over the royal city itself.

Chapter 8.

The emperor's order to assemble his Eastern forces and those of Armenia to cross the sea and mass in Thrace, against the enemy. The selection of Mushegh as their commander. The victory, vanquishment, seizure, and killing of Mushegh.

The Byzantine emperor gave a command to assemble all of his forces which were in the Eastern area, for it was peacetime and he had no difficulties with Syria, from the Iranian lordship. He ordered that all [the troops] be taken across the sea and assembled against the enemy in the Thracian area. He also commanded the entire cavalry of Armenia, and the princes of the naxarars who were skilled and able to resist and fight in a spear-throwing battle. Again [Maurice] ordered that very many troops be raised [52] from the land of Armenia a second time, all of choice age and determination, [that they] be organized into decorated [g51] brigades, [kazmel gunds zards] armed, and transported to the land of Thrace against the enemy. Mushegh Mamikonean was their commander.

Now they went against the peoples who hold the area west of the great Danube river. A fierce battle took place in that country. The enemies' strength was shattered before the Byzantine forces, and they fled to the other side of the river. With great victory they quickly dispatched to the emperor a messenger with the glad tidings.

Then they went to an area below where they were, raiding. They crossed a narrow place, laying waste the entire country. Coming opposite [to the Byzantine army], [the enemy] waged a great battle, striking at the Byzantines, destroying them with great slaughter and driving them in front of themselves, as fugitives. [But] the enemy had [53] seized a narrow pass before them and so put [the Byzantines] to the sword. [The Byzantines] were barely able to save their lives in the strongholds of the land of Thrace. [The enemy] had arrested Mushegh Mamikonean, bound him to a tall tree in the forest, and killed him. On that day a multitude of the naxarars and troops of Armenia were killed.

Yet another time did the emperor order other troops called up, telling them only "Look out for yourselves."

Chapter 9.

Emperor Maurice's order to preach the [acceptance of the] Council of Chalcedon in Armenia; the division of the patriarchal throne.

Once again the emperor issued an order, this time to preach [acceptance of] the Council of Chalcedon in all churches of the country of Armenia, and to celebrate communion with his troops. Now the clergy of the churches of Armenia they treated as fugitives going to a foreign [g52] country. But many disregarded the order and remained where they were, not budging. Many of the faithful, however, [54] out of the love of ambition, united [with the Byzantines] in communion. Then the kat'oghikosal Throne was divided into two parts. One [of the kat'oghikoi] was named Movses; the other, Yovhan. Movses was in the Iranian sector; Yovhan was in the Byzantine [sector].

Yovhan communed with [the Byzantines] but Movses was in no way close to them. The vessels of the entire Church which had been at [the church of] saint Gregory in Dwin, were taken and placed in a repository in the city of Karin. But [Yovhan] himself was later taken into captivity to Ahmatan shahastan in the country of the Iranians.

Chapter 10.

Again the emperor's command to assemble the Armenian cavalry. The troops of Sahak Mamikonean and Smbat Bagratuni are taken. Smbat returns to Armenia. The Armenian naxarars' plan. Smbat goes to the emperor with seven men. [Smbat] falls into arena [combat]. Smbat's bravery there. His liberation, and exile to Africa.

In that period, once again a command issued from the emperor to seek and demand 2,000 select armed cavalrymen from the land of Armenia, to entrust them to two faithful [commanders] and to dispatch them with all possible haste.

[55] So 2,000 armed men were selected and entrusted to two faithful men: 1,000 to Sahak Mamikonean, and 1,000 to Manuel's son, Smbat Bagratuni. But they did not go by the same road. Rather, they sent Sahak Mamikonean with 1,000 [men] by way of Sebastia; and Smbat Bagratuni with the other [1,000 soldiers] via the Xaghteats' area. Sahak took [his] troops to the palace, to the king's presence.

Smbat, however, upon reaching Xaghtik', became his own man. For enroute the force became frightened and did not [g53] want to go [to Thrace] in compliance with the emperor's request. The emperor was informed about the events. By means of hrovartaks and trustworthy emissaries [the emperor] promised [Smbat] with an oath that he would send him back to his own country with great honor, and quickly. He promised the troops very great honors and goods, and thus did he coax them to a reconciliation. [Smbat's army] went united before the emperor. The emperor armed the troops, decorated them, and sent them to the borders of Thrace. He sent Smbat back to their country with great honor and many goods.

[56] Once again the remaining naxarars of Armenia started to unite, seeking to stop serving the Byzantine emperor. They also wanted to enthrone their own king so that they too not go to Thrace to die, but rather [they planned] to stay where they were and die upon their own soil. But there was disunity in their councils regarding what they established. And some of them went as informers taking the story to the emperor's ears. Then [the rebels] dispersed here and there eluding [the Byzantine forces].

In that period imperial ambassadors arrived with edicts. They seized Smbat and seven other men and took them before the emperor. Investigating them in front of the multitudinous public, the verdict was passed that [Smbat] be stripped and thrown into the arena. [Smbat] possessed a gigantic size; he was handsome, tall of stature, broad-shouldered with a body as [hard] as a fist, or the ground. He then was [57] mighty and martial and had displayed his bravery and force in numerous wars. Such was his strength that [once] when riding on a large and powerful horse, passing through a dense forest of pines and [other] strong tress, Smbat seized a branch of the tree, energetically wrapped his torso and legs around the horse's middle and lifted [the horse] bodily from the ground. When all the troops saw this they were awestruck with wonder[g54].

So they stripped [Smbat], dressed him in trousers and threw him into the arena to be eaten by the beasts. They released a bear on him. As soon as the bear was opposite him, [Smbat] shouted in a great voice, attacked the bear, punched its forehead with his fist and killed it on the spot. Second, they released a bull on him. [Smbat] seized the bull by the horns, shouted powerfully and, [when] the bull wearied of the fight, [Smbat] wrenched its neck and crushed both horns on [the bull's] head. The bull weakened, and drawing back, took to flight. But [Smbat] ran after the bull and seized it by its tail and worked on the hoof of one of its legs. The hoof came off in his hand, and the bull fled from him, lacking a hoof on one leg. The third time, they released a lion on him. When the lion was attacking him, [Smbat] was aided by the Lord, for [58] he seized the lion by the ear and jumped astride it. Seizing the throat, he choked and killed the lion. Then the clamor of the vast mob filled the place, and they sought the emperor's mercy on [Smbat].

Tired from the combat, [Smbat] sat on the dead lion to rest a little. The emperor's wife threw herself at [the emperor's] feet, requesting mercy for him. For previously the man had been dear to the emperor and to his wife and [the emperor] had styled him his adopted son. [The emperor] was astounded by the man's strength and endurance; and when he heard the entreaties of his wife and all the palace, he ordered that [Smbat] be pardoned.

Then they took him to the bath for washing. They washed and clothed him, invited him to dine at court, and revived him with food. After a short time, not because of any evil will of the emperor, but from the slander of envious people, [the emperor] ordered [Smbat's men] placed on a boat and exiled to a distant island. And he ordered that [Smbat] be taken to Africa with them and made tribune of the troops there [g55].


Chapter 11.

The summoning by king Xosrov to Asorestan of those naxarars whom the Hamarakar had left. The stationing of their troops at Spahan.

As I mentioned above, in the Iranian sector were naxarars and troops which the Hamarakar had left there and departed, pending an order from Court.

At that time, peshaspik' arrived with edicts, summoning them to court all together. The following are the naxarars and troops which went united to the court of Xosrov, king of Iran, each [naxarar] with his brigades and banner, in the sixth year of [Xosrov's] reign:

first, Gagik Mamikonean, Manuel's son,
second, Pap Bagratuni, son of aspet Ashot,
third, Xosrov, lord of the Vahewunik',
fourth, Vardan Artsruni,
fifth, Mamak Mamikonean
sixth, Step'annos Siwni,
seventh, Kotit, lord of the Amatunik'

and others of the naxarars among them. They reached Asorestan where the royal house was, and went before the king. [The latter] received them with delight, exalting them [60] with noteworthy, lavish honors. He ordered the grandee princes to be kept at court, that court stipends be arranged for them, a dwelling place for each, and that they be summoned daily to dine at court. [Xosrov] ordered that their troops be stationed in the Spahan land, and he sustained them with affection and all spontaneity [g56].

Chapter 12.

Xosrov judges his uncle Vndo. The killing of Vndo. Vstam flees to war with Xosrov, and he rules in the Parthian areas.

In this period king Xosrov took it into his head to seek vengeance from those naxarars who had slain his father. First he wanted to judge his mother's brothers. He gave the order to arrest that Vndo, about whom I spoke earlier, to bind and kill him. However, [Vndo's] brother Vstam was not at court then. Although [Xosrov] summoned him with entreaties and many persuasive words, so that [Vstam] would not find out about his brother's death, nonetheless, he learned about it somehow. Thus he did not fall into [Xosrov's] deception; rather, he went to the secure Gegham country as a rebel, and [61] subdued all of their troops to his command.

[Vstam] went raiding in the area of Rey, looting all the many lands of the kingdom of Iran. Then king Xosrov took his troops and troops from the emperor, and went against him. The battle between them occurred in the land of Rey, and no small feats of bravery were worked by the Armenian troops [hayakoyt zawrats'n]. When the king saw this, he was even more amazed.

And when the rebel was unable to resist, he secured himself in the mountains. Thus each side returned to its place, neither having triumphed. The rebel Vstam went to the secure Gegham country whence he went to the Parthian area, to his own native country of rule, so that the troops there submit to him [g57], then [he planned] to return.

The king went to Asorestan reaching his own court residence. The naxarars of Armenia were with him.


Chapter 13.

Death of the Armenian princes, rebellion of their troops at Spahan; the destruction of the country, seizure of the treasure and going to Vstam.

At that time death came to the princes of Armenia. Gagik Mamikonean and Xosrov, lord of the Vahewunik', died at court. Mamik Mamikonean, who had been released to Armenia for troops died a few days after reaching the city of Dwin. Meanwhile, Step'annos Siwnik' was fighting for the tanuterut'iwn with his father's brother, Sahak. Sahak wrote a document calling for [Step'annos'] death which he sealed with [his] ring and of the House of the bishop, and with the rings of yet other princes of Siwnik', to remind the king about the danger of their rebellion. Then the king gave the order to bind Step'annos and to put him in prison. They beheaded him on Easter day itself, in Easter week. [The king] sent Kotit to Nisibis as an emissary, but commanded cavalrymen to lie in ambush in the [63] field, and, like bandits, to attack and kill him on the road. Now when their troops (which were stationed in the Spahan land) heard about these events, they rebelled and devastated the country. They took the court treasury, which was in the house of the hamarakar [and] which was amassed from the taxes of that land. Taking the road, they went to the secure Gegham country. The perozakan troops caught up with them. Some of them were killed by [the rebels'] swords [g58], some fell upon their own swords to avoid being captured. Some, escaping by a hairbreadth, got away to the secure Gegham country. But since [the rebels] did not encounter Vstam, they left for the country of the Parthians, and presented themselves before him.

Chapter 14.

Xosrov gives Smbat Bagratuni the marzpanate of Vrkan [Hyrcania] and greatly exalted him. Smbat improves the land of Hyrcania through spiritual and political education.

In that period Smbat Bagratuni became pleasing to king Xosrov's eyes. [Xosrov] gave him the marzpanate of the country of Hyrcania; made him prince over all of those areas besides; exalted him yet more with honors and authority; loaded him with gold and silver; adorned him in gorgeous robes of honor; gave him the belt and sword which had belonged to his father, Ormazd; assembled [64] under his authority the Iranian and Armenian troops and ordered him to go to the country of his appointment.


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