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ARMENIAN CONTINUING HISTORY

 
Ashod Yergat (Ashod the Iron), The Pakradouni King:
The Valiant Successor On The Throne of His Father (A.D. 915-930)
 
After the tragic crucifixion of his father, (A.D. 914) (the King Sempad I who was called the Martyr), Ashod II who was the eldest son, succeeded on the throne of the Pakradounis' dynasty. On the beginning of Ashod's reign, a period of complete confusion and popular unrest prevailed, denoting the most political and social instability, characterizing the unsteady country with frequent cases of insurgence, civil disobedience, disorders, murders, lootings, plunder and rape everywhere and anytime. In such a lamentable situation, extremely worsened by the presence of occupational forces of Yusup, the Arab rebel governor of Aderbadagan, what could Ashod really do in order to alleviate the sufferings of his people and restore peace and calm for the country?
 
Ashod tried to act as quickly as possible, and as properly as he intended. A life full of extraordinarily facts - marked with unexpected tumult and tangling - threw him on the events' foreground with so strange strength and extravagant agitation, that he became a prominent and unrivalled personality of many faces. In Ashod's biography, - let us say on the way, - in our days an expert observer - playwright could easily find suitable material to produce a colorful script for a Hollywood - made motion picture, with plenty of bold action, stunt and heroism. In those times, Armenia was divided into three great feudal regions, including Sunik, Chirak (Araradian Fields) and Vasbouragan. In spite of the country's tormented situation, all the people were unanimously and cooperatively ready to follow Ashod's steps and to kick out the brutal oppressor…
 
Impossible and unrealizable mission, however! This people with his chief had to suffer for long years under the worse and suffocating distress ever seen and ever heard. Even Gagik I, the intriguing king of Vasbouragan, once favored by Yusup, changed his mind thoroughly and joined the ranks of Ashod's sympathizers. In the region of Sunik, all the little princes joined the forces of Ashod and fought strenuously against Yusup, and reoccupied lot of basitions and important fortifications. Stunned by the sudden upheaval of all Armenians against him, the cruel Yusup then ordered his troops to smash ruthlessly any suspected insurgent and submit the population to an inhumane slavery…
 
Then the living Catholicos Hovhannes, the Historian, exposes in his texts a full-length and detailed description of all savage tortures and ferocious persecution inflicted by the insane despot Yusup over the local population. However, prudently we omit to relate even a small case of those arbitrary and bestial abuses, because they are so sadistically frightful they can hurt sensitive hearts. And more than all this… Bad times, also bad weather!
 
The heavy and flooding rains, and other natural calamities, such as huge fires and catastrophic earthquakes, devastated the fertile agriculture and ripe crops. The lack of hand power, resulting by the absence of young men serving in the army, and massive deportation of the rural people out of their own lands by the pitiless conquerors, affected lamentably whole Armenia with widespread famine and harsh misery. Meanwhile, many tribal ethnics as the Koukars, the Egerians and the Udis (on the border of Vrasdan), devastated by the heavy and flooding rains, and other natural calamities, such as huge fires and catastrophic earthquakes. The lack of hand power, resulting by the absence of young men serving in the army, and massive deportation of the rural people out of their own lands by the pitiless conquerors, affected lamentably whole Armenia with widespread famine and harsh misery.
 
Meanwhile, many tribal ethnics as the Koukars, the Egerians and the Udis (on the border of Vrasdan), devastated intentionally all the northern peripheral regions of Pakradounis' land, in order to prevent and impede a probable and immediate invasion by the hords of Yusup. Tragically perfect time for the young king Ashod to take in hands the reins of a trembling kingdom and conduct it as safely and widely as it can be done in that uncertain jumble. Ashod begun to act with the help of his brother Abbas. Both leading a cohort of valorous and valiant young warriors, initiated a battle of vendetta. Rapidity was their preferred strategy; they were everywhere, every time, with their fast-moving troops, to strike by all means any outlaw or any foreign intruder, and quickly disappear, resuming later their offensive against other positions of Yusup.
 
The regular army men helped also the two brothers to achieve their goals, so that, in a relatively short time Ashod cleaned out all the Pakradounis' region, including Shirak, Pakrevant, Mountainous Kukark and Arsharounik. The fighting brothers reached even Tbilissi in Georgia (Vrasdan), capturing some foreign emirs and princes, and than exchanging them for Armenian hostages.
 
With enhanced courage, other Armenian princes came out from their clandestiny, aiming to conduct their little war against Yusup and his hords. Enthusiastically rejoiced for Ashod's daring and successful exploits, other Armenian and Georgian vassal-kings, fearful little princes and men from the crowd joined him promising cooperation to achieve his goals.
 
Ashod was crowned and declared king of Armenia at the end of A.D. 914. King Adernerseh of Vrasdan has been the ceremonial conductor of the crowning. Unfortunately, feudal rivalry among the royal members and little princes affected again the peace of the kingdom creating new troubles for Ashod.
 
Ashod In Constantinople
 
The Byzantine (Greek) patriarch Nicolaus of Constantinople learning about ravages and desolation in Armenia, by a compassionate missive invited Ashod and the spiritual chief of Armenians, Catholicos Hovhannes (the Historian) for an emergency visit to him. The Catholicos declined honestly the invitation arguing inopportunity and also in order to avoid useless religious disputes, but Ashod promptly reached the Greek capital in A.D. 921, prosecuting political purposes. At his arrival, a king-worthy reception was given to Ashod, with magnificence and splendor; the people honored him for his heroic virtues and because he was the son of a martyr king.
 
During a popular meeting, in the occasion of a celebration day headed by the emperor himself, Constantine Porphyrogenes, Ashod made a fantastic show, exhibiting his athletic force before an audience all agog with excitement and astonishment: holding with his bare hands a straight solid iron bar by the edges he bended it easily into a circle. Therefore his popular nick name of Ashod Yergat (Ashod the Iron). The emperor who also promised to help him to achieve his aims by an agreement of political and military support meritoriously awarded him. Ashod returned to Armenia in company of a Greek regiment, a group of strong fighters, who could assist advantageously the young man to restore peace in his agonizing country.
 
Meanwhile, Ashod being yet in Byzance, the cruel Yusup tried to create new and big turmoil in Armenia. He invited the nephew of Ashod the king - a man named also Ashod, but known as Ashod the Tyran, whose mother and sisters were detained as hostages by Yusup - to revolt against the absent king and take possession of the throne. For his family's sake, Ashod-Tyron accepted Yusup's proposition to be crowned king of Armenia in the city of Tvin.
 
Ashod Returns to Armenia
 
Returning to Armenia, Ashod I tried to avoid facing the rebels, and dishonor his name by his relatives' bloodshed. Prudently and by the intercession of Catholicos Hovhannes, he warned Ashod-cousin to be discreet, who, instead, refused stubbornly to yield. So the deepening mutual hostility conducted them to a fratricide war under the walls of Tvin, with the defeat of Ashod-Tyran (or cousin), who finally resigned and ordered his men to withdraw quickly from the region and to settle in his proper lands of Vagharshabad (A.D. 921).
 
Without further delay, Ashod turned his armies against Movses, a little-king of Lake Sevan north-east region. Movses was a rebel man, intriguer and plunderer. Rejecting scornfully the strict warnings of Ashod, he dared to face Ashod in the battlefield. In a frightening and bloody duel, with a terrible blow of sword Ashod split Movses' helmet by the midst, laying him down on the ground. The rascal was captured and later severely punished: he was blinded by cauterization. The successor of Movses, a man called Zelig-Amran, tried to revenge him. He was captured on his turn and beheaded.
 
New Plot To Kill Ashod
 
It seems unbelievable, but it's true, that three prominent persons: his brother Abbas, his father-in-law Sevada Sahag (prince of Kartman) and king Kourken of Koukark surreptitiously decided to kill Ashod in a conspiracy. Informed by his friends about the sudden subversion of his own kins and relatives, the young and athletic Ashod diligently protected himself and his interests with the help of his faithful men against the tricks of Kourken and then faced the forces of Sahag. Ashod was married to Sevada, daughter of Sahag. It seems amazing why this man would so cowardly hurt his son-in-law… Land possession? Succession? Heritage?
 
With only 300 selected fighters, Ashod reacted promptly and met his father-in-law near Zorapor, in the Kanzag region. Sahag was heading his 8000 army men. Positioned on a hillside, Ashod sent a bishop-messenger to Sahag saying: "Why do you try to have a bloodshed, we have an agreement of oath to be respected between us". To whom the father-in-law answered scornfully: "Be quite here, I will go in person to respond to him with my sword".
 
The inevitable collision took place immediately. Placing the text of the mutual agreement atop of his spear holding the banner, Ashod threw himself in the battle victoriously, capturing Sahag and his son Krikor. Both were jailed and later punished and blinded with red hot iron. Ashod reserved the same fate to Kourken, whose nose and ears were cut off after a shameful defeat.
 
Fighting on The Shores of Lake Sevan
 
After his successful triumphs, Ashod fixed his residence on the island of Lake Sevan. His fame of excellent warrior growing more and more Nasser, the new governor of Aderbadagan, successor of Yusup (destituted for his rebellion against the Calife of Bagdad), sent to him expensive gifts, calling him Shahenshah (king of kings) meanwhile thinking to win his sympathy and of all Armenians.
 
It was a sympathy and good neighboring for a short time, however. After four years of detention, Yusup, once again on duty in Aderbadagan, undertook new expeditions against Ashod, sending in Armenia his substitute Bashir in order to subdue the Armenian hero-king, at the shores of Lake Sevan. The brave men of Ashod, headed by Kevork Marzbedouni, expelled out all the intruders. The second time, Bashir returned with huge force. Ravaging all around the lake, he prepared a final attack on the island. During the counter-attack, Ashod ordered to install 70 famous well-trained archers on the board of 11 boats, who approaching the shores begun a speedy maneuver against Bashir's forces. Ashod's order to his soldiers was: aim the eyes of the aggressors. The enemy withdrew on the spot and shamefully.
 
Weary and tired after 16 years of wars and troubles, a short but peaceful period marked Ashod's life. Having no children, he called his brother Abbas near his death bed for reconciliation, and said to him: "If you wish to have my crown, it belongs already to you and to your children"… He died as a hero of his country, in A.D. 930.
 

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