UNIARTS
ARMENIAN CONTINUING HISTORY

 
THE FIRST SELJOUKID  INVASION  IN ARMENIA, THE REGION OF VASBOURAGAN:
NEAR VAN LAKE (1047 A.D.)

(All the facts narrated in our issue of Armenian ancient history, are related by the contemporary historians of those facts. Exposing  some details of the events, we avoided any personal comment and often we tried to modify as much as possible the outrageous vocabulary in use near the defeated people qualifying their oppressors (or vice versa) tousand years ago, politically, socially and even in matter of religion).

After the domination of all India and Persia, in 1047 A.D., the Seljoukids  made their entrance by little hordes on the Armenian lands at the south of Van Lake, in Vasbouragan region, and subdued immense lands and territories under their authority.    They   continued the domination taking the direction of nearby city of Passen, in the valley of Arazani. It was uneasy for the Greek soldiers in the neighborhood to stop all these invaders who immediately tried to reach  Trebizonde, a city on the  shores  of the  Black Sea, north of Asia Minor.

But they were defeated by the intense resistance of the inhabitants all around, and  were obliged to withdraw and go to Tavrej,   their stronghold in Persia.

Soon later, this revengeful people decided to return for their easy business to conquer other people and their lands. Their chief, Doughril Bek, with the support of his strong-man Ibrahim Ibn Imal leading a horde of 100,000 men, came again into Armenia. All this irregular guerilleros surrounded our country at the location called Daron till Lazistan (Black Sea), and from Nakhichevan to Dayk, near the city of Sempadasar, where huge bloodshed occurred.  The local population were attacked, and all their animals and belongings were destroyed.

On the spot, the imperial byzantine soldiers dared not to counterattack, except at the north of Vanant near Kars, where they defended themselves hidden inside the trenches.

Then Ibn Imal, neglecting the imperial Greek forces, conducted his armies in the direction of Arzen city,  eastbound of Garin.

Arzen was a magnificent and flourishing commercial city, with its 150,000 inhabitants. It was on the way of Black Sea to Persia. Prosperously rich, this city can gave successful  opportunities for everyone to be happy as one could by own endeavour. 700 glorious churches   and a multitude of magnificent palaces were the proud of the environment, because of their heavy and gorgeous decorations.

Arriving at the doors of the city, Ibn Imal  ordered the surrender of it, nevertheless without bloodshed. There were no Greek or Byzantine soldiers in  the city, but only the inhabitants, in majority Armenians, who refused categorically to open the doors, and consequently  the war begun.

The popular army of the city was too small, but with energy it got out of the city, trying to attack the intruders. But after a short skirmish it returned inside the city where it was pursued by the Sel­joukid soldiers and a street war begun. From the roofs the invaders were attacked by a down-pour of stones, woods and melted oil and  spears. Courageously women and children shared the attack, which lasted in an inequal fighting for six days. Every house was a stronghold, to be occupied one by one.

Ibn Imal, confused and unable to dominate that vigorous popular army, ordered  the arson of the city, where the extent of the fire has been so immense that everything was reduced to ashes. (1048 A.D.).

Ibrahim Ibn Imal permitted his men to plunder what remained  after the arson, and gathering huge quantities of gold, silver and precious goods, went to Persia. But on his way  Ibn Imal met a Greek army conducted by Libarid Orbelian, and reinforced by the Caucasian cohorts. Ibn Imal was victorious, and he brought Libarid as prisoner with him to Doughril Bek, with many lootings.

In Persia, Doughril Bek was busy to subdue many popular revolts, specially his brother Ibn Inal, whom he killed with his own sword. Hearing about a revolt raging in Vrasdan, Doughril Bek  soon reached that country, and murdered the rebel army commander  with other people (1053 A.D).

One year later, Doughril came back to Vasbouragan leading a strong army, aiming to attack the armies of Monomakhos, emperor of Byzance: The emperor s forces were concentrated in the city of Cesarea, preparing the defense of eastern borders of the empire. He neglected thoroughly to protect or to support his neighbors, the Armenians, who were suffering enormously.

Doughril Bek reached at first the city of Pergri (north-east of Van Lake). The inhabitants of the city, being unaware what was happening elsewhere, locked the  heavy  doors of the city,  preparing  their own defense. After eight days of resistance Doughril set fire to the city.

Then came the turn of Paghesh, a city erected at the shore of Van Lake. The horrified inhabitants offered gifts and a considerable quantity of valuables, under surveillance of delegates, promising  obedience to the Sultan, declaring: If you occupy Manazgerd, whole Armenia will be submitted to you .

Doughril spared the city of Argesh, however his free-booters reached till the shores of  the Black Sea, Vrasdan and the region of nearby Dayk .

It was 1054 A.D. The impetuous tyrant s  innumerable followers surrounded the city of Man­az­gerd. For the population,this  city was a natural stronghold of the fatherland, but when Arabs occupied it, they created there an emirate, with equal opportunity for everyone.

Formerly, in 1000 A.D., the Armenian-Georgian unified armies had occupied this city when Gagik the First was reigning, under Pakradou­nis  rule: Byzantine emperors made it their watch-tower, protecting it by Armenian, European and Greek soldiers. When Doughril  came to besiege it, as we mentioned above, the commander in chief was an Armenian named Vassil.

Doughril checked  the huge walls all around the city, seemingly anxious to bring at a end the useless fightings. Then  leaving a section of his guerilleros at the doors of Manazgerd, he went to    Passen, aiming to occupy another city at the vicinity, Garin, a powerful strategic point of defense serving as stronghold for national guardians.  But Garin was an impregnable fort, so he came back   to continue the encircling of Manaz­gerd.

The commander Vassil  was too busy on his  military duty. There was a miserable situation inside the city, where no maintenance and no water supply were available... Surrounding from far the city, and being in expectative, Doughril s soldiers were passing lazy and negligent days all around the city, so Vassil profiting from the circumstance, provided the population with food and animals inside the walls,  and fortified them quickly.  The resistance was ready for a long term war against the foreign intruder. Otherwise, says the Armenian contemporary historian Lasdiverdzi, the city could be fallen in ten days in the hands of the enemy.

During one month period, Doughril furiously attacked the city all day long, and with catapults he pounded all the walls and inside the city.

It is related in our national history that a priest invented and constructed a machine or apparatus which could throw stones in the air and knock forcefully the enemy s bombes  arriving just from the opposite front, sending them back on the heads of the attackers themselves or  pulverizing them on the midway. Even if the name of this clergyman is not mentioned, the fact is amazingly extraordinary:  that machine could be a  very rudimentary original copy of a missile-anti-missile defensive system of modern nuclear strategy.

Reaching  the foot of the walls, Doughril  spoke, apparently willing to  jock with a fake sentimentalism:

If I occupy Manazgerd, I will take as wife the most beautiful girl among you , upon which an insipid wrangle followed between the defenders of the walls and the conqueror, with some irreverent proposals.     

Then Doughril, at the edge of anger, ordered to bring new defense material, specially  those immensely destructive catapults from the nearby city of Paghesh, willing  to animate more fiercely the fighting  and pound the walls heavily. The insiders were all frightened, and desperation dominated their souls. Even if  they  were encouraged by some successful skirmishes, their eyes were full of deadly fear, but  vindictive feelings pushed them to continue the fightings.

Burn at any cost that catapult, ordered  the commander Vassil to his soldiers.

And he promised precious rewards to anybody who could commit fearless and  heroically such a dangerous and deadly act.

A French soldier presented himself, and spoke  with an ardent  indifference:

I will do it, I can burn and destroy that catapult. I don t fear to die,  I have no wife, no children or other people to mourn me, anyway...

Then, he took three bottles, filled them with a mixture of fuel oil and sulfur, and with ability hid it inside his armoured waist coat. Riding his horse with proud and boldness, holding a huge spear on his hand supporting  a parchment on its edge with some  writing,  he rushed out of the walls.

My patrons send me as their delegate to see the Sultan,  he cried to the Seljoukid guardians.

Suddenly he approched the catapult, made a quick inspection of it, and taking out the bottles  threw them on that infernal machine, which caught fire on the spot.

The foreign soldiers were confused and stupefied, incapable to put out the fire. They didn t arrest the Frechman, who fled rapidly back inside the walls after completing his mission.

Doughril, desperately  ordered the retreat of his entire armies and left the city.

By that time, the theoreti­cians   of the History assert that the heroical resistance of Manazkerd rescued in some way the byzantine and european civilization, because Doughril could easily reach Cons­tantinople with all his means in his hands.

Leaving Manazgerd, the invader  oriented his forces toward  north  Armenia,  in the direction of Jorokh river, near Varant region, in the plains of Chirag, where he faced all the commanders and fighting armies of king Gagik-Abbas III. Armenians decided to expel the enemy.

Was it possible to do that ?

The chance was against Armenians. The Seljoukids surrounded them. Armenian horse-riders could not in any way split the enemy lines, because they were tired by overwork. In a deadly skermish, the commander Tatoul Vanantezi wounded mortally the son of Arsouran, a persian friend of Doughril. Tatoul was captured with other 30 army commanders,and taken before Doughril, who has been  deeply astonished  when  he  saw the handsome young man, under heavy chains:

If he survives, Arsouran son, you will be freed, said Doughril, but if he dies you will be immolated for him.

Then Tatoul responded.

If he is whom I wounded, he will never survive. If another one hit him, I never know what can happen...

The son of Arsouran being dead, Tatoul was murdered and his forearm was sent to Arsouran,  to console him,  saying that   vengeance has been made.

Doughril continued his incursions  also in the interior lands of Vrasdan, and took with him plenty of sack  to Persia (1054 A.D.).

Doughril died in 1065, leaving immense territories and wealth to his grand-son Al-Paslan.

Al-Paslan (1063-1072 A.D.) organized new invasions against  the city of Ani, siege of Armenian Pakradouni  kings. After many lootings and destruction, he surrounded that city.

Ani was defended by the Greeks, European mercenary soldiers and Armenian volunteers. All the population living in the Chirak region, came inside the city. The long-lasting surrounding caused many fightings and casualties. Al-Paslan at first was hopeless, thinking impossible to occupy it, and went to Persia.

The Greek commanders considering the departure of Al-Paslan  a prank,  abandoned the defense of the walls, and returned inside the city. The crowd was frightened,  so mourning was everywhere. They cried: Why did you abandon the city, please go and defend our country and the city.

There was no means to get out the situation and find a way for  salvation. The people opened the doors of the walls and desperately begin to flee toward the mountains and woods, to protect themselves. An Armenian woman, embracing his newly-born child, frantically rushed towards the enemy,  not far from the city. A Seljouk soldier seeing that woman,plucked up the child and brought him to Al-Paslan, saying that all the people were fleeing outside the city. The dictator returned back again with his cohorts, occupied the magnificent city, destroyed what he could. He came back to Persia  with many prisoners and wealth (6 June 1064). 

 
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