The Unknown Armenian Hero or Vahan "The Wolf"
|In the years following the war of Vartanantz (which occurred in
June 2nd, 451, A.D.), the Sassanide sovereigns of Persia intended
intensively to pursue their old aim to force the Armenian people to
reject their Christian religion, and join Zoroastrianism, considered
as the national and official religious system in Persia. But with
the changing times, they abandoned the previous despotic methods against
the Armenians, and preferred to adopt peaceful proceedings in order
to convince them. Once the son of late king Yazgerd of Persia, Beroz,
was on the throne of this father, he was extremely harassed by his
enemies, inside and outside the country. Beroz thought it would be
more propitious for him to approach Armenians with friendly terms.
Objectively, he ordered all the Armenian ministers and other people
who were in forced exile to return back home. Then he admonished his
governor (marzban) in Armenia, a man named Ader Veshnazb, to practice
a more than usual "flexible and mild behavior" concerning
the population and the Christian faith.
|However, within a few years, king Beroz, once victorious against
all his old enemies, wanted to prevail everywhere he could. And so,
with that purpose, met secretly with the governor Ader Veshnazb and
thrusted him to foment discords among the Armenians, especially the
high-ranked princes and ministers, intending to facilitate the return
of the Armenian nation to the pagan religion of Zoroastrianism, consisting
essentially in the worship of fire.
|Consequently, Ader Veshnazb (the governor), promised wealth and
protection for everyone in Armenia who wished to embrace the Persian
Zoroastrianism, and threatened with prison, deprivation or death all
the rebellious ones. Fearing the worst, and in order to avoid unforeseeable
persecution, many of the Armenian princes, ministers and people accepted
the governor's proposal, and renounced their own faith. The fact is
that a great discontent grew in Armenia. The head of the Armenian
national Church, the Catholicoss Kude, and other faithful princes
decided to resist, even preparing an armed revolt.
|King Beroz was secretly informed by Ader Veshnazb himself about
the intention of Armenians to refuse any conformity with the proposal
of Persia's monarch, declaring that it was impossible to yield to
any pressure, whatever it may be. The king, willing to act cautiously,
ordered that Bishop Kude and the army general Vahan Mamigonian return
soon to Ctesiphon, the capital of Persia, official residence of Persian
|They did, but once in the city, Catholicoss Kude was dismissed,
and Vahan, after various proposals to quit his faith, was allowed
to go back to his country. Meanwhile, an extremely dangerous period
of confusion was created, leading at last all the Armenian parties
to act immediately and with decision. They were ready to fight a second
war against the Persians. Inside the country two important cities,
Tvin and Ardashad, were quickly invaded and overrun by the Armenian
forces, conducted by Vahan Mamigonian himself. The Persian governor
Ader Veshnazb unexpectedly escaped to the neighboring country of Azerbaijan,
leaving Armenia free to be governed by a competent person, Sahag Pakradouni.
Vahan was appointed to the supreme command of all the Armenian fighting
forces (481 A.D.).
|The new Armenian government, in case of war, was very enthusiastic
about an effective Greek cooperation against the Persians, but nothing
happened. Being outside Armenia and being aware of the defenseless
situation of the Armenians, Ader Veshnazb decided to subdue the rebellion.
He re-entered into Armenia with huge force and thousands of soldiers.
The Armenian rebel forces, under the command of Vahan Mamigonian,
strenuously resisted Ader Veshnazb's cohorts in a little town called
Agoree, located at the northeast of Massis Mountain. The massive and
heavily armed Persian legion was rapidly defeated and dispersed by
the small but extremely courageous Armenian army. Among the dead was
Ader Veshnazb himself. In the springtime of the next year, 462 A.D.,
a new Persian army commander called Ader Nerseh, realized what his
predecessor had failed to do. A new battle took place near the village
of Nersehabad, east of Magou city. The war ended with the victory
of the Armenians, and Vahan returned to Tvin with a triumphal escort
of soldiers and popular joy, also meriting the benediction of the
Armenian Patriarch Hovhah Mantagouni. His brother Vart, who meanwhile
had fled from Persia and joined his brother on the battlefield, accompanied
|As for king Beroz himself, he was conducting a second war front
against the Georgians, a nation neighboring Armenia in the north,
who are generally called Vratzi by the Armenians. Beroz designated
a commander, named Mihran, for the military operations. The Georgians,
in evident trouble, urgently solicitated Vahan Mamigonian's help.
Vahan reached promptly the frontier in a short time with his well-organized
army. And a third battle took place on the Jarmania field, near the
Kurr River. Surprisingly, during the most decisive and dangerous moment
of fight, King Vakhtank of Georgia abandoned the resistance against
the Persians and escaped with all his men from the war, and left the
Armenian forces alone. Confused and greatly endangered, the Armenians
were compelled to withdrew and returned to their country. Unfortunately,
the chief Sahag Pakradouni and the commander Vassak Mamigonian, brother
oh Vahan, were killed in battle.
|However, in Armenia Vahan continued the war with the help of his
valorous men against the much larger Persian army, whose commander
Mihran and soldiers were submitted to constant distress. King Beroz
later tried to undertake another war against the nomadic population
of Hephtals, who seldom created troubles, by irregular assaults and
continuous looting. In battle, his enemies killed Beroz without pity.
Vagharsh, a clever and peaceful man, inherited the throne of Beroz
in 484 A.D. He decided to end the war and establish calm and secure
borders with all the neighboring Christian nations. With this purpose,
and with honest intentions, he sent the prince Nikhor to Armenia and
through reconciliatory gestures thrived to establish a lasting peace
between Persia and Armenia.
|A general assembly was held with the participation of all-important
personalities of both sides, Armenian and Persian, with the direct
involvement of Nikhor and Vahan themselves. Three fundamental resolutions
were made regarding the Armenians. It was considered as a Declaration
of Freedom, favorable for the parties and everyone.
|The three resolutions:
- Religious freedom will be granted for every Armenian. Pagan fire-altars should be demolished and Persian priests would return home.
- Discrimination must be eliminated between Christian and Persian princes, all being citizens with equal rights. A unique law must govern everybody, any dispute being necessarily examined by the Persian king.
- Unworthy persons should be destitute from their duties; all the ministers shall recuperate their own old rights.
|In the history of Armenia, this is known and called as "The Agreement of Nevarsak". Nevarsak is the locality where the council was held. King Vagharsh confirmed this agreement. A relatively long-lasting peaceful period followed in the country. Remaining forever commander of the Armenian army, Vahan later was also designated as the governor of Armenia and the chief of the Mamigonian dynasty (486-510 A.D.), creating a prosperous period of freedom for his people. Vahan was the son of Hemayak Mamigonian, brother of Vartan, the hero who 30 years before had led the great religious was against the Persian king Yazgerd. For his extreme boldness, strategic skill and fighting capabilities, Vahan was called meritoriously "Vahan the Wolf".