UNIARTS
ARMENIAN CONTINUING HISTORY

 
Vahan Mamigonian
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 kings.
 
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 Vahan.
 
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:
  1. Religious freedom will be granted for every Armenian. Pagan fire-altars should be demolished and Persian priests would return home.
  2. 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.
  3. 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".
 

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