Three Prominent Leaders
Mooshegh Mamigonian, Sempad the Multi-Victorious & Kayl Vahan (Vahan the Wolf)
After Vartan Mamigonian's (II) departure from the homeland to Byzantium (Constantinople), massive and arbitrary deportations were undertaken by the Byzantine occupational authorities against people living in the Western part of Armenia. Armenians were forced to go to Bulgaria in Western Europe, and many others Southward, in Egypt or other countries, in Northern Africa. Meanwhile, in the Eastern part of Armenia neighboring Persia, national leaders and high-ranking men continued to govern the country (589 A.D.). The Persian kings had suspended their coercive policy; so they never tried to compel Armenians to adopt the Zoroastrianism, the official Persian state religion, consisting basically in the adoration of fire. A favorable time had been created for mutual comprehension between Armenians and Persians, in order to carry the fight in the other side, that of Byzantine Greeks.
Meanwhile, in Persia, the struggle for the throne succession had harshly begun, in 589 A.D. The Persian general Vahram Chubin, once defeated by the Byzantines, was severely blamed by the then reigning monarch, Ormizd. Vahram Chubin, extremely outraged by the king's unwise behavior, and in the other hand sustained by his revolting partners, overthrew the king and killed him. But the son of Ormizd, Khosrov II, persecuted Chubin and alerted Morig, the Byzantine emperor who promised him a prompt help.
Vahram Chubin, in his turn, asked the Armenian leader Mooshegh Mamigonian to support him with his troops. However Mooshegh rejected categorically Vahram's request, preferring to cooperate with the Byzantine forces and Khosrov's loyal armies, preparing a ferocious battle against Chubin. The war was won, offering also to Byzantine forces an enticing opportunity to usurp the Armenian lands in the North, and at the same time the city of Karin, in the Western part.
Once the fighting was over, Mooshegh endured the perfidious accusations - as it happens seldom among competitors - of his political enemies before the King Khosrov, who appealed him for a hearing. Punctually, Mooshegh appeared on the day of appointment with his 2000 companions in arms. Trying to get into the royal tent to see the Persian sovereign, he was expelled out by the guardians, because he wore a sword on his hip.
Then Mooshegh proudly uttered to them:
- I have been seldom in the presence of kings; nevertheless, nobody forbid me to wear my sword.
A few days later, Khosrov agreed to receive the brave Mooshegh and his seven fellows in arms. At the meeting, however the Persian monarch refused him the handshake (the usual friendly sign of agreement), meaning by that behavior his reticence; it could also mean an order to arrest him. Feeling an imminent danger for his life, the Armenian hero left the premises, and escaped riding his horse, and reaching his faithful troops.
A peaceful period followed the war against Vahram Chubin, which was won by the intensive participation of Armenian soldiers. Just then, the Byzantine emperor Morig ordered 2000 Armenian selected warriors to be transferred into Thrace (Greece). Two battalions were formed; one of them reached Constantinople, and the second one the shores of Black Sea, under the command of Sempad, generally known as Sempad the multi-victorious in the Armenian History, but soon an insurrection broke out among the soldiers of Sempad, protesting against their deportation and refusing to fight for the sake of Greeks. Then the emperor convinced the protesters to turn back from their destination and to go to Thrace. Later, he dismissed Sempad, leaving him free, however, to return into Armenia.
In the homeland, Sempad planned a new rebellion with the help of his intimate friends. The rebels successfully invaded many fortresses and castles, dislodging out the Byzantine garnisons, killing even the military governor. Unfortunately, by the increasing discord among some hellenophil and dissatisfied Armenians, the national pact was denounced cowardly, in consequence of which Morig, the Byzantine emperor, oppressed them easily, sending military fresh forces into the country.
Captured and bound in chains, Sempad had been transferred to Constantinople and brought to trial. At the court, revealing that he was the head of the rebellion, the Byzantine judges condemned Sempad to be thrown among ferocious animals inside the city's arena. Sempad was a tall and handsome young man, having large shoulders, vigorously built and enormously strong; so strong, that - it is said - one day crossing the wood, and suspending on the branches of a tree, he easily lifted up a big horse, squeezing the animal on the haunches by his bare legs.
The day the giant Sempad was conducted into the arena of Constantinople, a fuge and curious crowd of spectators gathered to watch the cruel and bloody feast. Indeed, first a hungry-held and fierce bear had been launched out for the battle. Sempad knocked it down on the spot, with the unique blow of his fist. After this, came the turn of a savage gull which the colossus kicked down holding by the horns. But the most heroic wresting began when a lion approached the prisoner, roaring like a thunder. Fearless and imperturbable, Sempad with an extreme effort chocked the wild beast, squeezing with his bare hands on its throat. Weary and exhausted, the hero sat down on his prey.
Deeply moved by these heroic acts, the queen and the crowd asked forgiveness for him. The emperor Morig forgave, but didn't allow him to return in his country, and exiled him to Africa.
Morig continued his destructive and hateful policy against the Armenians. New orders to banishment were promulgated, obliging young people to go to fight on the shores of the river Danube against foreign and barbarous populations and to die for unknown causes. Morig's arbitrary decisions created so much suffering and anguish all around the Armenian country that some revolting people looked for help near the Persian king Khosrov. In such a torpid situation, Morig tried to stop the massive evasion of Armenians by a repressive act. He wrote the following missive to the Persian monarch, with anger. "This nation (Armenia) is incorrigible and stubborn, living with us and troubling our peace; let me send them into foreign countries and let you exile them into the eastern deserts. If they die, there will be enemies that will die; if they fight, they will kill our enemies, and by this way we will find our peace. If they are in their country, we will never live conveniently".
The Persian king rejected firmly Morig's allegations, preferring to gain the sympathy of the Armenian people, who - according to him - could serve his aims any time and anywhere, as good soldiers, against anybody.
In the meantime, in Byzantium, a general named Phocas, overruled the imperial palace, killed the emperor Morig and succeeded on the throne of that country (A.D. 602). Taking advantage of the opportunity, Khosrov of Persia tried to reoccupy all the Armenian lands under Byzantine domination. A new, long-drawn war broke out between the two nations, lasting consecutively 25 years (A.D. 604-629), causing all along heavy damages and political and social disturbances in Armenia, until the emperor Heracles reached Ctesiphon, a city in Persia installing the peace. Heracles liberated also the Holy Cross, plundered by Khosrov himself during a battle in Jerusalem.
During these events, a new leading chief appeared in Armenia. His name was Vahan Mamigonian, Prince of the city of Moosh, and akin to Mooshegh Mamigonian. In 604 A.D. Khosrov preparing the war against the Byzantines, asked Mooshegh Mamigonian to support him in his effort. Mooshegh, yet an old man, refused the king's request and soon retired in the fortress called Oghagan, in the province of Daron. Angry and furious, Khosrov sent an army of 30,000 men in order to capture Mooshegh, under the command of general name Mihran. This man, crossing with a huge army the valley of Arazani, entered by the North of Lake Van into the lands of Moosh. He took the fortress Aston easily, and encamped in the vicinity of Moosh.
Vahan, the brave leader, intrusting his small army to his vigilant guards in the village of Otz, reached Mihran riding his horse, and there he presented himself as one of the loyal ally of Persians. He gave bad news about the city's inside situation and at the same time tried to slander Mooshegh and to talk odiously against him, so that Mihran remained thoroughly agape at this strange declaration of speaker. "I will bring you, myself, - he said, - the head of Mooshegh".
Exceedingly excited, Mihran committed immediately 4000 warriors to Vahan in order to accomplish his promise. They all came to Otz village. Once the soldiers inside the walls of the village, without any suspicion, all the gates around were closed, and all these foreign fighters were massacred without pity. Then Vahan sent his emissaries to Mihran saying he needs more fighters in order to destroy other strongholds, full of obstinate fighters. A group of thousand soldiers went immediately pursuant to the wishes of Vahan. Wearing the clothes of the soldiers who were massacred some days ago, Vahan's faithful and victorious men were ready to blow the trumpets for a sumptuous reception. The forthcoming foreign troops got into the village cheerfully, but soon they were knocked down dead under heavy attack.
Riding his horse, Vahan proudly arrived near the tents of Mihran to inform him personally about the events. He complained that all his soldiers had deserted and abandoned their garnisons. Alone with Mihran under the tent, Vahan killed him and fled out of the premises. Wrathfully disappointed by all the misfortunes of his army, Khosrov ordered the general Vakhtank to catch and bring Vahan before him, dead or alive. At the command of the new expeditionary forces, Vakhtank came himself with enormous regiments to punish the Armenian rebel. Reaching the gates of the city of Moosh, he waited anxiously to have the news of victory. One day, however, he saw from after a regiment approaching him, and the soldiers holding spears with hanging heads atop. He cried victory, but soon, knowing the cruel reality that those all were the hands of his own men, he decided to escape, completely deceived, out of the Armenian country…
For a long time, Vahan governed his people peacefully, creating a prosperous period for everybody. And for all his tricks, ruses and the extraordinary stratagem, the people granted him a strange nickname: Kayl Vahan (Vahan The Wolf)
All these strange events, are they historical facts, or fanciful myth? However they are reported in the historical book of Mikael Chamchian, printed two hundred years ago, in 1783.

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