Subsequently, observing carefully the surroundings, they gathered in the village of Vzhan, which is situated at the foot of Mount Aragac. 7. On the other hand, the great katholikos Georg went forward to meet the ostikan, [with the hope] that he somehow might be able to melt his heart of rock, and take care of the reasonable flock of the Lord. At first Afshin received him with friendly disposition, and in accordance with his fellowship with the Anti-Christ, attracting his mind to his own way of  thinking, sent the latter as an envoy to king Smbat, in order treacherously to invite the king to come to him. The righteous and simple minded man of God, the katholikos, did not realize that Afshin was trying to entrap the king, and forcibly bring him within his reach. 8. However, when the prudent king Smbat heeded the advice of the naxarars and did not venture to go, the katholikos returned to the ostikan. 9. Although all of them begged him frequently not to go back to the wicked heathen, yet, he could not be deterred from returning, lest he might break the oath that he had made to Afshin. 10. When the ostikan realized that Smbat could not be beguiled by means of the katholikos' mission, he ordered Georg bound with iron fetters and handcuffs. 11. He himself marched against king Smbat, and pitched camp not far from him in the village of Doghk'. 12. After three days, he mustered his troops and came to blows with the king. 13. [In the battle] the most horrid agony of death awaited the Ishmaelite forces at the hands of brave swordsmen and archers with well bent bows; a warrior would strike his adversary to the ground and slay him. The survivors were dispersed and turning to flight they reached the camp of the foreigners, which they could barely defend.
14. Thereupon, the wicked ostikan was subdued by the swelling waves of the sea and the foamy billows rising like mountains. Instead of exacting brutal punishment, he begged Smbat to pay him the royal taxes, and make an oath not to break his alliance with him. 15. Being concerned with the establishment of peace in the land, the king did not delay in complying with the wishes of Afshin and sent him valuable gifts, in return for which he received prizes befitting the glory and dignity of kings. 16. After this, the ostikan departed, taking with him the great katholikos bound with the same fetters. 17. There, among the enemy the katholikos suffered the physically distressing agony of annoying and burdensome travail. He was assigned no attendant to wait upon him and either prepare his bed, or pour water for his hands, or offer him his towel, or hold a basin before him, or bring water for him to drink and quench his thirst. 18. Tortured in this manner together with the blessed men who were in confinement, he made his bed always moist with tears. He devoted his time entirely to continuous psalmody and indefatigable prayers lest he might fail to reach the haven of life. 19. After he had spent two months in confinement, the Hagarite ostikan demanded gold and silver from the great katholikos. He put his seal on a solemn oath, whereby upon his [Georg's] giving the ransom, he would be set free from his bonds and sent to his see with honor. 20. The katholikos instructed us—being his bishop in residence, we were deeply concerned—and the other clerics of the church to approach the chief naxarars and the princes  of the land in the customary manner for prisoners of war. We gathered at once the ransom demanded by the ostikan. At the orders of king Smbat, we were immediately sent to Hamam, the great prince of the East, 21. because the ostikan had reached the city of P'aytakaran at that time, and had taken the great katholikos with him. No sooner had he arrived there, then our men hastened to meet him. 22. Demanding that the katholikos be returned to him, Hamam got him back and adding his own contribution to the money sent to him in order to fulfill the amount demanded, handed it over to the ostikan to carry away. 23. Wishing to see the great patriarch under Christian protection and his physical needs completely satisfied in that distant land, the prince tended to the katholikos like a servant, and sent him to Armenia. 24. When the parish saw the shepherd of the reasonable sheep return, it was filled with great joy. Solemn services were held in all the churches, and ceaselessly the divine liturgy was celebrated to the Glory of God.
3. King Smbat, on the other hand, observed silence, and awaiting a probable change of attitude on his part hoped that he might divest himself of disgraceful ignorance. However, Ashot paid no heed to this, nor did he turn to the harvest of goodly seeds. 4. A few days later, the  great prince of Siwnik' also did the same thing in the same way; he also went to Afshin, and returned empty-handed like his predecessor. 5. Subsequently, however, regretting that he had severed relations with the king, he begged him with tearful eyes not to make anything out of his wrongs and deny him the fatherly patronage of former times. 6. King Smbat made no change at all in his attitude; he summoned him with loving tenderness as a beloved son, and bestowed on him great honors. 7. At that time, Gagik Arcruni had become pre-eminent by virtue of his wisdom, grace, valiancy and fortitude. Being the father-in-law of the great prince Ashot, about whom we spoke above, he summoned the latter with fruitless and insidious intentions in mind. Deceiving the three brothers—namely, his son-in-law Ashot, Gagik and Gurgen—on the pretext of friendly pastime, and bringing them together, he bound them with iron fetters and confined them in prison. Then he took for himself the domain of Ashot and set himself up as prince of those regions with great power. 8. Although he was displeased with this, since it was contrary to his will, king Smbat made no attempt to inflict punishment on Gagik, who had usurped the princedom, especially since the latter had submitted himself totally to the service of the king.
9. Subsequently, when king Smbat saw that peace had been permanently established in Armenia, and the naxarars were in accord with him, he decided to conquer and subordinate the district of Taron, as well as the province of Aghdznik', lest the possessions of the feudal houses [in those regions] might be denied to their legitimate lords, 10. because the great Ishmaelite prince Ahmad, who held under his sway Syrian Mesopotamia as far as Palestine, had seized Abu'l-Magra [Aplmaxr]—the son-in-law of the Arcruni family and a secretly converted Christian, who ruled over the province of Aghdznik' in place of the bdeshxs—and confining him in prison, had appropriated the possessions of his house and [subordinated] the inhabitants of Mount Sim.
11. After a few years, Dawit' Bagratuni, the great prince of Taron also died, and in his place they set up Gurgen, the son of his brother. Subsequently, Ahmad also opened hostilities against him, and the prince was killed in battle. 12. But Ahmad made gradual progress, and tried to extend his sway over those regions. 13. And as the son of the great prince Dawit' and the son-in-law of the king's brother Shapuh had brought frequent charges against Ahmad, so much so, that the wickedness of the latter had been completely disclosed, thereupon, the king summoned the naxarars of Armenia and mustering all of his forces, approximately sixty thousand men, marched toward the mountain situated to the east of Taron, where he pitched camp in order to look into the situation. 14. But the brutal tyrant Ahmad was stationed to the west of Taron,  where he had encamped along the bank of the Euphrates River. 15. As there was a secret agreement between Ahmad and Gagik, the ruler of Vaspurakan, the latter insidiously induced the king to set out from there and march southward toward the komopolis of Hoghs on the pretext that it would be advantageous for them to carry out their undertakings in that area in war or in peace. 16. Suspecting nothing, the king went along with him.
17. But Gagik made haste to inform Ahmad of his double dealing, and having set a definite time, asked him to attack accordingly. [In the meantime,] he led the multitude of the troops through mountainous, waterless, rocky, briary and impassable terrain, where the troops were forced to go on all fours, so much so, that many of them, weakened by thirst, dropped dead. 18. All the remaining forces, tortured, worn out, frustrated by erratic and nerve-wearing wandering, dispirited and out of breath because of their exhausting march, hardly reached a rivulet called Tc'ughx in a certain village, where they remained like people beaten by clubs or paralytics. 19. In accordance with the time set by Gagik, Ahmad forced his men to make haste, while dawn was divesting herself of the gloom of darkness, the invaders arrived and fell upon them. 20. Some of the forces that had been left behind, startled by the coming of the enemy, quickly put on their armor, weapons and ornaments, and mounted their horses. The king was the first to come out in the open and show himself. He was followed by certain others who marched at a gallop and putting the enemy forces to flight, dispersed them. 21. In view of such valorous competition, Gagik, from whom rose the stench of death because his heart was affected with spite, conceived of other wicked snares. Raising a tumult in the entire army, he ordered [his men] to tear down his tent and have the porters pick it up and turn on their heels. When the multitude of the troops noticed this, they considered it true and all did the same. 22. Seeing this, the king realized that his men could no longer succeed in the war. He withdrew his forces and turned to flight. 23. Ashot, a comely, inexperienced and innocent youth, of the great naxarardom of the race of Hayk and the son of the king's sister, lost his life there. Together with him there were other warriors, lords of less renowned houses, approximately fifty in number. The remaining forces were scattered and each man went his own way. 24. The king himself retired to the district of Bagrawan to overcome the fatigue caused by his labors. 25. Notwithstanding, the perfidious prince Gagik tried to conceal his insidious plots at the bottom of his heart as if under a bushel, without realizing that there is nothing hidden that could not be manifested. 26. Upon his return to Van in the district of Tosb, he indulged himself  in amusements to the contentment of himself, in accordance with the maxim that "a [cheerful] countenance reflects a merry heart." 27. On the following day he clad himself in royal robes, and mounting on his mule, he made a tour of the place. 28. [Then,] Gagik, the brother of the great prince Ashot, accompanied by two other men from the Amatuni house who were of the same mind as he, suddenly drew their swords, and falling upon the presumptuous prince, stabbed him. Thus he fell to the ground and died. He was buried among his ancestors. 29. Ashot who had been in confinement was released, established in his ancestral domain together with his brothers.
30. Before these events took place, two of the principal and elderly princes, Mushegh of Mokk', and Gurgen of Andzewac'ik', let animosity rage between themselves, and fought against one another in great uproar. In the course of the battle, prince Mushegh of Mokk' was killed by Gurgen. 31. Two years later, when Gurgen had mounted on a swift horse, which he admired, and as he happened to cross a small ravine, the steed galloped neighing, and threw the prince down on his back. Having [thus] met his death, his body was brought back and buried among his ancestors. 32. His son Atom the great succeeded to his domain.
5. The guardian of the fortress was one by the name of Hasan, a very trustworthy fellow and overseer of the entire household of the king. He was a member of Gnt'uni house of Canaanite origin. In the repository of the fortress were stored the treasures and the riches of the king. Upon inquiring and learning of this from people who were known to him, Afshin with raging violence laid siege to the fortress. 6. Thereupon, considering the situation prudently Hasan realized that there was no hope of salvation for them from the gaping gates of destruction and coming to his senses at the will of the celestial providence, he demanded from Afshin a solemn oath, assuring them safety from bloodshed and all other wicked acts in return to the fortress. 7. The latter immediately gave the desired assurance unhesitatingly. The gates of the fortress were opened, and Afshin entered.
8. Despite the fear of the inhabitants of the fortresses of a seemingly huge and ferocious beast, Afshin in no way exposed them to danger, death or confinement. On the contrary, he released the multitudes of the common people (ramik) and relieved them from all oppressions. He brought to the city of Dvin only the queen together with her daughter- in-law, Hasan the overseer of the royal household, and a small number of noble (azat) women, as well as the treasures and the riches of the king. Those who were subsequently taken [captive by him] were not threatened by any imminent danger; rather they were treated with the utmost respect, so much so, that a short time afterwards he even released Hasan to return to his king. 9. But when king Smbat returned to the fortress of Kars and saw all the things that had been taken by the enemy, he did not allow himself to be distracted from the hope of heavenly salvation. On the contrary, he raised his voice in giving thanks, and put his trust in the will of God, who would restore life to him and bring utter destruction  upon his enemy. 10. As he could not decide on a quarter in that region due to the severity of the winter season, he went from there to the strongholds of Erasxadzor, the village of Kaghzuan. 11. Then envoys were sent back and forth between Smbat and Afshin; making inquiries concerning this matter, each one tried to cast the blame of what had happened on the other. 12. Subsequently, the ostikan asked the king to dispatch his eldest son, and the son of his brother Sahak as hostages. 13. Also he asked for the hand of the daughter of Shapuh, the younger brother of the king, because he considered Smbat's oath untrustworthy and worthless. Only compliance with the above demands would give him assurance and undisturbed peace. 14. As the king became aware of the fact that the naxarars were not in accord with him, and finding no other way out of this, he unwillingly complied with Afshin's wishes, and sent to him his son Ashot, as well as his brother's son Smbat as hostages. Also he gave to him in marriage the daughter of his younger brother Shapuh. [Upon her arrival,] he married her, and at the nuptials they danced to the tune of the kak'aw. Due to the severity of the winter season Afshin did not wish to depart from there.
2. But when winter's sorrow yielded to milder weather, the ostikan sent back to the king his queen, whom he had treated with much respect. 3. He summoned Shapuh, the brother of the king, and treating him with consideration, gave him suitable gifts, and honored him like a close relative. 4. Then Shapuh bid farewell to his son-in-law Afshin, and his daughter, as well as the other hostages, and the princess, that is, the daughter-in-law of the king, and returned to king Smbat.
5. Meanwhile, as the great patriarch Georg had departed from this world, the king and his associates elected to the patriarchal throne the  angelic and heaven-graced man of God Mashtoc', whose soul was permeated by the divine inspiring power of the Holy Spirit, and who put forth shoots of fragrant flowers in the fragrant orchard of his soul. 6. He not only denied himself indulgence in gluttony, but also refused to partake of an ordinary diet of bread and water. In his frugality he satisfied his needs only by means of vegetables. 7. Greatly pleased by his wonderful and thoughtful manner, the king, the senior (gahamecar) princes and the illustrious azats set him up on the throne of the Holy Illuminator Grigor. This is not the occasion to praise the fruitful and productive sprouts that appeared in the rich orchard of his soul. Such eulogy must be postponed to another time and place. 8. But while the holy man of God by his miraculous and praiseworthy teachings was in the process of setting his faithful flock on the path of righteous works and deeds, he died [rested in Christ] without suffering any agony, after he had occupied the patriarchal see for only seven months.
9. After Mashtoc' I, Yovhannes, who wrote this book, a pitiable and wretched man, eager to quench my thirst for spiritual admonition, was set up on the holy see not because of my virtues, but rather due to the fact that I could not refuse the order of the king and the multitude of the naxarars. 10. Although I had been a disciple of the blessed Mashtoc' ever since my childhood, and was related to him by blood, yet, being blinded by the beam of my sins, I did not deem myself worthy of noticing the mote in the eye of my brother, nor did I think that I was a foremost authority on the laws of the New Israel. 11. And yet, once again I preferred to manifest my obedience, which is the mother of all virtue, and thinking that obedience and manifesting no opposition were even better than a choice sacrifice, I was elevated to the present [office], and had as my only guiding hope the philanthropy of God.
12. At this time, the construction of the church which had been founded by king Smbat sometime earlier in the komopolis of Erazgawork' at a site near his royal palace, was completed. Thereupon, the church was consecrated according to the divine canons, and dedicated to joyous worship. 13. Smbat decorated the church with rare and beautiful ornaments, gold-broidered vestments, and flaxen curtains. He also installed on the altar of Christ an arch made out of pure gold which was studded with gems.
14. The great curopalate of Iberia, Atrnerseh, honored in every way the peace treaty and alliance with king Smbat. With great veneration he wisely submitted himself to the king like a son to his father, or more evident than this, like a servant willingly overwhelmed by the awe of his master in moderation, he always turned his eyes to him with utmost attentiveness and entrusted Smbat even with his life. 15. Being greatly  pleased by this, king Smbat summoned him and treated him with kindness. Subsequently, he crowned Atrnerseh king with great glory and proper ceremony, outfitting him in armor befitting kings, he set him over the land of Iberia, and granted him the second place in his realm. 16. After his promotion to the royal rank, Atrnerseh displayed no insolence. On the contrary, he always made concessions humbly, and with his gentle disposition he continued to maintain the same relationship with king Smbat in accordance with their excellent, solemn understanding of before.
5. At that time, the great princess, the wife of the king's brother Sahak, went to meet the ostikan. She brought with her gold, silver, and much money. 6. The meeting took place in the plain of Sharur, where the princess presented the ostikan with the gifts that she had brought  with her, and falling on her knees, she begged him, moaning tearfully, to return her son Smbat, who had been taken hostage by him from king Srnbat sometime earlier. She brought to his attention the wretched state of her widowhood, and revealed her heart-rending privations, which deeply touched the ostikan, who took pity on her, and showed mercy; for very frequently wicked men do good deeds accidentally. 7. After accepting the gifts from the princess, Afshin returned her son. On receiving this great present, she returned to her home.
8. But when king Smbat returned from Tayk', he went out to meet the great eunuch near the fortress of Ani on the bank of the Axurean River, and the two men came to terms. 9. The eunuch was very pleased with meeting the king, so much so, that he admitted having seen no one like him. 10. Thereafter, the eunuch was of one mind with the king in word and deed, and having received many gifts and honors from Smbat, he went to the city of P'aytakaran. 12. Diwdad, the son of Afshin, however, remained in the city of Dvin and received a stipend (rochik) from king Smbat for a period of a little less than a year.
13. After taking leave of the king, on the way the eunuch allowed himself to be seduced by the temptation of licentiousness in the slanderous utterances of some whose minds inclined toward wickedness. He marched with a large force against Georg, the nahapet of the Sewordik', whose name owes its origin to their ancestor named Sew. 14. The eunuch attacked them in full force at an unexpected hour. Although the dauntless Sewordik' resisted him valiantly, yet, they could not hold their ground because of the suddenness of the onslaught. The eunuch seized Georg with his brother whose name was Arues, and brought them with him to the city of P'aytakaran. 15. Here their prospective executioners cross-examined them severely, and tried to convert them from the laws given to them by Christ to the impious religion of their Muhammad. 16. Nevertheless, the [Sewordi princes] did not agree to their demands, nor did they exchange the salvation of celestial life for irreparable destruction and a worthless life. Consequently, by being executed, they inscribed their names in the Register of Life.
17. Sometime after this, the great eunuch, being distressed by Afshin, deserted him, and taking with him the king's son Ashot who was a hostage together with the wife of his brother Musegh who had been taken captive in the fortress of Kars, he immediately came to king Smbat, and returned to him his son and daughter-in-law.
18. Greatly pleased with the providence of God, and with the deliverance of the captives, Smbat respectfully invited the great eunuch to come to him and [in appreciation for his service] gave him abundant  gratuities and gifts, whereupon he sent him to the region of Asorestan. 19. But on reaching the boundaries of Egypt, the eunuch was seized by his caliph and executed.
20. When the ostikan Afshin was informed of these matters, he roared with anger like a beast released from its cage. Greatly enraged at Smbat, he considered the latter the instigator and cause of the wickedness that he had received from his eunuch. He threatened the king with a greater storm and a worse torrent of wickedness. 21. He sent edicts to all the regions of his realm, and summoned immediately brave warriors with steeds, arms and ornaments, and legions of infantry soldiers. 22. But while the multitude of his forces were gathering together, and he was about to march forth, and pour the venom in his enraged and embittered heart on [the head of] the king, he was suddenly struck with an unbearable affliction. His abdomen was inflamed, and his insides decayed. His ruptured intestines burst out of his abdomen, and before his spirit had departed from his body, the stench of death rose from him. 23. He met his end in this painful condition, and descended to hell in utmost agony. 24. Many of his soldiers who had been struck by the same affliction and were in the same miserable distress, perished together with him. 25. Those that survived, dispersed and each went his own way. In this manner, king Smbat's prayerful supplications to God, which were also accompanied by all the tearful entreaties of us the clerics of the churches of Christ, were made audible to the ears of the Lord of Hosts. His arrogant feet did not trample us, nor could his lewd hands make us shake. The enemy who loved darkness could not attain joy in life and perished without hope. The faithful flock of Christ, led by her leaders became mightier in Christ, Who is Himself the vanquisher, and "whose will it is that all men should find salvation and come to know the truth."
26. When Diwdad the son of Afshin heard of his father's death, he stealthily left the city at night and fled to the land of Atrpatakan.
5. Thereupon, Hasan with the help of the spear which he held in his hand, leaped like a deer onto the roof of the house in which the prince was, and began to run, when the roof caved in because of the heavy tramping of his feet, and with the roof Hasan himself fell in. 6. Here he was recognized by the guttural quality of his voice, whereupon they seized him immediately, and brought him to prince Ashot. 7. But when Hasan's men became aware of the confusion, they fled and vanished without a trace, like smoke blown away by the wind. 8. Thus the very pit which Hasan had dug [for someone else], swallowed him. 9. Prince Ashot put him in fetters, and brought him to the fortress of Sewan, where, standing before the gates, he demanded that the fortress be turned over to him. 10. However, Hasan's mother and brother—on his mother's side, but not on his father's—did not wish to give him the fortress under threat of force, because they could not be sure of the promises of the prince concerning the safe return of Hasan. 11. When the news reached king Smbat, he advised me to go and resolve the matter, with the expectation that perhaps I could close the doorway of destruction which Hasan had opened before himself. 12. I went and persuaded the princess to turn over the fortress in order to save Hasan from the danger of death and assure his safe return from captivity. 13. Then I acquired from the prince a solemn oath promising to release Hasan unharmed.
14. After receiving the fortress, I handed it over to the prince. Subsequently, attracted by the futile and wicked advice of certain azats, the latter had Hasan's eyes put out, and through ignorance brought damnation upon himself; for all those who break their oath, or heed not the words of an intervening prelate, or are easily swayed by the opposite view, bring about their own destruction, and cannot acquire for themselves a secure life. 15. But I employed the power invested in me by the gospels, and having excommunicated the prince, returned in deep sorrow. 16. After one year, recklessness and ignorance robed Ashot's becoming, stately, and handsome stature like a garment. 17. Thus, still in the  prime of his youth, he met his end, and afflicted us with deep grief. 18. His brother Gagik succeeded to his large domain, and king Smbat set up his younger brother Gurgen as marzpan of Armenia.
Return to John Kat'oghikos Main Menu
Return to Historical Sources Menu
Return to History Workshop Menu