Grigor of Akner's

History of the Nation of Archers


Chapter 10.

Locusts; the census in the east; Het'um, king of the Armenians, goes to Manku khan and is exalted with honor; seven sons of the seven khans; Xul the impious; the martyrdom of lord Step'annos, the abbot of Geret'ni Monastery; the illness of Xul, caused by his criminal acts; Xul's succession by his son, Mighan.

[10] In that period a horde of locusts came and ate up [g322] the entire eastern land until the whole country, east and west took refuge in God, terrified with fear, with great sighing. By the mercy of God the land was freed from the dreadful wrath, and they gave glory to God the Almighty Who saved them from such a calamity. This occurred in 700 of the Armenian Era [A.D. 1251].

Following this disaster a chief of the T'at'ars, named Arghun, arrived on the order of Mongke-Khan (Manku khan), and conducted a census of the eastern country for taxation. Thereafter they took taxes from the folk by the head count which had been written in the dawt'ar, and in this way they further wrecked the eastern land. For in one small village (gegh) they recorded thirty to fifty men, each [ranging] from fifteen years of age up to sixty. And from each head they counted, they took sixty spitaks. When [the Mongols] seized someone who had fled or hidden, they cruelly tied his arms back and with canes made of evergreen wood they beat him until the entire body was crushed and dripping with blood. At that point they mercilessly brought in their savage dogs which they had trained to eat human flesh and let them eat the defeated, impoverished Christians.

When the Christ-crowned, pious King Het'um heard of all these outrages being committed in the upper lands of the east, out of his love for the Christians and more so for his own country [he] went to Mongke-Khan with many gifts and concerned himself that his country not be exposed to such violence. When he reached the khan, by the will of God, he was honored by him [g324]. The khan treated the king of the Armenians with great honor and homage and saw to all of his concerns in accordance with [Het'um's] wishes. Then he sent the king back to his own land with great joy.

After this, when the year 706 A.E. [A.D. 1257] had come, seven of the khan's sons, each with a duman of cavalry—one duman comprising thirty thousand—arrived from the east, where the Great Khan dwelled. Here are their names: the first and greatest of them, Hulegu (Hulawu), who was the brother of Mongke-Khan; second, Xul, who styled himself the brother of God and was not ashamed; third, Balaxe'n; fourth, Tut'ar; fifth, T'agudar; sixth, Ghataghan; seventh, Bawraghan. They were disobedient toward each other, very fearless, and man-eaters. They all came and traveled about in wagons to the point that they leveled the mountains and hills of the eastern country to facilitate the movement of their wagons and carts.

Now the chief who called himself the brother of God came into the midst of the country and mercilessly trampeled the miserable Christians; and they burned all the wooden crosses wherever they came upon them erected on the roads and in the mountains. Yet nothing satisfied them. Indeed, they plundered even more those monasteries they came upon in the country by eating and drinking. They mercilessly hung up the venerable priests and beat them.

[11] A chief from Xul's cavalry went to a monastery called Geret'i. Its abbot was named Step'annos, white-haired and old, very select, holy and virtuous in behavior and accomplished in good deeds. When he saw [g326] the chief of the T'at'ars coming toward him at the monastery, he took a vessel of wine and went before the T'at'ar holding tzghu, as is the T'at'ar custom. After this, [Step'annos] took them to the monastery and seated them together with other cavalrymen who were following their chief. He slaughtered a sheep, opened other wine and satiated them all with eating and drinking to the point that [the Mongols] could barely stay on their horses. At night, drunk, they went to their dwellings, since the T'at'ars' camp was close to the monastery.

After reaching home and sleeping the night, in the morning they saw that their chief was very ill. When they asked him the cause of the sickness, the chief replied that "the priest drugged me last night." The priest was innocent of this; rather it was from their wicked, insatiable eating and drinking that he had become ill. They immediately went [to the monastery] and brought back the marvellous old father Step'annos, shackled. After much questioning and probing, [the Mongols] did not believe him. They put four wooden stakes into the ground and mercilessly tied the blameless man to them, some distance off the ground. Then they lit a fire and roasted his entire body until the marvellous old Step'annos expired. They clearly saw a sign and column of light over the venerable father Step'annos who was so innocently and pointlessly martyred, crowned among the blessed martyrs.

Now that obscene and merciless chief, aside from the pain he had, was possessed by a dev such that in frenzy he devoured his own vile flesh. And thus did he perish, with torments and bitter blows. Similarly, the entire army fell to the wicked illness and many of them perished from it. Although this is what happened, [the Mongols] did not fear God but instead persisted in constantly working deeds of cruelty and bitter tears [g328]. Their great chief, Xul, the same one who immodestly claimed he was like unto and the brother of God, fell sick with gout. As a result of this illness, he committed an unmentionably evil and lamentable deed. They went and found an unbelieving Jewish doctor [anhawat jhut mi bzhishk] and brought him to Xul. When that impious and false doctor saw his illness, he stated the antidote: the stomach of a red-haired boy should be split open while [the boy] was still alive, and [Xul] should place his foot into the boy's stomach. [The Mongols] immediately sent horsemen into the country who entered Christian villages snatching boys off the streets then fleeing like wolves. The children's parents went after them screaming and shrieking loudly and shedding bitter, pitiful tears, but were unable to get them free. Instead, they turned back to their homes, with sorrowing hearts. If they forcibly seized their children, [the Mongols] shot arrows at the parents. Thus did this pitiful event occur by the hand of the impious Jew, until they reached the figure of thirty boys with stomachs torn open, and still he did not get better. Instead, when the impious Xul realized that he had committed such gruesome acts and nothing had helped, he then grew angry out of pity for the boys. He commanded that the Jewish hek'im be brought before him, have his stomach cut open and fed to the dogs. And [the Mongols] did so at once. But after this, Xul himself perished with an evil death. His son, Mighan, then sat in Xul's place [g330].


Chapter 11.

The taking of Baghdad and the capture of the Caliph (Xalip'a); also, the surrender of the city of Martyropolis, and the [discovery of] right [hand] of the blessed apostle Bartholemew.

[12] After this, [the Mongols] convened a great assembly of the old and new cavalry of the Georgians and Armenians and went against the city of Baghdad with a countless multitude. Arriving on the spot, they immediately took the great and renowned city of Baghdad filled with many people, precious treasure and gold and silver without measure. When they took it, they destroyed mercilessly and took many people captive. The cavalry loaded up with all the precious rainment and the Caliph's gold. They also seized the Caliph, the lord of Baghdad with all of his treasures and brought him, fat and stout, before Hulegu. When Hulegu saw him, he asked; "Are you the lord of Baghdad?" And [the Caliph] replied: "I am." He ordered him placed in jail for three days without bread or water. After three days he ordered him brought into his presence. Hulegu asked the Caliph: "What sort [of man] are you?" [The Caliph] responded wrathfully as though to scare Hulegu, saying: "Is keeping me hungry for three days your humanity?" For previously the Caliph had said to the residents: "Fear not. Should it happen that the T'at'ars come, I shall bring out the banner of Mahmet so that all the T'at'ar cavalry flee and we shall live." When Hulegu heard about this, he became extremely angry. Then Hulegu ordered that a plate of red gold be brought and placed before [the Caliph]. When they had brought it [g332], the Caliph asked: "What is this?" Hulegu replied: "It is gold; eat so your hunger and thirst will pass and you become full." The Caliph said: "Man does not live by gold, but by bread, meat, and wine." Then Hulegu said to the Caliph: "Since you know that man does not live by gold but by bread, meat, and wine, why did you not send so much gold to me? [Then] I would not have come and destroyed your city and captured you. [Instead] you sat eating and drinking, without a care." Then Hulegu ordered that he be given to the feet of the troops, and thus perished the Caliph of the Tachiks. They then went to their land in the east with much treasure and booty.

The next year they came against Mayyafariqin (Mup'arghin) but were unable to take it, for saint Marut'a had built the city of Martyropolis very securely and had gathered into it relics of all the saints. He walled it strongly and named it the "city of Martyrs" and, until the time of the T'at'ars, no one was able to take it without [the city's] acquiescence. The patient T'at'ar troops besieged it until all [the inhabitants] were eating each other out of hunger. It is said that the head of an ass fetched thirty drams. Thus, after putting the city into straits for three years, [the Mongols] took Martyropolis. The Armenian troops which were there among the T'at'ars found many relics of the saints there and took them to their own land.

Now the great prince of the Armenians named T'agheadin, from the Bagratuni clan (yazge'n Bagratuneats'), seized an Assyrian priest and made him say that he had found the right [hand] of the blessed apostle Bartholomew [g334]. With great joy, [T'agheadin] took this to his land in the east and placed it in his monastery. Subsequently, forced by the great prince of the Artsrunik' named Sadun, he gave [the relic] to him. Taking it, Sadun, lord of Haghbat's great and renowned and blessed congregation, placed the blessed right [hand] of the apostle Bartholomew in the holy monastery of Haghbat. And it really is there.


Chapter 12.

By the order of Mongke-Khan, Hulegu is seated as khan; the disobedience and punishment of four of the seven sons of the khan; two wrestlers and their match.

Now the seven sons of the khan who had come and taken the city of Baghdad and had filled up with much treasure of gold and pearls, did not obey each other. On the contrary, each chief lived by his mighty sword and they ruined and trampled the eastern land, without yasax (anyasax).

[13] The great prince Hulegu, who was renowned among them, was also, as we said, Mongke-Khan's brother. He sent to his brother Mongke-Khan in the Far East and described the goings on. "With God's aid and yours, we came here, seven heads of dumans. We removed the old T'emaych'ik' cavalry from here, went and took the Tachik city of Baghdad and left it, carrying off much booty, with God's aid and yours. What else do you order us to do? For if we remain in this way without yasax and headless, the land will be ruined and Chingiz-Khan's commands will not be realized. For he ordered us to subdue and hold the land through affection, not to ruin it. But now the command is with you. We will do whatever you order us to." [Entrusted] with such words [g336], the elch'is (ambassadors) went from Hulegu to Mongke-Khan.

When the elch'is reached their destination, Mongke-Khan inquired about his brother and [the ambassadors] related what Hulegu had commanded them to say. When Mongke-Khan heard it, he ordered his arghuch's, that is, judges, to "Go and put my brother Hulegu [in the position of] khan of that country. Impose the yasax on whomever does not submit to him." By order of Mongke-Khan the arghuch's arrived, held a great quriltai (xur'ut'ay, assembly) and summoned all the chiefs who had followed Hulegu. They also summoned the king of the Georgians with his cavalry; they summoned Baiju with his cavalry and acquainted them with these confidential matters. Additionally, by means of great messengers, the arghuch's of Mongke-Khan summoned the khan's sons: Balaxe', Tut'ar, Ghataghan, Bawraghan, T'agudar, and Mighan, who was Xul's son. When all of them had assembled, the arghuch's revealed Mongke-Khan's orders. When the khan's sons heard that [Mongke-Khan] wanted Hulegu seated as khan, four of them grew angry and did not want to submit to Hulegu. Now T'agudar and Bawraghan submitted to Hulegu while Balaxay, Tut'ar, Ghataghan and Mighan did not. When the arghuch's of Mongke-Khan realized that these four would not obey but rather wanted to fight with Hulegu, they ordered that the yasax be imposed on Balaxe'n, Tut'ar, and Ghataghan, that is, they were strangled with a bowstring, for it is their law that a khan be killed in this manner. As for Xul's son, Mighan, who was a young boy, they seized him and put him into jail [on an island] in the sea which [g338] lies in the district of Her and Zarawand. Again the arghuch's of Mongke-Khan ordered the Armenian and Georgian troops as well as Hulegu's troops to go against their forces and mercilessly destroy them, which they did. They killed so many that the mountain and plain putrified from the bodies of slain T'at'ars. Now there were two chiefs one named Nuxak'awun and the other Aradamuk' who had been apprised of matters beforehand. Taking twelve thousand cavalry and as much treasure and gold, and good horses as they could, they fled and crossed the great Kur river. They did not stop until they reached their own country, whence they had come. From their own country they got Berk'e' to aid them, [Berke] who was the brother of Guyuk-Khan; and for ten years they wrought much evil. Now the arghuch's of Mongke-Khan who had come with a great yasax installed Hulegu with great ceremony. Then there was peace for a time, since Hulegu-Khan was extremely good, a lover of Christians and the Church and clerics. The same was true of his blessed wife, Doquz (Tawvus) khatun who was good in every way and merciful toward the poor and needy and very much loved all Christians, Armenian and Syrian, to the point that she circulated around with a tent church and bell-ringer and many Armenian and Syrian priests.

When Het'um, the pious king of the Armenians, heard that Hulegu had been enthroned and that he was so goodly and philo-Christian, he himself, the king of the Armenians, went to the east with many gifts and saw Hulegu-Khan. When the khan saw the king of the Armenians, he liked him a lot and honored him and again wrote [edicts granting] freedom for his kingdom and even more so for the Church and the clergy and all Christians of the country. And with such honor and great wealth [g340], he sent the king of the Armenians back to his land. Many other kings and sultans also came to him in submission with numerous gifts, and Hulegu-Khan grew greater and richer to the point that there was no counting his cavalry and troops. The same applied to all his possessions: precious stones and pearls were like the sand of the sea before him and beyond similar [gems, he possessed] a vast amount of gold, silver, horses, and flocks which could not be measured.

[14] Once Hulegu-Khan realized that God had given him the khanate, greatness and multitude of troops, cavalry and all things, he ordered a palace constructed for himself at great expense in the plain of Dar'n, a place which they called in their language Alatagh, which previously had been the summer residence of the great kings of the Armenians, that is, the Arsacids (Arshakunik'). Hulegu himself was an intelligent, learned judge, knowledgable about everything. He was quite a shedder of blood, but it was the evil people and enemies he killed, not the good and benevolent. He loved the Christians more than the foreigners. He liked the Christians so much that he took as one yearly tax from the Armenians one hundred thousand swine and sent two thousand of them to each Tachik city with the order that the Tachiks be swineherds and that every Saturday they wash the pigs with soap and, aside from their daily feeding, give them almonds and dates morning and evening. Those Tachik men great and small who did not eat pork were decapitated. Thus did he honor the Tachiks. This was as schooling for the Armenian and Georgian troops, since Hulegu liked them extremely because of the bravery they had displayed before him in all battles. Therefore he styled them Bahaturs. He chose the handsome and young [g342] sons of the princes of the Armenians and Georgians and set them up as his guards, calling them k'e'sikt'oyk' who are the guards with sword and bow. He also started to rebuild the destroyed places. They took from each cultivated (shen) village one householder, one from the small [villages], two or three from the large ones, and called them Iam. And he sent them to all the ruined places to undertake construction. They paid no tax whatever but [provided] only bread and t'an [a yoghurt beverage] for traveling T'at'ars. With such arrangements he established the seat of his khanate; while he himself sat eating and drinking with great joy.

During these days a man came from Mongke-Khan, a Mughal by race, and extremely frightful to look at: tall, broad shouldered, with a neck like a buffalo, and hands like a bear's paws. Every day he devoured one sheep. With him he had a document and a priceless robe from Mongke-Khan. The document stated: "This renowned strongman (bawk'ay) has been sent to my brother Hulegu-Khan. If there is any [local] strongman who can throw him, put the robe on him, but if my strongman throws yours, then dress him in the robe and send him to me with great messengers (elchi)."

Then Hulegu questioned all the chiefs of his troops, saying: "Do you know of anyone, T'at'ar, Armenian or Georgian capable of throwing him?" They searched around and did not find a T'at'ar. For anyone who saw that man was thoroughly frightened by his enormous stature and aspect. But the Armenian and Georgian princes said: "We know of a man who might do." Then the khan ordered that he be brought in haste. They said that he was not there, but rather at his own home. [Hulegu] ordered the messengers [g344] to bring him at once, not by horse but by carriage. The man spoken about by the Armenian and Georgian princes was named Sadun, [descended] from the great Artsrunik' [clan], a grandson of Amir K'urd. He was tall and attractive, very strong from childhood, experienced and knowledgeable in that matter [of wrestling], though he had not previously fought anyone in front of the khan.

[15] When the messengers went and told [him about] the commands, Sadun saddened, since [first] he had not battled in front of a khan and also he had heard about the awesomeness and strength of his opponent. Then he commended himself to the monks to pray for him while he himself went to [the monastery of] Gag to the blessed intercessor Sargis who had been blessed by the venerable holy vardapet Mesrop. There he made a vow and gave an offering to the blessed symbol [of the Cross], and then, going with the messengers, he traveled to Hulegu-Khan.

Now Hulegu-Khan was really delighted when he saw Sadun with his power and his stature. He ordered the two combattants to remain together for nine days, each day eating a sheep and [drinking] a tik of wine. When the nine days were up, [Hulegu] ordered all the chiefs to assemble in his presence, summoned the two combattants, and ordered them to grapple with each other. When they started, it was three o'clock and they fought for three hours, until six o'clock unable to conquer each other. Then, fortified by the name of God, Sadun had a sudden burst of strength and threw Mongke-Khan's strongman to the ground before Hulegu-Khan. Sadun was exalted before the khan. In the entire country no one else was to be found with such gifts, wealth, and power [g346] in the time of the T'at'ars. Hulegu-Khan also ordered a yarligh (iar'lax) written giving [Sadun] exemptions for nine offenses (gunah).


Chapter 13.

The wars of Hulegu-Khan against Aleppo, Damascus, and Jerusalem, and his death.

After this, Hulegu-Khan ordered two of every ten of his troops to assemble. He put K'it' Bugha as their chief and sent them against Aleppo and Damascus. They took Aleppo, mercilessly killing and enslaving, and filled up with much treasure. Hulegu-Khan himself had secretly followed behind the cavalry. When the Damascenes learned that [the Mongols] had taken Aleppo, they themselves willingly gave the city and the keys to the city to Hulegu-Khan.

Now from the time of Sultan Saladin (Salahatin), the city of Jerusalem and the blessed sepulcher of Christ our God had been in the hands of the Tachiks. When Hulegu-Khan heard about this, he went against the city of Jerusalem and took it. He himself entered [the church] of the blessed Resurrection and prostrated himself before the holy tomb. Then, leaving troops there, he returned to his land in the east in peace.

Now K'it' Bugha, who was chief of the T'at'ar troops, grew arrogant and went a ten days journey beyond Jerusalem. Meanwhile the doglike and impious Egyptians, realizing that the T'at'ar troops were unprepared, massed a countless host of troops and came against the T'at'ars, killing many of them, causing many to flee, and capturing many. They retook Jerusalem, Aleppo, and Damascus and this with the blessing of the Frank cavalry since at that time there was no friendship between the T'at'ars [and themselves]. And so this was the result [g348].

During this period a comet appeared, arising first on Saturday morning of the feast of Tabernacle. Day by day the comet's tail and rays grew. At first it appeared in the morning, then gradually at the time of the noon meal, and getting later and later it appeared at the eleventh hour in the evening. Its hairlike rays expanded, reaching into the midst of the country from the east, and the rays kept increasing to the point that it appeared very awesome in all lands, since such a wondrous sign had not previously been seen on the earth. And thus, increasing its broad and huge rays, it continued until the start of the winter months. Finally, just as it had grown, gradually, day by day, it decreased until the rays of its tail were completely cut off, and it no longer was visible.

Now when Hulegu-Khan saw this, he immediately realized that this comet had appeared because of him. He prostrated himself before God because he was extremely frightened when the rays of the comet's tail started to reduce. The entire world knew that the rays of the comet extended as far as Hulegu-Khan's horse had advanced, as far as he had conquered. But then it disappeared. Hulegu-Khan lived another year; then he too departed from this world, leaving behind thirty sons. The same year that Hulegu-Khan died, his goodly wife, Doquz khatun, also died. Their deaths caused extreme sorrow to all Christians [g350].

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