[This chapter] concerns the battle which occurred in the swamp.
After the events which we have just narrated, the emperor of the Byzantines, who was called Apsimar and who succeeded Emperor Justinian, again sent a force [to Armenia] with orders to capture Smbat, the son of Varaztirots'. This was in revenge for Smbat's desertion of the Byzantine army on account of his father Varaztirots', whom the Byzantines had slain. They came and fought against him in the swampy plain of Payik. Many of the Armenian troops were killed, since they were few, as were many of the Byzantine troops. Once Smbat realized that he could not withstand the Byzantine army, he escaped by a hairsbreadth with a few men. The Byzantine troops returned to their own land.
Now I shall again discuss the unbelievable disasters which befell us from the Ishmaelites. In the sixteenth year of the reign of 'Abd al-Malik' [685-705], Satan again inflamed his malevolent heart and [the caliph] ordered his troops to come against our land. The military commander was the bloodthirsty [g19] and diabolical Muhammad (Mahmet) [ibn Marwan] who swore a vow to his prince [his brother, Caliph 'Abd al-Malik'] that he would not replace his sword in its scabbard until he had plunged it into our land. Boasting, he went to the district of Jermadzor mercilessly putting to the sword whomever he found, as he had promised. However, since many people had been warned in advance about his coming they had taken precautions and sought refuge in the fortresses. [Muhammad ibn Marwan] also took numerous strongholds through deceit, falsely urging them to make peace. But once they had secured [that peace], they descended into the fortresses and put their swords to work, killing the men, and taking captive the women and children. Such a crisis descended on our land that [the living] envied the dead who had departed this world in peaceful rest, rather than endure a life of such misery.
Two years later his impiety came to a head, and [Muhammad] began to spew forth his deadly poison. He planned death for the monastery of Saint Gregory. For [the Arabs] had seen the wonderful, venerable, and revered [church] vessels which the kings, princes and lords of this land had accumulated there. They saw too the [monastery's] arrangements of the angelic orders of priests, the goodly discipline of vardapets and worshippers, and [they heard] the angelic hymns [sung] across the country. These things wounded their inflamed souls and so they treacherously planned a fatal ruination for them. A brigade of the infidels went to spend the night under their roof. Getting up [g20] in the night, they strangled one of their own servants and threw him into a ditch. When morning had dawned, they arose to leave. Then they sought for the servant whom they themselves had killed, and were unable to find him. They visited many difficulties and dangers upon the monastic community. Then they initiated a search and found [the dead servant's body] in the ditch where they had thrown it. Immediately they began piling up all kinds of falsehoods and then seized everyone from the youngest to the oldest, and put them into prison. They wrote an edict to the bloodthirsty Muhammad explaining what had been done to them and asking what sort of death [the clerics] should be subjected to. When [Muhammad] had heard this, he told them to judge [the clerics] themselves as they wished, and to confiscate the church's belongings as booty. Having received the unjust order, executioners moved to implement that command of their satanic father, who was a murderer from the very start and never knew righteousness, as we learn from the Lord. They removed from prison all the people bound with ropes, cut off their hands and feet, hanged them from trees, and ended their lives.
 Who could endure [hearing about] the unbelievable disasters visited upon them without weeping? The blessed church grew dim without the beauty of its altar, and the sound of heavenly glorification [ceased]. Silent were the spiritual, rational orders of the [divine] mass which the blessed [clerics] offered with the purest of thoughts. The glow of the lamps, which illuminated the evening like the day, had been extinguished. Gone was the fragrance [g21] of sweet-smelling incense, and [gone were] the prayers of the priests dedicated to the atonement of the people seeking peace from humane God. One could say that the altar of the Lord had been stripped of all splendor. Oh the suffering of Christ! How did He permit the infidels to slander the people who glorify Him and to give them such bitter deaths? Rather, He wanted to bestow eternal life [on them] through a transitory death, so that by sharing in His torments they would also share in His glory, and so that those who were crucified with Christ would also be crowned along with Him. Those who had died with Him would be reborn with Him and eternally inherit the rest they were promised. Similarly, those who collaborated with Satan will inherit with him the many different bitter torments which have been prepared for him, the fire, darkness, unending lament, tears, and the gnashing of teeth, about which He who has prepared them knows. All these things will befall those who work iniquity.
As regards the aforementioned Muhammad, after accomplishing all these evil deeds, he went to Syria with much spoil. Meanwhile the inhabitants of our land were left like the burned husks of wheat which are thrown at the feet of swine.
When general Muhammad left for Syria, he left an Ishmaelite prince [Abu Shaykh ibn Abdullah, 701-703] as his replacement in the land of Armenia. The latter hatched an evil plan to eliminate the nobility and their cavalry from Armenia. His treachery was quickly revealed to Smbat of the Bagratuni House and to other lords and their cavalry. When [Smbat] realized the [truth about the] plot, he summoned to him his clan members from the army of the nobles: Smbat, son of Prince Ashot, Vard, son of Prince T'e'odoros, and his brother, Ashot, as well as other lords. He sought to find some way for them to save their lives. The decision adopted was to yield and leave the land, and to go to the Byzantine emperor. Some of the lords of the land of Vaspurakan then separated and departed, going to a plain called Ar'estakoghm on the Vaspurakan border where a certain monk resided, in order to ask him about these matters. For [the monk] was a blessed and select man, full of spiritual wisdom. He lamented and bemoaned the destruction of the land and the churches and the draining away of the lordly clans, but was unable to suggest anything except that they should be careful and beware [g23] of treachery. Offering prayers for them, [the monk] entrusted them to the grace of God, and sent them away.
 They went along the bank of the Arax River and crossed into the borders of Ughaye', reaching the great town of Akor'i. Meanwhile the Ishmaelite troops which were in the city of Naxjawan chased after them and did not let off the pursuit, since there were more than five thousand of them and they wanted to devour [the Armenians] alive. When the Armenian troops learned that the marauders had arisen and were coming upon them, they crossed the Arax River [again] and encamped at the town of Vardanakert. The Tachik [Arab] troops continued to come after them. Then the Armenian forces sent a message to the Tachik troops, saying: "Why are you pursuing us? What wrong have we done you? Behold, our country lies before you, we are giving you our dwelling place, our vineyards, forests, and estates. Why do you also seek our lives? Let us quit our borders." However, the Ishmaelite troops did not want to listen, since their hearts had been hardened by the Lord so that they would be put to the sword. The Armenian troops secured the roads of the town and placed guards over them until dawn. They themselves spent the entire night in prayerful vigils, looking to the mighty right hand of God for aid and a just verdict on themselves and their enemies. As soon as day broke, when morning matins had ended, they celebrated the divine mass and those [g24] worthy of it communed in the Lord's body and blood, regarding it as their last rites. They ate a small meal to strengthen their bodies, and then immediately arose and organized themselves brigade by brigade and front by front, and went into battle. Aid from Almighty God came to the Armenian forces, for although there were less than two thousand troops, nonetheless they slaughtered many [Arabs] with their swords. [At that season] the days were already quite cold and icy, and then the weather turned even more bitterly cold, preventing the Ishmaelite troops from unleashing their might. They had spent the entire night sleeping on the snow. When day broke, they fell to [the Armenians'] swords. Those [Arabs] who escaped the sword fled and went on to the Arax River which had [lightly] frozen over from the cold. With that multitude of troops on the ice, [the ice gave way] and those who had escaped the sword fell through it into the depths to drown. A small number of the fugitives, some three hundred, turned [for aid] to tikin ("Lady") Shushan. But Smbat, Ashot's son, went in pursuit with his troops, wanting to kill them. Tikin Shushan came before him with many entreaties and was able to save those who had come [to her] on foot, naked, barefoot, and wounded. She bandaged their wounds, brought them back to health, and outfitted them with goodly clothing. She also provided pack animals from her own herd [for them] and then sent them to the caliph of the Ishmaelites [g25], 'Abd al-Malik. As a result she received great thanks from him and also magnificent gifts.
The army troops, engorged with the enemy's spoil, sent glad tidings of their victory to the Byzantine emperor. As gifts from the enemy's loot they also had delivered to him choice Tachik horses and the noses which they had severed from the [Arabs'] corpses.
The emperor received that gift greatly offering thanks to the Creator and [expressing] gratitude to Smbat, the lords with him, and their troops. He also bestowed on [Smbat] the dignity of curopalates, in a royal fashion. [Smbat] received this honor from the emperor, took his own troops, and went to the land of Tayk' where he entered the fortress called T'uxark', and took precautions against the sons of Ishmael.
 In this period, another marauder came against the troops which were in parts of the land of Vaspurakan. They came against them in the district of R'shtunik' at the village called Gukank', where the two sides faced off. When [the Arabs] saw that [the Armenians] were few in number, they forcefully attacked them. But then again God showed His mercy and came to their aid. [The Armenians] put all [the Arabs] to the sword except for two hundred and eighty men who fled into a church. [The Armenians] were unable to get at them [g26] and so they planned to set the sanctuary on fire. However the prince of the Vaspurakan area, Smbat, son of Ashot, did not allow them to commit this sacrilege, saying: "God forbid that we do such a thing to the dwelling place of the glory of God, Who has given such a victory to us." So they set up guards to stand watch until the sanctuary itself should give them up and expel them. After a while, one of the Ishmaelite troops who was their commander sought reconciliation, in order to save his own life. Then he went to the Armenian troops and said: "We have heard that Christian folk are merciful when they see people in misery, that they feel pity and show mercy. Show mercy to us and grant us our lives as a gift, and take our belongings as booty." General Smbat responded: "We are taught by our Lord that the merciful are the ones worthy of mercy. You, however, are a merciless people, unworthy of mercy, nor shall we show it to you." When the Ishmaelite heard this, he said: "At least grant me my own life and do not kill me, and [in exchange] I will deliver the rest of them into your hands." [The Armenians] agreed not to kill him. He went back into [the church] and said: "We have no hope staying here, since they will not show us mercy. Rather, come on and let us get out of here. Should they kill us we will attain the paradise promised to us by our law-giver, Muhammad. Should they let us survive, we will live" [g27].
Encouraged by these words, they all went outside and were immediately put to the sword. As for the man they had promised not to kill, he was thrown into the depths of the sea alive. Then [the Armenians] collected spoil from the fallen, divided it up amongst themselves, and departed to their own places.
 After these events, when the caliph of the Ishmaelites, 'Abd al-Malik, learned about the destruction of his troops, he summoned general Muhammad and his forces and ordered him to take a multitude of soldiers and go against the land of the Armenians, to kill and take captives. [Muhammad] immediately organized troops and forcefully and boastingly threatened to implement the command of their caliph. When the lords of the Armenians learned about the strengthened marauder who was coming against them, they entreated Sahak, kat'oghikos of the Armenians [Sahak Dzorap'orets'i, kat'oghikos 677-703], and some bishops of the land who were with him to go in advance of the Ishmaelite army, to speak words of peace to their general, and to place themselves under the yoke of service to them. As [Sahak] was departing the land, he greeted everyone as they kissed his right hand in peace, blessing his flock and their shepherds who trusted him, and entrusting them to the grace of the Lord. He passed many lodging-places and reached the city of Harran, where sickness [g28] came upon him. He died there, before general Muhammad had reached Harran. But first, he wrote these last words to the Ishmaelite general:
"My people have sent me before you to discuss the counsel adopted by the united lords and common people of Armenia and [the matters] which they request of you. However, the keeper of the grainary of life has suddenly called me to Him, and thus I have not managed to meet and talk with you. Now I swear to you by the living God and the covenant which God made with your father Ishmael to give him the entire world as obedient subjects, that if you make peace with my people, they will service you as tax payers. Stop your sword from shedding their blood and stop your hand from pillaging, and they will obey you wholeheartedly. As for our religion, let us have the authority to hold to what we believe in and confess to. Let none of you torment us to turn us away from our beliefs. If you do as I beseech you, the Lord will advance your rule and implement your will, and subdue everyone under your control. But if you will not heed my words and choose to invade my land, the Lord will shatter your ambitions, and will not guarantee the course of your footsteps, and He will turn around the hearts of your troops so that they will not work your will. He will stir up impediments [g29] to you on all sides and will not allow your rule to last. If you do not ignore my requests, my blessings will come upon you."As soon as Muhammad arrived at Harran they informed him about the Armenian kat'oghikos and gave him his letter. Having read the letter, [Muhammad] inquired about his demise, and they told him that he had not been buried yet, as he had just died. Once [Muhammad] heard this, he quickly went to the place. Then, standing close to the deceased, he greeted him according to their custom, something we confirmed two or three times from credible men. [Muhammad] took [Sahak's] hand and began speaking with him as though with a living person. He said: "I realized your wisdom by reading your letter. Like a brave shepherd concerned about his flock, you hastened to come before my conquering sword. I agree to check my sword from shedding the blood of innocent people. Instead, I will implement all that you requested from me, to have your pious blessing upon me. Should I deviate by one word from all of your words, may all the curses which I read about in your letter be visited upon me." Having said this, he returned to his lodging-place.
Those who had accompanied kat'oghikos Sargis from Armenia, now took the body of the blessed patriarch and laid it to rest in a grave [g30] in glory. Then, receiving that written pledge from the Ishmaelite general's hand, they departed for the land of the Armenians. When the inhabitants of the land saw the written assurances and pledges, they trusted them and thereafter they served the Ishmaelites through the payment of taxes.
As for general Muhammad, he came a second time to the land of the Armenians with a large force, in the eighteenth year of Caliph 'Abd al-Malik, remaining there for three years. He did no evil [to the Armenians], ignoring what had been done to the Tachik troops in the town of Vardanakert. Rather, he steadfastly adhered to the written oath which he had given them, merely scrutinizing [the behavior of] the Armenian lords. Thus, having held his reign with such conduct, 'Abd al-Malik died.
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