After ['Abd al-Malik], his son, Walid (Vlit') [al-Walid I, 705-715] succeeded him as caliph of the Ishmaelites, ruling for ten years and eight months before dying. Here [is a description of] his deeds.
In the first year of his reign, [al-Walid] resolved to do away with the families of Armenian lords and their cavalry due to a grudge he held against Curopalate Smbat. [al-Walid] claimed that they were an irritant and obstacle to their rule. While [g31] this wickedness was incubating in their hearts, the aforementioned Smbat quickly wrote to the Byzantine emperor requesting his help. Agreeing to this, the emperor sent numerous troops as an auxiliary force under the command of a general. Smbat, uniting [his forces] with the Byzantine general's, came to the village called Drashpet in the district of Vanand, and struck camp there. When Muhammad, the prince of the Ishmaelite troops, heard about this he assembled his forces with great preparation and went against them in battle. When they had reached a certain spot they deployed—front against front and brigage against brigade—and the fight began. Then the wrath of the Lord came upon [the allies], since the Byzantine troops lost their appetite for war and fled, taking refuge in fortresses. The enemy grew stronger and slew many with the sword. They say that more than fifty thousand combatants fell. The few survivors were chased out of the land. Gathering up his forces, [Muhammad] returned to the city of Dwin. When the caliph of the Ishmaelites observed that the Armenian lords had been leading the Byzantine troops, he ordered Muhammad to implement the same wicked plan [he had devised].
Muhammad took the unjust order and commanded a certain Kasim, who was his commander in [g32] the Naxchawan area, to summon to the city the Armenian lords and their cavalry on the pretext of [recording them in] a royal military census, giving them stipends, and dismissing them. [The lords]—with their traditional naivete—believed the treachery of the cunning hunters, and quickly went there. As soon as they had arrived, [the Arabs] ordered that they be divided into two groups: one [half] was gathered into the church of Naxchawan, while the other half was sent to the town of Xram where they were put into the church there. And [the Arabs] put them under guard and pondered how to destroy them. Then all of them assembled, brought out of confinement the men from noble clans, and then set fire to those who remainded trapped in the sanctuary. They burned to death before the altar of the Lord. When those who were trapped realized the bitterness of the danger [awaiting them], they one and all took refuge in God, looking solely to Him for help and crying out: "You who are the refuge for the persecuted, the helper of those in danger, comforter of the weary, give aid to us who are persecuted and surrounded by dangers, save us from the bitter death which awaits us. The heat of the flames surrounding us has intensified seven times more than the flames of Babylon. Now, just as You sent [g33] an angel to save the three children from the furnace of Babylon, in Your mercy do not abandon us. For we are Your servants, even though many times, as sinners, we have displeased Your sweet love for humanity. In mercy, remember Your servants. For behold, Your sanctuary and the place where Your name is glorified has become a cemetary for us. Therefore, praising Your blessed and awesome name, we place in Your hands our souls, our breath, and our bodies." Having said this, all of them together sought blessing from On High, and died.
 Now [the Arabs] put the noble lords into prison in fetters and subjected them to unendurable torture, demanding much weight in gold and silver. And they told them: "When we receive this amount of silver, we will free you alive. As a result, they even made oaths to convince [the lords] to believe in their false promises. [The lords] because of the danger facing them, gave into their enemies' hands much of their accumulated treasures, both [treasures] which they had placed in hiding under water to keep them from these [Arab] pirates, and [treasures] kept on dry land. This was done so that perhaps they might save their own lives. But once they had been drained of their wealth, the infidels condemned them to death and hanged them. [Among those] seized were Smbat, son of Ashot from the Bagratid clan, Grigor and Koriwn from the Artsrunid clan, Varaz-Shapuh and his brother from [g34] the Amatuni clan, and numerous other Armenian lords whom I am unable to mention one by one. By eliminating all of them [the Arabs] emptied our land of its lordly heirs.
In this period, with the land of the Armenians devoid of its lordly clans, the situation resembled [that of a flock of] sheep surrounded by wolves. The enemies visited every sort of evil [upon us] as they attacked, keeping the inhabitants of the land of the Armenians in perpetual and disastrous crises. Plagued by these constant afflictions, [the people] raised their groans and sobbing cries On High. Meanwhile Curopalate Smbat and the lords with him arose and quit the land, requesting a city to dwell in from the Byzantine emperor and pasturage for their herds. [The emperor] gave them the city named Poti (P'oyt') in the territory of the land of Egeria. And they dwelled there for six years.
When Muhammad had wrought all these evils, the protest which arose in the land reached the ears of the caliph of the Ishmaelites whose name was al-Walid. The latter immediately dispatched an edict summoning [Muhammad] to return to him and sending as his replacement a certain 'Abd al-Aziz, who was hard of hearing. Despite this he was sagacious and full of wordly knowledge, as well as a narrator of legends and fables. Once he had been confirmed in his authority, he wrote an edict to the Armenian lords convincing them to return to [g35] their own land and giving them a written oath in accordance with their custom. When they were certain [of the trustworthiness] of the pledge, they captured the city they were dwelling in and its treasures, ravished the church's ornaments as spoil, and returned to Armenia, detaching themselves from the Byzantine emperor. When the emperor heard about this, he regretted their ingratitude and summoned the leaders of the church—the metropolitan and archbishops—and ordered them to write anathemas in a book. And he ordered that [these anathemas] be read out at the conclusion of the feast of Easter against the perpetrators of such ingratitude, since that act of impiety was carried out on that very feast. They arranged that these same anathemas be read out every year, right up to the present. [Such curses] had an effect on them and became the cause of their ruination.
 'Abd al-Aziz ruled the land of the Armenians and pacified it [by stopping] all the unjust attacks upon it, severely rebuking and subduing the boastful callousness of the sons of Ishmael. He rebuilt the city of Dwin mightier and larger than before and fortified it with gates and locks, and surrounded it with a moat filled with water to protect the fortress. "For," 'Abd al-Aziz said about himself, "I was the one who destroyed Dwin before, and now I shall rebuild it. I was a twelve-year-old lad [g36] [then] wearing a red apron. When the Tachik troops were battling with the city, I crawled through a passageway and emerged on top of the wall. In my own language I loudly shouted out to our troops, which resulted in the weakening and flight of the guards who were protecting the wall and the triumph of the Ishmaelites. And we destroyed this city." They say that he recounted this story about himself.
During this period, once again the heart of general Muhammad [ibn Marwan] became inflamed, [this time] against the land of the Chinese (Chenk'). He requested many troops from the prince of the Ishmaelites and promised that he would bring the king of the Chinese into submission and service to him. [The caliph] mustered many troops, as many as 200,000 men, and gave them to him. With this multitude of troops, Muhammad left the area of Damascus and headed to the East, crossing Asorestan, the land of the Persians, and Khurasan, until he reached a part of the land of the Chinese. There he encamped by the banks of a mighty river, called Botis. He wrote an edict to the king of the Chinese, [with this import]:
"Why do you alone so stubbornly refuse to submit to our caliph, while all [the other] nations tremble with fear of us? In whom do you take refuge [through your act of] not submitting to us? Do you regard us as your maidens [g37] amongst whom you strut with studied elegance? Now if you do not enter under the yoke of service to us, grasp this: I will turn your country into a desert, [devoid] of inhabitants, and put an end to your kingdom. Do not negligently delay in responding to this letter; rather, do it immediately."As soon as the king of the Chinese, who was called Chenbakur, read this document he summoned to him all of his p'shtipans and hamaharzes and deliberated as to what response to give. Consulting with one another, they wrote a response of this sort:
"Could it be that you are mightier than any of the kings who have ruled over the world, from the beginning [of time] until now? How is it that the king of Babylon, who ruled the whole world, and the kings of the Macedonians and the Persians were unable to rule over our land? Understand that you are [merely] more impudent than any dog and are tangled up in the leash of lust. Because of it, you expressed your wicked desires about my beautiful virgins, and this has forced you to risk your life and the lives of those soldiers who have come with you. Could it be that there are no cemetaries in Damascus for your bodies? Now understand you, that our land has not been tributary to anyone, nor will I be the one to effect this. However, if you [merely] want a gift from me, after the manner of kings, I will give it to you. Then you can get up and go back to your place in peace." Muhammad again wrote to Chenbakur: "Give me 30,000 girls and I will leave you in peace [g38], otherwise I will come against you in battle." So the king of the Chinese agreed to this and sent a messenge to Muhammad, saying: "Stay where you are in your army until I implement your request." Meanwhile he ordered his troops to put curtains around some carts and to conceal in them his heavily armed choice cavalry, in place of the requested girls. In this way he would catch them in his trap. Coming to the banks of the river, they encamped opposite them. Seated [hidden] in the carts were more than 40,000 cavalrymen. Chenbakur himself with a few men encamped a short distance from them and then sent [word] to General Muhammad: "Come and take the 30,000 girls which you requested from me and which I selected from throughout my entire kingdom for your notables. Now take from the notables of your army a number corresponding to the number of my girls, cross over to this side of the river, and I will give those arriving my girls by casting lots, so that there will be no squabbling or fighting among your forces." Then [Chenbakur] had boats sent across the river to fetch them. Now [the Arabs] foolishly selected 30,000 renowned men from their troops and sent them across the river. As soon as the crossing was finished, the emperor of the Chinese gave an order to attack the Ishmaelite soldiers [g39].
Once the two sides had clashed in battle, those [soldiers] who were hidden by the curtains, emerged. [The Chinese] trapped [the Arabs] in their midst and put their swords to work [seeing to it] that no one survived to flee. They also severed the ropes [securing] the ships so that no one could survive. And no one did survive excepting Muhammad and a few men who leaped onto horses and jumped into the river, trusting in the bravery of their horses. Thus in deep shame did they return from the emperor of the Chinese to the country of their habitation. Nor thereafter did they ever go to the country of the Chinese to wage war. [Caliph al-Walid] ruled for 10 years and 8 months before dying.
Sulaiman [715-717] succeeded [al-Walid] as caliph, ruling for two years and eight months and then dying. Here [follows an account of] his deeds.
In the second year of his reign [Sulaiman] assembled numerous troops, entrusted them to General Maslama (Mslim), and sent him to the Caspian Gates. They arrived and fought against the Huns [Khazars] who were in the city of Darband (Derbend), striking and afflicting them. [The Arabs] demolished the walls of the fortress. While pulling down the fortress walls, they uncovered a large stone in the foundation which [g40] bore this inscription: "The autocrat emperor Marcian (Markianos) [450-457] built this city and these towers at great expense [with funds] from his treasury. In later times the sons of Ishmael will demolish it and rebuild it once more [with funds] from their own treasury." As soon as [the Arabs] discovered this inscribed rock, [they] ceased pulling down the wall. Then, after designating overseers, they started to rebuild the demolished wall.
 Maslama took a multitude of troops and crossed through the Chora [Darband] Gates, raiding the land of the Huns. He went and pitched camp close to T'argu, a city of the Huns. Now as soon as the inhabitants of the land spotted the [Arab] bandits who had arisen and had come against them, they forthwith notified the king of the Khazars, whom they styled [the] Khaqan/Qaghan/Qaqan (Xak'an). The latter gathered up a host of troops, and all his gigantic and strong-bodied forces—whose renown for bravery was acclaimed among all peoples—and he came and encamped close [to the Arabs]. They did battle with each other for many days, but not [fighting] brigade against brigade. Rather, the combat was wrestling. The Khaqan was delaying entering the fray until the arrival of Alp T'arxan, whom he had called upon for assistance. When Maslama observed the countless multitude of troops [facing him], he began to doubt himself and wondered whether he could find some means of extricating himself from them. So he ordered his troops to kindle an enormous fire in the camp. Then, leaving behind his army's [g41] equippage, concubines, servants and serving women and all the rest of the camp rabble, [Maslama] cut a path through the Caucasus Mountains, destroying forests as he went. Thus was he able to take to the road and escape from the clutches of the enemy by a hairsbreadth. And thus did he return from the land of the Huns, with his head bowed in disgrace.
After all these events, Sulaiman died.
After [Sulaiman], 'Umar [II] succeeded [as caliph, 717-720], ruling for two years and five months.
They say that ['Umar II] was more noble than all the men of his clan. He effected the release from captivity of those whom Muhammad had led off from the land of the Armenians, after he had immolated the lords of our land. For [Muhammad] had seized numerous fortresses and had enslaved men and women. But once 'Umar's rule was established, he released all the captives to return to their own places and brought peace to the lands under his dominion. This 'Umar wrote a letter to the Byzantine emperor Leo [III, the Isaurian, 717-740] regarding the power of our faith, which was composed in the form of various questions. Below, briefly, we shall summarize it [g42].
[Translator's note: the letter from 'Umar II to Leo III and its reply (pages 42-98 of the 1887 St. Petersburg edition) is regarded as a later interpolation and is not translated here. For an English translation and scholarly commentary see A. Jeffery, "Ghevond's Text of the Correspondence between 'Umar II and Leo III," Harvard Theological Review (1944) pp. 269-332. Clicking the link will download Jeffery's article in pdf format: Ghevond's Text of the Correspondence between 'Umar II and Leo III. File size: 6.9 MB.]
Such was the reply written by Emperor Leo and sent by one of his trusted servants to 'Umar, caliph of the Ishmaelites. When the latter read it, he was overcome by shame. As a result of this letter ['Umar] became more kindly and tolerant of Christian peoples and on every occasion demonstrated his benevolence. Indeed, as we narrated earlier, he was the one who released the captives and pardoned everyone's offenses without charge. He demonstrated the same good will toward his own people, more so than any of his predecessors ruling before him. Opening up the treasuries, he gave out stipends to the cavalry officers.
After all these events, he died.
After ['Umar] a certain Yazid (Yazkert) [Yazid II, 720-724] ruled for six years. He was a filthy man who wrought acts of fanatical cruelty toward our Christians [g99]. Motivated by an impure evil spirit, he ordered that the life-giving icon of the true incarnation of our Lord and Savior and his disciples be broken up and destroyed. Similarly he smashed the dominical cross(es) of Christ which had been erected in many places to aid in worshipping the Trinity. This was because the demon of fanaticism forced him to try to budge the rock of faith. As it happened he was unable to move that rock and instead was crushed by it. Having reached the apex of his fanaticism, he ordered the mass slaughter of pigs, which resulted in the obliteration of the bulk of herds of these unclean animals from the country. For once again fanaticism was roused in his mind by the demon. When [Yazid] was approaching his demise and was close to death, the violence of that demon choked him and he perished. And thus did he receive a worthy judgement from the Lord of all, and thus did he perish bitterly.
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