Subsequently Marwan, son of Muhammad, assembled many troops including Prince Ashot with the lords and their cavalry, and went off with them to raid the land of the Huns [Khazars]. They battled against the city [of Varach'an/Balanjar], beating its defenders and capturing the city. When the inhabitants of the city saw that the brigands had overpowered them [g113] and taken the city, many of the citizens hurled their belongings into the sea, some also drowned themselves by jumping into the water. Now the Ishmaelite troops gathered up the [remaining] multitude and the booty and, together with Prince Ashot, Marwan returned from the Hun areas with great triumph and much spoil. When he reached the Barda'a (Partaw) shahastan he set aside a fifth portion of the captives and loot and sent it to their caliph Hisham, relating the circumstances of their triumph.
[Hisham] accepted the spoil, extending great thanks to Marwan and his troops, and deprecating his brother Maslama by citing Marwan's brave victory as an example. However [Maslama] responded: "I was waging war not against men, but against God, while [Marwan] was fighting against irrational beasts." Marwan divided up the remaining loot and captives amongst his troops, giving a portion to Ashot and to the other respected lords, [giving them] servants and serving maids. [Marwan] himself ruled over our land, ending all violent attacks and iniquitous deeds. He amputated the hands and feet of robbers, thieves, and enemies of order, and then put them to death [by hanging them] on trees.
After [reigning for] 19 years, Hisham died [g114].
[Hisham] was succeeded by al-Walid (Vlit') [al-Walid II, 743-744] who ruled for one and a half years. He was a powerfully built strongman who enjoyed single-combat wrestling. Whenever he heard about some [other] combatant, he had him fetched so that he might test his own prowess. Furthermore, he occupied himself with drunkenness and unbridled, lecherous sex. When the lords of his clan observed the deeds of their prince who was steeped in such senseless and loathsome obscenity, they consulted reliable [wise men] of their faith, whom they styled kura, asking what they thought of him. They responded: "Because he has insulted the honor of our caliphate and deviated from the precepts of our law-giver [Muhammad] and deports himself with disgraceful behavior, he is worthy of death and should be killed." So [the clan members], accepting the command of the kura, entered the royal palace, found [al-Walid] in a drunken stupor, and slew him with a sword. In his stead they elevated [to the caliphate] a certain Sulaiman from the same branch of the royal clan [g115].
 When Marwan learned about the death of their caliph al-Walid, he forthwith assembled his troops. He left [as ruler] over the land of the Armenians Ishak (Isahak), son of Muslim (Mslim) [Ishak ibn Muslim al-Ukaili, governor of Arminiya 744-749/750]. Then he took the entire multitude of his forces and went off to make war against his clan, as an avenger of the death of al-Walid and his son. Finding some [men] from the clan of the slain [caliph], [Marwan] united them and all the men of his clan with his own forces. Many other sons of Ishmael adhered to him, forming a large army, which then crossed the great Euphrates River. The two [opposing armies] faced off near the confines of Damascus [at a place] called Rusafa (R'usp'a). They warred against each other for many days, causing numerous casualties on both sides. Every day toward evening, close to the time of the final prayer, they stopped fighting and sat and mourned their fallen, prepared the corpses and took them to the cemetary, saying: "We are one people [speaking] one language, [having] one principality. We are brothers, so why are we plunging swords into each other?" [Despite having said this], the next day they resumed the fight and prolonged it. But then Marwan beat the opposing side, slaying Sulaiman, and he himself held authority for 6 years [Marwan II, 744-750] [g116].
During that period of their reign [internecine] warfare never ceased among the sons of Ishmael. For Marwan besieged the city of Damascus, then started to fight and destroyed [the city's] iron gates. The inhabitants of the city, those sons of Ishmael who had been steadfastly resisting, were [captured and] tied to four posts and had their faces scraped off with serrated knives and thus died bitter deaths. Pregnant women were cut in two. Lads were shoved into spaces between the rocks and cruelly crushed to death. Girls who were virgins were led into captivity along with a motley multitude. For this was the Lord's revenge upon the city because of its accumulated sins.
It was here that the prophecy of Amos was fulfilled [which says]: "For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron. So I will send a fire upon the house of Haz'ael, and it shall devour the strongholds of Benhadad. I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitants from the valley of Aven, and I shall destroy all the inhabitants of Harran and the people of Syria shall go into exile. Thus says the Lord." [Amos I: 3-6, with slight variation.]
It is certainly worth pondering why the prophet [g117] put all sorts of iniquities into three [categories] yet regarded the actual source of the Lord's anger to be [merely] the fourth [category]. It seems to me that this city of sinners was full of many types of evil, since [the residents] were sick mentally, sick in their senses and sick in their hearts and [these sicknesses] fostered the tendencies to kill, ravish the properties [of others] as well as [arousing] their lecherous desires. Their fourth [iniquity] was that not only did they not fear a visitation from God, but they actually blamed [God] for the evil they worked, [God] Who is the source of all good things. It was this that irrevocably transformed God's forgiving mildness into rage toward the sinners.
 While the din of the mob fighting this unbelievers' war grew louder among the sons of Ishmael, the sons of Smbat were freed from their confinement as hostages. They were released by the order of al-Walid. However before they reached Syria, al-Walid was slain and they were detained there, since no one dared to release them. But when warfare resumed among [the Arabs], [the former hostages] slipped away and came back to the Armenians. When they reached [g118] the land of the Armenians after a short while they went to the Vaspurakan area where they created hardship and great anguish in the country. They subjected [the people] to violent and forcible revenue collection until the lands' protests reached the commander Muslim's son, Isahak, who forbade them from such banditry.
Subsequently when they saw how the battle was going with this rabble, over time, once again, [Ashot's opponents] began to oppose Ashot's authority and were attempting to set traps for him everywhere. They attacked him at night while he was sleeping and his forces were dispersed throughout the district. They wanted to kill him. But the prince's guards alerted him about the brigands coming against him and he escaped their clutches by flight. [His opponents] loaded up with much booty from Prince Ashot's treasures and returned home. [Ashot], realizing their treachery—since during [these] days of peace [his enemies] tried to exact wicked vengeance on him—protected himself from them for some days. He gathered the folk of his House into his fortress of Dariwnk', his wife and entire family, and left guards to protect the stronghold. He himself went to the land of Syria, to Marwan the Ishmaelite caliph and informed him about the source of the disturbance between himself and his lords. When the Patrician [Ashot] and his troops arrived [g119] at the site of the battle, Marwan's forces enjoyed numerous successes and destroyed his foes for they had heard the news of his arrival, that the Patrician of the Armenians had come to [the caliph's] assistance with his 15,000 select cavalrymen. Thus when Marwan's opponents learned about this, they abandoned the fight and sustained some very serious losses on that day. And so, after defeat on the battlefield they stopped fighting for a while.
Now it happened that at the very time when Prince Ashot was in the land of Syria, Muslim's son [Ishak] designated Grigor of the Mamikonean House [as commander] over the Armenian troops in place of Ashot. Marwan, being informed about the revolt of Smbat's sons and what Grigor's brother Dawit' had done to him, sent an emissary to Muslim's son Ishak—who was commander of the land of the Armenians—ordering that Dawit' be arrested and given over to a certain Oqba (Ok'ba) to be tried and judged as the latter saw fit. As soon as [Oqba] received this order, he was unable to retrain himself; rather, he called at once for him to be treacherously taken and placed in the hands of the merciless executioner. [The executioner] took and bound him with wicked restraints and put him into confinement in jail for a few days. Then he wrote to Marwan inquiring what he [would] order. And he ordered that his hands and feet be cut off and then that he be tied to a stake until he died. Thus [Dawit'] died a pitiful and ignoble death. As is said of behavior unpleasing [g120] to God and of the hatred which they showed to each other, truly bad fruit grows from bad seed. That is how it was in this case.
 When these wicked deeds had been done, Marwan once more established the rule of Ashot and sent him to the country of the Armenians with very splendid honors. Thereafter Grigor did not cease displaying his animosity or vengefulness over the killing of his brother, though out of fear of the tyrants he demonstrated peace toward Ashot, but in words only. In his heart he did not recognize his authority. For he was waiting for an opportune moment to carry out his plan.
While warfare among [the Arabs] continued, all the [Armenian] lords of the land thought to drop their yoke of obedience and to rebel from the Ishmaelites. Grigor from the Mamikonean clan suggested this plan and he did this with the malicious intent of removing Ashot from power. Meanwhile all the lords of the Armenians went to Prince Ashot to convince him to participate in their fruitless scheme [g121].
When the prince saw the unanimity of the lords and their cavalry—since one and all were enthused by this hopeless idea—he had his doubts. He summoned his lords one by one and beseeched them with much conversation not to participate in such an iniquitous undertaking, saying: "Oh brothers, I see no prudence in your foolish scheme. Quite the contrary, it is a devious plan and a disastrous proposition. Clearly our forces are few when compared with the brutality of the Ishmaelites, we cannot withstand their troops, and we will be unable to dislodge our country from the mouth of the dragon. It will bring only trouble and danger to our aim. If you prefer, accept my counsel and let us not do it. Instead let us pay taxes to them as we are currently doing and let us keep our property, our vineyards, forests, and farms." But the lords of the Armenians did not want to adopt this wise advice. Resisting him, they retorted: "If you do not join our alliance, none of your troops will stay with you. We cannot tolerate the crisis that the our country of Armenia is experiencing. Therefore Prince Ashot unwillingly united with Grigor and the other lords and made a vow on the holy cross to firmly adhere to their alliance.
Once they had ratified this agreement, they withdrew from the commander of our land and went and took refuge [g122] in the fortresses of Tayk' with all their families and belongings. They were particularly relying on the troops of the Byzantine emperor which were located in the Pontus area, for there was an oath of peace between them by order of Emperor Constantine [V, Copronymous, 740-775]. Now it happened that all the sons of sinfulness [the Paulician heretics] went and mingled with the rebels' brigade. They had neither fear of God nor of princes nor [did they respect] the dignity of elders. Rather, like strangers and foreigners, they spread around capturing brothers and their kinfolk and, taking much booty, they inflicted torments and beatings upon their brothers.
 As a result, God withdrew his forgiveness and shattered their unity. Indeed their iniquitous activities did not last even for a full year. Prince Ashot broke with them and went to the village of Hazr in the district of Bagrewand. Some of the lords accompanied him and wanted to unite with the sons of Ishmael. However [some of] the lords who were with him went and informed that malicious Grigor about the details of this strategy. [Grigor] had for some time wanted to implement his treachery, so he quickly assembled his troops and pursued [Ashot] over the mountains like a crow. [Grigor] caught up with him at night and besieged the place where he was resting. [Grigor] knew about the vacillation of [Ashot's] troops, for they did not come out to help him. Seizing [Ashot], he gave him to one of the servants of Dawit' [Mamikonean], ordering him to [g123] blind his eyes. [And by this deed] he reduced the glory of our entire land, consigning it to a shadowy darkness and plunging into deep sorrow not only his own person but all the lords of his own clan. Subsequently they realized [what they had wrought] but were unable to do anything that helped. Rather all they could do was sit and lament, moan and cry. For the splendid crown had fallen from their heads and was ruined. And thereafter the glory of the Armenian people vanished.
As for that oath-breaking Grigor, he went off to the city of Karin [Erzerum]—as though returning from some feat of valor—and broadcast the tidings of his victory. But after some time the judgement of God was visited upon him, a punishment commensurate with his actions. For his stomach became frightfully and dangerously swollen and he grew feverish. And thus did he quit this life, unremembered. Afterwards his brother Mushegh became prince for a short time [c. 750].
Ashot, who had held authority for 17 years with honor more glorious than all the previous princes, experienced this traitorous treachery. Afterwards he lived for 13 years, dying in deep old age. He was entombed with glory in his [clan's] mausoleum in the village of Dariwnk' [g124].
 Let us return to the previous strand of our historical narration. Now it happened that while Marwan still held the caliphate and was fighting with his own clan members, once again the fanatical flame of that fire [of rebellion] blazed out in the eastern areas, in the land of Khurasan. When all the lords of the sons of Ishmael observed the unbearable danger which had increased amonst them, they tried to save their own lives. Thus, some of those who were of the clan of their lawgiver [Muhammad] separated from the rest and went as fugitives to the land of Khurasan and concealed themselves there for a while. Subsequently they unified the Khurasanian troops, placing as general over themselves Kahat'ba and a certain Abu Muslim who was artful in the heresy of astrology. They united and slew the leader of the land and attracted their troops to their own side as well as many from the rabble who were suffering from unbelievably stringent tax demands. Then they began to attack from the side of Syria. When Marwan's forces went against them, they were unable to prevail against that mob. For the destruction of his power derived from the Lord. They struck and killed many of them [g125] while others fled. The troops of Abdullah [were the attackers] and they were called the sons of Hashim. Continuing to advance, they crossed the Tigris River, conquering and subduing many cities. Meanwhile all the troops that Marwan sent against them were decisively crushed, and [the Abbasid rebels] subdued everyone as far as the great Tachik military camp of al-Kufa (Akogha). As for the residents of al-Kufa and Basra, when they saw the [army's] brutal power, they cooperated and added to their forces. When Marwan realized what was unfolding, he was plunged into a great panic, opened the royal treasury, and distributed it to his troops. Surrounding himself with soldiers, he arose against [the Abbasids]. The two sides drew near to each other and deployed brigade against brigade. When they clashed in battle many were wounded on both sides and innumerable corpses fell on the field of battle. There was protracted warfare between the two sides until the next year. At the end of the sixth year of Marwan's reign, God's retribution was visited upon him as his own blood was demanded for the blood of the kinsfolk he had shed.
Now the troops of Abdullah grew [even] stronger and attacked with bestial ferocity, reaching Marwan's camp. They slaughtered them so severely that it was said that some [g126] 300,000 cavalry were killed and that their blood flowed in streams which evaporated into a dark fog. The remnants of his troops were forced back and trapped in Marwan's camp. [The Abbasids] then advanced to the fortress-like base and the very tent of Marwan where [Marwan] himself was seized and killed. All these evil [events]—the disruptions of war, the capture of cities, and the shedding of blood—transpired during the 6 years of [Marwan's] reign, after which he died.
 Then in place [of Marwan] Abdullah [Abu-l-Abbas al-Saffah, 750-754] ruled. He sent his brother, another Abdullah [Abu Jafar al-Mansur] to circulate throughout all the lands of his realm. First he came to the land of the Armenians, reducing everyone to bankruptcy with many afflictions and torments, to the point that he was demanding taxes from the dead. He made many orphans and widows suffer greatly and tortured priests and servants of the churches mockingly, beating them with sticks so that they reveal the names of the dead and their families. He viciously tormented the inhabitants of our land with bitter tax demands, imposing a tax of many silver zuze's per capita and placing a lead seal around their necks [g127].
Now the lords of the clans voluntarily and involuntarily gave gifts of horses and mules, precious clothing and other gold and silver goods, to fill the mouth of that dragon which had attacked to wreck the country. When they had satisfied his wicked appetite, he passed on to the area of the Iranians and Medes as far as the land of Khurasan, thence to Egypt and the land of Pentapolis as far as Africa. Wherever he went, through his rapacious, greedy behavior, he entrapped people like someone casting a net, to the point that his own family styled him the "father of a coin." For in truth he revered the coin more than he revered God. When he was leaving our land he placed Yazid (Ezit) [Yezid ibn Usaid al-Sulami, ruler of Arminiya 752-754, 759-770, 775-780], son of Usaid, in charge of making judgements and collecting taxes in the land of the Armenians.
As prince of the Armenian lords, Yazid established Sahak [Sahak VII Bagratuni, presiding prince 755-761], son of Bagarat, who was from the same House as Prince Ashot, and the son of his father's brother. He was a tall, attractive man with a noble disposition, who knew the fear of God. Wherever they sent him he led his troops, although they were toiling through the battles unwillingly. This was because at that point the Armenian troops' annual stipend of silver, which until then had come from the [caliph's] court, had been terminated. Moreover [the Arabs] demanded that expenses for the cavalry be provided from taxes levied on the princely Houses [g128], that is all the expenses for clothing and feeding these brigades.
Abdullah [Abu-l-Abbas al-Saffah] died after three years of rule. His brother, the other Abdullah [Abu Jafar al-Mansur] took over his authority, ruling for 22 years [as caliph, 754-775].
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