Subsequently Harun (Aharon) [al-Rashid, 786-809] became caliph. He was the son of Muhammad [al-Mahdi] and the brother of Musa [al-Hadi], and was a greedy, money-loving man. During his reign his own brother 'Ubaidullah (Ovbedla) opposed him. Because of the antagonism between the two, [Harun al-Rashid] divided [the territorial authority], giving to his brother Atrpatakan and Armenia together with Iberia/Georgia and Aghuania. In accordance with his evil nature he designated for governors over our country godless men of unrestrained and avaricious behavior who had never even considered what the fear of God meant. The first of these was a certain Yazid, the son of Mazyad [Yazid ibn Mazyad al-Shaybani, 787-788, 799-801]. After him was Abd al-Kebir (Abdalk'bir)[Abd al-Kebir ibn Abd al-Hamid al-'Adawi, four months], who reigned briefly and did neither good nor bad and so seemed good. Following him was a certain Sulaiman [Sulaiman ibn al-'Amri, 788-790] who was a greedy malefactor and the worst of them all. That same 'Ubaidullah came to the city of Barda'a (Partaw) and confirmed Sulaiman as prince over the land, entrusting to him the Lord's people, who were like sheep surrounded by evil wolves [g166].
[Sulaiman] so increased the yoke [of taxation] on people that they could not endure it. For even if they gave all that they possessed, it was not enough to save themselves. This same Sulaiman sent to the city of Dwin his son-in-law, a certain Ibn Ducas (Ibndoke'), an impious and malevolent man, son of one of his maid-servants, who was of Greek nationality. He imposed unendurably heavy taxes on the residents of our land. All the lords, common folk, bishops and the kat'oghikos Esayi [Esayi I Eghipatrushets'i, 775-788] came and pleaded with [Ibn Ducas] to reduce the onerous level of taxation, but it was of no avail. For the wrath of the Lord had delivered the Christians into merciless hands. [Ibn Ducas instead] sent tax collectors to the different parts of the land with the order to double the yearly collection and to take it immediately, and they implemented the command. Once this was accomplished, this son of satan devised another wicked scheme. He had lead seals put around the necks of everyone, demanding many zuzas for each [seal]. Thus did this wicked executioner reduce everyone to the worst extremes of bankruptcy through his intolerant measures [g167].
 The year after the arrival of 'Ubaidullah, the same disasters escalated further. For from then on, no one was master of his own belongings. Instead, everything was taken as booty. Many people, unable to bear the severity of the disasters, voluntarily left their flocks and herds and fled, while the enemy captured their livestock and property and took them as spoil.
Thus deprived of their belongings, naked, barefoot, starving, and unable to make a living, [people] fled to Byzantine territory. They say that their number exceeded 12,000 including women and children. Their leaders were Shapuh from the Amatunik' House and his son Hamam and others of the Armenian lords and their cavalry. The impious and brutal enemy pursued them with their troops, catching up in the district of Kogh at the Iberian/Georgian border. In the ensuing battle some [of the Arabs] were put to flight while others were slain. Then [the Armenian] fugitives crossed the Akamsis [Chorokh] River. The sources [of this river] are in the Tayk' area and it flows in a northwesterly direction crossing through Egeria and into the Pontic [Black] Sea. As soon as they had forded the river, they quickly notified [g168] the Byzantine emperor Constantine [VI]. He called them to him and gave honors to the lords and their cavalry. He settled the common folk on good fertile land. As for the half of the people who remained [in Armenia] they endured extreme poverty like slaves, serving as woodcutters or water-carriers like the Gibeonites.
Furthermore [Ibn Ducas] that fiendish, impious man whom 'Ubaidullah had appointed as governor of the city of Dwin, hatched another diabolical scheme. For at that time the venerable kat'oghikos of the Armenians, Esayi, had passed to Christ with blessed and orthodox faith [A.D. 788], and [Ibn Ducas] decided to examine all the Church's property and possessions. So he summoned all the clerics and terrified them with violent threats, saying: "Do not conceal anything from me. Bring it all out into the open. Should anyone hide something that later is discovered, he will pay for it with his life." Horrified by these threats, [the clerics] turned over everything to him. Everything kept hidden in the treasuries they revealed and placed before him without exception: precious gold and silver vessels, some with precious gems, and royal garments for the blessed altar and for conducting the divine service [g169]. As soon as [Ibn Ducas] saw this, he decided to confiscate all of it, but then changed his mind and took [only] whatever appealed to him from the treasuries and splendid vestments and vessels. The rest he gave to the sacrist of the church [to hold] until Step'anos [Step'anos I Dvnets'i, 788-790] acceded to the throne of the patriarchate. [Step'anos] sat on the patriarchal throne only after paying many bribes, selling off all belongings and properties until [the Church's] villages and servants were freed and its debts [were paid].
 The teaching of Ghewond regarding the chronologies of the House of T'orgom has concluded. [It was written] by order of Lord Shapuh Bagratuni for the glory and praise of the most holy Trinity which is blessed now and forever, amen. Lord Hamazasp from the honorable Mamikonean House desired [a copy of this work] and paid me, the unworthy scribe Sargis, from his legitimate funds to reproduce it. I beseech you to remember [me] to merciful God, to Whom glory forever. Amen.
Return to Historical Sources Menu
Return to History Workshop Menu