John Mamikonean's

History of Taron

Now Smbat went to the edge of the battle and pinioned an Iranian with his left hand and sword, sacrificing him in that fashion, since warm blood was pouring down and loosening the [stuck] handle. He changed his sword and mounted another horse. As soon as he did so, he saw that 1,000 men had surrounded him again, and that he was caught between [two groups of] 500 men. When they knew that they had horses, [Smbat] struck an Iranian and he fell. [Smbat] took the man's horse and offered it to prince Varaz, saying: "Descend and mount, prince of Palunik'." Now the prince turned on one foot and sat on the horse, [a feat] which astonished the troops. Thus, in the midst of a frightful war, did they change their horses [g43]. No matter how much the [enemy] troops increased, they remained tranquil in their midst. [The enemy] so massed against them that they could find no place to exit.

[47] Some of Smbat's soldiers began to waver. Through the providence of God, they spotted the other Smbat (who was prince of Hashteank') coming, and with him Smbat's son, Vahan Kamsarakan, with 6,000 men. When prince Varaz saw this, he cried out "Son of a k'aj, Vahan, where were you that you did not come to [our] aid sooner?" Vahan raised his voice and exclaimed through [his] tears: "Does my poor old father still live, or has he gone to the Lord to rest?" Smbat heard this and said: "St. Karapet came to my aid as I was about to die at the hands of the impious." Now [Vahan] thanked God and struck forward, cutting a path and advancing in. He cleared one wing while Smbat, prince of Hashteank', cleared the other, and, taking on the [conduct of the] war themselves, they commenced cutting down the leaders. Moving around, Vahan encircled the other wing, and having trapped the Iranian troops in the middle, they destroyed them until evening.

When the sun set, 300 Iranians remained alive and found some way to flee. Since their horses had remained [elsewhere], they went into a valley [on foot], hid themselves, and slept, eluding [the Armenians] until noon of the following day. [The Armenian] troops then came and found [48] them, threw water on them and woke them up. Then they took [the Iranians] to Meghti. And that place was named T'mbrajor ("Valley of Sleep"). Smbat ordered that the corpses be piled one atop the other on the hill, which, because of the carnage committed by Varaz, was named Varazablur. Then they went and spent the night in a village of the monastery named Kenac' vayrk' ("Place of Life"). As soon as they entered the village, old women came before them and sang, praising their many exploits. They said later when the corpses (which had not been removed) started to decay and stink:

"Beasts devoured and grew fat on the bodies Varaz made corpses of. The cat ate and swelled up like a bear. The fox grew prouder than a lion. The wolf, since it ate alot, burst. And the bear died of hunger since what it ate did not stay with it. The vultures, since they were greedy, perched and were unable to leave. The mice, since they carried off much to their holes, wore their feet out."

They said all this, and it suited the reality. The name of the village was called Shirakanik'.

Now as for the men whom they had taken to Meghti, they healed them of their wounds, gave them treasures, horses, and weapons, and sent them to the Iranians. They themselves went to the House of the Lord, gave many gifts to God at [the church of] St. Karapet, and then [49] returned to their homes in joy.

In these very times the venerable Step'annos died. He is buried with the other abbots on Hayrablur ("Hill of the fathers"). Then Vahan took the bishops of the Mamikonean, Palunik' and Hashteank' [Houses] and came to Glak monastery. They ordained as abbot of the monastery Epip'an, who had come from the plain of Duin to the retreat and dwelled on the lands of the church. He became the 22nd [abbot] following Step'annos. He held the priorate for 20 years and went to the council which Heraclius [610-641] held in the 9th and 10th years [g45] of his reign [at which] they anathematized all the heretics. The [heretical] bishop of Hashteank' was driven off to Byzantine lands.


Once more Xosrov sent another army against the rebellious Mamikonean tun, [under] the great general [zorapet] Tigran, with 20,000 men. As soon as [Tigran] reached Apahunik', he summoned Smbat. However, [Smbat] sent his son Vahan Kamsarakan to see what [Tigran] wanted. When [Vahan] went and found this out, he sent a reply to his father, saying:

"[Tigran] many times promised good things, and many tlmes [50] evil things. But he demands the remains of prince Musegh and of your father Vahan, as well as [the remains] of the wife of Vaxtang and his son whom Varaz killed ln battle. 'Otherwise,' says he, 'I shall come to the place [hallowed to] your faith, I shall uproot and ruin it and turn your church into a fire-temple and carry you off to the royal court.' Now this is what he said. He wants to come upon [you] through Hashteank'. I shall go along with him. You [meanwhile] assemble our forces, go to [the church of] St. Karapet and beseech the clerics to pray [for us]. Stay well in the Lord."
When Smbat heard this, he took [Vahan's] letter and went before St. Karapet. He stretched forth his hands before the altar and began to weep and say:
"Arise Lord, and awaken Your forces [g46]. Lord, see, be not silent, do not delay, for the enemy scorns us greatly. May Your will be done. Nonetheless we beg that you recall our efforts for You, for the covenant of our sanctity, by which your blessed name is glorified."
Saying this, he had 12,000 swords brought and placed before the bema while the mass was being offered. Then he took them and said:
"Lord we believe in You and that these swords will be the leaven for other swords and that by Your command we shall defeat [the Iranians]. Oh Lord, we have become [51] discomfited and weary from cutting down the impious; those who wiped our swords of rust and blood also are weary. We hope that You will do now as You have in the past."
Then [Smbat] went and assembled the troops—9,040 men. They went and encamped in Hashteank' at a village called Gireh in a well watered place. Tigran came and encamped at Honankec' and sent to Smbat, saying: "Come to me without fear and accept from me treasures and greatness. I shall put a crown on your head and make you the marzpan of Armenia. Only give me the bones of Mushegh and Vahan." But [Smbat] seized the emissaries and, heating a spit of iron to red-hot, he placed it as a crown on the brow [of the chief emissary], saying: "Wait! Let me see what gifts I shall receive for your sake since I crowned you." Then he ordered all the men who had come with [the chief emissary] seized, and [the Armenians] severed heads until the 6th hour of the day. That place was named Moguc' ("Mages'") Cemetary, or Mokkunk'.

Now Smbat went onto the mountain called Sremavayr and encamped opposite Tigran. As soon as it was evening, Vahan Kamsarakan, Smbat's son, arose and cut off the head of Tigran's son and of the 3 princes [g47] [52] who were in the same tent. Taking their heads he came to his father. Then he returned to the same place and secretly entered [under the flap of] Tigran's tent. Now when [Tigran] saw the naked sword in [Vahan's] hand, he did not dare call out to anyone, thinking that [Vahan] wanted to steal the equippage. But Vahan suddenly seized a pillow, quickly threw it down over [Tigran's] mouth, and pounced on him. Another servant of Vahan's entered [the tent] and severed [Tigran's] head. Then he gathered up all the furnishings, precious stones and choice swords, and departed. The Armenian troops were delighted and offered great thanks to God. They [?Iranians] regretted that they had ruined the princes' graves [? ew apashawec'in, zi zgerezmans ishxanac'n awerec'in. Lacking in 1 ms.].

Now Vahan, filled with wisdom, took 200 leather shields and attached them to 100 wild mules, placing [a piece of] iron on each side of the shield. Then, with 8,000 men under his direction, he went near the camp of [the] Hon who had been substituted for Tigran. He encamped close to the crag which is opposite Taron mountain [3 mss.: Tawros mt.]. [53] It was separated from the other camps. Vahan took the 100 wild mules and led them to the edge of the camp with one man going along with every 10 mules. With their swords they goaded the mules into the camp while they themselves followed, sounding war trumpets. They started to cut down those nearby, shouting and terrifying [the Iranlans] and making a great racket. The mules invaded the camp from all dlrections, frlghtened by the noises of the shields, the [g48] shouting of the soldiers and the clamor of the trumpets. The [Iranian] troops thought [the attackers] were mounted and that the clanging of the swords was the result of a slaughter. Each [man] could only shriek "Vay!" not knowing the real state of affairs, for the Lord did battle with them.

Now the other [Iranian] troops were unable to advance since it was dark and our army plagued them with nothing but death. They were entirely unable to recall the crag, for the Lord made them dumb. So they left their equippage and fled straight toward the crag. They started to fall down from the heights of gigantic rocks and no one knew what was going on until the noise of the shrieks [54] diminished. Then the Armenian troops saw that the Iranians had been buried. They themselves returned to [the Iranians'] camp and gathered up the equippage, treasure, the horses and camels, and sent them to the Palunik' district. Among the horses, mules, camels and asses they found [a total of] 18,000 [animals] which covered the face of the district. Now as soon as it was morning, they started to inquire after Tigran and his son, but they did not find them. So they went after the fugitives to find out [where the two were] and saw that they had fallen off the cliff. But then [the Iranians] unitedly made Mihrxosrov their prince, and filled with anger they got into battle formation.

Now Smbat had left Vahan as lieutenant during the night, with 4,000 men. There were 2,000 men placed in ambush in two places. [Smbat] himself arrayed other troops in battle formation, giving command of the right wing to the prince of Palunik', Varaz, who was so mighty that no man could equal him. [Smbat] entrusted the left wing to the prince of Hashteank' and left as his body-guard Varaz' son, Vahan. [55] [The two enemies] massed opposite one another. Mihrxosrov and Smbat approached each other, and they began to strike at each other's head. The Iranian army attacked Smbat like [a swarm of] bees. Smbat began to grow weak since he was an old man. He raised his voice and cried: "Where are you Vahan, my son? Come to me." And he cried out to St. Karapet: "Oh Yovhannes Karapet, baptizer of Christ, the hour has come. Where are the prayers of my holy clerics?" Entering battle [Vahan] scattered the people gathered about his father. Then Smbat took heart, raised his sword and struck at the shoulder of their senior [commander] whose head and part of the shoulder fell to the ground. Putting their swords to work, they caused [the Iranians] to flee as far as the ambuscade. Then those lying in wait sprang out and trapped [the Iranians] in their midst. There was great destruction on that day. They tossed a total of 4,000 heads down from the rock named Honenkec'. It was now evening and some 8,000 men of the Iranian troops fled, encamping in Hashteank'. They held a military review there whence the place name Handiseank'. They wanted to go on to Apahunik' by trickery.

Now when Smbat learned that they had gone, he arose and went after them, reaching them the next day. As soon as [the two groups] encamped opposite each other [the Armenians] planned to go against the Iranians and they organized at night. But while they were still at this, some 3,000 soldiers from Apahunik' arrived. When the Armenian [56] troops saw that the forces from Apahunik' had mingled with the Iranians, they abandoned [their position] and fell to the ground. Finding a way out, they descended to the bank of the Aracani [river] through the Markuc' pass, and there they pitched camp. Now the Iranians arose, pursued and harassed them, forcing them against the river. Smbat, placing all his hope on God, said: "Oh Lord, I have long since known the kindness you have shown us. Now look at us, for the enemy is on this side and the river is on the other side [g50]. Behold how the enemy has put us into straits." Making the sign of the Cross over themselves, they turned upon the Iranians. During the battle there appeared to them a man awesome and luminous whose hair shed light. When k'aj Vahan saw him and knew that the man was Karapet, he joyously attacked killing 3,000 troops. Driving the rest before him through Asteghunk'/Asteghonk', he forced them to descend until they were opposite the church. [The enemy] had wanted to ascend to the same place and kill the clerics. But the power of the Lord prevented them, and they were unable to cross the valley. The place that they fell back at was called usually Yetsank [1 ms.: Yetang; another, Aycsan; another, Ayctan].

Now the [Iranian] troops reached the forest which is opposite the monastery, and they hid there. Vahan hurriedly went there, and [57] putting them to the sword, cut them down leaving not even one [alive] to tell [of the event]. That place was called Mahu Arhit' ("Cause of Death"). Smbat was extremely fatigued that day, but to his aid came Varaz, prince of Palunik'. They drove [Iranian] troops before them, throwing them into the river until they came to the place presently known as Kuray [2 mss.: Kuran]. They seized the horses of those who had fled. The prince of Palunik' followed [those fugitives] with many troops and destroyed them. When they arrived there, Varaz said to the Iranians: "Since you are worn out, flee, so that we may kill you." And they replied: "We are lost and shall die," whence the place name Kuray. In that very place [Varaz] began to take them on one by one and to cut off their foreskins—1680 of them. Some 2,000 other [Iranians] who fled into the river drowned. As for the brigade [of the Iranian army] [g51] which Smbat destroyed, he found them crossed over to the other side [of the river] through Hoveank' over the fugitives on the mountain. But men from the stronghold came from behind and with arrows and sling-stones and rocks and killed 2800 men. Those who survived, numbering 1040, went to Xosrov among the Iranians. But he sent yet another army to Taron.

In the same year, Smbat died. He had his remains taken to his [58] fathers' mausoleum at Glak monastery where he is buried by the door of [the church of] St. Step'annos, built by that Step'annos whose mother was torn asunder. And he placed in St. Step'annos the left toe of the blessed proto-martyr [Step'annos]. In the same year that Smbat passed, abbot Epip'an also was translated to God after [a directorship of] 20 years. Then Dawit' sat on his [episcopal] throne for 3 years, being the 23rd [abbot in succession] from St. Gregory. In these days, Tiran, Vahan's son, was baptized in the monastery of Glak in [the church of] St. Karapet, in the abbotship of Dawit'.


After 18 years discord arose again between the Iranians and Vahan. Xosrov sent 50,600 soldiers to Taron who arrived there in a great rage, wishing to pass to Glak monastery in order to take the bones of [their] enemies. They came and encamped in Mush. Now Vahan summoned his son k'aj Tiran and said: "My son, do not be deceived into sin because you are mighty, and do not be tricked by beautiful women because of your youth. Instead, remember your [59] fathers and with what sanctity and purity they served God. Do [g52] not forget service to St. Karapet, for in battles it was he who aided us. If you want to live long, do not be tempted into debauchery as you have not. And should I die in war, have [my remains] taken to our monastery. Serve God and His clerics with holiness as I have, for I have neither been deceived by beauty nor have I dispossesed or harassed the unfortunate. For I looked after everyone under by authority, men, women, and children, believers in Christ, like brothers and families of my tun as my fathers did, with concern. Son, if you do the same, the Lord will strengthen you. Now let us go to battle."

And they went to battle. They sent to abbot Grigor, the 25th [in succession from St. Gregory] who sat on the patriarchal throne for 8 years, and they took along to the battle 385 hooded clerics. When the battle began on the banks of the Aracani [river] by the forest called Kaghamaxeac' hill, the black-robed clerics wearing hair-shirts and cowls [also were present] and for every 10 men was a bell-ringer, and between every 2[men] a gonfalon on a high holder. They massed there opposite each other, on the other [60] side of the river in the plain. When the enemy saw this they were astonished. [The Iranian commander] Varduhri did not enter battle, but said: "I shall see what they do." When the battle began and the Vahaneans wanted to flee [or: "the shield-bearers wanted to flee,"] then [the clerics] bowed their knee and in unison beseeched God with tearful prayers: "Oh Lord, win our battle. Oh Karapet, hearken to the voices of your servitors." Having said this together, they rose to their feet, made the sign of the Cross, and turned upon the enemy, with the bell-ringers boldly sounding forth [g53].

Vahan looked at the clerics' brigade and saw in their right wing a youth of awesome appearance wearing on his head a purple crown and a cross. From his rainment fire shone forth. Before him, [Vahan] saw two other youths with wings. When the enemy saw this they went berserk, and piled into the river. Those who reached the other side headed for Meghti. Now Vahan called to his son Tiran and to the other troops, saying: "Behold the Lord of Creation, Christ, appears among his servants. For He is their king, and the king of us all Who hearkened to the voices of His servitors and descended to save them and us. Now go after the enemy!" The impious [Iranians] reached Meghti, found 12 old clerics there and killed them. [61] They are buried by the door of the church, since that was their request.

Vahan entered the river, tied the horse on his back together with his weapon, and crossed to the other side, to the village named Parsic' dem [3 mss.: Parsic' koghmn]. All of Vahan's soldiers assembled there. And the clerics were praying in the same place until the abbot reached them bearing the head of [the Iranians'] chief, Varduhri. Vahan expelled the [enemy] soldiers and reached the plain above Matravank', where he made a circle and ranged his troops in battle. Varduhri and Vahan's son, Tiran, approached each other and Varduhri said: "Sorcerer! You are exalted in sorcery, and by sorcery you would vanquish the Iranian k'ajs." Tiran retorted "If I am a sorcerer, then obey a moment, so I may show you your horse's tail." And [Tiran] quickly struck off [Varduhri's] right foot together with the greaves. [Varduhri] leaned to the side and fell. Tiran said: "Varduhri, don't blame me. Your head was bent over and made you fall. Let me balance your load." And he cut off his head and gave it to a servant, saying: "Keep this for when we encamp at Matravank' [g54] and play polo in front of [the church of] St. Karapet, for it was [Varduhri] who insulted [Karapet's] clerics."

They got the Iranian soldiers between them and began to close [62] in on them. The prince of Palunik' separated off two princes and chased them on to Hashteank'. As soon as he reached a plain-like place [one of the] fugitive princes became terrified while the troops were far away, and he was unable to flee or to fight, and so he remained. A certain one of the servants asked: "Why are you frightened, oh prince?" He replied: "I see the Palak prince but I cannot go [to him]. But they were unable to learn what [this statement meant]. The man died on the spot. Then [the prince of Palunik'] cut off his head and took the two princes' sons who had come along, and had them held. Then he went after the fugitives. Reaching the other [fugitive] prince, [Varaz] said: "Fall to the ground willlngly, Iranian, or else you shall fall unwillingly." But [the man] fled. Varaz went after him and struck him with his lance, which went through the shoulder and on through the horse's spine, and he said: "Fall now." The name of that place was called Nerk'inanknis ("Fall Down").


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