Sebeos' History

At that time there were some countries which had rebelled from the king of Iran, namely, Amagh, Rhoyean, Jrechan and Taparastan. [Smbat] defeated them in battle, striking with the sword, and putting them in the service of the Iranian king. He built up the entire country of his marzpanate, for it was in ruins. In that land were a people who had been captured from the country of Armenia and settled at the edge of the great desert which is in the [g59] area of Turk'astan and Delhastan. They had forgotten their own language, learning had weakened and the order of the priesthood had become reduced. There were also Kodreats' people there, who had been captured along with our own men. And there were not a few there from [lands subject to] Byzantine authority and from the Syrian area.

The Kodreats' people were not believers but a great light dawned on the Christians. They became confirmed in the faith, studied learning and language, and established [65] in the order of priesthood of that land a certain elder from among them named Abel.

Chapter 15.

Vstam comes to Asorestan to kill Xosrov and take the kingdom. His death from the treachery of Pariovk, king of the Kushans. The small battle in the land of Hyrcania.

In that period Vstam subjected to himself two kings of the Kushans, Shawg and Pariovk. He gathered all the troops in the East and went to Asorestan with a large and very powerful army, to kill Xosrov and take his kingdom for himself. [Vstam's] troops were at a distance from him, on the right and left, while the Kushan king Pariovk was [to provide] assistance from behind him. But then the deceitful king of the Kushans got the idea of going before [Vstam] with a few men, where he dismounted the horse and bowed to the ground seven times. Motioning him forward, Vstam ordered him to mount again. [But Pariovk] had placed an ambush for him on the road. Pariovk said: "Order the multitude to leave you, for I would have secret words with the king." [However], not sensing [Pariovk's] treachery, [66][Vstam] ordered the people to depart. As [the two of them] were going along the way, talking, suddenly the ambushers sprung out of their place of concealment, and attacked and killed Vstam. Pariovk had stipulated the time with his troops, and he now quickly notified them. [The troops] came up and captured Vstam's wife, all his bags and baggage, and then turned quickly and departed.

After some days had passed, all of the troops were informed, and they split away from each other, being as it were, abandoned, each one going to his own place. The troops of Geghum which were with [Vstam], similarly, departed and quickly reached the strongholds of their own land. And those Armenian men who had rebelled from Smbat [or: had rebelled in Ispahan] and gone over to Vstam, were among them. They went to the country called Komsh which is on the other side of the mountain which separates it from Hyrcania, and reached the village named Xekewand.

Shahr Vahrich and Smbat, marzpan of Gurgan, went against them with many troops. The Geghumk' troops were not more than 2,000 men. There was a battle in that country. They struck at the Iranian troops, put them to flight, killed many, arrested many, then turned back, encamping [67] near the battlefield. Those men from Armenia were with them. Many of the [Iranian] troops and the Armenians who were with marzpan Smbat died [g61].

Chapter 16.

Discovery of a fragment of the Cross.

Three months prior to this battle, a vision appeared to a certain man named Yovsep'. He said: "A man with a wondrous appearance came and said to me, 'A battle will occurr in three months in which many people will die. Go to the site of the battle, and let this be a sign for you. For you will see a man lying on the ground whose body glitters among all the corpses. Take whatever you find on him, and take care not to forget, for he/it is a miraculous thing.'" [Yovsep'] arose and departed. When he reached the place, he found things as they had been related to him in the vision for [the man] and all the corpses had been stripped, and [the man] had a chestnut-colored fur [or: a leather bag (shagoyr mashkeghen)] around his shoulders; his body was among the corpses. [Yovsep'] took the fur and discovered that it contained a silver box with a cross in it fashioned from a large fragment of the Lord's Cross. He made the sign of the Cross [68] over himself with this, took it and went after his comrades.

All the troops left that place and went to the strongholds of their land. Then the king requested that Vahrich go home, and he sent great thanks to Smbat for he fought sincerely and was beaten and did not leave the place. He fled only after everyone else had fled [g62].

Chapter 17.

Smbat fights with the enemy and triumphs. He is more honored with estimable gifts and honors than all the other marzpans. Smbat's son, named Varaztirots', is appointed to the office of the king's cupbearer. Construction of the church of saint Gregory. Enthronement of the kat'oghikos.

The next year, all the brigades of the enemy assembled and went to the district of Taparastan. Smbat too massed all his troops and went against them in war. And the lord God betrayed the troops of the enemies into Smbat's hands and killed them all with the sword. Those who survived went as fugitives to their own place. Now those who were with them requested an oath and conditions and came before Smbat. That Yovsep' was among them, and related the vision and the many signs which [God] had worked among the barbarians. Yovsep' had his find with him. Then Smbat arose and kneeled [69] before him, took [the fragment of the Cross], made the sign of the Cross, and then gave it to a certain prominent man named Mihru from the Dimak'sean House whom [Smbat] had put in charge of his House as a loyal man and executor [of his orders]. He gave it to the church which priests kept at his court.

Then the king sent a hrovartak expressing great satisfaction [with Smbat], and exalting him with honor, above all of the other marzpans in his lordship. He sent him cups of gold, royal clothing, and golden diadems set with precious stones and pearls. [Smbat's] son, whose name was Varaztirots', had been raised [by Xosrov] as though he were one of his own sons, elevated over all at court, and appointed to the office of cup-bearer, serving wine to the king.

Smbat held the marzpanate of that land for eight years. Then a command came to summon him with great exaltation to [g63] the royal court, and [the king] ordered him to go and see his own country in the 18th year of [Xosrov's] reign.

Now [Smbat] requested a command from the king [permitting him] to build the church of saint Gregory, which was in the city of Dwin. Because the blessed kat'oghikos Movses had died, [70] and no vardapet was there, [Smbat] hurried even more to request the king's order. When the order reached his country, [Smbat] concerned himself with the great [kat'oghikosal] throne so that they set up an overseer, a caretaker of the church, and a director of its salvation. They seated Abraham, bishop of the Rshtunik' on the patriarchal throne. Then they commenced laying the foundation of the church. [Smbat] assembled architects [skilled in working] stone, appointed trustworthy officials over them, and ordered that the work be brought to a speedy conclusion. The overseer of the fortress and [Armenia's] marzpan wrote a complaint to the king, saying: "[The church] is too close to the fortress and [will be] damaged by enemies."

The king's reply arrived, saying: "Pull down the fortress and build the church in that same spot." Amen.

Chapter 18.

Smbat is summoned to the Iranian court and receives the honor of the lordship (tanuterut'iwn) [and of being] called Xosrov Shum. He persecutes the Kushans. The killing of Datoyean. Once more Smbat and the Armenian naxarars go against the Kushans and Hepthalites. A certain wrestling match. Smbat triumphs and goes to the court with great glory.

[71] When winter had passed and spring arrived, messengers came [to Smbat] with hrovartaks summoning him to the royal court with great pomp. [Smbat] went before the king at the dastakert called "the great dastakert." Leaving the hall, he resided [nsti] in Bob and in Bahghak [g64].

Then the king gave him the tanuterut'iwn known as Xosrov Shum. He adorned him with gorgeous clothing, in a hat and muslin robes embellished with gold; he exalted [him] with unbelievable honors, a bejewelled camp, troops, and silver thrones, and gave him charge of the lesser diwan of the land. He gave him four-toned trumpets and guards for his court selected from the soldiers at court. He assembled under [Smbat] an enormous force in the eastern country of the Kushans; and he ordered [Smbat] to make whomever he wanted the marzpan.

Now [Smbat] departed and reached the nearby country of his first rule, Komsh. He summoned the troops of his own [72] countrymen from Hyrcania, and then went directly to the East.

Here are [the names of] the princes of the Armenian naxarars who were with [Smbat], each with brigade and banner:

Varazshapuh Artsruni
Sargis Tayets'i
Artawazd, Vstam, and Hmayeak Apahuni
Manuel, lord of the Apahunik'
Vrham, lord of Goght'n [Vrham Goght'neats' ter]
Sargis Dimak'sean
Sargis Trpatuni

and other naxarars. And he had some 2,000 cavalrymen from the land [of Armenia (?)]. [Smbat] saw that the Kushans' forces had spread across the entire country, raiding. But as soon as they heard about his reputation, they assembled and departed. [Smbat] went after them and quickly caught up. Now as soon as they observed that he was upon them, they turned and fought, clashing with each other in battle. The forces of the Kushans took to flight and were routed by the forces of Xosrov Shum. Many of them died, while many fled. Then [Smbat] again camped at Apr Shahr and in the district of Tos. He himself with 300 men stayed in the town called Xrhoxt [g65].

[73] Then the kings of the Kushans requested aid from the great Khaqan/Qaqan (Xak'an), king of the northern parts. A mob of 300,000 came to their aid. [This force] crossed the Vehrhot river which arises from the Ewighat country, T'urk'astan [crossing] Dionos ep'esteays [Abgaryan, p. 102, has emended this to yerkre Ewighatay, zGimnosp'esteays..."the Gymnosophists"] Shamn and Bramn and flows to India. [The force] settled on the banks of the river, and spread out, raiding, to the west. Unexpectedly, they reached and besieged the town, for the village had a bulwark of fortification around it.

Smbat gave an order to the 300 men to fall upon the fortress which was in the town. He himself mounted, taking along the following three men: Sargis Dimak'sean, Sargis Trpatuni, and a certain arms-bearing mounted villager named Smbatik. Suddenly coming upon its entrance, they crushed the might of the mob and departed. The 300 men who were about the fortress in the town went against [his] troops. And the commander of his troops was a certain Iranian prince named Datoyean, by the king's order.

Now despite the fact that Smbat (who is Xosrov Shumn) sent to him, telling him to evade them, [Datoyean] did not want to listen; rather, he went against them in battle. They struck at the Iranian troops, putting Datoyean to flight, and then [74] spread out, raiding as far as the borders of Rey and the district of Aspahan. After devastating the entire country, they turned back to their army; and a command came from the great Khaqan/Qaqan (Xak'an) to Chembux to recross the river and to return home. Now a certain principal naxarar named Shahrapan Bandakan arrived from the court to investigate Smbat and Datoyean. All the surviving troops vindicated Smbat; but Datoyean was taken in shackles to the court and was killed by the king. Then Smbat assembled troops and again armed [them] and called up many other troops [g66] to aid him, after which he went against the Kushan people and the king of the Hepthalites. [The latter] with great preparation arose and went against him. They reached the place of battle and massed against each other. The king of the Kushans sent a message to Smbat, saying: "What good is it going into battle with such a tumultuous mob, exhausting our forces. How shall our bravery be fathomed? But come, let you and I fight alone and compete, and today my bravery will be revealed to you." And he thumped himself with his hand and said: "Behold I am ready to die." With great speed the two prepared to attack, and approached each other. In the midst of the two armies [75] they battled each other. But they were unable to defeat each other quickly, for both were failing in strength, and heavily armed. But then aid came from On High. Smbat's spear pierced the vertewamut bahlik [?] and the security of the Kushan king's armor, and because [Smbat] struck him forcefully, he fell to the ground, dead. As soon as [the Kushan king's] forces saw [what had happened to] their king, they were horrified and turned to flight. [Smbat's troops] pursued them, raiding as far as Bahl shahastan of the Kushans, looting the entire country: Harew, Vaghages, all Toxorostayn and Taghakan. They also took numerous fortresses which they pulled down, and then returned in great triumph, with much booty. They went and encamped in Marg and in the district of Margrhot.

Messengers bearing the glad tidings quickly reached king Xosrov relating in full the bravery [displayed by Smbat]. King Xosrov rejoiced with exceeding delight. He ordered that a huge elephant be adorned and brought to the chamber. He commanded that [Smbat's son] Varaztirots' (who was called Javitean Xosrov by the king) [g67], be seated atop [the elephant]. And he ordered treasures scattered on the crowd. He wrote [to Smbat] a hrovartak [expressing] great satisfaction and summoned him to court with great honor and pomp.


Chapter 19.

Smbat dies peacefully. The Armenian naxarars rebel from the Iranians and go to serve the king of the north, the Khaqan/Qaqan (Xak'an).

When [Smbat] was about one day's journey from the royal court, the king commanded all the naxarars and his forces to go before him. He ordered his aides to take before [Smbat] a steed from the court stable decked out in royal trappings. [Smbat] went into the king's presence with great splendor and glory.

Now when [the king] saw him, he received him with joy, extending his hand which [Smbat] kissed, prostrating himself. Then the king said to him: "You served loyally, and we are even more satisfied with you. From now on, do not tire yourself by going to battle. Rather, stay close by. Take, eat, and drink, and partake of our joy." [Smbat] was the third naxarar in the palace of king Xosrov. But after a short while [Smbat] died in the 28th year of [Xosrov's] reign [618-19]. His body was taken to the country of Armenia, to his native place of rest, and they placed it in a tomb in the village of Dariwnk' which is in the district of Gogovit.

[77] Then [the naxarars] rebelled and went into the service of the king of the northern regions, the great Khaqan/Qaqan, by means of Chepetx of the House of Chen [The text may be defective here, and the translation of this sentence is tentative. The sentence lacks a subject.]. Then they went from east to west via the northern regions [g68] to join with the forces of that Chepetx, by order of their king the Khaqan/Qaqan. Going through the Choray gate with a multitude of troops they went to give aid to the Byzantine emperor.

Chapter 20.

The rebellion of the great patrician Atat Xotxorhuni, and his death. The Iranian and Byzantine borderlords.

Now what shall I say about another rebellion, that of Atat Xorhxorhuni? He was a great patrician, as a result of which the emperor ordered him summoned to the palace. He went to him accompanied by 17 men. [The emperor] exalted and glorified him and those with him by a fitting and attractive reception, and gave him gold and silver vessels and an extremely large amount of treasure.

[The emperor] ordered him to go to his forces in Thrace. Taking leave of the emperor [Atat] departed. While traveling [78] along the road he had the idea of rebelling and going over to the Iranian king. Departing from the road he went to the seashore where he encountered a boat. He said to the boatsmen: "Take me across to the other side, for I have been sent on important work by the emperor." After cajoling the boatsmen, they took him across. In a great hurry he quickly reached the country of Armenia. No one knew of his route until he was quite a distance from the shore. But then somehow they learned of his departure. Troops from city to city went against him but were unable to resist. Enroute [Atat] battled eighteen times and was the victor in every instance. Nonetheless, his forces were depleted. He went in haste and reached Naxchawan. The Iranians received him and he secured himself into the [g69] fortress.

King Xosrov was informed about what had happened and sent against [the Byzantines] Parsayenpet with troops. As soon as the force approached, [the Byzantines] left the city and departed. [Atat] quickly went to the Iranian king who received him affectionately, exalting him with honors, giving him treasures, and commanding that he be given a stipend from the court treasury.

[79] One year later Maurice died and Phocas ruled [602-10]. [Atat] planned to rebell and go to the Byzantine emperor. He began to prepare horses and to ready armaments and attract rascals to himself. News of this reached the king's ears. He ordered [Atat] to be bound hand and foot and beaten to death with clubs.

These are [the names of] the borderlords in the country of Armenia and the city of Dwin [in that sector of the country under] the lordship of Iran in the years of that peace:

Vndatakan Nixawrakan. The Iranian troops killed him at Dwin and themselves went as rebels to Geghum.

Now in the Byzantine sector [the borderlords were]:

Yovhan the Patrician,
general Suren

until thirteen years of peace had elapsed.

Then the emperor issued an order [which said]: "Thirty thousand cavalrymen are my levy for the land of [80] Armenia. Let thirty thousand families be assembled for me there and settled in the land of Thrace." He dispatched Priskos to Armenia to see to this matter. But when he arrived, news of a great disturbance reached him, and Priskos arose and departed with incredible haste [g70].

Chapter 21.

The killing of emperor Maurice and the reign of Phocas. The rebellion of general Erakghes (Heraclius) of Alexandria and general Nerses of Syrian Mesopotamia. Urha (Edessa) is besieged by the Byzantines and the city of Dara [is besieged] by Xosrov. Troops are mustered from [the Iranian sector of] Armenia and prince Juan Veh is made their commander. He comes to Edessa and takes T'eodos. The destruction of Dara. The Byzantines take Edessa; general Nerses is killed.

In the 14th year of king Xosrov and in the 20th year of Maurice's reign, the Byzantine army which was in Thrace rebelled from the emperor and enthroned as their king a certain man named Phocas. Going together to Constantinople, they killed the emperor Maurice and his son and seated Phocas on the throne of the kingdom. Then they themselves went to the Thracian area to oppose the enemy. Now the empeor Maurice had a son named Theodosius, and a rumor spread throughout the entire country that Theodosius had escaped and gone to the Iranian king. Thus there was no small agitation in the lordship [81] of the Romans, in the capital city, in the city of Alexandria in Egypt, in Jerusalem and Antioch and in all parts of the country, [people] took up the sword and killed one another.

Emperor Phocas ordered all the rebels who wavered [in their loyalty] to his rule to be killed. Many were slain there in the capital. He dispatched a certain prince Bonos with troops against Antioch, Jerusalem, and all parts of the land. He went and struck Antioch and Jerusalem and indeed the entire multitude of cities in that country were consumed by the sword [g71].

Then the general Heraclius who was in the Alexandria area rebelled from Phocas along with his own troops. He forcibly detached the country of Egypt [from Byzantine control]. In Syrian Mesopotamia general Nerses also rebelled. Together with his troops he entered and took the city of Edessa. [But a Byzantine] force came against him and besieged the city and [Nerses'] troops.

When king Xosrov heard about this, he assembled the entire multitude of his troops, went to the West, reached the city of Dara which he invested and besieged and started battling with. In the regions of Armenia, troops were assembled, a certain [82] great prince, Juan Veh, being their commander. Then king Xosrov divided [his forces] into two parts: one part he left around the city; with the other he himself went against those forces which were besieging Edessa. He came upon them at dawn, unexpectedly. Some were slain by the sword; some took to flight; some (who had gone into the Euphrates river for security) died there; some were pursued. King Xosrov approached the city gate, so that they would open it and so that he might enter. Now Nerses dressed a youth in royal garb, placed a crown on his head and sent him [to Xosrov], saying: "This is Theodosius, emperor Maurice's son. Have mercy upon him, just as his father had mercy on you."

King Xosrov received him with great delight, departed, and went to the city of Dara. He kept [Theodosius] with him in royal honor. [Xosrov] besieged Dara for one and a half years. He dug beneath the city walls, demolished the wall, and took the city, putting everyone to the sword. He looted the city [g72], then went to Ctesiphon, since his troops were worn and wasted from battle. But another force from Byzantium came upon Edessa, fought with and took the city. They seized and killed Nerses, and shed blood there.


Chapter 22.

The Iranians and Byzantines battle in the plain of Shirak, and the Byzantines are defeated. Another battle takes place in Tsaghkotn. The Byzantines are defeated, T'eodos Xorxorhuni surrenders, giving the fortress to the Iranians. [T'eodos Xorxorhuni's] death.

Now Juan Veh, who had been dispatched to the Armenian area with his troops, reached the city of Dwin in Ayrarat district in wintertime. He stopped there, resting his forces until spring came.

Meanwhile the Byzantine troops were assembled in the town of Eghevard. The Iranian troops came against them and a battle took place in the plain of Eghevard in which [the Byzantines] struck at the Iranians and severely defeated them. The general [Juan Veh] was slain in the fight while the survivors fled, pursued. [The Byzantines] looted the Iranian army and then returned to their camp on the riverbank called Horhomots' [Romans'] meadow.

The next year [in 602/603], while king Xosrov battled with the city of Dara, another Iranian force was assembled in Armenia under the command of Datoyean. The Byzantine army assembled in the plain of Shirak, in the village named Shirakawan. They located there and stayed some days embroiled in internecine [84] strife, terrified of an attack by the foreign enemy. The Iranian troops came upon them, roaring like lions. Now [the Byzantines] abandoned their campsite and crossed the river to the plain called Akank', pursued by the Iranian troops which caught up with them. The battle took place in the village named Getik. As the two sides were approaching each other to fight, the inhabitants of the district had gathered in Ergina fortress. A multitude of youths streamed out of there armed with scythes and swords, and fell on the army's rear causing great slaughter, leaving wounded men, and taking loot and booty, returned to their fortress.

When the two armies met in battle, [the Iranians] put the Byzantine forces to flight before them. Pursuing them, they killed many men, filling the plains and roads with corpses. Very few survivors managed to flee. [The Iranians] took the loot and returned to their army. When they observed the evil that had been wrought, they attacked the fortress in a mob and took it. Many they killed with the sword, many out of fright hurled themselves from the precipice; some fled through the gate which faced the river, while all the rest were taken into slavery. On that day 33 villages around the fortress [85] were similarly enslaved. [When the Iranians] had gathered up all the loot of the district, the troops turned and went to Atrpatakan.

Then Senitam Xosrov arrived. The Byzantine army was settled in Tsaghkotn close to the village called Angegh which the Aratsani river flows through, and on the other side they had pulled apart the village and drawn its fortification around themselves. Their commander was T'eodos Xorhxorhuni. The Iranian troops came and encamped near them, to their rear. At first, terrified, [the Byzantines] spoke of peace with them, recommending that they not fight and instead they would leave them the fortress and depart peacefully. But as they were united, the matter went no further. Rather, confident of their fortification, they thought they might accomplish something. The next morning the Iranian troops went against them. None [of the Byzantines] had armed himself or saddled his horse. If anyone did so, the retainers/children of the princes [mankunk' ishxanats'n] ran over [g74] and disarmed the men, tormenting them severely and slashing the horses' saddles with their swords.


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