Armenians in the Persian Empire

Armenians in the Persian Empire

Persian Armenia corresponds to the Armenian territory controlled by Persia throughout history. The size of Persian Armenia varied over time.

Armenians and the Achaemenid Empire

After the fall of the Median empire In 550 B.C. Cyrus, leader of the Persians, took control of the Median empire and conquered Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. Cyrus' son continued his father's campaign in Egypt. Eventually, Armenia became a dependency of Persia.

The Armenian contingents, cavalry and infantry, had taken part in Cyrus's conquest of Lydia in 546 and of Babylonia in 539. A rebellion of ten subject nations — one of them Armenia — broke out against Persia during the reign of Darius I (522‑486).

Behistun inscriptions

In the Behistun inscriptions, Darius I talks of his multiple victories. The inscription includes three versions of the same text, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian. The name "Armenia" had been used for the first time, when Darius wanted to describe his conquests in the Armenian highlands. The shahanshah speaks of bloody battles against the Armens, and cites the names of three important battles.

The Armenians thus stayed under Persian rule from 519 to 330 B.C. Those years are considered to be relatively peaceful; trade flourished. Herodotus claimed that the Armenians had to pay 50 'talents' and thousands of horses per year to the Persians. When he speaks of Xerxes' invasions to Greek land, he mentions that the Armenian forces rallied with Xerxes, and that they resembled and spoke like the Phrygians.

Alexander the Great later conquered the Achaemenid Empire, and the Artaxiad dynasty established an independent Armenian kingdom in 190 B.C.

Armenians and the Sassanid Empire

The Armenians chose Christianity as state religion in 301. Armenia was divided between Sassanid Persia and the Roman Empire. The former established control in Eastern Armenia after the fall of the Arsacid Armenian kingdom in 428.

Vartan Mamikonian

As conflict between the Romans and Sassanids escalated, Yazdegerd II began to view Christianity as a political threat to the cohesiveness of the Persian empire. Armenian conversion to Christianity was of particular concern to him. After a successful invasion of the Eastern Roman Empire, Yazdegerd began summoning Armenian nobles to Ctesiphon and converted them to Zoroastrianism. This outraged the Armenian population, and under the leadership of Vartan Mamikonian an army of 66,000 Armenians rebelled against the Sassanid empire. Yazdegerd quickly subdued the rebellion at the Battle of Avarayr.


The military success of the Persians ensured that Armenia would remain part of the Sassanid empire for centuries to come. However, Armenian resistance did not end until the Nvarsak Treaty, which guaranteed Armenia more freedom under Sassanid rule.

Armenians and the Safavid Empire

Due to its strategic significance, Armenia was constantly fought over and passed back and forth between the dominion of Persia and the Ottomans. At the height of the Turkish-Persian wars, Yerevan changed hands fourteen times between 1513 and 1737.

In 1604, Shah Abbas I pursued a scortched-earth campaign against the Ottomans in the Ararat valley. The old Armenian town of Julfa in the province of Nakhichevan was taken early in the invasion. From there Abbas' army fanned out across the Araratian plain. The Shah pursued a careful strategy, advancing and retreating as the occasion demanded, determined not to risk his enterprise in a direct confrontation with stronger enemy forces.

While laying siege to Kars, he learned of the approach of a large Ottoman army, commanded by Djghazadé Sinan Pasha. The order to withdraw was given; but to deny the enemy the potential to resupply themselves from the land, he ordered the wholesale destruction of the Armenian towns and farms on the plain. As part of this the whole population was ordered to accompany the Persian army in its withdrawal. Some 300,000 people were duly hearded to the banks of the Araxes River. Those who attempted to resist the mass deportation were killed outright. The Shah had previously ordered the destruction of the only bridge, so people were forced into the waters, where a great many drowned, carried away by the currents, before reaching the opposite bank. This was only the beginning of their ordeal. One eye-witness, Father de Guyan, describes the predicament of the refugees thus:

::"It was not only the winter cold that was causing torture and death to the deportees. The greatest suffering came from hunger. The provisions which the deportees had brought with them were soon consumed... The children were crying for food or milk, none of which existed, because the women's breasts had dried up from hunger... Many women, hungry and exhausted, would leave their famished children on the roadside, and continue their tortuous journey. Some would go to nearby forests in search of something to eat. Usually they would not come back. Often those who died, served as food for the living."

Unable to maintain his army on the desolate plain, Sinan Pasha was forced to winter in Van. Armies sent in pursuit of the Shah in 1605 were defeated, and by 1606 Abbas had regained all of the territory lost to the Turks earlier in his reign. The scortched-earth tactic had worked, though at a terrible cost to the Armenian people. Of the 300,000 deported it is calculated that under half survived the march to Isfahan. In the conquered territories Abbas established the Erivan khanate, a Muslim principality under the dominion of the Safavid Empire. Armenians formed less than 20% of its population ).cite book | last = Hewsen | first = Robert H. | title = Armenia: A Historical Atlas | year = 2001 | publisher = The University of Chicago Press | id = ISBN 0-226-33228-4 | pages = p. 168 ] as a result of Shah Abbas I's deportation of much of the Armenian population from the Ararat valley and the surrounding region in 1605.cite book | last = von Haxthausen | first = Baron | title = Transcaucasia: Sketches of the Nations and Races between the Black Sea and the Caspian | year = 2000 | publisher = Adamant Media Corporation | id = ISBN 1402183674 | pages = p. 252 ]


*Translated from the Armenian: Mihran Kurdoghlian, Badmoutioun Hayots, A. hador [Armenian History, volume I] , Athens, Greece, 1994, pg. 56-57, 61-62.
*Yuri Babayan - Historical province of the Greater Armenia

See also

*Parthian relations with the Armenians
*Marzpanate Period
*Erivan khanate
*Karabakh khanate
*Nakhichevan khanate
*Blue Mosque, Yerevan
*Islam in Armenia
*Armenians in Iran
*Iran-Armenia relations

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Armenians in the Ottoman Empire — Main article: History of Armenia Social structure of the Ottoman Empire Millets: (Jews · Armenians  …   Wikipedia

  • The Byzantine Empire —     The Byzantine Empire     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Byzantine Empire     The ancient Roman Empire having been divided into two parts, an Eastern and a Western, the Eastern remained subject to successors of Constantine, whose capital was at …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Georgia within the Russian Empire — Between 1801 and 1918 the country of Georgia was part of the Russian Empire. For centuries, the Muslim Ottoman and Persian empires had fought over the various fragmented Georgian states in the southern Caucasus. By the 18th century, a third… …   Wikipedia

  • The Fall of the Roman Empire (film) — Infobox Film name = The Fall of the Roman Empire caption = Original film poster director = Anthony Mann producer = Samuel Bronston Jaime Prades (associate) Michal Waszynski (associate) writer = Ben Barzman Basilio Franchina Philip Yordan starring …   Wikipedia

  • Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire — This article is about the events between 24 July 1908 and 30 October 1918. For a summary of the reasons that led to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, see Fall of the Ottoman Empire. History of the Ottoman Empire This article is part of …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of the Ottoman Empire — Eighteenth century mirror writing in Ottoman calligraphy. Depicts the phrase Ali is the vicegerent of God in both directions …   Wikipedia

  • Districts of the Achaemenid Empire — Ancient Near East portal Herodotus divided the Achaemenid Empire into 20 districts. The following is a description of the ethnic makeup of the districts and the amount they paid in taxes, translated from Herodotus Histories. The Districts …   Wikipedia

  • Fall of the Ottoman Empire — issues cleanup=Sep 2008 refimprove=Sep 2008 wikify=Sep 2008 Republic of Turkey (superimposed upon modern borders). Some scholars argue the power of the Caliphate began waning by 1683, and without the acquisition of significant new wealth the… …   Wikipedia

  • Conscription in the Ottoman Empire — Military of the Ottoman Empire Army: Sipahi · Akıncı · Timariot  …   Wikipedia

  • Lifestyle of the Ottoman Empire — Social structure of the Ottoman Empire Millets: (Jews · Armenians · Greeks) …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”