Battle of Avarayr

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Battle of Avarayr
Battle of Vartanantz
Armenian miniature from the Middle Ages
Armenian miniature from the Middle Ages
date May 26 , 451
place Avarayr Plain, now West Azerbaijan Province
output Pyrrhic victory of the Sassanids
Parties to the conflict

Sassanid Empire

Armenian insurgents


Yazdegerd II.

Vardan Mamikonjan

Troop strength
120,000 55-60,000



The Battle of Avarayr ( Persian نبرد آوارایر Nabard-e Āvārāyar , Armenian Ավարայրի ճակատամարտ Avarayri chakatamart ), also known as the Battle of Vartanantz , took place on May 26, 451 on the plain of Avarayr. Armenian rebels under Vardan Mamikonjan fought against their Sassanid overlords. Although the Persian Sassanids won the battle, the Armenians were granted religious freedom.


The Kingdom of Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as the state religion. This happened under the Arsakid king Trdat III. in the year 301. When the ruling Armenian Arsacids , who were vassals of the Persians, were overthrown by an uprising of the nobility in 428 , the Persians installed governors. The Armenians accepted this rule on condition that they could practice their religion. But the Persian King Yazdegerd II was of the opinion that the Armenian Church was too close to the hostile Roman Church , and rather wanted a connection to the Nestorian Church , which was supported by the Sassanids. Therefore he ordered the Armenian nobility to come to Seleukia-Ctesiphon and forced them to end contact with the Church in Rome.

Yazdegerd's policies had no effect and provoked a rebellion in Armenia, which the aristocrats joined on their return. The Sassanids gathered a large army to quell the uprising. Vardan Mamikonjan asked the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II for help, but it did not arrive in time.


Battle plan

The allegedly 66,000 strong Armenian army took communion together before the battle. The army consisted primarily of foot soldiers who were highly motivated volunteers with no combat experience and were led by mounted nobles. These were experienced warriors and some were veterans of the Roman-Persian wars . The Persian army is said to have been significantly larger, allegedly three times as large, and carried war elephants and Asavārān - cavalry , whose elite was modeled on the immortals . Since the war between Armenians and Persians was also an internal Armenian civil war, Armenian nobles under Vasag Suni fought on the side of the Sassanids. The Persians won the battle thanks to their war elephants and superior cavalry, killing Vardan Mamikonjan and eight of his generals.


After the victory, Yazdegerd II imprisoned many of the Armenian priests and nobles and appointed a new governor. Because of the uprising, the Armenians could not take part in the Council of Chalcedon in the same year. The Armenian Church did not recognize the decisions of the Council and remained committed to Monophysitism .

The Armenian resistance continued under Wardan's nephew Vahan Mamikonjan. Finally, in 484, King Peroz I signed the Treaty of Nvarsak, which granted Christian Armenians freedom of religion. The Armenian Church had broken away from Rome and Constantinople. A general amnesty and permission to build new churches came into force through the treaty. Despite the military defeat and deportation of various revolutionary leaders and priests to Golestan , the Armenians were able to prevail in the end. May 26th is still an important day of remembrance for Armenians. Vardan Mamikonjan was declared a saint.

Individual evidence

  1. The Encyclopædia Iranica names June 2, 451 as the date ( article ).
  2. - Armenian Network of Student Clubs ( Memento of the original from September 30, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /



  • Christopher J. Walker: Visions Of Ararat: Writings On Armenia , Tauris IB, London / New York 2005, ISBN 978-1-85043-888-5
  • Gerard J. Libaridian: Modern Armenia: People, Nation, State , Transaction Publishers, Somerset, NJ 2004, ISBN 978-0-7658-0205-7
  • Vahan Kurkjian: A History of Armenia. Indoeuropeanpublishing.Com, Los Angeles 2008, ISBN 978-1-60444-012-6 (Chap. 20: Period of the Marzbans - Battle of Avarair , pp. 115–125)

Web links