Arshak III

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Arshak III,[1] also known as Arsaces III, Arsak III[2] and Arshak III-Vagharshak[3] (Armenian: Արշակ Գ, flourished 4th century – died 387), was a prince who served as a Roman client king of Arsacid Armenia from 378 until 387. Arshak III is often known as the last serving Roman client king of Armenia. During his reign, the part of Armenia that Arshak III governed was under Roman rule from the Peace of Acilisene.

Family and early life[edit]

Arshak III was the first-born son of the previous Roman client Armenian King Papas (Pap), who reigned from 370 until 374, and his wife, the Armenian noblewoman called Zarmandukht.[4] He had a younger brother[5] called Vologases. His known grandparents, both from his paternal side, were the previous ruling Arsacid monarchs Arsaces II (Arshak II) and his wife Pharantzem.[6]

Arshak III was named in honor of his late paternal grandfather; several of his Parthian, Pontian and Armenian ancestors ruled with this name as King. Arshak III was born at an unknown date during his father’s reign and was raised in Armenia. Following the assassination of his father in 374, as Arshak III and his brother were too young to rule, the Roman emperor Valens sent their paternal first cousin Varasdates (Varazdat) to occupy the Armenian throne. Their cousin, who was a young man highly reputed for his mental and physical gifts, had lived in Rome for an unknown period of time. Varasdates began his rule under the regency of Mushegh I Mamikonian, whose family were pro-Roman.

Rise to the Throne[edit]

In 378, following the failed reign of Varasdates and the murder of his regent Mushegh Mamikonian, the brother of Mushegh, Manuel Mamikonian,[7] filled his late brother’s position of Sparapet. Manuel bore a grudge against the Armenian king, and raised a military force which drove Varasdates out of Armenia[8] and back to Rome. He then raised Arshak III and Vologases to the throne as co-kings of Armenia, under the nominal regency of their mother Zarmandukht.[9]

To end the political anarchy in the country, as Manuel was now the powerful regent-in-charge of Armenia, he married Arsaces III to his daughter Vardandukht[10] and Vologases to the daughter of Sahak from the Bagratuni Dynasty.[11] The Mamikonian government brought peace and stability to Armenia, as Manuel guided the country wisely.[12] Manuel treated Arshak III, Vologases and Zarmandukht with honor.[13] He brought up Arshak III and Vologases[14] and nurtured them as if they were his own children.[15]

Arshak III, like his paternal ancestors, aggressively pursued policies based on Christian Arianism.[16] In 386, Vologases died without leaving an heir and Arshak III became the sole ruler of Armenia. As Manuel Mamikonian died at the same time as Vologases did, the authority of Arshak III became lessened by the Sassanid invasions from Persia of Armenia. In 387, the last year of his kingship, Arshak III resided in Ekeleac’, also known as Ekeghiats, in Western Armenia,[17] as he then ruled only Western Armenia along a line from Erzurum to Mush. Later that year Arshak died without leaving an heir. Western Armenia was annexed to and became a province of the Byzantine Empire. Eastern Armenia was annexed by the Sassanid Empire and the subsequent ruling Arsacid monarchs in Eastern Armenia became client kings of Armenia under Sassanid rule.

In the Arts[edit]

  • Arshak is a character in the tragedy Nerses The Great, Patron of Armenia written in 1857, by the Anatolian Armenian playwright, actor & editor of the 19th century, Sargis Vanadetsi, also known as Sargis Mirzayan.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.94
  2. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.92
  3. ^ Kurkjian, A History of Armenia, p.113
  4. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book V, Chapter 37
  5. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book V, Chapter 37
  6. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.170
  7. ^ Adalian, Historical Dictionary of Armenia, p.177
  8. ^ Adalian, Historical Dictionary of Armenia, p.177
  9. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.92
  10. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book V, Chapter 44
  11. ^ Kurkjian, A History of Armenia, p.107
  12. ^ Topchyan, The Problem of the Greek Sources of Movses Xorenac’i’s History of Armenia, p.42
  13. ^ Topchyan, The Problem of the Greek Sources of Movses Xorenac’i’s History of Armenia, p.42
  14. ^ Adalian, Historical Dictionary of Armenia, p.xxxiii
  15. ^ Topchyan, The Problem of the Greek Sources of Movses Xorenac’i’s History of Armenia, p.42
  16. ^ Terian, Patriotism And Piety In Armenian Christianity: The Early Panegyrics On Saint Gregory, p.18
  17. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.92

Sources[edit]

  • Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, 5th century
  • D.M. Lang, Armenia: Cradle of Civilization – p.p. 163-165, Boston: George Allen & Unwin, 1970
  • N. Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D, University of California Press, 2003
  • R.G. Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004
  • A. Terian, Patriotism And Piety In Armenian Christianity: The Early Panegyrics On Saint Gregory, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2005
  • A. Topchyan, The Problem of the Greek Sources of Movses Xorenac’i’s History of Armenia, Peeters Publishers, 2006
  • V.M. Kurkjian, A History of Armenia, Indo-European Publishing, 2008
  • R.P. Adalian, Historical Dictionary of Armenia, Scarecrow Press, 2010