Pap of Armenia
|King of Armenia|
Pap, also known as Papas (Armenian: Պապ, Latin: Papas or Papa; c. 353 – 374/375), was King of Armenia from 370 until 374/375. A member of the Arsacid dynasty, his reign saw a short, but notable period of stabilization after years of political turmoil. Pap ascended to the throne at a young age with Roman assistance in 370 after Armenia had been conquered and devastated by the Sassanid king Shapur II. Early in his reign, Armenia and Rome won a joint victory over the Persians at the Battle of Bagavan, and some former terrritories of the kingdom were reconquered by the efforts of his sparapet (general-in-chief) Mushegh Mamikonian. Although Pap's reign began with a reconciliation of the monarchy, nobility and church, his relations with the church soon deteriorated, culminating in his alleged murder by poisoning of Nerses I, Patriarch of Armenia. Pap also eventually ran afoul of the Romans, who suspected him of colluding with the Persians. The emperor Valens had him assassinated (after an initial unsuccessful attempt) in 374/375. He was succeeded by his nephew Varazdat as king.
The classical Armenian historians are hostile to Pap and ascribe to him an array of sins, chief among which being the murder of Nerses I. This attitude toward Pap has been explained by the king's troublesome relationship with the Armenian Church, caused by his promotion of Arianism and efforts to limit the church's power and influence. The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, on the other hand, presents a more favorable image of Pap, whom he praises for his bravery and cleverness. Some later Armenian historians reevaluated Pap in a positive light, considering him an unjust victim of pro-church historians and valuing his attempts to strengthen the Armenian monarchy and pursue an independent foreign policy under difficult circumstances.
Family and early life
Pap was the son of the Arsacid monarch Arshak (Arsaces) II (r. 350–368) and his wife Parandzem, who was his third known wife. The year of Pap's birth is not known for certain, but has variously been estimated at 351, 353, or even as late as 360. The Armenian historian Hakob Manandian considered it possible that Pap was actually the son of Parandzem by her first husband Gnel (Arshak's nephew).
Prior to his reign, Arshak II had married an unnamed woman, who seems to have died before 358, by whom he had a son called Anob, who was thus Pap's older paternal half-brother. Pap's father ruled as the King of Armenia from 350 until approximately 368. Pap is the only known child born to Arshak II during the latter's reign.
Little is known on Pap's early life. The 5th-century Armenian historian Faustus of Byzantium (Pavstos Buzand) writes in his History of the Armenians that Pap was sent to the Roman Empire as a hostage when he reached puberty.
Ascendance to the throne
Around 367/368, Pap's father Arshak II went to Persia for peace negotiations with the Sassanid king Shapur II and was imprisoned, leaving the Armenian throne vacant (Arshak is said to have committed suicide in captivity a few years later). Queen Parandzem and Prince Pap took refuge with the royal treasure in the fortress of Artogerassa (Artagers), defended by a troop of azats (lesser Armenian nobles).[a] According to Ammianus Marcellinus, the Persian invasion force was commanded by two Armenian defectors, Cylaces (Glak) and Artabanes (Artavan or Vahan). Faustus of Byzantium also mentions two Armenian nakharars (magnates), Meruzhan Artsruni and Vahan Mamikonian (possibly identifiable with Ammianus' Artabanes), in leadership positions under Shapur II's suzerainty, as well as Zik and Karen who carried Persian noble titles.[b] Shapur II may have intended to combine Sassanid administrative rule (Zik and Karen) with that of nakharar rule (Artsruni and Mamikonian).
During the siege, Arsaces II's wife Parandzem appealed to Cylaces and Artabanes in the name of her husband. The two men defected back to the Arsacid monarchy and engineered the escape of Pap. Themistius reported Pap's arrival at Valens' court in Marcianopolis, where the emperor was wintering. According to Faustus, Pap was in contact with his mother while in Roman territory and encouraged her to await his return. Valens sent him to stay at Neocaesarea in Pontus Polemoniacus, three hundred kilometers from the Armenian border, where Pap received "liberal support and education." In 369, at the request of sparapet Mushegh Mamikonian (alternatively, at the request of Cylaces and Artabanes), Valens allowed Pap to return to Armenian territory (Nina Garsoïan places Pap's return earlier, c. 367). He was accompanied by the comes et dux Terentius but was not yet recognized as King of Armenia by the Romans.
King of Armenia
Valens was reluctant to bestow a royal title upon Pap in order not to violate an earlier treaty signed by Jovian in July 363, whereby Rome had pledged not to intervene in Armenian affairs. Nevertheless, Shapur was enraged at Pap's restoration and personally invaded Armenia in response, forcing Pap to leave Armenia again and go into hiding near the Roman frontier in Lazica. Instead of going after Pap, Shapur II concentrated his attack on Artogerassa, which fell in the winter of 370. The royal treasure was captured by the Persians and Parandzem was raped and murdered. Shapur II also began systematically persecuting the local Christians, destroying churches, erecting fire temples and forcing conversion to Zoroastrianism.
Shapur II contacted Pap while he was in hiding and tried to persuade him to come over to his side. Under Shapur II's influence, Pap murdered the duplicitous Cylaces and Artabanes and sent their heads to the shahanshah as a sign of loyalty. Shapur's attempted rapprochement with Pap was aborted, however, by Arinthaeus' return to Armenia with a Roman army that restored Pap to the throne for a second time in approximately spring 370 (some authors believe Shapur's correspondence with Pap occurred only after he was restored to the throne). In the spring of 371, Shapur II launched another massive invasion of Armenia. Valens' generals Traianus and Vadomarius met the Persian force in the Armenian region of Bagrevand, not far from the ancient site of Bagavan, and emerged victorious (called the Battle of Bagavan or Vagabanta).[c] Faustus of Byzantium gives considerable credit for the victory to sparapet Mushegh Mamikonian. Moses of Chorene (Movses Khorenatsi) and Ammianus Marcellinus note that Valens' generals did not participate in the battle actively but rather were engaged in protecting the king. Faustus writes that Pap observed the battle from the nearby height of Mount Npat. During the ensuing battles, more Armenian territories were reclaimed from the Persians (according to Faustus), including Arzanene and Corduene, which had been ceded to the Persians by Jovian in 363.[d] By the end of the summer, Shapur II had retreated to his capital at Ctesiphon and Valens went back to Antioch. Shapur II was unable to confront the massive Roman buildup in Armenia as a result of his preoccupation with Kushan attacks in the eastern part of his empire. Thus, Roman control over Armenia through the client king Pap was secure for the time being.
Pap was a young man—likely still a teenager—when he took the throne. At the beginning of his reign, he invited Catholicos Nerses I to return to Armenia. Nerses agreed and undertook the restoration of Armenia's churches and church institutions, caring for the poor and reestablishing the church's influence in the country. Meanwhile, sparapet Mushegh campaigned to restore Arsacid authority in Armenia, brutally punishing the provinces that had revolted against the monarchy, forcing the pro-Persian nakharars to submit to royal authority, and retaking territories from neighboring Albania and Iberia.[e] Mushegh destroyed the fire temples erected by Shapur throughout the kingdom and persecuted those that had apostasized to Zoroastrianism. Soon after these initial successes, Pap came into conflict with Catholicos Nerses. According to Faustus, Nerses constantly reprimanded Pap for his sinful behavior and refused to allow him to enter the church; Moses of Chorene implies that Pap was upset at Nerses for having him return lands that had been confiscated from the nobility during his father's reign. Some modern historians believe that Pap clashed with the church due to his support for Arianism; others believe that Pap was a Christian in name only and that he was sympathetic towards paganism/Zoroastrianism. Still others regard Pap's conflict with the clergy as the result of his steps to restrain the excessive power of the church, which had accummulated significant estates and wealth in the form of the benevolent institutions created by Nerses under Arshak II's reign.
The conflict between the king and the Catholicos came to a head in 373 (371 or 372 according to other estimates), when, according to Faustus and Moses, Pap invited Nerses to dinner at his mansion in the village of Khakh and had him poisoned. The king then dissolved the benevolent institutions established by Nerses, abolished the ptghi and tasanord (tithes) paid to the church, and seized much of the church's lands. Pap nominated a certain Husik as a replacement and sent him for consecration in Caesarea, but the Bishop of Caesarea Basil refused to consecrate the nominee. Valens requested that Basil quickly resolve the situation by finding a new nominee acceptable to Pap. Basil failed to do so and the Roman see of Caesarea effectively lost its traditional role of consecrating the Catholicos of Armenia. According to Faustus, the poisoning of the popular and powerful Catholicos caused a rift between the king and the nobility and alienated sparapet Mushegh in particular. Nerses had also been a close Roman contact; his murder and the subsequent loss of Roman ecclesiastical control over the appointment of the Patriarch of Armenia must have damaged Pap's relations with Valens.
Some later historians have cast doubt on or totally rejected the assertion that Pap had Nerses poisoned. The Armenian historian Leo considered it a legend that was presented as fact by later ecclesiastical historians seeking to defame Pap. Authors Malachia Ormanian and Yeghiazar Muradian, judging from the circumstances described by Faustus, thought it more likely that Nerses died of some illness of the lungs or heart, perhaps on the same day or the day after he had dinner with Pap, giving rise to the rumor that the Catholicos had been poisoned. Josef Markwart and Hakob Manandian also reject the story of Nerses' poisoning, arguing that Pap would have surely been called to account for it by Basil of Caesarea. Ammianus Marcellinus is notably silent on Nerses' murder. It has been suggested that Ammianus deliberately omitted this episode in order not to diminish his narrative of Pap as "the innocent victim of Roman villainy."
Pap likely struggled to rule a kingdom that was still recovering from the destruction wrought by Shapur II, leading him to make poor decisions that ultimately led to his downfall. In addition to the controversy over the appointment of a new patriarch, Pap's relations with Valens further suffered due to the Roman commander Terentius, who wrote to the emperor criticizing Pap and advising him to get rid of the Armenian king in order to prevent him from defecting to Persia. According to Faustus, Pap also demanded control over Caesarea and twelve other Roman cities including Edessa as former Arsacid domains while openly courting Persia, in defiance of the warnings of sparapet Mushegh and other nobles not to break the alliance with Rome. Ammianus, on the contrary, claims that Pap was completely loyal to Rome. Valens decided to execute Pap and invited him to a meeting in Tarsus. Pap arrived with 300 mounted escorts but quickly became anxious when he found out the emperor was not there in person, fleeing back toward Armenia and fighting off a legion that was sent after him.
Terentius sent two generals with scutarii (shielded cavalry) familiar with the local terrain after Pap, an Armenian named Danielus and an Iberian named Barzimeres, who failed to capture and execute Pap. The generals gave the excuse that Pap had used magical powers to avoid capture and used a dark cloud to mask his party, which is reminiscent of Faustus' claim that Pap was possessed by demons. This could have simply been an attack on Pap's character based on his sympathies towards Arians and pagans. Ammianus writes that Pap's subjects joyfully greeted their king's return, and that even after this assassination attempt Pap did not turn against the Roman Empire. Valens then ordered Traianus, Terentius' successor as comes et dux of Armenia, to gain Pap's confidence and murder him. Traianus murdered Pap in 374 or 375 during a banquet which he had organized for the young king. Ammianus describes the murder of Pap on Valens' orders as an unjustified and treacherous act, drawing parallels with the murder of the Quadi King Gabinius by Valentinian I and claiming that the ghost of Pap haunted many.
The Armenian nakharars still loyal to Pap did little to protest as a result of the large Roman army present in Armenian territory. The new Roman nominee for king, Pap's nephew Varazdat (Varasdates), was accepted virtually by everyone. Varazdat had grown up in Rome and began to rule under the regency of Mushegh Mamikonian (the Mamikonians were the chief pro-Roman noble house in Armenia). Shapur II had long been courting Pap and the latter's murder and replacement with a Roman nominee provoked a Persian reaction; however, Shapur did not invade and took only diplomatic action.
Marriage and issue
Pap married an Armenian noblewoman called Zarmandukht, who bore him two sons: Arshak (Arsaces) III and Vagharshak (Vologases). Pap's sons were later made co-rulers of Armenia by sparapet Manuel Mamikonian after he forced Pap's successor Varazdat to flee the country.
In the arts
- Pap is a character in the tragedy Nerses The Great, Patron of Armenia written in 1857, by the 19th-century Armenian playwright, actor and editor, Sargis Vanandetsi (Sargis Mirzayan).
- Pap is the titular character of the historical novel Pap Tagavor by Stepan Zoryan, first published in 1944.
- Faustus writes instead that Pap was already a hostage in the Roman Empire at the time of the Siege of Artogerassa (Book 4, Chapter 55).
- Zik and Karen were the names of two of the Seven Great Houses of Iran. Faustus uses these as the proper names of two individuals.
- Moses of Chorene instead places the battle in a "field called Dzirav" (Book 3, Chapter 27), and so the battle is referred to in some Armenian sources as the Battle of Dzirav. Manandian and others consider this to be a misidentification.
- The extent of the reconquest of Armenian territories by Mushegh is not certain and likely exaggerated by Faustus. Faustus names the following territories among those recaptured by Mushegh: part of Atrpatakan, Noshirakan, Kordukʻ (Corduene), Kordikʻ, Tmorikʻ, "the land of the Markʻ (Medes)", Artsʻakh, Utikʻ, Shakashēn, Gardmanadzor, Koghtʻ, Kasp (Pʻaytakaran), Gugarkʻ, Aghdznikʻ (Arzanene), Mets Tsopkʻ (Greater Sophene), Angeghtun, and Andzitʻ. Manandian rules out the reconquest of Arzanene and Corduene (which had been ceded to Persia by Rome in 363), as well as the capture of Greater Sophene, Angeghtun (Ingilene) and Andzit (Anzitene), which had been annexed by Rome. Chaumont considers the reconquest of territories from Albania (Artsʻakh, Utikʻ, Shakashēn, Gardman, Koghtʻ) to be unlikely.
- See previous note.
- Garsoïan 1997, pp. 90–91.
- Lenski 2002, p. 181.
- Garsoïan 1997, p. 91.
- Drijvers 2016, p. 580.
- Sargsyan 1983.
- Manandyan 1957, p. 202.
- P'awstos Buzand, History of the Armenians, 4.15.
- Lenski 2002, p. 170.
- Garsoïan 1989, p. 433.
- Lenski 2002, p. 171.
- Greatrex 2000, p. 37.
- Lenski 2002, p. 172.
- Garsoïan 1997, p. 90.
- Lenski 2002, p. 173.
- Lenski 2002, p. 175.
- Manandyan 1957, p. 205.
- Manandyan 1957, p. 208.
- Chaumont 1985.
- P'awstos Buzand, History of the Armenians, 5.21.
- P'awstos Buzand, History of the Armenians, 5.8–5.20.
- P'awstos Buzand, History of the Armenians, 5.23.
- Movsēs Khorenats‘i, History of Armenia, 3.38.
- Terian 2005, p. 18.
- Drijvers 2016, p. 585.
- Lenski 2002, p. 180.
- Leo 1966, pp. 481–483.
- Leo 1966, p. 481.
- Lenski 2002, p. 177.
- P'awstos Buzand, History of the Armenians, 5.24.
- P'awstos Buzand, History of the Armenians, 5.31.
- Lenski 2002, p. 178.
- P'awstos Buzand, History of the Armenians, 5.30.
- Leo 1966, p. 482.
- Muratean 1900, pp. 146–147.
- Ormanean 1959, pp. 110–111.
- Manandyan 1957, p. 211.
- Drijvers 2016, p. 586.
- Drijvers 2016, p. 587.
- P'awstos Buzand, History of the Armenians, 5.32.
- Lenski 2002, p. 179.
- Ammianus Marcellinus 2004, pp. 387–388. 30.1.1–7.
- Ammianus Marcellinus 2004, p. 387. 30.1.
- Drijvers 2016, p. 582.
- P'awstos Buzand, History of the Armenians, 5.37.
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