Pharantzem

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Pharantzem,[1] also known as P’arhanjem;[2] Parantzem;[3] Pharandsem;[4] Paranjem[5] and Parandzem of Siwnik’ (Siunik)[6] (Armenian: Փառանձեմ, flourished 4th century – died winter 369/370[7]) was an ancient Armenian noblewoman and through marriage was a relation to the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia.

Family and early Life[edit]

Pharantzem was from the Syunik Province in Armenia. She was the daughter of Andovk[8] also known as Andok or Antiochus who served as a Naxarar[9] of the Siunia Dynasty in the Syunik Province. Through her father, Pharantzem was a descendant of Sisak.[10] Her paternal uncle Valinak Siak c.330, was the first known Naxarar of the Siunia Dynasty in the Syunik Province, while Valinak's successor and brother who was Pharantzem’s father, Andovk served as the Naxarar of Syunik in c.340. Pharantzem’s mother was an unnamed noblewoman from the Mamikonian family and she had at least one known sibling, a brother called Babik (Bagben) who served as a Naxarar of Syunik in 379. Little is known on her early life. Pharantzem was extremely well known for her beauty and modesty.[11]

First marriage[edit]

Pharantzem in 359 married the Arsacid Prince Gnel.[12] Gnel was the son of the Arsacid Prince Tiridates[13] whose brother was Arsaces II (Arshak II)[14] who ruled as Roman Client King of Armenia from 350 until 368. During the reign of Arsaces II, Gnel was a popular prince in Armenia[15] and could have been seen as a potential successor to his uncle.

Pharantzem’s reputation for her beauty had become renown and widespread to the point as Gnel’s paternal cousin Tirit had become passionately in love with her and desired her to be his wife.[16] Finding a way to plot against his cousin Gnel, Tirit approached their uncle Arsaces II and said to him: “Gnel wants to rule, and to kill you. All the grandees, the Naxarars and the Azats like Gnel and all the Naxarars of the land prefer his lordship over them than yours. Now they say, ‘look and see what you do, king, so that you can save yourself”.[17] Believing the words of Tirit, Arsaces II became agitated and did confirm the statements of Tirit.[18]

Arsaces II from then until Gnel’s death had a grudge against Gnel which he had frequently tried to persecute and plot treachery against him for a long time.[19] From that moment Gnel was on the run with Pharantzem from Arsaces II. Arsaces II did eventually kill Gnel around the time of the festival of Nawasard (which was held in August) as his falsely lured his nephew and Pharantzem into Shahapivan a native camping place of the Arsacids which was below a walled hunting preserve based on a lie that Arsaces II wanted to reconcile with Gnel.[20] When Gnel was captured by Arsaces II’s soldiers he was taken to a nearby hill of the mountain called Lsin where he was executed.[21] After the death and burial of Gnel, Arsaces II issued an order to mourn the death of his nephew which Arsaces II weep and mourn for Gnel greatly while Pharantzem mourned so much for Gnel she tore off her clothes, was screaming and cried so much.[22]

Now Tirit had successfully got rid of his cousin, he was unable to control his lust for Pharantzem. Tirit had sent his messenger to Pharantzem a note reading: “Do not mourn so much, for I am a better man that he was. I loved you and therefore betrayed him to death, so that I could take you in marriage”.[23] In her mourning Pharantzem, raised a protest, pulling out her hair and screaming as she mourned that her husband died because of her.

When the Armenians in particular Arsaces II heard the cries of Pharantzem, Arsaces II began to realise the plotting of Tirit and the senseless death of Gnel. Arsaces II was stunned in what happened and had regretted in killing Gnel. For a while Arsaces II, didn’t do anything to Tirit. Tirit had sent a message to Arsaces II stating, “King, I want you to order that I be allowed to marry Gnel’s wife”.[24] As Arsaces II heard this he said: “Now I know for sure that what I have heard is accurate. Gnel’s death occurred for his wife”.[25] Arsaces II planned to kill Tirit in return for Gnel’s murder. When Tirit heard this, he was in so much fear for Arsaces II he fled at night. Arsaces II was informed that Tirit had left and ordered his soldiers to find Tirit and kill him. His soldiers found Tirit in the forests in the district of Basen and killed him there.[26]

Second marriage and Queen of Armenia[edit]

After the death of Tirit, Arsaces II married Pharantzem. Pharantzem married Arsaces II as her second husband. At the same time as Arsaces II had Pharantzem as his wife, he also had another wife, a Greek Cretan noblewoman woman called Olympia, also known as Olympias[27][28] whom he married before marrying Pharantzem.[29] Olympia the Roman wife of Arsaces II,[30] was given to him as an imperial bride from the Roman emperor Constantius II as Arsaces II was greatly favored by the emperor,[31] who considered him as an ally to Rome.

Although the Romans considered Olympia as the legitimate wife of Arsaces II, he loved Pharantzem to a degree but Pharantzem loathed Arsaces II saying, “Physically, he is hairy, and his color is dark”.[32] Arsaces II loved Olympia more than Pharantzem.[33] Through marriage to Arsaces II, Pharantzem became an Armenian Queen consort and a very powerful, wealthy and influential woman in Armenian society.

Sometime after her marriage to Arsaces II, Pharantzem fell pregnant. In 360 Pharantzem bore Arsaces II a son, whom they named Papas (Pap).[34] Papas was the only known child born to Pharantzem and the only known child born to Arsaces II during his Armenian Kingship. Pharantzem was also a stepmother to Anob, as Anob was the first son of Arsaces II born to him from a previous union prior to his Kingship of Armenia.[35]

As Arsaces II in Persian fashion had more than one wife[36] Pharantzem had a grudge and had a great envy against Olympia.[37] After the birth of her son, Pharantzem plotted to kill Olympia through poison. Pharantzem had arranged for Olympia to be poisoned in 361[38] administered to her in the Holy Sacrament of communion by a priest[39] from the royal court. Olympia was extremely careful in where she accepted matters of food and drink from as she only accepted food and drink offered to her from her maids.[40] The behaviours, actions of Pharantzem and Arsaces II, in particular the deaths of Gnel, Tirit, Olympia and possibly the prior ruling King of Armenia Tigranes VII (Tiran) had totally outraged the reigning Catholicos St. Nerses I. The church was totally alienated from the royal court of Arsaces II and St. Nerses I was not seen again in the royal court in the lifetime of Arsaces II.[41] Although Pharantzem was hostile to any Sassanid influence from Persia; the actions of Pharantzem towards Olympia had placed Armenian politics unfavorable to Christian interests and she was considered an impious woman.[42] After the death of Olympia, Pharantzem became the Armenian Queen.

In the year 367 or 368 the Sassanid King Shapur II, had turned to treachery to capture Arsaces II as he was taken as a political prisoner by the Sassanid monarch, in which Arsaces II had died in prison. This was a part of Shapur II’s plan to conquer Armenia once and for all, as Shapur II was in military conflict and failed diplomatic treaties with the Roman emperors Jovian and Valens. Shapur II after successfully capturing Arsaces II, he sent his army to invade Armenia.[43]

When the Sassanid army were heading to invade Armenia, Pharantzem and her son, Papas took the Armenian treasury and hid themselves in the fortress of Artogerassa,[44] where the fortress was defended by a troops of Azats. The Armenian invasion was led by Cylaces (also known as Cylax Zig) and Artabanes (also known as Artabnan Karen), two Armenians who defected to Shapur II.[45] Cylaces and Artabanes were also supported by the Armenian nobles Vahan Mamikonian and Meruzhan Artsruni who also defected to Shapur II.[46] Shapur II wanted to suppress Arsacid rule in Armenia and replace the dynasty with Persian administrators and traditional Armenian aristocrat Lords to govern over Armenia.[47]

Pharantzem was able to have initiate negotiations with Cylaces and Artabanes for the surrender of the fortress during that time. Pharantzem appealed to them in the name of her husband.[48] Cylaces and Artabanes defected from Shapur II to Pharantzem in which Papas for his safety was sent to Anatolia to the court of Valens.[49] Papas during his time with Valens was in communication with his mother from the fortress whom he encouraged to await his rescue.[50]

Valens was working to restore Papas to the Arsacid throne and withdraw the army of Shapur II from Armenia.[51] When Shapur II heard of Papas’ restoration to Armenia, instead of going after Papas personally he concentrated in capturing Pharantzem; ending her siege in the fortress of Artogerassa[52] and invading Armenia. The Persian forces that were sent by Shapur II finally conquered Armenia and captured the fortress after two years.[53] Pharantzem bravely defended herself and Armenia for 2 years from Shapur II, which famine and disease had left few survivors out of 11,000 soldiers and 6,000 women who had taken refuge in the fortress.[54]

Pharantzem with the Armenian royal treasure were taken to the palace of Shapur II. Shapur II wanting to humiliate Armenia and the Roman Empire, had Pharantzem given to his soldiers whom they brutally rape until she died.[55] After her death, Papas was restored to his Armenian Kingship by Valens.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tisdall - The conversion of Armenia to the Christian faith
  2. ^ Faustus of Byzantium - History of the Armenians
  3. ^ Kurkjian, A History of Armenia, p.105
  4. ^ Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  5. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.p.170-172
  6. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.89
  7. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.172
  8. ^ Kurkjian, A History of Armenia, p.262
  9. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  10. ^ Caucasica IV by V. Minorsky p. 505
  11. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  12. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.89
  13. ^ Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  14. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.89
  15. ^ Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  16. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  17. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  18. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  19. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  20. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  21. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  22. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  23. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  24. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  25. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  26. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  27. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.89
  28. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  29. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  30. ^ Kurkjian, A History of Armenia, p.105
  31. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.89
  32. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  33. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  34. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  35. ^ According to Saint Mesrop Mashtots, the priest & historiographer of the Catholicos Nerses the Great, gives the name Anob as the father of Papas’ nephew Varasdates (Varazdat). Also according to Faustus of Byzantium, Book IV - Chapter 37 Varasdates proclaims himself as the nephew of Papas
  36. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.89
  37. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  38. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.89
  39. ^ Kurkjian, A History of Armenia, p.105
  40. ^ Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, Book IV, Chapter 15
  41. ^ Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, p.89
  42. ^ Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  43. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.170
  44. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.170
  45. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.170
  46. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.p.170-171
  47. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.171
  48. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.171
  49. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.171
  50. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.171
  51. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.172
  52. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.172
  53. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.172
  54. ^ Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  55. ^ Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., p.172

Sources[edit]

  • Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, 5th Century
  • The conversion of Armenia to the Christian faith, William St. Clair Tisdall, Princeton University, 1897
  • 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
  • V.M. Kurkjian, A History of Armenia, Indo-European Publishing, 2008
  • E. Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Google eBook), MobileReference, 2009

See also[edit]