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Albania under the governing of Mikhranids

At the beginning of the 7th century there was shaped the prince clan of Mikhranids in the historical scene of Albania. The founder of this dynasty, Mikhran was the relative of the Sassanid ShahenShah, Khosrov II. Coming into the throne in Iran in 591, Khosrov decided to punish everybody, who was guilty in his father’s death. Probably, Mikhran was also concerned to this issue. Albanian historian wrote: “Mikhr, the relative of Khosrov had to escape and brought approximately 30000 families with himself. He entered to the country of Albanians, came to the region of Uti, near the great city of Partav”. Then historian informed that, “Mikhr wanted to leave Albania, which was governed by Sassanid marzbans and did his best to join to khazars and call them to the fought with ShahenShah. But Khosrov listened to his advisers and understood that, Mikhran would be able to disturb him, in the last joint with the foes of Sassanids. That’s why, Khosrov sent letter to Mikhran, where he suggested him “to choose hands under Khosrov’s subordination and settle in such areas, which he liked”. Historian informed that, Mikhran settled in Girdiman with the families, came with him and established there the city of Mikhravan.

All these facts looked like to legends, but all of them have historical ground. Legend about the moving of Mikhranids from Iran was created during the reign of Khosrov, i.e. at the period of strengthening of Sasanian Empire. But the incline of politics of Mikhranid dynasty either to Byzantine, or to the alliance of Turks (huns) showed that, this legend did not have any historical context. In reality, since 70s of the 6th century there were settled the part of Turkish hun tribes, sabirians in the area of Girdiman. The Byzantine historian, Menandr in his “History” work informed that, approximately in 574 Byzantine troops intervened to Albania, where they met with sabirian and alanian tribes. It’s fact that, during Byzantine-Iranian wars both Byzantine and Iran utilized from the aid of mercenary sabirian troops.

According to above-mentioned evidences we can consider that, Mikhranids were concerned to sabirians by origin, but then, due to increase the essence of the dynasty they were begun to concern to the Iranian origins, which were familiar with Sassanids. It’s also important to mention that, some historical sources concerned Mikhranids not only to Iranians, but also considered that, especially, Sassanids wanted them to settle in the area of Girdiman, in the boundaries of Georgia and Armenia. These areas were strategically essential for Sasanian Empire too. But it’s obvious that, according to the peace treaty, signed between Iran and Byzantine in 591, Albania, along with the territories of Girdiman, Tiflis and Dvin came to the subordination of Sasanian Empire. Most of the population in these territories were Azerbaijanian Turks, especially sabirians, along with Albanians were settled in Girdiman. Mikhranids, who by origin were shaped from sabirians and Albanians did their best to enlarge their power in whole Albania.

Mikhr, who strengthened in Girdiman, called “twelve men from local hierarchy killed them and entirely owned the country. According to Moisey Kalankatlu, after Mikhr there came to the throne such representatives of prince clan as Armael, Varda, Vardan Brave (who built the castle of Gardman for three years), Varazman and Varaz Grigor, whose sons were Varaz-Peroj, Javanshir, Khosrov and Varazman. So, from Mikhr, who began to rule the Girdiman approximately in 600, till Javanshir (642-680) implemented the building of castles, probably he did not satisfy the reign in the boundaries of Girdiman. So, Vardan Brave invited 60 representatives of the local Albania clans of Aranshakhs as guests and gave them, as Moisey Kalankatlu described, “deathful meal”. He did not kill only Zarmikhr Aranshakh, his brother-in-law. So, as prominent orientalist, academician V.V.Bartold mentioned, “There was restored Albanian national dynasty, but by Persian origin in Albania”.

Nevertheless, only during the reign of Varaz Grigor (625-642), grandson of Vardan Brave, who converted to Christianity in 628 and accepted the name of Grigor during Iranly’s Byzantine Emperor being in Albania Girdimanian governors was able to extend their reign over the whole Albania, and marzbanian regime that lasted from 510 to 628 was entirely collapsed. Catholic Viro, who returned from exile at that time, baptized Varaz Grigor to monophisite rite of Christianity, as well as Mikhranids accepted the title of “great princes of Albania”.

So, if Southern Azerbaijan – Adurbadagan – stayed under the marzbanian subordination of Sasanian Empire in the eve of Arabian expansion, Northern Azerbaijan was under the influence of Iran, but preserved its political independence and achieved its own governors from Mikhranid clan, which ruled this state till the beginning of the 7th century.

There were appeared Arabs in the Middle East in the 7th century. Their invasion to Iran during the reign of Yezdigerd III (632-651) made the “tsar of tsars” (i.e. Yezdigerd III) appeal to subordinating countries and demand troops from them. Varaz Grigor, the prince of Albania also received such order and suit to the aid of Yezdigerd III the army was under the leadership of his second son, Javanshir. He headed to Albanian army in the years of 636-642; he was the sparapet – head commander of Albanian troops and served in the side of Persian army.

He was especially distinguished in the battle near Kadissia, on January 6, 637. Here, the Persian army was overwhelmed and wounded and Javanshir was able to survive with difficulty.

In 642 Javanshir returned to his motherland and became the prince – ishnakh of Albania, although Varaz Grigor did not die. That is why, we should not consider Javanshir’s first year of ruling the year of 636 as it was before, but the year of 642. Coming to the throne Javanshir first of all moved his residence to Partav. This fact proved that, the properties of Mikhranids were extended, as well as Mikhranids continued to implement the policy of Arshakids. Moving of the residence to Partav also simplified to control the large territory, spreading not only Albania, but also Lpinia and Derbent (Chola). When the state of Sassanids was destroyed by Arabs, the remaining of Persian army did their best to strengthen in the northern areas of former empire, i.e. in Albania. That is why, Javanshir was obliged to struggle with these troops.

Javanshir concluded “indestructible alliance” with Atrnersekh, the owner of Iberia, for whom Persian troops also represented threat. By joint attempts they were able to withdraw Persians from Utik and Shakashena. Javanshir fought with Persian troops twice and overwhelmed one of their generals. But at that time, other part of Persian troops entered to the city of Barda, captivated his mother and brothers. During the third battle Javanshir was wounded from the head and was obliged to move away to Iberia. Persians captivated his father, Varaz Grigor and conquered Partav. Javanshir was escaped from Iberia and the prince of Albania, together with his brother Varaz Peroj and by the aid of Georgian army returned not only Partav, but also cleaned all territories of the state from Persians. Persian general learned about the victory of Javanshir by the vehicle of Syunik prince, i.e. Javanshir’s father-in-law appealed to Alabanian prince with concluding peace treaty.

Concluding an agreement Javanshir came back to his motherland with his mother and brothers.

Javanshir and his old father Varaz Grigor understood that, Albania could not exist without the support of powerful dynasty. That is why Javanshir began to look for ways, due to shape durable relations with three major states of that time – Byzantine, Khazar Khaganate and Arabian Caliphate. But we will speak about these issues in the next chapter of the book.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"