Ashot II Yerkat against the Abbasid Caliphate – the Sevan Battle

Ashot II Yerkat against the Abbasid CaliphateSince the beginning of the reign of Ashot I in 884, the first king of the Armenian Bagratuni dynasty, some liberation movements started to occur throughout Armenia, which was a part of the Abbasid Caliphate then.

The Caliphate wasn’t fond of the actions of Ashot I and especially his son Smbat I. Emir of Iranian Azerbaijan Yusuf Ibn Abi’l-Saj launched an invasion of Armenia. Smbat fought it off but eventually surrendered and was beheaded.

The liberation movements received a new beginning during the reign of Ashot II Yerkat (914-928), the son of Smbat I. In the scopes of the conflict against the Caliphate, punitive armies of the Iranian Azerbaijan were sent to Armenia.

Ashot II Erkat enticed the enemy to Lake Sevan and took cover on the Sevan island. Hoping that the overwhelming majority of their troops would guarantee a victory, the Caliphate’s troops besieged the island.

The Armenian king gave his formal consent to surrender and finally dulled the enemy’s vigilance. The next day, placing 70 of his best archers on boats, he approached the shore with the enemy troops already waiting for their surrender.

However, instead of coming down on the shore, Ashot ordered to open fire and thereby caused panic. The enemy soldiers fled to the outskirts of Dvin.

The Sevan battle was a turning point in the history of the Armenian liberation movement at the beginning of the 10th century.

After the battle, the Armenian troops under the command of Ashot Erkat, his brother Abas, and Prince Gevorg Marzpetuni cleared the central and northern regions of the country from foreign invaders. The Abbasid Caliph and his allies were forced to put up with this.

The Caliph sent Ashot II a crown and recognized him as Shahanshah, “king of kings”. Thus, the Armenian state was finally freed from the Caliphate relentless control.

Photo by Seda Aghamyan
Photo by Seda Aghamyan


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