In 252, Shapur I (the son and successor of the founder of the Sasanian state Ardashir I) invaded Armenia and enthroned pro-Persian Nakharar Artavazd Mandakuni (reigned in 252-262). He was the fifth and last Artavazd on the Armenian throne and bore the title “King of Great Armenians” (“Թագավոր Հայոց մեծաց”).
Although made a king by Shapur, Artavazd was not at all a doer of the will of the Persian king. This was evidenced by the letter that he wrote to Shapur I and which reached us thanks to 3rd-century Latin historian Trebellius Pollio.
Artavazd’s letter was as follows.
“I am proud of your fame, but I’m afraid that you have achieved a fierce confrontation rather than victory [the Roman emperor Valerian had been willing to negotiate with Shapur, but the latter had treacherously arrested and imprisoned the emperor for life].
Now, the freedom of Valerian is demanded by his son, grandson, Roman generals, and all of Gaul, all of Africa, all of Spain, all of Italy, as well as all the peoples who live in Illyria, as well as in the East and in Pontus. All the peoples who are supporters of the Romans or obey them.
By merely capturing an old man, you made all the peoples of these lands your (and possibly also our) enemies. As your neighbors, we always find ourselves in a difficult situation when you are at war against each other.”