Vardan MamikonianMonday, December 21, 2020
Vardan Mamikonian (387–451 AD) was an Armenian military leader, a martyr and a saint of the Armenian Church. He is best known for leading the Armenian army at the Battle of Avarayr in 451, which ultimately secured the Armenians' right to practice Christianity.
A member of the Mamikonian family of Armenia's highest caliber aristocrats (known as nakharars), he is revered as one of the greatest military and spiritual leaders of Armenia, and is considered a national hero by Armenians. According to Arshag Chobanian "To the Armenian nation, Vartan [...] is the most beloved figure, the most sacred in their history, the symbolical hero who typifies the national spirit." Major Armenian churches are named after Saint Vardan. Equestrian statues of St. Vardan are found in the Armenian capital Yerevan and in the country's second largest city, Gyumri.
Vardan Mamikonian was born in AD 387 at the village of Artashat (Artaxata) in the Taron region, north of the city of Moosh, to Hamazasp Mamikonian (Armenian: Համազասպ Մամիկոնյան) and to Sahakanush (Armenian: Սահականուշ), daughter of Isaac of Armenia.
After Vardan became Sparapet (supreme commander of the armed forces) in 432, the Persians summoned him to Ctesiphon. Upon his return home in 450, Vardan repudiated the Persian religion and instigated an Armenian rebellion against their Sassanian overlords.
Vardan died in the Battle of Avarayr. He was caught while watching the battlefield from a hill. The Battle of Vardanants was fought on May 26, 451 on the Avarayr Plain in Vaspurakan, between the Armenian army under Vardan Mamikonian and the Sassanid (Persian) rulers. While the Persians were victorious on the battlefield, the battle paved the way for the compact between Persians and Armenians that guaranteed religious freedom for Christian Armenians.
After his death, the insurrection continued under the leadership of Vahan Mamikonian, Vardan brother's son, resulting in the restoration of Armenian autonomy sealed by the Nvarsak Treaty (484), thus guaranteeing the survival of Armenian statehood in later centuries.