Vartan Mamikonian

Hamazasp Mamikonian was recorded as the family leader in 393. His wife is known to have been Sahakanoush, daughter of Saint Sahak the Great and descendant of the Arsacid kings. They had a son, Saint Vartan Mamikonian, who is revered as one of the greatest military and spiritual leaders of ancient Armenia.

After Vartan became Sparapet in 432, the Persians summoned him to Ctesiphon. Upon his return home in 450, Vartan repudiated the Persian religion and instigated a great Armenian rebellion against their Sassanian overlords. Although he died in the doomed Battle of Avarayr also known as Battle of Vartanantz (451), the continued insurrection led by Vahan Mamikonian, the son of Vartan’s brother, resulted in the restoration of Armenian autonomy with the Nvarsak Treaty (484), thus guaranteeing the survival of Armenian statehood in later centuries. Saint Vartan is commemorated by many churches in Armenia and an equestrian statue in Yerevan.

After the country’s subjugation by the Persians, Mamikonians sided with the Roman Empire, with many family members entering Byzantine service. Not only did they rise to the highest offices of Constantinople, but even some of the emperors – conceivably Leo the Armenian andBasil I – could have been their descendants. Theodora the Byzantine regent and her brothers Bardas and Petronas the Patrician were also of Mamikonian heritage. Unsurprisingly, Mamikonians form a crucial link in the postulated descent of modern European nobility from antiquity.

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