Armenian Legends: Driving Tamerlane out of Armenia

Those were the days when the earth suffered from hordes of barbarians and plunderers. A despotic tyrant, the bloodthirsty Tamerlane and his huge army, invaded Armenia. His savage cavalry trampled the people, burned their homes, and looted their temples. They even destroyed the precious parchment manuscripts and with them the historical memory of the Armenian nation.

The ruthless tyrant and tormentor was approaching the city of Moks when he suddenly became gravely ill. He then turned into a pitiful cowardly man, because, like all tyrants, more than anything else in the world he was afraid to come to terms with his own mortality. Tamerlane promised anyone who would be able to cure him any wish within his power to grant. But no one knew the cause of his illness and nobody could help the ailing conqueror.

Then, the abbot of the local monastery named Arakel came forth to cure Tamerlane. In return for his services, he asked Tamerlane for all the stolen Armenian parchment manuscripts and books to be returned to their rightful owners, for the release from captivity of as many people as he could fit inside his temple, and finally, his army was to leave the land of Armenia for all time. Tamerlane eagerly agreed to all conditions.

And so Arakel of Moks proceeded to cure Tamerlane with his secret herbs, charms and prayers. The tyrant reluctantly returned all the stolen manuscripts. He then had to return the captives, as many as would fit in the temple of the Moks monastery. Prisoners went in, at first, one by one, then by the dozen, then by the hundred.

They walked in and never walked out.

Tamerlane could not believe his eyes. “What is this?” he fumed. “How could such a small temple accommodate tens of thousands of people? What miracle is this? Who are these people? We better leave this place at once before some other disastrous miracles start to happen.”

Seventy thousand prisoners entered the temple. It is said that the abbot Arakel turned them into doves and released them through a narrow church window. Those doves flew away to their native mountains, landed by their homes, and turned back into people. And the land of Armenia was free from Tamerlane and his hordes.



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