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Varazdat

Varazdat (Վարազդատ, Latinized as Varasdates) was an Armenian prince who succeeded his uncle King Pap as King of Armenia in 374.

Appointment

Following the assassination of King Pap, Valens sent Varazdat, a nephew of Pap, a young man highly reputed for his mental and physical gifts, to occupy the Armenian throne. Varazdat began to rule under the regency of Musel Mamikonian. The Persian King Shapur II, having failed on the battlefield, now proposed to Valens in 375 that Armenia which he called the perpetual source of trouble, be evacuated or that Roman forces be withdrawn from the Western part of Caucasian Iberia ruled by Sauromaces. The Emperor rejected the proposal but sent two legates, the magister equitum Victor Magistrianus and Urbicius the dux of Mesopotamia to the Persian King to discuss the question. Shapur was told that his demands are unjust because the inhabitants of Armenia have been granted the right to live according to their decisions. Shapur was also told that unless Roman troops assigned to protect the Iberian King in the West were allowed to pass unhindered Shapur would be forced into war with Rome. Valens was confident of this threat because he was counting on filling the ranks of his army with auxiliaries from the Goths that he permitted to settle in Thrace. The two legates made a blunder upon their return by accepting two regions (Asthianene and Belabitene) under Roman rule without proper authorization. This gave Shapur a new bargaining chip to revive negotiations and in late 376 he sent Suren with an embassy offering Valens these two regions illegally accepted by the legates in exchange for Roman concessions. Suren was sent back with the message that Romans are unwilling to negotiate and would launch a tripartite invasion of Persia the following spring in 377. Shapur responded by seizing back Asthianene and Belabitene and harassed the Roman troops in Western Iberia. Fortunately for Shapur the Goths revolted in early 377 and Valens was forced to negotiate, eventually withdrawing Roman forces from Armenia in order to use them against the Goths. Valens himself died fighting the Goths in August of 378 during the Battle of Adrianople.

Decline

The situation in Armenia deterioated even further. Some time after the withdrawal of the Roman forces Varazdat killed the regent Musel Mamikonian. The vacant position of sparapet was quickly filled by Manuel Mamikonian who had served under Shapur in the most recent Kushan war. Manuel took up arms against Varazdat and forced him to flee from Armenia in 378, after four years of reign who sought refuge in Rome. Together with Pap's wife Zarmandukht and his son Arshak III, Manuel formed a new provisional government allied with Persia. Shapur garissoned a 10, 000 man army in Armenia under Suren, much like Valens in 377. Eventually Manuel revolted against Persia and defended Armenian sovereignty against both Rome and Persia throughout the 380's until his death.

Ancient Olympics

Varazdat is often regarded as one of the last competitors in the Ancient Olympic Games. Varazdat's victory in fisticuffs is recorded in Moses of Chorene's History of Armenia (3.40). Since he reigned from 374-78, conjecture places his victory in the 360's.

banishment

The Byzantine Emperor sent Varazdat to the British Isles.

References

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