The Bulgars in Armenia - a key to the earliest Bulgarian history

Favstos Buzand - the historiographer of the Mamikojans

According to M. Horenaci the settling of the Armenian Bulgars was “for long”, but not forever. A significant part of them migrated afterwards back to the their “Country of the Bulgars”. In any case it is indisputable that at the end of the IV c. and in the first half of the V c. the Armenian Bulgars and those from the Northern Caucasus were within the evangelizing range of the Armenian church and that the history of the early spread and adoption of the Christianity among the Bulgars must be re-examined.   ( --> See also the paper "The Bulgars were Christians before 865 AD")

There are still more clues which allow us to limit even further the time of the Bulgar migration to Armenia. Favstos Buzand  is known as the historiographer of the Mamikonjans. Books III to VI of his history of Armenia were preserved. They comprise the time from the reign of Khosrov II Kotak (Karlik) to the partitioning of Armenia. For this period he writes from the position of a witness. The reliability of his accounts is also confirmed by their strict correspondence to the informations of Amiantus Marcelin. Independently and much earlier than M. Horenaci, F. Buzand, enumerating the bishoprics at the time of the partitioning (387 AD), mentions Zorgua, bishop of Vanand, as a punctual Christian leader.

And before that: Pap and Atanagines, sons of Catholicos Iusik, were unworthy to take their father's sceptre. Then king Tigran sent four princes to invite the chor-bishop Daniil, a Syrian by birth and a student of Gregorius the Enlightener, to take the function of a Catholicos. The second of the princes was Artavna - a prince of Vanand [11]. And even earlier: when Iusik himself replaced his father Vartanes on the patriarch's throne, after king's orders a group of princes accompanied Iusik to Caesarea for his ordain. In this group was a certain Orot - a Vanandian prince. This means that at the reign of Tigran a certain period of time had already passed since the migration of the Bulgars in order for the name of “Vanand” to be incorporated in the administrative structure and to be commonly accepted. No matter which of the various datings for the rule of Tigran we accept (the latest studies give the period between 338-350 AD), in any case the toponym of “Vanand” was already in use before the reigns of Arshak II (351-367) and Arshak III (378-389) - the time in which the Bulgarian historians situated the migration up to now.

If the migration took place in the period described by F. Buzand, why did not he mention it, but uses the established as a result of the migration toponym instead? Besides, at that time Armenia was the crossing point of the conflicts between Rome and Sassanid Persia - not the most appropriate place for a peaceful migration. King Shapukh twice (in 359 AD and in 364-368) campaigned in Armenia, depopulating completely towns and sending in exile the greater part of the Jewish population of the country. These events are described in details by F. Buzand and we will return to them later.

In any case the analysis of the sources ‘lowered’ the time of the Bulgar appearance in Europe to the first half of the IV c. AD and now the inclusion of the Bulgars in the Latin chronograph from 354 AD does not look as an anachronism.

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11. Istorija Armenii Favstosa Buzanda, E., 1953 g., s. 32.