By the middle of the 5th century, Persian Armenia had maintained a rather precarious independence for four centuries in the border zones of competing empires, first Rome and Parthia, later the Byzantines and Sassanids. Their kingdom converted to Christianity in 301 but, in 428, accepted the suzerainty of the Zoroastrian Sassanid Persians, in return for assistance in the overthrow of a hated king. In 450, the Sassanid king Yazdegerd III, tried to compel Armenian conversion to Zoroastrianism, suspecting that his Christian vassals might be susceptible to an approach from his Christian rivals, the Byzantines. The Armenians responded by rising in rebellion under the inspirational general, Vardan Mamikonian. At the Battle of Avarayr (451), the Armenians, greatly outnumbered, were defeated, and Vardan was slain. However, the Armenians, led by Vardan’s son, Vahan, continued to fight a guerrilla war, until 484, when the the Sassanids enshrined their rights to practise Christianity under the Treaty of Nvarsak.
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