The conversion to Christianity was inevitably to bring in its wake complications of a political nature and to arouse grave anxieties in neighboring Persia. The Sassanian Persians took advantage of Armenia’s inner weakness and launched a campaign to stamp out Christianity there and replace it with Mazdaism. Under this common threat, the princes, nobility and the people of Armenia rallied, and in 451 under the leadership of the Commander-in-Chief (sparapet) Vardan Mamikonian the Armenians heroically faced the Persians at Avarayr in defense of their faith and national heritage. Heavily outnumbered, they were defeated; Vardan Mamikonian and many valiant men fell fighting. But guerrilla warfare continued in the mountainous regions. Vahan Mamikonian, a nephew of Vardan, continued the struggle. This time the Persians, realizing the futility of their policy, were obliged to come to terms with the Armenians. Freedom of religious worship was restored with the Treaty of Nvarsag.
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