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David of Sassoun

David of Sassoun (Armenian: Սասունցի Դավիթ Sasuntsi Davit) is the main hero of Armenia’s national epic Daredevils of Sassoun, who drove Arab invaders out of Armenia.

After the Marzpanate period (428–636), Armenia emerged as the Emirate of Armenia, an autonomous principality within the Arabic Empire, reuniting Armenian lands previously taken by the Byzantine Empire as well.

The principality was ruled by the Prince of Armenia, and recognized by the Caliph and the Byzantine Emperor. It was part of the administrative division/emirate Arminiya created by the Arabs, which also included parts of Georgia and Caucasian Albania, and had its center in the Armenian city, Dvin.

The Principality of Armenia lasted until 884, when it regained its independence from the weakened Arab Empire under King Ashot I Bagratuni.

The Daredevils of Sassoun (also known as after its main hero David of Sassoun) is an Armenian national epic poem recounting David’s exploits. As an oral history, it dates from the 8th century, and was first put in written form in 1873 by Garegin Srvandztiants. He also published other ethnographic books.

David of Sassoun is the name of only one of the four acts, but due to the popularity of the character, the entire epic is known to the public as David of Sasun. The epic’s full name is Sasna Tsrer (The Daredevils of Sasun).

Modern Armenian writer Hovhannes Tumanyan later penned a poem of the same name retelling the story of the David of Sasun in a more modern language.

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