Before Romans the area , and the first encounters from West were Armenian heavy cavalry,Great Alexander and Persians got both in form of taxes Armenian horses very durable till today.
Originally Posted by zg18
In the Byzantine Empire they formed the bulk of fighting force,having the most advanced feudal system in the area .
Some nice reading over here
http://www.ardarutyun.org/?p=4433&lang=enPublished: 18/07/2011Posted in: ARMENIAN RESISTANCE, Analysis, Armenia @en,
GEOGRAPHYYEREVAN magazine, July-August, 2011 issue (14)Based on his book The Code of Honor of the Armenian Military (4-5thcenturies)Translated by Arsen Nazarian and Armen Ayvazyan
Armenian historiography contains considerable information aboutancient and medieval Armenian military ideology. In the works of fifthcentury historians Pavstos Buzand and Movses Khorenatzi, the commandsand legacy of the Armenian sparapets (commanders in chief) to theirsuccessors articulate in detail the obligations and responsibilities ofArmenian warriors. Their norms of conduct share striking similaritieswith the system of values of the Japanese samurai codified during the16th to 18th centuries, as well as with later medieval West Europeanchivalry of the eight to 14th centuries."Fight and offer your life for the Armenian World just as yourbrave forefathers did, consciously sacrificing their lives for thisHomeland..."According to Pavstos Buzand, this was the message of Sparapet ManuelMamikonian (d. 384) to his son Artashir at the time of passing on "hisrule and command of the Army" to him.
This ideological commandmenthas continued to be part and parcel of the professional value systemof the Armenian armed forces. During his lifelong military service,Sparapet Manuel himself was led by this commandment. While he waslying in bed in an incurable physical state surrounded by the king,queen, noble men and women, Manuel undressed himself and showedthose in presence the numerous wounds that he had sustained duringthe battles waged for the independence of Armenia."There was no unharmed space on his body which would match the sizeof a coin. He had been wounded in battles and bore more than fiftyscars on his body, even on his masculine organ, which he also openedand showed to all."Sacrificing one's life for the sake of fatherland is exactly thesame ideology that historian Movses Khorenatsi preaches throughouthis History of Armenia in the following passage about the ArmenianKing-warrior Aram:"Being himself a worldly and patriotic man, this king preferredto die for his fatherland rather than to see that the sons of theforeigners encroach upon the borders of his fatherland and rule overhis own people.
"While codifying the personal virtues of sparapet Moushegh Mamikonian(d. 376), Pavstos Buzand in History of Armenia actually presents alist of the main commitments assumed by the Armenian warriors towardsthe Armenian state and nation. Thus, here are the basic componentsof the Code of Honor of the Armenian military during the fourth andfifth centuries, according to the hierarchical order of priority laiddown by Buzand: Loyalty and selfless service to the Armenian Homelandand Kingdom; unblemished preservation of a chivalrous reputationand dignity, if necessary, at the cost of life; Loyalty and selflessservice to the Armenian King, i.e. the most important sociopoliticalinstitution of ancient Armenia's state system; loyalty and selflessservice to all inhabitants of Armenia, irrespective of their socialorigin or status; piety towards the Christian faith, the Armenian(national) Church and clergymen and their selfless protection;devotion to family; devotion to kinsmen/noble clan; and loyalty tocomrades-in-arms.Some points are akin to the chivalric codes of the medieval Europeanknightood and the Samurai, Japanese professional warriors, valuinghonor and allegiant service to a suzerain above life.
In his renowned work Hagakure (literally, "Hidden in the Leaves"),samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo (d. 1719) describes the code of honor of theSamurai, Bushido - "A warrior's path". He emphasizes the requirementof disregarding death for a warrior."Bushido, the path of the warrior, means death. When you have onlytwo paths between which to choose, you must immediately choose thepath that leads to death. Don't think anymore. Direct your thought onthe path to which you gave your preference and walk!" he writes. Thequestion arises unintentionally: 'Why should I die if it has no use.Why should I pay with my life for nothing?' These are value judgmentsof an egoistic man. When you have to make a choice, don't allow thethoughts about use or profit to sway your mind. Since all of us preferlife to death, that preference in fact determines our choice. Thinkabout the indignity that might befall you when you, laboring forprofit, may suddenly fail. Think about the despicable fate of theman who continues to live while he hasn't yet achieved his goal.The Samurai is obliged to give his soul and his body to hisprince/lord. He should, moreover, be wise, merciful and valiant. ...Remember! Death does not bring down your dignity. Death does not bringyou dishonor. ... Your fulfillment of commitment must be thoroughand your reputation must be unblemished.A samurai swore to perform the following four commandments: Not tosuccumb to anything in fulfilling my commitment; to be of service tohis lord; to be respectful towards his parents; and to be mercifuland compassionate."The resemblance of the codes of honor of the Armenian warrior of theArshakuni era and of the Japanese Samurai, which places honor, dignityand dedicated service to one's lord (suzerain, "master") above life,is striking. In this connection, Pavstos Buzand provides us with anumber of cases which speak for themselves. One of them concerns anepisode in Persia.
"It so happened in one of those days that the Armenian king Arshakentered one of the stalls of the Persian king. The Riding-masterof the Persian king was sitting inside. When he saw the king, heuttered no words of welcome, nor paid any attention to him. He evenbegan to deride and insult, telling him: "King of Armenian goats,come and sit on this heap of grass."At hearing these words, Vasak, the general and Commander in Chiefof the Army of Great Armenia, from Mamikonian dynasty, who wasaccompanying the king, became enraged. Fuming, he drew his swordwhich hang from his back and struck at the Riding-master of the kingof Persia and decapitated him at once, because he could not endurethe impudence shown to his king. He preferred death many times asmuch to witnessing any insult or indignity to his lord."The calls of the Japanese Samurai author of the Hagakure not to feardeath and to strive for an unblemished reputation are uttered almostin the same manner by Armenian Sparapet Manuel in his above citedmessage-commandment:And he commanded him to be loyal and dedicated to King Arshak, tobe honest, diligent and hard working. "Fight and offer your lifefor the Homeland of Armenia just as your brave forefathers did bysacrificing their lives consciously for this Homeland. Because, hesaid, that would be a much more decent deed and one pleasing God andthat if you behave like that you will not be forgotten by the Almighty.Strive to have the reputation of a valiant man in this world anddo justice for the sake of heaven. And do not fear death, but pinyour hopes on the one who has created and founded everything. Throweverything corrupt, unethical and evil out of yourself and worshipthe Lord with clean heart and faithfulness.
Die courageously for thesake of the God-fearing (Armenian) Homeland, because then you willhave died for God, for his churches, for his covenant and for theinborn lords of this Homeland, the Arshakunis."This passage clearly demonstrates how skillfully the Armeniancommanders of the fourth and fifth centuries made use of the Christianfaith as a resistance-inspiring ideology in almost unremitting warswaged for the independence of Armenia. "To die for Armenia is todie for God", preached the Commander in Chief Manuel Sparapet and,of course, other Armenian commanders of the fourth century. ("Diecourageously for the sake of the God-fearing (Armenian) Homeland,because then you will have died for God"). By this, they broughtharmony and congruity between the code of honor of the Armeniansoldier, which had already been formed since very old times andsanctified during numerous battles (especially the ideologicalstandpoint to offer one's life for the sake of the fatherland), onthe one hand and the relatively new Christian faith and religioussentiments, on the other.
Exactly with this same belief, that dyingfor fatherland is a God-loving deed, the Christian-Armenian warriorcontinued to fight during all the coming centuries.A striking resemblance with the Samurai code of honor offersanother decree of Commander in Chief Manuel. He told his warriors to"be honest, diligent and hard-working," which matches the similarpostulates of Hagakure:"A soldier should ceaselessly train himself and should never thinkabout rest. There is no end to training yourself. It may happen thatyou come to a point where you get the feeling that you have reachedthe point of perfection and you stop doing that with which you busiedyourself so far. Whereas, one who wants to be perfect should alwaysremember that he is still far from that point. Be honest and truthloving in your soldierly service. Dishonest people can never servearms honestly."However, there are significant differences in the priority ofobligations of the Armenian honor code, and the Western European andJapanese codes, as it is evident from the hierarchy of commitmentsof the Armenian warrior of the fourth and fifth centuries presentedabove. The Armenian commander's topmost personal attachmentunequivocally went to the country, kingdom, and land of Armeniaand commitment to the entire people of Armenia irrespective of theirsocial origin and status - standing higher than the pledges to the ownnoble family and house and even the piety to the Christian religionand church.
Certainly, this is a stunning ranking for the ancient-early medievaltimes. Perhaps, this was partly due to the very early formation ofthe concept of fatherland and nation-state embedded in the Armenianpeople long before the adoption of Christianity. As early as the 4-5thcenturies, the idea of fatherland was expressed by various terms, suchas "Hayotz ashkharh, Yerkir, Tagavorutiun" (the Armenian "world,"country, kingdom). In addition to these terms, Movses Khorenatsidirectly uses the terms "hayrenik" (fatherland) and "hayrenaser"(patriot).
EpilogueIn this historical context the Armenian military's code of honor had asolid and lasting impact upon the national character and worldview ofthe Armenian people - just as the Bushido had on the Japanese people.Both Armenian and Japanese collective psyches would remain largelyimpenetrable, if examined without considering their ancestral warriorethics. This challenge has been profoundly recognized by perceptivestudents of Japanese culture. As Thomas Cleary, a Buddhist scholarand translator of many classics of Asian military theory, notes,"Even in the social and cultural spheres, Japan today still retainsindelible impressions of the Samurai Bushido. This is true not only ineducation and the fine arts, but also in characteristic attitudes andconduct marking the course of political, professional, and personalrelations." If observed, however, from a similar angle, Armenianculture - including literature, music, national epic, folklore - wouldreveal a thorough infusion of martial traditions that originally,and powerfully, stem from the ancient Armenian warrior class.