Armenian Commanders of Byzantium

Armenian Commanders of Byzantium

Nerses (Narses) was a commander and influential courtier of Byzantium of Armenian descent under Emperor Justinian I. Along with Belisarius, he was one of the first great generals of the early Middle Ages.

In 535, the leaders of the Constantinople and Alexandrian patriarchates were removed from position simultaneously. A series of displacements of the patriarchs led to huge discord and strife in the country.

The suppression of the uprising in Alexandria was entrusted to Nerses. At the head of a 7,000-strong army, Nerses has spent several days bringing the city back in order and has been even forced to burn a part of Alexandria.

Under the command of Nerses, Byzantium won brilliant victories in the battles of Taginae, the Mons Lactarius, and Volturnus.

Filaret Varazhuni was a Byzantine general of Armenian descent. He has served as the commander of the Domestic (domestikos, the guard unit of the Roman Emperor) since 1067/69. Since 1071, he has factually been the independent ruler of the Armenian state which stretched from Mesopotamia along the Euphrates up until Cilicia, Taurus, and part of Syria.

In the conditions of chaos caused by the civil war and the Seljuk invasion of Asia Minor, Filaret was able to keep the army and all the border areas from Kharberd to Cilicia under control.

Vardan Ardavuni was one of the greatest commanders of Byzantium. In April 531, Persian troops under the command of Azarethes, including 15,000-strong cavalry and the 5,000-strong detachment of Lakhmid Arabs, crossed the Euphrates from Circessium and invaded Commagene.

Learning of this, Belisarius gathered 20,000 warriors. The Byzantine cavalry was commanded by Vardan Ardavuni, who defeated the Persian central corps under the command of Mania Inb Numan.

Vahan Dzakhtarentsi was a general of the Nicene Empire. He was the commander of the army of Nicene in the second battle in the valley of Meander against the Sultanate of Rum.

At first, the Seljuk army along with 800 horsemen-Latins was quite successful. They actively plundered the territory of the empire and drove the inhabitants into slavery. However, after the plunders had ended, the Turks began to suffer the first defeats: the army of Nicene under the command of Laskaris and Dzakhtarentsi and inflicted a severe defeat on the Turks.

The victory of the Nicene Empire halted the Turkish expansion for at least the next 50 years.

Grigor Pakurian was born into a noble Armenian family in Constantinople. He served under the command of Michael VII Doukas and Nikephoros III Botaneiates on the eastern and western borders of the Byzantine Empire.

Since 1081, Pakurian has commanded the left flank of the Byzantine army. In this position, he participated in the Battle of Dyrrhachium against the Normans. In 1082, he managed to expel the last of them from Moglen.

In 1086, Pakurian perished in a battle with the Pechenegs in the area of Belyatovo located north of Philippopolis.

John the Armenian was a Byzantine commander of the 6th century from the Armenian Arshakuni House. He was one of the most outstanding commanders of Emperor Justinian the Great. He also served under the command of Belisarius and participated in his African campaigns against vandals.

Emperor Justinian himself deeply grieved for John’s death and even ordered to arrange 100 days of games in honor of his best commander.

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