Warriors of Armenia Preferred Death to Staying in a Foreign Land

Warriors of Armenia

Another episode from the “History of Armenia” by Pavstos Buzand well shows how the loyalty to the family and Homeland were closely intertwined in the Armenian Warriors (the requirement of the sixth clause).

Describing the mental state of the Armenian army that left Armenia and set up a camp opposite the Roman army near Mtsbin, Pavstos testifies that the Armenian soldiers, while waiting for their Persian allies, were extremely impatient and asked King Arshak for permission to start the battle alone.

Pavstos writes that the Armenian soldiers “were weighed down by idle sitting and preferred to die than to stay in a foreign country (book 4, chapter 20).”

Then, Pavstos explained the behavior of King Arshak and all Armenian troops by the national character of Armenians: “King Arshak and all his troops considered it burdensome to go such a long way since each of them, according to his own Armenian custom, was yearning for his house”.

The code of honor of the Armenian army had various branches. Two of them should be noted.

First of all, the violation of its requirements was severely punished. For example, traitor Databen Bznuni, a Nakharar and commander, was “brought to the great King Khosrov and stoned as a person who betrayed his Fatherland, regiment, and the troops of his sovereign (book 3, chapter 8).”

And another point that coincides with the codes of European and Japanese knights is that the Armenian army considered death on the battlefield an ideal death.

Sparapet Manvel on his deathbed cried bitterly and said (describing this episode, Pavstos once again listed the priorities of the social obligations of the Armenian soldier, in which the service to the Fatherland is again in the first place):

“Since childhood, I grew up in wars and courageously treated all the wounds that I received, so why did I not die in battle and instead am dying like an animal? It would be good if I died in the war for the country so that the church and believers in God are not trampled on.

How good it would be if I were destined to die for the sovereigns of our country, for the Arshakuni, for wives and children, for pious people, brothers, comrades, and close friends. I behaved very boldly (in battles), and yet, I was destined to die the worst death – lying in bed (book 5, chapter 44).”

Mushegh Mamikonyan expressed the same pain: “But it would be better if this death befell me on horseback (book 5, chapter 35).”

It was already noted above that the code of honor of the Armenian army existed long before the times described by Pavstos (4th century).

Certain changes probably occurred in it, but the main requirements of this code, in particular, the selfless defense of the Motherland, the family, the suzerain, the holy places, the shrines, and the faith, most likely remained unchanged.

Excerpt from the book “The System of Values of the Armenian Warrior” by Armen Ayvazyan

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