In 384, Sparapet Manvel Mamikonyan on his deathbed, transferring to his son Artashir “the power of the house owner and the position of commander-sparapet”, told him: “With joy accept death for the Country of Armenia like your brave ancestors.”
(Pavstos Buzand, “History of Armenia”, Yerevan, 1953, book 5, chapter 44)
This order of the commander-in-chief of the Armenian armies – to sacrifice oneself in the name of the Fatherland – was, in fact, part of the ideological, moral, and psychological value system and the honor code of the Armenian army.
Manvel Mamikonyan himself has been guided by this order all his life. So, lying in bed incurably ill and surrounded by the king, queen, nakharars, and nobility, Manvel bared himself and showed them his numerous wounds received in the battles for the independence of Armenia:
“Manvel opened all his members before all of them – he exposed himself and showed his body, which had no single healthy area sized even like a coin. It was all covered with wounds received in battles, so that there were more than fifty scars from wounds, even on the reproductive organ, which he bared and showed to everyone.”
Historian Movses Khorenatsi also preached the idea of self-sacrifice in the name of the Fatherland throughout his “History of Armenia”. For example, this is how he narrated about King-Warrior Aram: “A husband who loves the country and the Fatherland, ready to die for his Homeland rather than see alien sons trampling on his own land, dominating his blood relatives.”
Let us turn again to Pavstos Buzand who in his “History of Armenia” represents the personal merits and services of Mushegh Mamikonyan. Mamikonyan embodied the professional value system of the Armenian army (we numbered the semantically significant individual components of this text. – A. A.):
“The brave Armenian commander and sparapet (Mushegh) was full of zeal all the days of his life,
1) faithfully and always serving and working for the benefit of the Armenian country and the Armenian kingdom. Night and day was he at work: he made all efforts, led the war, did not allow even an inch of land to be cut off from the borders of the Armenian country. He laid down his life for the Armenian country
2) and would give his life for his gallant name,
3) for his true sovereigns,
4) for the people of the country,
5) for the Christian faith,
5.1, 4.1) for those who believe in God and those who were baptized in the name of Christ,
5.2) for the churches,
5.3) utensils dedicated to them,
5.4) for the temple in the name of martyrs,
5.5) for the servants of God,
6) for sisters and brothers
7) and close relatives.
8) For his faithful friends with whom he sacrificed his life for the country
8.1) and, not sparing his life,
8.2) all the days of his life worked for his true sovereigns, the Arshakuni.”
Here, Buzand actually lists the Armenian soldier’s main obligations towards the state of Armenia and the Armenian nation. Based on this valuable information, let us have a look at the main provisions of the code of honor of the Armenian army in accordance with their importance and priority, as indicated by Buzand.
- Loyalty and selfless service to an independent and powerful Armenian “peace”, country, and kingdom.
- Preservation of the knightly honor and reputation (the valiant name) in chastity, if necessary, at the cost of life.
- Loyalty and selfless service to the most important institution of the state system of Armenia, the King of Armenia (the “true sovereigns” of Arshakuni).
- Loyalty and selfless service to the people of Armenia, all its inhabitants without exception, regardless of their social origin and status.
- Pious attitude to the Christian faith and the national church, as well as their selfless protection.
- Loyalty to the family.
- Devotion to the ethnos.
- Loyalty to military comrades and friends in arms.
The professional system of values of the Armenian army documented by Buzand includes the most important elements of the state ideology that has been proclaimed, implemented, and promoted in Armenia of the Arshakuni era.
These ideological, moral, and psychological values were intended to educate primarily young men who reinforced the officer corps in accordance with the initial goals, the traditional structure of the Armenian army, and the obligations of the Armenian soldier to the Fatherland and the people.
These values were so rooted in the consciousness and behavior of the Armenian army that they remained unchanged for centuries. Thus, on April 25, 775, Armenian soldiers, having entered an unequal battle with the six-fold superior Arab forces near the village of Ardzni, once again demonstrated adherence to the already familiar requirements of the traditional code of honor of the Armenian army.
According to the chronicler Ghevond, they encouraged each other with these words: “We will die bravely for our country and our nation, and may our eyes not see the trampling and desecration of our sanctuaries and places of worship of our Lord. May we first meet the enemy sword, and let anything they wish happen.”
An excerpt from the book “The Value System of the Armenian Warrior” by Armen Ayvazian Read also:Warriors of Armenia Preferred Death to Staying in a Foreign Land