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CODE OF HONOR OF ARMENIAN MILITARY
(4-5th CENTURIES)

Armen Aivazian

Summary

      Armenian historiography contains considerable amount in information about ancient and medieval Armenian military ideology. In the works in the 5th century historians Pavstos Buzand and Movses Khorenatzi, the commands and legacy f the Armenian sparapets (commanders-in-chief) t their successors l out in detail the obligations and responsibilities f Armenian warriors. This code f honor, in hierarchical order, requires selfless loyalty t: (1) (heir fatherland, the Armenian "world," country and independent kingdom; (2) chivalric honor; (3) the king as the most important state institution f Armenia; (4) the people f Armenia, all in its inhabitants, irrespective f their social status; (5) the Christianfaith, church and clergymen; (6) family; (7) their kinsmen; (8) their comrades-in-arms.
      These norms ! conduct share similarities with later medieval West European chivalry f the 8th-14th centuries, as well as the system f values f the Japanese samurais codified during the 16-18th centuries. However, as this study shows, there are significant differences in the priority f obligations f the Armenian honor code, n the n hand, and the West European and Japanese codes n the other. The nt f fatherland developed in the Armenian people long before the
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adoption f Christianity in the 4th century and was expressed b various terms, such as "Hayotz ashkharh, Yerkir, Tagavorutiun" (the Armenian "world," II country, kingdom). In addition t these terms, Movses Khorenatzi directly uses the terms "hayrenik" (fatherland) and "hayrenaser" (patriot); whereas, f example, similar nt r fatherland as well as the term "fatherland" itself did nt emerge in neighboring Byzantium until the 10th century.
      The large number f Armenian troops (90-120 thousand men from t least the 4th . t the 11th . AD) and the dominant role f warriors in Armenian society f that period was conditioned b the pressing need f defense f the country from continual foreign invasions. The study demonstrates that in this historical context the Armenian military 's honor code had solid and lasting impact upon the national character and the worldview in the Armenian people.

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