Preparation and organization of the military campaign of the army of Bagratid Armenia at the end of the IX – in the middle of the XI c.
Introduction. The history of early medieval Armenia is often studied in the context of struggle between Byzantine Empire and the Arab Caliphate for Armenia and the Caucasus in general. When the Caliphate began to win this fight, as for example at the beginning of the VIII сentury, Armenia immediately became a part of Caliphate. However, the strengthening of Byzantium and the Arabs’ weakening in the second half of the ІХ century led to the change of geopolitical situation in the Caucasus, which allowed Armenians to create an independent Bagratid Armenian state.
Armenian Kingdom (884/886–1045/1064) was a decentralized state with a highly developed suzerain-vassal relationship where some princes (ishkhan) recognized the power of the king of the Bagratid dynasty only in matters of war and peace. In contrast to Armenia, Byzantine Empire didn’t have a feudal type of army and maintain their military forces from the state treasury.
In spite of the actual fragmentation of the state, representatives of the royal dynasty of Bagratids created a flexible system of gathering troops and their movement, relying on developed suzerain-vassal relationship to protect the borders of the state from Muslim incursions and Byzantine intervention.
Purpose. On the basis of fragmentary evidences of the Armenian and other chronicles, the aim of this article is to reconstruct the process of a military campaign – from the gathering of troops, camp organization, intelligence and food supply issues to the location of troops on the battlefield and tactics.
Results and Originality. Military campaigns began in spring and lasted until late autumn and the Bagratid king or other trusted person was involved in the preparation and organization. The king directed the creation of a camp which was surrounded by palisade and moose and divided into sectors where separately housed troops of separate princes.
On the battlefield Armenians used a standard (sometimes with certain modifications) disposition of troops: avant-garde, center with flanks and rearguard. Although the other system was equally popular, when the troops «were not stationed according to the rules of military art, but around their suzerain, with whom they came to the battlefield». The main military unit – cavalry (azats) were located in the avant-garde and rearguard. Also, Armenian army didn’t know state centralized food supply, so army independently acquired it during campaigns.
In most military conflicts against Muslims (especially turks), the Armenian troops wanted to avoid battles on the plains, because in this case the advantage would be on the enemy’s side, which had maneuverable equestrian archers that allowed them to conduct a distant battle for a long time. This forced Armenians to use the tactics of defensive battle, luring the enemy to the mountains, which offset the possible numerical superiority of the Muslims and didn’t allow them to fully use maneuverable equestrian archers.
Conclusion. The prospect of the research is to attract and compare all available Armenian, Georgian, Byzantine, Arab and other chronicles to create an overall picture of the military history of Armenia, which will help to better understand social-economical and political situation in region and further events in the history of Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1080–1375).
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