TheArmenianMilitary in the ByzantineEmpire: ConflictandAllianceunderlustinian and Maurice

Until recently the majorityof history in bookson the Roman Empirethereappears have been an acceptance to that the studyof the Persian Empire, eitherlàrthianor Sasanid, was secondary the studyof Rome.In the lasttwentyyearsor to so, a numberof military historians havedemonstrated that the Persians were admirable opponents Romeand just as of worthyof studyin theirown right. In this contextit is unsurprising the militaryhistory that of Armenia,the third military power in the region,is usually relegatedto footnotes. In many respectsthis is due to the paucityof sources. main Armenianhistorians the The of period- làvstosBuzand(fifthcentury), MovsesKhorenatzi (fifthcentury), and Chazarhrperzi (fifth-sixth century) are little known in the West,and until recently none havebeen translated English. into Armeniais still little known to Western historians. Even Armenian scholarshave only recently begun to investigate their own military history,as underlinedby Armen Ayvazyan,the author of the book under review, when he "Armenian states: historiography both in the homelandand abroadhasso far failedto develop distinctnational a school of militaryhistorians." In some respects this is understandable. Armenia has only iustemerged from a long periodof foreign domination, and mostof the translations the primarysources, of and the majorityof the analysis undertaken the twentieth in century, were conducted eitherwhen Armeniawas affiliated the to USSR, more recently,involved in local wars. In both ot casesWestern historiansmay have been discouragedfrom travelling the countryand investigating to Armenianhistory. Sadly, thosewho did travelwere classicists with little or no interest Armenian in militaryhistory. a result, majority As the of modernanalysis ofArmenianhistoryis in eitherArmenian or Russian, languages which manyWestern of scholars have littleor no knowledge. Despitethe title, readers expectingThe ArmenianMilitary in the Byzantine Empirc to be the long-awaited in-depth analysis ancientArmenianmilitaryhistorywill be a little of disappointed. the author notes:"The title of this book As shouldin no way be takenas an application a comprefor hensive coverage the numerous of and diverse relationships between Armenian the militaryand the Byzantine empirein the ageof Emperors and Thepresent Justinian Maurice. study strives bringto lightonly one of the leastknown,yet most to turbulent periodsin the history theArmenian of military(...). It is my hope that this book will act as a catalyst a long for overduerigorous scholarly research into the militaryhistory o f A r m e n i d r p .l 6 r . " With thiscaveat mind, it is possible turn to the book in to itself. Part of the bookAyvazyan In I focuses theArmenian on rebellion 538-539.(Forthosewho are not fully cognizant of with Armenianhistory, this is a period when Armenjawas dividedbetween Byzantium and Persia, the rebellionin and question was against Byzantine rule of the western areas of

ISBNr 9782917329399 Author: Armen Ayvazyan Fages: 128 Publisher: Sigest Addressof publisher: www.stgest.net Reviewer: lan Hughes

Armenia). concentrating a narrowperiod, By on Ayvazyan is ableto devote largeamountof closeanalysis his chosen a to area,so giving clear insights ratherthan being forced into the generalizations might havebeenthe casein a book that coverinS wider period. a The text includesan investigation into the Armenian militaryorganization and conductduring,the ensuing for, campaign, when theArmenian (Bassaces) commanderVasak Mamikonean faced the Byzantine generalSittas, who had previously commanded alongside Belisarius. The high point of the campaign was the Battleof Avnik, which is gjvenitsown chapter- a closelydetailed In scrutiny of the battle,Ayvazyansuggests that VasakMamikonean used the nature of the terrain and his knowledge of Byzantine tacticsto lure Sittasinto a seriesof disjointed combatswhere the Armenianarmy was able to utilise its strengths kill Sittasand defeatthe Byzantines. order to In to suggest continuityof strategy, the followingchapter a in Ayvazyan compares the 'Mamikonean tactics'used in the battle with the tactics usedar the Battle ofAkori in 48t, after which he details events surrounding end of theArmenian the Rebellion 538-539. of All of the aforementioned description and analysis takes place jn 60 pages(pp. 26-85). Part I is concludedwith two shortAppendices, Assassination the operation against

Contharis' (Procopius,De Bello Vandalico 2.28.1t 5-43), (ProcoDius, BelloPesico and 'The ArmenianRebellion' De 2.3.4-31). In hrt ll, Ayvazyananalyses possiblereasons the the for omission of the Armeniansfrom Mauricel Strategikon (see also Medieval Waiare magazinell-4). Although extremely interestingand insightful,there is a need to read the entire section through in its entirety before forming any judgements, the conclusions leftto the end. as are Finally,echoingthe short natureof the book, Ayvazyan's conclusion understandably than two pages length. is less in One of my main problems with bookson ancienthistory is that sometimes these only includethe mostbasicof maps, which often fail to locatethe position of many placesnamed in the text. This book hastwo maps.One of theseis on page 70, and at leastin my editionis too dark to readwith ease. Furthermore, being isolated from any easily-identifiable

landmark such as a coastline it is hard to decioherthe information contains. it The other is a full-colourfold-out map at the back of the book. Once the readerhas identified that the main map is the eastern boundaryof the'Creater Armenia'foundin the insetmap everything falls into place and the map comes into its own. lt is to be hoped that such mapsbecomea commonplace all bookson Armeniaand in its neighbours:as I know from personal experience, it is extremely difficultto definespecificpoliticalboundaries at any giventime. My own conclusion thatthe book hasone overwhelmis ing flaw: it is far too short. Apart from that sole caveat, I heartily recommend this book to all readers interestedin Armenianmilitary historyor Late Antiquity.At last, light is being shed on ancientArmenia.lt is to be hoped that both the authorand other historians spurredon by this are example and takeup the challenge writing more. of

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