Dedicated to the 20th Anniversary of the creation of the Republic of Armenia’s Armed Forces


Babken H. Harutyunyan
We have received a very interesting document, conditionally named by researchers “Zoranamak” (Military list), since it has preserved detailed information about armed forces of the principalities (in Armenian – nakhararutyun) of the kingdom of Great Armenia.

The Armenian Army was comprised of 120 thousand soldiers and this number most probably represented the 120 strategies (or generalships) in the kingdom of Great Armenia, as stated by roman author Plinius Secundus. In other words, each strategy which corresponded to an Armenian gavar or province has brought to battlefield an average of 1000 soldiers.

The Armenian royal forces was divided into four flanks and formed a group of forty thousand combatants who then formed four military units, which operated under the command of Bdeshkhs or royal frontier-keeper leaders. From these, the Bdeshkhs of Aghdznik and Gugark had their own proprietorships from quite ancient times. The Bdeshkhs of New Shirakani (Նոր Շիրական) joined them after the year 298, and the forth whose name has not been preserved, owned no proprietorships.

To the number of royal armed forces belonged the Royal guard regiment or Malkhazyan guard regiment, which was comprised of 10000 combatants, out of which 6000 were always deployed for the king during wars or other circumstances. 4000 soldiers of this regiment were permanently stationed in the kingdom’s capital to ensure the safety of Royal Court.

The Mardpetakan regiment who protected the country’s domestic rule and order was also considered to be royal armed forces, comprised 15000 combatants. The regiment’s commander was also responsible for protecting the queen, the Women’s quarters and the safety of most royal treasures. The rest of the treasures were protected by prince of Angeltoun.

Thereby, the royal armed forces were made up of 65000 combatants who made it possible for the king to restrain possible princely actions or rebellions.

The number of combatants in the princely detachments was actually 55 thousand, however it is hard to determine the distribution of those forces into four flanks because the “Zoranamak” example we have is a literary document subjected to a series distortions. It is simply impossible to completely restore it in its original form.

The information regarding the 19400 cavalry or soldiers of the principality of Syunik bears on it the influence of a period when there was a Marzpanate (administrative unit in Sassanid Persia) in Eastern Armenia being under the rule-ship of Sassanid Persia and Marzpan or leader of the Marzpanate was the prince of Syunik – Vasak Syuni. The armed forces of the Syunik principality included the power of 15 thousand soldiers of Armenian Marzpanate, which coincide with the Mardpetakan regiment numbers.

Among the 13200 soldiers that made up the forces of the Kadmeatsik principality 10000 in reality were the soldiers of the Royal guards regiment also secretly preserved as well as the 3200 combatants from Bdeshkh principality of Nor Shirakani.

The Amatouni principality’s name in “Zoranamak” is preserved by the vague writting of Amaskoni who allegedly brought 200 soldiers to the battlefield. An examination shows that the military power of the Amatounis was in reality comprised of 800 to 900 soldiers, of which nearly 400 secretly remained in Vahouni’s units or 500 in Bagratouni’s units. The princely forces were led by four sparapets or flank commanders. 4,000 soldiers from the royal armed forces occupied the Iberian (Virk) and the so called Albanian kingdoms.

The commander of the Armenian armed forces was formally the king of Great Armenia. However, during war the entire army fought under the command of the sparapet of kingdom or general military leader.

Based on military needs, sometimes a group of soldiers was collected to serve as combatants (lands forces) comprising as a rule from infantrymen.

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