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Hayastan


Armenia

History
Units

Military

Introduction

It is very difficult to piece together what the Armenian roster should be. There is no written evidence for the equipment, army composition or even army size for our time period. What little we know from the Armenian military comes from either Herodotos or Xenophon, and it is very little. We also have a small amount of coins from the Orontids (mostly Arsham’s) which show horsemen and foot soldiers alike; though in a very low quantity and low quality.

Herodotos states in his Histories (7.72-73) that "The Paphlagonians in the army had woven helmets on their heads, and small shields and short spears, and also javelins and daggers; they wore their native shoes that reach midway to the knee. (…) The Phrygian equipment was very similar to the Paphlagonian, with only a small difference. (…) The Armenians, who are settlers from Phrygia, were armed like the Phrygians". Apart from being a somewhat undescriptive description itself, the fact that its two hundred years old by the third century BCE makes it all the more unreliable, though not useless.

Around fifty years later, Xenophon relates in Anabasis, 4.3.3-4 that "[The Ten Thousand] caught sight of horsemen at a place across the river, (…) and likewise foot-soldiers drawn up in line of battle (…) to prevent their pushing up into Armenia. All these were the troops of Orontas and Artuchas, and consisted of Armenians, Mardians, and Chaldaean mercenaries. The Chaldaeans were said to be an independent and valiant people; they had as weapons long wicker shields and lances", and also in Anabasis 4.4.16-17 he narrates that "[Democrates] had captured, (…) and brought back with him a man with a Persian bow and quiver and a battleaxe of the same sort that Amazons carry (he likely refers to the Sagaris). When this man was asked from what country he came, he said he was a Persian". Even though these descriptions aren’t describing Armenian soldiers themselves, they can bring insight to the type of equipment present in the region and surroundings. But they still suffer from the same problem, they are a hundred and fifty years old as of 250 BCE.
Another interesting passage that Xenophon writes is related to Armenian horses, and a comparison to the Persian ones; stating (4.5.36) "The horses of this region were smaller than the Persian horses, but very much more spirited". This could be due to the fact that Scythians were the closest nomadic tribe to the land of Armenia for many centuries, and they are known to use a horse breed similar to the modern Altaic horse, which is indeed smaller than most common breeds. Thankfully this description does not age as much as the previous one.

Although these descriptions don’t necessarily apply to Armenian military, and the time period is considerably different, it’s a good (and the only) starting point to be able to conjecture what the Armenian military would have looked like.

There are however, several interesting coins made by Orontes, all with the same imagery; a naked hoplite bracing his spear while kneeling[1][2][3]. Though there is some debate whether this Orontes (satrap of Mysia) is the same Orontes that ruled over Armenia.

Hoplite imagery didn’t cease entirely after his reign. There have been many coins attributed to Arsames with very different imagery between them. These ones are most interesting, in the first coin, a soldier is depicted walking to the left, he holds his arm as if he was carrying a spear overarm, in the same manner a Hoplite would, and his shield, while a bit undersized, could presumably be a stylistic rendering of a Hoplon.[4] The second coin shows us an engagement between a cavalryman and several infantrymen, one already fallen, these foot soldiers are very similar to the one in the first coin, but they fight with their spears underarm, like that of a regular spearmen, but their posture and hand/arm position might suggest that these are phalangites, instead, the shield now appears to be properly sized, and the skirt-like shape of their garments suggest either a Linothorax or a simple Chitoniskos [5]. Yet this is only speculation, as the infantrymen could be depicting Seleukid phalangites instead, facing a mighty Armenian horseman, or they could be depicting the soldiers whose equipment Herodotos describes in his Histories (7.72-73), or they could even be depicting soldiers armoured with Urartian shields instead.

But this practically everything that can be found of pre-Artaxiad Armenian military, it is really more guesswork than proper historical research, as the source information is extremely scant; but we have tried our best to piece together what little we could find, and we hope we are able to present to you these soldiers and their equipment within a good degree of accuracy, and a proper historical basis even with the scarce sources there are available.

Infantry

Introduction

Poorly raised levies; often skirmishers and militia, kept safe the frontiers against ravaging nomads, and the fierce mountain peoples. In the heart of Armenia lie flat and fertile valleys which provided the major urban centres. These supplied a solid middle class to function as citizen soldiers, who are equipped well enough to be in equal footing against most trained foes. Lastly, the feudal-like nature of the Orontid Kingdoms also saw the rise of a contingent of small, but elite troops from the aristocratic class armed with the leading equipment of their day.

The location of the kingdoms and the region in general is an ideal road-stop for trade, and perfect strategic location for a superpower to hold a good grip on. This led to nearly three centuries of Persian rule, and, more recently; that of the Seleucid Empire. Though the heavier Achaemenid traditions had cemented deeply in the field of warfare, infantry consisted primarily of light javelineer-spearmen regiments, and the common garments and accoutrements of the soldiers had several unique and native aspects that differed from that of the Achaemenids. These light spearmen were supported by bowmen, cavalry and other light infantry when facing an enemy; there was no need for a large force of more well-armed soldiers, as their conflicts were mostly a call to arms from the Achaemenid Shahanshah.

Up until the fall of the Persians and the defeat of Orontes III was such a military used by the Armenian Kingdoms. In response to such unfortunate events, reforms in a matter of a few generations occurred, borrowing heavily from the Hellenistic way of warfare, yet still retaining some of both their native and imported aspects. One notable adoption from outside influence was the Thureos, which paved a new selection of warriors for the king to send to battle; it was brought over by the Kelts the day they crossed into Anatolia driven by gold. A large amount of Armenian soldiers were ill-equipped and performed as skirmishers or light infantry. Though they have smaller roles in the army, usually kept as garrisons, favouring a more defensive role in conjunction with skirmishers, but could be depended on for insignificant engagements.

The Thureos-wielding infantry would become widespread in Orontid ranks, seeing as they were indeed valuable by the Hellenistic superpowers. They were adopted as the standing back-bone; unlike the levies, they were quite trained, and could make a stand against soldiers that were decently disciplined and decently equipped. The affluent landowners of Armenian lands used their wealth to specialize themselves in the field of warfare, in which they formed their own elite regiments mixing best of east and west, such as the Orontid’s own elite hoplites, which are unlike the hoplites fielded by the Hellenes, nor the standard Sparabara of the east.

Although in a weakened state, there were always those who stood firmly for the lands of Armenia and Sophene, and their monarchs who have always fielded armies against the countless aggressors who try to take what they foolishly think are theirs, for a proper army will not let them do so; lest their beloved lands be milked like cattle by the hands of any foreigner.


Regional Units

Kordu Learhnayin Netadzigk'
(Kordu Mountaineer Archers)

Hillmen from the mountains of northern Korchayk’ (Gorduene) armed with a daunting battle axe, along with their traditional longbow, and arrows the size of a child. They are armoured with leather vests and a wooden shield. They are resilient troops that will carve through the enemy using either their arrows or their axes, though they are vulnerable due to the little armour they wear.

Recruitable in: Korchayk’/Gorduene.

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Learhnayin (Mountaineer), Netadzik’ (Archers). Kordu Mountaineer Archers.

To live near the sight of the imposing mountains south of Armenia is to live in constant fear. There are tales of men who descend from these mountains upon villages, pillaging and looting them empty, only to escape as quickly as they arrived. Forests are the grave of those brave or clumsy enough to wander into them too far. Corpses of these mysterious peoples are scarce, as they can outrun and outsmart any pursuer in the deep forests and uneven mountains they know like the backs of their hands. Border patrols would never return unscathed; and sometimes, they wouldn’t return at all. Even a sizeable force marching up to the dwellings of these men would only find either their villages emptied, or a hail of arrows quickly descending upon them.

The Korduk’, as they are called in Armenian; are a fierce warlike tribe that dwell in villages located in the plateaus and valleys of the mountains of northern Korchayk’ (Gorduene). They prey upon unsuspecting foes by striking from afar, hidden behind the treeline or beyond the sight of their targets; and if the enemy wants to chase and follow the path of the arrows and slingstones raining upon them; they will quickly find themselves in a fruitless task, only allowing themselves to be pelted even more. And to be on the receiving end of these arrows can be extremely lethal, as they measure around a metre long; these arrows can pass through shields and armour much more easily, inflicting serious wounds on even the most well-armoured of targets. When their enemies are demoralised or have their numbers reduced, they charge fiercely, hoping to inflict many a casualty before falling back to minimise their own losses. A well timed and well placed charge from these swift men can devastate enemy morale and make chaos out of an enemy formation. But while their Sagaris battle-axes are perfect for a quick and brutal charge; the shields and leather armour they wear are not suited for continuous combat, but they give good enough protection without sacrificing mobility. Their role in the battlefield is to stay away from enemy lines and enemy skirmishers until they are weakened and primed for a charge. If the battlefield were to have prominent hills or dense woodlands, there is no doubt where they would be placed. If they are caught off-guard, they can beat a hasty retreat and escape their pursuers from right under their noses; if cavalry is involved, they can run to the woods and annihilate them if they are foolish enough to chase them too far in. If there is nowhere to escape, they will honour their reputed ferocity and cut down as many enemies as possible before their spirit (or body) falls. Although many still live in a constant enmity with whoever claims to rule their lands, a few are convinced by force, money or the promise of spoils to fight for another man. They are superior bowmen and impetuous warriors, hasty and tenacious, and can be the end of a large group of soldiers if they aren’t careful of where they march into.

While these tribesmen are proficient with both slings and bows, they are most notable for their archery. Xenophon describes in Anabasis (4.2.28) the unorthodox way they draw their bows: "(…) when they shot, they would draw their strings by pressing with the left foot against the lower end of the bow (…)". And in the same section he recounts how frightening a hail of their enormous arrows is: "(…) their arrows would go straight through shields and breastplates. Whenever they got hold of them, the Greeks would use these arrows as javelins, fitting them with thongs". Truly a terror-inducing asset if one is able to convince them to fight in a foreign army. But beware; in order to enlist their assistance, one must traverse through their treacherous country first; and even a large army is likely to encounter severe hardships along the way. Besides, their cooperation is not assured (or likely), which could potentially make whole ordeal an exercise in futily, having lost many soldiers (if not all of them) whilst gaining none. Though the mountains will surely not mind their new decomposing decorations.


Native Units

Rhamik Parsawork'
(Armenian Peasant Slingers)

Armenian peasants slingers, able to outrange most archers, and with much deadlier, and simpler weapons. Their usefulness in melee is noticeable however, as they carry a small shield and a dagger, enough to annihilate their opponents if they dare come completely naked.

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Rhamik (Peasant), Pars (Sling), -awork’ (Carriers). Peasant Sling Carriers.

Most of the Armenian peasantry is monetarily dirt-poor (following the tradition of most peasants in the ancient world), but their duties in war are compulsory, and most peasants are too poor to buy proper panoply; sometimes even any panoply at all. Hence, they had to make their own equipment with the raw materials they could come accross, of which they usually have plenty of.

Slingers are the simplest of soldiers; a rope, a small piece of leather, clothes, a knife and a few planks of wood for a makeshift shield. Slingers are common sight amongst every army, being tasked to pepper the enemy lines from a great distance. In unarmoured opponents, they can cause broken bones and severe internal injuries and sometimes even lodging themselves into their bodies; and they often cause painful (though not lethal) injuries against well-armoured opponents. Slingers can also outrange most archers, giving them a decisive advantage in a skirmish. Some slingers use pellets cast from lead, but a simple stone laying on the ground can also be used as ammunition, though they trade off range and power. Slingstones also have a very powerful psychological effect, when travelling through the air, they are almost invisible, and make an unnerving whirring sound as they approach; the ominous cloud of rocks that approaches with a terrifying sound (and subsequent impact) can shake the morale of even the most disciplined soldier. And though they may be useful at long ranges, carrying a shield as their only armour and a dagger as their sidearm makes for light and nimble soldiers; but a pile of horsemeat when fighting hand to hand. They should exploit their speed and tirelessness if the enemy is too close, fall back behind friendly lines or simply run away in the hopes of losing their pursuers. They are easy prey to cavalry should they be left stranded on the battlefield, and it is best to keep them near the main forces.

Slingers are prominent in almost all armies that had a foot component; they are drafted from the lower classes of peasants and citizens, who are too poor to afford armour or proper weapons. Slingers are valued for their range, larger than most archers; as well as the sheer blunt force of their slings. However, it takes considerable time to be able to learn the basics of sling hurling. Although peasants would usually be in contact with slings, as they are used to shepherding wildstock and fending off predators. It is clear they are no professionals, but are certainly useful if employed correctly.


Rhamik Netadzigk'
(Armenian Peasant Archers)

Armenian peasants armed with a composite bow, a dagger, and only their clothes to protect them. They are nimble and tire slowly. While they may be good at a range, their melee abilities are limited to what any man with only dagger can do in a battle; run away.

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Rhamik (Peasant), Netadzigk’ (Archers). Peasant Archers.

Most of the Armenian peasantry is monetarily dirt-poor (following the tradition of most peasants in the ancient world), but their duties in war are compulsory, and most peasants are too poor to buy proper panoply; sometimes even any panoply at all. Hence, they had to make their own equipment with the raw materials they could come accross, of which they usually have plenty of.

Though getting the materials to make a simple self-bow and some arrows may not be very hard (few people were not able to come across a decent enough piece of wood), their manufacture is laborious. Crafting a bow requires some time and skill, and arrows need flint, iron or bronze for their tips, which elevates the cost of replacing those spent in a battle. Arrows are also rarely lethal, but when they hit flesh, they can cause severe damages; on unarmoured opponents, an arrow should easily incapacitate them, or even kill them due to blood loss and infections. But most shields can stop arrows without any problems, and when an arrow hits half-decent armour, it causes medium injuries at best. Peppering and annoying the enemy is their main goal, in order to either force a battle, or prevent one. Usually advancing in front of the main line to skirmish, and falling back when the enemy closes up dangerously, as they are extremely unprepared for combat. They carry only their bow and arrows, an Akinakes dagger and their clothes, they carry no shield or armour, so their speed is their best and only defence, it can save them from a bloody encounter with the enemy infantry, but it can do little against cavalry. It is best for them to stay near the main forces, lest they be massacred with ease.

Peasant archers are rarely a powerful force on the battlefield in much of Western Asia, where archery is used with relative effectiveness and lethality; they are used to either annoy the enemy forces or to pick off enemy light troops that wandered too close. A skilful archer has to be trained for years, or even decades; but little training is needed to learn the basics of bowmanship; and as ineffective as they are against armoured forces, a barrage of arrows is nothing to simply shrug off either, they can slow down an entire army, pinning them down under a large hail of arrows. Their strength as soldiers comes from their large numbers, not their skill or the lethality of their weapons.


Rhamik Nizakahark'
(Armenian Peasant Javelineers)

Armenian peasants armed with a bundle of javelins and a dagger. Nimble and hardy, thanks in part to the fact that their only armour is a small wooden shield; which makes them horse fodder if they ever find themselves caught in melee combat.

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Rhamik (Peasant), Nizakahark’ (Javelineers). Peasant Javelineers.

Most of the Armenian peasantry is monetarily dirt-poor (following the tradition of most peasants in the ancient world), but their duties in war are compulsory, and most peasants are too poor to buy proper panoply; sometimes even any panoply at all. Hence, they had to make their own equipment with the raw materials they could come accross, of which they usually have plenty of.

Like most javelineers in Western Asia, they carry a round or crescent wooden shield (the crescent one being called "Taka" or "Pelte") as their only armour, apart from the clothes they wear; as well as bundle of javelins, and an Akinakes dagger or a simple knife for close combat. The role of skirmishers is usually reserved to the lower classes who can’t afford better weapons or armour, and they are both common and numerous, easy to equip and useful for a battle. They run in front of the lines to pepper the enemy with javelins; their speed and tirelessness are their most useful tools when they run out of ammunition, evading enemies and avoiding close combat is the smartest tactic they can follow. Javelins can bring down elephants and chariot horses, with fewer casualties than trying to poke them with spears or swords at a close range. They can either become an annoyance to enemy forces, or destroy the enemy advantage in one swift throw. As most skirmishers, they are very vulnerable to cavalry charges, lacking proper armour and weapons to withstand them, so they should not split themselves too much from the main forces or be left undefended.

Light skirmishers have historically been drafted from the lower (or lowest) classes of peasants and citizens, unable to afford better equipment than a shield and javelins. Though a volley javelins is easily more disruptive to a formation than a volley of arrows or slingstones, javelineers also have to get closer to the enemy forces to harass them, though; more often than not, they would face the enemy skirmishers in order for them not to gain superiority and harass friendly lines, and to try to do the same against the enemy. Light javelineers are versatile (albeit weak) troops and ever-present in European and Western Asian armies, and should not be underestimated, even in small numbers; as they can prove to be decisive if used appropriately.


Rhamik Nizakawork'
(Armenian Peasant Spearmen)

Armenian peasants armed with a 7 feet (2 metres) spear and a sword, as well as a tower shield as their only protection. They are cheap and slightly reliable line holders, but their strength comes from numbers alone.

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Rhamik (Peasant), Nizak (Spear), -awork’ (Carriers). Peasant Spear Carriers.

Most of the Armenian peasantry is monetarily dirt-poor (following the tradition of most peasants in the ancient world), but their duties in war are compulsory, and most peasants are too poor to buy proper panoply; sometimes even any panoply at all. Hence, they had to make their own equipment with the raw materials they could come accross, of which they usually have plenty of.

These men carry a rectangular tower shield, usually called "Spara" (or more rarely "Gerrha"), made out of wicker and wood (materials even the poorest peasant can get a hold of); a spear as a main weapon; and a "Xiphos" or similar sword for close combat. This large shield permits them to have good protection from missiles and blows, as well as making a (fragile) shield wall. They are a cheap way to hold a line, able to manage light and medium infantry for a regular amount of time. However, any heavy or shock infantry will carve right through them with sanguinary efficiency. They suffer from the same weaknesses of any weakly-armoured infantry, and are extremely unsuited if used to break or rout any non-skirmisher formation; their role is mostly defensive. They are cheap and useful light cavalry killers, as well as reserves to defend skirmishers from enemies; not to mention their suitability as a light garrison. Their light armour also makes them suited to chase enemy routers and to force enemy skirmishers to fall back behind their lines.

Herodotos describes the equipment of the Paphlagonians in his Histories (7.72) as "[the Paphlagonians] had woven helmets on their heads, and small shields and short spears, and also javelins and daggers; they wore their native shoes that reach midway to the knee"; he then proceeds to say (in 7.73) that "The Phrugian equipment was very similar to the Paphlagonian, with only a small difference" and that "The Armenians (…) were armed like the Phrygians". Xenophon also speaks about the equipment of the Khaldioi (a tribe living northwest of Armenia) "All these were the troops of Orontes and Artouchas, and consisted of Armenians, Mardians, and Khaldaean mercenaries (…) they had as weapons long wicker shields and spears". It’s safe to assume that these men were likely armed similarly to the famous Persian Sparabara, with a wicker tower shield and spear; a style would remain prevalent for several centuries along many different areas of the world.


Hay Suserawork'
(Armenian Swordsmen)

Armenian soldiers equipped with imported Hellenistic panoply. A bundle of javelins to pepper the enemy, a Greek sword, a Celtic Thureos shield, a linothorax, and an iron helmet. They are the main infantry force of the Orontid armies.

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Hay (Armenian), Suser (Sword), -awork’ (Carriers). Armenian Sword Carriers.

Citizens and small landowners are the more fortunate of the lower classes in the Orontid kingdoms. In the event of war, they are able to afford better equipment for themselves. Because of their steady, but average wealth; as well as good numbers, they were relied upon as citizen-soldiers. In practice, it was the citizen’s duty to perform military service for the Ark’ay. Some were wealthy enough to face the enemy on one of their many horses; while others had to be content with only having hopes to return the camp safely after a battle.

While not the most-well equipped soldiers in the army, these men can be relied upon as either light or medium infantry. Their equipment is light enough so they do not lose much mobility; but don’t run unprotected into the fray either. They wear a Linothorax, an iron helmet and an oblong Thureos shield, adopted from the Kelts. They are armed with a bundle of javelins and a Machaira or Kopis sword. They are highly flexible soldiers, adept at both offensive and defensive tasks. When the enemy is close, they pepper them with their javelins in order to weaken them and disrupt their formation before they (or the enemy) charge. Due to their mobility, they are able to execute flanking manoeuvres and exploit the open flanks of the enemy line; as well as keeping friendly flanks safe from an attack. They can also support lighter troops, engaging and scaring away skirmishers. They’re even somewhat capable of holding the line against the onslaught of enemy’s own troops; as well as fulfilling the role of reserves, plugging gaps in the lines or reinforcing them when under pressure. Their agility allows them to prey upon isolated skirmishers or sluggish formations like the Makedonian phalanx, running around their front and striking their flanks while others keep them distracted. Though their somewhat light equipment allows them to perform such feats, to come up against a more heavily armoured or well-trained foe will guarantee no success.

These troops are based on the many Thureos-wielding light and medium infantry in the Hellenistic world, who are employed in a variety of ways. They are very versatile and can perform a myriad of tasks in a short period of time; being able to switch between acting as skirmishers, line infantry or flankers in a matter of minutes. Their flexibility is what gained them popularity with the armies of many small Hellenic poleis, who deployed them as their main infantry force before they replaced them with the phalanx. A skilled commander will quickly make good use of such a resourceful asset, profiting from their adaptability when the course of battle (or a small section of it) changes. Their presence in the battlefield is almost compulsory, as their equipment is quite inexpensive, thus they can be fielded in ample numbers; and their usefulness in most Hellenistic armies is immeasurable.


Holater Kats'inawork'
(Armenian Landowner Axemen)

Armenian landowners with some imported Hellenistic equipment. Armed with a bundle of javelins and a battle axe; they wear a scale vest, maille sleeves, iron or bronze greaves, a Thureos shield, and an iron helmet. Semi-elite troops that can plough through the enemy with ease with their axes and unfriendly shouts.

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Hol (Land), Ter (Owner), Kats’in (Axe) -awork’ (Carriers). Land-Owner Axe Carriers.

Armenian landowners constitute the heavy forces in the Orontid armies. They possess very large estates, worked by peasants and slaves, from which they have gained their wealth; able to afford better and more expensive materials (and equipment), as well as training; only a handful of them fight with lighter (and less protective) armour. They aren’t fielded in very large numbers, but they make up for it in their panoply and training.

Composed of members of the Armenian landowners, these men form one of the finest troops in the Orontid armies, as a heavily armoured, highly trained, enduring, potent infantryman. These skilled shock troops wield heavy javelins and a Sagaris battle-axe to carve graves out of the enemy line. They adorn themselves with finely crafted scale vests, helmets, and greaves to protect their limbs and torso. Their most peculiar equipment is their oval Thureos shield, adopted from the Kelts. These men are tasked to make an exceptional account of themselves on the battlefield. Though these men shouldn’t be mistaken for the like of Thureos-bearers, or those who form the majority of the Orontid battle line; for unlike their neighbours’ look-alikes, their equipment and experience proves them as a unique and specialized assault infantry. The Thureos provides protection to almost encompass the whole body, and under the safety of their shields, they discharge their heavy javelins to break and confuse enemy formations; they then collide onto enemy lines without hesitation, utilizing the Sagaris’ blade or characteristic pick to kill their foes. Although they are well-armoured, they are still quite nimble, as they wear equipment of little weight. In battle their purpose is to shatter the enemy, leading thunderous assaults to bring the enemy lines down to chaos and disorder. They too can perform tasks of the agile Thureos-bearers; though with more effectiveness, they will exploit and create gaps in the enemy lines; or bypass them altogether and hit hard the rear and flanks of their enemies. They excel at close combat; once they have closed the distance, they decimate through ranks of disciplined formations, whoever they may be. They will put to the test the years of campaigning and experience of veterans; to lead them to a bloody fight, or dare them to take to flight.

Openings in enemy formations will be easily exploited by these men, who can make a crevice out of a dent in their lines. They can also partake in siege battles if necessary; where their javelins will harass the enemy upon climbing the walls or opening the gates, and with such weaponry which is ideal to be used in crowded spaces, where formations are practically non-existent and everything devolves into chaos, success is measure in the combat of individuals. The Sagaris, a weapon favoured by the Persians and Iranian nomads for its overarm stroke which delivered terrible injuries when used on horseback. But in the hands of any individual on foot, it has the ability to pierce armour of bronze and iron, and render any helmet useless. Although these highly disciplined men could vanquish whomever that might come to sight, they suffer from consequences as heavy troops. A commander should not allow their backs be exposed for even they may suffer causalities. If ever in the position where missiles rain upon these highly regarded men, sent to charge straight into the pikes of phalangites, or trying to run after skirmishers; it will be nothing more than allowing lives of men to partake in suicidal missions that they will unlikely not prevail in. Though good line holders, they are shock infantry, capable of unleashing quick charges and inflicting heavy casualties to the enemy in the process. They are great flankers and assault troops; benefiting from momentum, speed and impetus when facing the enemy; but any who is brave enough to charge at them will find themselves in front of a wall of axes after going through a rain of javelins.


Holater Nizakawork'
(Armenian Landowner Spearmen)

Armenian landowners armed like Greek hoplites. They carry a Hoplon, a conical helmet, scale armour, maille sleeves, iron or bronze greaves, a spear, and an axe. They are able to hold a line and pin an enemy for a long time even under heavy pressure from them.

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Hol (Land), Ter (Owner), Nizak (Spear), -awork’ (Carriers). Land-Owner Spear Carriers.

Armenian landowners constitute the heavy forces in the Orontid armies. They possess very large estates, worked by peasants and slaves, from which they have gained their wealth; able to afford better and more expensive materials (and equipment), as well as training; only a handful of them fight with lighter (and less protective) armour. They aren’t fielded in very large numbers, but they make up for it in their panoply and training.

Hoplites, although no longer the main forces in any army, are still widely used in one way or another. While not as prominent in large numbers as before, they still appear occasionally in similar forms; though mostly as elite soldiers or as royal guards (e.g. the Hypaspists). They are better armoured than the average Hellenistic soldier, with iron scales on their linothorakes; they wear sleeves made out of maille and iron or bronze greaves under their trousers. They also carry a Doru spear and a battle axe as a secondary weapon, as well as large round Hoplon shield, which gives them their name. They are the prime example of heavy infantry; extensively armoured, well-armed, highly trained (both in their spare time and in drills), extremely powerful in the front and extremely immobile. Their heavy equipment and tight formation makes them unable to flank the enemy or manoeuvre effectively; not to mention that they are very sluggish and vulnerable to enemies that can attack them from a distance (like skirmishers and to some extent, pikemen). Nevertheless, they are able to pound through enemy formations, both of horse and men; however, it is prudent to keep their flanks protected so they don’t lose the added defence their formation gives them, though they can handle themselves quite well on their own. And while these men can be put in the thick of the battle, they are often assigned as bodyguard infantry, or heavy reserves, a more traditional role for a contingent of elite soldiers. They are the most well-armed infantry the Orontid armies field, and; as such, they are limited in number; but even with their small numbers, they can carve through cavalry like butter and force any elite infantry into a bloody fight, if need be.

Hoplite warfare is a dying trend, as phalangites are more versatile, cheaper to arm, and more mobile (to an extent); more suited to the style and tactics of contemporary warfare. But some hoplites regiments have withstood the test of time, and continue with their traditional ways of battling. They usually do so in a classical phalanx, a tightly packed formation where each soldier locks their shields with one another, and hold their spears above them, advancing as a near-impenetrable block; they do so at a steady pace, so that the formation does not disrupt while marching. Their shields are badly suited for individual fighting, as they do not cover the carrier well; they are meant to be used in groups, so that they cover the man at their left, and they themselves are covered by the man at their right. They approach their enemy in a slow march, presenting a line of shields and spears that seem impenetrable, usually making contact with the enemy at a slow speed; though rarely, they can also "charge" towards an enemy at a slightly faster pace, while also trying to keep a cohesive formation and enough stamina for the length of the engagement. Upon engaging the enemy, they assault them with their spears and try to maintain their formation and break that of the enemy. They are a powerful heavy infantry force, able to withstand and retaliate heavy enemy assaults. Despite being primarily spearmen, they are both offensive and defensive troops, they can be made to disrupt an enemy formation, and prevent the enemy from doing so, with the same efficiency. Hoplites may have been surpassed by other troop types that exploit their weaknesses well, but they still are very valuable in the battlefield if used with care.


Cavalry

Introduction

Cavalry was the focal point of the Armenian military throughout the ages. Despite the cold mountains and generally harsh lands, there were fertile lands in Hayastan which allowed an abundance of agriculture, livestock, and horses. With conditions met to field them in large numbers in battle, early on the Armenians never disappointed with their cavalry. Both Persian and Nomadic influences (particularly Skythian and Kimmerian) had given birth to various classes of cavalry, able to fulfil several roles in the battlefield. The social structure of Armenia has made it favourable for those in the upper classes to fight on horseback.

Lightly armed horsemen would serve as the vanguards of the Armenian armies, but they could also be deployed alongside the flanks or rears of adjacent troops. They were perfect for testing the patience of enemy troops, often skirmishing with enemies that came near before fleeing back to their lines. By harassing enemy lines they would also disrupt enemy formations and provide a supportive role of screening and weakening the enemy for the main onslaught. Their mobility and the lack of a defined formation meant they could perform almost anything their commanders wished them to do. However their only armour was in their speed and they could only out endure, and outrange their competition. Iranian Nomads from the north brought expertise mounted archery to the region, as well as weapons more adept to such a style of warfare on horse. The Orontid Kingdoms employed Sarmatian and Scythian horse archers, but also had their own which imitated the tactics of their Eurasian counterparts that made them one of the most famous mercenaries of their day.

The legacy of the reign of the Achaemenid Persia was visible in the cavalry of the Orontid military. The Achaemenids were known for the elite units of horsemen who fought on the verge of being fully encased in metal, and the Armenians continued this tradition; fielding heavy cavalry fulfilling the same privileged services in the army. These regiments were impervious to almost any weapons used against them, and only a few would perish during a charge at worst. They were relied on as the assault force of the Orontid cavalry, dealing the final blow to their demoralised foe. They may also duel against their opponents’ own cavalry force, though few would be as shielded as they were, and many wouldn’t even withstand their initial charge. Drawn from blood of high status, these riders encased themselves (and their horses) in everything their money could buy. In consequence, they were either kept away as reserves, to sally into the fray at the right time delivering an almost unstoppable charge that swept away any in their path; or they may be used early on to give a decisive advantage, often supported with combined arms, seeing as they suffered from lack of both mobility and stamina. They often rode into battle with less armoured and more Hellenised horsemen; these were medium cavalry which proved to be the most flexible cavalry force, fulfilling most supporting roles in the battlefield. As their name suggests, they were moderately armed, but capable enough to survive a protracted engagement.

Armenian cavalry would, in time, evolve along with the role they played in battle. Over time, the mixed variations of foreign and native panoply would morph into one similar to that of the Parthians. Gradually both rider and horse became more heavily armed; this, in time, lead to the development of aggressive cataphracts. The cavalry fielded also became more homogenous, creating heavy cavalry that possessed dual roles: becoming manoeuvrable horse archers, and possessing the ability to deliver a crushing blow in a charge, as well as sustaining an extended combat with the enemy. Hayastan has shown great equestrian prowess through the ages; an Armenian general would rely on his cavalry to win the battle, not his infantry.

Native Units

Netadzig Ayrudzi
(Armenian Archer Cavalry)

Armenian mounted archers heavily influenced by their Scythian counterparts. They carry a small composite bow, made for horse riding, a dagger, and a leather vest; but carry no shield. In the battlefield, their speed, stamina and range of their bows becomes the most useful of armour. If they are caught in melee, they will most likely die horribly.

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Netadzig (Archer), Ayrudzi (Cavalry). Archer Cavalry.

Citizens and small landowners are the more fortunate of the lower classes in the Orontid kingdoms. In the event of war, they are able to afford better equipment for themselves. Because of their steady, but average wealth; as well as good numbers, they were relied upon as citizen-soldiers. In practice, it was the citizen’s duty to perform military service for the Ark’ay. Some were wealthy enough to face the enemy on one of their many horses; while others had to be content with only having hopes to return the camp safely after a battle.

Crafting a composite bow requires much time, materials and skill; as they are built with different pieces of wood, horns and tendons, glued together with animal glue, which is very vulnerable to humid conditions, but their power and range are considerably better than a self-bow of the same size. Arrows are made from wood for the shaft and iron, bronze or flint for the tip; though they are rarely lethal, when they hit flesh, they can cause severe damages; on unarmoured opponents, an arrow should easily incapacitate them, or even kill them due to blood loss and infections. But most shields can stop arrows without any problems, and when an arrow hits half-decent armour, it causes medium injuries at best. Peppering and annoying the enemy is their main goal, in order to either force a battle, or prevent one. Usually advancing in front of the main line to skirmish, and falling back when the enemy closes up dangerously, as they are extremely unprepared for combat. They carry only their bow and arrows, an Akinakes dagger and their clothes, they carry no shield or armour, so the speed of their horses is their best and only defence, it can save them from a bloody encounter with the enemy cavalry and run rings around the infantry. It is best for them to stay always in motion and evading enemy retaliation, while keeping them pinned down with a rain of arrows.

Mounted archers are a powerful force on the battlefield in much of Asia, where mounted archery is used with deadly results, they are used as a main force for many nations. If in large enough numbers they can cause severe casualties from a long range, rendering infantry useless; though they can be used simply to harass the enemy force and screen them before the main engagement. A skilful archer has to be trained for years, or even decades; but little training is needed to learn the basics of bowmanship; and as ineffective as they are against most armoured forces, a barrage of arrows is nothing to simply shrug off either, they can slow down an entire army, pinning them down under a large hail of arrows. Their strength as soldiers comes from their large numbers, not their skill or the lethality of their weapons.


Nizakahar Ayrudzi
(Armenian Javelineer Cavalry)

Armenian skirmisher cavalry whose horses are fast and near-tireless. They carry a dagger and their customary javelins. Their armour consists of a small wooden shield and their clothes, but their horses’ speed becomes the best they carry into battle.

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Nizakahar (Javelineer), Ayrudzi (Cavalry). Javelineer Cavalry.

Citizens and small landowners are the more fortunate of the lower classes in the Orontid kingdoms. In the event of war, they are able to afford better equipment for themselves. Because of their steady, but average wealth; as well as good numbers, they were relied upon as citizen-soldiers. In practice, it was the citizen’s duty to perform military service for the Ark’ay. Some were wealthy enough to face the enemy on one of their many horses; while others had to be content with only having hopes to return the camp safely after a battle.

Like most javelineers in Western Asia, they carry a round or crescent wooden shield (the crescent one being called "Taka" or "Pelte") as their only armour, apart from the clothes they wear; as well as bundle of javelins, and an Akinakes dagger or a simple knife for close combat. The role of mounted skirmishers is usually reserved to the wealthiest of the lower classes who can’t afford better weapons or armour, but have in their possession several horses to go to battle with. They gallop to the flank of the enemy lines to pepper the enemy with javelins; their speed and tirelessness are their most useful tools when they run out of ammunition, evading enemies and avoiding close combat is the smartest tactic they can follow. Javelins can bring down elephants and chariot horses with fewer casualties than trying to poke them with spears or swords at a close range. They can either become an annoyance to enemy forces, or destroy the enemy advantage in one swift throw. As most skirmishers, they are very vulnerable to cavalry charges, lacking proper armour and weapons to withstand them, so they should not split themselves too much from the main forces or be left undefended.

Mounted skirmishers have historically been drafted from the peasants and citizens, who are unable to afford better equipment than a shield and javelins but have several horses at their disposal. Though a volley javelins is easily more disruptive to a formation than a volley of arrows or slingstones, javelineers also have to get closer to the enemy forces to harass them, though; more often than not, they could escaped unharmed from a chase, while also causing several casualties from afar. Mounted javelineers are versatile and very agile troops and ever-present in European, North African and Asian armies, and should not be underestimated, even in small numbers; as they can prove to be decisive if used appropriately.


Hay Ayrudzi
(Armenian Cavalry)

Armenian Hellenised medium cavalry. They carry a lance, a Greek cavalry sword, and wear leather armour and an iron helmet. Their horses have little armour, only an iron plate in their forehead and an iron breastplate, following the style of their Hellenistic neighbours. They are great as a support to heavier cavalry, or infantry, but can get easily killed if they are used carelessly.

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Hay (Armenian), Ayrudzi (Cavalry). Armenian Cavalry.

Citizens and small landowners are the more fortunate of the lower classes in the Orontid kingdoms. In the event of war, they are able to afford better equipment for themselves. Because of their steady, but average wealth; as well as good numbers, they were relied upon as citizen-soldiers. In practice, it was the citizen’s duty to perform military service for the Ark’ay. Some were wealthy enough to face the enemy on one of their many horses; while others had to be content with only having hopes to return the camp safely after a battle.

Armoured cavalry is a rarity in many nations, only reserved for the wealthiest citizens, nobles or the royal family itself. A thriving oligarchy is usually present wherever a heavy cavalry forms a large portion of an army; and it is obvious as to why, as horses are expensive, not only to purchase, but also to maintain; and armour can be detrimental to the performance of a steed, the added weight and expensiveness of it all seems less beneficial than the speed and tirelessness that comes from riding light. It is no surprise either that most of the cavalry in the battlefields consists of unarmoured or lightly armoured men who use their horses’ speed to gain supremacy in the field. Although they have little armour, they are well suited for engagements against enemy skirmishers, light infantry and light cavalry. These horses only wear an iron plate on their foreheads, called "Prometopidios"; and an iron breasplate, called "Prosternidion"; while their riders carry leather armour or a Linothorax, and an iron helmet for protection; a Xyston lance and a Greek cavalry sword as their weapons. They are nimble and mobile cavalry, as their little, yet decent armour does not hinder the horse’s performance. They can deliver a powerful charge and engage infantry and other cavalrymen in fierce combat; although there’s no guarantee that they’ll come out victorious, they can certainly inflict severe casualties before they were to be defeated. They should be always on the offensive and on the move, drawing enemies out on a fruitless chase that isolates them from their forces, then charging and falling back to regroup, only staying in an engagement if the enemy doesn’t have reinforcements nearby, as they might not survive if caught underfoot by more well armoured enemies.

As lightly armoured as these men might be, a good commander can greatly take advantage of their characteristics to defeat foes that outmatch them. They are highly mobile, capable of manoeuvring and rearranging their formation in a short amount of time. They can quickly run to the back of the enemy line and charge the rear, destroying enemy morale and sending them routing. They can run rings around infantry and heavy cavalry, able to charge at their backs while reinforcements distract them; but they might not survive if they were to be matched in number and in equal footing. Cavalry is quite numerous where there are ample flatlands and grasslands; they serve a very important role in almost all armies, their mobility and speed is unmatched by any infantryman, and having cavalry supremacy over the enemy can often mean certain victory; but even well-armoured cavalry alone is quite vulnerable, as they are not suited for the role that infantry fulfils; as such, combined arms or specialised tactics are always necessary in order to use cavalry effectively, even if the whole army is entirely comprised of nomads on horseback.


Holater Ayrudzi
(Armenian Landowner Cavalry)

Armenian landowners armoured in a scale vest, scale arm guards, iron helmet, iron or bronze greaves, and a small shield. Their horses are protected with an iron plate on their foreheads and leather armour for their frontal body. Armed with a lance, and a cavalry sword. They are an imposing force and with a single charge they are able to change the course of a battle.

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Hol (Land), Ter (Owner), Ayrudzi (Cavalry). Land-Owner Cavalry.

Armenian landowners constitute the heavy forces in the Orontid armies. They possess very large estates, worked by peasants and slaves, from which they have gained their wealth; able to afford better and more expensive materials (and equipment), as well as training; only a handful of them fight with lighter (and less protective) armour. They aren’t fielded in very large numbers, but they make up for it in their panoply and training.

Armoured cavalry is a rarity in many nations, only reserved for the wealthiest citizens, nobles or the royal family itself. A thriving oligarchy is usually present wherever a heavy cavalry forms a large portion of an army; and it is obvious as to why, as horses are expensive, not only to purchase, but also to maintain; and armour can be detrimental to the performance of a steed, the added weight and expensiveness of it all seems less beneficial than the speed and tirelessness that comes from riding light. Though the ability to survive more easily in prolonged combat is much more beneficial to certain groups of people that can afford such convoluted measures, even at the cost of the horse’s speed. But to behold the sight of them slowly charging with their horses is truly beautiful, as the enemy is able to shiver before their steeds crash at them, disembowelling them with their lances before butchering them with their swords. Armoured with scale-covered Linothorakes and scale vests, arm bracers made of scale armour, iron or bronze greaves under their trousers and a small shield; and their horses are armoured with an iron plate on their forehead (a "Prometopidios") and leather armour for their anterior body. Armed with a Xyston lance and a Greek cavalry sword, their refined armour is surpassed only by the Ark’ay and his entourage. They are able to annihilate enemy cavalry and infantry on equal footing, destroying enemy morale with a swift charge, or make their formation crumble under the pressure. These men are well-suited for frontal engagements against enemy cavalry, provided they are supported by lighter regiments so they are not out-manoeuvred. A powerful force for both offensive and defensive tasks, with their heavy armour they can survive encounters that would have reduced lightly armoured cavalry to a pile of decomposing meat; or easily destroy the enemy in a strike to their flanks, if able to get into position unhindered.

Heavy cavalry is a precious asset, both valuable and limited, so a good use of these men is of the essence. Their signifies a large dent in the numbers of them available, as they cannot be replaced easily, unlike peasants or regular citizens. They are well protected against blades and projectiles, but they can be defeated by a cunning commander making good use of archers and infantry. They should not be kept isolated, as their numbers are much smaller than enemy light and medium cavalry, who are able to surround them and outrun them if they give chase, exposing themselves to large amounts of of arrows, slings and javelins, which can cause severe casualties, even through their heavy armour. The enemy should be pinned down before they engage them so they don’t become isolated and overrun in a pursuit. Cavalry is quite numerous where there are ample flatlands and grasslands; they serve a very important role in almost all armies, their mobility and speed is unmatched by any infantry, and having cavalry supremacy over the enemy can often mean certain victory; but even well-armoured cavalry alone is quite vulnerable, as they are not suited for the role that infantry fulfils; as such, combined arms or specialised tactics are always necessary in order to use cavalry effectively, even if the whole army is entirely comprised of nomads on horseback.


Hay Zoravar
(Armenian Bodyguard)

Bodyguards of the generals that don’t belong to the royal family. They are equipped with a scale vest, iron helmet, iron or bronze greaves, scale arm bracers, a small shield, a lance, and a Greek cavalry sword. Their horses are armoured with an iron plate on their foreheads, and scale armour that protects their front legs. While not as well-armoured as the royal guard, they are more than prepared to annihilate anyone with a charge.

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Hay (Armenian), Zoravar (General). Armenian General.

Affluent, prestigious men throughout the kingdom form the entourage of the king; often close friends and their offspring. Though their responsibilities are usually within the realm of collecting taxes, administrating a facet of a portion of the kingdom, or simply fulfilling the role of courtiers; in times of war, a selected few are given the power and authority to draft and command their own army to serve the kingdom and crush the enemy.

The Zoravar is the embodied mind of an army; as such, they require to be kept safe from harm from the enemy; whether that means when facing the foe head to head, or when the cause is lost and it is best to leave to fight another day. The generals; like the king, have their own personal entourage that accompany them as bodyguards and advisors. These bodyguards are clad in an iron vest, iron helmet, scale armour for their arms, iron or bronze greaves, maille sleeves and a small shield. They carry a "Xyston" lance which is deadly with a well-timed charge, after which, they unsheathe their "Kopis" or "Machaira" swords and proceed to butcher the enemy, hacking and slashing until they fall back for another charge or the enemy formation scatters. Their horses are also well-armoured, much like their riders; they wear an iron plate on their forehead called "Prometopidios" and scale armour which covers their front legs. Even though the Armenian steeds are smaller than those of the Persians, they are no less inclined to wear armour, or to carry an armoured rider. They wear a Linothorax reinforced with scale armour sewn on top of it; they also wear maille sleeves and iron or bronze greaves under their trousers, as well as an iron helmet and a "Hoplon" shield. Although these men can turn hundreds of wives into widows in a single charge, they rarely see any combat, as most generals tend not to risk their lives on the battlefield; but if they are bold enough, they will certainly be an overwhelming force when facing the enemy.

The Zoravar usually is the most armoured person on the battlefield; confident that their armour is the best, they adorn themselves to make their appearance grander. Only the royal family itself could be seen in a more regal attire, a fact which is unquestionable. Though the commanding skill may vary between each of the generals, the king possibly would not have picked them if they were incompetent when devising battle plans or simply being generally uninspiring to their men. The Zoravar is the image of a great leader who; if true to his title and with Nane on his side, would lead his men to victory, and their kingdom to greatness.


T'iknapah Ayrudzi
(Armenian Bodyguard Cavalry)

Armoured from head to toe, they are the sworn protectors of the Ark’ay (king) and his family. Their armour consists of an iron helmet, a scale vest, scale armour for their arms and legs. They carry a lance and a battle axe. Their horses have an iron plate covering their foreheads, and scale armour around their bodies, making them nigh undefeatable.

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T’iknapah (Bodyguard), Ayrudzi (Cavalry). Bodyguard Cavalry.

Affluent, prestigious men throughout the kingdom form the entourage of the king; often close friends and their offspring. Though their responsibilities are usually within the realm of collecting taxes, administrating a facet of a portion of the kingdom, or simply fulfilling the role of courtiers; in times of war, a selected few are given the honour to be deployed alongside the Ark’ay himself or his family, riding into battle in the most illustrious position a common man can be assigned to.

The king and his family are unarguably the most important people in the entire kingdom; therefore, their protection is of the utmost importance. This can be problematic when they ride around on the battlefield, where the enemy general will see them as a bright moving target, and his forces will try their best to dispatch them in order to gain an upper hand in the battle, breaking our soldiers’ morale; and not to mention the possibility of destabilising the kingdom, if it were to be a powerful member of the family. As more and more soldiers and officers acclaim the generals and kings who charge into the fray with their armies, often risking their flesh and blood for a show of bravery and power; they necessitate more armoured and powerful bodyguards that can take the brunt of the damage in case something goes awry in the battle, willing to sacrifice their own lives to save that of their protectees. These men have trained their entire lives in equestrianism, combat and bowmanship; they are the wealthiest and most skilled soldiers in the kingdom; and to be entrusted with the safety of the royal family is an honour and a testament of their status and skill, as not many are given such an important task. They carry very expensive equipment, which cover their bodies almost completely in metal. They wear an iron helmet, a vest made of iron scales; on their arms and legs they wear overlapping iron rings of metal called Cheires, which act as if they were carrying a shield. Their horses carry extensive armour as well, with an iron plate covering their forehead called "Prometopidios", scale armour protecting the front of their body, and thigh pieces called "Parameridia", for rider and horse alike ; the added weight makes them sluggish and unenergetic, but they can return unscathed from a charge; and in battle, it can make them almost unkillable from any side. Armed with a Xyston lance and a Sagaris battle-axe, they can tear through enemy formations, spilling much blood in the process; and if the fight were to become drawn-out, their extensive armour would allow them to survive much longer than their enemies, gaining time to regroup or for reinforcements to arrive. A frontal assault against enemy cavalry or a powerful attack on the enemy flanks is where these men will usually be; their strengths stand out the most in close combat, where there is no need for the mobility they lack, and their armour and weapons can be used to their fullest extent.

Though the commander of an army can lose tactical vision when he joins his soldiers into battle, it has become a sort of requirement, mostly due to the influence of Hellenic martial culture, where the general with his companions and bodyguards ride into the thick of battle and make waste of the enemies as any other soldier would. Bodyguards are the most heavily armed soldiers in the battlefield, though this doesn’t usually mean that they are covered from head to toe in armour, but to show that they can successfully protect the general, they have to carry the finest armour there is available. They not only are supposed to be the most armoured men on the field, but also the most loyal and courageous. Their unconditional commitment to uphold their responsibilities is never to falter, as they have agreed that it is best to lose their own lives lest that of their protectee is lost. Failure to do so is a sign of shame and cowardice, punishable by exile, defamation, imprisonment, or even death; as the cost of their shameful act can signify the loss of a very important life. Their role is one of the most important ones, if not the most important one in the whole realm, and they best not disappoint when they are needed the most, as they are the shining example of discipline, valour and eminence in common men.









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