Armeńscy współpracownicy Justyniana Wielkiego, część 1. Dezerterzy z armii perskiej w Bizancjum
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The author has tried to answer a series of questions concerning Armenian deserters in service of Justinian I: who the deserters were, why the emperor let them service in the Byzantine army and what reasons underlay their desertions. Although the significant role of Armenians in Byzantium has been appreciated by historians for a long time, little has been written about the times when their significance rose, which happened in 6th century. Due to her geographic position Armenia had been an area of rivalry between Persia and Byzantium. As a result her territory was divided between both empires, which however did not put an end to wars between them. Though early Christianization of Armenia made her a natural ally of the Byzantine empire, it was not easy to come to any agreement as the Armenians had rejected the decisions of the Chalcedonian council. The situation was complicated by unsatisfactory rule in that part of Armenia, which remained under Byzantine influence. Such a situation favored Armenian trimming between the two powers. Armenians often sought service in both Persia and Byzantium, sometimes turning from one to the other. Not infrequently members of the same families gained significant posts at both courts. During the reign of Justinian I the Byzantine-Persian conflicts quickly spread around Armenia, which was caused by important strategical role of the province. To strengthen the position of the empire in that area Justinian imposed a reform of imperial administration in the province, created the post of magister militum per Armenian and entrusted it to Sittas, his sister-in-law's husband. Introduced was a new territorial organization and attempts were made to limit the autonomy of local lands, which was unwelcomed by the elites of those lands. In the 6th century a number of Persian Armenians found service on Justinian's side. Some of them had fled to the area controlled by Byzantium, others had deserted the Persian army and customarily joined the army of Byzantium. Today we are not able to estimate the number of such deserters, as the sources only write of most outstanding of them, just to mention the royal family of Arsakides, who fled to Persia in 538 A.D. but rejoined the imperial service soon. Among the leaders who made a desertion to serve in the Byzantine army we must mention the three Khamsarakhan brothers, who had previously fought against Byzantium. The above mentioned examples point out an interesting phenomenon of a “family” desertion, when whole families were coming on the other side. Also later, while in service to the emperor those Armenians tried to keep together. The work describes some other examples of Armenian desertions, further lives of those who decided to do so (the majority continued their military career in the army, although some preferred civil service as well). It should be noted that only few of them made a significant career in Byzantine service. Most however ended up in what we may refer to as "middle command". The career of Artaban, son of John Arsaces, who gained top military and civil posts (magister militum praesentalis and a honorary consul) was exceptional. The deserters often took a command over the units composed of their fellow-natives. Thanks to a good knowledge of local relations and language they often took up posts in Armenia. Unfortunately, most often the posts they had exceeded their competences, particularly when they were of a civilian nature. It was probably due to the fact that although brave soldiers, the Armenians were of little discipline. Sometimes their qualifications were simply too small to perform their functions. Though some deserters happened to plot against the emperor, most of them proved loyal towards Justinian. Even if they plotted against the ruler, the reasons were purely personal. In the cited examples it is hard fa find any trace of any patriotism towards Armenia. But it must be also said that in Byzantium the Armenians were not perceived as aliens or barbarians but as representatives of the same cultural circle.