Friday, February 16, 2007

Battle of Avarayr

Map of the Battle of Avarayr (From Maps of Armenia)

Over 1,500 years ago a ragtag team of Armenian soldiers and peasants gathered at Avarayr to fight not for political freedom but for freedom to worship, a freedom of conscience. They accepted Persian political dominance but refused to be forced to worship a foreign god.

The army of 60,000 men faced off against up to 220,000 Persians with war elephants and the feared Immortals. The Armenians were crushed after the defection of some solders and generals. The leaders of the Armenian army were executed later. One of the leaders, Vartan Mamikonian was canonized.

The battle was a failure for Armenians but the war lasted another 30 years. Eventually a treaty was signed which granted Armenians freedom of religion but kept Persian political control. The Sassanid(Persian)-Armenian War was one fought not for politics but the right to a choice. It stands unique in history with the modern day exception of the War on Terrorism.

The war cut off Armenia from the rest of Christendom. Armenian Orthodox Church were unable to attend the Council of Chalcedon and thus did not accept the findings. This caused considerable mistrust between Armenian and the Orthodox Church and an on-again, off-again, on-again relationship with Catholic Church.

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