Armenian Empire

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Empire of King Tigran Mets. (c) 2005,

Part of the Kingdom of Armenia.

From 87 to 85, Tigran's Army victoriously entered Armenian Mesopotamia [Northern Mesopotamia], the province of Korduk', Migdonia and Adiabenē, which were previously under the control of the Parthians. The kingdoms of Osroyenē and Atrpatakan [Atropatene] also pledged their loyalty and support to Tigran the Great. In 85, the Parthians officially recognized him as the supreme ruler of the East. Tigran took the haled title of King of Kings, from the Parthian monarch, and honorably held it to the end of his life.

In 83, after a bloody strife for the throne of Syria, governed by the Seleucids, the Syrians decided to choose Tigran as the protector of their kingdom and offered him the crown of Syria. Tigran was crowned the same year with the support of the local aristocracy. Tigran conducted an "open" policy of free trade within the Hellenistic metropolitan polis' [cities] of the vast Armenian Empire, granting autonomy to those important cities, who could mint their own currency and were judged according to the local laws and customs. The Syrian mints also issued coins depicting the Emperor, King of Kings Tigran the Great. According to Justin, Tigran reigned for eighteen years on the Syrian throne.

During this period, the Armenian forces advanced and conquered the kingdoms of Commagene [mostly Armenian in its demographic composition] and Cilicia [also containing a sizable Armenian community]. Once in Syria, Tigran was confronted with another foe, Queen Alexandra, ruler of Palestine. Josephus noted "She [Queen Alexandra] was a sagacious woman…she increased the army the one half, and procured a great body of foreign troops, till her own nation became not only very powerful at home, but terrible also to foreign potentates." [Wars, I.v.3; Antiq. XIII.xvi.4].

The Armenian troops quickly advanced and took the city of Acre [Ptolemais] in Phoenicia. Tigran's Army successfully besieged the onetime seat of the Seleucid capital -- Seleucia-on-Tigris. Josephus in his Antiquities wrote that Queen Alexandra "presented Tigranes, with many valuable gifts, and also ambassadors…" The Queen pledged her loyalty by offering all of Phoenicia to the King of Kings.

After the successive campaigns on the eastern sea shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and conquests in Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, the Armenian warriors gained a reputation and respect not only throughout the Near East, but the Roman domain as well. The famous Greek historian Strabo wrote: "They fight on foot and on horseback, both in light and heavy armor. The horses are also protected with armor. They use javelins and bows and wear breastplates, shields, and coverings'; [XI.xiv.12] And..."They have a passion for riding and take good care of their horses..."

While Plutarch wrote that the Armenian archers could kill from 200 meters with their deadly accurate arrows. The Romans admired and respected the bravery and the warrior spirit of the Armenian Cavalry -- the hardcore of Tigran's Army. The Roman historian Sallustius Crispus wrote that the Armenian [Ayrudzi - lit. horsemen] Cavalry was "remarkable by the beauty of their horses and armor" Horses in Armenia, since ancient times were considered as the most important part and pride of the warrior. It was the horse and the wagons [as well as the iron weaponry], that made possible the vast migrations of Indo-European peoples from Armenia -- Aratta.