Researching my Armenians

Researching my Armenians

As part of the DBA invasion of Georgia mini project I’ve started to get to work on the Cilician Armenians. Couple of reasons. Firstly, I discovered I needed to order in some more mdf bases for the cavalry heavy armies, and secondly because I have more „sources“ from my recent holiday than I do for the other armies. 

As the Armenians are more heavily infantry based, relying on a core of Spear bases supported by knights and bows I have enough bases in my current supply to sort them out. In terms of bookshelf sources I have Ian Heath’s „Armies of the Crusades“ and both of his „Armies of the Middle Ages“ volumes, which are listed as the main references in the DBA army lists. To be honest, there’s not a lot about either the Armenians or the Georgians in the books. I also have David Nicholls‘ two volume „Medieval Warfare Source Book“, which has bits and pieces in it too. Again, not a lot, except he reckons the Cilician Armenians relied on light horse. Not in this army selection, it doesn’t. I could have taken two light horse bases but chose not to. I can swap in bases from other armies in the pipeline if needs be, or I may have enough in the spares. 

The appearance of the army is tricky. Sort of a cross between Normans and Eastern Armies supposedly, and it isn’t entirely obvious what they should look like. There’s a photo of an Armenian manuscript in Nicholl’s book showing Norman style infantry. This seems to be the look used by manufacturers. I’m not convinced they wouldn’t have had round shields, but the „heaters“ are easier to paint heraldry on.

Colours are an issue too. What did they look like? All dour or bright and jolly? Difficult to say. 

Any how, what else do I have as sources? Well, by the tine we got to Yerevan on our recent trip to the region I was sure I was going to do this project, so I was on the look out when we visited the various museums. There were two main locations that proved useful, The National History Museum and the Matenadaran (or manuscript archive). Both of them, in fact, are amazing places, and I would happily have spent a lot longer at both

The History Museum sure has a lot of stuff, from Bronze Age onwards. The two carvings below are from 12th-13th century monastery doors from the Arakelots Monastery.

The Monastery is in Western Armenia, in what is now part of Turkey (it was supposed to be united with the rest of Armenian after the end of the First World War, but when the Russian Civil War broke out the Russians were in no fit state to enforce the peace terms). The doors had to be rescued following the Ottoman desecration of the Monastery in the early 20th century. 

It shows representations of Armenian cavalry, including St George (!) . The use of lances/spears fits with what I’ve bought, and the flowing robes work too. So do the round shields. The markings on the upper shield I will be using on some of my figures, I think.

The manuscripts in the Matenadaran were amazing, but the place was rammed, and some were hard to get to.

The two illustrations below are from 14th and 16th century manuscripts, depicting earlier semi-mythical events.

They probably show contemporary dress, and so may well be a decent source for colours. The top one has convinced me to model a crown on the helmet of my General figure. In the bottom picture the Armenians are to the right, as this depicts a battle where they defeat the Persians who had loads of elephants. I’m struck that the Armenians have red helmets, and the Persians gold. The red could be meant to represent bronze, but I’m going for red painted helmets. I think. The absence of shield detail is disappointing.

A bonus from the manuscript museum was a reproduction period map, which could be used for a campaign, perhaps.

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Autor: Trebian / Wargaming for Grown-ups