A Brief History of Armenia

We are the Hayk, a proud folk from the mountains between the salty Black Sea and the sweet Caspian Sea. We have a long and glorious history, which saw us rise from a mere satrapy to one of the greatest powers in the region, before falling to the status of a pawn batted between Rome and the Parthians.

The Persians called us Armina, and from there springs the name you know us by- Armenia. Six centuries before Augustus and three before Alexander rose to greatness, our leaders rose from being the Satrap of Armina to the Kings of Armenia. The Orontid Dynasty was never truly great in that it shook the known world, yet under Orontid rulership Armenia grew steadily in both land, strength, and wealth.

We were known to Xenophon and the Greeks. We fought at Gaugamela under Darius, and were among his better-armed troops. Afterwards we joined the Macedonian Empire by accepting Alexander the Great as our overlord. Upon his death we retained our autonomy within the successor Seleucid Empire.

We reached our peak under Tigranes II, the Great, a hundred years before Augustus. This mighty prince-an Atraxiad though descended from Orontes- married well, and in marrying a daughter of Mithridates VI of Pontus, he became allies with the Pontic king at his height. That was when Mithridates swept across all of Asia Minor and into Greece. Eighty thousand Romans, Italians, and their allies perished in a bloodbath of purification.

With Mithridates removing the threat from the West, we could concentrate our power against our age-old foes the Parthians, who had conquered the decadent and waning Persians. We fought the Parthians and took from them the fertile valley between the Tigris and Euphrates. Tigranes focused our might to the east and south, and took Syria from our former masters the Seleucids. He then overran the remaining Seleucid towns and became ruler of an empire which stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Euxine (Black) Sea, to the northern reaches of Judea and over to the Persian Gulf.

Tigranes built a city to his own greatness, and named it after himself- Tigranocerta. Our power knew no limits, our ambition no boundary, yet soon the tides shifted.

The Romans never knew when to quit. Mithridates had defeated them and sent their legions scurrying, yet among those sandaled fools rose a leader of such might that even Mighty Mithridates trembled at his approach. Lucius Cornelius Sulla came east, with many legions, and forced back our brave ally. His lackey Lucullus took over when Sulla returned to Rome, and Lucullus ended our ambitions of grandeur in the sack of Tigranocerta.

We rose again, but more men from Rome came. We fought against some of the greatest military men Rome had to offer- after Lucullus, came Pompeius Magnus, Mark Antony, and then the great Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo- the finest Roman general since Caesar himself. They came, they fought, and though they defeated us on the field of battle, we always rose from the ashes. Corbulo went further and laid such a defeat upon the encroaching Parthians that they were silent for a century. Soon after they were gone, and Armenia stood alone in the East, a buffer state balanced between Rome in the West and an East that was in turmoil.

In this time we became the first of nations to take Christianity to our hearts, doing this twenty or so years before the Romans did the same under Constantine. We would pay in blood for centuries to come for this choice, yet we have never wavered in our chosen faith.

But alas, a new threat rose from the ashes of Parthia- the Sassanid Persians. We fell from grace and were traded as a client-kingdom between Rome and Persia for decades, until at last our kingdom was divided between the two in 387 and nevermore would the Kingdom of Armenia exist. We were again a satrapy, a province, and so would we remain for the next sixteen centuries. We would be fought over and traded throughout history, until finally rising again as our own people with our own country in your time.