Battle of Anglon

The Battle of Anglon took place in 543 AD, during the Byzantine invasion of Sasanian-ruled Armenia ("Persarmenia") in the early phase of the Lazic War.

Battle of Anglon
Part of the Lazic War
Date543 AD
Anglon village, Dvin region, Armenia, Sasanian Empire
Result Decisive Sasanian victory[1][2]
Sasanian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Units involved
All forces of the magister militum per Orientem, per Armeniam, and possibly some of the praesentalis[3] Sasanian forces of Persarmenia
30,000 4,000
Casualties and losses
Heavy Unknown

After receiving information about a rebellion in Persia and an epidemic in the main Persian army, the Byzantine armies in the East under the orders of Emperor Justinian I initiated a hasty invasion of Persarmenia. The outnumbered Persian forces in the region successfully performed a meticulous ambush at Anglon, decisively defeating the Byzantine campaign.


The Sasanian ruler Khosrow I began an invasion of Commagene in 542, but retreated to Adurbadagan and halted at Adhur Gushnasp, intending to begin a campaign against Byzantine Armenia. The Byzantines approached Khosrow I to begin negotiations, but in the middle of this they received information about the epidemic of the so-called Plague of Justinian in Khosrow I's force and a rebellion in Persia by the prince Anoshazad. Seeing this as an opportunity, Emperor Justinian I commanded all Byzantine forces in the east to initiate an invasion of Persarmenia.[4]

Byzantine invasion

Martin was the newly-appointed magister militum per Orientem at the time, but according to primary sources did not have much authority over other generals. The Byzantine invasion force, which numbered 30,000 in total, was initially scattered:

These forces united only after crossing the Persian border, in the plain of Dvin. Justus, Peranius, Domnentiolus, John, son of Nicetas, and John the Glutton stayed at Phison, near Martyropolis, performing minor incursions into Persia.[4]

Sasanian forces in Persarmenia numbered 4,000 and were under the command of Nabedes. They concentrated themselves at the mountainous village of Anglon (probably identical to Ankes, Dsakhgodn Canton, Ayrarat Province, Kingdom of Armenia) which featured a fortress and was located near the Dvin plain. They prepared a defensive position for an elaborate ambush by blocking the entrances to the village, digging trenches, and setting up ambushes in the houses of the village outside the fortress, while marshalling the army below. According to Procopius, the Byzantine generals lacked a proper union among themselves. The Byzantine forces proceeded into the rough terrain of Anglon, and hastily formed a single-line formation after the commanders were informed of the Persian presence, with Martin forming the center, Peter forming the right, and Valerian (probably joined by Narses) forming the left. Narses and his regulars and Herules were the first to engage. Apparently, part of the Persian army was defeated, and the Persian cavalry feigned retreat toward the fortress, and their flight was followed by Herules and others as koursores. The Persians, including their archers, then launched their ambush from the buildings outside the fortress, easily routing the lightly-armored Herules, while their commander Narses was mortally hit in the temple in close combat. A general Persian counter-attack then resulted in the routing of the Byzantines. The Persians did not pursue them beyond the rough terrain out of fear of an ambush. Adolius was among those killed in the retreat.[4][6][7]


The only source describing the battle is the Byzantine historian Procopius, whose account is especially critical of the Byzantine army's performance in the campaign.[7] However, modern sources have disputed his assessments.

The force in the battle is considered an example of the "inadequacy" of many of the recruited soldiers.[8] Others note the lack of coordination between the Byzantine generals.[5] According to J. B. Bury, Procopius (who was a companion of General Belisarius) has exaggerated the incompetence of the Byzantine generals in the battle and the severity of their defeat.[4] Petersen also considered aspects of Procopius' description of the battle—including alleged poor organization and leadership of the force, and Byzantine soldiers marching in disarray and "mixed in with the baggage terrain"—to be a distorted description of what were actually intentional strategies and tactics.[7] Sarantis et al. (2013) notes the meticulous ambush by the defenders, describing it as "heroic".[9]

Anglon is an example of the less common form of defensive fortification in which settlements are outside of the defensive structures; this is sometimes seen in the Caucasus, another example is seen in the siege of Tzacher/Sideroun in 557.[10]

The outcome of the battle gave the Persians the momentum in the Lazic War.


  1. Humphreys, Mike HumphreysMike (2018-03-22), "Anglon, Battle of", The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780198662778.001.0001, ISBN 9780198662778, retrieved 2019-11-16
  2. Whately, Conor (2015-12-18). Battles and Generals: Combat, Culture, and Didacticism in Procopius' Wars. BRILL. p. 108. ISBN 9789004310384.
  3. Lewin, Ariel; Pellegrini, Pietrina (2007). The late Roman Army in the near east from Diocletian to the Arab Conquest: proceedings of a colloquium held at Potenza, Acerenza and Matera, Italy. Archaeopress. p. 338. ISBN 9781407301617.
  4. Bury, John Bagnell (1889). A History of the Later Roman Empire: From Arcadius to Irene (395 A.D. to 800 A.D.). Macmillan and Company. p. 432–437.
  5. Whitby, Michael (2017). "Justinian and Persia, 527–562". The Encyclopedia of Ancient Battles. American Cancer Society. pp. 1–15. doi:10.1002/9781119099000.wbabat0870. ISBN 9781119099000.
  6. The Seventh Great Oriental Monarchy: Or the Geography, History and Antiquities of the Sassanian Or New Persian Empire. Belford, Clarke. 1887. p. 64–65.
  7. Petersen, Leif Inge Ree (2013). Siege Warfare and Military Organization in the Successor States (400-800 AD): Byzantium, the West and Islam. BRILL. p. 530. ISBN 9789004254466.
  8. Krumbacher, Karl; Marc, Paul; Heisenberg, August (2005). Byzantinische Zeitschrift (in German). G.G. Teubner. p. 70.
  9. Sarantis, Alexander; Christie, Neil, eds. (2013). War and Warfare in Late Antiquity (2 vols.): Current Perspectives. BRILL. ISBN 9789004252585.
  10. Petersen, Leif Inge Ree (2013). Siege Warfare and Military Organization in the Successor States (400-800 AD): Byzantium, the West and Islam. BRILL. p. 304. ISBN 9789004254466.