Davit Bek

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Davit Bek
Kapan. Monument to David Bek.jpg
A monument to Davit Bek in Kapan.
Born unknown date in the 17th century
Chavndour, district of Kovsakan, province of Syunik, Safavid Armenia[1]
Died 1728
Allegiance Armenian national movement
Years of service 1722-1728
Rank Supreme commander

Davit Bek (Armenian: Դավիթ Բեկ; died 1728) was an Armenian military commander and one of the most prominent military figures of the Armenian liberation movement of the 18th century directed against the forces of Ottoman Empire and Safavid Iran.[2] In 1722-25, with direct support from Mkhitar Sparapet in Syunik and Avan Yuzbashi in Karabakh, Davit Bek headed the armed struggle of Syunik and Artsakh Armenians against Safavid Iran, during the Russo-Persian War (1722-1723).[citation needed] In 1726-28 Armenians under the leadership of Davit Bek went to war with Turkish armies at Halidsor and had showed great military competence and valor by defeating them easily.[3]


Little is known about Bek's early life.[4] He was of noble lineage, stemming from princes of Chavndour (district of Kovsakan in southeastern Syunik), and prior to the period of armed struggle against the Persians and Turks, Bek served in the royal court of Georgian king Vakhtang VI of Kartli. Peter the Great's steady advance south towards the Caucasus during the Russo-Persian War (1722-1723) with a massive 30,000 man army had revived hope among the Armenians and Georgians that Russian arms could help clear the region from Muslim dominion.[5] Muslim misrule in the regions of Kapan and Artsakh (Karabakh) had provoked the Armenian meliks in 1722 to request military aid from Vakhtang.[6] Vakhtang sent a small force under the command of Bek to Syunik and Bek was successful in dislodging the Turkic nomadic tribes there.

Encouraged by his successes and the weakening of Safavid rule, many Armenians raised the banner of revolt against the Muslims and joined Bek's ranks. The meliks of Karabakh soon joined the cause for national liberation, lending Davit Bek men and materiel; Avan Yuzbashi, a military commander from Shusha who was to become one of Davit Bek's close supporters, contributed 2,000 men to the war effort. As his successes mounted, he awarded them by distributing the lands he seized from the Muslims to his closest supporters.[2] The Persian armies sent to crush the rebellion were repelled, allowing Davit Bek to establish an administrative center at the fortress of Halidzor near Kapan in the Syunik Province.[2] The defensive aspects of the fortress gave Davit Bek's soldiers an advantage when fighting the enemy. He died at Halidzor after coming down with an illness in 1728 and is reputedly buried in the cemetery just outside the fortress.

Popular culture[edit]

In 1944, at the height of World War II, David Bek the movie was filmed by director Hamo Beknazarian with Hrachia Nersisyan starring as Davit Bek. In 1978 Armenfilm in association with Mosfilm produced another movie about the efforts of Davit Bek and Mkhitar Sparapet called Star of Hope. Davit Bek was portrayed by Georgian actor Edisher Magalashvili.

Bek was the subject of an opera, David Beg, composed by Armen Tigranian.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Agop Jack Hacikyan, Gabriel Basmajian, Edward S. Franchuk. The Heritage of Armenian Literature: From the eighteenth century to modern times Wayne State University Press, 2005 ISBN 978-0814332214. page 22
  2. ^ a b c Parsamyan, Vardan A. «Դավիթ Բեկ» (Davit Bek). Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia. vol. iii. Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1977, pp. 302-303.
  3. ^ Visions of Ararat: writings on Armenia - Page 24, Christopher J. Walker
  4. ^ Bournoutian, George (1997). "Eastern Armenia from the Seventeenth Century to the Russian Annexation" in The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume II: Foreign Dominion to Statehood: The Fifteenth Century to the Twentieth Century. Richard Hovannisian (ed.) New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 88. ISBN 1-4039-6422-X.
  5. ^ Hewsen, Robert (2001). Armenia: A Historical Atlas. Chicago: Chicago University Press. pp. 163–165. ISBN 0-226-33228-4. 
  6. ^ Bournoutian. "Eastern Armenia", p. 88.

Further reading[edit]