Serbian Orthodox archpriest Vukajlo Božović was a guerilla leader in the Kosovo Vilayet.
Serbian Orthodox archpriest Vukajlo Božović was a guerilla leader in the Kosovo Vilayet.

Throughout history, armed priests or soldier priests have been recorded. Distinguished from military chaplains who served the military or civilians as spiritual guidance (non-combatants), these priests took up arms and fought in conflicts (combatants). The term warrior priests is usually used for armed priests of the antiquity and Middle Ages, and of historical tribes.


In Greek mythology, the Curetes were identified as armed priests.[1] In Ancient Rome, the Salii who were armed priests carried sacred shields through the city during the March festivals.[2] Livy (59 BC–17 AD) mentions armati sacerdotes (armed priests).[3]

Medieval European canon law said that a priest could not be a soldier, and vice versa. Priests were allowed on the battlefield as chaplains, and could only defend themselves with clubs.[4]

The Aztecs had a vanguard of warrior priests who carried deity banners and made sacrifices on the battlefield.[5] A Cherokee priest who killed during battle received the title of Nu no hi ta hi.[6]

The warrior-priest was a common figure in the First Serbian Uprising (1804–13).[7] Several archpriests and priests were commanders in the uprising.[8] Serbian Orthodox monasteries sent monks to join the ranks of the Serbian Army.[7]


The "Pyrrhic" dance in Crete is said to have been the ritual dance of armed priests.[9]

Notable groups

Notable people

Eastern Orthodoxy

See also


  1. ^ Jürgen Trabant (2004). Vico's New Science of Ancient Signs: A Study of Sematology. Psychology Press. pp. 64–. ISBN 978-0-415-30987-5.
  2. ^ Cyril Bailey (1932). Phases in the Religion of Ancient Rome. University of California Press. pp. 69–. GGKEY:RFYRJLHJJDQ.
  3. ^ Roger D. Woodard (28 January 2013). Myth, Ritual, and the Warrior in Roman and Indo-European Antiquity. Cambridge University Press. pp. 73–. ISBN 978-1-107-02240-9.
  4. ^ John Howard Yoder; Theodore J. Koontz; Andy Alexis-Baker (1 April 2009). Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution. Brazos Press. pp. 133–. ISBN 978-1-58743-231-6.
  5. ^ Manuel Aguilar-Moreno (2007). Handbook to Life in the Aztec World. Oxford University Press. pp. 90–. ISBN 978-0-19-533083-0.
  6. ^ Thomas E. Mails (1992). The Cherokee People: The Story of the Cherokees from Earliest Origins to Contemporary Times. Council Oak Books. pp. 100–. ISBN 978-0-933031-45-6.
  7. ^ a b Király & Rothenberg 1982, p. 275.
  8. ^ Király & Rothenberg 1982, pp. 273–275.
  9. ^ The Origin of Attic Comedy. CUP Archive. 1934. pp. 65–.
  10. ^ Hitomi Tonomura (1 January 1992). Community and Commerce in Late Medieval Japan: Corporate Villages of Tokuchin-ho. Stanford University Press. pp. 216–. ISBN 978-0-8047-6614-2.
  11. ^ Király & Rothenberg 1982, p. 273.
  12. ^ Király & Rothenberg 1982, p. 274.
  13. ^ Srejović, Gavrilović & Ćirković 1983.
  14. ^ Srejović, Gavrilović & Ćirković 1983, p. 321.