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A short sketch of the history of the Armenians,
as I collected it during my former missionary errands in the year 1822 to 1826, and again now, in all parts of Armenia; as well those belonging to Turkey, as those belonging to Persia and Russia; from some of the most distinguished men among this nation in different parts
Johannes Avdall, an Armenian at Calcutta, a gentleman of great learning, burning with zeal for the promotion of piety and learning among his nation; religious, without bigotry; liberal, without having abandoned the interests of his nation; well acquainted, not only with the Armenian, but likewise with the Persian, Turkish, Hindoostanee, English, Latin, Greek and French languages; and the Bishop of Gumushkhane gave me the following information about their nation; which information was in accordance with that which I had previously obtained at Ech-Miazin, Shoosha, Tiflis, Constantinople, etc.
In the beginning of the third century, the rays of the Gospel began to beam afresh upon the horizon of Armenia: Christianity was diffused by the zealous exertions of Gregory, of Pelhavie's extraction, who was cotemporary with Tiritates, King of Armenia. This zealous preacher, for enlightening the minds of his countrymen with the light of the Gospel, received the name of Lusaworitsh, or the Illuminator.
Temples dedicated to Aphrodite and Diana, worshipped by the Armenians, were levelled to the ground by the exertions of Gregory, under the auspices of Tiritates, who had embraced the Gospel. The conversion of the King paved the way for the dissemination of the truth throughout the country. The circumstances connected with the evangelical mission of St. Gregory, and the conversion of Tiritates, are clearly detailed by Agathangekhos, who was Secretary to the King, and who recorded the events of his own time: the first and most faithful historian of Armenia. With the assistance of the King, Gregory built a most splendid church in Wagharshapat, near Erivan, in the province of Ararat. The erection of the edifice destined for the worship of Christ, is, according to Agathangekhos, blended with a miracle. Our Lord 'Jesus Christ was seen in a vision by St. Gregory, upon the spot where the church was erected; consequently it received the appellation of Ech-Miazin, i. e. Descent of the only begotten. St. Gregory was the first Cathokhikos, or General Patriarch of Armenia, and the seat was confined to Ech-Miazin.
On the extinction of the Arsacidae, and the subversion of the political independence of Armenia, the Magi, the followers of Zoroaster, were allowed by the Persian Kings, to use every means to convert the churches into temples of fire-worshippers; and they were supported by the Margraves, who ruled over Armenia, by order of the King of Persia.
The events, that took place in Armenia, consequent upon a most resolute struggle between Christianity and idolatry, are recorded by Eliseus; whose chronicles have been translated into English by professor Neuman at Munich. During these eventful times, in the year 452, when the Armenian Cathokhikos was put in prison by the Magi, the seat of the Patriarch was removed from EchMiazin to the city of Diun.
The absence of the then Patriarch Joseph, from the seat of his spiritual government, and the uncertainty of his deliverance from prison, rendered the election of a new Cathokhikos, or general Patriarch, indispensably necessary. Kyr Militez, the great Archbishop of Manazkert, was installed in the Patriarchal throne, with the consent of Joseph. The interval between the first establishment of the Armenian Patriarchate at Ech-Miazin,*and its removal to Diun, is computed to be 150 years; it continued at Diun 472 years. In the year 924, when Armenia was subject to the constant incursions of the barbarous troops of the Caliphate, Johannes Catholicus Dashonakertensis, the historian, was at the head of the ecclesiastical government at Diun. Nise, a delegate of the Hagaritsh Youssuf, at the instigation of the Caliphate, took possession of that city, and converted the patriarchal seat into a lodging-house for his servants. Consequently, in the following year, Johannes removed his ecclesiastical establishment to Aghtamar, in the province of Vaspurakan, where he died of grief.
Stephen II. succeeded, and the Patriarchate, after continuing to be held in that city for a few years, was, owing to the times and circumstances, removed to Varag, and thence to the city of Ani, at that time the capital of Armenia. The interval between the removal of the Patriarchate from Diun to Ani, comprises 69 years. At the last place the Patriarchs remained 71 years, till the time of the destruction of Ani, by the Persian King Alphaslar, in the year A. D. 1064.
Ehaubloor and Zamindow were the seats of Patriarchs during a period of 49 years.
The black mountain, and the castle called Zoos, also, became for 34 years temporary habitations of the Patriarchs of Armenia. On the death of the Patriarch Parsick, 1113, A. D., Gregory Pelhavie was elected Patriarch at the age of 20 years. Notwithstanding his talents and amiable qualities, his youth was a cause of dissatisfaction to David Zhornick, Archbishop of Aghtamar, who aspired to the Patriarchal dignity. By the assistance of five Bishops, attached to Zoroh Vans, one of the Princes of Armenia, whom he had gained to his side, and the influence of a foreign chief, he was illegally elected Patriarch.
Aghtamar is a small fortified island, surrounded by the sea of Van; it was formerly distinguished by the residence of the Lord of Rushtoonies Zoorah, who in the earliest times had been put to death by the Armenian King Tiran.
* I visited Ech-Miazin in the year 1825, and a description of it is to be found in the third volume of my journals, printed at London in the 1827.
On the news of the rebellion of David reaching Gregory Pelhavie, he convened on the Black mountain a general synod of the Armenian Bishops, Monks, &c. consisting of about 2500 persons. David and his coadjutors were condemned, and anathematized,
1114, A. D.
Nierses Shnoorhaly, or Clayensis, youngest brother of the Patriarch Gregory, was present at the council. But David continued in his illegal Patriarchate, to which others have succeeded up to this day. This schism is alluded to in the pastoral epistle addressed to the Armenians by Nierses, which was translated at Venice. Gregory Pelhavie, the lawful Patriarch, removed from Zoos to Room-Kalaa,* a well fortified castle, which formerly belonged to the Armenian Prince Vasil, surnamed the Crafty. In the year 1148, during the crusades, Room-Kalaa became the property of the Latin Count Joscelyn, who was at that period absent from the spot, and engaged in war. Christian protection and hospitality attracted the Patriarch Gregory, and his brother Nierses, to take asylum at Room-Kalaa, where they met with a very kind reception by the Countess Joscelyn, to whom they gave spiritual consolation.
Count Joscelyn fell in battle, and the Countess returned to Europe: she left the castle in charge of the Armenian Patriarch Gregory, under certain conditions. "My lamentable widowhood (she said) obliges me to leave you, and return to my country, where I have a son and relations. On my arrival there, I shall send the former to this castle, which you in justice will make over to him. Should he however fail to make his appearance here, it would become your undisputed property. After a short time, young Joscelyn arrived in Room-Kalaa, and took possession of the castle; but soon relinquished it again. Gregory bought Room-Kalaa from him, and thus it became the permanent seat of the Cathokhikos, according to the testimonies of Nierses Shnoorhaly, Vardan, and Kirakos. A most splendid church was raised upon the spot, by the Patriarch Gregory.
In the year 1165, a disposition was manifested to effect a union between the Greek and Armenian Churches. At the desire of the grand Duke Alexis, son-in-law to the Emperor Kyr Emanuel Comnenos Porphyrigenitus, the creed of the Armenian Church was committed to paper, by Nierses Shnoorhaly, assisted by his brother Gregory. On its being submitted by the Duke to the consideration of the Emperor, the latter handed it over to Michael, Patriarch at Constantinople; but Patriarch Gregory died before the intended union was brought to a decision. Gregory was 60 years Patriarch. The subject was resumed by Nierses Shnoorhaly. successor to his brother; but Nierses died before it came to a decision. This great man was buried at Room-Kalaa. Nierses Shnoorhaly, on account of his having resided at Room-Kalaa, received the surname of Kalaaensis, i. e. of the Kalaa, or Fort.
* I passed Room-Kalaa, when going from Aleppo to Bagdad, in. the year 1824. It is situated in Mesopotamia, surrounded by the
Gregory Jiglah, the nephew of Nierses, succeeded. A general Synod of the Armenian Bishops, Monks and Vardapets, or doctors, was convened at Hoom-Kalaa, for the consideration of the differences of the sister Churches. It was in this council, that Nierses Lambronensis delivered a most evangelical and beautiful oration, which is considered by the Armenians an unique piece of classical composition in their language. This oration was translated into Italian by Pasquale Aucher, at Venice. Emanuel Comnenos died, and the work of union-remains incomplete to this day. The seat of the Patriarchate continued in Room-Kalaa, for the space of 147 years.
In the year 1294, the Armenians suffered a great deal of persecution, from Melik Ashraf, Sultan of Egypt, who captured Room- Kalaa, and made a prisoner of the Patriarch Stephen, who died in Egypt.
A meeting was convened by the Bishops, inhabiting Cilicia, and Gregory VII., Anavarzensis, was made Patriarch.
Room-Kalaa being destroyed, the patriarchal seat was removed to Sis, at that time the capital of Armenia.
Hetham, one of the Kings that ruled over the Armenians in Cilicia, issued a royal mandate, abrogating the Anathema, decreed against Aghtamar's Patriarch. Peace was restored between the Patriarchs of Aghtamar and Sis. A regular succession of Patriarchs continued at Sis for 147 years.
In the year 1440, when the Dynasty of the Reubenites had become extinct, and all hopes of the restoration of liberty and peace to Armenia entirely vanished, it appeared wise, to remove the seat of the Patriarchate from Sis, which was reduced to a most deplorable state by conquerors. An assembly of Armenian Bishops took place at Wagharshapat, and there it was resolved to re-establish the Patriarchate at Ech-Miazin.
Before however this resolution was carried into effect, the throne became vacant by the death of the Patriarch Constantine. Kyr Joseph Sisensis was made Patriarch by the people; a man of obscure origin, and possessed of no talents. He died after he had been Patriarch one year.
By the assistance of a few of the inhabitants of Sis, Gregory Moosa Beg was made Patriarch, without the consent of the Bishops; and maintained himself in his dignity. Kirakus, a zealous and godly man, was made Patriarch of Ech-Miazin. Immediately upon his elevation to that dignity, he addressed letters to all the Armenian Bishops, and openly annulled the Anathema that had been passed upon the Patriarch of Akhtamar. The latter admitted the superiority of that of Ech-Miazin, to whom he pledged his allegiance. Scarcely two years had elapsed, from the appointment of Kirakus, when he found an antagonist in Marcus, a Bishop in Georgia. Marcus succeeded in deposing Kirakus by the influence of a Moslem Chief. The Patriarch withdrew his allegiance to Ech-Miazin, and Sis was not united to Ech-Miazin. Gregory of Maura was chosen to fill the place of poor Kirakus, who died in retirement. From the middle of the 15th century to this time, a regular succession has taken place in Ech-Miazin. The present Patriarch Ephrem is an old and venerable man, and very popular among the Armenians. Oppressed by the Persians, the poor old man took an asylum at Aghpat in the Russian territory, where he offered up prayers, in order that the Lord, who descended at Wagharshapat, would have pity upon his nation, and bring it under the protection of Russia. His prayers were heard, and Ephrem Cathokhikos returned again to the convent of Ech-Miazin at Wagharshapat.* The Armenians in India are subject to the Patriarch of Ech-Miazin. They are at present an industrious, sober, shrewd, speculating and commercial nation. Some amongst them tried to excite a rebellion against the Sultan, but they are as little inclined, as the Jews are, to revolt against their Sovereigns.
They dislike the Jews, and protest against the assertion of the latter, by whom they are said to be descendants of Amalek. According to their own tradition, Hayk was their ancestor, the fifth lineal descendant of Noah. This nation has no book written on the Millennium, except one by Meden Nerses, formerly Cathokhikos at Ech-Miazin, who wrote a book of visions, in which he predicts, that all the Armenians shall collect around Mount Ararat, before the coming of the Lord, in order that they may not see Antichrist. They deny being Eutychians, and consider Eutyches, as well as Nestorius, as heretics. Avdall writes to me, "It is true that we adopt the expression of one nature in the Hypostasis of Christ; and this we do from a fear of incurring the guilt of the heresy of Nestorius, who by the admission of two divided natures, ascribed two persons to Christ; which heresy involves a most heinous sin; but it is false, that by that expression we confound the two natures of Christ, like Eutyches." Mr. Avdall has written a vindication of the Church of Armenia, on account of this accusation. I suppose that Eutyches meant the same as Avdall does.
POPULATION OF THE ARMENIANS.
Avdall believes that there are 20 millions of Armenians: I think that he is very much mistaken, and that it will be very difficult to make out 3 millions of Armenians. I shall have occasion to speak again about the Armenians, when treating about Cabool and Hindoostan.
BOGOS, EX-PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE,
Now at Jerusalem, is in high reputation among all the Armenians throughout the world, at least among the more enlightened party: he has published a work called "The Museum of wholesome knowledge;" and has publicly abolished the pilgrimage of the Armenians to the holy fire.
* I learned that Ephrem resigned lately, on account of his advanced age.