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Public Presentation: From Ararat to the Carpathians by Claude Mutafian

September 23, 2016 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

It is well-known that after the Medieval Armenian community in Italy, the most notable one was in Crimea and Eastern Europe. This situation raises several questions, which examine the time period, reasons, and itineraries. A very simplistic figure has been unanimously adopted by local Armenians, according to which the migration came directly from Ani as a consequence of successive disasters: the Byzantine takeover of 1045, the Turkish and Mongol conquests of 1064 and 1236, and various earthquakes. This theory is based on later sources from the 17th and 18th centuries and particularly on Minas Bjchkiants. This theory makes East European Armenians proud to be direct heirs of Ani Armenians. Unfortunately, the “Ani theory” is not based on any serious analysis.

The main migration route was through Cilicia and then Crimea, due to strong ties between Cilician Armenia and the Genoese, masters of the Crimean south coast. From there the migration route continued to Medieval Poland, essentially through Kiev and Galicia and then eventually to Moldavia. There were, of course, other secondary itineraries, for instance from Armenia to the Caspian Sea shore and Saray, Tana, where it joined the former itinerary, and also from Armenia directly to Crimea and Moldavia across the Black Sea. Finally, a completely different figure is given by the Armenian settlements in Bulgaria, due to Byzantine Imperial policy. As for Hungary, the sources are very scarce.

The anchor-point of Eastern European Armenians has long been Lvov, with its archbishopric to which depended the important settlements of Moldavia, essentially Suceava and Iaşi. A few interesting features include the spread of Kipchak language with Armenian letters, the two-year rule in Moldavia of the popular Armenian governor Ion Vodă, and the important development of Armenian scriptoria.

For various reasons, including religious conflicts, there were various waves of persecution, particularly in 1551, well-known through Minas Tokhatesi’s poem. Throughout the next century, problems arose in Lvov, with the forced submission of the Armenian Church to Rome. (This, however, did not affect Moldavia, which remained faithful to the Armenian Apostolic Church.) A solution to such situations was often given by emigration, essentially to Transylvania, on the other side of the Carpathians. An important wave occurred around 1670, where Armenians were warmly welcomed by the local protestant prince Apafi. Transylvania was soon annexed by Hungary and its Armenians were also forced to convert to Catholicism. In spite of that, Armenian culture flourished in Transylvania, where around 1700 the city of Armenopolis (present-day Gherla) was founded.

The study by Claude Mutafian emphasizes the role of Armenians in Rumania, which includes Moldavia, Walachia, and Transylvania.

About the speakers:

Claude Armen Mutafian was born in 1942 in a family that escaped from Genocide. He is a mathematics professor and Doctor of Historical Sciences. He is a Member of the National Academy of Science of Armenia. He has taught mathematics at the Universities in France and other countries. His travels to modern-day Turkey and Armenia since 1980 have led him to discover many hidden aspects of history, especially of the medieval Middle East and particularly of Sicilian Armenia.

 He is an author of several publications on this topic. In addition, Claude Mutafian has organized three big exhibitions:

“The Armenian kingdom of Cilicia”, in the chapel of Sorbonne, Paris, 1993,
“Roma-Armenia”, Sistine chapel, Vatican and Armenia, 1999,
“Arménie : La magie de l’écrit”, Marseille, 2007.

Event language: Armenian


September 23, 2016
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


AUA Armenian Digital Library


Alex and Marie Manoogian Hall, PAB
40 Marshal Baghramyan Ave
Yerevan, Armenia
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+374 60 69-40-40