TOVMA MEDZOPETSI'S CHRONICLE OF THE FINAL DESTRUCTION OF ARMENIA Armenian News Network / Groong June 3, 2013 by Eddie Arnavoudian `Then the dear ones of those slain came and saw the incurable wounds of Armenia, and they lamented for the land.' Tovma Medzopetsi's (1378-1446) `History of Tamerlane and His Successors' (311pp, 1999, Yerevan, Armenia) though little acknowledged is nevertheless critical and indispensable for any proper grasp of the flow of Armenian history. The only significant historian of late 14th and early 15th century Armenia, Medzoptsi presents us with a land fundamentally and irrevocably reconfigured. The Armenia of the 4th century Golden Age, the Armenia of Khorenatsi, Puzant, Barpetzi, Yeghishe, even the Armenia of the historians of the 8th to the 11th centuries, is almost totally absent. Defining features - social, political, economic and military - of earlier epochs have been uprooted and eliminated. The conception of an ancient, proud and noble homeland that, for good or bad, shaped aspects of modern Armenian nationalist consciousness are invisible in Medzopetsi and reappear no more in subsequent historians of Armenia. The Armenia of the late 14th and early 15th century has been radically reshaped by vast political and demographic transformations that accelerated in the wake of the 11th century collapse of the Bagratouni Armenian State and now appear complete. Armenia is driven by totally new historical dynamics. It is a de facto multi-national land, one moreover structured entirely by non-Armenian political states and principalities, in which powerless Armenian communities suffer unending slaughter, famine, expropriation, forced migration and forced religious conversion that threatens their very existence as a distinct people. Yet, almost as miracle, the Armenian people survived and their culture flourished right into our own day. To survival Tovma Medzopetsi's contribution requires acknowledgement. I. HISTORICAL ARMENIA RECONFIGURED Opening with Lang Tamur's first, 1386 invasion and ending in 1440, Medzopetsi's `History' tells of an Armenia `...entirely ruined', `torn apart' `universally robbed', `given over to fire' with `the world' as a result `filled up with Armenian slaves'. As he records the fierce and ruthless violence of Tamur's assaults, his bloody battles and savage reprisals against those who resisted, compared to his illustrious predecessors, our 14th-15th century author treads through an almost unrecognisable landscape. Armenia, in any meaningful political sense, has ceased to be Armenian. None of the noble secular estates - the Mamikonians, Ardzrounis, Bagratounis and others - that figured as military and political pillars in earlier periods are to be seen. If in previous epochs the history of Armenia could in part be read as resistance against, negotiation with or accommodation to foreign encroachments by independent Armenian monarchies and principalities, when Lang Timur invades, his political and military adversaries in historical Armenia are all non-Armenians. If classical Armenia had been demographically overwhelmingly Armenian, by Medzopetsi's time Armenians are one community among others. Non-Armenian elites and states, resting on rooted non-Armenian communities, with their own distinct language, culture and religion have divided historical Armenia among themselves. With land still the core of wealth, this land division was additional manifestation that, western Armenia at any rate, had also ceased in significant economic measures to be Armenian. However, in contrast to other communities Armenians suffer fatal disadvantage. An oppressed, exploited, subordinate and diminishing nationality the Armenian common people exist with little prospect of stability, expansion or development. Savagely discriminated against, they live a nightmare signalling eventual extinction as a national group. Even the Church, that sturdy cat o' nine lives that had outlived the secular aristocracy and had remained a formidable organisational institution for Armenian communities appears teetering on the brink, racked with corruption and buckled by the repeated blows of hostile principalities. Armenia had not in the past been spared calamity, but with armed Armenian estates and a confident Church as its civil administration, with potential allies close by, hopes of recovery always kindled, certainly amongst the most vital and energetic segments of society. Even into the 13th century, Giragos Gantsagetsi at its opening, and Stepan Orbelian at its close, remained historians of a transitional era, their horizons touched still by shadows of a Cilician-Armenian kingdom or by the Zakarian princes' ambition to reconstruct post-Bagratouni Armenian power in the heart of Armenia. Medzopetsi in the 15th century is on the other, darker side of the transition. Even as he recalls facets of classical Armenia, he never does so as hope, never as a rallying call or an urge to strive for restoration. Written after a lifetime of harassed wandering (Note 1), more chronicle and eyewitness memoir than history the very temper of the `History of Tamerlane and His Successors', its untidy art and intellectually meagre narrative, reflects the reality of a vanished classical Armenia. It is moreover stamped also by a terrible resignation, an apparently helpless surrender to the prospect of the dissolution of the Armenian people themselves. II. `THERE WAS WEEPING AND LAMENTATION' Central to Medzopetsi's narrative are the endless wars on historical Armenian lands between non-Armenian principalities. Aggrandising themselves at each other's expense and laying also to waste the last pitiable remnants of secular Armenian landlords these warring factions appear presiding over an apparently ceaseless decline of the Armenian population and of the Armenian Church, that last substantial and enduring Armenian landed estate. As Tamur battles for control of historical Armenia, every province fought over, once the domain of the Armenian nobility is now ruled by non-Armenians. In Vana Hayots Emir Ezdin was sovereign, Sebastia `belonged to Yildirim Xonghear (Ottoman Sultan Bayezid), Kurdish lords ruled ancient Baghesh (Bitlis), Mush and Sasun, another historic province Rshtounik was subjected to Sultan Ahmad son of Emir Ezdin, Yerzenga was Pir Omar's fiefdom, and the list goes on (see Note 2). Frequently at war against Lang Tamur, Turkmen, Kurdish and Arabic principalities also criss-crossed formerly Armenian lands contesting for command of the same plunder, the same potential serfs and slaves. So `now (it was) the Turkmen army (that) robbed all of our Christians' (p8) and now the `pitiless Kurd of Bitlis (who also) (came) against the God-kept city of Artske', putting `many of our people to the sword...'(p36). But among all those who wracked Armenian life, in ferocity and barbarism Tamur remained unmatched. A `merciless, cruel and treacherous' tyrant, `filled with all the evil, impurity and stratagems of the tempter Satan' Lang Tamur proved to be the most deadly of those `wicked faithless kings of the East who' `brought ruin upon the Armenian people (p1).' When he captured the fortress of Vana Hayots, Medzopetsi felt as if he was: `...witness...to the...dread of the Day of Judgement (with), the weeping and lamenting of the entire fortress, for the evil tyrant had ordered that the women and children be taken into slavery and that men, believers and unbelievers be hurled down from the fortress. So much did [the valley below] fill up with the slain, that those hurled last did not die (p11). In Sebastia Tamur punished those defending it with equal savagery. On taking it despite having promised not to kill those who had resisted, he: `...had them bound hand and foot - 4,000 souls - and buried them alive, covering them with water and ash. Their cries reached to heaven.' (p27) Such bloodletting, instances of which appear countless, as destructive as it was for all communities living in historical Armenia, was for Armenians a bleeding to death of their society, culture and history. Against the savagery of Lang Tamur's times the Armenian common people could erect no defence. Unorganised, they have become a hapless mass, payers of tax, milk cows, beasts of burden and most of all easy prey for plunder or abduction in wars that never seem to end. Their political leadership decapitated, they were at the whim and mercy of every predator, mere collateral damage in others' wars of plunder. Medzopetsi's description of the province of Ararat effectively summarises the experience of the fifty-five years that his `History' covers. Lang Tamur's `...unbearable tortures and bestial behaviour' caused `the most populous district of Armenia (to) become uninhabited (p6). Tamur's role in Armenia appears as one of `killing and enslaving' Armenians using both `starvation and the sword'. His every move is marked by a decimation of the land's Armenian population, a decimation driven on by waves of mass migration to escape bloody conflict and ensuing economic collapse and famine. Armenian numbers were reduced further by enslavement and deportation of `countless women and...children' to faraway places such as Khorasan (p39) as well as a systematic policy of forced conversion to Islam. In proportion to Armenian decline, the weight of non-Armenian communities grew. Though focussing on the Armenian experience, Medzopetsi is not unaware nor is he indifferent to the lives of non-Armenians. `Unbelievers' too, were hurled down from the fortress in Vana Hayots. In Sebastia both `believers and unbelievers alike' died. Their presence evokes no resentment. There is no hint that they do not belong; no suggestion that they should be removed. Non-Armenian elites too are treated as a component of the land's unalterable reality, a part of its natural fabric. They are evaluated and judged not as foreign conquerors but by whether they are generous or harsh towards Armenian Christians. The destruction of Armenian life that Medzopetsi describes was to continue during subsequent centuries of Persian and Ottoman occupation. Yet right up to the 20th century to a lesser or greater extent the region retained a multi-national design that included a vast Armenian population in certain provinces constituting majorities. It was left to a virulent Turkish nationalism to deploy more ruthless assimilation, forced expulsion and then genocide to finally cleanse western Armenia of all Armenians, a process now being executed against the land's Kurdish population. III. AN `INCORRIGIBLE PRIESTHOOD' - THE FOUNDERING OF THE LAST ESTATE Cut down by the land's new political and military lords, Armenian life was rendered even more vulnerable, disarmed internally as it were, by the collapse of the one remaining social-organisational institution at its centre, the Armenian Church. For reason of its particular historical development, the destiny of Armenian communities in historical Armenia was in important respects inextricably bound to the health or otherwise of the Church and its 14th century degradation that Medzopetsi describes significantly speeded Armenian decline. A strong Church served as a buffer sparing Armenian communities not all but some of the worst excesses of marauding vandalism. By contracting minimal agreements with conquering powers, the Church could ensure protection both for its clergy and its wealth. It had done so in the post-Bagratouni era. It had not then remained intact, but had nevertheless shored up, and sometimes even improved its positions through the acquisition or purchase of land that had belonged to fleeing secular nobles. By means of accommodation and negotiation, besides securing wealth represented by Churches, monasteries and land, it also obtained a degree of security for that wealth represented by communities of Armenian serfs and peasants recognised as part of the Church's flock. And wealth the Armenian common people indeed were. It was the Armenian serf and the peasant who filled Church coffers with taxes and dues, serving it also as free labour. With substantial income from Armenian communities the Church had direct interest in acting to fend off the non-Armenian elites also targeting Armenians for their labour and their taxes. Such was the condition of the Church even into the 13th century when as Giragos Gantzagetsi shows it was a magnitude that conquering rulers judged necessary to negotiate with (see Note 3). However by the close of the 14th century everything has changed. The Church has ceased to be an institution commanding respect, it has lost authority and appears incapable of offering even minimal defence for its flock. In this `History of Tamerlane and His Successors' a once august institution stands before us wasted and wilted; a candle at the end of its wick and wax. Possessing no central leadership, faction-infested, corrupted internally and attacked externally it is tilting ominously. Medzopetsi underlines the depth of Church degeneration when expounding his theological principles of historical causality. Explaining Armenian misfortunes as divine punishment for sin, among the sinners he singles out `especially' the Church clergy for its `laxity' and for being `apostate cheats (p12).' Calamity `transpires' `especially' because of `the wicked deeds' and `laziness of presbyters and the fraudulence of clerics (p40).' The point is reiterated in a concluding indictment of an `incorrigible' clergy in an age of generalised moral decay. Disasters he writes: `... have descended upon us because of our sins, especially because of the swearing of the foul-mouthed, because of lazy, lack of prayer, and the hatred and lack of love manifested toward all, and the incorrigible priesthood. (p52)' Small pockets of conscientious men, intellectuals and artists, to whom Medzopetsi refers frequently, were powerless to affect direction dictated by a majority of the clergy condemned as unprincipled careerists donning god's frock only for personal comforts and privileges. Rudderless, the Church and its flock have become easy targets. Pictured as a rampant disease, Catholicism was steadily extending its tentacles and choking the once proud Armenian Church. Though their advance is fought by keeping them `in prison', `in fetters', and even by `beating' them (p16)', Roman Catholics continue to win adherents. But the biggest threat to Church and community were Tamur and the Kurdish, Turkish, Turkmen and other lords who, contemptuous of the miserably floundering institution felt free to kill its servants and rob its wealth. At different times Tamur's armies `... had razed to their foundations all the churches of Armenia. (p24) In Yerzenga Tamur `destroyed to the foundation the great cathedral of Saint Sargis `and ruined all the (other) Churches'. Christians could do nothing but `wail' in reaction to `the order...to pull down all the Churches.' (p18). Elsewhere Yusuf who ruled after Tamur `went against the land of Rshtunik' attacking `the monastery complex of Varag (p29) whilst one of his opponents, Emir Ezdin, `killed the Katoghikos of Aghtamar'. Similar raids were conducted by Kurdish forces (p36) and by those loyal to Iskander who robbed and plundered monasteries and churches in Kajperouni (p37) Marauders stalking the Armenian Church also hunted down the souls of the Armenian common people. Souls after all were wealth, religious affiliation registered as a credit or a debit in contemporary accounts of income. Forcing Armenians to convert to Islam would direct their taxes and labour away from Armenian Church coffers and into those of non-Armenian lords and religious leaders. So forced conversion became an instrument of policy with `poverty and the bitterness of hunger', as well as `enormous taxes' and other `harassment' used to compel Armenians to `became unbelievers', to `turn from our faith.' IV. `MOURN FOR THE END OF THE HOUSE OF ARAM' To survive, weakened and disorganised, with no prospect of independent political organisation and its flock declining, the Church resorted to the politics bowing and scraping before so-called Muslim `philo-Christians'. Reduced to eking out an uncertain existence the leaders of a powerless Armenian Church after: `...taking counsel...go to... quench (the tyrants) bitter anger....They (go)... with supplications and entreaties and (give) him an oath so that he would not remember their former... disobedience...By the mercy of Christ they quenched his bitterness, and he vowed to do no damage to them.' Besides such bending of the knee before `philo-Christians' that for short periods did produce minor results, Armenian bishop and priest also invested stocks of hope in their northern Christian neighbour, the Kingdom of Georgia. In an early exercise in the politics of dependency, that useless and dangerous reliance upon other states for the protection of one's own interests, they placed such confident `hopes on the Georgians' that they even `boast(ed) of them among the infidels'. But alas, as will happen, they were rapidly `thereafter disappointed', bitterly and devastatingly so. In 1438 Alexander king of Georgia, a `bloody cruel beast', had leading Armenian prince Beshken Orbelian poisoned. Reflecting the age-old clash between Georgian and Armenian landed political estates, Alexander's aim had been to block any move by Armenians to `gather together' and `destroy Georgia' (p49). Medzopetzi is rarely passionate, but here he erupts in uncontrolled rage. Charging the Georgians with having ruined `the entire Armenian people' he adds, in a moment of colossal loss of intellectual balance, that they are a: `... cowardly, gastro-maniacal, drunken, lapathum-eating (a purgative plant)... nation...continually...intoxicated (and), boasting that they would vanquish all peoples (but) unable to pierce by arrow even one man.' (p51) This bile from a Churchman's quill measures the depths of shattered illusion, the gaping wound of humiliation and an unfathomable political impotence. With hopes of salvation from the Georgian state now at apparent end and with ephemeral expectations from `philo-Christians', Medzopetsi can see no others to whom to turn. Henceforth Armenians can only resign themselves to what will be for: `The words of the prophet were fulfilled: "Cursed is the man who places his hopes on man," and "Trust not the prince, for that is not salvation." Medzopetsi's greatest fear, the very end of Armenians as a historical people, seems about to be realised. Abandoned by foreign powers, wracked by those ruling Armenia and with the Church dissipating, the fateful prophecy of 4th century Armenian Nerses the Great, to which he alludes on a number of occasions, appears imminent: `The Nation of Archers will wipe out the house of Aram (p12).' To such circumstances one must perhaps attribute Medzopetsi's lack of political compass and most depressingly the passivity and defeatism evident in the `History of Tamerlane and His Successors'. Medzopetsi writes not to collect intellect and energy, not to inspire positive action but only to enable: `...those coming after us (to) mourn the destruction of the Armenian people (p39).' Medzopetsi was not ignorant of Armenian or of world history. A scholar of broad erudition, educated by the famous Krikor of Datev, he was a teacher, a scribe, a librarian and a historian repeatedly referring to Armenian and international classics, among them: `Gregory the Theologian, Athanasius, Cyril and our (Armenian) theologians Stepannos of Siwnik', Anania Shirakatsi, Poghos Taronatsi, Yovhannes, Sargis Haghpartatsi, Dawit' the philosopher, Movses k'ert'oghahayr, Asoghik the translator and other blessed vardapets. He also refers constantly to ancient eras of Armenian history. He remarks on the Armenian Bagratounis, for example, who `descended from...Jews' later `converted to the faith of Christ by the Illuminator' and then `became the kings of Ani and all Armenia' having inherited the crown from `the Arshakouni clan.' (p6) He also remembers the Mamikonian nobles among them `Vardan and Mushegh' who `made the Persians tremble'. Almost as an aside he mentions too that Garabagh had been a `winter residence of our first kings' (p7). But such recollection is passive, inert, matter of fact, devoid of instructive purpose. It is remembrance of an irretrievable past that only sets in bold the transformed world that Medzopetsi inhabits. The volume's prose, often tediously repetitive also displays in addition a fatalistic, bowed aspect. Grief and misery in the face of human suffering occasionally flares with passion, but narrative is never marked by anger. One cannot fail to note the recurring images of ceaseless suffering, all the more pathetic for being accompanied, with one or two minor and localised exceptions, with no suggestion of any will to resist. Perhaps all this is not surprising. The condition of the times produced its own politics. However Medzopetsi, contrary to the impression he leaves us at the conclusion of the `History of Tamerlane and His Successors' was decidedly not one to give up, not one to surrender or rest at ease in passive expectation of divine intervention. V. AND SO THE MAN STANDS UP It would be a terrible error to judge Medzopetsi on the basis of his `History of Tamerlane and His Successors' alone. He was not at all lacking in fighting spirit. Quite the contrary! Prior to his eventual falling out with Church authority in whose recuperation he had played a decisive role, Medzopetsi had been a formidable figure, an organiser and activist through all his years of wandering, more unbending and more successful than can be imagined by any reading of his `History'. Medzopetsi played, one can say, a world-historic role in salvaging the Armenian communities in historical Armenia's new multi-national configuration. His role in stemming or at any rate slowing the historical decline of independent Armenian communities requires acknowledgement. Medzopetsi himself had no political ambitions in his enterprise. Of his own driving religious purpose, that would however contribute to securing a future national-political revival, Medzopetsi tells in his `Memorandum' written in 1441 and treated usually as an appendix to his `History'. After years of struggle against the Church clergy whose corruption he is never shy of noting and contesting, Medzopetsi in 1441 succeeded in triumphantly returning the central apparatus, the headquarters and leadership of an exiled Armenian Church back to its historical seat in Armenia, back to Etchmiadzin. There set amidst denser Armenian communities, both Church and community proved less easily dissolvable for within the core of Armenia sturdier floodgates were raised against the rush of assimilation, expulsion and forced conversion endangering the roots upon which future tree of nation would flourish. It seems a peculiar claim - the survival of the Armenian Church as a decisive mechanism in the revival of a modern Armenian nation. Yet it was so. The elimination of Armenian statehood had left institutions of the Church as the sole educational hub and cultural warehouse of a people sharing a common language, literature, history and religion. In the post-Bagratouni eras for reasons of greater security, this Church had relocated to the newly founded Armenian Cilicia where it multiplied its cultural treasury by many times. But Armenian Cilicia was to fall in 1375 and so once again shorn of Armenian state backing, the Church was exposed and vulnerable, now more decidedly so as Armenian communities in Cilicia were at risk of more rapid disintegration than those in historic Armenia. Re-rooting the Church back to Etchmiadzin generated a critical dialectical dependence between the backward feudal Church aristocracy and dense Armenian communities across the lands of historical Armenia. It was a dialectic that contributed immensely to the survival of distinct Armenian communities and to the development of an Armenian culture and literature that future generations would avail themselves of in their nation building. It was this dialectic, in addition, that enabled Etchmiadzin to survive subsequent European, Persian and Tsarist offensives. The Armenian Church remained indeed a selfish, superstition-ridden and backward caste living in ghastly backwardness and at the expense of its serfs and peasants. But resting on the latter's labour for substantial portions of its income, its privilege and its authority, the Church elite had that decided material interest in organising and defending the communities from the worst tides of assimilation and disappearance. To secure its flock, to continue benefiting from its religious taxes and dues it was compelled to attempt knitting Armenians together as distinct communities that besides the Church's own also produced its distinct Armenian secular folk culture, music and oral literature - David of Sassoon as one outstanding example. In the process, undertaken in the service of its narrow caste, the Church protected and reproduced the raw material for future nation formation. Across the land, men of wisdom, so effusively praised by Medzopetsi, in almost impossible conditions, worked in monastic educational centres to preserve a vast stock of historical and literary culture. The best of Church scholars bequeathed a vast stock of literary, philosophical, scientific, educational manuscripts, a rich musical tradition, a legacy of painting, architecture, and most critically the Armenian language, all of which was to be from the 18th century on to be appropriated by the Armenian people and blended with its own secular culture fashion its modern nationality, nationhood and statehood. (see Note 4) The Armenian Church as a Christian institution and its elite leadership cannot of course claim any credit for this cultural production or for the subsequent national revival. Many of the dedicated Churchmen who created the raw material for Armenian nationhood and those who along with new secular forces were to directly use it in the 18th and 19th centuries remained a minority, often in opposition to and persecuted by a hidebound Church leadership. Musical genius Komitas comes to mind immediately. Indeed where the Church as a landholding estate tolerated cultural production it did so not for the benefit of the common people or nation but only as a necessary measure in the training and organising of Church leadership and cadre to administer its exploitation of its Christian flock (Note 5). * * * * * Tovma Medzopetsi if not as historian then certainly as a Church leader contributed monumentally to the survival of a distinct modern Armenian people in a land now lived in by other peoples too. As minimum acknowledgment he at least deserves a place in a revised edition of the hugely valuable reference book `Famous Figures of Armenian Culture from the 5th to 18th Centuries' from which he had for unknown reasons been excluded. But vastly more importantly, for all its literary and historical deficiencies, Medzopetsi's `History of Tamerlane and His Successors' is an instructive reminder of the terms in which modern Armenian nationhood, and indeed Turkish, Kurdish, Assyrian and Azeri nationhood too, needs to be conceived. In a reconfigured historical land Armenian nationhood even as it absorbs and utilises it, cannot and should not be constructed exclusively in the image of the literature of the 4th century Golden Age or of the grandeur of 9th century Bagratouni Armenia. All that we have inherited from those previous epochs can and must still serve as a rich source of wisdom and civilisation that will enable Armenians to live as equals, socially, politically and culturally independent, in a democratic, multi-national Asia Minor. But to be used effectively our inheritance from history must be appropriated taking into account the new multi-national national Armenia that Medzopetsi's work draws so decidedly to our attention at that must set the framework for our national ambitions. These new terms were indeed noted in various ways by the pre-Genocide Armenian natonal and revolutionary movement (stated in clear terms incidentally by Paramaz who was to be hanged by the Young Turks in 1915). Today not just Armenians but Turks, Kurds, Azeris, Georgians and others too, in pursuit of their individual national ambitions, in efforts to correct crimes of Genocide and those of ethnic cleansing that have tragically marked much of their mutual experience, can learn something of the political and social reality of the region that Medzopetsi reminds us had come into existence and that endures to this day. NOTES An English language version of Tovma Medzopetsi's `The History of Tamerlane and His Successors' translated by Robert Bedrosian is available on the internet at `rbedrosian.com'. Most of the extracts quoted above are from this translation. This is but one of a very large number of our classics that this redoubtable fellow has rendered into English. Thanks and congratulations to him for his invaluable contribution. 1. For a brief but fact-full biographical sketch and a cultural history of the time see Henrik Bakhchinyan `Armenian Literature in the 15th Century', 223pp, 2004, Yerevan 2. This is a point noted by historians, among them very precisely by Puzant Yeghiayan in his `Seljuk, Tatar and Ottoman History - 11th to 15th Centuries' (1989, Lebanon) where he writes: `Therefore when we speak of `the conquest of Armenia' by Lang Tamur, this we must understand as conquest from the now local Persian-Arab-Turkish-Tatar military and political princes and khans, rather than directly from Armenian princes, though' Yeghiayan adds `as natives, Armenians were the biggest victims'. (p227) 3. Of course, the Church was in Gantzagetsi's time also unquestionably riddled with corruption and degraded, the vast scale and depth of which Gantzagetsi himself does not hold back from underlining (see `Giragos Gantzagetzi's History of the Armenians', The Critical Corner, July 27, 2009). But Gantzagetsi defines the serious ills that afflict the Church so as to urge determined battle to reform it and preserve its right and status to negotiate with the powers that be. 4. Other factors did of course act as vital forces in the Armenian survival - the remnants of Armenian political principalities, in Garabagh for example and the rise of Armenian capital in regions that surrounded it. They did so however in the closest conjunction and confluence with the Church, a sphere of history that requires its own detailed investigation. 5. In fact the religious profession of the Church was actually immaterial. The determining factor was not the Church's religious belief, but its and its flock's distinct social and economic status in relation to other communities. The Church's faith and that of its flock's merely defined its distinct and separate landlord relation to its Armenian community. It was to secure its landlords' rights, not to save souls that the Church acted as keepers of Armenian communities and its culture as separate from those of other communities. The dialectic of dependence that secured Armenian survival would have operated even were the Armenian Church pagan, Hindu or Buddhist or merely a secular estate. -- Eddie Arnavoudian holds degrees in history and politics from Manchester, England, and is Groong's commentator-in-residence on Armenian literature. His works on literary and political issues have also appeared in Harach in Paris, Nairi in Beirut and Open Letter in Los Angeles.
Redistribution of Groong articles, such as this one, to any other
media, including but not limited to other mailing lists and Usenet
bulletin boards, is strictly prohibited without prior written
consent from Groong's Administrator.
© Copyright 2013 Armenian News Network/Groong. All Rights Reserved.