Rome. Its creation inaugurated a prolific period of translation from Latin into Armenian. The Armenian Bible presented problems, which led to the setting up of a commission of theologians under the Propaganda to revise it to the standard of the Vulgate.7
Under Richelieu's enthusiastic prefect of missions Fr Joseph de Paris, the French largely dominated mission work among the Armenians. Between 1609 and 1628 Jesuit and Capuchin bridgeheads had been established in Istanbul, Izmir and Aleppo, as well as in the recently created Armenian community of New Julfa in Iran. Their task was eased by the existence of a highly complex network of Armenian mercantile communities extending from the main entrepots of the Safavid and Ottoman empires to major cities of western Europe.
Thus, France financed most of these missionary operations with a view to cultivating its image as protector of near eastern Christians and to fostering a loyal francophile constituency as well as containing Habsburg ambitions in the east. This marriage of sacred and secular is well illustrated by Richelieu's acquisition of Armenian type fromJacques Sanlecques in 1633 in orderto reprint the first Armeno-Latin dictionary and Armenian grammar of the Milanese philologist Francesco Rivola.8
The convergence of France's strategic interest in the Near East and Armenian aspirations to restore their state resulted in active Armenian participation in the diplomacy of the era. This was at its height while Yakob IV (1655-80) was catholicos of Ejmiacin. He entered into discussions with Louis XIV through his merchant envoy Shahmurat of Bitlis and agreed to support the French protege to the Ottoman throne.9 The complexity of Armenian involvement is highlighted by the case of Archbishop Arak'el Babik, who went on a mission in 1662 to Rome and Venice for the Armenian catholicos, returning to the east as Venetian ambassador to Iran to incite the Safavids to make common cause against the Ottomans, their longstanding foe.10
Armenian Catholic clergy were also involved in this round of diplomatic initiatives and tended to be somewhat more trusted because of their shared creed. The Dominican Fratres Unitores established in the 1330s continued to function,
7 Arménie entre Orient et Occident, ed. R. H. Kévorkian (Paris: Bibliotheque nationale, 1996), 89.
8 Oskanyan, Haygirk'g 1512-1800 t'vakannerin, 20-1.
9 R.H. Kevorkian,'La diplomatie arménienne entre l'Europe et la Perse au temps de Louis XIV', in Arménie entre Orient et Occident, 190. It seems that the project involved crowning Azaria Awag, a student of the Propaganda, as king of Armenia.
10 Kevorkian, 'La diplomatie armenienne', 190.
Was this article helpful?