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themes, including a depiction of the Virgin and Child which graces the altar in Ejmiacin. Subsequent developments in the church's liturgical life, such as the widespread adoption of the organ and the introduction of pews and kneeling pads in newer churches, arguably lend the Armenian Church more of a European ambience than any of the other eastern churches.

The turn of the century maelstrom

The natural development of cultural revival, of more active lay participation in society and of the growth of nationalist aspirations was the crystallisation of various political parties in the last two decades of the century. These included the Hncakean Revolutionary Party founded in Geneva in 1887 and the Federation of Armenian Revolutionaries of 1890, which two years later became the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Their appearance was marked by disputes on the ideological role of socialism, resulting in widespread polarisation of public opinion as the parties strove to win converts to their creed in the cities and provincial towns, thereby posing a challenge to the church's traditional authority in community affairs.56 In 1890 Hncakean demonstrators disrupted the liturgy in the patriarchal cathedral at Istanbul, compelling Patriarch Xoren Asagean to deliver a petition to the sultan for the proper implementation of Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin regarding injustices against the Armenians.57 Another demonstration in the capital five years later led to the community taking refuge in their churches from harsh reprisals. Meanwhile, the Great Powers were reviewing the Armenian Question' and proposed several new provisions, including the right for Armenians forcibly converted to Islam to return to their original faith. However, the response proved even more extreme. In Urfa, for example, around 3000 Armenians were burned alive in their cathedral on 28 December 1895.58

The overthrow of the sultan and proclamation of the Ottoman constitution in 1908 ushered in a new period of expanded civil liberties, which began with positive aspirations, but was again overtaken by events. A speech in the following year by the Armenian bishop of Adana about his community learning self-defence excited the ire of reactionary elements, who massacred many local

56 M. Matossian, The impact of Soviet policies in Armenia (Leiden: Brill, 1962), 91. A small percentage of Armenians also joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party or became Armenian Marxists.

57 R. G. Hovannisian, 'The Armenian question in the Ottoman Empire 1876 to 1914,' in The Armenian people from ancient to modern times, 1, 218.

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