public profile. Any new churches were unostentatious structures, while the semantron (a woodenboard struck by a metal instrument) increasingly replaced more obtrusive bells.3 In parts of the hinterland the community began to lose its language and started to employ the local variety of Turkish, the lingua franca of the region.4 To meet this need the church published religious and devotional manuals in Turkish, but written in Armenian letters.
Paradoxically the supreme catholicos in Ejmiacin5 enjoyed an enhanced status. Because Islamic jurisprudence distinguished minorities by religious confession, not ethnicity, the church became the only institution tolerated by the authorities. This did not prevent successive catholicoi - in the spirit of the crusading era - sending embassies to Rome to implore assistance in liberating Armenia from Muslim rule. A staple on these missions was the Letter of Concord, a medieval apocryphon describingthe consecration of St Gregory the Illuminator by Pope Sylvester. In return for acknowledging papal supremacy St Gregory received primacy over the churches of the east and ownership of several ofthe key pilgrim sites in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Later the work was translated into Italian and reprinted several times in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.6
The Counter-Reformation and mission to the Armenians
Beginning with Pope Gregory XIII (1572-85) the papacy sought to establish closer ties with the Armenians as part of a reassertion of its presence in the Near East. The process culminated in the creation of the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide in 1622 with a polyglot press to produce liturgical books and other tracts in all the languages of the area. This was complemented by the foundation in 1627 of the Collegium Urbanum, which trained priests for work among eastern Christians in the hope of reuniting these communities with
3 For conditions in the important Mesopotamian city of Amid, see Ed. Xondkaryan, Mkrtic Nalas (Erevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1965), 29-40. Other characteristic elements of their minority condition included payment of the poll tax, wearing clothes to distinguish them from the Muslim majority, and a prohibition on bearing arms and riding a horse.
4 For the wider Turkish cultural influence on Armenia from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, see S. P. Cowe, 'The politics of poetics: Islamic influence on Armenian verse', Proceedings of the symposium redefining Christian identity: Christian cultural strategies since the rise of Islam (Leuven: Peeters, 2006).
5 Incorporated in the Ottoman Empire in 1514.
6 Ninel Oskanyan etal., Hay girk's 1512-1800 t'vakannerin [The Armenian Book between the dates 1512-1800] (Erevan: Myasnikyan Library, 1988).
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