The Armenian Church

Positioned as it is between Turkey and Iran, Armenia was converted by Christians travelling to the Persian Empire by way of Edessa. Armenia is, strictly speaking, the first Christian state, Christianity being proclaimed there around 314, whereas Constantine merely promulgated an Edict of Toleration in 313. Tradition says the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus preached in Armenia. But it was Gregory the Illuminator, who converted King Trdat, and the early female martyrs, Gayane and Hrip'sime, who became the great national saints of Armenia. Many churches were subsequently dedicated to these saints. The social structure was founded on the great feudal families who patronized churches and monasteries, with the catholicos, the spiritual head of the church, at Dvin. Secular structures are also preserved, including defensive building. In the later twelfth century, with the migration to Cilicia on the south coast of Turkey, fortresses began to be built. They were at their height between the twelfth to fourteenth century, and include those at Sis and Lambron.

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