ethnic group native to the Armenian Highlands

Armenians (Armenian: հայեր, romanized: hayer, [hɑˈjɛɾ]) are an ethnic group and nation native to the Armenian highlands of West Asia.[1][2][3] Armenians constitute the main population of the Republic of Armenia and constituted the main population of the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh until the Armenians of Nagorno-Narabakh were ethnically cleansed. There is a wide-ranging diaspora of around five million people of full or partial Armenian ancestry living outside modern Armenia. The largest Armenian populations today exist in Russia, the United States, France, Georgia, Iran, Germany, Ukraine, Lebanon, Brazil, Syria, and Turkey. The present-day Armenian diaspora was formed mainly as a result of the Armenian genocide with the exceptions of Iran, former Soviet states, and parts of the Levant.[4]

1st row: HaykArtashes ITigran the GreatTrdat IIIGregory the illuminator
2nd row: Mesrop MashtotsVardan MamikonianMovses KhorenatsiAnania ShirakatsiGrigor Narekatsi
3rd row: Levon IIToros RoslinMomikSayat NovaKhachatur Abovyan
4th row: Ivan AivazovskyAndranik OzanyanHovhannes TumanyanKomitasMkrtich Khrimian
5th row: Tovmas NazarbekianAram ManukianYeghishe CharentsArshile GorkyGaia Gai
6th row: Artem MikoyanIvan BagramyanAram KhachaturianViktor AmbartsumyanTigran Petrosian
7th row: Martiros SaryanKirk KerkorianSergei ParajanovWilliam SaroyanCharles Aznavour
8th row: Vazgen IKaren Demirchyan and Vazgen SargsyanCherMonte MelkonyanSerj Tankian

They speak Armenian which is an Indo-European language unique to its own branch in that language family.[2][5] It has two mutually intelligible spoken and written forms: Eastern Armenian, today spoken mainly in Armenia, Artsakh, Iran, and the former Soviet republics; and Western Armenian, used in the historical Western Armenia and, after the Armenian genocide, primarily in the Armenian diasporan communities. The unique Armenian alphabet was invented in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.

Most Armenians adhere to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a non-Chalcedonian Christian church, which is also the world's oldest national church. Christianity began to spread in Armenia soon after the death of Jesus, due to the efforts of two of his apostles, St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew.[6] In the early 4th century, the Kingdom of Armenia became the first state to adopt Christianity as a state religion,[7] followed by the first pilgrimages to the Holy Land where a community established the Armenian Quarter of Old Jerusalem.[8][9]

Armenian: Հայեր, romanized: Hayer
Flag of Armenia
Total population
c. 78 million[10]
Regions with significant populations
Armenia: 2,961,514[11]
Artsakh: 144,683[12]
Modern Armenian diaspora: 
United States485,970–1,500,000[15][14]
Armenian minorities in Middle East: 
Armenian minorities in Caucasus: 
  • Abkhazia
168,100–400,000[22][14] 41,875[23]
(Armenian Apostolic Church)
Related ethnic groups

History change

Antiquity change

The territory of the ancient Kingdom of Urartu extended over the modern frontiers of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and the Republic of Armenia. Its center was the Armenian highland between Lake Van, Lake Urmia, and Lake Sevan.[24] During the seventh century, the Urartians collaborated with a combination of Scythians and Cimmerians in their jockeying for power, but by 590, having been weakened in the constant rivalry between Assyrians, Babylonians, Scythians, and Medes, Urartu was swallowed by the Medes.[25]

Kingdom of Urartu at its greatest extent during king Sarduri II.
Fragment of a bronze helmet from Urartian king Argishti I's era. The "tree of life", popular among the ancient societies, is depicted.

Armenians are the heirs of the Urartians.[26] Redgate says that the Urartians are the "most easily identifiable" ancestors of the Armenians.[27] Philip D. Curtin defined the Kingdom of Urartu as an Armenian kingdom.[28]

The Iron Age kingdom of Urartu was replaced by the Orontid dynasty, which ruled Armenia first as satraps under Achaemenid Persian rule and later as independent kings.[29] The Kingdom of Armenia was ruled by the Orontid (also known as Yervanduni or Eurandids) dynasty from 321 BC to 200 BC. The Orontids (Eurandids) were an Armenian[30][31] dynasty of probably Iranian[32] origin. Around 200 BC a coup by the Armenian noble family of Artaxias toppled the Orontid (Yervanduni) dynasty,[33] thus the Artaxiad dynasty came to power. The Artaxiad dynasty was been identified as a branch of the Orontid (Eurandid) dynasty.[32] The Seleucid Empire's influence over Armenia had weakened after it was defeated by the Romans in the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC. A Hellenistic Armenian state was thus founded in the same year by Artaxias I alongside the Armenian kingdom of Sophene led by Zariadres. Artaxias seized Yervandashat, united the Armenian Highlands at the expense of neighboring tribes and founded the new royal capital of Artaxata near the Araxes River.[34] The new city was laid on a strategic position at the juncture of trade routes that connected the Ancient Greek world with Bactria, India and the Black Sea which permitted the Armenians to prosper.[34]

The Kingdom of Armenia at its greatest extent under Tigranes the Great

Under Tigranes the Great, a member of this dynasty, during his reign, Kingdom of Armenia stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean and the Kingdom of Armenia was called the "Armenian empire" during her reign.[35] At one time, the domains of Tigranes the Great stretched from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, from Mesopotamia up to the Pontic Alps. The vast empire, formed of a varied mixture of diverse tribes, with their own dialects and cultures, could hardly be turned over- night into a cohesive and durable political structure. Inner disunity aided the designs of the Romans, who launched a series of onslaughts on the Armenian dynast, beginning with the invasion by Lucullus in 69-68 B.C, and culminating in the campaigns of Pompey in Armenia, Iberia and Colchis in 66-65 B.C. The downfall of Tigranes the Great was precipitated by the flight of his son, Tigranes the Younger, to the court of the Parthian king Phraates III, who supplied him with an army with which to invade Armenia, and join forces with the victorious Romans.[36]

Kingdom of Armenia under the Arshakuni dynasty, 150 AD

Approximately half a century after the collapse of the Artaxiad dynasty Armenia was under the rule of the Arshakunis, the Armenian branch of the Parthian Arsacids.[37] Next, in 314, under King Tiridates (Trdat) the Great and through the apostolate of St. Gregory the Illuminator, Armenia, nearly simultaneously with the Roman empire, officially accepted Christianity, a turning point in its history.[38] An event of importance in the Arshakuni period was the invention, on the threshold of the fifth century, of the Armenian alphabet by St. Mesrop. With this Armenian became the language of the educated; it was introduced into the liturgy; and national literature was born (under Hellenistic and Syrian influences). Armenia’s identity and individuality were thus saved and an absorption by either Byzantine or Iranian civilization was precluded.[38]

Medieval change

Later, the Armenian highland was divided between the Sassanids and their successors, the Arabs with the Eastern Rome. Prestige of Ashot I, governor of Armenia, rose as both Byzantine and Arab leaders courted him. The Abbasid Caliphate recognized Ashot as "prince of princes" in 862 and, later on, as king. Several contemporary prominent Armenians, including Grigor-Derenik Vaspurakan, insisted on Ashot's coronation.[39] Ashot was crowned King of Armenia through the consent of Caliph al-Mu'tamid in 885 to prevent intrusion into Armenian territory by Basil I, a Byzantine emperor of Armenian origin.[40] The establishment of the Bagratuni kingdom later led to the founding of several other Armenian principalities and kingdoms: Taron, Vaspurakan, Kars, Khachen and Syunik.[41] During the reign of Ashot III (952/53–77), Ani became the kingdom's capital and grew into a thriving economic and cultural center.[42] The first half of the 11th century saw the decline and eventual collapse of the kingdom. The Byzantine emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025) won a string of victories and annexed parts of southwestern Armenia. King Hovhannes-Smbat felt forced to cede his lands and in 1022 promised to "will" his kingdom to the Byzantines following his death. However, after Hovhannes-Smbat's death in 1041, his successor, Gagik II, refused to hand over Ani and continued resistance until 1045, when his kingdom, plagued with internal and external threats, was finally taken by Byzantine forces.[43] It can be assumed that Armenia had a population of 5–6 million at that time in the (IX-XI centuries).[44]

Kingdom of Armenia, under the Bagratuni dynasty, c. 1000 AD

The kingdom had its origins in the principality founded 1080 by the Rubenid dynasty, an alleged offshoot of the larger Bagratuni dynasty, which at various times had held the throne of Armenia. Their capital was originally at Tarsus, and later became Sis.

In 1198, with the crowning of Leo I, King of Armenia of the Rubenid dynasty, Cilician Armenia became a kingdom.[45][46]

In 1226, the crown was passed to rival Hethumids through Leo's daughter Isabella's second husband, Hethum I. As the Mongols conquered vast regions of Central Asia and the Middle East, Hethum and succeeding Hethumid rulers sought to create an Armeno-Mongol alliance against common Muslim foes, most notably the Mamluks.[46] In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Crusader states and the Mongol Ilkhanate disintegrated, leaving the Armenian Kingdom without any regional allies. After relentless attacks by the Mamluks in Egypt in the fourteenth century, the Cilician Armenia of the Lusignan dynasty, mired in an internal religious conflict, finally fell in 1375.[47]

Commercial and military interactions with Europeans brought new Western influences to the Cilician Armenian society. Many aspects of Western European life were adopted by the nobility including chivalry, fashions in clothing, and the use of French titles, names, and language. Moreover, the organization of the Cilician society shifted from its traditional system to become closer to Western feudalism.[48] The European Crusaders themselves borrowed know-how, such as elements of Armenian castle-building and church architecture. Cilician Armenia thrived economically, with the port of Ayas serving as a center for East–West trade.[48]

Detailed map of Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.

Early modern period change

Following the end of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, two Islamic empires—the Ottoman Empire and the Iranian Safavid Empire—contested Western Armenia, which was permanently separated from Eastern Armenia (held by the Safavids) by the 1639 Treaty of Zuhab.[49]

Iranian and Russian Empires

Areas with ethnic Armenian plurality, within the Russian Empire, 1880.

Until the late fifteenth century, Armenians had constituted a majority in Eastern Armenia.[50] At the close of the fifteenth century, with the rise of the Safavids, Islam had become the dominant faith, and Armenians became a minority in Eastern Armenia.[50]

Some 80% of the population of Iranian Armenia were Muslims (Persians, Turkics, and Kurds) whereas Christian Armenians constituted a minority of about 20%, mainly because of the sixteenth-century wars with the Ottomans and the early seventeenth-century forced deportations of Armenians from the region by Shah Abbas I.[51] As a result of the Treaty of Gulistan (1813) and the Treaty of Turkmenchay (1828), Iran was forced to cede Iranian Armenia (which also constituted the present-day Armenia), to the Russians.[52][53]

After the Russian administration took hold of Iranian Armenia, the ethnic make-up shifted, and thus for the first time in three centuries, ethnic Armenians started to form a majority once again in one part of historic Armenia.[54] The Russian offensive during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I, the subsequent occupation, and the creation of a provisional administrative government gave hope for ending Ottoman Turkish rule in Western Armenia. With the help of several battalions of Armenians recruited from the Russian Empire, the Russian army had made progress on the Caucasus Front, advancing as far as the city of Erzurum in 1916. The Russians continued to make considerable advances even after the toppling of Tsar Nicholas II in February 1917.[55]

Ottoman Empire

Ethnic groups of Six Vilayets in 1912 according to Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople.

From the mid-nineteenth century, Armenians faced large-scale land usurpation as a consequence of the sedentarization of Kurdish tribes and the arrival of Muslim refugees and immigrants (mainly Circassians) following the Russo-Circassian War.[56][57][58] In 1876, when Sultan Abdul Hamid II came to power, the state began to confiscate Armenian-owned land in the eastern provinces and give it to Muslim immigrants as part of a systematic policy to reduce the Armenian population of these areas. This policy lasted until World War I.[59][60] These conditions led to a substantial decline in the population of the Armenian highlands; 300,000 Armenians left the empire, and others moved to towns.[61][62] Some Armenians joined revolutionary political parties, of which the most influential was the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), founded in 1890. These parties primarily sought reform within the empire and found only limited support from Ottoman Armenians.[63]

Armenian revolutionary political parties in Ottoman parliament
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Social Democrat Hunchakian Party Armenakan Party
Year Total seats +/– Total seats +/– Total seats +/–
4 / 275
1 / 275
1 / 275
10 / 288
0 / 288
0 / 288
4 / 275
0 / 275
0 / 275
0 / 160
0 / 160
0 / 160
Armenians in Istanbul celebrate the coming to power of the CUP government.

Abdul Hamid's despotism prompted the formation of an opposition movement, the Young Turks, which sought to overthrow him and restore the 1876 Constitution of the Ottoman Empire, which he had suspended in 1877.[64] Although skeptical of a growing, exclusionary Turkish nationalism in the Young Turk movement, the ARF decided to ally with the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in December 1907.[65][66] In 1908, the CUP came to power in the Young Turk Revolution, which began with a string of CUP assassinations of leading officials in Macedonia.[67][68] In early 1909 an unsuccessful countercoup was launched by conservatives and some liberals who opposed the CUP's increasingly repressive governance.[69] When news of the countercoup reached Adana, armed Muslims attacked the Armenian quarter and Armenians returned fire. Ottoman soldiers did not protect Armenians and instead armed the rioters.[70] Between 20,000 and 25,000 people, mostly Armenians, were killed in Adana and nearby towns.[71] Unlike the 1890s massacres, the events were not organized by the central government but instigated by local officials, intellectuals, and Islamic clerics, including CUP supporters in Adana.[72]

The Armenian quarter of Adana after the 1909 massacres.

On the eve of World War I in 1914, around two million Armenians lived in Anatolia out of a total population of 15–17.5 million.[73] According to the Armenian Patriarchate's estimates for 1913–1914, there were 2,925 Armenian towns and villages in the Ottoman Empire, of which 2,084 were in the Armenian highlands in the vilayets of Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Erzerum, Harput, and Van.[74] Armenians were a minority in most places where they lived, alongside Turkish and Kurdish Muslim and Greek Orthodox Christian neighbors.[73][74] According to the Patriarchate's figure, 215,131 Armenians lived in urban areas, especially Constantinople, Smyrna, and Eastern Thrace.[74] Although most Ottoman Armenians were peasant farmers, they were overrepresented in commerce. As middleman minorities, despite the wealth of some Armenians, their overall political power was low, making them especially vulnerable.[75] During World War I, the CUP—whose central goal was to preserve the Ottoman Empire—came to identify Armenian civilians as an existential threat.[76][77] CUP leaders held Armenians—including women and children—collectively guilty for "betraying" the empire, a belief that was crucial to deciding on genocide in early 1915. Minister of War Enver Pasha took war of Sarikamish after losing, Enver publicly blamed his defeat on Armenians who he claimed had actively sided with the Russians, a theory that became a consensus among CUP leaders.[78][79] Reports of local incidents such as weapons caches, severed telegraph lines, and occasional killings confirmed preexisting beliefs about Armenian treachery and fueled paranoia among CUP leaders that a coordinated Armenian conspiracy was plotting against the empire.[80][81] In February 1915, the CUP leaders decided to disarm Armenians serving in the army and transfer them to labor battalions.[82] Discounting contrary reports that most Armenians were loyal, the CUP leaders decided that the Armenians had to be eliminated to save the empire.[80]

Russian soldiers in the former Armenian village of Sheykhalan near Mush, 1915 in the Armenian genocide.

The ethnic cleansing of Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire is widely considered a genocide, there are different estimates for the number of Armenians who died from the genocide range from 800,000 to 1,500,000.[83]

Modern period change

The Government house of the First Republic of Armenia

The First Republic of Armenia was established in 1918, but collapsed in 1920. In 1921, the Republic of Mountainous Armenia was established but collapsed in the same year. Afterwards Armenia came under the Soviet administration and became one of the Soviet Republics. In 1991, like other Soviet Republics, Armenia gained its independence.

Sources change

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  • Clackson, James P. T. (2008). "Classical Armenian". In Woodard, Roger D. (ed.). The Ancient Languages of Asia Minor. Cambridge University Press. p. 124. ISBN 9780511486845. Armenian forms an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. Although Armenian was spoken in areas adjacent to those inhabited by speakers of Anatolian languages, it shares few significant linguistic features with the Anatolian subgroup of Indo-European.

History change

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Population change

  • Melkonyan, Ruben (2008). "The Problem of Islamized Armenians in Turkey" (PDF). Yerevan: Noravank Foundation: 98. Finally, it would be interesting to quote several versions concerning the numbers of apostate Armenians. Different Turkish sources indicate those numbers as 80.000 to 600.000. Karen Khanlarian shows the figure of around 2 million, of which 700–750 thousands are Crypto Armenians, and those who are Islamized - 1.300.000 [8, p. 104]. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Von Voss, Huberta, ed. (2007). Portraits of Hope: Armenians in the Contemporary World (1st English ed.). New York: Berghahn Books. p. xxv. ISBN 978-1-84545-257-5. From the moment that there are some 8 million Armenians in the world, of which more than half live strewn around it there are some 8 million Armenians in the world of which more than half live strewn around it, it was impossible to include every country and every interesting personality.
  • Philander, S. George, ed. (2008). Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Climate Change. Los Angeles: SAGE. p. 77. ISBN 9781412958783. An estimated 60 percent of the total 8 million Armenians worldwide live outside the country (...)
  • Herb, Guntram H.; Kaplan, David H. (2008). Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 1705. ISBN 978-1-85109-908-5. A nation of some 8 million people, about 3 million of whom live in the newly independent post-Soviet state, Armenians are constantly battling not to lose their distinct culture, identity and the newly established statehood.
  • Freedman, Jeri (2008). The Armenian Genocide. New York: Rosen Publishing Group. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-4042-1825-3. In contrast to its population of 3.2 million, approximately 8 million Armenians live in other countries of the world, including large communities in the United States and Russia.
  • Stokes, Jamie, ed. (2008). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East. New York: Facts On File. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-4381-2676-0. Estimates suggest that the global Armenian population is 7 million (...)
  • Dufoix, Stéphane (2008). Diasporas. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-520-25359-9. Current statistics suggest a population of 7 million Armenians worldwide, 3 million of whom in Armenia.
  • Saunders, Robert A.; Strukov, Vlad (2010). Historical dictionary of the Russian Federation. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 51. ISBN 9780810874602. Worldwide, there are more than 8 million Armenians; 3.2 million reside in the Republic of Armenia.

References change

  1. Hewsen, Robert H. "The Geography of Armenia" in The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century. Richard G. Hovannisian (ed.) New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997, pp. 1–17
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Armenian Rarities Collection". Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. 2020. Archived from the original on 7 March 2023. Retrieved 27 March 2023. The lands of the Armenians were for millennia located in Eastern Anatolia, on the Armenian Highlands, and into the Caucasus Mountain range. First mentioned almost contemporaneously by a Greek and Persian source in the 6th century BC, modern DNA studies have shown that the people themselves had already been in place for many millennia. Those people the world know as Armenians call themselves Hay and their country Hayots' ashkharh–the land of the Armenians, today known as Hayastan. Their language, Hayeren (Armenian) constitutes a separate and unique branch of the Indo-European linguistic family tree. A spoken language until Christianity became the state religion in 314 AD, a unique alphabet was created for it in 407, both for the propagation of the new faith and to avoid assimilation into the Persian literary world.
  3. "Armenia: Ancient and premodern Armenia". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 17 July 2018. The Armenians, an Indo-European people, first appear in history shortly after the end of the 7th century BCE[, d]riving some of the ancient population to the east of Mount Ararat [...]
  4. Richard G. Hovannisian, The Armenian people from ancient to modern times: the fifteenth century to the twentieth century, Volume 2, p. 421, Palgrave Macmillan, 1997.
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Notes change

  1. Hayhurum are members Greek Orthodox Church, who spoke Armenian as native language. According to Greek sources, the origin of the Hayhurums is the Greek Orthodox who came to Kemaliye. Over time, this community assimilated to the Armenians, who made up the majority of the population of the region. According to Armenian sources, the Hayhurums are of Armenian origin and also the Hayhurums began to believe in the Greek Orthodox church during the Byzantine rule in the 12th century. In Armenian language, Hay meaning "Armenian", hu meaning "and", and Rûm meaning Eastern Roman or, as it is now called in the West, Byzantine, denoting the state religion of the Byzantine Empire.